My 2020 book challenge—to read 50 books from the stack by my bed (and other unread volumes already in the house). Previous months here: January, February, March, April, May.
June's reading stack was a good mix of escapist and serious, and though the stack is tall, only two of them count for my goal of reading 50 books already in my house (ordering used books online is just too darn easy).
In the escapist category, I ready three novels in one of my favorite sub-genres—vintage romantic suspense—My Brother Michael and Airs Above the Ground, both by Mary Stewart, and Black is the Color of My True Love's Heart by Ellis Peters, the latter being the one contribution in this category from my book stack (a library book sale find). These were all a delight. I've waxed rhapsodic about Mary Steward before, here and here, so I won't repeat myself. As for Ellis Peters, I'd only read her Brother Cadfael books a long time ago, so it was fun to read a contemporary (as in 50 year old) book by her.
In a more serious vein, I've been continuing to try to get myself caught up on nature writing. Writing the Western Landscape, edited by Ann Zwinger (the other book from the stack), includes selections from Mary Austin and John Muir. I'd never read Austin before but have always meant to, so it was nice to have this introduciton. I've got two of her books waiting in the wings and I'm looking forward to reading more. The Muir selections were interesting—one about the Grand Canyon that was clearly written for a popular audience and one about Alaska from his journals. I had started this book months ago and put it aside in the midst of the Grand Canyon piece, which is over the top purple prose. But I made myself pick it back up and the Alaska writing is so beautifully wrought, so subltly humorous, so truly lovely. It's fascinating how an audience—real or perceived—can influence a writer's style so much (also I'm sure the passage of time and development of skill plays a role). I hope to pick up Muir's Alaska journals someday soon.
I also read The Nature Fix: How Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. I don't often pick up straight nonnarrative nonfiction, but I'm interested in this topic of course, and under the current circumstances, which are indeed stressful, I'm even more interested in how nature can help keep us healthy and sane. It's a fascinating read and should be in the hands of every teacher, doctor, and policy maker.
Finally, I read The Inland Island, by Josephine Johnson, who is a new discovery for me. This book, written about the plot of undeveloped land in the midst of encroaching suburbs where the author lived for most of her life, is magical. Her descriptions of the natural world are lovely, and her brief commentaries on war (Vietnam was happening at the time of her writing) are powerful.
What have you been reading?