Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Book Stack ~ July 2022

A monthly post about what I've been reading, with aspirations but no real hope of reading down a very tall stack of books. Previous posts from this year:

May & June 2022 

Since it's nearly September, I considered just posting a joint July-August list next week, but my August book stack is accreting so fast it might not even fit into a single photo frame, and I'm already starting to forget what all these July books were about, so let's just do this now! Starting from the bottom:

Fiction: I was again in a light reading mood in July (what terrible thing was going on in the world at that particular time? I've already forgotten.), so I dove into two books that were hand-me-downs from my mom, both homages (or pastiches? I can't keep those straight.). Jeeves and the King of Clubs, a Ben Schott book in the style of PG Wodehosue. Since Wodehouse wrote about a gazillion books, which no person could reasonably expect to read in their lifetime, one might ask why bother writing another? But as a huge fan of both the Jeeves and Wooster books and the BBC production, I'm all in, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and found that Schott captured the style and voice, while adding his own twist (espionage!). The second was The Stalwart Companions by H Paul Jeffers, a Sherlock Holmes story. I have to admit to having read very little Conan Doyle, but I was still entertained by this tale, which takes place in America has a pre-presidential Teddy Roosevelt rather than Dr. Watson as Holmes's sidekick.

Still in the fun vein, I picked up KJ Dell'Antonia's In Her Boots, which was totally fun--a farm, an estranged world traveler returned home, an uppity mother in an uppity New England college town, a couple of llamas and mini ponies, friendship, and a smidge of romance. It's a master class in how to make sure everything that can possibly go wrong for your protagonist does go wrong. It was a perfect summer read.

On the more serious side, I read The Miraculous Flight of Owen Leach by Jen Dupree, about a baby who sails out of the arms of one mother and lands in the arms of another, beginning a rivalry for who should be the infants true parent, with the husband of one of the mothers caught in the middle, and making bad choices of his own. It explores the difficulty of parenting and the lack of support for mothers in our society. I'm doing a joint reading with Jen at Lithgow Library in Augusta on September 10th at 10 a.m. We did a reading together last week in Auburn and it was so fun!

And, finally, I read The Country of the Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett, a Maine classic that I've been meaning to read for a long, long time. I finally was motivated to get on it when my writing group scheduled a tour of the Sarah Orne Jewett House in South Berwick. It was a spectacular tour, and not just because one of our members was the tour guide. The house is filled with so many fascinating details, many of them original to the house (or at least Jewett's tenure their), including her glasses, the pen holder on her bed frame, and a pair of owl-shaped silver salt-and-pepper shakers on the dining table (Jewett's nickname among her writing group was Owl). The book was fascinating, too, and interesting because I'm in the middle of studying the rules of fiction, and it literally breaks all of them and is yet an utterly delightful read. 

Sarah Orne Jewett's house is a mixture of colonial, colonial revival, and arts & crafts styles.

Jewett's writing desk.

Nonfiction: The only nonfiction book I finished in July (I have several half-read books from the month) was The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier, which is required reading for the book coach training program I'm working on. To be honest, I'm not sure how exactly the lessons apply to book coaching, and I hope that'll come clear over time, but I think it's probably a useful book for people in management positions who want to be better managers (are there such people?).

Poetry: When I was at my alma mater, College of the Atlantic, for alumni weekend in June, I did a book trade with another alum, Lelania Avila, who graduated the year before I arrived. Her book, An Abecedarian Reflection: Parenting through Childhood Cancer, is a lovely, generous, and deeply human meditation on one of the most difficult experiences a parent can go through.

Don't forget you can order a copy of my book, Uphill Both Ways: Hiking toward Happiness on the Colorado Trail from any of the vendors listed here.

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