Friday, July 14, 2023

Book Stack ~ June 2023

 A monthly post about what I've been reading.

I started this month with a couple of fun mysteries by JS Borthwick, a writer I'd never heard of--despiete her having been a Maine writer--until I ran across her works in a used bookstore. I read her first and third installment of her Sarah Dean series. They're pretty entertaining, in the traditional mystery style, with some humor mixed in. I especially liked The Case of the Hook-Billed Kites, because it has a bird-watching theme, although I admit to getting confused by the many many characters. The Student Body was amusing because of the college that's a thinly veiled fictionalization of one of Maine's elite schools.

After that, I moved onto books related to our summer trip to Slovenia and Croatia. The first was The Hired Man, by Aminatta Forna, a novel follows the story of a man in a remote Croation town, who hires on to help restore the nearby abandoned house that a woman from England and her two teenage children move into. As he repairs the house and helps the daughter bring to life a covered mosaic, he revisits in his mind his childhood and young adulthood, recounting a friendship with the two children who lived next door and how one of those relationships blossomed and the other deteriorated. It has the tightly wound suspense of a mystery, as we sense that something very bad happened, but we don't know what or why.

I admit to not reading all 1,000 pages of Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, the classic travel account of Yugoslavia by Rebecca West, written in 1937. But I did read the parts relevant to our vacation, or a little less than 300 pages. It's a fascinating account of the region's history, people, and landscape. Maybe I'll read the rest when I get home.

Finally, I read Rick Steves' Europe 101: History & Art for the Traveler, by Rick Steves and Gene Openshaw. I took two semesters of Western Civilization in college, but that was a lot of years ago, and not a whole lot of what I'd learned stuck to the old gray cells, and I never took the opportunity to take Art History. So reading this book was both a great refresher and an introduction to art and architecture about which I only had a glancing knowledge. It's also laced with dorky but amusing dad jokes (eg., they call the Medieval dread with which the end of the 10th century was approached "Y1K." Har har.). It inspired me to want to visit a LOT more of Europe, where much of the continent's art and architecture are housed. Gotta keep on traveling.


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