I am experiencing a reading meltdown. I don't know what my problem is, but I can't seem to finish a book. I have been reading the same three or four books for the last month, and I don't seem to get anywhere. I even had to return one to the library, gasp, unfinished!
It could have something to do with these two munchkins. Here they are watching the "fireworks show" my dad put on for us at the end of my parent's driveway on the 4th of July. It was about the sweetest thing ever. Maybe seven minutes of tiny dancing fountains and sparkly waterfalls, each one eliciting oohs and aaahs and applause. We are going to blow their little minds when we finally take them to see real, up in the sky fireworks.
They loved every minute of staying at Grandma and Grandpa's house. We live only about 45 minutes away from my parents, so we see them often. Which is great, but also because of that proximity, we rarely stay overnight. And I have discovered there is nothing my kids like more than sleeping there. And why not? There are bowls of M&Ms everywhere, my parents organized a treasure hunt that ended in digging up an actual pirate's chest filled with pennies and more M&Ms, AND we went to their town's carnival, which was fairly horrifying for a parent, but nirvana for a four year old boy. Success all around.
I have also been doing things like picking sour cherries from my neighbor's cherry tree and making pies and jelly. Free=awesome, pitting cherries for hours on end=time taken away from reading books. You know what else takes time away from reading books? Doing ridiculous things like baking a 4th of July cake that looks like a flag when you cut into it.
I stole the idea for the cake and the banner from Glorious Treats. It was fairly simple to make, but it took quite a bit of time. And yes, it was impressive when I cut into it, so that was cool, but you know what? Who really wants to eat cake on the 4th of July? Not me. I want strawberry shortcake. Or ice cream.
Here's the picture of what the slices looked like. The cream cheese frosting was quite delicious though (recipe also at the link). So, maybe being all crafty and homemakery and parenty has fried my brain a little bit. I'm not sure what it is, but books I would normally be loving have seemed a little flat to me, and I've had a hard time finishing quite a few that I've started.
But whatever--it's summer, right? Maybe I've just been reading the wrong books...hmmmm. I'll have to think about that one. Anyway, here's the very quick rundown on what I've been reading, or not reading over the past month.
This is clearly my summer of Sarah Waters. Affinity is the third book I've read by her, and I loved it. It is a fascinating story about two Victorian women, a wealthy spinster named Margaret and an imprisoned Spiritualist named Selina. They strike up an unlikely relationship when Margaret starts to visit Milbank Prison as a "Lady Visitor." I loved the detailed descriptions of prison life, and the juxtaposition of it with Margaret's life with her wealthy family, which was almost as much as a prison in many ways. Waters does a fabulous job showing just how small and prescibed and constricted life was for women in that social sphere at that time. Unlike the other books I've read by her, this one is quite gloomy and very sad. Yet still utterly engrossing and a page turner. Highly recommended.
Meh. I love this series of mysteries about Claire Fergusson, an Episcopalian priest and Russ Van Alstyne, the police chief of small Miller's Kill, NY. But this one kind of bored me. The mystery was a little boring and what could have been fascinating, the theme of veterans from the Iraq war adjusting back to civilian life, was just...surprisingly boring. Everyone had a problem adjusting; everyone fixed it by the end without many hiccups along the way. Except for the one who was murdered, but even that was BORING! A surprising entry in this series. The rest of her books have kept me on the edge of my seat, and the level of violence in them often is disturbing. I don't particularly like mysteries where the heroine is constantly in physical danger (I'm looking at you, Sara Paretsky), so that should have been a relief to me in this book, but it still should have been exciting and it wasn't.
If you like Sarah Vowell, you will like this book. If you don't, this is not the one to win you over. I happen to like her a lot, so this was a treat for me. It's about the Puritans. Did I hook you? No? I'm not sure how to entice you if that didn't do it. Because it really is about the Puritans. And Christianity. And how Americans get so many things wrong about both these people and how America was started. There are many long quoted passages from their sermons and speeches, and a lot of analysis of how these famous words have been twisted over time by politicians and religious leaders to mean something very different from their original intent. Vowell wrote this during the Abu Ghraib scandal, and contemporary politics ties into the story line surprisingly well.
This was great. I read it in about two days and enjoyed every minute. If you loved the Little House on the Prairie series (the books, people, not the tv show), than this is the book for you. The author rereads the books as an adult, shortly after her mother has died, and becomes obsessed with the real story behind them. Perhaps a little too obsessed, but I guess that is what makes a good story. She, like a surprisingly large amount of other people, falls into the rabbit hole that is Everything Laura Ingalls Wilder. She visits all of the sites mentioned in the books. She learns how to churn butter. She makes vanity cakes! She reads everything written by Laura, and by Rose, her daughter. It is all very interesting and it made me want to know more about Laura. Because while this book touches on all of the Ingalls/Wilder/Lane stories and lives, it is really about Wendy McClure and what she was searching for. If you loved the books as much as I did (I'm going to start reading them to my son this year! Can't wait!), then this is a worthy addition to your library.
Well, this is embarrassing. I really liked this book...all 46 pages that I read of it. I don't know what happened. They topic is interesting (Julia and Paul Child's life as OSS agents in WWII), then tone engaging, the research very well done...I just didn't have it in me this summer. I would read three or four pages and then pick up a different book. Or go to sleep. So, you guys read it and tell me that I have to try again in the fall, ok?
I have started a few others that I am determined to get through, but that's for another post. Happy reading everyone! Any suggestions to get me out of my slump are appreciated--no nonfiction for awhile though.