Showing Up

I last wrote in February 26th. I’ve been gone so long that it’s been harder to know how to come back. I’m just going to share a bit of what’s been going on with me at home, and, you guessed it, my reads!

My husband’s health last year was in a pretty dark place. He thought many things hinged around his overweight. He signed for a place called Mediweight. A year later, he still goes to his maintenance meetings. I went with him to most of the weekly appointments. He’s lost 53+ pounds, but what’s most important, he is enjoying a measure of health he had never have before in many years. What a blessing this has been for our whole family!

Since I last reviewed a book, I’ve read these titles:

  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John Le Carré ★★★★
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark ★★★★
  • Ethan Frome, Edith Warthon ★★★★
  • Temor y temblor, Kierkegaard★★★✫
  • Don Quijote, Libro I ★★★★★
  • Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers,★★★★✫
  • A Briefer Story of Time, Hopkins, ★★★★✫
  • Los Pazos de Ulloa, Emilia Pardo Bazán ★★★★✫
  • The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, by Margareta Magnusson,★★★✫

In total, as of now, May 7th, I’ve only read 17 books. In comparison, it’s not as much as the last two, three years. The difference is that I’ve very much enjoyed ALL I’ve read this year. I’ve been more independent in my reads, and I have felt no pressure to read or pick my books.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was fascinating. It submerged me in the cold war atmosphere. It’s everything an ignorant person like me, would expect in a spy book. I found it very literary in a sense, and it made me think about Humphrey Bogart a bit, -the figure of the tough/tender guy, mysterious, a loser with qualities that stand up to the test-.

Speaking about peculiar and unsettling books, that’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Maybe I should read another book by her next. (I have her title “The Only Problem”). I don’t remember if I’ve read this, but more than what she says in the book, it’s all that’s left untold. Her way of telling is also peculiar, -as in effectively peculiar-. It may be my ignorance on literary approaches to the plot that are not linear and straightforward, but her way of speaking from the present, and taking you to the past, back and forth, back and forth, does something to how you piece the story together. I bet this is a book that will be great to reread.

Ethan Frome. The dreaded title that everyone who read it in their school years recalls as depressing. I did not find it depressing, or not ‘just’ depressing. I’m impressed by it. Short. Poignant. This book will stay with me forever. It also made me feel what I did when reading The Scarlet Letter. Wharton’s style is minimalist to me, or I’d rather call it austere. It adds to the harsh America she offers to us. Novellas written so deftly, are a great treasure to us readers, and to us culturally. I’m glad that America has Ethan Frome in her ranks.

Fear and Trembling, by Kierkegaard is a short but difficult book. Difficult to me since I know nothing about Hegel, Kierkegaard, and the type of philosophy or morality the author was presenting, or the other one he was reacting to, or questioning. However, if nothing else, I got many quotable sentences and passages I highlighted. It was relatively short, and though I didn’t grasp many parts that well, it was still enjoyable to read, not a slog at all. One thing I got was how Kierkegaard points out the distinctive character of the christian faith. If it weren’t for that faith, the behavior of the so called christian heroes is absolutely nuts. Dislodged from God and faith, Abraham is a murderer, a criminal, a horrible husband and cruel father. Far from that, we, christians read how he’s put as an example of great faith.

Don Quixote, Book I. I ended up burned out from blogging through the whole book, but I am also proud to have those blog posts for whoever wants to read the first book of this my beloved classic. I will read Book II, -if not this summer, next year for sure-. And maybe at the time I even write some about it. We’ll see.

Gaudy Night. Amazing. I savored it, and managed to avoid gulping it all in a few days. I saved it for certain times of the day. It’s a mystery of literary quality. A most enticing book. I may not agree with the author, (and who does agree with most authors?), but I appreciate Sayers’s honesty. She manages to make us think, she entertains and delights.

A Briefer Story of Time. I’m grateful for books written by scientists at a level we can mostly follow. Despite from this being the easy version of his original A Brief Story of Time, I still found it challenging in certain places. It was fascinating to read it, to dream and speculate, and to finally UNDERSTAND things they make you memorize at school, or things one reads and repeats without grasping the repercussions. Recently, my 8th grader had an article about ‘black holes’, while the younger wrote a short paper on the Hubble space telescope, and all this was coming together at the time for me. I also have to say that World Enough, (and Time), uses these concepts. It’s the story of a relativistic cruise. As always, after I finish books like this, I ask myself why it is that I don’t read more non-fiction books.

Los Pazos de Ulloa. Guys, this is hard to explain. This book was written in 1886. XIX century literature is simply amazing, not only for Russia, America, England, France, also for the Spanish peninsula. This book is impeccably written. The author disappears, and the story unfolds in front of our privileged spectator eyes. Not only can we see the place, or feel the atmosphere, but we are privy to the internal thoughts of the main character, Don Julián Alvarez. This book has been translated, The House of Ulloa. I know I’m always going to be rewarded in my reading when I go to Galdós and other XIX authors from my birth country.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. Super short and interesting. Nothing new, but a good conversation with the author and an inside look at cleaning and dealing with our possessions having others in mind, and the fact that we age and too many things can make it difficult for us to enjoy free time, (too much to keep up with, clean, etc.) It’s also good to be considerate to others and not leave them with lots of things to decide on once we are not here anymore. The book is not depressing nor morbid, despite having the word death in its title. Death is something that will happen to us all, 🙂 Looking at the belongings we have, and deciding what to do with them, is in many ways a celebration of life, and a very beneficial activity to engage in at different stages of our life, -even more necessary as we get older-.

17 thoughts on “Showing Up

  1. Wow, you’ve certainly caught up! Glad to see you back. I liked Ethan Frome too even though it’s not Wharton’s best. I’ve had Fear and Trembling on my TBR and I really should get around to reading it sometime. I just need a clear head. And I’m curious as to what you don’t agree with with regard to Dorothy Sayers …??

    So glad to hear that your husband is feeling well again. A good diet, a healthy weight and exercise are so important. Sounds like he’s on the right track. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, what I don’t agree. I didn’t explain well. I meant to say I don’t share her beliefs or worldview, but I deeply admire her transparency, her skill as a writer, and I do agree with all she wrote in “Are Women Human?” Gaudy Night is definitely a favorite.

      Thanks to all for the comments on my husband. He has change his life style, and it’s been something huge for the family.

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  2. Glad to hear you are OK and your husband is doing well! 😀

    I need to catch up on the Don Quixote reading and will go back and read those blog posts soon. Thank you so much for doing all that hard work. I really appreciate it. It adds so much more to my enjoyment of the book!

    I’ve only read a few Muriel Spark books but they are all pretty unsettling. That is her style I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I love hearing that the posts are appreciated. They weren’t tedious or hard to write, but I guess after a while, I needed to take a break. Your comment made me long for the book, lol, it won’t be long before I tackle book 2!
      Looking forward to other titles by Sparks.

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  3. Hi Silvia — I’ve missed you! Welcome back! I’m so glad to hear that things are going better, particularly for your husband’s health. I’ve struggled with those issues myself and know what a challenge it can be to deal with them. On another front, I’m in awe of your reading list! It will be awhile before I attempt Kierkegaard, although I’m curious about his philosophy. Like you, I loved Gaudy Night (it got me started on mysteries, a genre that has given me a great deal of pleasure over the years); I admired The Spy who Came in from the Cold (Le Carre really did put the spy novel on the literary map) and deeply admired Spark’s unsettling Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (another great novel of hers, but gentler in tone, is A Far Cry From Kensington). Although I’ve read several of Edith Wharton’s novels (she’s one of my favorites), I’ve avoided Ethan Frome. Me bad! Did you know there was a movie, starring Liam Neeson? My own favorite Wharton is Age of Innocence but all her novels are great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so happy to be back. All of you, my dear friends, are stopping by to say hi and comment. I am looking forward to catching up with your blogs and reading.
      I am glad to see how much we two overlap in our taste and judgment. I have read a couple other Wharton books, but now you just put Age of Innocent on the future reads map for me.
      And I think it’s easy to confuse reading Kierkeegard with understanding him, hahaha. But this title is short, many parts are clear and very insightful, which makes it an “easy’ book to read.

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  4. Glad to hear your husband’s health has improved! You’ve read some great sounding books. I loved The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – such a brilliant piece of characterisation, not only of her but of her girls too. I’m looking forward to reading The Spy Who Came In from the Cold soon, so I’m glad to hear you thought it was a good one. And yes, Ethan Frome has definitely stayed in my mind in the three or four years since I read it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chris, you are always so sweet. I am very fortunate to have you and other internet friends who mean a lot to me. I have missed the conversation. I am glad to be back.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yay for blogging! But also yay for blogging breaks 🙂 I keep telling myself to get on here and blog soon…maybe this will be an encouragement to do a mid-year update of sorts. 🙂 I also just found a copy of LeCarre’s book at the Katy Budget sale…may try to read it this summer. Love you friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good to see you posting again! I’m so happy for your husband, and your whole family, with his newly improved health. Muriel Spark’s Driver’s Seat is unforgettable. I also enjoyed the Girls of Slender Means. “Unsettling” is her “value added. I’ll put the link to Girl of Slender Mean’s review in my details of this post. Spy Who Came In is a classic–I read it in college. Atmosphere galore!

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