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-.