1. Midsummer Night, Freda Warrington - Warrington is apparently quite a well-known authoress in Europe, but her books have only recently begun to be published here in the US. I admit, I picked up her first American publication because it bore a blurb by my favorite author. I wasn't at all disappointed. In fact, I was entranced, and now have another favorite writer in the modern fantasy genre. Happily, Midsummer Night was every bit as good as that first book. Warrington's language is beautiful, and her mythology is both familiar and new. My only complaint is that now I must wait for her next book! Or perhaps I need to get on Amazon.UK....
2. My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me - Still reading, still loving.
3. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson - As I believe I have mentioned, this is a beloved Christmas tradition of mine - stretching back to perhaps college when I rediscovered how much I love this book. I was very glad to share it with the girls this year - most nights tucked into my bed together. We also read the Christmas chapters of Laura Ingells Wilder's books, and the girls are already asking what we are going to read together next!
4. The Seer Of Sevenwaters, Juliet Marillier - While Warrington satisfies my cravings for modern/urban fairy tales, Marillier takes care of my desire for the traditional. Her Sevenwater books start with my absolute favorite rendition of the Seven Swans, and then follow that family down through several generations. Marillier is - no kidding - a Druid, and her understanding of that religion and deep knowledge of folklore and fairy tales combine with her beautiful mastry of language to produce books that always make me happy....and always make me rethink my own knowledge of traditional stories. True, after six books they are becoming a wee bit predictable in certain aspects....but so far that's not marring my enjoyment of them at all. If nothing else, Marillier proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the best stories are not at all dead or static, and that there's always something new in them to say.
5. The Bards of Bone Plain, Patricia McKillip - It's been a banner month for me in terms of new release books. This was the last one I had been waiting for, and I will finish it by the end of the year. McKillip employs the most densely beautiful language of all, often prompting me to reread passages to make sure I've followed her, which means that I'm savouring this book more slowly than the others. Again, this falls into the folklore type genre - although McKillip's worlds are almost always 'off-world,' set in places completely built from her imagination. So far, I'm enjoying this book considerably more than the last couple...but they are all definitely worth a read.
Yep, this English major has been happy this month!
I've also been sick for most of the month, and I've been working diligently on Christmas projects...which means that my audio list is way higher than it's been for a while! Of course, I would like to point out that most of these books come in under 12 hours....Audio:
1. Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson - Holy cow. If you haven't read this book already, you really must read it asap. I even bought it for my Dad for Christmas. One of my favorite sayings is from the musical Rent, simply stating that, "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation." Mortenson embodies that philosophy like no other, and I pray that his work building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan continues for years to come.
2. Weekends At Bellevue, Dr. Julie Holland - When this book was published I had heard Dr. Holland interviewed on NPR (I think on Fresh Air), and as Fresh Air has so far not steered me wrong in the book department, I was glad to see this one become available through the library. Dr. Holland was the weekend psychiatrist at Bellevue for (I believe) about 9 years, and this is the story of her experiences there. It was interesting, but I was left wanting more from the story. At the very least, I was left with considerably more compassion towards those who work the front lines in the mental health field.
4. Things I've Been Silent About, Azar Nafisi - I was apparently on a middle-East kick. I've considered this memoir before, and it was ok. Parts - mostly dealing with her family - were fantastic. Others, not so much. Nafisi is an academic, and perhaps that was part of the problem. (Not that I don't love academics....in a perfect world I would have been well on my way to becoming one years ago.) Can't quite put my finger on the problem, but am glad I read it.
5. I Am Nujood, Age 10 And Divorced, Nujood Ali - If you need more proof as to why Mortenson's work is so important, read this book. Ali was the first girl to seek out a divorce from an abusive arranged marriage to a considerably older man, and her story just boggles the mind. You simply can't complain about anything after reading this book...and you also want to hug this child who was so very brave.
6. Inside Of A Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know, Alexandra Horowitz - I think it's fairly well known that I am a dog person. Less than a week before I saw this pop up on the library audio list, I saw this one at the store, and was intrigued. It was fascinating...through and through....and I actually learned things that I didn't know. I could have done without the authoress's personal anecdotes about her own dog, but the rest was enlightening. I especially liked her research on play! (May have tried out some of the dog play communication postures on my own dog......)
7. The Cookbook Collector, Allegra Goodman - Another Fresh Air recommendation, this one is sort of a modern take on Sense and Sensibility. Ordinarily, that would make me shun this book, but the review had been enough to make me curious. I wound up enjoying the entire book - especially the story of the younger sister. (Marianne Dashwood has always annoyed me, but Jess is considerably more interesting.) One of the things I loved was the fact that Goodman expanded the book so that it told the story of many of the secondary characters in great detail as well. One of the things I didn't love so much was a tie in with fairly recent history. It made sense given the historical background of the novel....but I could have done without it. (Sadly, the reader was a bit annoying with some of her voices, which did detract a bit.)
8. The Ape House, Sara Gruen - As I enjoyed Water for Elephants more than expected....much more....I decided to also listen to Gruen's second book. I'm enjoying it, and will finish by the end of the month, but so far it's lacking the magic of Elephants. Now, who wants to go with me to see the movie version of that one when it comes out? Seriously...the promos look fantastic!
An also mention - I tried listening to Oliver Sack's recent book, The Mind's Eye, but the reader killed it for me. Too bad, because I love Sacks when he appears on Radiolab!