Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Joy of Reading ~ A Fatal Grace

From A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

The store felt like an old library in a country house.  The walls were lined with warm wooden shelves, and they in turn were lined with books.  Hooked rugs were scattered here and there and a Vermont Castings woodstove sat in the middle of the store with a sofa facing it and a rocking chair on either side.  Gamache, who loved bookstores, thought this was just the most attractive one he'd ever met.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Every so often as you read your way through the year, one book just reaches out, grabs you, and doesn't let go until the last heart wrenching page has been turned. For me, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett was one of those books.

From Booklist (via amazon.com)
Marina Singh gave up a career as a doctor after botching an emergency delivery as an intern, opting instead for the more orderly world of research for a pharmaceutical company. When office colleague Anders Eckman, sent to the Amazon to check on the work of a field team, is reported dead, Marina is asked by her company's CEO to complete Anders' task and to locate his body. What Marina finds in the sweltering, insect-infested jungles of the Amazon shakes her to her core. For the team is headed by esteemed scientist Annick Swenson, the woman who oversaw Marina's residency and who is now intent on keeping the team's progress on a miracle drug completely under wraps. Marina's jungle odyssey includes exotic encounters with cannibals and snakes, a knotty ethical dilemma about the basic tenets of scientific research, and joyous interactions with the exuberant people of the Lakashi tribe, who live on the compound. In fluid and remarkably atmospheric prose, Patchett captures not only the sights and sounds of the chaotic jungle environment but also the struggle and sacrifice of dedicated scientists.


Marina - her relationship with her father
Marina did not forget her father in his absence, nor did she learn to accept the situation over time. She longed for him. Her mother often said that Marina was smart in just the way her father was smart, and that explained why he was so pround that she excelled in the very things that interested her the most: earth sciences and math when she was a little girl, calculus, statistics, inorganic chemistry when she was older. Her skin was all cream and light in comparison to her father's and very dark when she held her wrist against her mother's. She had her father's round, black eyes and heavy lashes, his black hair and angular frame. Seeing her father gave her the ability to see herself, the comfort of physical recognition after a life spent among her mother's people, all those translucent cousins who looked at her like she was a llama who had wantered into their holiday dinner.

Marina - her relationship with Dr. Swenson
Marina waited for a moment, hoping for more than a one word affirmation. She was on an unnamed river in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night feeling very much the same way she always felt with Dr. Swenson, like Oliver Twist holding up his empty bowl.

Marina - her responsibility
Marina looked at the crowd and then at the Indians and the message on every face was exactly the same: no choice. And so she took the chief's hand which he then held high above his head, about the level of Marina's cheekbone, and together they did the slow skip forward while the men beat their drums and the tourists took their pictures and the children followed with their dances, their snake and their sloth. In this group Marina danced with the people who were not white while the white people watched them. It would never have been her preference to be part of a tourist attraction. One of the children handed her the sloth and she took it. She hung it around her neck and continued her dance, feeling the soft, warm hair against her skin. Had anyone given her a choice, she would have chosen instead to be back on the porch behind the storage shed beneath her mosquito netting reading Little Dorrit. Still, she knew it was somehow less humiliating, less disrespectful, to dance with the natives than it was to simply stand there watching them.

Then there were those exquisitely written passages that just made me sit back and sigh.

   Pickles [a Golden Retriever] leaned up against marina now and he batted her hand with his head until she reached down to rub the limp chamois of his ears.

   From the grand exterior she entered a lobby of palm plants and tired brown sofas that slumped together as if they had come as far as they could and then given up.

   Marina had been a very good student, but she only raised her hand when she was certain of the answer. She excelled not through bright bursts of inspiration but by the hard labor of a field horse pulling a plow.

   There was no one clear point of loss. It happened over and over again in a thousand small ways and the only truth there was to learn was that there was not getting used to it.

As hard as some of this story was to read, there was no denying the joy of spending reading time with Drs. Singh and Swenson along with Milton, Easter, and the Bovenders. Each small event, nuance, or description drew me in like the constant churring of one of the unnamed, unseen insects of the Amazon.

Visit the author's website here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First Day of Summer

Frank W. Benson - The Reader

Summer reading…hammocks, lounge chairs, porch rockers, iced coffee.  Is there any more enticing image for an avid reader?  Planning the summer reading selections only adds to the anticipation of those long, lazy days.  There will be a few best sellers and favorite authors on the list…Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister, Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons, or Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand.  The summer reading project…The Greater Journey by David McCullough.  What about those new-to-me authors…The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy or The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene.  Perhaps a classic or two…Jane Eyre for a reread or Pride and Prejudice for a long overdue first read.  But best of all…the serendipity of an unplanned perfect summer reading experience!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Joy of Reading ~ South of Superior

From South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

She felt the sun on her back, smelled pine needles and hot sand, heard the breeze whispering in the trees.  The rustle of grasses echoed the long-gone water.  She was in this clearing deep in the woods in a forgotten place, and for at least this moment needed nothing more or less.  She walked, and with each step she let another inch of the long furl of her expectations go.  The place itself was like a steady hand, a low voice, a very old person who'd seen too much to get overexcited anymore.  Stop now a minute, it said.  Stop searching.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Bookbag Goodies

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Joy of Reading ~ The Seasons Hereafter

from The Seasons Hereafter by Elisabeth Ogilvie

Whenever she came near the table, she touched the books with nervous, sinewy hands. Suddenly she seized one and opened it and became instantly hypnotized by the print. She stood entranced until she was freed by the noise of the kettle boiling. Hurriedly, she took a thick heel of bread from the box, spread it with jam, and poured hot water over the coffee in the mug. She dragged a chair across the aged linoleum and settled herself, the books about her plate and mug like ramparts. There was the long ineffable moment of delicious indecision, fingers hovering over one binding and then another. She finally opened one book and propped it against the others, and as definitely as if a sound proof door had swung shut behind her and locked, she had left the world.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Folly Beach by Dorothea Benton Frank

From Barnes & Noble...
Dorothea Benton Frank's latest inviting beach read introduces us to Cate, a mid-life widow whose squandering husband bequeathed her with mountains of debt. Broke and desolate, she returns to the idyllic South Carolina seaside community that gave her many of her happiest childhood memories. Don't forget the sunscreen

...and those of you who know my weaknesses know that the cover alone puts Folly Beach on my Bookticipation list!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Joy of Reading ~ The Arrivals

from The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore

"Why are you taking it so personally?"

She thought about that. Then she took a deep breath and touched her hair. She didn't look directly at William when she answered, because she thought that if she did she might begin to cry.

"Because they're my life's work."

He remained silent, watching her, listening.

"If they're not happy--if they're not capable of living on their own, and being happy--it means I've failed. I should take it personally."

"Oh, Ginny," He reached across the table and laid his hand on her cheek. She pressed it in closer.

"This is it," she said. "I'm sixty-three years old. This is what I've done with my life. They're my masterpiece, and they're broken."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Snippet

Edna Earle could sit and ponder all day on how the little tail of the "C" got through the "L" in a Coca-Cola sign.  --Eudora Welty, The Wide Net