Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What I'm reading this week (5/30/16)

Hope you all had a nice long weekend. We spent Sunday at my nephew Aaron's high school graduation party. Seems only yesterday he was a four-year-old dressed in a little tux at our wedding; now he's a handsome six-foot baseball star ready to go off to college.

It was a rainy a lot lately, so I got to do a fair amount of reading (can't do any yard work in the rain! Yippee!).

Last week I finished:


Last week I finished four books. The Beekeeper's Apprentice is the first in Laurie K. King's Mary Russell series. In it, Mary Russell befriends Sherlock Holmes, and they become partners solving crimes and escaping a plot on their lives. This was not quite what I was expecting. First off, it was INTENSE. (Between it, Harry Potter, and the presidential assassination stories I've been reading, I've had some nasty dreams at night.) There was definite danger, intrigue, and intense scenes in this book, and it was not a light read with its English prose. It was a very intelligent book, and I'll read at least the next in the series, but for now, I'm not looking forward to 15 more of these. Not to say I didn't like it--it was so well-written--but my mind does need a rest.

And I finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. This, too, was intense. It seemed there was never a chapter where Harry was not in turmoil or downright danger. I'm surprised so many little kids loved these books for that reason. But, I did like the writing a lot (didn't talk down to kids), and it gave kids credit for intelligence and doing what was right in the face of trouble. I think I'll try the next in the series someday, but I'm, not sure I can see myself finishing it.

I'm glad I finally got to Five Days in November. I listened to this on audio, and the audio was quite good. It was short (only 4 CDs), and of course it lacked the accompanying photos the book provides. Luckily, I own a copy of the book, so I could go back and look at them. I highly recommend this book to history and president buffs. Likely, if you're into that sort of thing, you'll know the details of the Kennedy assassination, but what this book provides that others don't is a first-hand witness of the events by someone who knew the president well but had no leanings toward idolatry. The book very much takes away the agendas other accounts have, in presenting the facts as only a secret service agent could. Of course, the book goes beyond the fateful Dallas motorcade, and Hill talks about the hospital where Kennedy is pronounced dead, Air Force One where Johnson is sworn in, and the funeral. He talks about what he felt in those five days, but keeps mostly to his duty. It's heartbreaking to me that Mr. Hill carried around for fifty years the agonizing guilt of not having been able to save President Kennedy's life. I hope these books are able to work as a balm to those terrible feelings.
     I know some folks may think Mr. Hill is profiting on the Kennedy assassination and his relationship to Mrs. Kennedy by writing these books, but I feel very strongly that instead he is setting down a historical record that would have been lost had he not. No one has the information or feelings Mr. Hill had at the time or in the decades since. I think this makes writing the books an act of patriotism. It couldn't have been easy revisiting those events.

And I finished my re-read of Jordan Matter's Dancers Among Us. I'm sad to see that the book didn't have the same effect as it did the first time I looked through it. The phenomenal captures didn't have near the awe-value. But as disappointing as this was for me, it excited me to see just how much the first time of anything can mean. I found this fascinating. It makes me want to pay closer attention to the phenomena of life. P.S. I just found out that Matter has a new book coming out in October which gives me another opportunity to slow down and SEE.

Last week, I started:

I have been so excited to begin Clint Hill's Five Presidents. As you can see from the above paragraphs, I'm a huge fan. I was able to sink my teeth into the book this weekend, and I am not disappointed.

I was also excited to read some Sharon Olds poetry, and her Strike Sparks is a compilation of poems from about a half-dozen of her books. I'm finding some I've never read before.

This week I continue with:

I'm really enjoying The 50 States. I wish someone would write a book like this for adults. As much as I'm geeking out over this kid's version, I'd swoon for an adult one.

My current audiobook:

With all the intense fiction and nonfiction I've been reading lately, it's been quite the switch to listen to Jan Karon's third Mitford novel. These High, Green Hills. It's so quiet and soothing, and much slower than most other fiction. I was concerned that I'd have forgotten some of the characters and relationships from the first two books, but Karon does a good job of reminding the reader (it's not entirely subtle, but it's forgivable) who's who and what happened in the previous novels. I don't even know the plot of this book, I'm just letting it carry me along.


  1. Noticed you got to Harry Potter #2. That one almost stopped me too. But I decided to try #3.. I was hooked. After I read the entire series and got to the end, I re-read the whole thing. OMG, there is so much in #2 that sets up the rest of the series. You just don't see it at the time. After I knew how everything turned out I loved #2. LOL, do not ask how many times I have read the whole series.

  2. LOL, says I posted that at 4:33, more like 6:33.

  3. Hmmm. That makes me not want to read #2, because I just can't see myself reading the whole series!