Last week I finished my June poetry read, Sharon Olds' Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2002. I liked the collection very much over all. Most of the poems were ones I was familiar with, but I hadn't read any of them for years. Olds writes a lot about sex, which became tiresome. She also doesn't shy away from difficult topics like rape and abuse. This makes the books sound just awful, but she's such a gifted poet, although she challenges the reader, you feel somehow safe with the poems.
I also finished the second mystery in Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag. It was as good as the first one, and you all know how much I loved that one. Flavia is such a well-written character, full of intelligence, logic, bravery, meddlesomeness, wit, and just enough childish insecurity to make her infinitely loveable. This is one series I plan to read all the way through--slowly so as to savor them.
This week I'll finish:
As soon as I finished with Flavia, I picked up First Women, Kate Andersen Brower's follow-up to The Residence. I'd anticipated reading the book for weeks, and I am not disappointed. It's a little more dishy than I remember her first book being, but you are dealing with a group of women, after all. :) Some of what's included isn't exactly new to someone like me who spends her time reading presidential memoirs and biographies, but there is enough new information to make it a great read. So far I've learned that Hillary Clinton and Jackie Kennedy were buds, as are Laura Bush and Michelle Obama (!). And the more I learn about Lady Bird Johnson and Betty Ford, the more I admire them. All-in-all, I'm really enjoying this read.
I'm on the last CD of These High, Green Hills, and in many ways this might be my favorite of the Mitford books so far. While there is a fair bit of drama for the small town of Mitford, it's somehow all believable drama because of how the characters deal with it. Small towns, I know from experience, often have the biggest stories.
This week I'm continuing with:
I've gotten through the dumplings chapter in Easy Chinese Recipes without losing my mind with hunger (the word "dumpling" is an instant hunger trigger with me--it all started with Amy Tan's The Kitchen God's Wife where the word "dumpling" appeared on every page). Now I'm into the beef and pork recipes. This is a cookbook I'd actually cook from, and I can't say that for all of them.
I continue slowly through The 50 States. I think I'm in the M's.
And I'm truly loving The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. I don't remember liking the first Calpurnia book this much, though I know I was very impressed. The Galveston hurricane of 1900 has just hit displacing some of Calpurnia's relations. I love how the book brings historical events to life. I hope Jacqueline Kelly comes out with loads of other Calpurnia books, because I will just eat them up.
I know that celebrity memoirs can be hit or miss, but I'm still excited to read Dyan Cannon's biography of her husband, Cary Grant, Dear Cary. Plus, it will be nice to close out the month with something a little fluffy, considering my next book with be nearly 1,000 pages long. Stay tuned.