Monday, July 10, 2017

What I'm reading this week (7/10/17)

 Last week I finished:

Mercy is something I think about a lot these days. The world, perhaps America specifically, is in need of a whole lot of mercy right now. We all need to reflect to others the mercy we feel shone on us. But while I enjoyed Anne Lamott's latest collection of essays on mercy, Hallelujah Anyway, I felt that I didn't walk away with any clear ideas of what Lamott felt about mercy. This book felt a little different than Lamott's previous work (I've read all of her nonfiction). There were whole paragraphs that seemed airy and nebulous, with nothing concrete to hold onto. These didn't go on for too long, but they felt strange. I would realize I'd read a whole page and had no idea what she said. I don't remember ever running into this before. Additionally, this book wasn't funny like her other work. I don't remember laughing once, and I don't really remember any attempts at jokes. Is Lamott changing her writing style? Was it the topic that affected it? Overall, though, I was happy with this one, and I look forward to more. My rating: 3.5 stars.

A year or so ago I watched the movie Anna and the King of Siam, a film I randomly DVR'd for some Saturday night at home. I loved that movie. While more people have probably seen The King and I, both movies are based on the book Anna and the King of Siam, published in 1944 by Margaret Landon. As soon as I watched the movie, I put the book on my TBR, and there it sat for months and months. Lately, I've felt like I need to up my reading game, so I made a list of "modern classics" that I want to read. This was at the top of this list. And then it moved to the top of my July reading list. I read a first edition library copy, complete with that glorious musty smell. It was kind of heaven (or it would have been if the typeface were larger). Guys, I adored this book. I don't imagine it's for everyone, but if you love adventure stories, stories about foreign lands, stories about Asia, you should add this one to your reading list. It's the fictionalized biography of Anna Leonowens who became the teacher to the 70-some children of the King of Siam (now Thailand). You read all about the palace and the intrigue of royal, as well as slave, life. This takes place in the 1860s. The French are trying to take over Siam. Siam rules over Laos and Cambodia (as I understand it). Anna is an idealist with high morals (think Jane Eyre) and a passion for righting wrongs. She cannot stand to see someone suffer, and she becomes the "fixer" for all kinds of Siamese. The King is an arrogant, intelligent, omnipotent ruler who is by turns cruel, vengeful, petty, tender, witty, and charismatic. The two clash terribly but also respect each other. It was not an easy life for Anna, and Siam was a very different culture from the England she grew up in. I was enthralled and fascinated by the vivid picture I got of the Siam royalty, grounds, and customs. And I was especially struck how at a time in history where the only information you have about other cultures is through word of mouth or perhaps books or journalism, folks knew next to nothing about the peoples and cultures of the world. I can't imagine living in a time like that. I loved this one, I really did. Enough to go to ebay and buy a musty first edition for a future return to Siam. My rating: 4.5 stars.

This week I continue reading:

I'm really loving Richard Ford's Between Them. Check back for a review next week.

I'm putting other things before Poems to Read lately, so it's been slow going. I'm surprised at how many of these poems are new to me.

Next up:

I'm so excited to begin my re-read of Sense and Sensibility.

My audiobook/s:

I have just a teeny tiny amount of Everyone Brave Is Forgiven left. I'll put up a full review next week. I was wrong about this one. My opinion has done a 180.

My next audiobook will be the third in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Morality for Beautiful Girls.

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