Monday, July 01, 2019

It's Monday 7/1! What Are You Reading?

Ugh...July 1? That's half of the year over already, and I feel like I'm just running in a hamster wheel (and occasionally getting flung off!). Sorry I missed the Monday post last week - and also visiting blogs - but we had yet another crisis pop up. My father-in-law was in the hospital from Monday through Thursday. It was just a respiratory virus/cold, but at 94 years old, it hit him hard and weakened him. The hospital was frustrating because what they did was not always in his best interest, so we were all thrilled when the doctor discharged him on Thursday (after we waited for 6 hours to talk to him and finally had to almost tackle him to get him into the room! lol). So, my FIL is back in his independent living apartment now, still coughing a bit but otherwise pretty much back to his baseline. He is definitely needing more care and help these days, so we are trying to manage that, while also trying to help get our son's health back on track after a really bad relapse of his chronic illnesses this spring. It's been a tough time here.

We had a nice, quiet weekend, and my husband and I went out by ourselves Saturday evening, which was just what we needed. We were both too exhausted and burned out for social interaction but enjoyed dinner at a local pub and a movie in a recliner theater (Yesterday was great - review to follow, probably today).

And, of course, we always have our books to comfort us. Big Book Summer is about the only thing I am enjoying about summer these days! It's too hot here to do anything else. Here's what we've all been reading the past two weeks:

I FINISHED IT!!! Yes, after five weeks, I finally finished my first Big Book of the Summer, a 959-page chunkster, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. This is a readalong for the Book Cougars podcast for June, plus a classic (I am behind on my Classics Challenge), and from my own shelves, so it counts for several challenges. I never got bored with it in five weeks. It is really an astounding novel, and I can see why it's been so acclaimed for so long. The story is intricate and engrossing, plus it is filled with historical details of the Civil War and Reconstruction in Georgia, which were quite eye-opening. Sure, it is dated to some degree, having been written in the 1930's, and especially in terms of race, but keeping in mind that it is a product of its times, it is a compelling, fascinating novel and worth every one of those almost-1000 pages! I'm going to miss Scarlett, Melanie, Rhett, and the rest of the gang. And now I want to re-watch the 4-hour movie adaptation.

Last week, I had to set Gone with the Wind aside for a few days to re-read one of my all-time favorite novels, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I first read it back in 2015 (you can read my review at the link), and I loved it just as much the second time around! This is a wonderful, warm, witty novel about books and love. The title character is a grumpy recluse who owns a bookstore on tiny Alice Island and lost his wife a year earlier. The novel is about friendship, love, and healing. It is also filled with literary references, the kind of book that has you scribbling a list of other things you want to read while you are reading it! This favorite novel of mine makes me both laugh out loud (frequently) and brings tears to my eyes, even the second time. I couldn't make it to book group after all, because of my father-in-law in the hospital, but I was very glad to have re-read the book, and it was the perfect novel for a stressful week. Highly recommended.

On audio, I've been listening to a middle-grade/teen novel from 2004, Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, an author that we and our sons enjoyed when they were younger (his Silverwing collection was a favorite here). Airborn was nominated for a bunch of awards - and won quite a few of them - when it was first released. It's a fast-paced story that combines adventure, steampunk, and a bit of fantasy, set in a world that is ours...but not. Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on a huge airship that carries wealthy passengers several hundred feet above the ocean, from city to city. With pirates, a dying scientist, a mysterious island, and a never-before-seen creature, it is packed with action and excitement. It's a full-cast audio, so it's lots of fun to listen to.

My husband, Ken, just finished The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong. This thriller was given to me by one of the booksellers in our local bookstore who runs an international mystery book group at the store. Each month, they read a mystery or thriller set in a different country, and this was a favorite in the group. Jeong has been called "the Korean Stephen King" and the novel has been described as "The Talented Mr. Ripley meets The Bad Seed." It begins with the main character waking up, with no memory of the night before, to find his mother's dead body in a pool of blood. I think Ken was a little disappointed in it; it wasn't quite as fast-paced or compelling as he likes. This could have been a translation issue or - as he admits - it could be that with everything going on lately, he never had a good, long stretch to sit and read and get absorbed in it, so he read it in short spurts. He did enjoy it, just not as much as our local bookseller and her mystery book group did.

Now, Ken has started his third Big Book of the summer (he's way ahead of me!), The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund, which I picked out for him at Northshire Books (recommended by the booksellers there) at Booktopia this year. On the cover, it says, "the most disturbing book you'll read this year," so he thinks he knows what to expect! It's a Swedish thriller about a serial killer. At 866 pages, this one might take him a little longer.

Our son, Jamie, 24, has gone back to a favorite series, Sorcery Ascendant Sequence by Mitchell Hogan, and he re-read the first book, A Crucible of Souls (a Big Book, like most that he reads!) and just finished book 2, Blood of Innocents. He loves this series!

Blog posts from the last two weeks:

Movie Monday: Murder Mystery - a light bit of summer comedy

Fiction Review: True Grit by Charles Portis - classic western about a little girl, with a great sense of humor

Saturday Snapshot: First State National Historic Park - a nice Father's Day hike

Author Interview & Memoir Review: The Light Years by Chris Rush - a mind-blowing coming-of-age memoir about growing up in the 1960's and 70's

Author Interview and Fiction Review: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes - warm & witty romcom with serious undertones

Memoir Review: Inheritance by Dani Shapiro - genetic testing brings big surprises!

Saturday Snapshot: HOT Summer Days - a few photos from a rare hike

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, so head over and check out her blog and join the Monday fun! You can also participate in a kid/teen/YA version hosted by Unleashing Readers.

You can follow me on Twitter at @SueBookByBook or on Facebook on my blog's page.   

What are you and your family reading this week?

Remember to sign up for the Big Book Summer Challenge! It's easy-going, like summer - you only have to read one book of 400 or more pages between now and September (though you can, of course, read more!) It's lots of fun and a great way to add extra enjoyment to your summer! All the details are at the link - you can sign up there if you have a blog or, if not, just leave a comment on that page or sign up at the Goodreads group linked from that page. Join the fun!


  1. I hope there are no more crises in your house! And congrats on finishing Gone with the Wind.

    1. Thanks, Helen! Quite an accomplishment, even if it took me 5 weeks!

  2. I'm sorry to hear about your FIL, Sue. I hope he's continuing to improve. And I'm envious over your recliner theater. They have those in Texas, where our parents live, and they are amazing! I'm delighted to hear you finished Gone with the Wind!! That's rather exciting. I'm adding The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry to my list. Because any time you re-read a book you love, I know I need to stick it on a list somewhere. LOL Have a wonderful reading week, Sue!

    1. Almost all of the theaters here are now recliner theaters! A game-changer for me with my chronic illness :) Oh, I think you will love AJ Fikry, Shaye!

  3. I do hope your FIL continues to make good progress. Respiratory illness can be difficult and a challenge as we age. You do have a lot on your plate and really I am in awe of all you do. I am going to take a peek at your Evvie Drake review as that one is on my radar. Congrats on finishing Gone with the Wind.

    1. Thanks, Kathryn - yes, it's been challenging - he's still needing extra help from us and still coughing, so he's home but isolated - they are bringing his meals up to his apartment. Thanks for the kind words - I can't tell you how much they mean to me during such a difficult time. I think you will really like Evvie Drake :)

  4. Love reading your updates about Gone With The Wind - I have it now on my Book Depository Wish List. I am sure I am only a breath away from purchasing it. Have a great reading week!

    1. Hope you enjoy it - glad to inspire you to read it!

  5. congratulations on finishing Gone With The Wind. That's quite the big book! The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry does sound good. I'm struggling with one of my big books that I'm 'reading' as an audiobook. I'm not really enjoying parts of it and wish I was reading it with my eyes so I could skim over some of the angst ridden romantic bits.
    Happy reading this week.