Monday, April 26, 2021

It's Monday 4/26! What Are You Reading?

Running late today because I'm just back from one of those marathon medical appointments with my son--an hour's drive out into Amish country, an hour each with his two specialists who are there, and then an hour's drive back home (in between, he got 2 IVs and I bought more supplements for the two of us). It's a tiring day for both of us but well worth it and a lovely drive through the countryside. Besides, I got to spend lots of time with my son, and he's been home since yesterday. He needs to rest before attempting the drive home, so he'll be here for one more dinner (red beans and rice, his favorite!). We always enjoy having him home, and his brother came for dinner last night, too.


A short but lovely hike Friday

Last week was super-busy, but my husband and I did take Friday morning off for a take-out breakfast from a favorite restaurant and a short hike on a new-to-us trail.

A beautiful trail along the stream

Now, here's what we've all been reading this past week:

I finished my book group pick, Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard by Douglas Tallamy. Doug is a local author and has written several books about nature, biodiversity, and native plants. This one also covers those topics but with a focus on what you (and all of us ordinary people) can do to make a difference in this rapidly deteriorating ecological situation we find ourselves in, by planting native plants in our own yards. He details how and why such a small-seeming step can make such a big difference. This book dovetailed well with The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, which I read (and loved) in February. It was fascinating, and for me, explained some of the underlying reasons why native plants are so important. I also enjoyed the gorgeous, full-color photographs throughout the book, especially since many of them were taken here in my area in places familiar to me.

Next, I moved onto a novel I have been looking forward to, Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline. I gave this book to my husband for Christmas and he recently read it, and now it's my turn! (Best kind of gifts, right?) My husband, son, and I all loved the original (and the movie) and have been looking forward to the sequel. I'm about 125 pages in now. It was a slowish start for me, with a dismal outlook for Wade and the rest of the world. He has not handled fame and fortune well, and a new technology that Halliday left for him is again changing the world, not necessarily in good ways. But the action has picked up now, both in the OASIS, with a new quest, and in the real world, and I am well-immersed in the story now and enjoying it. I think I might know where it is going ultimately but not what will happen on the way, so I am eager to learn more and see what happens next.

I started a new audio book last week that I am loving, Astray by Emma Donoghue. To my surprise, I found it is a collection of short stories (it's been a while since I downloaded it!). For each story, Donoghue took a small nugget of real-life news from the 1700's-early 1900's and filled in the details with fiction. The stories are each fascinating in their own way; I can't imagine the research she must have done to find these obscure and interesting bits of news. She includes an afterword with each story, describing her sources and where she found them. The stories mostly take place in the UK and US but cover a wide range of characters and subjects, from a world-famous elephant named Jumbo and his trainer in 1700's London who are sold to P.T. Barnum to a slave in Texas who runs away with his master's wife to a pair of fortune seekers who barely survive a winter in the Yukon during the gold rush ... and so much more! I think I only have two stories left, but I have enjoyed every single one of them.

My husband, Ken, finished another Christmas gift from me, One By One by Ruth Ware. He and I both enjoy Ware's wonderful, nail-biting thrillers. I reviewed In the Dark, Dark Wood (never stay in a glass house) and The Woman in Cabin 10 (watch out for small cruises). All he told me about this new one is that people are being killed, one by one (hence the title!). Sounds a bit like Agatha Christie's classic, And Then There Were None, which I read recently, and I see some reviewers have made the same comparison. Amazon says it's about a group of nine people at a ski resort in the Swiss Alps for a corporate retreat who get snowed in together, with one person still out on the slopes when the avalanche hits. Sounds like a suspenseful one! He enjoyed it.

Ken is now reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra, a novel which garnered multiple awards and accolades when it was released in 2013. I read this book back in 2015 with one of my book groups and loved it (my review). A friend I lent it to recently returned it, so my husband decided to read it, though it is quite a departure from his usual thrillers. It takes place during the Chechnyan wars. A newly orphaned eight-year-old girl is taken by a kind neighbor to the local hospital, which is mostly bombed out. A doctor named Sonja remains there, working by herself day and night to care for anyone who manages to find their way there. The girl and the neighbor are still in danger from those who killed her parents, and they hide out at the hospital (he is a doctor so pledges to help Sonja in return). It's all about connections between people and how love and hope can survive in the worst circumstances. It's a powerful, moving novel, so I hope he enjoys it as much as I did.

Our 26-year-old son is immersed in one of his favorite series, Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. He's now onto book 4, Rhythm of War, which is a mere 1232 pages ... and hardcover! He brought this one home with him this weekend--just a bit of light reading for travel. He loves epic fantasy, the longer the better, and he thinks my annual Big Book Summer Challenge (coming up next month!) where I read 400+ page books each summer is pretty funny. When he was twelve, we were halfway across the country on a day-long journey through airports when we realized he'd stuffed the hardcover edition of the complete works of Arthur Conan Doyle into his backpack for the trip! 


Blog posts last week:

Movie Monday: Moxie - with Amy Poehler - I loved it!

TV Tuesday: Debris - a new sci fi thriller series we're enjoying

Teen/YA Review: One Way or Another by Kara McDowell - a fun, twisty rom-com with a serious center

Middle-Grade/Teen Graphic Novel Review: Flamer by Mike Curato - outstanding story of a boy's struggle with his identity at Boy Scout camp in the 1990's

And one book-related video:

 Friday Reads 4-23-21

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?



  1. I would love to travel through Amish country, I can only imagine it. Your mini tramp looks very scenic. One by One sounds very suspenseful, I don't think I 'd like to be snowed in there!

  2. These books all sound fantastic, especially Astray—I had a weird moment where I was thinking, "Why did they misspell 'ashtray'?", and then my brain started working! I love that the short stories are based on old, minor bits of news. I'm glad Ready Player Two is picking up for you, and I'm also glad you got to visit with your son and go on a nice hike! Thanks so much for the great post!

  3. Emma Donoghue is really an amazing writer, isn't she? I'm not too crazy about Ruth Ware, but maybe she's better in print than on audio.
    I wonder if I should reread Ready Player One before going on to Ready Player Two. I listened to RP1 on audio, actually.

  4. I used to drive the 2 hours to LA a lot with my daughter when she was dancing and even though it was tiring, it was concentrated time with her, which I loved. I am sure it's the same with you and your son.

  5. I finished The Sixth Extinction last week and then went and ordered her most recent book. The state of the planet feels pretty dismal right now so I need to find and read Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard.

  6. Adding Nature's Best Hope to my reading list. I found the 6th Extinction so alarming, I want to be part of a solution. This sounds good.

  7. I gave my husband READY PLAYER ONE several years ago and he never read it (AND he lost his copy, which I had been planning to read), but he did see the movie and really enjoyed maybe I can get him to read READY PLAYER TWO? I'm going to keep that in the back of my mind as a gift idea for him!