Books Read: August 2022

For many, this weekend marks the end of summer, kids are back to school, or schedules are changing. For our house summer is still going strong, especially given our above average temperatures that won’t quit (it’s been soooooo hot!). I’ve been reading, knitting on a sweater, and starting to evaluate the garden and what worked and what didn’t, thinking about changes for next year. I’m ready for fall, or at least high temperatures in the 70s, but I’m trying to remember that soon it will be cooler with (hopefully) rain. I’m trying to soak up and enjoy the good things that this time of year offers—fresh sungolds like candy in your mouth which I know I’ll miss in a few months.

The Knitter’s Book of Yarn

I’ve been watching a podcast by one of my favorite pattern designers in the last few months and she talks a lot about yarn and fiber and the differences and I wanted to learn more so I ordered a book to do just that. This book has a lot of patterns in it, but it also is a great overview of yarn starting with the various fibers and then moving from there to how it’s made and finally looking at plys and how they change the nature of yarn. I enjoyed it and I’ll probably make some of the patterns as well, but I know I’ll refer to the various beginning sections quite a bit. I hope I get better at matching yarn with patterns.

Between Two Kingdoms: a memoir of a life interrupted

Suleika Jaouad is diagnosed with leukemia at age 22 and goes through a years long odyssey to beat it and then has to figure out how to live. Her memoir is heart felt, honest, and a fascinating look at how after you recovery there is still so much work to do. I ripped through this book and found the road trip portion in the second part so fascinating, how much time on the road alone helps to sort through what’s going on in one’s mind. Jaouad, unfortunately, just suffered a relapse and has been battling cancer again, but this book is filled with hope even amidst the ongoing health battles that she and the friends she makes go through.

Knitting Yarns: writers on knitting

More reading about knitting! This is a book of essays edited by Ann Hood, who wrote The Knitting Circle that I recently read, and every essay is written by a writer who either knits or has been around people who knit. These really varied for me, but several made me laugh out loud and others made me think quite a bit about why I knit.

Jayber Crow

I first read this book just over twenty years ago and it was a novel that I loved and thought about often. It’s traveled with me through many moves even as I have thinned and gotten rid of the vast majority of my books, so I decided another reading was in order. I still think it’s a great character novel, Jayber tells the story of Port William while also telling his story. It’s really a history of the mid twentieth century, told through the changes in a small town. And I don’t disagree with Wendell Berry’s view on how farming changed for the worse, but I did feel like there is a bit of nostalgia (maybe this isn’t the right word but I can’t think of another) for that time. And I suppose that events of the last 8 or so years have me thinking differently about nostalgia for previous eras.

The Secret to Superhuman Strength

Alison Bechdel has a way of taking really difficult subjects, personal subjects, and making them fascinating reads that are hard to put down. The title may lead you to think that this book is about exercise and fads and I thought that too through the first couple of chapters, but it’s about so much more. Bechdel is looking at her life and the lives of writers she admires and using those lives to also help her understand herself and her own life. Finally, in her 50s, Bechdel feels a sense of understanding, but it’s after a lot of ups and downs.

Farenheit 451

I read this book because G couldn’t believe I hadn’t ever read it in school and because I kept making comments about people always having in ear buds everywhere I went. (If you’ve read the book, then you get why he connected those comments with it.) The book appeared on my night stand and joined the to be read pile. I’m glad I read it, especially in these times. As Bradbury shows people being constantly distracted as the government essentially bans thinking, one can’t help but draw at least some loose parellels with today’s world of easy entertainment as the real issues get lost in the noise. But so too, as in the book, there are people fighting to keep things that matter front and center. The only other thing I’ve thought about a lot is how in the world the fire chief could quote books so well if he never read them because it was against the law. In the the afterword in the edition I read Bradbury points out that in the play he shows the chief’s house, full of books (aha!). That play would be interesting to see based on the tweaks Bradbury made to the story.