Books Read: September 2022
Fall, it’s here, I’m waking up to cool mornings and enjoying warm afternoons before the cool off in the evenings. I love this time of year. A good month of reading as we had one last heat wave early in the month and I waited on the cooler temperatures to arrive.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-House Bookstore
I know of Robin Sloan and had seen this book talked about for years and happened upon a copy at my local used bookstore (autographed no less) and am so glad I read it. It’s hard to describe the book, to be honest, but Clay Jannon takes a job working at a strange bookstore, covering the overnight shift. He doesn’t fully understand what’s going on there but as he learns more he’s sucked into an adventure that I didn’t see coming. I couldn’t put this down and loved it, laughing at times and enjoying the ride.
The Yarn Whisperer
I found Clara Parkes via her other books on knitting and decided to give her essays a try. I do like her writing, so much that I’ve subscribed to her daily email, but in this book some of the essays didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Not everything from knitting can be correlated with life quite the way she does, but I enjoyed enough of them that it was worth it.
The internet has given rise to a culture in which our private-facing side is our public-facing side. Perpetual self-revelation is not only appropriate, it’s expected. It’s getting hard to tell if we’re viewing someone’s smooth stockinette facade, a genuinely vulnerable bumpy backside, or a new kind of reverse-stockinette-stitch fabric that’s a highly edited, fictionalized version of our true selves. Each reveal is designed to give you the feeling of being intimate friends with someone who is, in fact, a complete stranger. You know how they say you can be in a crowded room and feel completely alone? Nowadays you don’t even need to leave home to feel alone among the crowd. (p 52)
Angeline Boulley’s story is fascinating, difficult, and filled with hope all at the same time. Daunis Fontaine graduated high school, but her family is filled with difficulty as her uncle died in the spring and her grandmother has had a stroke and is in care. She is close to her indigenous family, but isn’t a formal member of her tribe. And she’s seeing breakdowns in her community due to drug use. In a fast paced story, we travel with Daunis as she decides to use her strength and do something to help her community, taking risks along the way, but also hoping she can save lives. Highly recommend this one.
The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem
I found this book after watching the Benjamin Franklin doc on PBS and seeing Stacy Schiff speak about Franklin. Intrigued I looked up her work. I only knew very surface things before reading this book, mostly from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, but this book didn’t leave much out. It’s dense and it took me a while to make my way through, but Schiff does a great job of plainly saying what we know and don’t know. A few things struck me. One, how many men who were heavily involved and were avid diary keepers and yet there weren’t any suriving diaries from that time period, maybe they knew they’d done something awful? Two, how much this same exact scenario has happened over the course of history. And finally, how much the Puritan ethic of how to live life—no joy, no leisure, and working all the time—truly still infects the way many people in the US live today.
Shadow and Bone
Alina Starkov, a cartographer in the army, finds herself with her best friend in a horrible situation and does what she can to save lives. From that act her entire life changes and she learns more about who she really is and what her powers are in this world that has been at war for a hundred years. I tore through this first book of the series and found the world building engaging as well as the story line of the Grisha. I’m currently waiting on the second book from the library.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
A small memoir about a year in which the author couldn’t get out of bed and a friend brought her a wild snail in a pot of wild violets and set it next to her bed. The snail gets transferred to a proper terrarium and Elisabeth Tova Bailey watches it as it goes about its life. She starts to research snails and throughout the book she sprinkles in facts about gastropods as you learn more about what her snail is up to. This book is fascinating and wonderful.