I needed an Ann Cleeves fix so this quick read was the perfect choice!
When Spring finally arrives here in Oregon, my reading slows down. Spring is so gorgeous here, and there are so many outdoor things to see and do. Going for long walks and gardening set the pace of each day, and our “Wandering Wednesdays” define each week, so reading time is moved to “in-between.” I tend to fall asleep while reading at night instead of being able to stay up late to finish a book, and it takes me weeks instead of days to finish a longer book. But I’m okay with that…as long as I have a book going at all times.
Despite all the beautiful distractions during April and May I was able to enjoy and finish these books:
Silent Voices is such a good mystery! This was the first book I could get hold of in the Vera Stanhope series, by Ann Cleeves, although it’s actually the 4th book. Looks like the series will be republished and the earlier books available next February? I will definitely read the earlier books when they come out. And, in the meantime, I do love the TV series starring Brenda Blethyn! She does a great job as Vera!
There are a number of fictional towns I would love to move to! During May, I spent a great deal of time enjoying the village of Fairacre while reading Village School, by Miss Read. I slowly savored the pleasure of reading about this quiet community as described through the eyes of the local school teacher. I loved the stories of the children and their families, and the teachers and their lives, and I loved becoming part of their community, if only for a while.
As a retired school teacher myself, I loved the honest portrayal of school life and a school year, and I appreciated the wry and compassionate humor of the Miss Read. Her descriptions were so true to my own experiences in the classroom. Here is one passage that perfectly describes a warm sunny afternoon in my own classroom a few years ago:
The lesson on the time-table was ‘Silent Reading’ and in various attitudes, some graceful and some not, the children sat or lay in the grass with their books propped before them. Some read avidly, flickering over the pages, their eyes scampering along the lines. But other lay on their stomachs, legs undulating, with their eyes fixed dreamily on the view before them, a grass between their lips, and eternity before them.
Spending time in Fairacre was a lovely experience! Fortunately, I don’t have to leave the village for quite awhile because Village School was just the first of the series and there are many more Fairacre books to read. Sounds like a lovely place to spend my summer!
If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were fondle them — peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.”
~ Winston Churchill
A wonderful quote to share with you this morning! It beautifully describes my own love of books and puts my mind at ease when I start to worry about how slowly I am reading these days or how tall my TBR pile has become over the years. It’s not about how many I am able to read, but about how much I love books. And there are so many ways to “read” a book, by finding the perfect word, by reading a wonderful sentence, by enjoying an entire story, or by savoring the illustrations. I love being surrounded by books. I love reading, and Mr. Churchill perfectly explains why. I am rich in friends.
As I was doing some blog organization this morning, I found this draft of a post long abandoned. The photo is from 3 years ago, when we were still living in our condo in the Seattle area, and the post was intended to show my cozy “reading space” for the Estellagram challenge of that month. I don’t know why I didn’t post it on that day, although I did include it in my summary post of the Estellagram photos of that month (which is why there are some comments attached to it). However, finding the photo this morning made me homesick for that reading spot. Incidentally, the photo also shows my blogging spot — with my laptop on the round table and the view out over the greenbelt. I have other reading and blogging spots now in our new home, but those were particularly nice ones and I didn’t realize that I was missing them until I found this photo!
Going through my reading notebook this morning, I discovered a quote I had copied from Anna and Her Daughters, by D.E. Stevenson. It was a book I really enjoyed, by an author I love, and I particularly liked this paragraph:
The storyteller has always been a valuable member of society. Even in prehistoric times when men hunted wild beasts and lived in caves they sat round the camp-fire at night and listened to stories. Your profession is one of the oldest in the world and one of the most useful. “Away!” I cried, laughing. “It is, really. And we need stories more than ever now. We need stories to entertain us, to help us to forget our troubles, to fill our lives with colour.
Nancy Pearl is one of my reading heroes so when she recommends a book, I listen! Nancy Pearl’s Book Crush Rediscoveries is her project, alongside Amazon Books, to reprint books for kids and teens, books that were out of print but that in her opinion should not have been out of print! This series for teens is a recent offshoot of her adult series, Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Rediscoveries, “devoted to reprinting some of the best (and now out of print) novels originally published between 1960-2000.” I love her idea of rediscovering old treasures! I have enjoyed each of her suggestions, and look forward to reading more books from her rediscovery series.
One of the books included in her Rediscoveries series is a book called Greensleeves, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, an author I love. A few years ago I read her book, The Moorchild, and wrote a review of it here. So when I found another book by her on Nancy Pearl’s list, I knew it would be worth reading and I was not disappointed!
Greensleeves is a story about a young woman searching for her own identity in a confusing world. It is a timeless coming-of-age story, although written in 1968. Shannon Lightley, the daughter of a famous actress and a famous journalist, divorced and both remarried, splits her time between two very different households. She is a “different person” in each household, overwhelmed by the strong personalities of both her parents, and simply doesn’t feel that she “belongs” anywhere. So rather than spend the summer with either parent, she turns to a close family friend, “Uncle Frosty” who has always been very supportive of her. Listening to her woes and confusions, “Uncle Frosty” gave her some wise advice:
“The chief thing is to get busy enough with something else to quit thinking about yourself for a while.”
He offers to help her get an apartment for the summer so that she can do some “undercover” work for his law firm. An elderly woman had just died and left a rather unusual will. In her will, she left all her money to her neighbors instead of to her daughter, who is now contesting the will. Shannon will move into the old woman’s apartment and see if she can find out whether or not the neighbors coerced her into changing her will.
So Shannon moves in, finds a waitressing job in the neighborhood, and assumes another “persona” for her sleuthing. Her summer is spent getting to know all about the old lady and her neighbors… and herself.
A fascinating read, this was a book I couldn’t put down, and I highly recommend it.
“That’s the beauty of a novel like Greensleeves: it might have been written almost half a century ago, but its heroine, and the choices she faces, are totally modern.”
Time to catch up with myself and let you know what books I have enjoyed reading in the last two months! I am a happy reader these days and my February and March choices reflect my “relaxing retirement reading” … plenty of mysteries, books about gardens and gardening, a sprinkle of classics, and books by favorite authors. My days are filled up and busy with lots of different kinds of activities now, but I still need and love my reading time. It’s just not about how many books I read anymore, but how I much I enjoy the ones I choose!