Filling up the tank before school starts! I read six books this month.
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair (Nina Sankovitch)
Author Nina Sankovitch spends a year reading a book a day. There is something simultaneously self-absorbed and enviable in the premise of her project. I mean, really, who can afford to carve out enough time in the day to read an entire book? Isn't there laundry to do, kids to care for, cans to open for dinner? First read about her book a day project in the NYT, which profiled her at the close of her project. Enjoyed the book, especially learning about her tight-knit family and how reading shaped each member. But more so, I have enjoyed reading her project blog and observing her writing style and opinions develop.
The Island (Elin Hilderbrand)
Back in the day, when I was a publisher's rep for St. Martin's Press and before chick lit was a fiction subgenre, we called these books "smart-women's fiction." Not much of a ring, I know, but a term that was meant to summarize this sort of more-than-romance, character- and relationship-driven fiction. Hilderbrand does this really well, plus she manages to transport the reader to Nantucket, which is where most, if not all, of her books are set. The Island continues a theme begun in Tolstoy, perhaps, about chucking responsibility (jobs, family) to recover or find oneself. Clearly a fantasy state!
Throne of Fire (Rick Riordan)
Read-aloud with my boys, one of who believes the author walks on water. Throne of Fire is book #2 in Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles. Don’t remember much of the story, b/c lately, during reading time, I have had to marshal the boys through skirmishes, which are very, very distracting to me. But, I think Rick Riordan does a fine job with pacing. Characters are pretty one-dimensional. Story alternates between each sibling’s voice and, except for their romantic crushes, one absolutely cannot tell the difference between each. Since Riordan is writing volume three currently, I suspect we'll be at this same place a year from now.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsburg)
Another read-aloud to the boys. This one conducted on a four-hour car drive from Princeton, NJ, to Lake George in the Adirondacks. Classic story of two siblings who run away from home and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Adventurous. Loved it. Will read more Konigsburg.
The Tortoise and the Hare (Elizabeth Jenkins)
Impeccably written. Gentle. Tweedy. British women’s fiction. Set post-World War 2. Explores women’s roles in relationships. Easily one of the best novels I have read this year. Sad to learn that Jenkins, who was quite a prolific author (12 novels, 12 biographies), only has this one novel in print [at least that I can see]. I would easily read another book from her.
The New York Four (Brian Wood)
This graphic novel, a compilation of four stand-alone comic books, follows four classmates, soon to become roommates, through their first semester of freshman year at NYU. Singles of New York Five: second semester await.