In the High Peaks

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How do you listen to Audible books (or downloads) in your car? That's the question I'm dying to have answered today.

Ever since I started listening to an unabridged library audiobook of A Woman in Charge, a biography of Hillary Clinton by Carl Bernstein, published in 2007, I've been longing to listen to a copy that has not been scratched by other eager, careless library borrowers. Audible has the unabridged version, but how do you listen to Audible in the car? As fate would have it, the unabridged version is no longer available as a regular CD audiobook. Any editorial comments you have on this title are also welcome!

As you can see, I'm beginning to line up my fall traveling reads.

An abridged CD version is available, but I loathe abridged books! Publishers delete all the interesting parts, at least from my point of view.

Please share all of your audiobook habits (and secrets) with me!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Boston Trip and Fall Reading Plans

A Word to the Reader: This post is less about books than it is about my current life situation as it pertains to books.

My Boston trip had some wonderful highs and a few unexpected lows. The good news is that my mother and I had a spectacularly beautiful day on Saturday to drive to our old haunts and to the cemeteries where our loved ones are buried. We had a splendid lunch at Amarin, the best Thai restaurant in the Greater Boston area. Mom loved her meal and I was so pleased she liked it as much as she did. Sunday we had a wonderful heart-to-heart talk about some family issues, the best we've had in I don't know how long. The low points for me involved the realization that aspects of her finances that I thought were being managed well are not, and aspects of her health care directives are not being adequately addressed the way I thought they were. So I need to make many, many more trips to Boston this fall.

And all of this leads to more READING. Five hours to and five hours fro.

Listening to audiobooks while driving is pure survival. This weekend I listened to Maeve Binchy's A Week in Winter, and I'm not done yet, though I am enjoying it.

FYI: I don't know about you, but I can't concentrate on literary fiction while driving. I can do biographies, memoirs, and light fiction. Anything else is begging for an accident.

And to rest and relieve stress, I need to force myself to sit down on my favorite couch and read regularly. The problem is this: If I'm busy, I feel I need to work and take care of business, but this fall I'm going to need to do everything I can to make stress relief my #1 priority.

I'm really enjoying The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. I need to take my own advice and give myself permission to sit and read in the next week. My classes start Thursday, September 5.

Lots of excellent new books on the horizon! I'll try to keep you informed.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

At Summer's End

Late summer is a beautiful time of year and I've always loved it. But just when I'd most like to savor the season, I must rush to finish what I've put off all summer. And on Friday, I take off for Boston to visit my mother and my brother. I'll be staying three nights in my favorite hotel, which I choose because the beds are so comfortable and perfect for READING. Think big, comfy beds that put you up in the clouds!

Although I lived on the outskirts of the city for most of my adult life before moving to the Adirondacks, I find that with each visit to the metropolis, I have more and more trouble tolerating the boom and bustle of city life. Translated, that means the suffocating, incessant traffic and noise. Ouch.

Which books will I bring to comfort me in the jungle?

For over a year I've wanted to read The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great by the Polish-born Canadian, Eva Stachniak, which was published in 2011. The book received good reviews, and now that I finally have the novel in my house, I love that it's written in first person perspective. From my brief scan of the entire book, I can see it's laden with atmosphere and setting, with lots of drama throughout. Just the way I like it! I want to drop out of society and come back when I've finished it.

I'll bring my Nook and also try to finish The Husband's Secret. And, knowing me, I'll bring a couple of other titles along.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves

As soon as I heard the NPR "On Point" program about psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz's book The Examined Life, I knew I had to read it. I waited weeks for it from the library, and after five weeks I gave in and purchased it inexpensively for the Kindle (much cheaper than for the Nook, by nearly 4 dollars).

I found Grosz, in both the NPR interview and the book, to be simply a compassionate, considerate psychotherapist who has great interest in human behavior and in the ways in which our family backgrounds influence our lives in adulthood. Grosz tells many, many stories about people who find themselves stuck in their lives, in one way or another, and I have found that each tale has been illuminating to me, either personally in my own experience, or in the experiences of the people I have known.

I highly recommend this book. If you have had counseling in the past at some point, you will be most fascinated, I think, but anyone with keen personal insight and interest in people's lives will enjoy it. So many, many fascinating stories!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I Have Succumbed...and an Investigation into The Book Depository

You may remember my aforementioned impulse, my wish to read another book like The Silent Wife. As it happens, there is another acclaimed page-turner, similar in subject matter, with excellent reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. (Yes, I studied them all.) I bought the book early this evening for my Nook, and it is The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. This link will take you to for the simple reason that there is a brief blurb by Sara Nelson, former editor of Publishers Weekly, that gets to the heart of the matter of chick lit vs. this title. Good for you, Sara! Earlier this evening, I was able to get to full-text reviews of all the reviews mentioned, and now I can't find it. So I hope you, dear readers, have better luck!

Of course I would like to be more highbrow at the moment, but I am as weak as a chocaholic in a bon bon factory. I have started in on Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, but as I've been warned, it's slow going at the beginning and I'm plodding a bit. But don't despair of me yet! I haven't given up on it and am still reading.

I'm disturbed and disheartened by recent changes at The Book Depository, which I'm assuming is a result of its purchase by "Bigfoot" Amazon, as I mentioned in my previous post. I want to investigate. I'm hitting one brick wall after another in my ability to order books available in the UK. I want to get to the bottom of it! So you will hear from me eventually on this matter.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Nordic Noir Lament & Final Kudos for The Silent Wife

Before I tread into Scandinavian waters, I must tell you that I was floored by the last 27 pages of The Silent Wife. What an ending! In no way could I have predicted. Very entertaining! I predict that this book will be a great sleeper. Because A.S.A. Harrison died not long after her book's debut, the publisher will not be putting money into marketing. Encouragement to read the book will come by word of mouth. And here I am. For more information, I refer you to the previous several entries and the links I provided.

My Nordic Noir Lament:
I suppose I shouldn't complain. Yes, U.S. publishers are still sending forth some Nordic Noir (mystery, thriller, suspense, police procedural) titles into the American mainstream. Jo Nesbo, for example. Liza Marklund is another. And of course Henning Mankell, for years. And Camilla Lacklund. And an Icelandic author or two. And the pseudonymous Lars Kepler. But, all the same, nowhere near enough to embrace the full range of what Scandinavian authors are producing and what Great Britain is publishing. Nordic Noir is being translated into English. So what's the big deal about publishing more of it in the U.S.? American publishers, you need to do more!

A huge problem for me has been that the books I most want to read are either not available through The Book Depository, the British importer to the U.S. of choice; or, if they are available, they are very expensive. So I wait. But a woman with a taste for Nordic Noir does not want to wait. She wants to bite, swallow, and chew! I'm feeling a bit ravenous at the moment. Chomp!

A book on my watch list: Cold Courage by the Finnish author Pekka Hiltunen. Last I checked, it was not available from The Book Depository, though people in Britain are reading it. Sarah blogged about it on Crime Pieces.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

On to the Next Book: The Butterfly Sister or a Meatier Meal?

I'm finishing up The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison as I write. I think the last 27 pages will be powerful, but I will let you know. As of right now, it has been entertaining, with a smidgin more serious action relating to discussions about Adlerian psychology. That was a plus. Jodi, the protagonist, is a psychotherapist, after all. Her therapy with Gerald, years before the novel's action, is a minor subplot, but it's cleverly done. The main action dwells on Jodi, her estranged soon to be ex-husband Todd, and his impending nuptials to the young pregnant daughter (early-to-mid twenties) of one of Todd's and Jodi's friends. (Well, of course, Todd is going to be a father for the first time.) Actually, much of the novel presents two points of view--each chapter about Jodi is followed by a chapter about Todd and so on. The novel is set in Chicago but this is not, not a book that emphasizes setting. If you like Chicago, you will be disappointed. Would I have read it if I had known what I know today? Absolutely.

So for my next book I want more candy. I think this is because of the anxiety-producing chaos that descends upon my life each year in mid-August. On my Nook I have The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen, which has just been published (August 6). I caved for the hype; excuse me, I fell for the blurbish synopsis and the reviews from PW, BooklistLibrary Journal, Kirkus. It's gothic, a mystery, and suspense, with lots of links to women writers of the past.

But in my other hand, I tell myself, I should have a book I promised myself I would read this summer. One of the big four: Bel Canto, The Sweet Tooth, Flight Behavior, and how could I have forgotten the fourth? Oh, well, I'll let you know where I stand.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Town Library Book Sale & Rethinking Reading Wolf Hall

For the first time in eight years, I didn't spend much time working on our library book sale. I admit I felt some guilt about it, but I work more than ever now, and it was the year to pass on the torch to others who have more time. Fewer books were donated this year, yet I managed to find plenty that I felt MUST be added to my collection.

I was delighted to drop a Mary Roberts Rinehart mystery, The Yellow Room, into my bag. It was originally published in 1945, although the edition I bought was a clean modern mass-market paperback from 1973. I've never read her, and because a number of you have enjoyed her books, I thought I'd try her out. 

I snatched up a very clean copy of the first volume of Bob Dylan's Chronicles. The early era of Bob Dylan's music is what interests me most, so reading about his early life seems the perfect fit.

A hardbound edition of Simon Schama's A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World? 3500 B.C.-1603 A.D. was another title I grabbed before anyone else could. Does anyone know why there's a question mark in the middle of the title? Anyway, this book is right up my alley because I'm very interested in the ancient history of Britain, probably because most of my ancestors came from the British Isles. This is the companion book to the series broadcast on BBC and later PBS years ago. Did any of you watch it?

A handsome hardcover copy of Hilary Mantel's Bringing Up The Bodies was my next pick. But you know, I haven't read her first title set in Tudor England, Wolf Hall. I chose not to read it when it was first published, based on a fallacious assumption. Since my teens, I have overdosed on Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and all the rest, so I felt I could not bear to read another novel about the Tudor era. But a dear friend told me that she appreciated Wolf Hall because it cast Cromwell in such a different light from all the movies and books she'd read in the past. And I thought, that would be a refreshing read!  So now I've got to snatch up a copy of Wolf Hall somewhere, which shouldn't be too difficult.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Final Note on The Greatcoat and The Successor to Gone Girl

The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore did not disappoint--not one iota, not in any way. I find Dunmore to be extremely sensitive in her handling of characterization. A master! I am in awe of her development of Isabel's character and the way she unfolds or irons out the wrinkles of her past, along with the present-time, other-worldly events occurring in her life. I know that this is one book that I will return to again and again. Too bad I have a library copy at present! I would love to add my own to my bookshelf.

So I'm on to my next book. And wouldn't you know, I found a book that's been hyped with gushing blurbs written by none other than Elizabeth George, Kate Atkinson,  Anne Lamott, and Tess Gerritson. Some say it's much better than Gone Girl, which I'll admit was a mildly entertaining read, but it was nothing great and certainly not worthy of being nominated for a major award.

From my point of view, book marketing comparisons are the most odious things in publishing.
These comparisons insult both authors, but especially the author to whom the new author is being compared. What are your thoughts on this practice? But, watch me now(!), I was influenced by the esteemed authors' comments to download a copy of The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison onto my Nook. The purchase was only eight dollars and change, which helped push my finger onto the "Confirm" button. I want to consume it immediately.

I have just learned that A.S.A. Harrison died in April 2013 at the age of 65. How sad. At least Harrison knew before she died that her debut novel would be published.