In the High Peaks

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Something Happened on My Way through May

Yes, indeed.  I fell in love with spring in the Adirondacks all over again.
You see, May last year, I scrambled to finish grading papers and exams for my final semester at the college. The very next day my 4-month-long, grueling professional genealogy course began--and I had not a free moment until Labor Day in early September.

So this year I have found that I am literally going wild with excitement observing all the spring wildflowers again, I'm fascinated taking stock of the state of my forest in different habitats, and also am thrilled to construct new, interesting trails to take advantage of the beauty on our land. Of course I still have to work, so I limit these activities on weekdays to 90 minutes. And weekends, I allow myself much more time still. So it's probably no surprise that I'm not reading as much as I was in March--a stellar reading month--11 books without a single dud.

So, it's no wonder that right now I'm enjoying the forest ecologist Bernd Heinrich's The Trees in My Forest. He writes about his personal studies on his 100+ acres in northwestern Maine, and his land is very similar to our land in the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York. He is probably the best-known and most widely read nature writer in the Northeastern U.S.

I'm still reading L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton, but am eager to finish it so I can strike out and claim some new bookish terrain.

Unfortunately, it's going to be very, very hot this weekend--high 80s!! And still our air conditioner men have not arrived. You will never hear me complain about our winter cold, but the heat does wilt me. The cure: Take a cold shower. Dig deep into a mesmerizing book in a darkened room. Don't come out, unless there's an invitation to an air-conditioned venue.

I will get out very, very early to enjoy nature before the heat hits in earnest.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Travails Along the Bookish Road--With Hope

I realize that I'm fortunate to have a started a new business and to be very busy with work. This is a good thing. I'm very glad I'm no longer working as an adjunct professor earning a pittance, though I miss the students terribly. But actually, I suppose I'm mildly bewailing the fact that I haven had time to read all week. I so cherish the luxury of reading that having my sole time arrive just as I'm falling to sleep feels like a cheat.

So! In reference to my previous post, I had to retire Wilde Lake by Laura Lippmann. I read up to page 100 (it's 355 pages), but I didn't feel it lived up to its starred billing as heralded by Publishers Weekly. I'm sorry to report I found it boring. I'm most assuredly not complaining because I have read so many top-notch, thrilling books this year. Wilde Lake simply wasn't the book for me, and I do hope others will enjoy it.

So! You guessed it. To help me over this hump, I am reading L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton. Oh, what a comfort to be back in the so very un-beautiful Saint Teresa, California, stalking around with Kinsey Milhone, with all her hang-ups and feistiness. It's a balm for my overtaxed mental state.

But I'm looking forward to the following books:
  • The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks (I have read the first two chapters. Beautiful prose that one needs to read slowly to grasp its full merit.
  • Dr. Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak, the new translation, published in 2014. It's my hope to read it this summer. But if work is too frantic, I won't force myself to try to do it.
  • The Lake House by Kate Morton.  I adore Kate Morton's books and this most recent one, I'm sure, will be a pleasure.
  • O Pioneers! by Willa Cather will be my next Classics Read.
Yikes! I just found out the newish British gothic thriller The Loney is waiting for me at the library! Something for the weekend.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Early May Reading--Peter May's The Lewis Man

I returned home from a 10-day business trip in far western New York State last Thursday night. Since then I've been scrambling to write up a report of my findings from that research trip. It pains me that my reading life has had to take a back seat for the time being. Ouch...!

Peter May's second volume in his Lewis Trilogy, The Lewis Man, was fully engrossing. Although not the 10-star tour de force of Volume 1, The Black House, I loved this novel just as much, because more of the main characters' lives and personalities were revealed. These books are thriller/mysteries, written by the Scottish author Peter May, set in the Outer Hebrides islands. Portraying setting and atmosphere is among his secret arsenal of skills. And, of course you know, I'll delay reading the last book in the trilogy because I don't want to let go of these characters.

Right now I've tried to get immersed in Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. I like it very much, but the problem is, I don't have a minute to read it until just before falling asleep, and that does not work very well. I'm hoping to devote lots of time to it this coming weekend.

Am I praying for a rainy weekend??? Well, maybe not, but I wouldn't find one a total loss.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

MacInnes, Sarton, and Classics at Olde Books in Buffalo

When I trooped out Saturday morning to visit Olde Books, about a mile from my hotel near Buffalo Harbor, I had no idea what I would find. Googling online revealed nothing about this used bookstore. But, although the shop appeared inauspicious, I ended up buying six paperbacks, three of which are on my Classics Club list.

I came across a really very old paperback of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in excellent condition--what a find! So intact, as well. Pages as fine and white as can be--a mystery how well preserved it is. Had to snap that up. And a low price to boot.

My second Classics Club book find was Tom Jones by Henry Fielding in a mass-market paperback edition. Very old, discolored, but what's crucial is it is solidly intact and unmarked. I paid two dollars for that. I'm thinking I should read that one soon before I need to use a magnifying glass to read it. Such a long book, which I knew fully when I put it on my list. Have any of you read it?

My last classic is Beryl Markham's West with the Night, a paperback in stellar condition. It's not on my Classics Club List at the moment, but I recall thinking a few months ago that it should be.

I walked in hoping I would find a paperback by Helen MacInnes, and sure enough, success! What a surprise! I paid a $1.65 for The Snare of the Hunter. I don't believe I've read this one--the title rings no bells. I recall enjoying reading her books in the mid-late 1970s, and this title is completely unfamiliar. I'd love to find more.

And May Sarton--And yes, even though I've never read her novels, and have never read her poetry,  how I love her journals! They are treasures depicting life lived in the moment, in each day. In the past I've read and I also own Journal of a Solitude, and I borrowed The House by the Sea (about her move to Maine to a house on the coast). Both are wonderful. Sarton is very in tune with nature and even more so a garden lover and gardener. Both books are wonderful, though I must admit that Journal of a Solitude will always be very special to me. So the title of the one I purchased yesterday is At Seventy. Still gardening at seventy and hopes to garden into her eighties. The journal before At Seventy and after The House by the Sea is Recovering. In her 60s, Sarton suffered a bout of cancer. I haven't read this one, but I think I'd like to. It's one of her most popular.