Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Setting Straight a Less Than Stellar Reading Year

The snow has been falling all this month of March. It has snowed all day and last night. It's snowing now, and it will snow tonight, tomorrow, and the next day.

I don't mind this one bit. I feel as though I'm in a snow-globe cocoon. Getting a huge bulk of snow underfoot now means that Sasha and I will be able to keep our woods-loving selves free of mud for weeks to come. We will be free to traipse all over everywhere, with me in snowshoes of course and Sasha walking in my tracks. April is welcome to be as muddy as it likes, because by then the sun is high enough to dry out our dirt roads so that we have excellent road walking. I wish I had a good photo to post, but it needs to stop snowing first.

Okay--My conundrum:
I browsed through my list of books read in 2017, especially those I read in the first 3-4 months of the year and realized, with a start, that my 2018 reading has been nowhere near as satisfying as it was last year. In 2017, I enjoyed almost all of the books I read and I loved so many of them. I must blog a few posts about the stellar books of 2017, because I didn't do it at New Year's.

Things have improved with my last two books read in 2018, however.
First off has been an audiobook that has riveted me beyond realization. I wrote a bit of the premise of Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover in my last entry, when I had just started listening. When I penned that entry, I had no idea how tough a read (or listening experience) it would be.

 I must tell readers that at times Tara's story seemed unremittingly grim to me, especially when she was living in the grips of her parents' rigid fundamentalist beliefs without a way out. There are many, many incredibly frightening events that occur, BUT I did not even consider setting the book aside. It was too compelling, too well-written, and Tara's character was too strong to give up on her story.
I do heartily recommend this book because it has something to say to everyone who ever grew up in a close family. It has something to say to everyone who ever tried to live their dreams, and to live a life free from the shackles that hamstrung their parents.  But still, it is a challenging read.

I thoroughly enjoyed (and reveled in) Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. Oh, Pym certainly was a proto-feminist, but her revelations about that, as portrayed through the first-person narrator Mildred, are subtle, yet at the same time, unmistakable, and revealed with Pym's recognizably droll humor.

Mildred, a woman in her thirties in the very early 1950s, lives solely on the small income left to her by her deceased parents. She seems to have never longed for a paying job or suffer the lack of one.
She has a second-floor apartment and a small attic space in a not prosperous London neighborhood, and must share a bathroom with the occupants of the first-floor apartment, who change from time to time.  Mildred is a hard-working member of her "High Anglican" church community, and she also volunteers for a charity that helps "elderly gentlewomen," who have fallen on hard times.

In this novel, Mildred keeps being swept up in her neighbors' and fellow churchgoers' difficult affairs of the heart. She, too, has a number of not entirely satisfactory relationships with single men but never seems to stop hoping. Until things change. And that's what makes this book worth the reading.


  1. I really should re-read Barbara Pym's books as it's decades since I read them. I'm so glad that you have your longed for snow, that should keep the tics at bay.

    1. I want to read more of Pym, but I don't want to "go through them" too quickly because they are such a treat. One a year, I've decided.
      The ticks will stay dormant for a while, as our nighttime temps drop into the single digits and our daytime highs will only be in the low-mid 20s F. I like that, though! Sasha does not, unfortunately, but it will warm up for her before long, I'm sure. You see, her toes get cold, and I have to stop, pull my mitts off, and warm them--all four of them. No wonder I'm exhausted when I get home!

    2. I am sure you can make her waterproof and lined boots. It might look a bit daft but - if it keeps her toes warm it'll be worth it!

    3. I have searched and searched for booties for her--online, etc. The problem with all of them, as one reviewer pointed out, is that none have figured out a way to make the boots so that the dewclaws do not become irritated.
      I will keep looking!

  2. I really enjoyed Excellent Women also--such a good, insightful book that makes me so happy to be in the now instead of the then. It's interesting how your 2018 reading hasn't been up to last year's, hopefully you are now through the slog.

    Enjoy the spring, mud and all!

    1. Jane,
      Now that I think about it, I'm not sure I want to wait until 2019 to read another Pym--the reason being that I'm convinced I'm going to love them a second time around.
      So much out there to read, though!
      I heard you had some harsh winter weather--and hope that's easing up for you.