In the High Peaks

Saturday, February 23, 2019

New Books in the House and a Reading Calendar

Before I wax on about new books, I have to say that it has now become necessary for me to plot and plan future reading on a calendar, to make sure I have time to read what I intend to this year. This does sound like over-kill and may sound onerous, but I'm looking forward to doing this as a helpful tool, especially because I think it may ensure that the books I most want to read are not overlooked.

I'm still at the very beginning of A Woman in White. I got totally stuck there while household havoc abounded. And did it ever!  I plan to pick up the pace with this one, starting Sunday (tomorrow) morning.

In the meantime, to help divert my mind from an overflowing washing machine, flooded laundry room, etc.,  I purchased two 2019 fiction titles for the Nook. I've already finished The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, a debut novel and a thriller that packs a punch. Yes, it certainly has received a lot of hype, but it is the best thriller  I've read since last January's The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. As it turns out, A.J. Finn is a pseudonym for the author Daniel Mallory. He has recently been accused of plagiarism for this book, by the way.  In any case I recommend The Silent Patient, if you find the premise appeals to you. It's about a wounded psychotherapist and his patient, accused of murdering her husband, but did she, really??

The second novel is English author Tessa Hadley's recently published Late in the Day. I made it to page 50 and began to question if I wanted to continue. It's a story that involves two closely-knit London families, the parents of which met at university and before marriage, and who dated each other all around. On the second page of the book, deep into the couples' middle age, the most charismatic of the foursome has died very suddenly.
The novel has received stellar reviews from The New York Times, whose reviewer said it was the best book Hadley has ever written. As I've mentioned before I simply loved her novel The Past.
I do think I will finish this novel, but with our household crises, I may not have felt in the mood for it.

And lest I forget, Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham, published last week by Simon & Schuster, finally arrived at our home last night. I say "finally" because even though UPS tracked the package as "delivered" to our location, there was no book to be found on our property. Come to find out, the rookie UPS employee had wrapped the package in a plastic bag and tied it to a tree on the road on a neighbor's property, a quarter of a mile from our house. I will spare you further details.
What's new and unique about this book about Chernobyl is that the author studied never-before-released Soviet records from that time period--which was April 1986 and the months and years following until the downfall of the Soviet regime. Higginbotham received an excellent review from Anne Appelbaum, whose books relating to Soviet history are very well-known and are prize-winners.
This is a scholarly book, so I'm reading it very slowly, checking the notes, eager to learn more about  this terrible event that is so instructive about nuclear power and its limitations. It is set in Ukraine, so it will count toward The European Reading Challenge.


  1. Interesting post, Judith... especially as I'm moving toward a more structured approach to my reading. So far I've not done anything more than list the books I'd like to read each month, but last year felt too loose, so it's a step in the right direction.
    I'm so sorry about the chaos you've experienced lately. So hard to concentrate in the midst of all that! Believe it or not, we're dealing with record heat in SWFL and our AC decided to quit...again. We had it repaired Friday, but it's not working today. They're coming back again tomorrow :(
    Late in the Day is on my wish list, but maybe I'll try The Past instead. The summary sounds appealing, and the ebook is available at both of my libraries with no wait.
    The Chernobyl book sounds interesting, too. The disaster is so clear in my memory... probably because I'd just started a new job in New Haven.

    1. JoAnn,
      Can you believe record heat for Florida in late February? I do absolutely empathize and sympathize with your AC problems. Floridian heat can be abysmally miserable without AC. Were you imagining you were a tea planter's wife in early 20th-century Ceylon, or perhaps a resident of Mumbai? Or Delhi? I do hope that the darn AC gets fixed promptly. Please do report! I would like to know how you are faring.
      I think my difficulties with Late in the Day is totally my problem. But, ahh, The Past created a world within a family's country (vacation) home, which,while not always happy, had substantial meaning for the characters dating back a generation or two.
      The Chernobyl book is so clearly written, so well done. I find myself reading passages aloud to Ken, who before computers, was trained as an electrical engineer. He shudders a bit and shakes his head, placing a hand to shade his eyes. Higginbotham makes it succinctly clear that in a political system that ruled by instilling fear and spreading terror, faulty equipment was covered up, porous reinforced cement was approved, all to meet the most unrealistic of deadlines. Higginbotham expresses it and shows it so much better than I can.
      A great read so far. Riveting.

  2. We're all set with the AC now. It took two trips, but turned out to be an inexpensive capacitor (sp?)... and of course, as soon as it was fixed, the humidity broke and we haven't turned it on since! Hope the rest of the Chernobyl book is just as good.

    1. Well, I'm so glad it's fixed, because March and April are coming on soon, and can more heat (and humidity) be far behind?
      The Chernobyl book is so well done, still.

  3. I like your idea of a reading calendar, Judith. I have so many challenges that require reviews going, that I am afraid I will fall behind. (The reviewing is the hardest part.)

    I saw your review of A Small Town in Germany but mostly skimmed it because I hope to be reading it soon. And I read about your problems with the running water and the well and having visitors for President's Day weekend. I am assuming most of that is over by now?

    I had a wonderful President's Day weekend because the community college I work at always has two days off, the Friday before and the Monday. I just did not want to go back to work.

  4. Tracy,
    So glad to had a wonderful 4-day weekend. I imagine you were able to get some reading done and then some during that time.
    We're still having some problems, we get stressed out at times, but having Ken's cousin here that weekend helped a lot. He was the "foreman" directing our clean-up of the washing machine flooding incident.
    Back to your four days' off, I hope it won't be too, too long before you're able to take lots and lots of days off, (as in retirement).