In the High Peaks

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Oh, Gosh! Can't Find Any Good Reads To Be Published in January 2021--Have You?

 Happy New Year!! I think I'm going to have to go deep-diving into my personal library stacks to find reading for January. I have scoured all the new books coming out and none of them have the slightest appeal. I'm wondering: What are you thinking, and what are you planning for January 2021? Have you discovered books of interest to be published in January and February? I would simply love to know if you have.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in Books!

Thinking of you, everyone, out there this Christmas Eve. I'm hoping that all of you are celebrating with loved ones, in whatever ways you can during this time.

We are very well here, though we're having torrential rains on top of more than a foot of snow that fell about five days ago. We'll be fine here, despite the deluge, but other areas of our region that received much more snow face severe flooding in the next 24 hours. It's been a strange late fall--early winter season so far. Severe cold followed by unusual warmth, then back in the deep freeze, and warm again, like a see-saw.

I'm in the midst of my customary December lull (read: FUNK), and hope to be back up to speed after New Year's Day.

I'm currently trying very, very hard to read The Mirror and The Light , the third and final volume about Thomas Cromwell during King Henry VIII's reign, by Hilary Mantel. I'm reading it in hardcover, and I must say the publisher has made the book very difficult to read. The paper of the pages is a poor newsprint quality, and each page is lighter  and more flimsy than newsprint, and a dull beige in color. The print itself is a light gray and does not stand out on the page. The font is tiny, with very little leading between the lines. So I tried to hang tough but struggled for two hours today to read only 38 pages of a 757-page book. And what has made this novel even more difficult--there are dozens and dozens more characters, although fortunately there is a five-page list of who they all are at the beginning of the novel. I made it fine through the first two novels in the series, Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. But I was unprepared to be so challenged.  I know some of you have read this--so I will hold on. Frankly, I need MORE LIGHT to read. Perhaps I should have waited for summer light to read this. 

Now WHY COMPLAIN on Christmas Eve, really? Especially when I've read so many wonderful books this past year, and particularly this past fall.  I just finished John le Carre's final novel Agents Running in the Field, and loved it. I thrilled to Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, Monogamy by Sue Miller, and most compelling of all, the incomparable memoir Notes on a Silencing by Lacey Crawford.


Monday, December 14, 2020

Oh, Gosh...The Passing of John le Carré

 Ken often listens to the news after I head off to bed. Last night (Sunday) I came back downstairs to get a glass of water and was stunned by the headline banner on the television: "John le Carré, Dead at 89."  I was shocked and ever so saddened. Because le Carré, David John Moore Cornwell, has been so intensely productive in his eighties, even in his very late eighties, publishing two books within the past 4 years, I was hoping he would at least live on into his nineties. He would be around, I thought, and even if not writing, then just generally enriching our universe.

John le Carré,'s works are so monumental: I was thrilled this morning that The New York Times gave him such a lengthy, substantive obituary. It went on and on, and there was so much there to contemplate, so many nuances. (Even if you're not a subscriber, do search Google or your alternative for this obit. So well done, so many bits and pieces to savor.) 

Earlier this December, there came news of the death of the American novelist, Alison Lurie. Her novels spoke to me--even though she was closer to my mother's age than to mine, she understood the travails of intellectual women and the hard road of their romances, and of their lives. Sigh. A cut above the rest! Do look her up. Have you read any of her novels?

Sunday, December 13, 2020

As the Year Winds Down: A Regret and A Move Forward with Great Books

I've missed all of you since I haven't been posting regularly. I hope, indeed I do sincerely hope I'll be able to resume my customary posting. I have been so exhausted and overwhelmed by everything that has transpired in 2020, though particularly the events of the past few months. And as December and darkness came down the calendar, so, too, my initiative to blog about the loads and loads of books I've been reading has plummeted. Yet I have lots to report, if only. In other words, my interest and time spent reading has only increased, yet my reporting has been what has suffered.

As for this year, we thank goodness for Sandy, our effervescent canine companion. She has seen us through, with her exuberance, and frankly, her zany (!) yet lovable behavior. I don't know what we would have done without her to force us to take long, long hikes both in the morning and afternoons. Praise DOG!

Right now I'm enjoying Ken Follett's The Evening and the Day, his new historical that is touted as the prequel to The Pillars of the Earth, the book that won Follett the greatest accolades of his career. This one is set in the late 10th and early 11th century, at a time when the Vikings are still invading England. How the Vikings dream on and on of taking over the West of England, yet they have not been able to do so.  The principal characters are all English and, in one case, Norman French. The Evening and the Day takes place in the West of England and immediately wrapped me up in the doings of an entire community. Although this novel has not received the praise of Follet's The Pillars of the Earth, it is a fascinating, compelling read. Yes, it is 900 pages, but it is a quick read! I heartily recommend it. I purchased the hardcover, and I applaud the publisher for providing a most readable font for reading, and lots of leading between the lines, which makes the reading go faster. 

This year I have not devoted the month of December to Christmas-themed titles as I have in years past, largely because I have considered the offerings in 2020 to be rather poor.  I am finding that Anne Perry's A Christmas Resolution (2020) to be an exception. I have borrowed this from the New York Public Library, and have been totally wrapped up in this tale of mystery set in a suburb of London in 1872. Another very quick read, by the way. 

I will try to post more very soon about my best reading of this year, all of which happened since the end of summer.