Tuesday, November 25, 2014

July Reading

34. Work Song - book 2 in the Morrie Morgan series
by Ivan Doig
fiction 2010
library book
finished 7/8/14

Morrie Morgan, whom we met in The Whistling Season (April Reading) is the center of this book. He has moved to Butte, Montana in the days when the copper industry ruled, and it was a company town. This is a subject I am very interested in - the idea of one industry being the reason a place exists and thrives. The city of 100,000 people is utterly dependent on the miners who work under dangerous conditions. Do the miners strive to better the conditions at the risk of losing their jobs? The age-old dilemma. Morgan gets a job at the library which shouldn't involve him in these problems, but he finds himself in the middle of the action nonetheless. A wonderful, wonderful book. I'm going to buy it, and The Whistling Season, and the latest in the series, Sweet Thunder. And when I've read them, I want to read everything else Ivan Doig has written. He is one of the best authors I've ever read. 

35. The Secret Lives of Litterbugs: and Other (True) Stories
by M.A.C. Farrant
nonfiction essays 2009
finished 7/9/14

I do so like Marion Alice Coburn Farrant's writing. I read her My Turquoise Years, and wrote about it here. These essays are of the same ilk - about the family she grew up in which was not a bit ordinary, and her family as a mother. I love her wit, her resilience, her attitude toward life. Someone at 49th Shelf, a resource for Canadian books, described The Secret Lives of Litterbugs -
The pieces are funny and sharp, completely original while describing an utterly familiar world. Combining David Sedaris' self-deprecation and deep sense of the absurd with Erma Bombeck's skewering of domestic life, Farrant has a gift for making those observations that would be harrowing, if they weren't so funny.

36. Esperanza Rising
by Pam Munoz Ryan
middle grade/young adult fiction 2000
second reading
finished 7/12/14

I listened to this book in the very month I began my letters - November 2006. I've not forgotten it, and decided to buy a copy for the Kindle. It was wonderful reading it again. I think it is one of the masterpieces of middle grade/young adult fiction, and it is very timely as our country wrestles with the immigration situation. This is a story of a girl who lived a life of affluence in Mexico, but whose life changes drastically when her father is murdered. His brother offers a life to Esperanza and her mother, but it is not a life they want to live. The only escape is to the US but it is during the Great Depression, and poverty and hostility await them. The details of the new life are so vivid and well-written that the reader can almost feel transported. I love this book and highly recommend it.

37. Marmalade's Nap - book 2 in the Marmalade series
by Cindy Wheeler
children's book 1983
finished 7/16/14

I was going to do this months ago as a 'reading with Hazel Nina' posting, but didn't have a chance, so here she is from July 16 having great fun with this delightful book I used to read to her mum and her uncle.

Marmalade walks all around looking for a place to take a nap, and nowhere is satisfactory until the end when he finds the perfect spot.

38. Sheep Out To Eat - book 4 in the Sheep series
by Nancy E. Shaw
Illustrated by Margot Apple
children's book 1992
finished 7/17/14

This is one of the funniest books Margaret and I have ever read. We bought all the others in the series, but still think this is the best. Honestly, we laugh out loud every time we read it. These sheepys go to a tea room to eat, and hilarious chaos breaks out.

And when they sneeze, their knees hit the table, and food goes everywhere and dishes are broken. When they are finally 'asked' to leave, they go outside and find the exact meal they were hoping for.

Hazel Nina's sense of humor is already evident!

39. Around the World in Eighty Days
by Jules Verne
fiction 1873
finished 7/23/14

I've heard of this book all my life, but was never interested enough to read it. You'll laugh when I tell you what finally made me buy my own copy and finally read it. The first Kindles had drawings of writers, and I was drawn to the one of Jules Verne, whose picture I had never seen before. He looked intelligent and kind, and I wanted to read what such a man wrote.

Well, I loved this book. Phileas Fogg makes a bet that he can go around the world in eighty days or less. This is so out of character for this fellow who lives alone and has very regular habits.
He breakfasted and dined at the club, at hours mathematically fixed, in the same room, at the same table, never taking his meals with other members, much less bringing a guest with him; and went home at exactly midnight, only to retire at once to bed. 
When the book begins he has just fired his one servant for bringing him his "shaving-water at eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit instead of eighty-six." His new servant is Passepartout who applied for the job in the hope of "living with him a tranquil life."

The settled life goes right out the window as Fogg proceeds to win the bet. Adventure follows adventure. Anyone reading this book when it was first written would have learned a lot about the world outside of their own towns or cities. The duo come upon bananas in India:
They stopped under a clump of bananas, the fruit of which, as healthy as bread and as succulent as cream, was amply partaken of and appreciated.
One of the book's many pleasures is the chapter titles.
In which Passepartout talks rather more, perhaps, than is prudent.

In which Phileas Fogg descends the whole length of the beautiful valley of the Ganges without ever thinking of seeing it.
        In which Phileas Fogg engages in a direct struggle with bad fortune.

They are both informative and humorous. The edition I read was published by Sterling, and it is lovely in every way. The illustrations were done especially for this book by Scott McKowen. The paper feels and looks wonderful. It has quickly become one of my treasures, and I hope to read it to Hazel Nina and Campbell Walker when they are older.

40. The Scent of Water
by Elizabeth Goudge
fiction 1963
finished 7/27/14

I haven't read any Elizabeth Goudge for about fifteen years. I found that I missed her so bought this book for my Kindle. I completely lost myself in this story. She's one of those writers one is hard-pressed to find now: Elizabeth Cadell, D.E. Stevenson, Miss Read who tell 'plain' good stories. Sometimes I wonder why I read anyone else. There is an excellent webpage devoted to her here. And on that page is a wonderful piece about this book. You may read it here. That will tell you if it is a book you'd enjoy. My blogging friend Clair wrote something six years ago which I kept, and I thought you'd like to read it. It isn't long, and is just so lovely. You may find it here. So, though I haven't told you much about the book, I've offered some sources you may investigate if you think you might be interested. I loved The Scent of Water, as I loved the others I've read by her. I'm happy there are still a whole lot more I have yet to discover.


  1. How great to find a new author to read in Ivan doig and to be reminded of Elizabeth goudge. I haven't read her since I was a teenager. I do so agree with your comment about the writing of a god, plain tale. I read a huge range, from the literary novel to historical fiction, biography and natural history but I come back to miss read when I need the comfort of a simple story, well told, with any tendency to sentimentality stripped away by a quiet, ascerbic wit. Have you come across The Pilgramage of Harold Fry and The Love Song of Queenie Hennesy, both by Rachel Joyce? I think you might like them.

    1. I haven't read either one but will look into them on your recommendation. Thanks!!

  2. I discovered Ivan Doig this year too. Recently finished English Creek.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Well, isn't that just amazing! I'll read EC soon. Thanks. And the same to you!

  3. I have not yet read "Around the World..." either, but what you say about the chapter headlines makes me want to read it, too. Some authors do those chapter headlines so well, don't they! I wonder if you have ever heard of German author Erich Kästner. He was such a kind, intelligent man full of humour, too, without closing his eyes to pain and injustice.
    "Work Song" sounds fascinating, too, and Elizabeth Goudge is one of the authors I've yet to read more from, having enjoyed one or two of her books immensely many years ago.

    1. It's a fun book. I haven't heard of him but will look him up. I bet your mother-in-law likes EG.

  4. The Scent of Water is one of my favorite of Goudge's work..........I do like reading your recommendations for books, Nan.......

    1. Oh, you are so kind. It pleases me no end. Thank you.

  5. Ivan Doig is probably one of my favorite authors. Once you finish the Morrie series, pick up the English Creek one. It is truly epic how he covers generations, and then goes back and introduces the lives of side characters from the original three. You will have plenty to read:)

    1. Oh, Daniel, you are the reason I am reading his work! Your mum told me how much you loved it and then she read it and loved it, so here I am. I have one more to read in the Morrie series, and then will go on to English Creek. Thanks for your enthusiasm!


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