Rounding the corner, we’ve arrived at the letter R, and I’m busy musing about reading. I’ve managed to read quite a few things over the last couple weeks, which is a good thing, because I’m way behind on reading-my-way-through-my-backed-up-piles plan. But progress is being made, and I have seven books I to share and review, along with the floriography rating I’ve given each.
But before we get started, let me share an image – it’s a Work Projects Administration (WPA) Poster. I’m crazy about these vintage works of art, and the WPA program itself that employed artists to create them. There are 2000 posters designs known to exist, and to my mind they’re some of the best illustrative work. Isn’t this a perfect lead-in to my post?
The Hearing Trumpet – Leonora Carrington
This is a strange one, and likely not to everyone’s taste, but I certainly enjoyed it. The author, Lenora Carrington (1917-2011), was an extraordinary character herself – a surrealist painter who also brought that surrealism into her writing. The Hearing Trumpet is a cult favorite, and is the story of a 92-year old woman, who upon receipt of a hearing trumpet, promptly learns her family is shipping her off to an institution. Oh, but what an institution – the buildings are surreal art themselves, as are all the strange characters living there. Yet it’s through this portalway of the Winking Abbess and the Queen Bee, that the gateway to the underworld is opened. It’s a crazy romp and I loved it.
- Rating: Poppy (fantastic extravagance)
Scorpio Rising – Alan Annard
This was a perfect summer read. The author is also an astrologer, and so is the main character of the book, who spends equal time meditating and practicing the lessons of his former guru, betting on the horses, and using astrology and palmistry to find missing people and objects, and sometimes consulting with the NYPD as a profiler. He uncovers a connection between three murders and figures it all out. I enjoyed this one, with a main character with quirky skills that are both respected and useful. This is the first in a series of adventures, and I look forward to scoping out the others.
- Rating: Pencil-leaf Geranium (ingenuity)
Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair – Anne Lamott
This may actually be my least favorite Anne Lamott book, but I think that’s because I hold so much of her writing in highest esteem. She certainly always offers up things to think deeply about, and this is no exception, but it felt less leading-edge to me than some of her other work.
- Rating: Goldenrod (careful encouragement)
Jackaby – William Ritter
This is another light one, and YA fiction to boot, but I did find it charming and enjoyed it. Set in New England in 1892, Jackaby is Sherlockian in his observational skills, but he also has the ability to see supernatural beings. He takes on a young woman who recently arrived in the city in search of adventure and a new life, and with her skills at noticing the ordinary and her understanding of how to navigate the world with a bit more grace, they make a great investigative team. We get to meet Banshees, werewolves, and other fantastic creatures.
- Rating: Lupine (imagination)
The Perfume Collector: A Novel – Kathleen Tessaro
One of the reasons I haven’t been getting much reading done this year is I’m immersed in a number of natural perfumery projects. But I thought I’d help round out my summer experience by reading about perfume as well. This is a delightful novel about a 1950s London socialite who mysteriously receives an inheritance from a complete stranger. She sets off to France to find answers, and discovers so much more about herself and her passions, as well as the mysterious stranger. The book weaves her current perspective from the 1950s with the past beginning in the 1920s. And at the heart of it all is perfume.
- Rating: Orchid (refined beauty)
The Serendipity Foundation – Sam Smit
This may be my favorite for a couple of reasons. First it is a project of Unbound, which is a crowd-funding platform that I really like. Here’s the premise of Unbound:
“Unbound allows you to listen to authors’ ideas for what they’d like to write before they even start. If you like their idea, you can pledge to support it. If we hit the target number of supporters, the author can go ahead and start writing. After the book is written, designed, edited and printed, we send it to you, either as an ebook or a limited edition hardback or paperback. For the first time, you will be able to hold in your hands a book that wouldn’t have existed without you.”
I love this concept, and I love being a patron to something that delights me. It makes my heart happy knowing I helped get this work published.
I found the book to be a wonderfully original morality tale in the best sense. It’s blurbed as “terrorism with a social conscience” and the question is asked: Why do so many of us settle for a world we know we can make better? But keep in mind this is not a heavy-handed lecture, it’s a delightful novel filled with characters who are storytellers, and a plot with wonderfully unexpected twists. Feel free to head over to the outline on the Unbound site and see if it speaks to you as well.
- Rating: Ranunculus (you are radiant with charms)
Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel
Another one of my summer favorites, this is a science fiction thriller. Told as a series of interviews and through documents, it’s a wonderfully complex tale of uncovering ancient buried artifacts from an alien civilization, the current implications, including the highlighting of shadow governments. Smart and good and definitely a page-turner. P.S. There’s a sequel to this, due out next year, and that will be going in my reading pile for sure.
- Rating: Bouvardia (enthusiasm) along with Camillia (my destiny is in your hands) as a tip of the hat to both the hand that appears in the book, and the fact that our destiny is not certain.
So there you have it, a peek at what pages I’ve turned lately? What about you? What have you been reading? What R thing has been capturing your fancy? Do tell – you know I love to hear.