Reading catch-up: October 2013


The Man Bookers, 2013



The days are winding down. Not long to go now. Six days until the big winner is announced.

As for my own progress, I tried so, so hard to get through Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries. It’s well-written but I found it so bloated with extraneous detail and repetitive material I was forced to throw in the towel. Yes, I did like that at first, considering I was having so much trouble recalling who was who and Catton’s tendency to repeat herself was a plus. But that got to be old.

I have so many other eBooks on the go from NetGalley something had to give. So I put The Luminaries aside for Peter Ackroyd’s Tudors. Yes, another book about Henry VIII. It’s a weakness.


Lahiri’s publisher sent me a copy of The Lowland, which I’ll try to fit in. And I really want to read Ozecki’s book, too. and NoViolet Bulwayo’s.

Lots of ambition, little time.

I have a feeling it will come down to Jim Crace’s Harvest and Bulawayo’s We Need New Names. So, barring any last minute change of mind, I’m thinking one of these. Either Crace’s to keep him writing or Bulawayo’s to honor a new writer whose book sounds wonderful. SOUNDS WONDERFUL. Notice I haven’t even READ IT. Which stops me from expressing an opinion, oh, never.

I also have the sneaking feeling I may be WRONG in my prediction this year. Disconcerting. If I’m wrong, will you still respect me in the morning?

Will see soon enough.


Moby Dick. I think I’ve been covering my progress with it pretty well. And it continues…



John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley. Did I mention I’m reading it? In case I didn’t, I’m reading it.

It’s Steinbeck in a camper/pick up truck, his big poodle Charley and a journey across America. It’s my health club (elliptical and stationary bike) read and it’s funny and interesting to read about America from several decades ago, what’s changed and what hasn’t.

HINT: Most hasn’t.

Its light prose (with deeper insights) makes a good accompaniment to sweating and swearing.

I long to do this one day, to take off and visit small town America, writing about what I seem and who I meet. I’ve seen a lot of my country – more than the average American – but never just for the sake of analyzing it and writing about it. It’s always been rush, rush, rush from one site to another. In other words, your standard family vacation. But the difference is we didn’t spend a lot of time in the little places, off the beaten path. We did drive, which is rare in these days after the invention of the Big Silver Bird, so we were at least old school in that way. I want to take off with no destination in mind (Steinbeck did have a map, I have to qualify), just rambling, writing and taking pictures.

Some day? Probably not. That’s how life goes.



Peter Ackroyd’s Tudors. Looks like it was released this week, so I’m hoping NetGalley doesn’t yank it away from me. It’s a really long tome, written in Ackroyd’s smooth, readable prose. Finally I’m getting the hang of who Cardinal Wolsey was, as well as Cromwell and a few other historical figures who’ve been muddled in my mind.

From Amazon:

Above all, however, it is the story of the English Reformation and the making of the Anglican Church. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, England was still largely feudal and looked to Rome for direction; at its end, it was a country where good governance was the duty of the state, not the church, and where men and women began to look to themselves for answers rather than to those who ruled them.

I bought the first volume in Ackroyd’s new history of Britain series, Foundation, which covers the period from its earliest beginnings up to the Tudors. Tudors goes along well with my having just read Russell Shorto’s Amsterdam (read it! it’s phenomenal!) as it deals with religious liberalism and what was coming out of that Dutch culture at the same time Henry was having his religious “issues”. Serendipity.

For the sake of continuity, I may have to purchase Tudors as well. How can I own a partial set of books?

Heresy (irony intentional).





Aside from dips into this ‘n that, this covers the bulk of my recent reading. I’m in my usual panic, looking at my overflowing bookshelves upon bookshelves upon bookshelves added to what’s coming out every day (damn the fall publication titles!). I purchased the new Barnes, Levels of Life, which I’ve been waiting for forever, since it was of course published in the UK first. I had that on Amazon pre-order.

And the new Drabble Pure Gold Baby. Same thing.

And a few others. OKAY. QUIT TWISTING MY ARM. On my crazy weekend away with my galpal I visited Boswell Book Co. in Milwaukee, WI. Aside from a plush Charles Dickens doll (I know…), these jumped into my arms:


I’ve lost my copy of Christopher Morley’s classic The Haunted Bookshop. And look how pretty this edition is (top)!

Then, A.J.A. Symons’s The Quest for Corvo:


One day in 1925 a friend asked A. J. A. Symons if he had read Fr. Rolfe’s Hadrian the Seventh. He hadn’t, but soon did, and found himself entranced by the novel—”a masterpiece”—and no less fascinated by the mysterious person of its all-but-forgotten creator. The Quest for Corvo is a hilarious and heartbreaking portrait of the strange Frederick Rolfe, self-appointed Baron Corvo, an artist, writer, and frustrated aspirant to the priesthood with a bottomless talent for self-destruction. But this singular work, subtitled “an experiment in biography,” is also a remarkable self-portrait, a study of the obsession and sympathy that inspires the biographer’s art.

I had to. Plus, you’ll note the Bargain Book sticker, thanks very much.

Finally, Read Me: A Century of Classic American Book Advertisements by Dwight Garner

Because how often do you run across books like this? AND, another Bargain Book.

Don’t judge me…

Trouble is, I feel like I’m missing one. Ah, well. Neither here nor there.

Then, a partial pile of review books lately arrived:


Gosh, I’ve missed several other review copies, I realize now, including a paperback copy of Crace’s Harvest (I had the hardback for review). I’ll put those on the accompanying Bluestalking Tumbler Blog. Problem solved.

It’s nice reminding myself what I’m reading. I rely on my blog a lot for that but even that’s a struggle. A written book journal would go a long way toward helping me keep up at a glance, now, wouldn’t it. Making mental note. That’s what this blog was originally meant to do but I can’t seem to keep things organized enough even with that. The books just KEEP ARRIVING! Strange how that happens.

Back soon. In the meantime, read on, my loves! Read on! And don’t spare the horses.



Photo credit: Dennis Camp Photography

Photo credit: Dennis Camp Photography


One thought on “Reading catch-up: October 2013

  1. I like Peter Ackroyd’s books especially his biographies. I have read his books on T.S.Eliot, Shakespeare and William Blake. I think I have read others but damned if I can remember what they were. Oh the joys of getting older. The book on the Tudors looks like it could be interesting and certainly with Ackroyd’s name attached it has piqued my interest.


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