Thursday, June 13, 2019

Not Quite Summer Yet Reading

I've read several really good books lately, so I decided it was time for a books post.

Two of my books are book club books, and they show why I love my book club. I would never have picked up either of them on my own, and I absolutely loved both of them.

First was Rowing to Latitude, by Jill Fredston. I've mentioned this one here before, but it is worth mentioning again because I loved it so much. This is a memoir by a woman who is an avalanche expert - but although she writes a bit about that, mostly the book is about the long summer rowing trips she and her husband take in arctic waters. It is beautifully written and she is an interesting woman living life exactly how she wants to live it. The book gave me so much to think about. We read the book for May's book club, but insights from reading this book are still unspooling in my brain.

I just finished our June book club book, which was Circe, by Madeline Miller, and WOW is this a good book. It is another book with beautiful writing, but what I loved most was how relatable Miller made Circe. The writing about Circe's relationship with her son is some of the best writing about motherhood I've ever read, and that's just one small part of what makes this book so great.

In between these two book club books, I read The Peripheral, by William Gibson. I love how Gibson can dunk you into a strange but believable future, and how if you squint a bit you can trace the thread of how we get to this future. There are two futures in this book, both utterly plausible and somewhat horrifying. But I don't find his books bleak, because even though his characters are living in a future you hope we avoid, they are real and human and at least some of them are salvaging something good from their lives, and that somehow makes me feel hopeful that humanity will muddle through whatever catastrophe we bring down on ourselves. But there's also an edge to this book, a warning about the potential catastrophes we face hidden in among the puzzling out the rules of the world into which you find yourself immersed.

I am also reading a book of poetry right now. I've been reading more poetry, and I decided I should buy some. I picked Good Bones, by Maggie Smith, because I love the title poem so much. I am glad I did, because the other poems in the collection are also speaking to me.

I've been thinking a little bit about the through-thread of some of these books - particularly Rowing to Latitude and Circe, which both spoke to me more than I expected when I started them. I put the pieces together tonight, as I read the closing chapters of Anne of Green Gables aloud to Pumpkin (for the second time - we decided to reread it in advance of a trip to Prince Edward Island later this summer). I'll be a bit vague, in case you've never read Anne of Green Gables.. but the final chapter, titled "The Bend in the Road" is what made me connect the dots. Both Rowing to Latitude and Circe are about women plotting their own paths in life, paths that are maybe not what everyone else expects of them. There's a passage in Circe in which she is facing a more powerful god, in which she thinks "I cannot bear this world a moment longer." And the god answers, "Then, child, make another."

I don't really have my thoughts from all these books pulled together into a cohesive story yet, but I think the through-thread I'm finding from Fredston's unusual path in life to Circe's determination to shape her own life to Anne's resolution to follow the bend in the road is telling me something interesting. I'm just not sure what, yet. At least I'm enjoying some good books while I figure it out!

What good books have you read lately? Drop them in the comments.

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