Thursday, June 5, 2014

catching up on the books

Happy things:

My six-weeks-postpartum visit to my OB. This was actually bittersweet, since I will miss her and her laugh and her calm reassurance, but it was a friendly chatty visit, and she was utterly charmed by Perdita, and when I was mentioning the intense guilt around formula-feeding and my constant worries that I'm not doing the best by my child, she said, "Well, I wasn't breast-fed, and I became a doctor, so I think she'll be okay." I think that was exactly what I needed to hear.

How Bingley, when his crate is left open at night, will emerge in the middle of the night, trot over to Perdita's crib, listen for a little bit, and go back to bed; and how if I take him out and she starts crying while we're outside, he'll sprint for the door. Making sure his little human is okay, and it makes my heart swell.

Perdita's smile, which is so wonderful that I haven't words for it. And how fun it is to watch her discover things (I think she's completely got the concept of "with these hands I can convey items to my mouth" and is just working on the execution), and play with her toys, and look at pictures, and hang on our voices when we sing to her or read her stories at bedtime. The current routine is a fairy tale followed by a Shakespearean sonnet, which usually works.

Having the best co-parent I could wish for. 


Winter Journal, by Paul Auster. A short look back on his life, in the style of Julian Barnes' Nothing to Be Frightened Of, and very nearly as delightful. The second-person perspective took a little getting used to, but it's pretty great. 

The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps, by Michael Blanding. My Early Reviewers book. Not as gripping as it could be. The destruction of old, one-of-a-kind books that Blanding's subject undertakes to get at the maps he wants is difficult to read about, and made me so unsympathetic to the guy that I really didn't care about his perspective. 

Curtsies & Conspiracies, by Gail Carriger. Adorable steampunk young adult novel.

The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton. This was pretty impressive and I did enjoy it. However, around page 530, with 300 pages to go, I started to wonder if there is a secret Booker point system which the committee references:

Australian author: 5 points

Period setting: 10 points

Epistolary chapters: 2 points per chapter

Long as balls: 15 points

Author is Peter Carey: 25 points

The Luminaries is a solid Victorian-style quasi-mystery with too many characters by a freakishly-talented-for-her-age kid who wants to be Peter Carey when she grows up. This is something I am more than happy to read, of course, but I'm pretty sure that's all it is. I don't agree with the blurb that said (among many other overwrought things) that "the mystery of creation shines through the cracks in the story". The what now?

Beauty and the Blacksmith, by Tessa Dare. Given the blacksmithing work Berowne used to do, how could I resist a romance novel with this title? It was very fluffy and quite cute. 

Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother, by Eva LaPlante. Fascinating and intelligent. 

Moranthology, by Caitlin Moran. A collection of her newspaper and magazine articles. Not nearly as good as How to Be a Woman, though there were bits that made me laugh out loud. My favorite was the piece on celebrity lies about post-baby weight loss, especially the "I've been so busy running around after the baby, the weight just fell off!" one. As Moran points out, this statement has a woman claiming that she is running after something which has "all the motility of an ancient tumulus". That is still making me giggle, several weeks later. 

Standing in Another Man's Grave, by Ian Rankin. A known quantity. 

Bad News, by Edward St. Aubyn. I tried to read this, I really did. But after seven chapters about our hero looking for and doing all the drugs during a night in New York City, I just couldn't go any further. It's monstrously unpleasant, and that seems to be the book's only point.

The Songs of the Kings, by Barry Unsworth. A novel about the Greeks waiting for the winds to change and permit them to carry on to Troy. It didn't gel for me and I ultimately didn't like it, unfortunately. The other books of Unsworth's I've read were much better. 

May all of you have happy things in your life and words which make you giggle.

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