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Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

well read woman display strand bookstore

I can’t believe it’s already March – but I did read some great books in the last half of February. Here’s my latest roundup. (Display spotted at the Strand recently.)

The Gargoyle Hunters, John Freeman Gill
New York City is always reinventing itself: growing, pushing, regenerating – often at the cost of preserving its own past. Gill’s debut novel follows Griffin Watts, a teenager whose mercurial father is obsessed with saving and sometimes “liberating” – i.e. stealing – pieces of the city’s architectural history. A wonderfully imagined slice of New York history, a vivid portrait of the 1970s, a tender father-son story. Irreverent, well written and highly enjoyable. To review for Shelf Awareness (out March 21).

A Piece of the World, Christina Baker Kline
Immortalized in Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World, Christina Olson lived a quiet life on her family’s Maine farm. Baker Kline delves into Christina’s story – her razor-sharp mind, her stubborn family, her fierce pride, the degenerative disease that eventually stole her mobility. Luminous, lovely and nourishing, in the way good writing is. I also loved Baker Kline’s previous novel, Orphan Train. (I received an advance copy, but didn’t get to it in time for review.)

Take the Key and Lock Her Up, Ally Carter
On the run from a deadly secret society, Grace Blakely and her friends are trying to untangle the mystery that led to her mother’s death and may lead to Grace’s, if she’s not careful. The third book in Carter’s Embassy Row series never lets up. The plot gets a little muddled at times, but it’s a fun ride.

The Splendid Outcast, Beryl Markham
I love Markham’s memoir, West with the Night, which I read in college (and I enjoyed Paula McLain’s novelization of Markham’s life, Circling the Sun). These short stories (which I found for $2 on the carts at the Strand) explore Markham’s passions: horses, aviation, Africa, romance. A little uneven, but I enjoyed them.

Yours Truly, Heather Vogel Frederick
Truly Lovejoy is slowly adjusting to life in Pumpkin Falls, N.H. – which is more exciting than it first seemed. When Truly discovers a Civil War-era diary hidden in her own home, and two local maple syrup producers find their sap lines cut, there’s plenty to keep her busy. A heartwarming middle-grade mystery. I love Truly’s big, happy family, her group of friends, and the bookstore dog, Miss Marple.

The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman
Irene is devoted to her work as a spy for the Library, which collects works of fiction from alternate worlds. But when she and her new assistant, Kai, jump to an alternate London, they find lots of chaos and serious dark magic at work. Lots of (sometimes confusing) world-building here, but I liked Irene, Kai and their Sherlock-esque acquaintance, Peregrine Vale.

Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

What are you reading?

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novel cure lord peter one good deed books

I heard about The Novel Cure when it came out last fall. Jessica reviewed it for Shelf Awareness, and I snapped up the hardcover when it was 20% off at the Harvard Book Store. I started it in early November. And I just finished it last week.

Lingering that long over a book I’m enjoying is highly unusual for me. Some hefty books, like Les Misèrables, may take me several months to finish – but Les Mis is 1200 pages long, and I was pleased I’d finished it at all (though I did love it). I can read a normal-size novel in a couple of days, and I often whip through a young adult or middle-grade novel in a day (most recently, The Dirt Diary). If it’s taking me ages to finish a book, sometimes I abandon it altogether.

But I’ve lately been lingering over books, dipping in and out of them at will – The Novel Cure and several others.

Is it laziness? ADD? It’s certainly not boredom, because I’ve really enjoyed them. Rather, these books – the format and the subject matter – are perfect for dipping into.

The Novel Cure, for example, consists of alphabetized literary cures for many ailments, such as unemployment, a broken heart, and reading instead of living (or the other way around). Each entry comprises a page (or less) – ideal for flipping through before bed.

One Good Deed by Erin McHugh follows a calendar format, as McHugh chronicles her attempt to do one good deed every day for a year. The book itself is pocket-size and most of the entries are short – ideal for a quick pick-me-up over breakfast or in the evening.

And finally, I’ve finished up my Lord Peter Wimsey kick with Lord Peter, a collection of short stories featuring my favorite aristocratic sleuth. I do prefer the novels, but the stories are slim, elegantly plotted, and satisfying. Sometimes I did read several at once, but if I was pressed for time, it was a pleasure to savor one story.

These bite-size pieces are a totally different reading experience from the absorption of a novel, but sometimes, that’s just what I need. (Of course, now I’m back to immersing myself in novels and memoirs.)

What books do you like to dip into?

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