It was a slow reading season and on top of that, I'm late posting. Having said that, I did manage to once again, read some great books. For me, there is nothing better than at the end of the day or first thing in the morning, if I can manage it, to grab a cup of tea and my book. I'm able to lose myself in some otherworldly place, with people I'm just beginning to get to know, and just like that, my life is lifted in joy. If you are a reader you know of what I speak. If not, come along on the journey to all the places I visited this spring without ever leaving my house, well, unless I took the book with me.
Spring was lovely here in Massachusetts this year. Many days I was able to sit outside in the late afternoon and read, pause every once in a while and listen to the songs that the birds were singing to me. The birds made the stories a blending of what spring can be like, both, taking us somewhere we have not been before. This month I had a variety of genres in my pile. I like to mix it up.
I'll See You In Paris ... by Michelle Gable. I'm starting off with this one because I didn't finish it and I'd like to knock it off my list right away. I love Paris, I love everything about Paris and I read a lot about Paris. As a matter of fact, Jim and I are going back to Paris again at the end of this month to celebrate our 50th anniversary...so I was somewhat surprised that I just could not get into this book. "Paris today and yesteryear are worlds that are easy and pleasurable to get lost in." Sorry, not true for me. I gave it a good shot and many pages...it was so slow and it had no grip for me. Sometimes books are like that, another time perhaps I would have loved it. With so many good books waiting on the shelf, I decided to let this one go. If anyone else has read it, I would love to hear your comments. No cups of tea...sorry.
The Woman in the Window... .by A.J. Finn. Extreme opposite here. I could not put this book down. Normally I am not a mystery reader but lately I have read a couple of good ones and so I will be giving mystery a look at again going forward. Stephen King describes it as "Unputdownable ...Delightful and chilling." He's got that right. Anna Fox lives alone and she spends her days drinking wine, watching old movies, spying on her neighbors and recalling happier times. Then the novel takes on a life of its own and becomes something that hooks you and it starts to feel like a Hitchcock story. It's been a long time since I've been scared yet at the same time I had to come back for more. 5 cups of tea for this one. Assam...rich black tea. The strongest of all black teas...
Aging with Wisdom ...by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle. This was a wonderful book of reflections and essays and stories, with a few teachings tossed in for good luck. Maybe it won't be enjoyed by the young but it was certainly enjoyed by me, but then again, I'm not as young as I use to be. The stories were all uplifting and they tell us of the value and beauty in aging. They also confirm that there is so much left in life to live. One of my favorite stories was from Maud Morgan. She was in her 90's when she wrote, "in old age, I only want to be by myself". In her memoir, which I haven't read yet...she says "age is a time for passion...maybe later I will worry about death and dying but I haven't quite finished living enough yet to forfeit my spare time to apprehension." Maud died at ninety-six. She had an exceptionally creative life. This book is a gift for anyone to read. 5 cups of tea for this one also. Lavendar afternoon tea.
Essays After Eighty...by Donald Hall. I knew that I was going to love this book and keep it for a very long time the minute I laid eyes on it. For one thing, Donald Hall is one of my favorite essayiest. If you have not had the pleasure of reading him, you should gift yourself one of his books. Donald was poet lauriate of the United States from 2006 to 2007. For his entire life he dedicated himself to the written word. Now in his older years he is putting together essays that startle, move and delight. He also entertains us with his love affair for his ancestral Eagle Pond Farm in New Hampshire were he has spent much of his life. The cover of this book drew me in and never let me go until the last page, and even then, I closed the book and turned to the front, once again, to stare him in the eyes. It could be the photographer in me but his face jumps right off the page...Unfortunately Donald died earlier this spring but not before he finished Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety. For sure, 5 cups of tea for Donald. Oolong ...rich and smokey.
Frankie's Place...A Love Story by Jim Sterba. It almost seems like I had a theme going here in the early spring...aging and New England. I'm not sure how that happened but I do know it made for some good reading. This was wonderful and rich, both in prose and a life well lived in the great State of Maine...It is also a love story about the land, a way of life and a marriage. If you have an interest in the rhythms and pleasures of July days whiled away on the Maine coast, Frankie's Place will take you there. It was the perfect spring, summer, fall or winter read. I also have to give this one 5 cups of tea. Russian black tea...rich and earthy.
The Sweet Life in Paris...by David Lebovitz. Time now to leave New England and go back to Paris...and this was a really sweet read in more ways than one. It was light and delightful and full of recipes if you like to bake. I actually checked off a few to try...like the Chocolate Spice Bread. It was also a great book for me as I'm heading to Paris and I have underlined so many places that he has suggested to visit. It was also about his life and how he had wanted to move to Paris so many years ago and what it took to finally get him there. I think this is a book for anyone who would love to travel to Paris but can't but then again it's also for people like me who love to bake and will have the opportuntiy to visit, once again, this great city of light...shhh, this is going to be my third time. The other two were only for a few days, this time it will be for a full week and I get to plan the entire trip. I will leave you with this quote: "The food is stunning in Paris. Store windows are lined with bursting puffs of yiesty brioche, neat cubes of sugary pates de fruits and rows and rows of unctuous chocolates filled with everything from creamy ganache to whipped mousse au caramel." 5 cups of cafe espresso.
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander This came highly recommended by so many people and it was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist book. It is a memoir of Elizabeth Alexanders life after the sudden death of her husband. I found this book to be sad, and it kind of brought me down. Her writing was beautiful and her thoughts were worth reading. It was not an easy road as it would not be for any of us with such a sudden loss and two children to care for. I honstly believe this is one of those books that touch each reader in a place where they are or have been. It's a personal journey for each reader. I would give this book 3 and half cups of tea, with a bit of wine tossed in.
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. Copywrite 1946. I found this on my bookshelf when looking for something else. I loved the muted tones and pink flowers on the front cover, read the back cover and I was off to a quiet spot to read this timless book. I love this book for it's coming of age story about Frankie, a 12 year old girl who didn't much care for her life until she found out that her older brother was getting married and she started to plan to go away with him and his new bride. Of course, her brother didn't know of her plan and so the story goes. The writing was wonderful, the times were nostalgic and the emotions of Frankie were as raw as could be. You knew where the story would end before you were very far into it but you rooted for Frankie all the way. Now I must find the Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I bet that is a terrific book also...5 cups of tea. Earl Grey the perfect summer tea.
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke A gift from my son for Mother's Day...I have only read poems and bits and pieces of Rilke over the years. I am familiar with many of his quotes and love them. This is the first time though, that I have read a book that he wrote. It was written in the form of letters between a young poet named Franz Kappus and Rilke. They were lovely and curious letters from Kappus and telling replies by Rilke. I enjoyed each set of letters. There were 10 of them. This book stayed on my nightstand and was the perfect end of the day reading when I was too tired to get involved in a bigger book. Isn't that what nightstands are for, stacking up books...reminds me I need to clean mine. I would highly recommend this book for those who have not spent a lot of time reading and understanding Rilke. I know it really helped me to understand better, his way of writing. Also worth mentioning, at the time of these letters Rilke himself was just a young man...very interesting. Four cups of tea...Ginger Peach.
So my friends, another spring has passed. It was a wonderful time for reading in the sun room. Warm and cosy in early spring...bright and breezy in late spring. Reading for me is like breathing. I read everything. I'm in love with words. I'm also a collector of books but I guess that would be a separate post for another day. I hope you find something that peeks your interest here or maybe even revives in you a longing for going back to an older book and quieter times. As always, if you have any books that you loved and would like to share, please feel free to do that here.
BTW...I answer all comments on my blog and I'm sorry that I haven't figured out a way to respond personally from here...thank you for your visits and all your comments. They are always appreciated...