On my other blog, I kept track of my reading over the past few years. 2010 was NOT a banner year for reading, and I am determined that 2011 will be better. Here are brief reviews of the first four books I’ve read this year.
#1 — I was pleasantly surprised by Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith, which we read for our church book group. I may be the only person in the world never to have read Tuesdays with Morrie. My only previous Albom read was The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which I quite honestly loathed. I found it manipulative. But maybe the problem is that I don’t like his fiction, because I enjoyed this book and loved both the Rabbi and the preacher he profiled, Henry Covington, who I was sad to learn died recently.
#2 — Other People’s Shoes — A dear, dear friend brought this book back from the U.K. for me, knowing I shared her passion for all things Harriet Walter. I’ve been a fan ever since seeing her play the incomparable Harriet Vane in “Gaudy Night,” which is both a favorite TV show and a favorite book (from Dorothy L. Sayers’ series about Lord Peter Wimsey). To make it even sweeter, “Other People’s Shoes” was the subtitle of a Noel Streatfeild book, Theater Shoes, and Walter recently appeared as one of the tenants in “Ballet Shoes.” Be still, my geeky, fast-beating heart! It’s a book about acting and the theatre and politics and England, all great loves of mine. I loved this book, and I love my friend for thinking of me. Thank you!!!
#3 — Swan: Poems and Prose Poems, by Mary Oliver — Another dear, dear friend gave me this book! What riches!! I can’t say I’ve finished it, because you never finish with a book of poetry, but I have given all the poems a once-over, and some more than a once. It’s a lovely book. I love the way Mary Oliver brought nature into the hearts and minds of so many preachers only to discover sacramental Christianity herself late in life. Here’s a poem, “How Many Days” that describes the tension between the two:
How many days I loved and had never used
the holy words.
Tenderly I began them when it came to me
to want to, oh mystery irrefutable!
Then I went out of that place
and into a field and lay down
among the weeds and the grasses,
whispering to them, fast, in order to keep
that world also.
Just love that.
#4 — The First Violin, by Jessie Fothergill — This was a book in my grandmother’s collection of novels, much-loved by my mother and her best girlhood friend, and later by me. I still have my grandmother’s copy, but it’s too fragile to keep reading, so I looked for it on Kindle. It’s a great bubble bath book, full of high melodrama and music, too. It was fun to read again, though I’m not sure I would recommend it to a young girl nowadays.
Next on my list is “The Truth Shall Set You Free: A Memoir” by Sally Lowe Whitehead. What are you reading?