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Currently Reading

Elizabeth I

Have you noticed to the right of my blog there is a sidebar titled “Currently Reading”?  Since I included it in my blog I don’t think I’ve read more than three books.  Most often, I read in my bed just before I go to sleep.  In other words, after about one page, my eyelids glide ever so easily shut and I immediately jerk awake again as my book falls from my hand to the floor.  After a few more futile attempts to stay awake I give it up and turn out the light.  I’m sure Mark is relieved.

So, since July, I think I’ve read three books:  Elizabeth I, Silence on the Mountain, and An Accidental Runner and the Power of Poo.  Here are my thoughts on each:

Elizabeth I
by Margaret George

I think I’ve read all Margaret George’s biographies.  Each time I finish one of her books I eagerly await her next project.  Her research is impeccable but her best talent is deciphering why he/she makes the decisions he/she does.  Margaret takes into account the politics of the period as well as the personal emotions of the character.  When it comes to women, Margaret does less “romanticizing” of her characters then most authors I’ve read but she still takes into account that they think like women.  Elizabeth I is a fine example of Margaret’s work.  Elizabeth was a politically cunning ruler who battled not only outside threats from foreign invasions and her own court but her own emotions which often endangered her monarchy.  George does a masterful job of helping the reader get into Elizabeth’s head.  My only disappointment with this book was that it began around the time of the invasion of the Spanish Armada instead of encompassing Elizabeth’s entire life.  But then again, that would have been a thick book and I might still be reading it!

Silence on the Mountain:  Stories of Terror, Betrayal and Forgetting In Guatemala
by Daniel Wilkenson

This book was recommended to me during my adoption process by a student that was interviewing adoptive parents.  I bought it several years ago and made many starts and stops to read it.  I finally picked it up seriously last fall and finished it.  The book is about Guatemala’s recent 36 year civil war which claimed the lives of about 200,000 Guatemalan citizens.  They were murdered or “disappeared” at the hands of the military government.  The war began around 1954 during a land reform act that threatened the origins of Guatemala’s plantation system where Mayans were put to work picking coffee beans for the U.S. and European markets.  The reform was derailed by a United States sponsored military coup.  The atrocities build from there.  The author spent years deciphering the war and trying to get the Guatemalan people to share their stories.  Many were still to0 afraid to speak.  Wilkenson wrote about the war and the politics that drove it with an easy to understand style.   However,  the mass genocide of thousands of innocent people and the United States’ involvement made this book a difficult and depressing read.

An Accidental Runner and the Power of Poo
by Jennifer Luitwieler

I struggled through this book even though it was an easy read.  I picked it up because I was hoping it would inspire me to begin running again but it wasn’t about running.  Then it went off on a “faith” tangent so I stuck with it hoping for inspiration again.  But it wasn’t about faith.  The next topic broached was writing and, again, I hung in there.  But, you guessed it, it wasn’t about writing.  It was kind of a mish-mash of all of it with no real grip.  A dog plays a minor role in her life and the author doesn’t even really speak endearingly about him.  Again, that lost me.  I did comprehend the author was trying to compare life messes with poo and how running helped her to get through the “poo”.   But the symbolism, for me, was not stimulating.  The most I felt encouraged to do was clean up the dog pen.

After putting down the last book I craved a good read.  My nightstand is overflowing around my bed with at least 30 books.  I picked up one with a bright red cover and recognized a book Mark gave me for Christmas.  Do you ever feel like some force has stepped in and given you a sweet treat just when you need it?  For me it is this next book and the reason I wanted to write this post:

Half Broke Horses
by Jeanette Walls

Jeanette Walls writes in the first person through the eyes of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith.  Lily is the best kind of woman to read about.  Brave, strong, adventurous and a survivor.  Laws admits to some creative liberties so instead of a memoir it’s actually a true life novel.  I’m just 50 pages into it but I can already tell it will take me to laughter, tears and adventure.  This book is a sequel to The Glass Castle which is about the author’s wayward mother.  It’s already on my Amazon wish list.  I’m inspired and think I can safely recommend them right now and am excited to do so.

If you do pick up Half Broke Horses and finish it before me, which is a safe bet, let me know your thoughts.  In the meantime, what are you reading right now?  I can always shove some books under the bed to make room for more!


4 thoughts on “Currently Reading

  1. Like you I read at night and if I get through more than 5 pages it is a good night. I am reading Civil War Women II. It is a collection of stories about women during the civil war written by women during that era. I am liking it. sometimes the language is a bit “flowery”, but they are facinating stories of courage and determination. One story was about a woman in her second marriage to a wealthy man and she was delighted with him and very much in love. Then a beloved aunt asked “Why wasn’t he in the war?”.
    I just finished “Mother of Pearl” and it was excellent, but dark. Now I can’t wait to get my hands on Anne Tyler’s new book

  2. I’m currently reading “People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks. This is the first book of hers that I’m reading and I know I will read more of her work. It’s about a book conservationist who is given the job of restoring a very rare 500 year old Sarajevo Haggadah. In it she finds clues to where the book as been through the ages and the chapters go back and forth between present day and the time in European history each clue takes place. I like her writing. She takes you back and gives you a glimpse of that day and age and includes the people that helped this Haggadah survive. I got into each person’s story. I’m not done reading it yet. I too read before bed. Sometimes I can’t get through one page, I’m so tired but other times I’m up quite late because I want to know what happens next. I read very slowly so it takes me a while to get through a book but I enjoy how certain authors express themselves sentence by sentence. It gives me a chance to see something differently or read a passage that so well describes how I feel and couldn’t put into words.
    Anyway, good book!

  3. I am currently rereading John LeCarre (his early stuff – the George Smiley trilogy). I love that man! The first time thru I read for the plot. This time, his extraordinary style. Descriptions like 2 men looked like “a pair of terriers who couldn’t believe the hunt was over.” He is delicious.
    I, too, read at bedtime.

  4. My first thoughts on this recent post were, ” My we both read before bed when we used to read for hours!”. I also fall asleep most nights, glasses on and book in hand. Steve said it is becoming a habit for him to check for book and glasses before retiring! Secondly I also do not have the time to read like I would like and have a read a few books since before Christmas. No longer working at Borders has me itching normally for a good read but now that I have to pay for books…. I am much more selective. I have a huge collection of books that I had accumulated from my bookselling days and am trying to get through them but I still long for the smell of ink from a brick and mortar store. I am currently reading “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggaring Genius” by Dave Eggers. I have picked it up through the years and have a tough time with it. It has a tendancy to bring up emotions on death that I really don’t care to deal with any more. Before this book, I read “Modac” a memoir of the most incredible elephant that ever lived. It was pretty awesome. Although coined as a memoir some parts of it seems almost unbelievable. Whether biographical or not it was a great read. Next I plan to hit some classics from the “beat generation”, I love that era! Happy Reading and writing, it is such a joy to read your posts! Whats the new on the kids (goats)?

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