Oh my goodness, I spent most of today thinking it was Wednesday! In an attempt to get back into regular book discussions, but without a lot of pressure, I’ll be aiming to do at least one reading snapshot a week. We’ll see how that goes. 😉 Usually I imagine this as a midweek type of post, but clearly this one is going up on Friday.
I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump again, and I realised part of the problem is that the new medication I’m on has brought back all of my vivid dreams and, more often, vivid nightmares. To try to avoid these, I’ve been afraid to read anything but comfort books in the evening, and sadly almost all of my comfort authors are white women from the US & UK, even after years of reading a fairly balanced ratio of POC/white writers. The cause of that is a topic for another time, as it’s too big to squish into this post, but today I realised there was a blindingly obvious solution: instead of reading just one novel at a time, read one during the day and one during the evening.
Accordingly, I’m in the middle of two novels! My bedtime book is The Bones of Bard Plain by Patricia McKillip, who has been a favourite author since I discovered her back in 2012. I’ve loved every single book of hers that I’ve read, and this one is proving no exception. I’m especially intrigued by its split-time story; while it’s set in a ‘typical’ fantasy world of royalty and magic and vaguely European trappings, one of the storylines involves a princess who drives a steam-powered car and works as an archaelogist. I’m really pleased by this, because when I read her short story collection Wonders of the Invisible World and then a bit later the novel Solstice Wood, I discovered how wonderful McKillip is at bringing a fantasy element to a more contemporary, everyday-type world. Most of her novels tend towards high fantasy or fairy tale retellings, which I love for their own sakes, but I’ve been itching to read more of her blended fantasy books. I can’t wait to continue this one, and I had to force myself to close it at my usual bedtime last night.
Then this morning I began A Passing Season by Azucena Grajo Uranza, which I found while randomly browsing my library shelves. Uranza is Filipina, and this is a historical novel set in fin de siecle Manila, when the Philippines were a Spanish colony on the cusp of two wars. This is a more old-school type of historical novel, in which Uranza does plenty of telling as well as showing, but since I’m a fan of authors like Victor Hugo, this doesn’t really phase me. She’s doing a wonderful job so far of bringing her setting to life, and she’s created a broad cast of characters that I’m sure will have wildly varying fates. I’m very pleased to have found this, as it has just the type of tone I so enjoy in nineteenth century narrators but carries postcolonial sensibilities.
Finally, I almost always have an audiobook going these days (and would certainly appreciate more recommendations, since I’ve run through most of my favourite authors and thus flail around whenever I finish one and want to begin another). Right now I’m in the middle of The Maid and The Queen, a biography of Joan of Arc and Yolande of Aragon, the queen of the title, as well as a general history of France during that time. It’s by Nancy Goldstone, and this is the third of her medieval (royal) women-centric biographies I’ve read and enjoyed, so I had high expectations that are certainly met so far (I’m about halfway in). I’m quite interested in medieval history in general, but not the type that focuses on how nasty, brutish, and short lives were then; Goldstone does a good job of evoking the times without a post-Enlightenment prejudice. And of course, I’m always especially interested in women throughout history, so Goldstone’s frank feminism (for instance, observing that Yolande’s current obscurity is likely due to her gender) and focus on ‘the ladies’ makes for a relaxing, informative read. I’d say this is actually my favourite of the three I’ve read so far, and I was delighted to encounter the “Melusine” story in the narrative! Bookish coincidences are the best kind.
Well, I promised myself I could write a post in half an hour, and it is now four o clock, so I’m off to the woods. Early sunsets require timely walks, and although I miss the ease of summer’s long days, I wouldn’t trade them for the crispiness of autumn or the long, cosy November evenings. As I’ve been in a bit of a reading drought, I thought I’d close this with a request for some general recommendations: what are your very favourite, kindred spirit, life-enhancing books? Any genre, any author, I’m just in need of a bit of fresh inspiration these days!