It has been a month since I last posted. I'm not really sure why, either. I've been reading, and I've been keeping up with everyone else's blogs. But, for whatever reason I can't seem to find the time to post. I enjoy blogging immensely, but it has begun to stress me out a little bit. I'm way behind on my reading challenges, as well. Therefore, I'm making some mid-year resolutions. I contemplated giving up the blog, but I do enjoy it. So, as a compromise with myself, I will no longer stress over how long it has been since my last post. Hopefully, you'll keep reading it even if I don't add to it weekly. I'm also going to drop all of my reading challenges. I love the idea of reading challenges, but I just can't stick to a reading schedule. I'm a mood reader and don't want to feel like I have to stick to a timetable. There is just way too much going on in my life for me to stress over one of the things that brings me the most joy -- reading. Maybe, one day when I'm retired I'll be able to devote more time to blogging and can join the ranks of some of you super bloggers who post daily. It's just not realistic for me right now. O.K., if you're still reading this, I do have a few quickie reviews just to catch up.
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
I liked this book even though it is rather dark. It's definitely not one you want to read if you're already depressed. It's about two sisters who are raised by a succession of family members, all of whom have different degrees of eccentricity and/or mental illness. This is the first book I've read by this author, and it was the first book she wrote. I have Gilead and Home in the tbr pile. I'm not sure how similar they will be to this book, but I've heard great things about them both. My favorite thing about this book is Robinson's language. Her prose is beautiful.
Valeria's Last Stand by Marc Fitten
This was a really fun book. It reminds me a little of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in that it is funny while also dealing with serious issues. At it's heart, is Valeria who has spent her entire life alone and standing in judgment of everyone in her tiny village. Unexpectedly, she falls for the local potter, which sets into motion a string of events that changes the little village and Valeria forever. This book is not necessarily on the same literary level as Housekeeping; however, it is a perfect antidote the melancholy you may feel after reading Robinson's book.
The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton
I read this book for one of my book clubs. I had heard of the real camel bookmobile and assumed that this was a nonfiction account. However, this is indeed a novel, which is loosely based on the Kenyan Camel Bookmobile. The heart of this story for me is the culture clash between the traditional ways of the itinerant villagers and the well-meaning American librarian who wants to bring literacy to the desert. This was probably one of our better discussions for this reason. Western society tends to assume that we have all the answers and that our way of life is always better. However, what happens if people are happy living the life they are living? This is brought up in the novel when someone brings to Fi's attention the fact that even though Westerners are literate, they rarely know their ancestors just a couple generations back. In stark contrast, the nomadic tribes enjoy an oral tradition in which they remember, recite, and pass on the stories of their forefathers. Of course, I believe in the value of literacy and education, but we must always be careful to try to understand and respect the cultures we encounter and not just assume that different means not as good.
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
I don't really even know where to start with this book. I know people either usually love or hate Woolf's work. I'm quickly falling into the LOVE category. Her writing is so different and does take a little getting used to; however, it is well worth the effort. It is so difficult to explain. She tells very intricate stories, and the reader gets to know quite a few characters all from inside the characters own heads. There is very little direct dialogue and very little background information. I'm not sure how she pulls it off, but it works. To say that her writing is gorgeous is an understatement. In this book, we get a glimpse into the lives of the Ramsey family as they live out one summer at the beach. Again, it defies description. If you haven't tried her writing before, give it a try. Just know that you can't read this fast or you'll miss too much. This is the kind of writing that you should linger over. In fact, I found myself rereading the same passages over and over.