Bookends: May 2014

The first day of each month, I’m posting a summary of what I read the previous month and what I plan to read in the coming month. I would love if this could become a conversation in the comments about what’s on your reading list, too!

May was all Middlemarch, all the time. Or I guess that’s inaccurate, because if I’d read “all the time,” maybe I would have finished the darned book by May 31.

When we were visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, last month, we walked past a glass-front bookcase in a long hallway. I peered inside and saw on the bottom shelf what was perhaps a first edition of Middlemarch. Each book was bound separately, and seeing those eight books taking up so much shelf space in their green covers, I felt a frisson of apprehension about trying to tackle this novel in one month.

I didn’t take a photo because photos were prohibited inside the house (and I, to my occasional dismay, am a rule follower), but the mental image is still clear. As I’ve made my way through the novel, that image has returned to me again and again, and I’ve thought how nice it would have been to have eight little books through which to work my way rather than one honking book. I would at least have a stack of four whole books that I could claim as “finished” this month, instead of one half-finished one.

Anyway, here’s what I finished in May:

Grown-ups’ Books:

‘Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma (Three decades in the tumultuous relationship of a woman and man in Trinidad. This is a great novel about how the secrets we bury have trouble staying buried, and how the things we most fear are sometimes not the things we ought to.)

Books I-IV of Middlemarch by George Eliot (I’m claiming the four books, even if they are all in one volume.) (All of the neighbors in this 19th-century English town talk about all of the other neighbors, and we get to listen in.)

Kids’ Books:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (A little girl is unable to reach shelter when a severe storm approaches and ends up in a strange land in which she goes on a multi-witch killing spree.)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Alice follows a White Rabbit down a rabbit hole and strangely doesn’t end up reading a Wikipedia article about the main exports of Fiji, but does inspire a really awesome Jefferson Airplane song.)

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl (A father and his son implement the most daring plan in the history of poaching.)

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (This is either Book 2 or Book 4 of the Chronicles of Narnia series, depending on how you count it. To be honest, on the second reading, these are all kind of running together for me.)

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (A young boy tries to find his father in Depression-era Michigan. It really opened my eyes to just how racist Michigan and other northern parts of the U.S. were a short time ago. I mean, I know that the North tends to act all superior because it was on the anti-slavery side during the Civil War, like that means the entire region is not now and never has been racist, but while I know that’s not true, the extent to which it’s not true still surprises me sometimes. I mean, not being allowed to own property? In Michigan? It just boggles the mind. If we were like that less than 100 years ago, how can we possibly believe we’re 100% un-racist now? I just don’t see how it’s even possible to come that far in just a couple of generations.)

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (A flying boy teaches other children how to fly, and they have all kinds of adventures that aren’t very politically correct.)

Currently Reading

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot (Sisters Book Club May selection)
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (audio)

To-Read for June

  • My Accidental Jihad by Karen Bremer (LibraryThing Early Reviewers)
  • The Sibling Effect by Jeffrey Klugman (Sisters Book Club June selection)
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (Classic Spin #6)
  • The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
  • The Odyssey by Homer (yeah, I bet I’m not going to get to this one, but it’s on my wish list)

What have you enjoyed reading in the past month? What’s on your overly ambitiousto-read list for June? If you blog your answer, please post a link in the comments (and/or link back to this post, if you’re so inclined).

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