Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Not-English country town books, children's books, and Shusaku Endo

I find myself a little read-out when it comes to early twentieth-century women's fiction at the moment.  Horrible, but true.  Between E.F Benson, Elizabeth von Arnim, D.E. Stevenson, and E.H. Young, to name a few of my recent reads, I've had a lot of small-town English community, and while I adore it, I find myself needing a literary vacation from the English countryside.  I just finished Isabel Colegate's Statues in a Garden, yet another tale of Elizabethan gentry, and my review (and a book sale!) will come soon.  Turning to my stack of library books, I was struck by their sameness.  The third Miss Buncle book, my first Winifred Holtby, which I've been dying to try for ages but for some reason just haven't picked up off my shelf to start, the sequel to Denis Mackail's Greenery Street, a pair of Edith Whartons, which I brought home because The Buccaneers is supposed to have helped inform Cora's past on Downton Abbey, and Vita Sackville-West's The Edwardians.  All certain to be wonderful books, but I'm currently reluctant to read them.  And I'd rather not spoil the experience by forcing it at the wrong time.

So naturally, I headed for the library!  The goal was simply "something different!" and I came home with a grab-bag of things off my TBR list that came highly recommended by all of you lovely book bloggers.  Everyone loves the Princess Bride film, and I'm told the book is even better.  The Squire, supposedly musings on pregnancy, has been on my mind lately since a number of my friends are pregnant or just had babies, and I'd love some insight into the possibilities of burgeoning motherhood.  Marilynne Robinson is one of those authors I've been too intimidated to try, but this (her first?) isn't too long and I feel like it's time to stop being scared and just try her out.  And finally, Ella Minnow Pea, a fluff bit of contemporary fiction with a surprising amount of social commentary.  Honestly, you can never go too wrong with an epistolary novel.

 That was my first trip to the library.  The second was a search for children's books.  This weekend, we're heading up to Michigan's UP to visit my husband's family and so I can sing my first-ever recital.  I'm excited about the trip, but less so about the two-day drive in each direction.  Lately, I've been able to read in a car if the stories are simple and the text is large, so I requested a few old favorites or neglected classics from the off-site library.  Why are children's books never kept in the main library on college campuses?  Does nobody really read them?  They make such a perfect escape from writing term papers!  Anyway, here's what I got: Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux, Mary Norton's complete Borrowers, both new to me, and two favorites that I haven't read since my elementary school days, Adam of the Road and The Egypt Game.  Together, these books were bigger and heavier than I expected, so I had to do quite a bit of juggling to get them to fit on my bike along with my workout bag and purse.

Finally, despite the shiny new stacks of old library books, book-reading choices never really do go the way you've planned.  I was grabbed by this Shusaku Endo novel during dinner at a friend's house last night, and they graciously allowed me to borrow it (good thing too, since I was already about a chapter in and completely mesmerized).  I really do need to read everything this man has ever written.

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