Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

Spring Reading Update

The Spring semester proved to be a bad term for my reading life. Since the beginning of 2018, I have only read 9 books. This is the worst showing I have had since beginning this project to increase my personal reading. The only things that have been neglected more than my reading life this year are my blogs. This post is my attempt to do a little course correction here at Reading for Me.

It would be impractical to attempt to write meaningful posts about my responses to the books I have read since my previous post (my review of Kristen Hannah’s Nightingale in March). So I have opted to simply give a brief summary of the five books I have read in the months since that review and return to my normal routine with Book #10.

Without further apology, here are the books I have most recently read.

#5: A Ned Rorem Reader (Ned Rorem) – I have long been fascinated with the American composer Ned Rorem. While bringing back his Barcarolles for performance earlier in the Spring, I decided to dive into this collection of essays and recollections by the outspoken man. Some were fascinating. Others were merely an opportunity for the writer to put meaningless drivel on the page. I plan to read the Rorem diaries at some point, but I think I have had enough of this man’s ego and ramblings for the moment.

#6: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis) – Working for a Christian university means I get a four-day weekend for Easter. The weeks leading into the holiday had been extremely busy, so I decided to scale back my literary selection and enjoy this simple tale of sacrifice and redemption. No matter how many times I read this book, I always find myself crying when I see Aslan on the table, willingly giving himself over to the White Witch. This is simply a masterful retelling of the Gospel.

 #7: Prince Caspian (C.S. Lewis) – Since the first volume of The Chronicles of Narnia was such a good experience, I decided to continue reading through the series. I know this is not the order that the books were published in…..and it’s not chonological either. Honestly, I am not sure why this order was recommended, but I’ve started it now. Plans are to return to Narnia later this summer.

#8: The Sacrifice (Joyce Carol Oates) – While on Easter break, I discovered Half-Price Books in Austin. This was one of my finds on my many trips to the various locations. The Sacrifice is the enthralling story of an African-American girl who is found by local police after she has allegedly been raped and left to die. Her abused body also contains racial slurs that were left by her attackers. The girl names her attackers as a group of white police officers based solely upon her recollection of what she thinks were badges. The case takes on a life of its own as it becomes the rallying cry of Civil Rights attorneys and religious leaders. In light of the multiple accusations made against police departments throughout the country in recent years, The Sacrifice felt as though its story had been pulled right from the headlines. Another contender for the best read of 2018!

#9: Waking the Spirit: A Musician’s Journey Healing Body, Mind and Soul (Andrew Schulman) – Andrew Schulman is a classical guitarist who found himself facing death in the ICU after complications during surgery. His wife saw that he was slipping away and did the only thing she could think of to reach him — she inserted his earbuds and began playing the music that was at the top of his iPad’s playlist: The St. Matthew Passion by J.S. Bach. Schulman made an incredible recovery that his wife, his physicians, and the patient himself attributed to the healing power of music. Waking the Spirit follows Schulman’s return to the ICU after his discharge and recovery; he returned not as a patient, but as a medical musician. The book is filled with powerful stories of how music has aided some of the most seriously ill patients in their recovery — offering physical healing as well as pain relief for the body, mind, and spirit. Schulman’s combination of anecdotes with supporting evidence from the fields of medicine and music therapy are riveting and written in such a way that the layman can easily follow the argument. A great read for anyone interested in the field of music therapy.

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Reading Update – August 23, 2017

I am still working my way through Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. At this point, I have read roughly 375 pages of the novel and am just over half way through.  As I continue reading, I am understanding why those who have recommended it over the years have held the book in such high esteem. It is superbly written and the character development is insightful and authentic.

Let me tell you a little about what has happened so far without giving too much of the plot away. The twin boys, Marion and Shiva, have entered their teen years as a government coup has occurred in Ethiopia that involved members of their safe world. While both boys are central to the story, at this point, everything centers on Marion. His interest in medicine and surgery are growing — making for constant comparisons between the child and his deadbeat Dad. Marion’s sexuality is blooming as he begins to have his first encounters and all of the questions and confusions that accompany them. In an instant of danger for themselves and their family, Marion and Shiva must make a decision that has lasting consequences beyond anything they could have imagined. Marion must now deal with the personal demons that haunt him as he struggles with the ethical implications of his choice while keeping a potentially explosive secret from everyone.

Cutting for Stone is a pleasure to read. It is not a beach-read though. My reading pace has become significantly slower through this novel because each page contains a scene that will have consequences for our characters as the story progresses. I find myself taking my time in order to make sure I don’t miss a word. That means that my daily reading goal is only 50 pages…..and there are days when that lofty goal is too difficult to accomplish. I would love to finish the novel in the next week….and I think it’s possible now that I’m entrenched in the drama…..but it may be just a little too much to accomplish now that the fall term is underway.

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Reading Update – August 16, 2017

After finishing Behold the Dreamers, I was ready for something lighter. That means I returned to James Patterson. After spending a couple of days with the next novel in the series, I realized that I probably would not be able to finish the book before leaving the Geriatric Ward on Sunday. Since I only borrow these novels from a library and hadn’t gotten very far into the reading, I decided it was time to make a trip to the bookstore and change directions.

Now as I’m sitting on my couch in my Plainview apartment, I have a stack of books sitting next to me that I’m looking forward to reading. Listening to book reviews on the drive back to west Texas also meant that my TBR list grew (that’s “To Be Read” in case you are wondering). So with packing, driving across state lines, and slowly returning to my normal work routine, I am slowly making a dent in reading my latest novel — Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

The novel has been recommended to me by multiple people in the past few years. There was always something about the title that caused me to pause. I also tend to shy away from books that are longer than 400 pages; every time I’ve attempted a book much longer than that, I tend to lose interest before I reach the end and find myself stuck or trying to plow through when I really want to walk away. With its 650 pages, I am hopeful that Cutting for Stone will be a different story. I have only managed to read a little over 150 pages so far, but I am engrossed by this story and Abraham Verghese’s prose. I suppose that may be one of the reasons the novel was a national bestseller. I also find it very intriguing that this work was Verghese’s first novel.

So I’m going to continue reading….and I’ll tell you more about the story in a future post.

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Update – 11/2/13

No reason to give excuses here. It simply turned out to be a matter of personal taste. After slogging through Clear and Present Danger for nearly 3 weeks and roughly 350 pages, I decided that it was proving to be a laborious read that I was not enjoying. So I followed my own advice and closed the cover firmly last night. It was time for a trip to the library today anyway, so I picked up three new books. I’m hoping that at least one of them grabs my interest this month! October has not been a successful month for my reading life.

What books now sit on my desk? I grabbed a biography of the composer Bela Bartok as well as Life Support, a work of inspirational fiction by Robert Whitlow. To round out my stack, I randomly selected a novel listed on the Modern Library’s Top 100 NovelsAngle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.  I’m not going to read exclusively from the list, but I think it will be an interesting journey to work through in the coming years.  We’ll see what sparks my interest and how far I get on the Modern Library list.

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Looking Ahead….

It’s been a busy week here, so my reading has been very slow. I’m plowing through Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy at the moment. I like the book, but I find myself getting confused by the names that are so similar; as we shift between scenes, it takes a few minutes for me to figure out where we are in each plot line. I think if I had more time to sit down and read in larger chunks, it might be easier going.  I’m about 200 pages into this 650 page work. Things are just beginning to get interesting. I expect to give you a full review by the end of the week.

A few days ago, I received a note from my niece (also a book lover) telling me that she just couldn’t get her nose out of the Jodi Picoult novel I had recommended. She then asked if all of her books were this good. I assured her that Picoult was one of my favorite living writers and that she should check out all of her novels. That discussion got me to thinking about some of the book releases that I am anxiously awaiting.  At the top of my list is Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult!  (No surprise there!) Jodi’s works have been appearing in February or March of each year.  For a brief synopsis of the book, you can check out Picoult’s website here.  The other release that has me on pins and needles is Ken Follett’s Edge of Eternity, the final volume of his Century Trilogy.  I’m gonna have to be really patient for this one……it’s not schedule for release until late 2014.

What author’s books do you have to get your hands on as soon as they are released?  Share in the comments section below.

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Reading Update

I’m still not happy with exactly how the format of this blog is turning out. Although I don’t plan on writing daily, I do want to provide some sort of routine update to how the reading is going rather than just waiting to post reviews. So……here’s the first update of my reading life.

My intentions were to read An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser while flying back and forth to Los Angeles. The travel didn’t happen (because of illness), but I still started the novel. I don’t know if the problem was how I was feeling or the writing. I struggled through 50 pages and knew this book simply had to be put away.  There are too many good books to read instead.

This morning, I returned my borrowed books to the Memphis Public Library and selected three more to dive into.  This week is all about making progress related to some personal reading projects.

At the top of the stack is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. This book is the final installment in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first two novels and had never gotten around to reading the last one.  The time has come to finish the adventures of these characters.

When I heard of the death of novelist Tom Clancy, I immediately knew that I wanted to read one of his novels. I tend to steer clear of these big, masculine thrillers. Because Clancy’s work has become such a part of mainstream culture, I decided I owed it to myself to give one of his works a try. Although I contemplated reading one of his lesser known novels, I opted for his 1989 work Clear and Present Danger. This 656 page tome looks really intimidating for some reason. As long as I don’t get tied up in minute details, I think I’ll be fine.

The last treasure in today’s haul is a biography of the Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn.  I’m not certain what I expect to learn from it, but I have committed to including biographies of composers and musicians as part of my reading diet.

I’ve always wanted to read through the major classics of Western literature. I have read many of them throughout my years of school. I was probably too young for many that I read during high school; in college, I was searching for a way to get through the books as quickly as possible rather than lathering in their beauty.  So, I’m in search of a list that can help guide me through my reading of the classics. It won’t exclusively dictate my reading; the list will merely be a project that I’ll work my way through in the coming years.

What are you reading now? I’m always looking for good recommendations from friends. Do you know of a list (other than the Time Magazine list of 100 important novels of the 20th century) that I might consider? I’m hoping to find something like “The 50 Novels Every Educated Person Should Read.” We’ll see what I find…..and I’ll make sure that I share!

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