Bookish Delights

The Reader’s Thoughts in May

May was a month of lots of reading … mostly due to the lovely long plane trips and layovers to and from Washington, DC! I met my quota of four books … I was hoping to squeeze in a fifth, but I didn’t quite make it. Still, it was a lovely variety from classic to modern – and slightly disturbing. But please – read on for further thoughts.

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens [A book you read in high school]
So technically the category was supposed to be “A book you were supposed to read in high school and didn’t” … but, being the rule-follower, I read all the books assigned to me in high school. So I chose to tweak this category to “A book you read in high school and loved,” because I absolutely adored “A Tale of Two Cities” in high school. Funny, though, as I read it, I realized I’d forgotten most of what happened, so it was almost like reading a new book again.

I loved it just as much the second time, though. I never stop marveling at the rich artist that Dickens was with words. He saw into the human soul and was able to articulate it on the page in a way that few others can. These are some of my favorite quotes:

“Sadly, sadly, the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities and good emotions, incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigning himself to let it eat him away.”

“There was a great hurry in the streets, of people speeding away to get shelter before the storm broke; the wonderful corner for echoes resounded with the echoes of footsteps coming and going, yet not a footstep was there.” [The foreshadowing in this book … well, it’s epic.]

” ‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.’ ” [Sydney Carton, my friends. One of the best tragic heroes ever written.]

2. Lady Susan by Jane Austen [A book recommended to me by a friend]
My good friend, Victoria, recommended this one to me … my fellow classic/Dickens/Austen-loving friend with whom I have shared many an evening of tea, treats, and a BBC mini-series with. I enjoyed it every bit as much as she said I would – and it was helpful that it was shorter, too! The format of letter-writing was a new one, but one that I actually really enjoyed. Also, talk about more amazing character development in Lady Susan! Such a cunning master of manipulation … you loved to hate her. [Although I was slightly perturbed that the place I bought it from on Amazon spelled the author’s name Jane AUSTIN … come on, people, really? Are you trying to go all Texan on us??].

3. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins [A book published this year]
Yes, this book is all the rage right now – so of course, I needed to find out why. This book I read almost completely on the flight over to DC, although at one point I had to take a break because it got too disturbing. It’s definitely a book to keep you on the edge of your seat, but the first-person narrative took you quite well into the characters’ heads. So well, that with my over-active imagination and empathy, I started fearing that I was that type of person as well … so I gave it a rest for awhile. Of course I had to find out how it ended, so I eventually returned – and was sufficiently surprised by the ending. Fascinating storyline – probably not a favorite.

4. Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielson [A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit – Rome]
This was a book I bought for my classroom, set in early Roman times. It’s more of juvenile fiction, and I thought it might make a good read-aloud, but after I read it, I didn’t think so as much. It was an interesting book … but not the most compelling story I’ve ever read [sometimes the addition of magical powers just doesn’t cut it for me in a book that’s already supposed to be historical fiction]. I still definitely want to visit Rome, though … one of these days!

I got a good start on another book at the end of May, which I just finished on Friday, so I’ll report about that next month. I also finished a book with my classroom on Friday, too, so I’m making good progress for June! Maybe I’ll even make up the three books I’m behind on for the year, especially with my flights to and from San Diego. This summer is looking promising for all the reading time awaiting. Hope you are as enjoying just as much lovely reading, my friends!

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