WHAT HAVE I BEEN READING? So many books.
I’m very much enjoying a new summer novel, Honestly, We Meant Well, by Grant Ginder. It is light, realistic, well-written, and comical, a literary novel that can double as a beach read. Ginder is a master of fast scenes and witty dialogue in this adroit portrayal of a family vacation in Greece. When Sue Ellen, a classicist, accepts a gig lecturing in Greece, she isn’t entirely happy that the family is accompanying her. She’s annoyed with her philandering husband and grieving the death of Christos, a former lover who ran the inn where they’re staying. Her husband, Dean a writer and creative writing professor, is worried about his next novel and, unbeknownst to her, is cheating on her again. Their son, Will, is in agony over a breakup with his boyfriend and has also plagiarized a short story. Then there’s Eleni, Christos’ daughter, about to sell the inn. The novel is also a kind of guide to Greece. Delphi, Athens, Aegina… Great fun.
The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan by Stuart Palmer. This quick American novel, first published in 1941, is a Golden Age Detective novel. The amateur sleuth, Hildegarde Withers, is a New York schoolteacher on vacation in L.A. When a Hollywood agent recruits her as an expert advisor for a film about Lizzie Borden, she starts finding dead bodies, beginning with the scriptwriter in the office next door. Rollicking adventures, humor, and suspense: I do hope I can find other books in this Miss Withers series. In Otto Penzler’s introduction, he compares Miss Withers to Miss Marple. This book is in the American Mystery Classics series, chosen and introduced by Otto Penzler.
THE “SHOULD-I-BOTHER?” PILE
L.A. Woman by Eve Babitz. I loved Babitz’s self-described confessional novel, Eve’s Hollywood (my post is here), but put aside L.A. Woman. Some of it is a little bit coarse. For instance, the narrator Sophie’s dog, Tango, has a kind of affair with her on the bathroom floor. And a friend gives Sophie advice on how to “give head”: “Spit,” Ophelia concluded, “That’s the whole trick to giving head. Just spit.” Okay, it’s funny but… not that funny. Should I bother?
Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion. All of Georgette Heyer’s novels are elegant, witty, and very much alike. I enjoyed the first 285 pages of Cotillion, then lost the book behind a chair. Eureka! I vacuumed! Heyer’s novels are billed as Regency romances, but they’re more like Regency comedies. I guarantee the girl will get the guy. Should I bother?
The Magus by John Fowles. This is always mentioned on summer reading lists. Last summer I read the first 300 pages. It’s haunting and boring at the same time. Should I pick it up again?
What are you reading and what’s on your “Should-I-Bother” pile.
8 thoughts on “So Many Books: What I’ve Been Reading & the “Should-I-Bother” Pile”
When I was a teenager, I had a glorious summer job ‘babysitting’ for two youngsters who lived behind us. They were too old for babysitting, so I really just had to be there in case something came up. I spent my time reading every day, and that’s when I read The Magus. I remembered loving it, but I don’t remember anything about it. Time for a re-read?
I’m still trying to figure out if I should finish the first read!
On Sat, Jun 1, 2019 at 7:38 AM Thornfield Hall: A Book Blog wrote:
I loved the Magus when I read it when I was young. I recently read the French Lieutenant’s Woman for a class and absolutely loved it and the class. The teachers didn’t seem to think the Magus was as good. I have the feeling I might have the same reaction to it that you are having. I would probably go for it if I read 300 pages.
Oh, I did love The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I mean to go back to it someday, and would perhaps enjoy it more than The Magus. Thanks for reminding me of it.
I’m particularly fond of Cotillion but it’s true there is a sameness when reading too many Heyer novels. To be read if you’re in the mood for what she offers, otherwise there is no reason to force yourself.
As for The Magus, if a book bores me it’s very hard to keep going. I would have to have some external reason I think, an assignment or something. Life is too short.
Cotillion is one of her most charming books, and I may pick it up for a day at the beach. I invested so much time in The Magus. The plot, such as it is, remains so vivid to me, that I may go back to it, to say I’ve done it. It’s a better-than- average book, but not my fave Fowles. It’s a dilemma…
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Each of your ShouldIBother reads seems to me to be a book for a very particular mood, and each mood of those three requiring (at least it would be for me) a very different mood too. I don’t know how someone else could answer to that! My reading mood changes so often, depending on the other books in my stack, what’s filling my days, what I’m watching and simply thinking about.
Yes, we do go rather wildly from Georgette Heyer to John Fowles around here!
On Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 9:55 AM Thornfield Hall: A Book Blog wrote: