Reading Round-Up: November 2017

Every month, I wonder whether I should come up with a more creative title for these posts. And every month, I think “nah”. I read some books in November. Here — as you may guess — is the round-up:

  1. Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit (Andrew Moore)
  2. Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate DiCamillo)
  3. Skating Shoes (Noel Streatfeild)
  4. Party Shoes (Noel Streatfeild)
  5. Possession (A. S. Byatt)

This was an exceptionally meagre month in terms of numbers for me (compare it, for example, to September’s fifteen). Part of that was just life stuff going on: we travelled, the kids got sick, blah blah blah. Part of that is that with Christmas coming up, I’ve been busy with crafting in my leisure hours rather than reading — and until I can figure out a way to hold my yarn, a hook, my project, and a book at the same time, it means having to choose between them. (Seriously: is there a way?)

Pawpaw and Possession each already had a post of their own, and they also took me the longest to read, by far — Possession because it is dense and humongous, and Pawpaw because it just dragged for me somehow. Though, as previously noted, it did achieve its goal in getting me interested in trying pawpaw for myself. I haven’t pulled the trigger on ordering any frozen pulp yet, but the link is on my bookmarks bar where it can eye me accusingly whenever I boot up Chrome. One day.

With Skating Shoes and Party Shoes I finished up all of the Noel Streatfeild I can access through my local library (the others I read back in September). I preferred the former; Skating Shoes tells a very sweet and engaging story about two friends who meet on a skating rink — one rich and being groomed for a career in competitive figure skating, one poor and set on a course of skating by her doctor in order to regain her strength after a long illness. Naturally there is a wise governess-type figure for the rich girl, a large and interesting family for the poor girl, a maddening ambitious aunt, and conflict over the girls’ relative talent and prospective careers — this is Streatfeild, after all! It was thoroughly charming.

Party Shoes I found less engaging; it revolves around a pack of children (siblings and a cousin) in England who plan a pageant in order that the cousin has an excuse to wear a fancy dress sent to her from America. It’s the very tail-end of the war, and there is lots of interesting detail about rationing and coupons and whatnot — but I found the main plot at times a bit bewildering, a bit preposterous, and (worst of all), a bit boring. I finished Party Shoes… but it took me a while, and I definitely wouldn’t read it again.

Finally, there was Because of Winn-Dixie, a book I had certainly heard of — it was a Newbery Honor book in 2001, and apparently was also made into a movie in 2005 — so when I happened to pass it on display at the library I snagged it. It is a short, bittersweet book, with lots of things left unresolved (or at least in tension) at the end… but it works. I’ll be on the lookout for more DiCamillo in the future.

And that’s it for November. I did start two books last month which I am still working my way through (so they will appear on December’s list): Becoming Tech-Wise, and the phenomenal The Battle for Middle-earth: Tolkien’s Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings by Fleming Rutledge. More on both of these anon!