Reading Round-Up: September 2017

I read a bumper crop of books this past month, with fifteen (!) on my list:

  1. Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost
  2. The Road to Yesterday by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  3. Maphead by Ken Jennings
  4. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
  5. The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  6. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  7. Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories by Lucy Maud Montgomery (ed. Rea Wilmshurst)
  8. Theater Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
  9. Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
  10. Magic for Marigold by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  11. Brainiac by Ken Jennings
  12. Jane of Lantern Hill by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  13. Pat of Silver Bush by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  14. Mistress Pat by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  15. Chronicles of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery

I tend to get myself on “reading paths” and there are several visible here. The most obvious is the continued trend of Lucy Maud Montgomery dominating the list; no longer, however, as I have at last come to the end of my LMM reading project! I have read all of her novels but one (A Tangled Web, which my library system does not carry), and a reasonable amount of short stories — nowhere near the 500 that she published during her lifetime, but enough that I feel I have satisfied all righteousness as far as this project is concerned. I will probably have some final thoughts on the whole thing in a post or two; in the mean time, I wrote about the heroines of the last four novels on my list here.

A great joy to me this past month was discovering the books of Noel Streatfeild (note difficult spelling — I keep wanting to write Streetfield and having to correct myself). I first came across Ballet Shoes as mentioned many times on the blog of my late friend Beth, who loved the book dearly and shared it with her daughter. I can see why. Ballet Shoes was delicious, and I loved Theater Shoes and Dancing Shoes as well. Despite what the titles imply, these books aren’t a series, although they are loosely thematically linked: each features a small family or orphans or near-orphans and their struggles as they pursue careers in the performing arts. (The latter two of these were renamed by their American publishers in an effort to latch on to the success of Ballet ShoesTheater Shoes was originally titled Curtain Up, and Dancing Shoes was titled Wintle’s Wonders. Both of those titles make more sense to me, both as related to the contents of their books, and simply as titles. I mean, what are “theater shoes” even supposed to be?) Streatfeild herself was a stage actress for ten years as an adult, and performed as a child alongside her sisters, and the books have that true flavour of write-what-you-know about them… besides being heartwarming and charming and many other similar adjectives. I will definitely be seeking out more Streatfeild in the future.

This year I have been reading amusing travelogues, dipping my toes … eyes? … something into the works of Bill Bryson and the like. Lost on Planet China falls into this category; it is the most interesting of the three Troost books I have read. I do note that the book’s political asides tend to make it seem rather dated: remember when Americans abroad were only asked awkward questions about President Bush?

I posted here about reading Ken Jennings’s Geography Wonk and my intention to follow it up with Brainiac. I did, and although I do think that Geography Wonk was better overall, Brainiac was nonetheless an enjoyable read. The most interesting parts of it, to me, were less the history of trivia, and more of the inside information about being on Jeopardy! during his unprecedented 74-game run.

Finishing up September’s round-up, Pressfield’s The War of Art captured my attention long enough to write one two three posts on it — so I will certainly say no more on it here!

All in all, this was a very satisfactory reading month — not just because of the high number of works read, although that did cheer me. But I enjoyed almost everything I read, which is always nice! And now we’ll see what October will bring, especially since I am finished with LMM and once again fully unfettered.