Books, fiction

More Good Books

I’m at an in-between place with writing at this moment – not quite ready to make the final edits to my current MS, but also not wanting to dive wholly into my new one for fear I’ll get carried away and have a hard time coming back when the time is right for said current edits. I have a short story I’m working on, but the plot keeps getting stuck, so I’m working on plotting right now rather than actual writing.

Instead, I’ve been reading. Voraciously. Coming home from the library every week with stacks of books, and exchanging every one for fresh fodder the next. It’s like I’m a kid again.

(The warm streak we’ve been having contributes to this. The girls and I have been spending every moment we can outside, soaking in the sunshine. This winter was long and miserable and sickly, and so we are forgetting about school and housework and everything inside related, and for me, that includes writing. Laptop doesn’t like the sun. Books love it.)

(The mosquitoes are starting to emerge, though, so we’ll probably start spending more time inside this week. Gracie is mildly allergic, so every bite balloons up and itches like mad, and since we live right by a wetlands, we get swarmed with mosquitoes all summer long. Poor kid.)

Anyway. Not all of the books have been winners. Some I read, finish, and think “Ugh, why did I waste my time?” Some I read, finish, and think “Wait, what was the point of that story again?” Some I read and don’t finish. Some I don’t even read, just skim and decide to skip.

But most of them have been good, and a few have been truly wonderful. Two in particular from last week’s load.

The Grass-Widow’s Tale, by Ellis Peters. I love Peters’ Cadfael books, but Inspector Felse is almost as good. This book features Bunty, Felse’s wife, and it entered my life at just the right time. In it, Bunty is turning 41 and wondering who she is apart from Wife and Mother, and what her purpose is on the earth aside from those two roles – does she matter her, alone, aside from how she affects Husband and Son? I’m not quite at that age yet, but oh, haven’t I asked myself those questions?

The adventure Bunty gets entangled with as she struggles with these questions is both exciting and enlightening, and I love how she is both gentle and fierce, loving and ferocious, exactly when she needs to be. It’s a great, great read, and another one of those books that deals with serious matters as only supposedly light fiction can do.

The other book was Eva Ibbotson’s The Dragonfly Pool. This is only the second Ibbotson I’ve ever read, and sometimes I feel kind of cheated that I didn’t get to discover her as a kid, when her books and characters would have had a hand in shaping my world. But there’s something special about reading them for the first time as an adult, too, though not of the same sort. This time it’s more of a reminder of the magic of my youth, and I need that, these days when I feel old and cranky and worn-out way, way before my time.

(I am learning, these days, when those moods come on me, to shout “Carl! We’re being too boring again! We need an adventure!”, and he is learning not to fetch me a nice soothing cup of tea when I do that. We’re getting there. By the time we’re old we’ll have remembered how to be young.)

The Dragonfly Pool, despite not being fantasy, is really quite fantastic, and thoroughly delightful. I love Tally, with her quiet and steadfast determination to help others, and how in doing so she helps herself along the way. I love all the side characters, so richly drawn. The villains are satisfyingly villainous, and the overall setting is truly magical.

So. Those are two of my excellent reads from last week. We’ll see what gems pop out of this week’s library haul.

What good books have you been reading lately?

6 thoughts on “More Good Books”

  1. I just re-read all my Inspector Felse books, too! And now I’ve run out. It’s very sad. My library doesn’t even have a lot of them any more. But there’s still Inspector Alleyn to re-read, and I’m re-watching the Brother Cadfael movie adaptations (and when I’m done watching the last one of those tonight, I might go and re-read the books that didn’t make it to the screen, like “An Excellent Mystery”, which is my favourite of them all).
    “We’re being too boring again”? Hmm. I might have to adopt that shout.

    1. I’m slowly working my way through the Inspector Alleyn books – none of the libraries around here carry any of them, so I have to pick them up at used bookstores if I want to read them.

      Oh! And I’ve now read the first two Daisy Dalrymple books! You’re right, they’re tremendously fun, and I can definitely justify them as research.

  2. I’ve been overdosing on YA lately, so thanks for some MG selections! I love MG because it helps me recover the wonder of children again.

    1. Yes! Whenever I start to feel too jaded I turn to the likes of Lloyd Alexander and Brian Jacques again. For me, it’s the very best therapy in the world!

  3. I “read” Dragonfly Pool on audio– it was a wonderful audiobook, read by an older woman with such an engaging storytelling voice, so I’m not sure if the book or the reading of it was what made it so enjoyable! But I’m sure the book had a lot to do with it. :)

    1. I have only recently started to get into audiobooks, but I’ve found they are fantastic for engaging the kids, and more often than not I get sucked into them, too. They make even old favorites that I’ve read a hundred times seem new again.

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