The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

October 12, 2019

The secret life of (e)books

... In 2016, Amazon banned publishers putting the table of contents at the end of the book. Only once that prohibition hit the news did ordinary readers discover that the company's Kindle Unlimited subscription service had been paying publishers in proportion to the farthest page read — perversely, creating incentives to game the system by moving the most often-read content to the very end. One the face of it, nothing is more logical:  a novel whos pages one turns convulsively until reaching the end should earn more than one whose readers drift away on page three. Yet by this measue, an encyclopedia whose users looked up a single entry on Xylography would look more thoroughly thumbed than one in which they'd consulted every single entry through Woodcuts.
from What We Talk About When We Talk About Books, by Leah Price

I'm greatly enjoying this book — it's very engaging and I recommend it — this bit had me shaking my head all the way home last night. :)

September 29, 2019

In September, I was reading ...

I'd rather be reading:  the delights and dilemmas
of the reading life
by Anne Bogel

Sleeping in the ground,
by Peter Robinson 
{DCI Banks}

At dusk:  Boston Common at Twilight,
by Erica Hirshler

The fortnight in September,
by R.C. Sheriff

To the lighthouse,
by Virginia Woolf
Miss Buncle's book,
by D.E. Stevenson

The age of innocence,
by Edith Wharton

The invisible woman:  the story of Nelly Ternan
and Charles Dickens
by Claire Tomalin

The annotated Persuasion,
by Jane Austen, annotated and edited
by David M. Shapard

A season of splendour:  the court
of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York,
by Greg King

The Bolter
by Frances Osborne

House of wits:  an intimate portrait
of the James family,
by Paul Fisher

The New Yorkers,
by Cathleen Schine

Leaving home,
by Anita Brookner

Into a Paris quartier,
by Diane Johnson

The shifting tide,
by Anne Perry
{William Monk}

Maisie Dobbs,
by Jacqueline Winspear

From hardtack to home fries: an uncommon history
of American cooks and meals,
by Barbara Haber

September 2, 2019

Another for my list ...

      Street pitch dark but very quiet, peaceful and refreshing after the underworld. Starlight night, and am meditating a reference to Mars — hope it is Mars — when Mrs. Peacock abruptly enquires if I can tell her a book to read. She has an idea — cannot say why, or whence derived — that I know something about books.
      Find myself denying it as though confronted with highly scandalous accusation, and am further confounded by finding myself unable to think of any book whatever except Grimm's Fairy Tales, which is obviously absurd.  What, I enquire in order to gain time, does Mrs. Peacock like in the way of books?
      In times such as these, she replies very apologetically indeed, she thinks a novel is practically the only thing. Not a detective novel, not a novel about politics, nor about the unemployed, nothing to do with sex, and above all not a novel about life under the Nazi regime in Germany.
      Inspiration immediately descends upon me and I tell her without hesitation to read a delightful novel called The Priory by Dorothy Whipple, which answers all requirements, and has a happy ending into the bargain.
      Mrs. Peacock says it seems too good to be true, and she can hardly believe that any modern novel is as nice as all that, but I assure her that it is and that it is many years since I have enjoyed anything so much.
      Mrs. P. thanks me again and again, I offer to help her find her bus in the Strand — leg evidently giving out altogether in a few minutes — beg her to take my arm, which she does, and I immediately lead her straight into a pile of sandbags.
   from The Provincial Lady in Wartime, by E.M. Delafield (1940)

{And thank you again and again to Nicola, for recommending this book, and the one I'm going to read right after it.} 

Henry in Charleston

Being a backwater was not all bad. When Henry James visited Charleston in the winter of 1904, he was charmed by its 'easy loveliness,' its gardens, and its 'silvery seaward outlook.' He enjoyed hot chocolate and Lady Baltimore cake, a local specialty, in a tearoom on King Street. 'Up and down and in and out, I strolled from hour to hour, but more and more under the impression of the consistency of softness.'

Henry James, The American Scene (1907), quoted in Charleston Fancy: 
Little houses & big dreams in the Holy City, by Witold Rybczynski

And, once again, I am charmed by Henry.

August 31, 2019

In August, I was reading ...

Elizabeth and her German garden,
by Elizabeth von Arnim

Matriarch:  Queen Mary and the House of Windsor,
by Anne Edwards

The big house:  a century in the life of an American summer home,
by George Howe Colt

The watchmaker of  Filigree Street,
by Natasha Pulley

Under magnolia,
by Frances Mayes

Eighty days:  Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's
history-making race around the world,
by Matthew Goodman

Greenery Street,
by Denis Mackail

The Warden,
by Anthony Trollope
{#6barsets begins!}

The Grand Sophy,
by Georgette Heyer

Thanks for the memories,
by Cecilia Ahern

Miss Pettigrew lives for a day,
by Winifred Watson

Espresso tales,
by Alexander McCall Smith

Still life,
by Louise Penny

Circle of sisters: Alice Kipling, Georgiana Burne-Jones,
Agnes Poynter and Louisa Baldwin,

by Judith Flanders

Into love and out again,
by Elinor Lipman

Eat cake,
by Jeanne Ray

Good harbor,
by Anita Diamant

{The painting is Couch on the Porch,
by Childe Hassam (1914)}

July 31, 2019

In July, I was reading ...

Dear Mrs. Bird,
by A.J. Pearce

A House in Flanders,
by Michael Jenkins

They May Not Mean To, But They Do,
by Cathleen Schine

The Red Notebook,
by Antoine Laurain

Vertigo 42,
by Martha Grimes

Clementine in the Kitchen,
by Samuel Chamberlain

The Innocents,
by Francesa Segal

The American,
by Henry James

The Great Silence:  Britain from the  Shadow of the
First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age
by Juliet Nicholson

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie,
by Alan Bradley

Belong to me,
by Marisa de los Santos

Julia Child,
by Laura Shapiro

The Short Live and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton,
by Kathryn Hughes

With No One As Witness,
by Elizabeth George

Hawthorne in Concord,
by Philip McFarland

Child of My Heart,
by Alice McDermott

Roman Fever and Other Stories,
by Edith Wharton

{The painting is Summer Sunlight (Isle of Shoals),
by Childe Hassam}

July 14, 2019

Paris in July

I'm off to a late start with Paris in July this year, but perhaps I can just pretend that I planned to start on Bastille Day all along. :)  And I did spend about 45 minutes in France during my trip to Switzerland (a trip to the Sunday morning market in Divonne, just over the border), so that should also count, n'est-ce pas?

I haven't had a chance to plan my reading, but before I left, I did find my first book at the library, and it was waiting for me when I got home ...

This is the second book in a series about a group of misfit French police officers -- a 'team of oddballs and no-hopers' (one of them insists that he is one of the Three Musketeers) -- who have been assigned to a cold case squad.  No one expects them to solve any crimes (though they are very good at it) so Commissaire Anne Capestan is surprised when they are called in to investigate the murder of her ex-father-in-law, a senior police officer.

I had enjoyed the first book in the series (The Awkward Squad) very much, so I was happy to find this one, and it was perfect reading for my still slightly jet-lag-fuddled brain. And one of the murders takes place in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a town in Provence that I've visited, so that was fun too.

I have Antoine Laurain's new book, Vintage 1954, to read next ... it may be my year for quirky, amusing books for Paris in July. :)

Stick Together, by Sophie Henaff
Maclehose Press, 2019 (originally published in French in 2017)
Borrowed from the library

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