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 ...



2018
I'd rather be reading:  the delights and dilemmas
of the reading life
,
by Anne Bogel

2017
Sleeping in the ground,
by Peter Robinson 
{DCI Banks}

2016
At dusk:  Boston Common at Twilight,
by Erica Hirshler

2015
The fortnight in September,
by R.C. Sheriff

2014
To the lighthouse,
by Virginia Woolf
and
Miss Buncle's book,
by D.E. Stevenson

2013
The age of innocence,
by Edith Wharton

2012
The invisible woman:  the story of Nelly Ternan
and Charles Dickens
,
by Claire Tomalin

2011
The annotated Persuasion,
by Jane Austen, annotated and edited
by David M. Shapard

2010
A season of splendour:  the court
of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York,
by Greg King

2009
The Bolter
by Frances Osborne

2008
House of wits:  an intimate portrait
of the James family,
by Paul Fisher

2007
The New Yorkers,
by Cathleen Schine

2006
Leaving home,
by Anita Brookner

2005
Into a Paris quartier,
by Diane Johnson

2004
The shifting tide,
by Anne Perry
{William Monk}

2003
Maisie Dobbs,
by Jacqueline Winspear

2002
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 ...




2018
Elizabeth and her German garden,
by Elizabeth von Arnim

2017
Matriarch:  Queen Mary and the House of Windsor,
by Anne Edwards

2016
The big house:  a century in the life of an American summer home,
by George Howe Colt

2015
The watchmaker of  Filigree Street,
by Natasha Pulley

2014
Under magnolia,
by Frances Mayes

2013
Eighty days:  Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's
history-making race around the world,
by Matthew Goodman

2012
Greenery Street,
by Denis Mackail

2011
The Warden,
by Anthony Trollope
{#6barsets begins!}

2010
The Grand Sophy,
by Georgette Heyer

2009
Thanks for the memories,
by Cecilia Ahern

2008
Miss Pettigrew lives for a day,
by Winifred Watson

2007
Espresso tales,
by Alexander McCall Smith

2006
Still life,
by Louise Penny

2005
Circle of sisters: Alice Kipling, Georgiana Burne-Jones,
Agnes Poynter and Louisa Baldwin,

by Judith Flanders

2004
Into love and out again,
by Elinor Lipman

2003
Eat cake,
by Jeanne Ray

2002
Good harbor,
by Anita Diamant


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



July 31, 2019

In July, I was reading ...




2018
Dear Mrs. Bird,
by A.J. Pearce

2017
A House in Flanders,
by Michael Jenkins

2016
They May Not Mean To, But They Do,
by Cathleen Schine

2015
The Red Notebook,
by Antoine Laurain

2014
Vertigo 42,
by Martha Grimes

2013
Clementine in the Kitchen,
by Samuel Chamberlain

2012
The Innocents,
by Francesa Segal

2011
The American,
by Henry James

2010
The Great Silence:  Britain from the  Shadow of the
First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age
,
by Juliet Nicholson

2009
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie,
by Alan Bradley

2008
Belong to me,
by Marisa de los Santos

2007
Julia Child,
by Laura Shapiro

2006
The Short Live and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton,
by Kathryn Hughes

2005
With No One As Witness,
by Elizabeth George

2004
Hawthorne in Concord,
by Philip McFarland

2003
Child of My Heart,
by Alice McDermott

2002
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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