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
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November 2, 2014

Murder, overambitiousness, gateau, and snowflakes

Or, what I've been reading, listening to, and waiting for.:)

I always love reading about the books people plan to read. Sometimes, more often than not, probably, the books I end up reading at any given time are chosen for me, by library reserves, or due dates, or what's on television, or chance encounters (that's the best thing). 

I'm almost finished with Lucy Worsley's The Art of the English Murder, which is the companion book to a BBC series which I would have loved to watch. She's tracing the history of the growing fascination with murder, from attending public executions to newspaper accounts to detective fiction. I realized as I was reading it that some of the cases she describes sounded familiar -- the murder in The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher {did you read that? it was very good}, and, as Lisa reminded me, the one that P.D. James wrote about in The Maul and the Pear Tree, which is probably the only one of her books that I haven't read. A good book for the bus.

Last night, I finished listening to The Monogram Murders, the new Hercule Poirot book by Sophie Hannah. I've never read her books {a lot of people like them, though, so I should} and I've only read one or maybe two of Agatha Christie's Poirots - my sense of him comes from David Suchet. :) But this Poirot seems kind of grumpy, and peevish, and exasperated, and one-dimensional.  By the end, I was listening more out of curiosity than real enjoyment (plus, I had a lot of ironing to catch up on. :) } In the end, I didn't really like it, and that seems to be a common reaction too.

When I first  moved to Boston, before our regional library network started its wonderful system of shuffling books around, I used to visit the libraries in neighboring towns.  Part of the joy in that was each one had something that it seemed especially good at -- a lot of cookbooks, a lot of audiobooks, new books that I wanted but no one else seemed to. Now I don't do that anymore (just as I don't really browse the stacks anymore} and I miss it.  Anyway, going to the Cambridge library {and the Starbucks next to it} was a Saturday morning ritual for a long time, but I hadn't been there in years. Since I always drove there, from the other direction, it's taken me a two years to realize that it's only a 10-minute walk from work, and it's been renovated and expanded into being absolutely incredible.  Its 'specialty' for me now is that they have 'express books' on their (massive) new book shelves -- books that you can't reserve or renew, but that are sometimes there for the taking when you'd otherwise be waiting for months.  I wasn't even waiting for this new biography of Queen Victoria {I didn't know about it}, and I'm not sure what possessed me to think I could read its 574 pages in two weeks ... I won't, but I can at least get it started. It's been a while since I immersed myself in a wonderful biography, so I hope this will be one. {Update, an hour and a half later - it is, so far!}

But what I'm really doing is sitting by the window hoping that I really will see the snowflakes that might just possibly fall.  It's been cold, rainy and windy since yesterday, so it's a perfect weekend for reading.  And baking! That's the other thing that happened, this week -- three new cookbooks, two I had pre-ordered months ago and one that I must have been first in line for from the library.  I'm waiting for my frozen butter to soften so I can make the Apple Weekend Cake from Dorie Greenspan's new book {she tell us that there's such a thing as le gateau weekend, the kind of cake that keeps and travels well.

So, all in all, a good week and a good weekend.  Hope yours are, too!


Lisa said...

We had our first really chilly days this weekend, but it's going to warm up again a bit next week. did you see your snowflakes? I am putting The Art of the English Murder on reserve - I'd like to have seen the TV series as well.

JoAnn said...

Oooh, I want all three of those cookbooks! I know I should borrow them from the library first for a "test run" but may have to purchase at least one this week.

We're starting our drive to Florida this weekend and I'm packing a bag of books I might feel like reading when we go back later in the winter. Should I throw Mr. Whicher in, too? He's been on my shelf for several year now.

This was a perfect weekend for reading and baking... they make even these cold, short days more enjoyable.

Thank you for visiting!

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