Guys, it’s hot. Why is it so hot? It’s not even truly summer yet! Yes, I’m a little whiny right now, but all this heat makes it hard to sleep so I’m grouchy. It’s supposed to be cooler this week, thankfully, so better nights of sleep are ahead!
In the meantime, I did go out to the lake a couple of evenings to photograph the sunsets and other little things I found.
My reading did not go as planned. At the beginning of the week, I intended to finish reading The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, two other novellas, and start on Sebastien de Castell’s The Knight’s Shadow and/or My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk. What happened instead? I finished the novellas on Sunday, and then on Monday I noticed that the next book in a thriller series I stopped reading years ago, but redeveloped an interest in, had come available through Overdrive, so during a slow period at work I downloaded it, read it in two days, and then downloaded the next book. While there are about ten more books in that series, I have managed to lose interest in it again after devouring books six and seven. What’s up with that?
What I read this week:
- Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal, translated from Czech by Michael Henry Heim
- Touch by Adania Shibli, translated from Arabic by Paula Haydar
- Dance of Death by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
- The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Too Loud a Solitude is the story of a Czech man living under a police state. He has spent thirty-five years compacting books and other papers into bales of wastepaper for recycling, all the while rescuing many of the books and taking in their many philosophies until one day a new machine makes his job redundant. It often feels hallucinatory, as though the narrator is just on the edge of sanity after three decades spent quietly absorbing fine novels and philosophy under a dictatorship.
Touch is about a young Palestinian girl as she goes about her life. She goes to school, begins to learn a new language, and seems to be falling in love with a neighbor boy, while conflicts go on between the Israelis and Palestinians. Each chapter focuses on one of the girls senses– scent, sight, touch, etc.– which gives it a dreamy perspective. Because none of the characters has a name, I often found it difficult to tell who was who in the story.
The Preston and Child novels, Dance of Death and The Book of the Dead read like a typical bestselling mystery/thriller. The prose is not very good, to be honest, but I do like the characters- the strange Agent Pendergast in particular. They hook the reader early on and don’t let go, like a good thriller should. The plots of these novels often border on the supernatural, but generally have a scientific explanation behind them. I’m sure I will pick up the next book/s in the series someday, but probably not for a while.
- The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
- How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About Where, When, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey
Assuming I don’t get sidetracked by some random book, I intend to finish up The Palace of Illusions, and then at least get started on The Knight’s Shadow and My Name is Red. I’ve found a few other short novels or novellas I’d like to get to for my Read the World Challenge, but we’ll see how the reading special goes. I ended up with next to no reading time on Friday or Saturday thanks to work-related stuff, so here’s to hoping that I’ll have my regularly scheduled reading blocks this coming week!
In other random news:
Do you remember earlier this year when I was studying Dutch through Duolingo? And do you remember a little later on when I got frustrated with the Duolingo app and stopped using it?
Well, I found another app that’s been super helpful: Babbel! It’s a paid service, but thanks to The Allusionist podcast I got the first three months for half off, and I’ve been buzzing right through the lessons. We’ll see if I continue on with it when my first three months are up. Babbel does what Duolingo doesn’t and provides explanations about pronunciations, word usage, and sentence structure. It makes language learning much easier for me.
My French language edition of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Le Petit Prince finally arrived. It was another Abesbooks.com purchase that must have been sent by pack mule, given how long it took to show up in my mailbox. You’d think that, once something arrives at the sorting station an hour’s drive away that it would show up in my mailbox the next day, but this book sat around for a week before I finally got it (and that was after it spent a week wandering around Ohio!). Of course, now that I have it, those big blocks of French text are a little intimidating, even though I read French better than I speak it. But I will tackle it and I will get through it.
That’s all for now! Thanks to the heat, I’ve been hibernating indoors, away from the sun. I’ve been re-watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix because it’s so relaxing and helps me get to sleep during these hot and humid nights. A new-to-the-US season starts airing on PBS in a week, and I am excited to see it!