Sunday Sum-Up: November 7, 2021

So my week was taken over by British television. Not that that’s particularly unusual for me, as British television is On Brand for me, but I hadn’t actually intended it to happen. I discovered that the adaptation of Ann Cleeves’ book, The Long Call would be available on BritBox, so I got the one-week trial, fully intending to watch the four-episode season, call it good, and cancel my subscription.

Alas for me, I discovered that BritBox has QI. If you don’t happen to know what QI is, let me inform you. QI is a trivia show hosted by Stephen Frye, who invites a panel of four comedians on and then asks them ridiculous questions that they occasionally know the answers to, but usually just make things up and riff on each other’s equally made-up answers until Frye reveals the right (and usually bizarre) answer. Every time I watch an episode, there’s a point where I start giggling like mad. To the point where the cats look at me funny. I watched this show at night when I was in the UK (and on one unfortunate day in Ireland, when I was sick with a nasty fever on the day I was meant to visit Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher, and spent it curled up in bed because standing upright made me dizzy).

Suffice it to say that I have been watching the heck of of QI, and when I finish that I’m moving on to 8 Out of Ten Cats, which is another ridiculous British trivia-type show that I enjoyed watching in the UK.

So much for just using the one-week trial. Darn you, BritBox!

I did make it to the park one evening when the clouds were just right at sunset. It had been a lovely day, and the place was full of people making the most of the nice weather– probably some of the last nice weather we’ll have before winter comes. I got a couple of good photographs of the sunset over the lake.

I went for a hike at another nearby park earlier in the week. That was on a cloudy day, and I was half afraid it was going to start raining. Fortunately it didn’t, and I took a new-to-me trail and explored a part of the park I’d never seen before. It was a good long walk, and quiet, too, as I saw only two other people the whole time.

This is an old(ish) photo of Mina. All the way from September. Because she spent the whole week being fractious and camera-shy. I have no idea why, as the weather hasn’t been doing anything unusual, and there haven’t been any strange noises going on nearby. So I don’t know what her deal is, but here were are. Me watching British humor shows, and her running around like she had All The Halloween Candy.

Maybe she did. I thought there would be more peanut butter cups in that bag…

Here’s to hoping she calms down this week so I can get a non-blurry photo of her.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is my second Shirley Jackson novel. It’s unnerving all the way through because you know there are many, many things wrong in the Blackwood house, but at the same time, it feels so ordinary. Almost cozy. Merricat’s imaginings make her feel like a little girl, though you can work out that she’s nearly an adult. This ambivalence about her physical versus mental age pushes her into this odd sort of liminal space, especially since she is the narrator, and the entire story is told from her perspective. I can’t tell if the ending is satisfactory or deeply unsettling. It’s that tension between the feeling of “this is nice, this is a charming house with quirky residents” and “this house might as well be haunted, and the people who live here are all disturbing” that gives this book is unsettling nature. It makes me want to reread The Haunting of Hill House, and then delve into Jackson’s other books.

It took me a little longer to finish Jade Legacy than I thought it would, but once I hit the 50% mark I couldn’t put it down. I spent most of Wednesday afternoon reading it because I simply had to find out what was going to happen to the Kaul family and the larger No Peak clan. There were some pacing issues that had to do with the sheer span of time the book dealt with– about twenty years– and there were some events that seemed to have been started and wrapped up within a chapter, but I knew that said event was a piece in the larger game, and that eventually it would pay off. In every case, that’s exactly what happened. Fonda Lee set up her pieces, and by the last couple of chapters, everything was there on the table to see, so well laid out that it didn’t feel like it could have ended any other way. I thought this was a fitting end to the trilogy, and I kind of wish Lee would continue the story, just so I can see what will happen as the next generation takes control of things and continues to move the clans into the future. I’ll have an in-depth review up a little later this month.

What I’m Currently Reading:

Interrupted Music is quite a dense book, which shouldn’t surprise me given that Verlyn Flieger has always had a very academic stance when it comes to writing about Tolkien’s work. She was writing scholarly articles about Tolkien long before literary-type people thought it wasn’t completely gauche. So I haven’t made as much progress as I would have thought, but it’s given me quite a lot to think about when it comes to the origins and inspirations for Tolkien’s legendarium.

Around the World in 80 Books is just what the title says- David Damrosch picks out 80 books from around the world, with the locations based on Phileas Fogg’s journey from Around the World in 80 Days. It was a particularly fitting journey for him to make, as he’d come up with the plan and a travel itinerary in late 2019, and then before he could actually go anywhere in 2020, everything started closing down because of Covid. So his journey around the world became one completed in books. I requested this from NetGalley because I want to learn more about world literature. So far, so good, because even though I haven’t made it out of Europe yet, Damrosch has written about several works by authors I’ve never heard of. He also has a handy list of the included works, so if you want to go and read those books, you can find the titles and authors listed beneath each city Damrosch ‘visits’.

I found The House Between Tides on a list of modern Gothic stories and when I realized on October 31 that I still had three out of four Hoopla borrows available for the month of October, I selected three audiobooks I was curious about and downloaded all three. I quickly returned the first one I tried, as I didn’t like the narrator’s voice. The House Between Tides was the second one I tried, and it didn’t take long for me to be intrigued by the dual-narrative story which takes place in 2010, when Hettie returns to the island in the Hebrides where she plans to restore the dilapidated manor house that she has inherited. Her plans are put on hold the day she arrives when a skeleton is found in the house’s foundations. Meanwhile, a century earlier, Beatrice has arrived at the manor house to live with her new husband Theo, who is a famous artist. Their marriage begins blissfully enough, but things soon start to go wrong.

What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, audiobook narrated by Andy Serkis

I already know I’m going to enjoy this book quite a lot, as I love The Hobbit, and I loved Andy Serkis’ narration of The Lord of the Rings. I’d been on the wait list for this from my local library, and it finally arrived for me last night, so I’m going to start it as soon as I’m done with The House Between Tides.

And with that, I’m going to get back to… probably QI. I should be reading, but let’s be honest. I’m going to watch QI instead.

12 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: November 7, 2021

  1. I had a subscription to britbox once because I love all things Brit, but then I felt like I wasn’t watching it much. It might be a good winter addition though. Do you ever watch Graham Norton?

  2. I don’t watch his show often (really it’s only when my daughter sends me clips) , but there are times when it’s just hilarious

  3. QI sounds amazing! I’ve been poking around looking for something new to watch — I feel like I’ve watched all of Netflix and Hulu at this point. But, I really don’t need yet another subscription service… but, but, but Britbox sounds so tempting! Gorgeous photos — I’m glad you got to enjoy some outdoor time! I loved the audiobook of We Have Always Lived in the Castlel — the narrator’s voice was so creepy for the “Merricat…” pieces! Wishing you a great week!

  4. Mmmmmmm, peanut butter cups! 🙂

    Those are some goreous photos. I love the oval of light in the first created by those clouds, and there are some really beautiful tones in that second one.

    The only thing I’ve read yet of Shirley Jackson was The Lottery, but I’ve been wanting to read The Haunting of Hill House for a while now. If I like that perhaps I’ll add We Have Always Lived in the Castle to my list.

    Glad to hear you’ll have The Hobbit to listen to! 🙂

  5. Thanks! I wasn’t sure how that sunset was going to turn out, as the clouds got a little wispy. But it turned out so beautifully!

    Shirley Jackson’s books are so unsettling. Things start out so mundane, and get creepier the more you think about it. The Haunting of Hill House is the only book that’s ever scared me..

  6. QI is amazing! It’s so funny, and so informative, too! And there are so many British dramas that look great. I’ll have to poke around and try some of them once I finish QI and 8 out of 10 Cats.

    I’m tempted to reread The Haunting of Hill House on audio since the audiobook of We Have Always Lived in the Castle was so well done.

  7. I’m currently delving into Jackson’s backlist right now, and it’s such a treat. I started at the beginning with The Road Through the Wall, and while it’s much more stoic and not at all creepy than Castle, there’s this undercurrent of oh noooo because it’s Jackson, so you know something is coming, and when it finally does, it just turns the entire novel on its head. I’m definitely going to continue reading through her backlist, and one of my reader friends recommended reading them in order because you can see bits and pieces of them influencing later ones.

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