Sunday, February 14, 2016

February (first half) 2016 Reads

Oh boy! Seventeen books in fourteen days? Not exactly--some were holdovers from last month and a couple were not very long. Also it's been less than ideal weather for going out. Brrr. And today my internet/tv/phone was out for twelve hours. So reading was the way to spend the day.

Still it was a lot of reading, most of it excellent or very good. Three were so-so, one was pretty much a dud, and one went back to the library unread.

Finished the Hašek (a holdover from January),  made some progress on The Art of Flight by Sergio Pitol, and dipped in my "owned but unread" pile for five (it didn't make much of a dent as I rec'd five more books in the mail). Also read some good new books from the library (but sent The Portable Vleban back without finishing--just not my cuppa).


The Good Soldier Švejk; Hašek, Jaroslav; Cecil Parrot (Translator), Josef Lada (Illustrations)
The absurdities of the military during wartime. A thoroughly satisfying read. The book that inspired Joseph Heller's Catch-22
Library Book

Cover art: Josef Lada


The Vegetarian; Kang, Han; Deborah Smith (Translator)
Frighteningly beautiful. A young woman's descent into madness as viewed by her husband, her brother-in-law, and her sister. I'm glad it is only 188 pages because I had a hard time putting it down. Library book

Jacket design: Christopher Brand
Jacket photo: 100 / Moment/ Getty Images


Unspeakable Things; Spivack, Kathleen
Spivack dares to speak about the terrible things people do to one another. The telling is sometimes poetic, sometimes mythic, and often uncomfortably graphic and realistic. Hard material but well worth reading. Library book.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue; Benjamin, Melanie
Gossipy, bitchy, delightful fictional account of Truman Capote, Babe Paley, and their crowd. Library book.

Jacket design: Belina Huey
Jacket photo: Lillian Bassman, 1956


The Pets; Ólafsson, Bragi; Janice Balfour (Translator)
Very funny tale about a man sort of trapped under his own bed whilst an odd group of friends, acquaintances  and strangers have a sort of party in his flat. My copy.

Cover design: Milan Bozic

13065250 The Age of Doubt (Commissario Montalbano #14); Camilleri, Andrea; Stephen Sartarelli (Translator)
Camilleri is fun to read. Interesting plots, limited violence, a touch of romance, and food! My, my Inspector Montalbano eats well. He also manages to tell white lies in awkward situations--reminds me of the Judi Dench role in the Britcom As Time Goes By. My own copy, picked up at a library friends' sale.

Cover design: Paul Buckley Interesting Q & A with Paul Buckley, Penguin US  at The Casual Optimist
Cover illustration: Andy Bridge

New Islands And Other Stories; Bombal, María Luisa; Richard and Lucia Cunningham (Translators)
Five short stories about women. Magical realism. My copy.


Baboon; Aidt, Naja Marie; Denise Newman (Translation)
Strange (but good) short stories. Most start out as normal vignettes of everyday life--but then things happen. My copy.

Cover design: Gabriele Wilson

A Meal in Winter; Mingarelli, Hubert; Sam Taylor (Translator)
Three German soldiers face a war time choice. A difficult, disturbing tale told in simple, direct language. My copy.

Dreams of Dreams and the Last Three Days of Fernando Pessoa ; Tabucchi, Antonio;  Nancy J. Peters (Translator)
My reading of  The Art of Flight by Sergio Pitol led me to Tabucchi. Pitol discusses a different Tabucchi book (Pereira Declares) but I decided to start with this one. It's delightful! Tabucchi creates dreams for twenty great minds (writers, artists, etc.).  Highly recommended.

Cover design: Rex Ray

35 Sonnets; Pessoa, Fernando 
Written in English, self-published by Pessoa in 1918.
In the Shakespearean style. Worth reading & studying. Read on Project Gutenberg.


Pereira Declares: A Testimony; Tabucchi, Antonio; Patrick Creagh (Translator)
Politics in Salazar's Portugal. Library book.


Ginny Gall; Smith, Charlie
Growing up black in Jim Crow America.  Lovely, poetic writing. Makes me want to read more by this author. Library book.

Also read:

Where My Heart Used to Beat; Faulks, Sebastian
Kinda boring with some brilliant passages. Middle age Englishman remembering his career, his war, his life...When I can set a book aside in the middle of a sentence to go get a snack, the book isn't holding my interest. Library book.

Identity (Fina Ludlow #2); Thoft, Ingrid
Fina is a private detective working for her father's law firm. The case she is working on involves a woman who wants to sue a sperm bank to learn the identity of donor who is father to her seventeen year old daughter. There are lots of complications. The basic story is good, but at times it moves a little slowly. I didn't read the first Fina book, and I probably won't read the next. Advance Review Copy.

Slave and Sister; Waldfogel, Sabra
Jewish plantation owners and their slaves in Georgia. Interesting premise, characters and situations. Drags a bit in the middle. Wavered between two and three Goodreads stars, finally gave it three. My copy from blog win.

One More Day; Simmons, Kelly
I jumped all over the place--skipping sections, reading the end after I'd read about a third of the book, annoyed because of the paranormal elements, the teases about secrets, the uneven pace, etc. I think I actually read the whole thing. Generous with my stars (two).  Library book.


  1. I can't wait to read The Vegetarian, just received it through Blogging for Books

  2. It has some really creepy parts...but it's so good! Of course I read it because of the bloggers that recommended it :)

  3. Goodness, I haven't heard of any of these books-too many books out there and never enough time to read them all! Love to see that so many of your books come from the library (I'm a huge library nerd lol). Just stumbled onto your blog and now following through bloglovin :)

  4. Thank you for the follow. I just got home from the library and I checked out more than I returned. I try not to buy books if I can get them from the library. I'm lucky to live in a place that has pretty good libraries.

  5. Ah the Vegetarian! I got my library ebook hold on this just this week and can't wait to read it. Also, you've been reading so many good books that I've been wanting to read!

  6. There is just too much good stuff out there! I checked out six books and a video today and only one of the books was on my TBR list.

  7. Planning to read Human Acts by Han Kang soon, was so impressed by a post I read discussing her book and motivation for writing it. Its been a slow month for me, I'm impressed with your effort.

  8. I want to read Human Acts too, but so far my library doesn't have it.