Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Salon: A Book about Reading & What I am Reading Now

In my August 10, 2008 Sunday Salon post I wrote: "It is my intent to stretch out the reading of this book, reading snippets here and there in between my other reading." And I certainly did stretch it out! Over a year later, and I finally was able to finish Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Yourself in Books by Maureen Corrigan. This was that book I referred to at the beginning of the year, the one I found hidden in a basket of reference books. It was never my intention to put off finishing the book, much less to wait so long to get back to it. There's no time like the present, eh?

I have only read a handful of memoirs focusing on a reader's love of books. Sara Nelson's So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading and Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi come instantly to mind. There's always a risk to reading such books: running into possible spoilers of books I have yet to read and not being familiar with the books talked about, perhaps feeling a bit lost as a result. And what about all the new titles added to that wish list? Now there's a positive--or a negative depending on how you look at it. That would surely be the case with Maureen Corrigan's memoir.

Picking up where I last left off, I had no trouble jumping right back into Maureen Corrigan's narrative about how books have impacted her life and vice versa over the years. In the final two chapters of the book, she discusses the influence of her childhood and faith on her reading and how those early books she read influence her life to this day. She also goes into how her view and expectations about relationships were impacted by her reading, including those of a romantic nature. Books opened her eyes to an entirely different world and it lead her down unexpected paths. They also helped shape her values and ideals. On a broader scale, Corrigan talks a little about the changing nature of literature over the years, something I found especially interesting.

Corrigan included a coveted "Recommended Reading" list near the end of the book, which, of course I found irresistible. While several of the titles she mentions I have read and enjoyed (Jane Eyre, The Maltese Falcon, and Pride and Prejudice, just to name a few), there are many others I have not yet tasted and some I had never heard of before that are now on my wish list, especially from her mystery and suspense list. She reminded me that I need to dive back into Sara Paretsky's series and finally get around to reading Ian Rankin and Henning Mankell. Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen, Straight Man by Richard Russo, and Bleak House by Charles Dickens are among some of the titles that I must read.

My earlier discussions of the book:
Part One: Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading!
Part Two: Women's Extreme Adventure Stories

Part Three: Tales of Toil

Do you ever read memoirs about books and reading? If so, do you have a favorite?

At some point this year I hope to get to Nick Hornby's collections of essays about books and reading. I hear they are irresistible.

This past week I also read an intriguing mystery set in Italy--Umbria to be exact. It is called A Deadly Paradise and is by Grace Brophy. It's the second in a series featuring Commissario Cenni, and now I am anxious to get my hands on the first. I love a good mystery set in a country other than my own. This particular one delves a little bit into World War II history, although it is set in the present day.

Yesterday I began reading Umrigar Thrity's The Weight of Heaven, a book I have been wanting to get to since I first heard that it had been published. It is about a couple who lost their child to death and are trying to re-establish their lives. I jumped at the chance to be a part of the TLC Virtual Book Tour when I saw it coming around. I have read two books by Umrigar before, both very good, and am anxious to read more by this great author. There will be a giveaway of The Weight of Heaven (I have an extra copy since I bought my own) so be sure and visit on my tour date (February 1st) for a chance to win.

Speaking of giveaways, tomorrow I will be posting my review of American Rust by Philipp Meyer along with a giveaway of Meyer's book. I have two copies for giveaway, one for U.S. and Canadian residents from the publisher, and the other my own copy of the book that I will be giving away to someone outside of the U.S. and Canada. I hope you will stop by!

I am determined to read a Sarah Waters novel this year as so many readers have sung her praises. The question then became, where to begin? I put it to you to help me decide which book I should start with of all her novels. Many thanks to each of you who participated in the survey.
The results:
- 4 votes
Fingersmith - 20 votes
The Little Stranger - 14 votes
The Night Watch - 3 votes
Tipping the Velvet - 7 votes
Fingersmith is the clear winner and seemed to get the most praise even on Twitter when I mentioned my survey there. I am looking forward to reading Fingersmith later this year and seeing what all the fuss is about. To those who voted for the other books, this doesn't mean I won't read those at some point in the future as well. Just that I am starting with Fingersmith.

Good news! To me anyway. On a whim I put my name in for a chance to win a bookcase over at Myckyee's BookBound. And I won! The bookcase (from CSN Office Furniture) arrived in the mail the end of last week. I have not yet had a chance to put it up (still deciding exactly where it will go), but already have the books to fill it. I will be sure and take photos of before and after so you can see how it looks.

On the not so good front (and non-book related), Anya is having serious health problems at the moment, and we're waiting for the final test results to come back to see how to proceed with treatment. She's a real trooper and is hanging in there. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

Edited to add: The veterinarian called this morning as promised. There's still more testing in store for Anya, unfortunately (including a possible bone marrow biopsy) but we're getting closer to finding the root cause. I truly appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers.

© 2009, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.
If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I've wanted to read the Corrigan book for a long time--will possibly get to it this year! I am also planning to read Fingersmith, so we can compare notes :)

    Hope Anya feels better soon.

  2. Poor baby kitty. We have had sick cats lately too. I think my vet bill for the last few months have been somewhere nearly a couple thousand dollars. It's great having five cats until they all have issues at once.

    I can't wait for you to read Fingersmith. My review is coming at the end of the month. But I think the survey rang true, because A Little Stranger was excellent as well. (The audio is read by Simon Vance, and is truly a work of art.)

  3. I do love books about the love of reading- especially when they add to my TBR! This is one I haven't read yet and it sounds lovely.

    I pray your kitty recovers soon.

  4. I have never read a book about reading, but this one sounds great. I'm also curious about Sarah Waters. I keep seeing her name places. I'll look forward to seeing what you choose.

  5. You have been busy on the bookish front. I can't think of any memoirs about reading that I've read.

    Sorry to hear about Anya - I hope all goes well for her.

  6. Glad to see your post this morning!

    I LOVE books about books, books about reading, books about writing...well, you get the idea. I have not read this one though, so it looks like I have one more to add to the TBR pile.

    I also want to read Fingersmith this year. Would you be interested in doing a read-along? (provided the timing works well for both of us).

    So sorry to hear about Anya. I know when one of our beloved pets is not doing well, it can add stress to our lives. I will pray that they discover the problem and it is easily treatable.

    Have a GREAT week!

  7. Congrats on winning a new bookcase! I'm jealous :)
    I'll be thinking about Anya.

  8. I'm sorry to hear about Anya's health problems...I hope things turn out OK for you all.

    I remember your talking about the Corrigan book before. I enjoy memoirs about reading - although, as you note, they can do some damage to the wishlist - so I'll have to look for that one. I definitely like the title, at any rate :-).

    Ooh, congratulations on winning a bookcase! I know you'll put it to very good use :-).

    Glad to see you back this Sunday, Wendy. I hope this means you're taking a break from your blogging break!

  9. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on A Deadly Paradise. I've had that one on my shelf for awhile.

    Congrats on winning the bookshelf. Can't wait to see the pics.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  10. Tracy - I enjoyed Corrigan's book. I don't recommend stretching it out as long as I did. :-)

    It seems like quite a few of us are planning to read Fingersmith this year. It will be fun to see what everyone thinks of it.

    Thank you for the well wishes for Anya. I am anxiously awaiting the doctor's call. She said she'd call today despite it being Sunday.

    Lisa - Thank you, Lisa! I hope so too.

    Sandy - I am sorry your cats have been sick too, Sandy. I keep hoping the other two animals in the house will stay healthy for awhile. The tests alone have been expensive for Anya. :-S I guess it's good my husband and I have been working a lot of overtime. I just want Anya to be okay at this point. I'm so worried about her.

    I look forward to your thoughts on Fingersmith!

    Jeane - Yes, those books that add to our TBR piles are among the best. :-) I think when they don't it's a telling sign about the book about reading. I hope you do get a chance to read Corrigan's book.

    Thank you for your prayers!

    Sarah - I've had mostly good luck with books about reading. This is a good one.

    I am looking forward to reading Sarah Waters' Fingersmith. It seems to be a lot of people's favorite.

  11. Kathy - Thank you for your thoughts about Anya. I've been fortunate to get in as much reading as I have recently considering how busy it's been. It's nice when I can take some time out to read. :-)

    Molly - It's good to be posting again. :-) I've missed you all.

    I hope you do get to read Corrigan's book. I'd love to know what you think.

    A friend and I are talking about reading Fingersmith together, and I think it would be fun to do a read-along. We should definitely look into it to see if it's doable.

    Thanks for your prayers for Anya. Now if only the vet would call so we'd know how to proceed. I feel so helpless right now. We're supposed to keep the house calm and stress-free for her--I sure hope she isn't picking up on my stress, but I know she probably is.

    Stacy - Thanks! I still can't believe I won--even though the bookcase is sitting right in front of me. We'll probably get it up within the next week or two when things calm down a bit around here. Thanks for your thoughts for Anya.

    Florinda - Thanks, Florinda. I hope it doesn't turn out to be anything terribly serious, but the vet is very concerned. Enough that she's rushing the test results so we can try and treat Anya as soon as possible. And to think I'd only taken her to the vet for a minor problem. It's a good thing I did, I guess. That issue's been put on hold to deal with the more serious one.

    I love the title of Corrigan's book. Everyone at work this past week was commenting on it. :-)

    Thanks! I can always use another bookcase. Finding a spot for it is the challenge . . . LOL

    It's good to be back to blogging. I've followed my Google Reader, but decided not to comment on any blogs while on my break. It actually was quite refreshing, although difficult at times.

    Anna - I should have read A Deadly Paradise last year for the WWII challenge, but I didn't think of it. I hope you'll enjoy it when you read it.

  12. This post made me laugh, because you reminded me that I was reading Corrigan's book last month and I set it down (somewhere) and then forgot about it.

    I think I need to go find it!

  13. Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading!

    Oh, what a fancy! If only! When I say that here, the kids act like I'm breaking their hearts and saying I love the book more than them. Hence, my weekend reading is about 1/4 of my weeday amount.

    I hope all goes well with Anya.

  14. Congrats on winning the bookcase! I hope Anya feels better.

  15. My thoughts are prayers will be with Anya.

  16. I'm so sorry to hear about Anya; she will be in my prayers.

    I'm not one for memoirs of any kind not even if they're about people and their love of books. I have however read Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen and loved it. I actually wouldn't mind rereading it one day.

    I'm going to be doing The Weight of Heaven tour as well but much later than yours. I'm looking forward to reading it as well. I look forward to your thoughts on it.

    Sarah Waters- I have The Little STranger and I vow to get it read this year. lol.

    Congrats on winning the bookshelf Wendy. That's awesome!

    Have a great Sunday and give Anya a little hug for me.

  17. Jill (Softdrink) - It must be the book then and not us. LOL I hope you do enjoy the rest of it when you find it. :-)

    Alisha - I love the title, but it can be hard convincing the family to actually leave you along, I agree. :-)

    Thanks for your kind thoughts for Anya.

    Alyce - Thanks so much--on both counts!

    Kathleen - Thank you, Kathleen. I really appreciate it.

    Dar - Thanks, Dar. We're at least getting closer to an answer. I'll be calling the vet tomorrow to get the referral for the specialist.

    Black and Blue sounds like such a powerful book. I am glad to hear you liked it so much.

    I look forward to your thoughts on The Weight of Heaven! I'm enjoying it so far.

    I hope you have a great Sunday too. And I'll definitely give Anya that hug from you. :-)

  18. Wendy, Fingersmith is a great choice. There is a mystery element to it that I think will appeal to you. I'm reading The Night Watch right now and while I like it, I don't think it's quite as good as Fingersmith.

    I'll be thinking of you and your dear Anya ... scratch her behind the ears for me!

  19. Yay on winning the bookcase Wendy! That's a great prize and one that you can use I'm sure. I would love to see pictures!

    I hope Anya is doing better soon. It's always difficult when your pets aren't feeling well. It's especially hard since they can't tell you what's wrong!

  20. ALL - For those of you who subscribed to the comments, I posted a little update to the original post. So you don't have to come back and read it, this is basically what I added:
    The veterinarian called this morning as promised. There's still more testing in store for Anya, unfortunately (including a possible bone marrow biopsy) but we're getting closer to finding the root cause. I truly appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers.

  21. Laura - You know me well. :-) I'm really looking forward to reading Fingersmith.

    Thank you for thinking of Anya. She loves scratches behind her ears. :-)

    Kristie - Isn't that something? I can't believe I won the bookcase.

    It really is hard seeing our pets suffer. I wish I could make it all better for her. Thank you for the well wishes.

  22. *hugs* I will definitely keep Anya in mind. Fingers crossed that she'll be just fine, and in no time too.

  23. I will definitely keep Anya in my prayers. Hang in there!

    And my favorite reading memoirs are Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman and How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen.

  24. You've got a lot of book goodness going on there!!!

    I will be thinking of Anya!!!

  25. Sending lots of good thoughts and energy to Anya - keep us posted!

  26. I have only read one or two bookish memoirs. One was the Yellow Lighted Bookstore(?) which I thought was okay. I can't remember the other one. I will see if the library has the one you mentioned. I would like to read more of them. I hope you kitty is okay. Two of ours have kept me company as I read this weekend. They took turns laying on me and on the end of my bed. lol :)

  27. Glad to see that you are back Wendy! I added all three books about reading to my TBR list as I never seem to think that adding more books is a bad thing :) I'm sorry to hear about your kitty...hopefully she gets to feeling better soon! Have a great week!

  28. I love memoirs! I have several favorites and it's too hard to choose just one. I can say that Sarah Ferguson's memoir was quite good! I'm sad to hear about your baby. I'll be sure to say prayers. I hope you enter your baby's picture in my Beautiful Baby Contest...



  29. I think I'd really enjoy Maureen Corrigan's book, especially since she likes mystery and suspense. Thanks for mentioning it!

    And my best wishes for Anya. I hope she'll be back in good health soon.

  30. Poor Anya....hope she will be back to normal soon.

    As for books, I recall enjoying Leave Me Alone I'm Reading, and also another memoir/type book "Shelf Life; Shea was good.

  31. I've been wanting to read a Sarah Water's book, too. I think I'll follow the recommendation that you got!

  32. Nymeth - Thank you, Ana!

    Carrie - Thanks! I appreciate your prayers.

    I really enjoyed Ex Libris too. I can't believe I forgot to mention that one. I haven't read the book by Quindlen you mention. I'll have to add that one to my wish list.

    Staci - One can never have too much bookish goodness. :-) Thanks for your thoughts for Anya!

    Ingrid - Thank you so much, Ingrid. I'm trying to stay positive.

    Brittanie - Some bookish memoirs are definitely better than others.

    Thank you for your good thoughts for Anya. I love it when my cats decide to cozy up on my lap. :-)

  33. Samantha - It's good to be back. I like adding new books to my TBR list too--although I'm not sure my husband does. :-) Thank you for the well wishes for Anya!

    Sheri - I'll have to look for the one by Sarah Ferguson.

    Thank you for your prayers for Anya. I'll have dig through my photos and see what I can come up with for the contest.

    Sheila - I hope you do get a chance to read Corrigan's book. I liked that she enjoyed mystery and suspense too.

    Thank you for the well wishes for Anya. I'm hopeful that it will all work out and she'll be fine.

    Diane - Thanks, Diane! I hope so too. I will have to look for Shelf Life. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Lisa (Lit&Life) - Fingersmith does sound like it will be good!

  34. Anya is in my prayers-I hope all goes well for her.

  35. I need to read "Fingersmith" soon, as I read so many great reviews on it (the same goes to "The Little Stranger").

    Poor Anya! I hope she will get better soon!

    Hope you've a great week, Wendy!

  36. Melody - I want to read The Little Stranger too. Maybe soon after Fingersmith. :-)

    Thank you for your well wishes for Anya. She and Parker are curled up on the couch sleeping. So adorable.

    I hope you have a great week too.

  37. I like books about reading and books- usually they're just quite light and enjoyable. cute kitty pic! :-) Have a great week!

  38. So excited to see what you think of Sarah Waters! I hope you enjoy her and that we can discuss her together when you finish Fingersmith :-)

  39. I hope Anya feels better soon. Poor kitty. Sending prayers and cyber hugs her way.

    Congrats on the bookcase win!!! I received one from CSN the end of last year and it is wonderful! I love it.

    I will be anxious to hear what you think of Sarah Waters. I have only listened to The Little Stranger, so need to read/listen to more work by her.

    Hope you have a great week!

  40. Poor Anya.. thinking healthy kitty thoughts.. it's so hard when our babies are sick. Have a good week, Wendy!

  41. Anya is such a big girl now! She's beautiful!

    I do read book memoirs and my copy of Sara Nelson's So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading is full of my scribblings and highlights.

  42. Marie - I agree! They are often enjoyable books. I hope you have a great week too.

    Aarti - I have a feeling I'm really going to enjoy Fingersmith. I look forward to talking with you about it after I finish it.

    April - Thank you so much, April. Anya's got some of the old spark back this evening, I'm happy to say. The medications and blood transfusion seem to have helped. Let's hope it keeps up!

    I hope you have a great week too.

    LisaMM - Thank you, Lisa. Everyone's prayers and thoughts have helped so much. I hope you are enjoying your week!

    Alice - She seems so small these days. She's not quite as chunky as she was before because of the anemia. I've taken to calling her "Patches" because of all the bald spots she's sporting now. :-)

    I really liked Sara Nelson's book too. I filled my journal with quotes from that one.

  43. I want to say good luck in your reading and congrats on your winning prize book :) I hope you enjoy the book as much as when you got it in the mail :) Happy reading!

  44. I know that I've read some memoirs that focus on reading but their names escape me! They must not have been too good!

    I am on The Weight of Heaven tour as well and plan to start the book this weekend.

    I want to read The Little Stranger too. Well, you mentioned a Sarah Waters book and that is the one that is in my mind right now. I've heard wonderful things about her writing.

  45. Julia - Thank you! The book case is now put together. I just need to figure out which books to put on it. :-)

    Ti I look forward to reading your thoughts on The Weight of Heaven. It's such a sad story.

    I hope to read The Little Stranger too. I think I will try to read it after Fingersmith.


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