What I’m Reading…

This is not the post I had planned today. In my head, where most of my posts start, I had thought about writing about two other topics. Those can wait, however, because to do the subjects justice, I’ll need to spend a little time on writing them. I am short on time this Monday morning, so I thought I would share what I’m reading.

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that last year I set a reading goal for myself of 20 books. There was a mix of genre and length but I actually exceeded the goal by four books. I got into the habit of writing book reviews along the way to not only be accountable to myself but also be able to suggest some great reads that might otherwise be overlooked. At the end of my post, you’ll find some links to my previous posts about some of the books I’ve read recently.

I believe I accounted for the first three books I read in 2021. The fourth was Bayou Song by Margaret Simon. I bought this book, authored by a fellow slicer and Poetry Friday participant, to help me visualize how I might set up a print ready PDF of poetry I am working on. I have an end of the year goal to try and get a book of poetry self-published.

This year, my goal is 25 books. I am on my sixth book now, the title of which many of you are probably familiar. But, my fifth book was the surprise. Having just finished a “real book” meaning paper copy, I dove into my Nook to see what I could find in my digital library. There was nothing. So, I looked at what was available for my Nook from Barnes and Noble. I love that when you just can’t make it to the bookstore, you can digitally download a book – sometimes, even for free! Nothing really thrilled me but I finally settled on a book called The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah (2018). It was so much better than I anticipated (partially due to some questionable reviews)! I throughly enjoyed this historical fiction/mystery novel that revolved around WWII, the French resistance, and a family vineyard. It was well written, interesting, and an easy, enjoyable read. I even learned a few things about the French during WWII! And, I love a glass of wine – so reading about vintages and wine regions in France as well as California, the book choice was a win-win for me!

Currently, I am half way through my sixth book of 2021, The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt (2016). This is a book I have wanted to read for a while and it well worth the time spent. Tartt won a pulitzer prize for fiction for this novel and one can definitely see why! The story is absorbing, modern, and relatable in a “messed up world” kind of way.

The back of the Mauritshuis Museum in the Hague, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2016

Personally, I was captivated within the first fifty pages due to the Dutch artist Vermeer being mentioned, and the city of Delft in The Netherlands. I have personally seen the artwork of Vermeer’s mentor, Carel Fabritius, The Goldfinch (1654), during a trip to the Mauritshuis Museum in Dutch city of The Hague. As I understand it, Vermeer learned how to use light from Fabritius in his paintings. The Goldfinch is one of only a few of Fabritius’s works that remain. Most were destroyed in a fire in 1654.

The front of the museum in The Hague where The Goldfinch is part of the collection of art from Dutch masters. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2016.

Of course, there is much more to the story than the painting from the Dutch Golden Age but it was that detail in the story that captured my attention. As I wrote, I am only half way through this grand work of storytelling but I am picking up this book to read every chance I get! I do know there is a movie now, as well. But, I really like reading a story before I ever watch the movie. This way I can form my own impressions about the characters, the setting, and the story. Sometimes, the movie versions of books are great, and other times, well – not so much.

If you have not read the novel or seen the movie, I would highly recommend The Goldfinch. If you need more details about the story before you decide to read it, an article in The Guardian describes both Tartt’s book and the piece of art that plays a central role in the story.

In addition, the following are links to some other book reviews I have written for my blog. Happy Reading!

https://theapplesinmyorchard.com/2020/09/30/book-talk-daughter-of-molokai/

https://theapplesinmyorchard.com/2020/12/02/tragedy-close-to-home-one-last-book-review-for-2020/

https://theapplesinmyorchard.com/2020/12/31/2020-book-goals-reviews/

https://theapplesinmyorchard.com/2021/01/20/a-doozy-the-first-book-review-of-2021/

Today is day 15/31 of the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Thank you to TwoWritingTeachers.org for creating such a supportive community in which to share our work!

16 thoughts

  1. Thanks for these reviews! I’m not sure I’ve read any of these, so I’ll be adding them to my ever-growing TBR pile. As for me, I could probably do a better job reading more books for ME, rather than through my lens as a teacher. Said > done…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great! I think you would enjoy any of the titles. I found that I was not reading enough, so since I am very goal oriented setting a goal and working to achieve it has worked well for me to increase my reading. That said, it is always good to read for and with your students. I enjoy that as well, and realize it is of utmost importance! Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I Love book reviews and book recommendations! And I will very soon need another when I am done reading “The Bear and The Nightingale.” by Katherine Arden. I wrote down the names of the two you recommended. Thank you! And best of luck on your poetry book. It sounds lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Goldfinch is one of my all-time favorite books – when you built up to it here, I almost shouted for joy. I started February a year ago, when I broke my foot, and when an ice storm knocked out our power… reading this book got me through those days. I wasn’t even in my own life, reading that book…and I read it again, a few months later in the onslaught of COVID. The part the painting plays is heartrending and heartstopping… no character compares to Boris. Or Popper. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Were you up in the middle of the night, Fran? I happened to look at my phone to check the time and it was the wee hours of the morning when I saw your comments! I think I will be re-reading the Goldfinch in the future as well. I am just at the point where Theo returns to NYC and is with Hobie again. Anxious to see where it goes from here! I agree, great character development! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am so excited to check these out! Thank you for your reviews and continued luck with meeting your reading goals! I have loved Goodreads lately and have found it to be satisfying to document the books I have read. If you’re a teacher, check out Libro.fm – they have free audiobooks for teachers every month!!! It’s seriously the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I do belong to Goodreads and although I track myself on paper, eventually I get around to updating my reads on the site. I am an informal environmental educator (MS -natural resources/environmental education). I don’t know if that would qualify me for the audiobook site you mentioned but I’ll have to check it out. I tend to not comprehend an audio book as well as a print/visual copy so I have only listed to a few of them. Still, worth a look! Thanks!

      Like

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