Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bookworm Chronicles

In books we never find anything but ourselves. 
Strangely enough, that always gives us great pleasure,
and we say the author is a genius.

Thomas Mann

I just finished the new memoir by Joseph Luzzi, In a Dark Wood. Luzzi is an Italian professor at Bard who lost his wife in a terrible car accident. She was eight months pregnant with their first child when she was killed, but the baby was saved. Luzzi uses Dante's The Divine Comedy and other writing to frame his own grief and loss and emergence back into life. It's one of those books that I picked up because the cover design on the hardback is so spectacular and not because I'd heard about it or him. I saw the subtitle What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing and the Mysteries of Love and had to buy it. If you read that quote of Thomas Mann's above (thanks to my friend Liz for sending it to me), you'll know everything about my reaction to the book. 

I've got an embarrassing backlog of books going on over here. In addition to the ones you see in the photo above, I sent a big box to Hedgebrook ahead of me with the following titles inside:

Raising Demons and Life with Savages - both by Shirley Jackson

Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann

Being Human: Readings from the President's Council on Bioethics

Early Warning by Jane Smiley

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

My Kindle (leaning against the books in the photo above) has the following titles waiting patiently to be read:

Alligator by Lisa Moore
The Sunken Cathedral by Kate Walbert
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go
On Elizabeth Bishop by Colm Toibin

I've got plans to re-read some favorites, like To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolfe, probably my most favorite novel of all time and, thankfully, shorter than my other favorite The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky which is too long to re-read at this point in my life. Maybe I'll look over The Grand Inquisitor section. I also packed some favorite poetry -- William Carlos Williams, Emily Dickinson and -- well -- I can't remember who else I tucked in with the novels and the rain boots (rain boots!) and the knitting (the sweater that I've been knitting for over three years). 

Can you even imagine being squirreled away for three weeks in a cottage with all the books you've wanted to read and all the time to write your heart and mind out, to finally finish the book you've been working on for ten years and begin to organize the one that's in your head? I could never have imagined this opportunity that's been granted to me, but it's about two weeks away from being a reality. 

Reader, what are you reading and planning to read this summer?


  1. Mmmmm...yummy. Love all those titles and am jotting a few down that I haven't heard before. Everything I've ever heard about the Hedgebrook environment and writing there is wonderful. I'm delighted you're going.

  2. You put me to such shame. SUCH shame. I wouldn't even TELL you the book I've had in the bathroom for the last three months. Nope. Not going to do it.
    I have a huge backlog too. Some of those I would admit to.
    Oh, girl. You are going to have the best time. A cottage. A cottage!

  3. I've got a giant list as well. I just started reading When Women Were Birds last night. I really like it so far. Excited to read about how your retreat goes.

  4. It's going to be an amazing time.

  5. Hedgebrook sounds like the most lovely gift! Books and writing, quiet and solitude-lucky duck.

  6. Wonderful for you. And they bring you meals. Delicious meals.

    XXX Beth

  7. Wonderful for you. And they bring you meals. Delicious meals.

    XXX Beth

  8. Three weeks to read and write sounds like heaven. Enjoy!

  9. I am so excited for you! It is going to be fabulous!!! I went to a great local bookstore in Asheville yesterday and bought "Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness" by Jennifer Tseng which I'd never heard of before. I picked up Almost Famous Women and The Light Between Oceans at the library yesterday. I'm waiting for God in Ruins, Hold Still, and Church of Marvels to come in. Did you read Karen Russell in the New Yorker fiction issue? And another one by a guy about Adam and Eve that I loved. I can't believe I don't remember which literary dude wrote it. Louise Erdrich was beautiful in there as well.

  10. I loved a God in Ruins, and I will be very interested to hear what you think of A Little Life.

  11. am going to go find my library discard omnibus to reread Life Among the Savages, Raising Demons, & maybe Haunting of Hill House. And In a Dark Wood, and Capitol Dames, and various new mysteries. Have to fill 11 days of vacation with a lot of road trip miles.

  12. An interesting list! And even though I am on summer vacation as of today (!) I envy you the chance to get away to a new place and spend your time quietly. I really hope to get a lot of reading done this summer, but we'll see.

  13. Every time, I read about you going to Hedgebrook, my heart soars.



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