Wednesday reading roundup: August 10

After last month’s #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks fail, I wanted to do better in August. So far, I've met my goal to read 50 percent my own books. Now to keep it up!After last month’s #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks fail, I wanted to do better in August. So far, I’ve read two books, one my own and one borrowed. This means I’m meeting the goal I set for myself: to read 50 percent my own books through the end of the year. Hopefully, I can keep that up!

As always, many thanks to Taking on a World of Words for the weekly inspiration of WWW Wednesday and to Coffee and Cats for introducing me to it.

What are you currently reading?

At the moment, I’m most actively reading The Girl Under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming. It’s yet another Nook book I picked up for sale. This time because it’s set in Greece during World War II. I’ve not found an abundance of these (Corelli’s Mandolin being an exception). So this novel was a find for me. It tells the story of Penny, an upperclass British girl with Greek heritage on her father’s side. At 18, she’s expected to make her debut in society. Instead, she follows her sister, who is married to a British diplomat, to Athens. There, she gets her first taste of freedom and possibility. As war looms, Penny is ordered to return to England. But she chooses to train with the Red Cross as a nurse and stay behind, adopting a Greek identity in occupied Greece.

If I were a judge tasked with delivering a verdict on the book, I would have to recuse myself: Having close relatives who lived through the war and occupation, the story hits too close to home for me approach it objectively. I could, if I had to. But since I’m reading it for me, I’m choosing to soak up the descriptions of Greece and its people during the war.

There are some beautiful descriptions of pre-war Greece. It’s the Greece of my grandparents and great-grandparents that I see in photos hanging in the homes of aunts and uncles. The descriptions of wartime Greece also resonate with the stories I’ve heard. One moment that especially affected me comes at the beginning of the war: A civilian ship leaving Athens is bombed, killing everyone on board. This is how my great-grandmother died. She left behind three young daughters, one of them being my grandmother.

Of the three (!) other books I have going currently, I’ve also been spending time with The Odyssey by Homer. I’ve been rotating between two translations (Fitzgerald and Fagles) and was having a hard time deciding which one I prefer. Turns out, I appreciate them equally, for different reasons. So I’m continuing to rotate between them. And I am loving this epic so far.

What did you recently finish reading?

My one day marathon read of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reminded me how de-stressing it can be to read a book straight through from beginning to end. So I read two short but nourishing children’s books for more of the same experience.

I borrowed Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai from my library’s digital collection. In the autobiographical verse story, a young girl escapes Vietnam with her mother and brothers as Saigon is falling. We follow them on a dangerous journey by sea, as refugees, and struggling to adapt in America. I would highly recommend this for reading aloud with middle grade readers.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead has been in my Nook library for a long while. It’s set in Brooklyn, where 12-year-old Georges (his parents named him after Seurat) lives with his parents. Georges befriends Safer, a homeschooled boy living in the same building, who invites him to be in a spy club. As Safer’s demands become more intrusive, Georges must confront how far he’s willing to push himself. It’s a slim, engrossing little book that hits readers with twists and surprises in the second half. The story is about recognizing what you can control, facing that head on, and learning how and when to speak out. As with Inside Out and Back Again, it’s an excellent book for reading aloud with middle graders.

What do you think you’ll read next?

It’s only slight hyperbole to say that your guess is as good as mine. Last week, I compiled a long list of titles on my Nook that I’m hoping to tackle sooner than later. The list was, of course, inspired by #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks. But it may be a while before I even look at that list. I still have The Odyssey, Harry Mount’s Odyssey, Things Fall Apart, and The Girl Under the Olive Tree to get through!

What books are on your read, reading, and to read lists this week?

12 Replies to “Wednesday reading roundup: August 10”

  1. I hope you enjoyed the Cursed Child marathon. I had a blast binge reading it. Happy reading and thanks for participating in WWW Wednesday!

    1. Even though I would have LOVED to see it as a full-length novel written entirely by Rowling, rather than a play, I did enjoy Cursed Child and seeing where she took the characters’ stories. Always a pleasure to participate, and thank you for hosting!

    1. Structurally, Liar & Spy was really interesting. The ending makes you rethink the earlier part of the book, and I love when authors do that. The Odyssey is so fun – definitely a highly recommended read! 🙂

  2. I love how you talked about your deep connection to the era described in “The Girl Under the Olive Tree”. How sad about your great-grandmother. I can’t imagine how her daughters (and husband, if he was still alive) felt getting that news.

    And thanks for keeping us updated on which translation of “The Odyssey” you prefer. I was surprised to read that at this point, it’s a tie. I’m really intrigued to see which one you ultimately think is better.

    I’m glad you got to enjoy a marathon day of Harry Potter, too. I still haven’t read the new one, and it’s been interesting reading or hearing people’s thoughts on the experience.

    As for me, while avoiding spoilers for the new Harry Potter, I accidentally stumbled upon a few for the book I’m currently reading, “Wolf Hall”. All because of looking up some of the Hans Holbein portraits mentioned in the novel. I thought I knew a decent amount about that period but, NOPE! It turns out some characters have destinies I didn’t expect – or at least that I didn’t think would come about in the ways they actually did. I’m bummed out about a few of them! Still, I’m loving the book.

    Have a great week, reading-wise and otherwise!

    1. You too, Alysa!

      I keep expecting one of these translations to stand out. I’ll have to think about what they do differently, because they definitely are different. I need to think more about how, specifically. As it is, I think, “Oh, that’s the best one,” no matter which one I’m reading!

      I’m loving these updates on your reading of “Wolf Hall.” That’s one I was supposed to read for a book group but lost interest in, despite the beautiful writing, and never finished. I had the same problem with that one as with The Old Curiosity Shop: It’s just so sad knowing (before I have time to read) what happens to the characters. Though that’s a pretty silly reason not to read a book, so I’ll have to give it another go.

  3. Mrs Allen good afternoon. I see that this one is the only way for contacting you. I wanted to ask you to read and review, please, your book. I have a website…And although I was firstly declined by Netgalley, later the house publishing agreed to let me read your book but it is extremely difficult once declined to be re-admitted. It’s necessary a widget. I tried to contact you but my browser and dial-up didn’t help.
    I hope to hear from you. I would be so happy!
    I read the Odyssey at the high school. I don’t feel a great melancholy for that book 😉 At our time speculations were this one: Homer was realistically existed or not? Yes a sort of Shakespeare case…

    1. Hi Anna, great analogy! Homer is a bit like Shakespeare in that scholars like to speculate about who he was in real life. I like to believe he was real 🙂

      Thank you for your interest to read “Unlocking Worlds”! I have passed your information on to the publisher, so you should be receiving a copy. Hope you enjoy it!

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