Wednesday reading roundup: June 22

It's time for another Wednesday reading roundup! I have been enjoying this week's reading adventures with A Man Called Ove, Beowulf, and more...It’s Wednesday reading roundup time, and I’ve been enjoying this week’s reading adventures, in a big way. Before I jump right to it, I can’t forget to send a shout-out to Taking on a World of Words and Coffee and Cats for WWW Wednesday!

What are you currently reading?

I have three books going. The big surprise is that, while all three were purchased at Barnes and Noble, only one is a Nook book.

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation translated by Seamus Heaney fits my two 2016 reading challenges, #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks and When Are You Reading? I only just picked up the latter challenge this month and am eager to fill in a category I haven’t hit yet this year: books written or taking place pre-1500. As I mentioned last week, reading Beowulf is a meditative experience. There’s a steadiness to the pacing and description, with emphasis on sensory rather than interior or emotional experiences. It feels very immersive. I only have 30 pages to go but am dragging my heels because I don’t want it to end.

Since I’m pacing myself with Beowulf, I started All Roads Lead to Austen: A Year-long Journey with Jane by Amy Smith, a Nook book I’ve had for a good long while. (I tend to stockpile reading memoirs.) Smith, a literature professor, spent a sabbatical traveling through six Latin American countries to lead Jane Austen reading groups. So far, I’m getting a light-hearted and charming memoir vibe.

I also picked up The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan this week. I enjoyed the humorous take on Greek mythology in his Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series, both of which my son and I read aloud together. I wasn’t planning to read this new series, mostly because I’m supposed to be reading my own books. But I’ve walked by the book so many times that I couldn’t resist reading the first page. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the silliness of these books. I guess I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old … eh, I can live with that. I’m sure there are worse things to be (*clears throat*).

What did you recently finish reading?

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I’d never heard of it when one of my book club friends recommended it for our meeting this month. The book jacket’s description did little to kindle my interest. Well, let me tell you: The first page hooked me, and I devoured the book in two days. It’s funny, raw, moving, tender. In a single page, I’d go from laughing to tearing up to laughing again. This is one of those books I wanted to hug when it was over.

I’m feeling skittish about telling you too much about it because it was such a pleasure to discover it page by page. But I suppose it won’t ruin it to tell you: Ove is a 59-year old man of steady habits and integrity who feels out of step with the modern world. Ove has been wounded by life. The book tells the story of his life, in the present day and through flashbacks.

Yes, that should suffice. Now go out and read this book!

What do you think you’ll read next?

Reading Beowulf is making me want to reread Sir Gawain and The Green Knight. I also want to read Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, which my dear friend Jessica lent me. I’ve also been meaning to read The Time Machine by H. G. Wells for a while.

How about you? What books are on your read, reading, and will read lists this week?

6 Replies to “Wednesday reading roundup: June 22”

  1. Enjoy Beowulf! A very apt book to fill pre-1500. Happy reading and thanks for participating in WWW Wednesday!

  2. I’m so happy to read your continuing adventures with Beowulf! You really make me want to read it. Actually, you sort of inspired my next book choice, although it’s from a different era: The Canterbury Tales. I’ve owned the full book (complete, of course, with a translation into modern English) ever since college, when we only read one of the stories for a class, and I’ve always meant to read it, but now I feel motivated. Maybe Beowulf will be another one I’ll tackle at some point soon, thanks to you.

    I’ll be interested to read what you think of “All Roads Lead to Austen”. I felt exactly like you starting out, but there were many things about it that I found disappointing. I hope the experience will be better for you.

    Here, I finally finished “Hunting and Gathering” by Ana Gavalda (thanks to you again! You inspire me to pick up books that have been lingering around my apartment, waiting to be read or finished) and am rapidly devouring Amy Bloom’s “Lucky Us”, which I’ve wanted to read for a while. (By the way, I agree with you – the narrative style is weird, although that’s not what bothers me the most. My biggest beef with it (at least so far) is that It feels like a book that the author didn’t research enough. I feel like Bloom got the idea for the book, had certain things she liked/knew about from World War II and the surrounding decades, and decided to just go for it and rely more on the characters and plot than on the background stuff. But the story somehow isn’t strong enough, or the characters aren’t relatable/understandable enough (like you said, there are so many things left out of the narrative that might have helped with this!) that I don’t totally believe in the world in which all of these characters exist. I often pause because I feel jarred by a question like, “Would people really have thought that at the time?” or “Why would that have turned out like that?” or “Would a person in that situation really have experienced life that way?” I prefer my books to be immersions into a world, especially if it’s a different time period – which is one of the reasons I’m struggling so much with a historic fiction novel I want to write. When a writer makes it so that you fully believe you’re in that time period – wow. But this one…not so much. Still, it’s quite readable so I’m enjoying that aspect, and I do have to say I’m very curious to see how everything turns out.

    So, thanks for all the reading inspiration and motivation – and I hope this next reading week is a great one for you!

    1. Thank you, Alysa! I’m so excited to hear you’re planning to read The Canterbury Tales. That one is on my list too, and I’m hoping to get to it soon, maybe after Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. There’s something grounding to me about reading these books that have lasted so long, and I want to keep it going.

      Thank you for sharing your take on Lucky Us too. It has been a while since I read it, so it’s not fresh in my mind. I don’t remember having that experience of feeling like it wasn’t in step with the time, but I do tend to get drawn in by unique narrative styles, so it may be that I was hyper focused on that aspect. Reading your comments makes me want to go back and re-read it now! 🙂

  3. I also have the sense of humor of a kid. I teach 11 year olds all day, and I can really switch into that mentality! Sometimes I forget to be an adult with other adults! lol Don’t sweat enjoying Rick’s books. Happy reading!

    1. Thank you so much, Charlie! 🙂 I so enjoyed reading The Hidden Oracle and look forward to his next one.
      Happy reading to you too!

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