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My Year of Dirt and Water by Tracy Franz

Years ago, I read a book by a woman who spent two years in Japan learning about pottery. From it, and from my friend Pat, I learned about Japanese woodblock prints, so it was an important book for me. I read this book to revisit that one I loved so much. The subtitle of this one is Journal of a Zen Monk’s Wife in Japan. The author and her husband had been in Japan for a few years when in...

Books to Read

Kate Atkinson, Transcription. Gary Shteyngart, Lake Success. Funny/grim. Joanne Freeman read her new book:  Field of Blood. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (giller shortlist) Frederick Douglass:  Prophet of Freedom by David Blight Middlemarch by George Eliot French Exit by Patrick DeWitt (another giller shortlist) Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (at Jeff-Mad) The Road Through Miyama by Leila...

Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles

It was Tony’s review of this as an audiobook that led me to it. I had appreciated News of the World, so was happy to have a recommendation for a good book to listen to. And this was a great one. Like News of the World, it is successful in taking you to a distinctly different time and place, in this case Texas during the Depression years. You experience Texas along with the Stoddard family:...

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

Having been impressed with Thirteen Ways of Looking and Let the Great World Spin, I was glad to hear Dorothy’s recommendation to read TransAtlantic. I was doubtful that the structure of this novel would work for me. McCann first tells the story of three important but unrelated events:  the first airborne crossing of the Atlantic, the visit to Ireland in 1845 by Frederick Douglass, and...

An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear

The fifth in the Maisie Dobbs series was a satisfying accompaniment to my household chores. As the series continues, there is less emphasis on Maisie’s working class origins, but the author reminds us of her time as a nurse during the war, her academic success at Girten, and her meticulous approach to her work as a detective. Though each book moves further from World War I and deeper into...

True North by Jill Ker Conway

Jill Ker Conway’s second autobiographical book follows The Road from Coorain and recounts her experience upon arrival from Australia as a graduate student at Harvard through her time at the University of Toronto. It ends with the beginning of her presidency at Smith College in 1975. She tells the charming, sometimes quite touching stories of her life in this period beginning in 1960. The...

My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley

Having heard the author interviewed by Terry Gross, I thought this would make a pleasant and light-hearted audiobook to accompany me in the kitchen and in the yard. And that turned out to be mostly true. The premise is that a long-divorced couple each find themselves in need of help in their current lives and rediscover each other in a new role, friendship. Julie has a daughter who needs help...

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

The narrator of this dark comic novel tells that she was “lovingly brought up in a normal suburban residential area. But everyone thought I was a rather strange child.” She describes an Amelia-Bedelia moment:  as a small child she finds a dead bird in the park and when her mother suggests burying it, she counters with a suggestion to eat it, grilling it as other birds are cooked and...

Chesapeake Requiem by Earl Swift

The subtitle A Year With the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island explains a lot and brings up more questions that are entertainingly answered by Earl Swift. The island is in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay and has been a curiosity for years. We visited for an afternoon more than 25 years ago with other tourists taking the ferry from the Eastern Shore. Tangier is so small people bike or drive...

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear

Yet another in the Maisie Dobbs series. (Thanks again, Laura, for this recommendation.) As in the past, I found the doings of Maisie made cooking and other routine tasks more pleasant. Though the period (1930s Depression) with the continuing importance of  the aftermath of The Great War is the same as the last two books, I found this one to be a bit different. Clarifying Maisie’s character...

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