I try to balance reading for fun and reading for work, and often there are overlaps between these categories. Thought I would start keeping some track of the books I’m reading, with some comments:

  • Three for three on great novels picked up for $2 each at the Women for Music Book sale this year:
    • News of the World, Paulette Giles (2014), two unforgettable characters
    • Burial Rites, Hannah Kent (2013), bleak but powerful
    • Old Filth, Jane Gardam (2004), excited to hear it is the first in a trilogy!
  • Donovan’s Station, Robin McGrath (2002), is Newfoundland’s Morag, circa 1914. Great.
  • Social Science Theory for Environmental Sustainability, Marc J. Stern (2018), is the book I have been waiting for: well-organized and cross-referenced remedial sociology and psychology in an applied package.
  • Far to Go, Alison Pick (2010), excellent but dread-filled story of the Czech Sudetenland in 1939 and one boy’s escape via the Kindertransport. This quote sucked me in early on: “If I’ve learned anything in my very long [academic] career, it is this: we research what we recognize” (p. 6).
  • The Rich Part of Life, Jim Kokoris (2001), was a great read, and made me laugh out loud at times, particularly the civil war renactment part; I’ll look for more from him.
  • The Group, Mary McCarthy (1953), changed the way I think about my grandmothers.
  • The Cheese Monkeys, Chip Kidd (2002), exactly how you would imagine a novel by a graphic designer, with some thought-provoking dialogue about “limitations as possibilities”, which aligns with my own research philosophy.
  • When They Hid the Fire, historian Daniel French (2017), a great foil to Crowe, below; what happens when we make our power use invisible?
  • The  Book Shop, Penelope Fitzgerald (1978), like Swift she makes the wet Suffolk landscape like one of the characters as well as the setting; funny while misanthropic.
  • The Children’s Act, Ian McEwan (2014), devastating yet quick read about relationships, responsibility and religion, with a brief cameo by a conservationist trying to convince coastal farmers to allow the restoration of their land to salt marsh for a buffer against climate change.
  • The Landscape of Power, by Sylvia Crowe (1958); interesting book about the integration of utilitarian infrastructure like electrical transmission into pastoral England. Alternately nostalgic and forward-looking work of landscape architecture with great turns of phrase.
  • Wilding, by Isabella Tree (can that be her real name?) … stalled
  • England and Other Stories, by Graham Swift, who also wrote Waterland, Beautiful.
  • The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry. Great fun and skilled writing linking natural history, ghost story, and Victorian manners. Highly recommended.
  • The Outrun, by Amy Liptrot. This was very clearly an assemblage of essays, as each chapter of the book had very similar structure, the arc of landscape, isolation and connection to nature helping this author tackle her alcoholism. An indulgent example of what seems like a genre now, of women taking to remote islands to figure things out through self-imposed hardship.
  • Just finished the in-translation novel August, by Argentinian writer Romina Paula. I loved the Patagonian landscape, the 90s pop culture references, and the unsettling feelings of going ‘home’ after a long time away, and seeing these moments where life choices branch. An unconventional voice that resonated with me.
  • Migration Songs, the first book by Halifax (actually, Dartmouth) writer Anna Quon. Novel narration, and a rich family story, though the main plotline didn’t quite work, especially near the end.