Monthly Archives: June 2021

June Recap

I read 15 books in June, which is a solid month for me. So far, I’m up to 80 books this year – I set a relatively low goal for myself of 104 books, which is 2 books per week. I typically read much more than that, and I expect to hit my goal around the end of July/beginning of August. This lets me relax without racing to meet a goal at the end of the year, which is what happens when I set 200 as my bookish goal.

It was a mystery intensive month, with all but two of my reads falling into that category – although it was probably the two non-mystery books that made the biggest impact on me.

First, I reread Sharon Kay Penman’s doorstopping blockbuster of a Richard III history, The Sunne in Splendour. I’m a long-time Penman fan, and her recent death was terribly sad. I’ve been meaning to reread the Welsh Princes trilogy, and this may well be just the motivation that I need to do it. I so enjoyed this book, and, as well, it was a buddy read with some wonderful GR friends, so we’ve been having a terrific discussion about it over there in a private group.

The second book that I would mention that was a highlight of the month for me was Travels with Charley by Steinbeck. I had big plans for a Steinbeck project this year, and they have largely fizzled, unfortunately. However, I did manage to check this out of the library and blew through it in a couple of days. It was a really great read, Steinbeck’s observations are so insightful, and reading this book in particular was a time capsule of a long-gone America.

One of my favorite quotes is this:

American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash—all of them—surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered with rubbish. Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use. This is not said in criticism of one system or the other but I do wonder whether there will come a time when we can no longer afford our wastefulness—chemical wastes in the rivers, metal wastes everywhere, and atomic wastes buried deep in the earth or sunk in sea.

Steinbeck could see us, and our future, with such painful clarity.

Other bits and pieces: I’m making my way through Ed McBain’s incredibly long-running 87th precinct series, and this month I read books 9 (‘Til Death) and 10 (King’s Ransom). They were both interesting installments. ‘Til Death was a little bit lighter, with Detective Steve Carella giving wedding night advice both to his younger sister (awkward) and the groom (more awkward?). King’s Ransom was an intriguing psychological novel that asks the question: would you bankrupt yourself to save someone else’s child? Both are short, punchy and quick, as seems to be true of the entire series.

I also read 3 old Nancy Drews. Occasionally I get into a mood where I want to revisit my childhood, and Nancy Drew is a way to do it. My library has most of them in ebook, so I check them out where the whim takes me and the nostalgia doesn’t cost me a dime.

Anyway, happy July!

Almost at the midpoint of the year

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost July – summer solstice has come and gone and we’re, again, on the downside of our trip around the sun. The weather in my neck of the woods – the Pacific Northwest – has been unbearably hot for the last couple of days. We were experiencing something called a “heat dome” which left Portland with the distinction of having a high temperature that is the highest of any major US city with the exception of Phoenix and Las Vegas.

This is pretty crazy for a place that is known for rain and mist and lush green spaces. Today is much better – although it’s still hot for June. We’re looking at a high of 93 degrees. To put that into perspective, yesterday the high was 115 degrees.

The last 15 months or so has brought with it one extreme event after another – first the pandemic, then historic wildfires that forced tens of thousands of people, including me, to evacuate their homes in suburban Portland for three days, then a once in a century ice storm that knocked out power for five days and brought the region to a standstill, and now this historic and overwhelming heat wave that shattered all of the past records by almost 10 degrees.

I think that this explains, at least in part, why I have been so adverse to the idea of just sitting down and writing a blog post. I’m not really in a reading slump, although nothing is appealing to me very strongly. I feel like I’m just going through the motions as a reader, not really engaging with any of the books.

I’m already 80 books into the year, and I haven’t written a single post. I’m tracking them on Goodreads, but that’s it. I feel like I’ve run out of things to say about the activity that has brought me more solace and pleasure over the years than just about any other. But this doesn’t make sense to me, so I’m going to try something different.

I know I can’t force it, but I am going to make time for blogging about books. I may or may not end up actually publishing the posts that I write, but I’m going to write them. I’m going to talk about what I’m reading, here or on Goodreads, more intentionally and thoughtfully. Because I think that will remind of me what I love about reading and how much it adds to my life and my perspective.