#Friday Reads 7.23.2021

I’ve been slowly reading the stories in the Alice Munro collection, which covers around the first half of her career. It has taken me a while, but I think I’ve finally cracked the Alice Munro code and am beginning to understand what all of the fuss is about.

There is also a new Jack Reacher television series in development, so I’ve decided to dip into the long-running series. At this point, I’ve only read the first book, so I’ve got book 2 on hold at the library, & I started book 3 last night.

Lastly, one of my remaining Teys is on the agenda for the weekend. I have 5 days left on my library checkout.

Back to the Classics

It’s midway through the year, & it’s time to check in on the ONE blog challenge that I committed to this year. So far, I’ve done a completely abysmal job of tracking my progress. I hope to get my act together this month, and get posts up for categories that I have fulfilled!

While I haven’t been sufficiently motivated to write any posts of the books that I’ve read to fulfill the challenge categories, I have completed 6 of the 12 categories. I will be working to get posts up this month, but for now, just a recap:

A 19th Century Classic: I had planned to read Elizabeth Gaskell or Anthony Trollope for this one, but I ended up read The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, published in 1844. This is a beloved adventure story that has so permeated pop culture at this point that I don’t think anyone doesn’t know at least the bare outlines of the story.

A 20th Century Classic: I’ve been on a tiny bit of a Stella Gibbons tear – she was one of the authors-in-residence chosen for January-March by my GR vintage fiction group. I managed to read two books by Ms. Gibbons: Westwood and The Swiss Summer.

A Classic by a Woman Author: This one is still open; I’m still vaguely planning on one of those final two Cather novels. But I read so many classics by women that, really, this one could end up as anything. 

A Classic in Translation: I’m tempted to use The Three Musketeers for this one, but I’m going to leave it where it is (at least for now). This one remains open.

A Classic by a BIPOC author: I ended up subbing A Fire Next Time for If Beale Street Could Talk, but stayed with James Baldwin as the author of choice for this category.

A Classic by a New-To-You Author: I have been meaning to read something by Margery Sharp for several years, so I picked The Nutmeg Tree for this category.

New-To-You Classic by a Favorite Author: This one is still open.

A Classic about an Animal or with an Animal in the Title: I haven’t read for this one, yet, although I had tentatively selected The Wind in the Willows for this category.

A Children’s Classic: Ursula LeGuin was selected as an author-in-residence as well, so I read The Wizard of Earthsea

A Humorous or Satirical Classic: This really isn’t my jam at all, so I’ll just come up with something. Probably Wodehouse.

A Travel or Adventure Classic: I read Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, and it fits into this category just beautifully.

A Classic Play: Plays also aren’t my jam, but I do have a paperback omnibus of several of Agatha Christie’s plays, so it will probably come from that, and will most likely be The Mousetrap. An alternative possibility is Dickon by Josephine Tey (writing as Gordon Daviot).

So, I’ve filled exactly half of the categories, which is perfectly acceptable, since the year is half over!

July Reading Plans

As always, a lot of my reading plans are informed by my GR groups – I moderate an Agatha Christie group that is reading all 66 of Christie’s full length novels in order of publication, as well as a vintage mystery (published in 1970 or before) side read. July has us reading Murder at the Vicarage (the first Marple!) and Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith In addition, I have a small private group that reads vintage fiction, and for 2021 we are doing a project that we are calling “authors-in-residence.” We have chosen two authors per quarter, and the group members who are participating select a book (or more, if they want) to read and discuss. We start a new quarter in July, and have selected Virginia Woolf and Philip Roth as our “authors-in-residence” for July, August & September. Finally, I will be rereading The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey for a different group, as well as The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler to fill a challenge.

Even with these plans, there is room for spontaneity. I am a couple of books behind on the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King, and started Riviera Gold last week. I’m partway through it and enjoying the name-checking of Gerald and Sarah Murphy. I read a wonderful piece of non-fiction about them years ago, Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill, so peeking at a fictionalized version of life at the Villa American is a lot of fun for me. The most recent book, Castle Shade, is also my TBR for July, if I get to it.

There are a few series that I preorder, and read pretty immediately after the books drop – and the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths is one of them. Her most recent, The Night Hawks, was published in February, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. The Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber, is another favorite, and the newest installment – A Wicked Conceit – dropped on May 21. Soon, for both of those!

I’m going to be putting together a few posts to catch up on my Back to the Classics Challenge. I’ve finished some of the categories, but have been very dilatory about getting the posts up, and I need to figure out where I am at and what I still have to read.