Wednesday, July 06, 2022

June, 2022: What I Read



Here's what I'm thinking about today: Val dressed up like a tomato (pronounced Toe-MAH-toe) for the Toecheon Tomato festival in South Korea. For the talent show portion, she wrote and sang a song to the tune of "Feelings" about all the delicious things one can make with tomatoes. She even worked in some Korean lyrics. Val was the hit of the show, and her tribute was not misplaced; the tomatoes from Toecheon are the best tomatoes I've ever eaten.

Sometimes, I want to turn this into a Val blog. She was (is!) a lot more interesting than all my bookworming about. But then I hear her voice asking me, as she so often did: "Are ye daft?" And the way she asked it -- always like she was sincerely wondering. My answers varied.

I know that somehow I must bring this back around to my own book Blob. 



June, 2022 reading:

1. My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business - Dick Van Dyke. Memoir. Audiobook, read by the author. Enjoyable, but a little on the bland side.

2. Who Is Jimmy Carter? -David Stabler. Nonfiction. VERY well done. Carter's life has had so many acts, there is a vigor in the portrayal of him at all junctures and well into old age.

3. Who Was Johnny Cash? -Jim Gigliotti. Nonfiction. The first part of the book is good, then it seems to lose some energy. I think it's hard to pin down the essence of Cash's mystique in a book for younger readers. The best description I've ever read of him is that he was kind of a cross between Abraham Lincoln and Elvis Presley.

4. Happy-Go-Lucky - David Sedaris. Humor, Essays. Most of the essays seemed familiar; I listened to A Carnival of Snackery not too long ago, but I can never get enough of Sedaris. His father's long, slow decline struck a chord.

5. Pretty Baby - Mary Kubica. Fiction. Audiobook. Suspenseful. I liked the multiple narrators and the Chicago setting.

6. Vinegar Girl - Anne Tyler. Fiction. Re-read. Book group read for July meeting. Anne Tyler is always comfort reading. This is her retelling of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. I want to go back and read Tyler's older titles, starting with A Slipping-Down Life or Celestial Navigation.

7. The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough. Fiction. Re-Read. Comfort reading. This time I was entranced by the description of Australia's many micro-climates. Paddy, Fee, Frank and even Mary Carson deserve their own novels. Meggie/Father Ralph had me rolling my eyes. Luke really struck me as a real bastard this time. Still find the Justine section of the book zzzz, although I recognize that Justine is the character McCullough most identifies with -- noticed they are approximately the same age.

8. Who Is Chloe Kim? - Stefanie Loh. Nonfiction. Usually I don't like the 50-page Who Was...? books, but this one was entertaining and well-paced. I didn't know much about Chloe Kim before reading this book, but now I look forward to following her snowboarding career.

The end of June meant that half the year was over, and out of the 39 books I had read so far, four emerged as favorites:

1. Taste - Stanley Tucci. Memoir.

2. Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco - Alia Volz. Memoir/Social History

3. Crying in H Mart - Michelle Zauner. Memoir.

4. The Leavers - Lisa Ko. Novel.


Jeane said...

I have always wanted to read The Thorn Birds, but it hasn't happened yet. You should write as much as you want to, about your friend Val on here. Now I am thinking of how delicious summer tomatoes are fresh from the garden- picked my first one today.

Sam said...

I want to go back and re-read the early novels by Ann Tyler sometime because I remember them as being somewhat different from what she did in the second half of her long career. My personal favorite is still Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant from 1982. I've got all of her books around the house, but it's like I'm afraid to go back and read the early ones so that they don't turn out to be something less than I remember them to be.

Bybee said...

Jeane, Thank you for all your kind words about Val. Yes, do read The Thorn Birds and feel free to skip the last half of the last part!

Bybee said...

Sam, Thank you for your kind words about Val. I don't think revisiting Anne Tyler will be a disappointment.