I’ve been busy. And, no, not just busy hiding the evidence that I’ve been eating a large number of Reese’s peanut butter eggs and Starburst jelly beans from the Easter Bunny’s secret stash. Though I have perfected the technique.
My second class of the semester requires three fairly large-scale projects, the first of which was due today. I’m taking a bit of a breather before starting to work on the second one, which I’ve targeted for completion by mid-month. Everything must be wrapped up by the first week of May, so while I am equally good at both procrastination and candy thievery, it’s probably time to stay focused for a while.
In between all the excitement of reading about strategic planning and school finance, I’ve managed to work in several more enjoyable titles. Of the group, Olive Kitteridge, The Postmistress , and The Book Thief make my must read list, while Mennonite in a Little Black Dress failed to live up to my expectations following several interesting reviews. Evidence and Nanny Returns fell squarely in the middle of that range.
Interestingly, all three of my favorites came to me by way of the book club I joined a few months ago. While The Postmistress–a wonderful read about love and loss on the home fronts of Cape Cod and London–would have been a likely candidate for my reading list, I’m sure I would not have picked up the other two on my own accord. Olive Kitteridge felt like a book I should read. It won The Pulitzer Prize afterall, and I’m a former English teacher. Liking books that win Pulitzer Prizes goes with the territory. Except that Olive Kitteridge is a novel comprised of individual stories–all spun around the title character in one way or the other, a format that typically fails to appeal to me. I’d picked up the book during more than one book store browsing session, always returning it to the stacks in the end. When my club selected I even toyed with not giving it a go. After all, we’re an open-minded group that allows joining in for the dinner and good company even if the reading remains incomplete. But then I had to buy a book for my aforementioned graduate class and spotted Olive Kitteridge for a bargain price while shopping online. When it arrived, I found myself immediately drawn in to the lives of Henry and Olive Kitteridge and the palpable longing Elizabeth Strout brought to them in her first story, “Pharmacy.” After that, I couldn’t put the book down.
The Book Thief in one way provided a mirror image of World War II as described in The Postmistress, but perhaps it was a fun house mirror of some kind. While The Postmistress takes a look at war on the American and British home fronts, The Book Thief portrays life in Germany under Hitler. This is a young adult novel, for young adults who want to think. The themes are dark but thought-provoking, and I’ll admit to racing through this one with a sense of dread, hoping things would turn out well while knowing they might not, perhaps an inevitable feeling when reading a novel narrated by Death.
The Book Thief is a special book on its own merit, but it’s especially important in my own history. After years of resistance, followed by months of coveting, I have become the proud owner of a Kindle. The Book Thief was my very first electronic book. I can’t believe how easy the transition proved to be after such a long period of wondering if I could make the switch from paper to electronic ink. I honestly barely notice the difference, and I love the instant gratification of downloading books, the easy access to my library, and the adjustable type size. As someone who reads a lot, large print an easy-on-the-eyes plus.
And speaking of reading a lot, I’m off to finish my latest novel. More on that later!