in the reading room: RIP X continues, the library book sale, and a laid back sort of readathon…

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ThePassageCoverFeeling slightly more accomplished this week than last. Finishing a big-ass book will do that for me every time. Rich and I finished up The Passage by Justin Cronin this week. Woohoo! We read the bulk of it audiobook style, but after I quit Scribd in a fit of pique over their new audiobook policy, we read a bit aloud from our print copy until an audiobook copy was available from the library. Anyway, The Passage…Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. Yep, totally loved this one. “To pieces” kind of love. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, little post-apocalyptic fangirl that I am. There were times I found it heavily reminiscent of The Stand, particularly in the beginning. And then there were times when I couldn’t help but think of The Walking Dead. But really, it was its own story for sure. I was totally clueless before starting the book that it involved its own unique brand of vampires, and I’m very, very thankful for that cluelessness. (Actually, I suspect that maybe there was a time I did know when it first came out and was all the rage, but I had no recollection of that little tidbit.) Anyway, I’m just not much of a vampire girl (except for Bram Stoker’s Dracula–that book I adored), and had I known, I might not have given this a go. So yeah, Debra Anne–maybe you ought to quit ruling books out using excuses like “but I don’t like (fill-in-the-blank) books.”

Okay, back on track please. I’m not sure what it is about post-apocalyptic/dystopian sort of stories that allows me to become so involved, so invested. I was right there, living in this scary new world along with the characters. And yep, the characters made me smile, and frustrated me, and brought tears to my eyes, and made me love them, even when I didn’t agree with them or completely understand them. The story kept me engaged all the way through. And I really enjoyed Cronin’s writing. But what exactly about this book moved it from a book I really enjoyed to a book that completely captivated me, I just don’t know. I honestly cannot point to any one thing that made me love this book the way I did.

forgotten girlsNext up was The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel. I’d personally never heard of Sara Blaedel before, but I get the feeling that she’s rather a well-known crime/suspense author amongst those who tend to read a lot in this genre. And it seems she’s downright famous in her native Denmark. I just stumbled upon this book when I was searching the library website for a new audiobook to listen to during all those cooking hours. I didn’t realize at the time I downloaded this one that it was the 7th book in a series. But honestly, it didn’t matter–it certainly felt like a self-contained story. Though I do realize there’s surely a lot of backstory I’m missing as far as the protagonist Louise Rick and her best friend Camilla Lind go.

In this book, Louise is just starting a new job, having moved from the homicide department to head a new sort of missing persons unit. Along with her new partner, a partner she’s not particularly thrilled about in the beginning, she begins her new job trying to find the identity of a woman found dead in the woods. Foul play isn’t really suspected; it appears the woman took a rather large fall down a bank. Identifying who this woman is, however, is the tip of a very large iceberg.

I found the story interesting, though I wouldn’t by any means call it at-the-edge-of-your-seat suspenseful. But at the same time, it is definitely not in the cozy mystery category. In fact, what we learn by the end of the book is truly quite horrifying, and I had a hard time stomaching some of the awfulness. Definitely trigger warnings for rape and for abuse of people with intellectual disabilities.

I enjoyed it enough, despite the horrifying aspects, to possibly give Sara Blaedel another try. I’d really love to get to know Louise Rick better. As all of Blaedel’s books haven’t been translated to English, I’ve no hope of going in order at this point, but if this book was any indication, I’m guessing I’ll be okay reading out of order.

Peril the First requires four books. These make books two and three, so I really should make it. Famous last words.

*****

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I also read a couple short stories. (Actually I read more than a couple, but I’m saving most of them to talk about when I finish the anthology the other ones are in.) But for now, I’ll mention two stories by Nikolai Gogol, “The Overcoat” and “Memoirs of a Madman.”

Thank you, homeschooling, for making me step into “the land of intimidating literature.” For me, the land of intimidating literature is vast and wide. Classics tend to live there. But then so do the works of a great many author’s writing today (A.S. Byatt, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, to name just a few). Literature from certain countries, like Russia and Japan. I guess one thing that guarantees I will categorize something as intimating is if I fear I’m not smart enough to understand it. The thing is, about 95% of the time that I force myself the visit the land of intimidating literature, I prove myself wrong. One would think one would learn from this and stop banishing books there to start with…but one doesn’t seem to learn from her mistakes.

And yes, the reason for all this rambling is that 1.) I was deathly afraid to anything by Gogol, and 2.) there was no reason to be. Both “The Overcoat” and “Memoirs of a Madman” were immensely readable. I was quite surprised by the humor in both these stories, though I wouldn’t call either story funny. “The Overcoat,” especially, was about the dehumanization of bureaucracy and strict hierarchies. I believe both are RIP-appropriate, “The Overcoat” more obviously so with the ghost/corpse (depending on the translation). I found “Memoirs of a Madman” overall to be sad, but in somewhat of a disquieting way. And bottom line, I enjoyed the hell out of both of them. Go figure.

*****

This week was our library branch’s book sale. Oh how we look forward to this sale every year. Rich, Annie, and I went on Tuesday (the day that is only open to Friends of the Library members). These are the beauties I picked up that day:

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On the left, the exciting new-to-me books I’m ridiculously eager to read. On the right, all books I’ve read in the past but picked up for fibro flare times when I need books that require little thinking or focus. (Not pictured: the two books I bought that I already owned. Doh.)

On Thursday, Rich picked up Eva and Thistle on his way home from work. We ate a fortifying supper before dropping Annie off at work and then heading to the book sale. Poor Thistle had to stay home to babysit the boys. 😉  Again, I may have gone a little overboard:

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(Not pictured: It’s become somewhat of a tradition over the last few years, that we give Mom, Dad, and Butch each a box full of used books as one of their Christmas gifts, and we really stocked up for that.)

Eva did okay herself. I think she said she ended up buying 30-something books. 🙂

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Ummmm…yes, Rich and I went back again on Friday. With really good intentions–we were just going to buy more books for Mom’s box Christmas box and grab some for Annie. But well, yeah…self-control is just a little too hard to come by at a library book sale. Especially on half-price day. I think Rich may have bought more for himself today than he did either on Tuesday or Thursday. 😛  And I picked another small(ish) pile too. Of course.

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The James Patterson’s are just more for “my brain doesn’t work and I’m cranky and I’m sick to fucking death of pain” periods. I’ve read them all before. The book that really excites me most from this stack is the Laurie R. King one–Eva told me about this series (Kate Martinelli) a while ago, and I’ve really been wanting to give them a go. So YAY!

I will not go back to the book sale today for bag day…I will not go back to the book sale today for bag day…I will not go back to the book sale today for bag day…

*****

Another YAY–this weekend is the Dog Days of Summer Readathon. Actually started yesterday, but I didn’t get much reading done. I’m hoping for a much better showing today. I have a ton of reading to do for school, but I’m going to try to break it up with some fun reading too.

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6 thoughts on “in the reading room: RIP X continues, the library book sale, and a laid back sort of readathon…

  1. I’ve had The Passage on my shelf for years now, but I still haven’t gotten to it. Probably because when I do, it’ll take me forever to read, which is inevitably discouraging even when I’m actually enjoying the chunkster I’m reading. LOL.

    Looks like you made out like a bandit at the book sale! I had to bough out of all of our local ones this year because I was about to move and was having to lighten the load already, so buying new (used) books was out of the question. This winter I’ll be back in the book sale saddle for sure!

    Love the picture of Eva! She’s got that exactly perfect super focused book sale game face on. Every shrewd book sale shopper has one! 😉

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    1. I am so with you about the chunksters, Megan! I tend to really love them, but I also get frustrated by how long they take me to read. Especially since I’m such a ridiculously slow reader.
      LOL–never thought about the book sale game face before, but I do think you’re right! 😀

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  2. I was just thinking about The Passage yesterday, as I was reading a newer book that reminds me a little of it. Benjamin Percy’s “Dead Lands” which starts out similarly with a walled city in a post-apocalyptic world into which someone walks from out of the wilderness. No vampires though (yet anyway) 🙂 I never read on in The Passage series – do you plan to?

    I love reading the Russian authors too. I read The Overcoat as part of my annual short story reading project last year. ( https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/the-cloak-by-nikolai-gogol/ if you care to take a look)

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  3. I’ve not heard of Dead Lands before, but from what you said it sounds like something I’d love. Will definitely have to look into it–thanks for the rec!
    I do plan on continuing with the series–in fact have The Twelve sitting on the dresser just waiting to be started. I tend to suck at actually finishing series though–so who knows if I’ll ever get to the last book when it comes out. If it was already out, and I love The Twelve as much as The Passage, I probably would…but I tend to have trouble getting back to series after a large lapse of time.
    I love your short story project! I was really tempted to join in the fun this year, but finally admitted I’d only fail. 😉 But I love reading about the short stories you read! And will definitely go read what you had to say about “The Overcoat.”

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  4. Just wanted to say hello. Bryan of Still Unfinished mentioned your blog in a recent blog post and because I love discovering new blogs, I popped on over. Hope that’s okay. I’m also participating in RIP X. It’s a challenge I look forward to each year. You’ve reminded me of The Passage. I have it on audio from ages ago but it has gotten lost in the mix. I think it’s time to pull it out again and give it a listen. Have a great day!

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