The Sunday Salon: Reading Through Life

The Sunday Salon.comOh my, it’s been ages since we’ve talked.

Time has sped by in its inexorable slick passage while I’ve worked and shopped and run errands and talked to friends and played for music festivals and hosted benefit concerts and…and…and…


I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

3655754-sea-shells-that-have-washed-up-on-the-beachLife happens and we slip and slide on the tides of it, sometimes washed ashore cracked and broken like the fragile shells we are, but more often than not swept back out into the sea of daily living where we rise and fall at the whim of nature and the gods.

One thing that remains constant in my life is reading. So today – a day when the waves have calmed and the sea of life laps gently around my ankles – seems a good day to catch you all up on the books that have been keeping me company.

I did a lot of memoir reading in January, partly because I was taking one of Andi Cumbo’s wonderful online writing classes, but also because I love that genre. I believe our individual stories are SO powerful, and that by telling them we gain so much empathy and insight into the human condition. Three of the standouts for me were Magical Journey, by Katrina Kenison; Devotion, by Dani Shapiro; and Elsewhere, by Richard Russo.

Some sweet relief from the (sometimes) heavy work of the memoir came from a couple of novels – Three Good Things, by Wendy Francis, a novel about Ellen McClarety, a recent divorcee who counts on her ability to bake the best Danish kringle to help her turn her life around, and The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds, the latest quiet adventure of philosopher Isabel Dalhousie, one of Alxander McCall Smith’s indubitable heroines. Both books struck the perfect balance between frothy and fun without being sickly sweet.

Melanie Benjamin’s The Aviator’s Wife was a thought provoking historical novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh that sent me to my shelves to search out my copies of her letters and diaries, not to mention her famous memoir A Gift from The Sea.

And I was totally swept up in To the Power of Three, a psychological suspense novel about three teenage girls and the deadly power one of them wielded over the others. This was an older book by Laura Lippman, who is queen of the psychological thriller.

In addition to these titles, I’ve listened to a couple of audio books – I find those absolutely necessary to keep me from going crazy with the banality of popular radio stations. I’m awfully fussy about what I listen to, though. It has to be a really good story, but not too complicated or deep. The narrator also has to be good. I like a voice that clips along, without too many dramatic pauses. The Replacement Wife, by Eileen Goudge, provided many days of much needed road diversion.

I’ve spent today catching up and clearing up some of the things I’ve let slip down to the bottom of the sea these past weeks. I’ll end the evening by spending some time with The Good House, a spectacular novel by Ann Leary. This was a library find, and is such unexpectedly compelling reading that I hate to see it come to an end.

But end it will, as all things do. Hopefully my extended leave of absence from blogging has ended too.

We shall see how the tides turn.

How about you? What’s been keeping your reading life afloat?


5 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Reading Through Life

  1. “I believe our individual stories are SO powerful, and that by telling them we gain so much empathy and insight into the human condition.” I completely agree, and this is one of the reasons that I love reading so much. It so wonderful to gain insight into one another’s lives, even if it’s ‘only’ a character from a novel.

    You’ve inspired me to pick up The Aviator’s Wife, as who hasn’t been moved by A Gift From The Sea? Love your accompanying photograph…

    • I don’t know if you’ve ever read any of her journals or letters, but they are among my favorite autobiographical works.

      I think Melanie Benjamin did a wonderful job bringing the complexities of the Lindbergh relationship to life. What an interesting couple they were…

  2. What a terrific post! You describe how quickly life can go by. It feels to me the older I get, the faster time moves.
    I haven’t read Russo’s memoir yet but he’s one of my favorite authors and I look forward to reading his words again. I adored Devotion, I reviewed it last year and a month doesn’t go by that I don’t dip back into Shapiro’s memoir to reread a section or a chapter. I hope you enjoyed both books.

    I haven’t read any of the fiction you discuss but my husband loves so many of Alexander McCall Smith’s books and I have read many wonderful reviews ofd The Aviator’s Wife. I’m curious about the Ann Leary novel you’re enjoying and plan to look it up.

    I hope you’re having a good week!

  3. My reading seems to come in fits and starts. Being on the IVs this winter, I’ve found I actually sit down and read more and have gone through a few things I hope to post about on Chopsticks and String. But then life will take over… I do love Alexander McCall Smith. I think I’m behind in the Isobel books.

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