This past week included another trip to a library book sale, probably the last of the year. But it’s not the last book-buying trip of the year! Next weekend we have plans to visit a favorite Connecticut used bookstore. I have accumulated quite a few books in the past month or so, but if I ever start to feel bad about it, I think of it as stockpiling for the days when going book shopping won’t be quite as easy (although I did see quite a few parents with babies at these library book sales, so book-accumulation won’t be at a complete end). So, what I came home with this time:
- Eat the Document, by Dana Spiotta. I liked her recent novel Stone Arabia very much and so want to read more.
- The Mystery Guest, by Gregoire Bouillier. Did Litlove recommend this one at some point? I think so… anyway, it’s been on my list of books to check out for a while.
- Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell. Cloud Atlas was great, and he seems like such an interesting writer.
- Running with Scissors: A Memoir, by Augusten Burroughs. I’ve read enough memoirs and have read enough about memoirs, that it makes sense to me to collect some of the major ones, and this one seems important.
- Borrowed Finery: A Memoir, by Paula Fox. See above.
- Death in the Garden, by Elizabeth Ironside. I know nothing about this book or this author, but it’s published by Felony and Mayhem Press, which is an awesome name, and it looks appealing.
- In the Land of Pain, by Alphonse Daudet. I think I heard about this from David Shields, of Reality Hunger fame. It’s translated by Julian Barnes. It looks like the kind of nonfiction I like.
As for reading, I had less time than in previous weeks because school is starting to get back into gear. My classes start on Tuesday, but last week I had meetings and advising to keep me busier than usual. With the reading time I had available, I finished Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes in the Museum. I liked it. I was hoping to love it, which I didn’t exactly, but still, it was good. I had thought it had something to do with museums, which it doesn’t, at least not in a direct sense: it’s about a family and the changes it goes through throughout the 20th century, so the idea seems to be that the novel is showing the real-life, ordinary events behind the “museum” of history. It has a first-person narrator who tells her life story, and in between each chapter are footnotes to the main narrative that are flashbacks to earlier generations and their stories, all of which are shaped by larger historical events, usually wars. I liked the main narrator, and her sections are the most enjoyable. I also liked the family Atkinson created. It’s kind of a messed-up family, with a lot of stories of unfulfilled dreams, disappointment, unhappy marriages, and unwanted children. But she shows how each person got where they did and creates sympathy for them and their struggles. The title phrase “behind the scenes” also captures the importance of family secrets; there is a lot that the younger generations don’t know about the older ones, or that they only slowly find out about them. There are also many stories that are captured by objects, seemingly unimportant ones that turn out to carry greater weight than the younger generations realize. I did think the book got a little long towards the end, but overall, Atkinson manages her large cast of characters and her complicated story very well.
In other news, I bought maternity pants this past week. Fortunately, I have a friend who is willing and eager to go shopping with me, and she helped me navigate the shops and find some decent things. As of now, I have two pairs of stretchy running shorts I can wear, two pairs of yoga pants I can wear, and now two pairs of maternity pants, which I will do my teaching in. Eventually probably the shorts and yoga pants will get too tight, and then I’ll … live in my two pairs of maternity pants? Not sure. I’m such a terrible shopper. Fortunately again, this same friend is going to help Hobgoblin and me figure out what baby equipment we want to register for, and I’m so grateful for the help, because the world of baby equipment is bewildering. I’m so happy to be pregnant, but, my goodness, there is just so much involved.