The Week In Books, No. 11

The Thirteenth Tale” is billed on the flyleaf as being “a love letter to reading…a book for the feral reader in all of us.” As a side note, the person who wrote the flyleaf copy clearly got a word-of-the-day calendar for Christmas because he/she used the word “feral” twice in that short space. You know how it is.

But don’t let that dissuade you. This is a marvelous book. The story is riveting and surprising, the language is well-crafted, and the characters are portrayed with depth and sympathy. Our feral friend the flyleaf copy chap was right about the centrality of books in the novel. If you’re widely read, especially in the classics, you’ll find that you are able to ascribe more nuance to the characters and plot along the way, but if you’re not, you’ll still be able to follow it.

I did find the section about Isabelle and Charlie to be dark and disturbing. At one point I wondered if I should put the book down over a particular scene, but it was worth it to push through. I don’t want to post a spoiler, but there is a passing detail in that section that becomes very important later on at the end of the book.

I do heartily recommend “The Thirteenth Tale” in spite of the dark part.

Sleepless in America” covers a lot of the same ground that other good child sleep books cover, but it goes further in describing the sleep issues our society suffers in general, and most helpfully describes how different innate temperament traits such as how adaptable a person is or sensitive he is affect how he sleeps. I found the temperament section of particular interest. The book addresses how different temperament combinations can best be worked with to foster good sleep habits in infants, children, and adults. I was not surprised to find that Hannah takes after Josh almost exactly in sleep habits – they are amazingly good sleepers. I, on the other hand, am quite possibly the world’s WORST sleeper. Or, at least, my temperament presents more than my fair share of challenges to good sleep. I already apologized to my mom for any grief this may have caused her and my dad during my childhood. She graciously forgave me. 🙂

I have been meaning to read “The Turn of the Screw” for a while now. You know, “Jane Eyre” is one of my favorite books of all time, so I do have kind of a thing for stories about governesses from that time period. “The Turn of the Screw” is more of a novella I guess, and it’s a story that grapples with the nature of reality and “spiritual” phenomena without reaching any obvious conclusion. You could read the story any number of different ways, and you could read a lot into it that may or may not be there, but I read it just to enjoy it, and I did.

Started but Decided Not to Finish:
The Russian Debutante’s Handbook” by Gary Shteyngart – I tried this book out because Shteyngart was billed as being a writer like Nabokov. I guess if by “like Nabokov” you mean “Russian” that would be true, but I wouldn’t take it any further than that. Shteyngart seemed to do an excellent job with descriptions, but then I found he degenerated into tawdry and needlessly explicit scenes fairly early in the book, and I was not sufficiently engaged in the story to feel like just skipping those parts and moving on. Oh well. Life is short, and the book list is too long to waste time on the less-than-great.

Also Completed:

Currently Reading:
Joshua, Psalms, John, 2 Corinthians
“The Marquise of O- and Other Stories” by Heinrich von Kleist
“Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” by Susan McCutcheon
“On the Banks of Plum Creek” by Laura Ingalls Wilder (to Hannah)
“Training Hearts, Teaching Minds” by Starr Meade (as a family)

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