Books: I’ll Give You the Sun

July 20, 2016

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson was July’s selection for our book club at the library. I always wonder, when we get the next month’s book, whether I’ll like it. There has been a lot of variety in the books we’ve read over the past two years, and some have taken much more effort to finish than others. (One I just refused to read after the first twenty pages. As it happened that month’s meeting was cancelled anyway.)

I had left this one to read over the July 4th weekend, reasoning that I would have plenty of time to read and it would be easier to get through a book when I had fewer demands on my time. As it turned out, it was a very easy read, and I got interested enough in the characters that I somewhat reluctantly set it aside when the parade started. (With a son in the marching band, we had to get there way early. Naturally I had a book to read while we waited.)

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Books: The Art Forger

May 8, 2016

I checked The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro out of the library without taking much time to see what it was about, but it was a great choice. I really enjoyed the story, and learning about art along the way.

I probably would not have picked up a book to read about Degas – I’ve never been much of a fan of his paintings. And I had no reason to be interested in the history or methodology of art forgery. I knew that painting styles had changed over time, but I had thought of it primarily in terms of the kind of image created, not the way the brushstrokes are applied.

But I enjoy mysteries, and a mystery involving paintings seemed like a nice change after reading one involving human trafficking. And I’m always interested in learning something new, especially if I learn it in the course of listening to an entertaining story. (This was an audiobook, as a fair number of my book choices are these days.)

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Books: Lisette’s List

September 9, 2015

Having enjoyed Susan Vreeland’s novel Clara and Mr. Tiffany, I decided to try another, Lisette’s List. It is interesting for its depiction of life in a rural village in southern France during the 1940’s, but it did not engage me emotionally nearly as much as Clara and Mr. Tiffany did.

I’m not sure how much that is because of the strong emphasis on art. In Clara and Mr. Tiffany, the art of creating masterpieces from pieces of glass was more about the characters and their love of their craft than it was about the art itself. In Lisette’s List, appreciation of art itself is a major theme.

Perhaps I just find it hard to share the extreme devotion Lisette has to painting and everything to do with it. Perhaps it is because the artists featured in this novel are some whose styles I have trouble appreciating.I don’t dislike the Impressionism of Pisarro but I am not as attracted to it as to some of the older styles. I like some of Cézanne’s Post-Impressionist landscapes but I am unmoved by his still lifes. Read the rest of this entry »


Books: Interrupted Aria

March 20, 2015

Author Beverle Graves Myers combined her love of opera, Italy, history, and mystery in this mystery set in 18th century Venice and featuring an opera singer. Since I have no interest in opera myself, I wouldn’t have gone looking for a book where opera features so prominently.But I did go looking for historical fiction mysteries, and when a more recent title by this author popped up in a list of books at the library, I was interested enough to learn more.

Since I always prefer to start a series at the beginning, I found out that Interrupted Aria was the first of Myers’ Tito Amato mysteries. The reviews at amazon.com were mostly very positive. And the idea of a mystery solved by a castrato opera singer during the Baroque period is so different from the majority of mysteries out there that I was intrigued. It didn’t hurt any that the book was set in Venice, where I spent one day during my travels around Europe during Christmas break the year I spent studying in Spain.

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Books: Clara and Mr. Tiffany

December 21, 2014

Trying to decide what to check out next from the library, I read the back of the audiobook Clara and Mr. Tiffany and saw “Clara must decide what makes her happiest—the professional world of her hands or the personal world of her heart.” As I was not particularly interested in either Tiffany or romance, I looked for something else to listen to during my commute.

But the next time I was back looking for another audiobook (a typical audiobook takes me about two weeks), I decided to give Clara and Mr. Tiffany a try. I’ve been finding most of the historical fiction I’ve been reading (or listening to) quite interesting, including people and period I hadn’t thought I cared about.

So it was with Tiffany lamps and the little-known woman who designed them. Clara Driscoll finds great fulfillment in her work turning Tiffany’s designs into beautiful leaded glass windows. She would also like to find fulfillment in marriage, but Mr. Tiffany has a strict policy against employing married women. So Clara has to choose between love and art.

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Books: A Simpler Way

November 15, 2014

I read this book because it was recommended in a class I took in September on “The Role of the Supervisor.” Most of my reading lately has been fiction, and it had been a very long time (probably not since I finished my MBA studies in 1996) that I had read a book on organizational behavior. And I was intrigued by the instructor’s brief description of the authors’ viewpoints about organizations as organisms.

I won’t try to sum up the book’s points, because this review does that better than I probably could. If I had enjoyed reading the book, perhaps I would enjoy waxing eloquent about the ideas expressed in it. But frankly, I really struggled to finish the book before I had to return it to the library.

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Books: People of the Book

October 11, 2014

I looked at this audiobook on at least two other occasions before finally deciding to check it out from the library. I’m not sure what made me hesitate – perhaps the phrase “intimate emotional intensity” on the back of the case.

There different kinds of intimacy and different kinds of emotional intensity, some much more pleasant to read about than others. Some books get too intimate, and even with those that are a level – and kind – of intimacy that I would want to read about, sometimes I shy away from because I want to enjoy my commute, not find myself drawn into the wrenching emotional upheavals of someone else’s life.

But I enjoy historical fiction, and I enjoy books about books. I liked the idea of a mystery surrounding a beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript, and the different places in Europe where the book had traveled during its long history. I decided People of the Book was worth checking out.

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