Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer reading challenge update



(The complete summer reading list is here.)

I am done with my Wendell Berry list, but I just keep reading. The copies I have of Nathan Coulter and A World Lost are together with the short novel Remembering in this volume. It seemed right to finish all three, and I am doing just that.

My favorite Berry novel of the summer, though, is The Memory of Old Jack.

"He knows now that, do what he may, his history is about to wash over his mind again, like water over a field under a hard rain...he will have to consider once more the way things might have been, and the way they were. Too old to work and get around, he can do nothing but let it come."

"He had become a man whose presence changed other men; when he came among them his influence was discernible in the way they looked or stood or spoke."

"....therefore he would not acquire more land, but instead turn his effort with redoubled care in upon the land that was rightfully his, not because it belonged to him so much as because, by the expenditure of history and work, he belonged to it, and because he could properly attend to it by himself."

"That silence is the most demanding thing he knows right now, and he has come out to sit alone in it, to let his thoughts come to rest in it, if they will."

I have also finished my foodie list of books, although The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater is not the type of book one finishes; it is a food diary inspired by the fresh ingredients available at the markets.

One of the bakers at this morning's farmers' market had some soft white rolls, their pale crust freckled with sesame seeds. Few breads would be nicer with the roast lamb, the spongy dough soaking up the lamb's herb-enriched juices. So what was going to be a semi-formal Sunday roast for four suddenly becomes an informal lunch, eaten outdoors, with me carving somewhat badly and everyone piling wafer-thin slices of rose-pink meat into flat, fluffy rolls.
Warning: this book will make you hungry and may increase your trips to your local farmers' market. Ask me how I know.


Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage

I didn't intend for so many of my book choices to discuss death, but they do. It is not inappropriate for this summer and I appreciate prose that awakens me when I am tempted to stuff my feelings and head straight to denial.

Two-Part Invention is a beautiful combination of the story of marriage and of the illness and death of L'Engle's husband Hugh Franklin. It is honest, affectionate, and heart-breaking. Highly recommended.

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