Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Working Through the Bookstack

I recently read an article about Tsundoku -- which is basically the practice of buying more books than you can possibly read. I admit it. I would like the think they'll all be read. I know they won't. I will never get through the books on my pile. Books I am given. Books I had and never read (but now they look fascinating). Books I pick up at library sales or used bookstores or the next in a series I've followed for ages. Or the first in a new series, for that matter.


I am an eclectic reader. I am open to most genres (I'll skip sci-fi, dystopian novels and fantasy, though). Mysteries and biography/memoirs come to the top of my list. I'm pretty big on history or historical fiction, too. As for general fiction, well, I'll read it for book club or if passed onto me. But I'm not quite as likely to pick it up on my own (unless it's by a favorite author).

A lot of us are finding a bit more time to read than even before these days. So, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on some of the things I've been into lately. Let's start with a disappointing biography.

Edward VIII: An Intimate Biography by Hector Bolitho



The first thing wrong with this book is the title. It is neither intimate, nor barely a biography. Granted, it was published in 1937, shortly after the King's abdication and much of what has become common knowledge -- both the scandalous and the simply sad -- wasn't known then.

Bolitho has quite a collection of books under his belt (he published 59 books during his career), but this includes little information about Edward's upbringing (some of which was confusing -- you didn't know if he was writing about Edward VIII (aka David and The Prince of Wales), his father, or his grandfather, Edward VII, (also Prince of Wales before becoming King). It also reads like a travelogue in many ways, following each of Edward VIII's travels as Prince of Wales in overly purple prose with chapter titles like "Australia," "South Africa," "India."


This might not bother me so much but a few months ago I read Philip Ziegler's fascinating (and very long) biography which not only outlined the reception Edward received but also bouts of petulance, irritability and sexual promiscuity along the way.

I know I need to make an allowance for the time this was written (and published in England where Edward VIII was protected by the press for far too long). Still, Mrs. Simpson, for whom he abdicated the Crown, is a mention in only the last few chapters. We don't know how they met or other elements of the relationship that led to these events. Maybe Bolitho didn't either. Nonetheless...


A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie



Moving on, back to one of my favorite mystery series -- the Duncan Kincaid/Jemma James mysteries by Deborah Crombie. "A Bitter Feast" is her long-awaited follow-up to the last in the series and it was well worth waiting for. Many series should be read chronologically and this one should be too, just to see the character development of this pair.

To summarize the overall series, Duncan Kincaid works for the Met as does his now-wife, Gemma James (which is one reason why you should read this series in order; characters evolve through time). The large majority of stories are set in London but occasionally the venture farther afield.

This particular entry in the series is quite self contained. It would be richer with some history of the characters but if it was your first, it would in no way limit the fascination of the mystery itself. Besides, it's set in the Cotswolds. Now, what's not to love about that!

Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl



Back to memoir with restaurant critic/editor Ruth Reichl's very fun "Comfort Me with Apples." Reichl recalls her days living in Berkeley and her first forays into food writing. It is a memoir that is both personal, sharing her life in a Berkeley commune, her marriage and affairs with her boss and the guy who would become her second husband, and professional. Her descriptions of food and her encounters with now-famous chefs at the start of their careers (including a fellow called Wolfgang Puck) are fascinating and delightful.

Each chapter ends with a recipe, some her own, some adapted from well known chefs, including Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. It's worth it for the recipes along. The grins are bonus points.

Bryant and May: London Calling by Christopher Fowler



I mentioned this one in the last post. It is a series of stories featuring the two octogenarian detectives -- suave John May and his polar opposite, Arthur Bryant. Why these have never been made into a series is beyond me. The stories are clever as they follow the two detectives and their "Peculiar Crimes Unit" in solving various mysteries.

I heartily recommend the series itself. The books are long and not your typical whodunit. They go into quirky parts of London you may never have thought about (the underground water system, its classic pubs). They aren't always fast reads but they are good reads.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz



Horowitz brought us the television adaptations of Midsomer Murders and Foyle's War. He knows how to spin a yarn and this is a fun one. A book editor, while on the search for three missing chapters from an author who delivered the book and presumably jumped to his death from a tower, goes on a search for the chapters. In doing so, she encounters a mystery as puzzling as the one in the book.

Cleverly, Horowitz includes "author" Alan Conway's "Magpie Murders" chapters before launching into the editor's search for the missing chapters, which lends depth and fun to the characters. It's a delight.

Beatrix Potter: A Journal 



As you can tell, this isn't really Potter's journal, although it may well have been taken from her journals. I'll rely on someone else to know that -- I don't really care. This is my treasure from my Canada trip.


It is oversized with pages almost like book board. They are in color and writing -- presumably Beatrix's -- and her drawings.


Best of all are the little surprises -- a copy of the letter where she wrote a young friend sending the first version of Peter Rabbit's story.


Tucked in the back under a colorful flap is a hard-bound copy of Potter's first version of the Peter Rabbit story we know so well. It is enchanting.


Someday I'll be able to share this with the Toddler Twosome. Maybe I can even turn one or both of them into a tsundoko!

Sharing with:      Let's Keep In Touch     /    Pink Saturday    

51 comments:

Susan Kane said...

Every one sounds like a great gook. Magpie Murders is more my line. Love the author, his skills.

Keep well.

Laurie said...

Such great suggestions you’ve given us! I have pretty eclectic taste in books as well, My go to’s are cosy mysteries, preferably British, I do like Laura Childs Tea shop mysteries. But I love any book that catches my fancy, Stay well, stay safe,

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

I think we're all going to make great headway on our stack of unread books over next few weeks. Let's hope the sun comes out and the breezes are sweet so we can do it on our decks and patios.

Marilyn Miller said...

The Beatrix Potter book does look enchanting. I would love it. I am most attracted to historical fiction, but do venture out of the genre at times. Reading a cozy mystery this week. I keep a pile on my book shelf of books to read and when it starts getting down to about 4 books I start looking for more to add to the stack. I check Goodwill shelves and used on Amazon often.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

You look like you're all set. I'm not really. Only two more books left. I do have a Kobo. I'll have to figure out what the heck to do with it. Haven't really used it beyond a friend "installing" a bunch of books on it for me, which I've already read now. A new thing for me to learn! Take care, my friend!

Lynne said...

The Beatrix Potter book and all the messages, pictures
make for quite a treasure indeed.
Love Love . . .
The Maggie Murders is on my list!
I am reading a Grisham, The Whistler right now.
I need to concentrate on a read and get my mind off tHe virus and DT.

My name is Erika. said...

You have quite an interesting collection. I haven't read any of those mysteries but a few sounds really good. And although I haven't read Comfort Me with Apples, it is on my list. I red Tender to the Bone and I loved it. I am glad to hear the next book in the series is worth the read. Magpie Murders sounds really good so thanks for the recommendation. I have to admit my reading has been off a bit this month, first me being sick early in the month and then this on-line teaching which really wiped me out last week. Seems I have been reading too much on the computer. Hopefully as the stress drops off I will be a more enthused reader. Keep on reading, and thanks for some recommendations. Hugs-Erika

Danielle L Zecher said...

I love that there's a term for those of us who have too many books. I tell myself I'm not getting any more books, but I never stick with it. And now I'm very glad to have a nice big pile at home.

Joyful said...

I picked up the Comfort Me with Apples book along the way but never read it. It went out in one of my many decluttering whirlwinds as I too eventually realized I would never read all the books I had accumulated. There are too many other goods one that come up along the way and the olds sometimes get shoved aside for the new. I read far more now that I've stopped buying books and started setting modest reading goals. Without the goal I might just dream about reading or enjoy the book covers, lol. The Potter book looks lovely. Enjoy. xx

Valerie-Jael said...

Books are always wonderful, they have been my constant companions - and sometimes the only ones - since I was a kid. Reading always does me good. I'm reading a series about the memories of a village policeman back in the 60s, such a different world. Have a great day, hugs, Valerie

Iris Flavia said...

I´m far away from 10,000 books and I really often manage to give some away, too, but I admit....
I must be one, too.
Real books, especially on Braunschweig, unread. My kindle, oh, forget it, sooo many books!

But books that bore me/are not written well... I just got one on ... Holocaust. Yes. As a German. It was written by a survivor, but so boring... I tried, skipped, read, skipped... now it´s on the give-away pile (which has to wait as the university is closed).

Oh, you cannot do that! Now I´m tempted to add "Comfort Me with Apples" to my kindle! Stop!!! ;-)

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Jeanie

I have a few lined up on my Kindle to read now but I see a few on your post I am adding to my list. My to be read list is growing. The Beatrix Potter book is a treasure. Take care, stay well. Enjoy your day!

Mae Travels said...

How could you manage to read that book about not-King Edward? It sounds terrible in your words! My reading tastes don’t overlap with yours in many cases, but I also love detective fiction. Unfortunately I am just too distracted or stressed or something to actually read these days!

Be Well! .... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

creativeseconds.com said...

Great suggestions! I'm going to see what I can find used on ebay today ~ My sister has Tsundoku (thanks for giving me a name for it now) and I receive all her books that she enjoyed passed down to me. Much better then her old clothes from childhood I might add. I read every night before I go to bed so I'm always looking for new books ~ Stay well

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

You do read a variety of books. I would be most interested in reading about Beatrix Potter. There is a series of cozy mysteries about her and her farm where the cats, dogs, and farm animals talk (but humans don't understand) and Beatrix solves mysteries in the village. I've been going through books on my Kindle reading and in some cases deleting w/o reading the whole book. because I didn't like the beginning. At my age no one can make me read what I don't like. I get a daily list of ebooks on sale and often buy free books that are not good. I hope spring is coming up there in Michigan - have a great day!

Joanne Huffman said...

I always enjoy your book reviews.

La Table De Nana said...

My Beatrix Potter Journal is one of my treasures..a TREASURE.
Ruth Reichl..CMWA..was good but Tender At The Bone her best..the rest..sorry to say do not compare.I have read most I think..
Take care...
I am reading David Lebovitzs Sweet Life ..I think again:)
My advice stay away from Instagram..I read far far less now...

R's Rue said...

I'd love to read them.

Jemma@athomewithjemma said...

Good Morning Jeanie,
I love the zest and zeal in which you approach reading and collecting books, your ferocious appetite in acquiring this eclectic mix is exciting and contagious. (not in a viral context) Your enthusiasm is exactly how I feel when acquiring new plant species.
I do love a good mystery-not too somber or serious, so it seems that Horowitz's style may just be perfect for me.
Thank you for the recommendation and for keeping up my spirits too!
Stay well dear Jeanie,
Jemma

Linda @ Life and Linda said...

Lovely collection of books Jeanie. I find myself reading more now.
It's strange how we are all doing things more now that we are locked down at home. Take care and enjoy your free time.

Preppy Empty Nester said...

Holy moly, you read a lot, Jeanie!! I always get a kick out of the title that mentions Magpies. Our daughter is Maggie, but we call her Magpie. Stay healthy, sweet Jeanie.

The French Hutch said...

Oh the Beatrix Potter is a treasure! At least you always have a library of choice when looking for a good read. I do the same, I see so many I want to read and have them stacked on my shelves. So, no shortage of reading material here for lock-up. I do love a good mystery too. Staying busy inside and cooking. Hope you are enjoying being home.......Stay safe.

Sandra Cox said...

You can't go wrong with plenty of reading material.
I love Beatrix Potter.
Meghan's site: meghancox.net Thanks for inquiring:)

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

Jeanie, glad you are staying well and busy. Reading is such a great habit to get into and especially at times like these. I think Comfort Me With Apples looks like a good choice for my list and I would love to get ahold of Beatrix Potter's Journal..Happy reading and stay safe..xxoJudy

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

I am like you with reading choices and mine are varied as well. I have read several books by the same author with the same character, but sometimes they get tiresome, Lately, I've been looking for ebooks available online from the library. I select Kindle, Available, and then pick a category such as historical fiction to see what comes up. I am way to impatient to put a title on a wait list, although I have titles in my wish list which have a wait time. I agree that Magpie Murders was a fun read as was his next book, but the title escapes me now.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Some of us cannot live without books, and I am one of them. I am enjoying going through my shelves during this confinement, rereading some stuff, looking at wonderful photographs, or superb artwork, appreciating anew authors I have long admired. Miriam says that if ever she gets really mad at me, she will arrange all my books by size and colour! I blanch at the mere thought of it! I might resurrect burning at the stake as a just punishment!!!!

Naomi said...


All those books sound like great reads, Jeanie. I especially loved the Beatrix Potter treasure you showed. Such sweet drawings and a wonderful picture of the author.

I fully identify with the need to weed out our collections of books. I am in the process right now. (Altho' I've taken a long break lately!) It's just so hard because I find the ones I"ve read and loved and am loathe to part with them and then the ones I've always meant to read and am also loathe to part with those! Such a dilemma. Trying to "downsize" for a bookworm is the worst!

Stay safe and well, Jeanie.

Regina said...

I have a stack of books to read too. Have fun and happy reading.

Sherry's Pickings said...

ooh yes i love beatrix potter! I am starting to go a bit stir-crazy with cabin fever here but i guess we will eventually come out the other side only half mad:) Tsundoku has been one of my fave words for a long time. and my TBR pile just keeps on growing but now we have plenty of time to read... except i don't. i'm still procrastinating. have fun and keep reading cheers sherry

Sherry's Pickings said...

i love ruth reichl's books, and her recipes are always fab too!

Blondie's Journal said...

My jaw dropped when I read the word for us (you and I particularly), who have and buy more books than we can keep up with. Wow, I thought it was just me, and a very foolish me! And it's posts like this that make me start searching Amazon. I have Reichel's (sp?) first book and I'm still not finished! This one looks good, too. The Beatrix Potter looks fantastic. I have a little set from an antique store and my three year granddaughter absolutely loves when I read them to her. My daughter did Lucy's nursery in a Beatrix theme (I'm sure I got her started on it but she's the interior designer and it's gorgeous!). So...That's definitely on my list. One day I'll do a book post. And I'll be truthful and say, I'm not finished with all of them!😏

Thanks for your sweet comment, Jeanie. We need to post more often these days and keep close. Be well and safe.

Jane x

Blondie's Journal said...

A little note: I'm looking for the Potter book on Amazon and there are several of her journals. Can you tell me the copyright of yours?

Jane

Sami said...

The detective stories would be my kind of book and the Beatrix Potter journal seem quite delightful.
Enjoy your reading Jeanie and I look forward to your reviews.

Rowan Tree Cottage said...

Hi Jeanie, what a nice collection of books! I think the British Royal Family were very keen to keep Edward VIII in obscurity, once he abdicated. There was an overall impression that he had deserted the British people and duty, a bit like how Prince Harry is currently being seen. So they wouldn't have been forthcoming about the later details of his life and probably didn't really want the 1937 book published.

I chuckled at Bryant and May. It's a type of match for lighting fires. Sounds very interesting.

Oh my what a delight for the eyes with the Beatrix Potter. She was such a talented water colourist. It was thanks to her that we have a National Trust and so much of the Lake District is preserved in its natural state. I loved her since a child where I had a Peter Rabbit plate and egg cup for boiled eggs and soldiers at my Nana's house.

Evi Erlinda said...

I like your book reviews. I will not read the disappointed ones :)
Magpie Murders is intriguing me, and I always love the Tale of Peter Rabbit. I can imagine how enthusiasm the Twosome about this book.

Olka said...

I love old books. They smell so nice. The paper is specific and I just feel nice to be able to hold it in my hands.
I love thrillers the most.
Maybe I'll be able to catch up with books too... For now I'm making small progress with DIY :D

Anca said...

That is a fascinating mix of books. The book about Edward VIII would have been something I would read, but not after your review though. It's disappointing when the title promises something and it doesn't deliver.

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Hi Jeanie, I am late commenting. We have enjoyed a couple of nice days and I have been in the garden.
All your books sound quite interesting. At the top of my reading list is always historical fiction, gardening books, especially old gardening books and books about nature in general. Although my stack is not near as large as yours, it is too large. Also, I have wonderful magazines I need to get through.
My books have been a great comfort throughout these difficult days, as I am certain yours have been as well. Continue to take care, my friend. Be well.

Sandra Cox said...

Magpie Murders sounds fun.
Stay safe. Stay healthy.

BeachGypsy said...

Love seeing all these amazing books! I buy so many books too, just can't stop, ha ha LOL! I especially love your Beatrix one---great find there! I LOVE BOOKS like that, they are so fun, and full of interesting things. There are some fairy ones like that, i got one for each granddaughter. Take care, stay healthy, keep posting my friend!

DUTA said...

I read mainly non-fiction books. I used to read mysteries but life is the greatest mystery of all, so I gradually gave them up.

Victoria Zigler said...

Since I read in pretty much all genres - though some more than others, of course - my to-read list on Goodreads is incredibly long, and if I had physical copies of all the books waiting to be read on my Kindle, I could build a fort out of them. So I totally understand. ;)

Anyway, I'm glad you mostly enjoyed the books you've been reading. I can see a lot of us managing to read much more than our goals this year, that's for sure.

Pam Richardson said...

I am so sorry I am late to the book party, I have been weeding in the garden. Jeanie, the Beatrix Potter Journal steals my heart. Ella Mae loves Peter Rabbit, I bought her some paper Peter Rabbit napkins that she uses when she eats lunch! I always love reading your reviews on the books you have read.

thepaintedapron.com said...

Books are such treasures! Wow, you do have a lot to choose from! The Beatrix Potter journal is incredible!! I stopped buying books when I got my first kindle about 10 years ago...I do miss books, but the kindle makes it so easy to always have your books with you...I have been reading constantly these past weeks, such a wonderful escape!
Jenna

Miss Val's Creations said...

It is enjoyable to mix up genres when reading. I like to read a little bit of everything too. The Potter journal looks adorable. I imagine you have seen the movie Miss Potter, but if you haven't, it is adorable!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I don’t have as many books around as I used to as I donated a bunch. I’m hoping I will have enough to read between what I own and library ebooks that become available as our library is likely closed for at least another month! I find I am reading less than usual these days. I got a lot of reading done on my bus rides to and from work. I didn’t realize how much it added up to! And now I am just finding it hard to concentrate on books. I think I need more light material. I just finished a great book but it was about the AIDS epidemic during the 80s in Chicago. It was fiction but so heavy given the topic! I tried to read a memoir about a person who immigrated from Mexico and had to abandon it as it was just too sad to read right now. Hopefully I find my groove soon!

Barb said...

I have so many samples on my Kindle, I know I'll never get to them, but it makes me feel "safe" to know I won't run out of something to read. I used to do this with "real" books, too, and it became problematic when I started running out of places to put them! I read a few of Reichl's books (a long time ago) including the one you listed. I always enjoyed her style.

Jenny Woolf said...

That's an interesting selection of books - I'm getting into detective novels too, so long as they're not too gory. (I kind of like to just hear that someone was murdered rather than the details). As for Beatrix Potter, a couple of months ago we went to an exhibition about mushrooms and discovered some wonderful drawings of fungus she had done while young. A remarkable young woman, who certainly wasn't given much encouragement by her family. Perhaps it encouraged independence!!

Sarah Head said...

I seem to remember reading Beatrix Potter's Journal as a child. The book you have is probably a precis as her original journal was written in code to stop her mother reading it. I remember descriptions of their holidays spent in the Lake District and my fury that she was not allowed to present her drawings of mushrooms to the Royal Society herself because she was a woman, they had to be taken in by her uncle. Sorry I can't describe the book more fully. It is a large book with small print and resides with my 91 year old father (Who lives in the Cotswolds!). We're all in lockdown, so I can't visit to check up on anything

Lowcarb team member said...

Now this is what I call a great book selection :)

All the best Jan

Lisbeth @ The Content Reader said...

Definitely, time to read. It looks like interesting books. I might go for the Horowitz book which sounds like a good mystery, including the missing chapters of a book, no less. The Potter book looks like a real treat, so beautiful.
I have made a private challenge to read seven books from my own shelves during this crisis. I am already regretting, should maybe go for five. I seem to have only very thick books left!

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