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"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A winter reading list for you...

I've been taking a cue from a few fellow bloggers regarding reading lists.
Fall is approaching and the long nights will soon be upon us and with that, for me anyway,
means there is a growing stack of books by my bedside.
I'm squirreling nuts away.
There's nothing more fearsome to me than being on the last chapter of a 
good book and not having anything else to read.
For now though, I'll share with you some titles and brief descriptions
on a few of the better ones I've had the pleasure of reading in the last little while.
First off is a fact based novel by Hannah Kent...
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It tells the incredibly moving story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir who, as a young woman,
is convicted and sentenced to death by beheading. 
The last public execution held in Iceland in 1829.
The descriptions of the vast and desolate landscape is a juxtaposition against the 
backdrop of a claustrophobic rural family farmhouse 
where Agnes is being held until her execution.
The farmer, his wife and two daughters avoid contact as much as possible with
Agnes and she is befriended only by the young assistant priest appointed to be
her spiritual guidance.
I read this book during the early part of this year when it was dark and bleak.
I had to be warm under the comforter  for this one most nights.

One of my all time favourite books is my next recommendations ...
In this beautifully written book, Robert MacFarlane ventures out on a quest to
find the most undomesticated, remote places in England, Scotland and Ireland.
I think I dogeared about half the pages in this book for quotes by MacFarlane.

'Landscape was here long before we were even dreamed. It watched us arrive.'

He is such an evocative writer taking us along on his many journeys while versing
us in the history and sense of the disappearing 'wild' places of our world.
 I was taken back to some of the more remote places I visited in Ireland and I also felt
he echoed many feelings I have here at home on my walks.
I especially loved and related to this paragraph...

“Wild animals, like wild places, are invaluable to us precisely because they are not us. They are uncompromisingly different. The paths they follow, the impulses that guide them, are of other orders. The seal's holding gaze, before it flukes to push another tunnel through the sea, the hare's run, the hawk's high gyres : such things are wild. Seeing them, you are made briefly aware of a world at work around and beside our own, a world operating in patterns and purposes that you do not share. These are creatures, you realise that live by voices inaudible to you.”

It's both encouraging and enlightening to know that we can still walk out our back doors and search 
for such places, hopefully find them and meditate on them to bring 
a sense of quiet and wonder to our lives.

Next up is a book I have recommended to quite a few people...
I'll let this review speak for me...
'Elizabeth Gilbert’s first novel in twelve years is an extraordinary story of botany, exploration and desire, spanning across much of the 19th century. The novel follows the fortunes of the brilliant Alma Whittaker (daughter of a bold and charismatic botanical explorer) as she comes into her own within the world of plants and science. As Alma’s careful studies of moss take her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she loves draws her in the opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose is a Utopian artist. But what unites this couple is a shared passion for knowing—a desperate need to understand the workings of this world, and the mechanism behind of all life.
The Signature of All Things is a big novel, about a big century. Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, this story novel soars across the globe—from London, to Peru, to Philadelphia, to Tahiti, to Amsterdam and beyond. It is written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time. Alma Whittaker is a witness to history, as well as maker of history herself. She stands on the cusp of the modern, with one foot still in the Enlightened Age, and she is certain to be loved by readers across the world.'
I tell you, you'll never look at a patch of moss the same again. Elizabeth Gilbert has researched her subjects in great detail and her writing is simply beautiful. There were so many poignant moments in this book for me. Near the end of the book she has many discussions on the subject of death and dying and I read this on the day Griff (my best dog ever) died. It really hit home with me and gave me a lot of comfort.
The next book...
Cover Image
Such an insightful read into the tragedy of the 1982  sinking of the Ocean Ranger oil rig off the coast of Newfoundland during a terrible night storm where all 84 men were lost. The main character Helen is one of the widows left behind and this book deals with her struggles with the present and her memories of the past while giving us a human look at what happens within a small community after such an incident. Winner of 2013 Canada Reads.
O.K now for something completely different...
A Nun in the Closet
I was at a jumble sale and walked by this book, laughed at the title then went back 5 minutes later and picked it up for a quarter. I just had to buy it for the cover and part of the description on the back which states...."the nuns were up to their wimples in trouble." How could I resist?! Its a light, well written mystery that takes place amidst the back drop of a large abandoned estate donated to an order of nuns in upstate New York during the early '70's. Hippies have been squatting there, the mob is involved and yes, these nuns are up to their wimples in trouble! An easy read, an in between serious books read.
Anyway a few to mull over.
I'll come back with some of the titles by the bedside in a while...happy reading.


1 comment:

Jacquie said...

I thought I was the only one who gets nervous when I'm getting close to the end and I don't have a pile to follow. I recently signed on to BookBub so my Kindle has a few lovelies to look forward to. Thank you for your recommendations. It seems the childhood habit of reading under the covers with hot chocolate and the sounds of storms is not one you outgrow. Yay!