Note: The book I began reading on the very first day of “Sheltering in Place”, The Time of Our Singing by Powers has its own post (click on the title to view it). It took me time to read all 642 pages of it! Since then my pace of reading has picked up (even though I am physically back at school!) because I’ve begun listening to audiobooks when I do the housework in addition to reading books (printed or on Kindle) when I’m resting. All audiobooks thanks to the LIBBY Program at the library.
Since I’m already in the middle of TWO more books, I gave up on the idea of having a separate post for each book.
So here goes!
The Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron
Thubron is a great travel writer! Not only does he know how to draw a reader in with his vivid descriptions, he includes DIALOGUES. Thubron, who was in his early sixties during his rough backpacking journey, speaks Russian and has a basic command of Mandarin. He presents us with conversations with people living (or barely making a living, sadly) in every single spot he visits, thus combining history with the present day. Well, more or less the present day. The travels took place at the beginning of the 21st century, and things have changed since then in some respects. Double time travel – 20 years ago and centuries ago!
I enjoyed it!
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
This is a fun book, particularly if you listen to it as an audiobook, read by Neil Gaiman himself. He’s a wonderful reader who brings to life the wide range of characters he created for adult readers, both in the traditional English countryside and beyond THE WALL in FAIRY. FAIRY is a land in which witches, unicorns, ships that sail the skies, dangerous trees, wicked spells and so much more all exist alongside the human world we know.
A fun book, a change of pace from usual reading material, but part of the time what I enjoyed more than the plot was listening to Gaiman’s delightful use of language.
Life Plays with Me by David Grossman
I read this book in Hebrew but I’m positive that it will soon be translated into English. Grossman has won much international acclaim and his books have been translated into many languages.
To be more precise, I listened to it as an audiobook. The reader was WONDERFUL! The combination of the writing that had me completely riveted along with the amazing reader left me feeling as if I were perched on Gili’s shoulder, with the ability to hear her thoughts. Gili is the character who tells the story of her family, as she knows it, as she felt it and as she learns more about it. The events that took place in the post-WWII years in the Serbia /Croatian region had a profound effect on the characters and their descendants.
I found the book and the main character, the 90-year-old Vera, very moving.
I really recommend this book!!!
An Egyptian Novel by Orly Castel Blum
I was somewhat disappointed by this book though am not sorry that I read it.
The topic is an interesting one but the book feels uneven, with parts that held my interest along with parts that felt unnecessarily long and not particularly connected.
The parts I enjoyed reading were about the different hopes and dreams of Jews immigrating from Egypt to Israel and what happened to those dreams afterward. Most of what I had known of the Jewish community in Egypt came from Egyptian writers.
However, the parts relating to the character (who is only referred to as “the eldest daughter”, to emphasize her identity crises) and her inability to “find her way” felt interminable. It was unclear why she suddenly became the main character of so many chapters of the book – in previous chapters the point of view shifted between various characters and was more engaging.
The Dutch House by Anne Patchett
As may recall, Patchett is one of my favorite authors. This is a good book, all her books are good, but on my personal ranking of books written by Patchett, this one is close to the bottom.
As always I enjoyed the way her she gives you personal drama while staying away from “soap opera” tear-jerkers or predictable endings and there were certainly some twists that I did not see coming. But at the center of the story is a house, While I agree that it is a very unusual looking house with unusual things inside and it certainly has an important role in the story, I grew tired of hearing about it. Perhaps I don’t watch enough period dramas…
By the way, I used the word “hearing” and not “reading” because I listened to this as an audiobook, read by Tom Hanks. Hanks is a fine reader but this isn’t one of those books that listening to it adds an extra element of enjoyment (such as listening to Trevor Noah narrate his own book “Born a Crime”!)