What’s on My Nightstand


I must clarify that my nightstand is a bag of books, because I’m at my second son’s house helping out after the birth of Riley, his third son. And since babies trump books any day of any year, here is the handsome boy, our sixth grandson.

And here is a picture of my “nightstand.”


Yep. I think I brought 17 books with me. Some I’ve read, but need to copy parts into my commonplace book. Because a photo like the one above would drive me wild (I can’t see the titles, I’d be saying to my computer) here are a few on a tottering stack.

Let’s just work down this pile, shall we?

:: Frank Delaney’s Ireland ::   I had a hard time settling into this story in the print version. When I downloaded the audio book, I couldn’t leave the book.  Sometimes I read along, but mostly I used the book for a quick way to note sentences to copy later. If you love word origins, Delaney is your author. Beginning before Saint Patrick and going through the Easter Rising, the oral tradition of Ireland, intertwined with the narrative, make this a great read. I firmly believe that any Frank Delaney title must be heard. Delaney reads his own books, and with his background in broadcasting, his renditions far surpass any other “read by author” audio book.

 Then she polished [the battered boots] to a shine, and they stood inside the back door, ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven.  p. 58

:: Shakespeare’s Comedy Of Errors ::  Making good on my promise to fill in the gaps in my Shakespeare. I haven’t started yet, but I’m going to take a tip from my sister-in-law: read his plays in one sitting.

:: Patrick Taylor’s An Irish Country Girl ::  I recently engaged the services of a new financial adviser; within two minutes of our appointment we were talking books, and he gave this book to me. Nice, huh?

:: Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables ::  This was December’s big read, but the book is not finished with me yet. I would like to go back and read some of the underlined parts again. And perhaps do a few more blog entries like this one.

:: Ronald Doah’s Fantastic Mr. Fox ::  I test drove this with my other set of boys. They loved it. I thought I’d try with these guys.

:: Larry McMurtry’s Roads : Driving America’s Great Highways ::    A travel book on driving the interstates was just enough quirky to capture my attention. This best reason to read this book is all the references to other travel books. The author states that he owns and has read three thousand travel books. And I will ever be grateful for McMurtry’s phrase, a skim-milk light.

:: Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way ::  Capitalizing on the momentum from Les Mis, I thought I’d tackle another huge French novel, the first volume of Remembrance of Things Past. This version is translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff, about whom–and about the translation work– I read in Russell Kirk’s memoir, The Sword Of Imagination. I’m finding it tough sledding, but I’m plowing through hopeful for some happy rewards.

:: Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog ::  Another title from my new stockbroker. Any thoughts from you who have read it?

:: Lawrence Anthony’s The Elephant Whisperer ::  My friend Rachel sent this to me when she figured out I was hip deep in books on Africa. It looks delightful, and if I learn enough about elephants I can reckon it as a science read!

:: Linda Burklin’s This Rich & Wondrous Earth ::  A memoir of Sakeji School, a British boarding school in Zambia. Burklin captures the tension of trying to fit into a new environment and stay out of trouble. I’m only a few pages into this, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far.

:: Anthony Trollope’s Lady Anna ::  I listened to this Librivox recording on the six hour car trip up here. And I’ve fallen asleep listening to it every night. The plot and themes remind me of the very first Trollope I read, An Old Man’s Love , wherein after a (fatherless) young woman gives consent to a suitor, a more attractive man comes courting. Does keeping your word apply to an engaged couple? 


 So what about you? Whatchareading?


6 thoughts on “What’s on My Nightstand

  1. I both loved and hated The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  I loved most of it, but…well, I can’t give anything away, so just read at arm’s length, let’s say.I’m in the middle of Les Mis right now, too. (Okay, I’m still in Fantine.)Swann’s Way?  I’ll be interested in what you think of that. (I have not read Proust.)My oldest is getting married this year…I hope there will be babies in my future (that I don’t have to give birth to!).

  2. I read Elegance of the Hedgehog. Did not enjoy it. I think it lost something in the translation from French to English. I appreciated the unusual relationships that were made, but I found it lacking in transitions, kind of “jerky,” although that’s not the best word for it. You might like it.I just finished For Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. I cried and cried at the ending. And I wrote the author to tell her how touched I was by her book, and she responded!!! That blew me away. It’s about a German woman who goes to great lengths to protect/preserve her daughter, during WW2. Intertwined is the story of her grown daughter in the USA, who can’t understand her stoic mother at all. The author worked for Steven Spielberg, interviewing German women, both Jews and Gentiles, who had lived through WW2. Highly recommend!Am now reading Infidel, about a Somalian woman who escaped her Muslim upbringing to campaign for women’s rights. She lives in the USA now. Quite insightful to a part of the world we don’t know well.I’m also just starting a book for a new book club I just joined, called Cutting for Stone. It’s a fiction novel about twin boys, born of a Catholic nun and a British doctor; the father abandons them, but they both grow up to be doctors. The mother is a nun in Africa. The jury’s still out on this one–I haven’t read enough to have an opinion yet.Hannah Coulter–I am almost afraid to say this to you, my friend, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked. I appreciated the language and the author’s insights. I think it was because I was so enthralled with For Those Who Save Us (read both at the same time.Sorry, this was probably more than you wanted to hear! I’ve been reading a lot, though.

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