Reading My Heart Out

a collection of netsuke and at the forefront a hare with amber eyes

So I’ve been busy.  Seriously busy.  I’ve been reading my little heart out and loving every minute of it.  I thought I’d share some reviews of what I’ve read recently and since the book I just finished on Sunday is still on my mind, I’ll start with it.

I’ve mentioned before that I belong to a book club at the local Art Museum.  This month’s selection is The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal.  Let me start by saying that it always takes me a long time (probably longer than it should) to read these book club books.  It took me close to two months to read Parrot & Olivier.  So, around April 15th I went in to my local B&N and ordered this book.  Eighteen days later, still no book.  Even though I’d been told it would take 4-5 days.  Day 19, after having called the store the day before and been given the runaround, I ordered the book from Amazon.  I had it the next day.  So…the reason I’m telling you this is because at the point I got the book from Amazon I was a week out from book club.  I had one week to read this book.  This 368 page book.

So, guess what I spent the weekend doing?  I figured if I could at least get a good chunk of it read over the weekend, I’d at least have a fighting chance to finish it on time.  On Saturday, I read 240 pages.  On Sunday, I read the last 128.  Two days!  It took me two days to read this book!  Let that be a testament to how good it was.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book in two days.

The book basically traces the provenance of a collection of netsuke through three generations of a family.  I have a fondness for netsuke – how could you not – just look at that photo above.   But this book had the potential to be one of those books that is so dry that I can’t get through two pages without my mind wandering – it was non-fiction, it dealt with WWII history, and it was tracing provenance.  Potential yawnfest right there.  And I love art history.  BUT… this book was amazing!  I couldn’t wait to turn the page, I was interested and excited and the events surrounding the people and their relationships only made them that much clearer and endeared them to me.  And the netsuke – they were their own cast of characters.  The tiger, the rat with obsidian eyes, the monk asleep with his offering bowl, and of course the hare with the amber eyes – they all contributed to the story and interacted with its characters (including the narrator).

book cover of The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

One of my favorite things about the book?  That the author/narrator takes a netsuke with him when he does his research.  It’s like they each take turns traveling with him on this adventure to find out where they came from.  Love it.  I highly recommend reading this book.

The previous book I read while I was waiting for my book club book to come in.  I picked it up while I was at B&N to order the other book.  I am honestly way late to the Pioneer Woman party, but I’d heard good things about the book so I wanted to check it out.  Since I was late to this party, I hadn’t read any of this story on her blog so it was all new material to me.  I enjoyed it and it was a fun read.  At times I did find myself wondering, “do these two ever really talk to each other?”  But it later became apparent that they did.  Ree’s writing is just like her blog – funny, endearing, relaxed.  It was a good way to spend a few nights and I’m wondering if there will be a Part 2?  I just keep thinking, how did she get from there to here?  How did she become a woman who has tons of people reading her blog?  And of course, near and dear to my heart – how did she get started with photography?  So, all in all, a good book and it makes me want to spend more time on her blog.

Pioneer Woman

Finally, the last book I wanted to talk about is A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly.  This is a YA book that came highly recommended.  If you’ve been reading the blog or my tweets, you probably saw me carting this book to and from my root canal appointments.

Book cover of A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

This book was so good.  And I had to laugh because my last book review post talked about learning new words – and this book had chapter titles of the main character’s word of the day.  She’d look up a word in the dictionary every day and then try to incorporate it into a conversation.  Many of the words were totally new to me…so it was fun to learn more new words while reading this engaging story.

There were parts of this book, though, that were difficult for me.  The book begins with a woman who has drowned.  Within the first few pages I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to read this book.  Having recently lost a friend this way, it conjured up those feelings of sadness and loss so clearly.  But, I continued on with the book and I was so glad that I did.  It brought up a lot of things that I’ve wrestled with in my own life- including finding your voice and following your path.  Very well-written and I look forward to reading more of Donnelly’s books.

So there you have it – my latest reviews.  I seem to save them up, don’t I?  And as for what I’m reading now?  The second Sookie Stackhouse book – Living Dead in Dallas.  I like mixin’ it up.

1 thought on “Reading My Heart Out”

  1. I loved reading your reviews, Michelle! I can’t find the netsuke book on any of the library systems here so might request they buy it. I’ll probably buy it before they do so, though! LOL

    The PW book… I was an avid reader when she was posting the story and while I still love her cooking posts, I have pretty much stopped reading the blog. I am very happy for her success but the ‘I’m just a regular ol’ gal stuck out here on a ranch’ schtick is a bit far fetched.

    I’m glad you liked the Jennifer Donnelly book! That was the first book I’d read by her, and I probably wouldn’t have bought it if it wasn’t in the ‘regular’ adult fiction section of the book store. I didn’t realize it was YA until after it was done. It made me wonder just how many good books I’m missing out on because I generally don’t check out the YA section. Love the word a day thing! I find that there are a lot of words that I learn through reading but am not sure of how to say them, so I kind of mumble them under my breath. LOL I have a dictionary app on my iPhone that has an audio of somebody saying the word and I’ve been surprised a few times at how it is supposed to be said!! I probably shouldn’t admit that.

    I just picked up A Discovery of Witches from the library and it looks good so far. It’s bittersweet–this is one that I’d be shooting off an e-mail to Lisa about because I think she would have liked it.

    My daughter ordered the latest Sookie book with some of her bday money. I’m going to be pacing behind her as she reads it, eagerly waiting for my turn!

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