I had such a run of lackluster books there for a few weeks! I am so glad the last four weeks have been better. Perhaps I just have an expansiveness of spirit due to the fact that I am getting more sleep (thank you JANE).
Week 20/52: A Degree of Mastery: A Journey Through Book Arts Apprenticeship by Annie Tremmel Wilcox.
I think most of you will think this hopelessly boring but I found Wilcox's long descriptions of working to restore damaged old books so relaxing and soothing. I would be a terrible archivist or bookbinder. I can't cut a straight line or sew on a button but I loved reading about the arcane details of the restoration process. I think it comes from the same place of my love of doing laundry. Through a task-oriented process, dirty clothes become clean clothes and old, damaged books become usable and lovely again.
Week 21/52: Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin made me nostalgic for life as an English major. This novel cries out to be read in a classroom setting. So many layers. The obvious historical significance. Do you really think Lincoln told Stowe, "You are the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war." I think it's apocryphal. The novel as propaganda. Can't you imagine writing a term paper on that? The sentimentality but obvious effectiveness of the story. I cried! I was in the book's complete grip although the racial stereotypes perpetuated made me cringe. Obviously, Uncle Tom's Cabin is not a great work of art but it's an important novel nonetheless. Did anyone actually read this in high school or college?
Week 22/52: An Unfinished Woman: A Memoir by Lillian Hellman
I have had this book since my freshman year of college (a gift from one of my sisters). I finally read it; mostly on our night away in Seattle for our ten-year anniversary. Hellman was a playwright working mostly in the 1940s and 1950s. She had a twenty-year relationship with Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) but the two never married. Interesting memoir, interesting woman. I love reading about women who are not easy, who never do the expected. I am so glad they are out there.
Week 23/52: The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh
I carted this book all the way to NYC and then never read it. But I loved it! Jack discovers the New York Underworld during a visit to Grand Central Station and finds himself mired in a ghostly in-between world. Good characters, good writing.