Past Squares 7: A Look Back at This Kickass Reading Year (2021)

This is also today’s post for Life of B’s Past Squares!

Favorite Reads, So Far 2021

The Relentless Moon, by Mary Robinette Kowal (science fiction)

High as the Waters Rise, by Anja Kampmann (first novel)

Ice Walker: A Polar Bear’s Journey Through the Fragile Arctic, by James Raffan (environment)

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert (environment)

Inferno: The Fiery Destruction of Hamburg, 1943, by Keith Lowe (WWII history)

The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman (mystery)

Summer Reading: July

During the month of July, self read seven books.

The seventh is The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig, which she began yesterday (Enjoying it hugely. Has Bridget Jones Diary feelz, at least the opening pages do, but darker)

She read two self-help psychology books, two histories (Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II, by Keith Lowe, and The Reason Why, by Cecil Woodham-Smith, about the mistakes that led to the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava), a murder mystery (The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman, which she hugely enjoyed), and her second Elizabeth Kolbert: Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future.

Onward!

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Early Warning System

So every day Elizabeth opens her diary to a date two weeks ahead and writes herself a question. And every day she answers a question she set herself two weeks ago.

The Thursday Murder Club, p. 87

Dearest Mum had her own strategy: she had a huge calendar, and different colored marking pens. Gradually, self noticed that she began spending more and more time poring over it. Could have been as far back as 15 years ago. That must have been when she was just in her late 60s.

Dearest Mum came to visit self in California and started talking about this wonderful restaurant in Half Moon Bay called Gibraltar, a place she said she had just discovered. Self was quiet. Dearest Mum looked over. “What? I’ve told you this story before,” she said, looking for the first time in her life very unnerved.

“No. I was the one who took you to that restaurant. A friend in Half Moon Bay told me about it.”

So, the dementia started a long time ago. Could even have been as far back as 20 years ago. But Dearest Mum had this habit of being very gay and charming. If anyone noticed, they didn’t say a word.

Self is hugely enjoying The Thursday Murder Club.

Most of the mysteries she has read this year have been ace:

  • Find You First, by Linwood Barclay
  • One Fatal Flaw, by Anne Perry
  • All the Devils are Here, by Louise Penny
  • Eddie’s Boy, by Thomas Perry

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them

Yes, self did blaze through Rules of Estrangement in just two days.

She can’t wait to get to the more “fun” books on her reading list, like Keith Lowe’s Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II.

How did her summer reading get so dark? Blame The Economist, which recommended Rules of Estrangement and Fault Lines.

Thursday Trios, Week of 17 June 2021

Thanks to Mama Cormier for hosting the Thursday Trios Challenge.

This week, self’s post is on: Summer Reads & Fresh Cherries

When the Diagnosis is Bad

But in the last week, he’d renewed his friendship with Absolut Vodka. And he’d found that it went very well with Cheetos. Fucking Cheetos. He’d been through the McDonald’s drive-through twice, gorging on Big Macs and fries. He couldn’t believe how good this shit tasted. Took home Domino’s one night. Ate the whole goddamn pizza himself. Woke up at midnight with the worst heartburn of his entire life. Briefly wondered — and at some level hoped — it was a heart attack and things would be over now.

— p. 30, Find You First, by Linwood Barclay

Summer 2021 Read # 2: FIND YOU FIRST

Scorching hot day. Downtown, everyone’s in t-shirts. Yes, it is summer. Kids ran madly around the lobby of the Century 20. Self has been sleeping an average of four hours a night, thinking much of Dear Departed Mum. But today, she is determined to keep ambulatory. Hence, the movie (Raya and the Last Dragon), the books. After the movie, a stop at Go Poke. Movies are back, restaurants are back, even traffic is back.

Oak Flat: The Fight for Sacred Land in the American West was a great book. Her next, Find You First, is, according to Stephen King, “the best book” of Linwood Barclay’s career.

For self, all thrillers must be measured against the beginning of Eddie’s Boy, by Thomas Perry. Page one of Eddie’s Boy, there were already three bodies in the trunk of the main character’s Bentley and he hadn’t even broken into a sweat.

This one begins rather slow, with a loser grifter and his pathetic burner phone. Next is a young documentarian in an old folks’ home; sadly, the chapter does not slay. Then we have the millionaire/billionaire with the boring name of Miles Cookson, receiving a diagnosis of Huntington’s which is dementia mixed with Parkinson’s mixed with something else, and next he’s driving 90 in his speedster Porsche and being pulled over. A Porsche, btw, is a really really boring car. Leather bucket seats? So what else is new. She sees a lot of them around here, but it would be better to have a Tesla. Or some sort of hybrid luxury ride, like a Lexus SUV.

That’s all self has read so far. (Maybe the cop will try to kill the millionaire/billionaire? Let’s hope!)

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Three So Far 2021

Finished reading Oak Flat: The Fight for Sacred Land in the American West, by Lauren Redniss, early this morning. Wow. Blown away by the polyphonic voices. And by the simple yet so-moving illustrations (by the author herself).

It joins two other books as self’s five-star reads of the 2021 reading year:

  • Ice Walker: A Polar Bear’s Journey Through the Frozen Arctic, by James Raffan (nonfiction)
  • The Relentless Moon, by Mary Robinette Kowal (science fiction)

Mary Robinette Kowal is one of the authors participating in this year’s SiliCon, which will be happening this August at the San Jose Convention Center. Self rushed out and got her tickets. She can’t waaaaait for August.

Have a great summer, dear blog readers.

The Reading Year (So Far, 2021)

From wsj’s Best Books of 2020/Science Fiction:

  • The Relentless Moon, by Mary Robinette Kowal – So far, one of the best novels she’s read in 2021
  • Ballistic Kiss, by Richard Kadrey – wildly inventive, self wasn’t so taken with the he/she/they gender politics of a major character

In a category by itself:

  • Dark, Salt, Clear, by Lamorna Ash — A first book by a 22-year-old, E.S.A.D.

Kick-Ass Discovery of the Year:

  • Eddie’s Boy, by Thomas Perry, the sequel to a 1982 novel, The Butcher’s Boy – That’s chutzpah, coming up with a sequel 40 years later. Kudos! Self added The Butcher’s Boy to her reading list.

from wsj’s Best Books of 2020/Mysteries:

  • All the Devils Are Here, by Louise Penny — Self adored Jean-Guy Beauvoir and of course Paris.
  • One Fatal Flaw, by Anne Perry — All hail the May-December almost-romance between 25-year-old Daniel Pitt and 40-year-old Miriam Crofft, daughter of his employer.

from The Economist’s Books of the Year 2020/Memoir

  • A Promised Land, by Barack Obama — Beautifully written, can’t believe 45 was succeeded by Drumpf.

from The Economist’s Books of the Year 2020/Fiction

  • SHUGGIE BAIN, by Douglas Stuart — an absolutely immersive experience, though her favorite character was not the title character but his unheralded older brother, Leek

from The Economist’s Books of the Year 2020/Business and Economics

  • No Rules Rules — This one was a disappointment.

from wsj’s Books of the Year 2020/Travels in the New North

  • Ice Walker, by James Raffan — another absolutely immersive experience, the ending almost broke self.

from Jonathan Strahan’s Notes from a Year Spent Indoors (Locus Magazine)

  • the first two books in Joe Abercrombie’s (smashing) Age of Madness trilogy and her first Grimdark: A Little Hatred and The Trouble with Peace

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