Category Archives: Reading

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

I was excited to see that Robin Sloan was writing a new novel. I enjoyed Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore and Ajax Penumbra 1969. I put Soudough on hold at the library and when it arrived I opened it right away and was consumed by it immediately. I read it morning and night and the middle of the night and during breaks from work.

Let me just say now, before I forget, Robin Sloan is one of the best writers I have read. His stories (he’s only written two novels, a novella and a prequel to one novel) are charming, but not cloying. He writes humorously at times — but not overtly so. I guess you’d say he has a “dry” sense of humor, which — to me — is the best kind.

Sourdough is about Lois, a young programmer who moves to San Francisco to work for an automation company as a coder of software for robotic arms. One evening she orders take out and her life changes dramatically.

I think my life might be changing dramatically because of this book. While I am not a coder, I do work long hours in front of my computer. On Thursday I made pizza dough for our out-of-town guests. I alternated between working at my computer and making the dough, letting it rest (time for work), kneading the dough, letting it rest (more work). It was such a productive day on both counts that I want to do that again — except with bread instead of pizza dough.

I have some questions for Mr. Sloan though:

In Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore Google is named. However, even though Google is probably used in Sourdough, Sloan calls it “the expedient search engine.” He also calls other obvious Internet entities “the expedient [insert their purpose]” and I wonder why.

Okay maybe that is the only question I have for Mr. Sloan.


Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

I, along with multitudes, found The Girl on a Train an enjoyable read. We read it for book group and it was a pleasant change from some of the difficult books some members prefer.

I’d seen Into the Water by the same author mentioned on Good Reads and Amazon so I put it on hold at the library. I finished it yesterday morning, after a fortnight of slogging through a town-full of characters telling first-person stories about suicides, inappropriate love affairs, witches, abuse and misunderstandings.

I rated it 3-stars on Good Reads because I liked some parts of the book, but I think Ms. Hawkins could have told this story better without so many unreliable narrators getting in the way.

After You by Jojo Moyes

This is the second in a three-part series that starts with Me Before You. After You was readable, not as good as Me Before You though.

The first book was more believable. The second had some less believable bits and the timeline seemed weird.

For instance Lily’s mother is so angry and unsupported of her 16 year-old daughter that it seems like Lily has been difficult for years when it has only been a few months.

I have Still Me, the last book in the series, on hold at the library and will most likely read it but this might be a case where the series went on too long.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Okay, I read another Liane Moriarty book. It was available for download at the library and I didn’t want to wait for it to be ready again.

This one I liked a lot — So much so that I stayed up until 3 am to nearly finish it the night before last.

One more Liane Moriarty book to go before I have read all of her books.

So what if I’m not reading high literature. So what if it is “escape”. I am reading again. I am me again.

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I was looking for something to watch and I found the film Me Before You. I started watching it and then searched for it to figure out where it was filmed. When I saw that it was also a book I downloaded it from the library and began reading it instead of watching it.

I really enjoyed it — both the book and the movie — and now I want to read the rest in the series.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Confession: I think I am tiring of Moriarty.  I liked this book less than I liked her others.

The Husband’s Secret tells the story of Cecilia who discovers a terrible thing about her husband, Rachel who’s still in mourning for her daughter who was murdered at age 15, decades before the book takes place, and Tessa whose husband and cousin claim they have fallen in love.

This book was not quite as plot-driven as her other books. In this book the mystery is told earlier in the book, rather than later. Instead of leading up to the revelation of the secret, the story is more about the effects of the secret on those involved, whether or not they know the secret.

I think I am going to give Moriarty a rest for a while.

Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill

After telling Andrea, the owner of the bookshop where Clare works, that I really should not buy more books until I read what I already had in the house, she suggested I read Howard’s End is on the Landing which is a book about a woman who spent a year reading only what was in her house. Since there was a copy in the shop, I bought it.

It begins with Susan Hill, the author, looking for a book that she believes is on the landing in her seemingly huge home. She doesn’t find the book right away but realizes she should read or reread nothing but books that live in her house for the next year. A subplot (if you can call it that) is that she wants also compile a list of forty books that she’d take if she could only have forty, to a desert island.

When I began reading the book I didn’t really like it. I felt that the author was a book snob. I also had never heard of her, although she mentioned in the book that she was an author. I remember thinking that she must not be that good since I didn’t know who she was. The further I got into the book the more I disliked the author, although I did end up buying Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals based on Hill’s recommendation.

I stopped reading the book after a while and occasionally picked it up and read a bit here and there, but always put it down again. I didn’t like that I’d not read most of the books she mentioned and had no desire to do so. I didn’t like that authors I thought she should mention were ignored. Granted she is English and I am not, so she mostly talked about books by British authors.

In January I decided to “read from home” this year, not unlike what Susan Hill did in her book. I figured that I should probably finish that book this year too, and maybe send it back to Browsers since it was still in good condition. I’d not planned on keeping it because I didn’t plan on referring to it.

Then I read her chapter that mentioned ghost stories. This was different from the highbrow literary books she’d been going on and on about for the past 103 pages. I looked her up on the Internet and saw that she wrote a book called The Woman in Black so I downloaded it from the library and read it (and liked it!).

After reading The Woman in Black, I felt a little less intimidated by Hill. She wrote a ghost story, for goodness sake. How snobby could she be? (plus she responded to a tweet I sent her)

It didn’t take that long to finish the book after January compared to how long it took to get to page 104. Although I still disagree with Susan Hill on a lot of things  for instance writing in books (she thinks it is perfectly fine and I think it is never okay) or ebooks (she hates them, I quite like them), I ended up really liking the book. Just as I was finishing the book this morning I felt that when Andrea handed me the book fifteen months ago, she handed me an icicle that slowly melted, then warmed in my hands. The last fifty pages or so was like a luxurious bath and I felt that I understood Susan Hill so much more than I did at the beginning.

I am keeping the book and plan on referring to it for reading material often.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Yes, another Liane Moriarty book because I am an adult and can read what I want [1].

This one was borrowed from the library and read in about 6 days. This one is also plot-driven: Something happens at a barbeque but you don’t find out what until halfway through the book. One thing I forgot to mention in the last write up of a Moriarty book is that her characters are usually very complex. That is definitely true of this book. In fact it is hard to really like any of them, but hard to really dislike them too. The only character I consistently liked was Vid.

After I finished the book this morning, I stood up, adjusted my clothes, stretched and smiled a huge smile. Partly because of the book, but also because I am reading again!

I wonder how many people get the title of the book. I cannot find it anywhere online, but I think, no — I am sure, the title is a play on the film Truly Madly Deeply in which Alan Rickman is a [dead] cellist.

  1. that doesn’t sound defensive at all, does it? []