I love to read and used to have a ‘nice’ long commute that allowed me to do a fair amount of reading. These days my reading has mostly been relegated to bedtime. Below is a list of in-progress reads and recently read-reads that haven’t migrated back to the book shelf.
(from top to bottom)
1. The Poe Shadow, by Mathew Pearl
I had been wanting to get a biography of Edgar Allan Poe so when I saw this at a book sale, I picked it up in the hopes it was that–it turned out to be fiction (I also picked up a book about self-reliant living and was trying very hard to figure out a way to have chickens in my backyard). I am about 48 pages in and the story is generally entertaining and centers around a young lawyer that befriended Poe through a series of letters and follows his investigation of the circumstances surrounding Poe’s death. One of the most interesting aspects of the book to me are his descriptions of Baltimore in the late 1840s.
2. The Complete Sherlock Holmes Treasury, by A. Conan Doyle
With the recent re-tellings of Sherlock Holmes stories (Guy Ritchie’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ movies and the BBC1 modernized ‘Sherlock’) I felt as though I wanted to read the original stories and see how Sherlock and Watson were originally written by Doyle. Lucky for me, my dad has every Sherlock Holmes book, and recommend this as a good starting point. It includes the original stories printed in The Strand Magazine pre- and post-Holmes’ trip over the falls, and as expected they are classic. They also gave me new opinions of the TV and movie incarnations of Sherlock. My favorite is Jeremy Brett in the Granada TV version (he had two Watson’s and both were great) with Benedict Cumberbatch (and Martin Freeman as Watson) in the BBC1 version a close second. Sorry Robert Downey, Jr.–Sherlock you are not.
3. Long Walk to Freedom, The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
A co-worker gave this to my husband for Christmas last year. I was between books and couldn’t sleep one night, so I picked it up. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t want to get into heavy political topics for bedtime reading, but pleasantly surprised by how well the book is written. Mandela’s early life is fascinating and he weaves in the history of South Africa and the culture of the tribes so well that it doesn’t feel as difficult as a 625 page political biography could.
4. The Half-Mammals of Dixie, by George Singleton
While vacationing in Maine last summer, we took a day trip to Monhegan Island (which to anyone visiting the area, I highly recommend.) While walking on one of the trails past some houses, someone had laid out items for sale and for free. This book was in the free pile, and as a little added surprise, when I flipped it open I saw that Mr. Singleton had autographed the book by crossing out the printed ‘George Singleton’ on the title page and replacing it with his signature. Our trip was in early spring and it rained a lot, so I was glad to have this collection of funny short stories that were similar in tone and humor to those of David Sedaris. The stories all revolve around the town of Forty-Five, SC and main characters in one story show up as background and side-stories in others, creating a cohesive sense of a quirky town and its residents.
5. Letterpress Printing–A Manual for Modern Fine Press Printers, by Paul Maravelas
I picked this book up when I was having what I believed to be roller issues. There is a lot of great basic reference material in here from setting type to setting up your press. There are also great practical things like a list of press weights, press types, and tips on how to save time (rather then counting out 100 sheets of paper for a job count out 25 and make four piles that are the same height and you will have about 100–I tried it but being a bit OCD I ended up counting all my piles anyway.)