Tag Archives: rereads

The Rereading Dilemma

I don’t dare to do a count, but the current state of my TBR is, well, pretty bad. These days, not only do I have a physical TBR:

Part of my physical TBROne of my TBR stacks

I also have an ebooks TBR, an audiobook TBR and a Scribd TBR. Not to mention the library holds I pick up every week.

When your TBR piles are so big you know you don’t have much of a chance of getting through them all unless you swear off adding new books to your to-read lists for the next ten years or so (and I know lots of you know exactly what I’m talking about here), what do you when you feel the urge to reread a book?

Every now and then, this happens to me. Despite all these new, unread books beckoning to me, calling out my name, almost but not quite reaching out to wrap their bookish arms around me, I suddenly think of a much loved older read and I want nothing more than to cuddle up in my reading chair, snacks at hand, and re-read to my heart’s content.

Sometimes I give in. And sometimes I resist. But it’s always such a dilemma every time this happens.

And that urge to reread? Anything can trigger it. Here are some books I’ve found myself wanting to reread over the past three months or so, and the reasons why they came to mind:

Emily of New Moon, by L.M. Montgomery. Because I was on Twitter the other night when the #womeninfiction hashtag came up and I immediately thought of Emily.

The Forever King, by Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy. Because I was reading The Camelot Kids for a book tour, and The Forever King is one of the best urban fantasy King Arthur novels I’ve read.

Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Because I always want to re-read Pride & Prejudice, at least a few times every year. Despite this, it’s been nearly ten years since my last re-read of it.

Make Way for Lucia (The Mapp and Lucia books), by E.F. Benson. Because I received an email a while ago from author Guy Fraser-Sampson who has written some sequels to the Mapp and Lucia books (and this reminds me, I never emailed him back—this was way back when I was at inbox 1000 and non-essential emails were getting lost all over the place). What really bugs me, though, is I went hunting for my copy of Make Way for Lucia and couldn’t find it. And I suspect it accidentally got placed in the books-to-give-away pile when we made our big move to the city four years ago.

Any of the Bill Bryson travel books (I have all of them). Because I read this post from the Guardian Books blog about Bryson’s forthcoming new release, The Road to Little Dribbling, and suddenly I wanted to sit with one of his books and spend the night smiling and laughing with his words.

The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford. Because I read an article about this book recently (I can’t remember where or even what the article was about specifically) and this happens to be one of the few classics (that’s not a play) that I really enjoyed when I was in school.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple. Because Candace happened to mention on Twitter a few weeks ago how amazing the audio version is, so now I really really want to listen to it in audio.

So there you go. My ongoing rereading dilemma. Out of all these books I’ve just mentioned, I know I’m going to do a reread of Where’d You Go, Bernadette in audio (I put a hold on it at the library as soon as I heard how good the audio is), and I am *this* close to rummaging around for the first Emily book. And the others? They’re still tugging at my heart.

What about you? Do you like to re-read books? Do you ever feel that re-reading dilemma?

Rereading: I, Asimov: A Memoir, by Isaac Asimov

I, AsimovYesterday, after reading this review of The God Themselves by Isaac Asimov at Rhapsodyinbooks, I succumbed to a very insistent urge to dig out my copy of I, Asimov, Isaac Asimov’s memoir.

I didn’t actually have to dig it out. I have a bookshelf devoted to favorite authors’ autobiographies. So it was really easy to give in to the urge.

I read a lot of Asimov when I was growing up. I enjoyed his science fiction, but I’ve always been nuts for mysteries, so one of my favorite books was Murder at the ABA; I have always loved witty little footnotes in novels ever since. If you’ve never read Murder at the ABA, and you enjoy mysteries as well as humor, I highly recommend you check your library for a copy. (And now I’m feeling an insistent urge to dig out my copy of Murder at the ABA …)

Asimov influenced me greatly when I was young. He was my favorite science fiction writer. I was an avid short story reader back then, and whenever I had any money on me, I would be off to the store to grab copies of Analog and The Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy (and, of course, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine). I wrote scores of short stories during this period in my life, and at least half of them were science fiction.

It’s funny, but these days I very rarely read science fiction.

Anyway, I am now rereading I, Asimov, and enjoying once again the glimpses into this great author’s life.

From the introduction:

In 1977, I wrote my autobiography. Since I was dealing with my favorite subject, I wrote at length and I ended with 640,000 words. Since Doubleday is always overwhelmingly kind to me, they published it all – but in two volumes. The first was In Memory Yet Green (1979), the second In Joy Still Felt (1980). Together, they described the first fifty-seven years of my life in considerable detail.

It had been a quiet life and there was no great excitement in it, so even though I made up for that by what I considered a charming literary style (I never bother with false modesty, as you will quickly discover), the publication was not a world-shaking event. However, some thousands of people found pleasure in reading it, and I am periodically asked if I will continue the tale.

My answer always is: “I have to live it first”

So what I intend to do is describe my whole life as a way of presenting my thoughts and make it an independent autobiography standing on its own feet. I won’t go into the kind of detail I went into in the first two volumes. What I intend to do is to break the book into numerous sections, each dealing with some different phase of my life or some different person who affected me, and follow it as far as necessary – to the very present, if need be.

I trust and hope that, in this way, you will get to know me really well, and who knows, you may even get to like me. I would like that.

And yes, I did like him, the first time I read I, Asimov. Of course, I already knew I would.

Review: The Mysterious Mr. Quin, by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Mr. Quin, by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Mr. Quin A conjurer of skill with an instinct for detection, Mr. Harley Quin has an almost magical flair for appearing at the scene of the most remarkable crimes. But is it just a trick of light that haunts his shadow with a ghostly apparition? Is it fate that invites him to a New Year’s Eve murder? And what forces are at work when his car breaks down outside Royston Hall, an isolated estate with a deadly history?

The Mysterious Mr. Quin is a collection of 12 short stories featuring little Mr. Satterthwaite and Mr. Harley Quin, a mysterious man that Mr. Satterthwaite meets for the first time in “The Coming of Mr. Quin”, the first story in the collection.

Unlike Christie’s other mysteries, the stories involving Mr. Quin and Mr. Satterthwaite are not always pure mysteries, although in most of them, a puzzle presents itself to Mr. Satterthwaite, who, with the help of Mr. Quin’s questions and general guidance, eventually hones in on the solution. Most assuredly, though, these stories are not at all like Hercule Poirot exercising his little gray cells, or Miss Marble using her knowledge of village life to unravel the mystery.

The Mr. Quin stories are among my favorite Christie stories. Mr. Quin represents a touch of otherworldliness, a gentle dip into the world of the paranormal. At the end of the collection, while we still cannot say with any certainty who Mr. Quin really is, we do have a pretty good idea that he is not like other men, that he is not really human.

I am also very fond of dapper little Mr. Satterthwaite, that keen observer of life who, under Mr. Quin’s guidance, begins to find in himself the ability to see beneath the surface and understand the true reality of a situation. There is a kindness and gentleness to him that’s very appealing, and there is something so charming in his delight when he encounters the mysterious Quin in each story.

As with most of Christie’s works, there’s often more than a hint of romance. The stories also have a more modern feel to them; for example, in one story, involving an illegitimate child, the child’s mother is depicted as an admirable woman, rather than one who’s wandered down a wayward path. In another tale, a character is encouraged to seek out the woman of his dreams, despite the fact that, unlike him, she is a member of the upper class.

My favorite story is probably “The Man From the Sea”, involving a mystery that’s not about crime as much as it is about life and love; it’s probably better described as a love story that’s wrapped in a cloak of mystery.

In this reread of The Mysterious Mr. Quin, I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Hugh Fraser, a superb reader who brings all the characters to life.

Where to buy: Amazon U.S. | IndieBound | Chapters (Canada) | Amazon UK

Are You a Re-Reader?

I’ve been thinking about this lately – the fact that I’m a re-reader, I mean.

It used to make sense, back before I began blogging about what I read, and discovering other bloggers doing the same thing. Back then, I actually went through periods during which I ran out of books in my TBR.

Yes. It’s true. I’m not making this up. I used to go through dry spells where there were very few books in my TBR, and then there would be whole days when I had nothing to read, and not even a browse through my library’s shelf would net me anything of interest.

Nowadays, though, I can’t go online without adding yet another new title to my i-want list. My TBR has grown into several minor mountains (I’m thinking of naming them according to the location of each pile – oh, I think that book is in Mt. Outside-the-Upstairs-Bathroom. And this title? Yes, here it is, in the middle of Mt. Beside-the-Office-Bookshelves.)

So why is it, I have to ask myself, I find I sometimes can’t resist the urge to re-read a book?

I’m not even talking about things like signing up for the Harry Potter reading challenge; after all, I have a good excuse. I haven’t listened to the books in audio, and anyway, I’ve been yearning to read the series from beginning to end ever since I put down book seven, floating in a blissed-out state but awfully sorry the series had ended.

CIMG2608 I’m talking about being immersed in two or three really good current reads, and suddenly thinking, you know, I’d really like to re-read L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle (and then I promptly did so). Or P.D. James’ The Murder Room, which is sitting on my desk right now because yesterday I was getting together a bunch of books to add to the Giftaway Shelf, saw The Murder Room, thought I would add it to the pile and then, for some reason totally unknown to me, decided to re-read the first page. Which is why it’s sitting next to me right now on my desk, and not in the stack of books destined to be added to the Giftaway Shelf.

Every time I do this – decide to re-read a book – I swear, all the books in my TBR piles give a collective groan, whip out their Daytimers and rub out the date they each figured they’d finally get read by me.

And despite this, I still do it.

What about you? Do you find yourself re-reading books even though the state of your TBR threatens to overwhelm you? Or are you really good about books you’ve already read, able to give them away or put them away and never think about them again?

What’s Up Sunday – June 14

I normally post this as “What’s Up Saturday”, but yesterday kind of flew by really quickly, especially since I was behind on the big giveaways post.

Deadline Alley

I’m heading into Deadline Alley over the next ten days – I have five deadlines to lay to rest and I’d like to get everything finished by next Wednesday. That will leave me a day to help my husband pack for our road trip, get our housesitter settled in, make sure there’s enough pet food on hand to feed the assortment of pets and well, just de-stress a little so I’ll enjoy the 19 hour drive to the beautiful shores of Nova Scotia!

Currently Listening

This past week I’ve been really enjoying listening to Tilt-a-Whirl, by Chris Grabenstein. It’s the first book in a mystery series about part-time beach resort town cop Danny Boyle and his partner, John Ceepak; Beth F. recommended the audio version of the series to me, and I am very grateful (if you love audiobooks, check out Beth F’s blog; she always has great suggestions). The narrator of the series, Jeff Woodman, has now been added to my own personal list of great audiobook narrators (joining Lorelei King, who narrates Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, Hugh Fraser, for his narration of the Agatha Christie novels, and Jim Dale, narrator of the Harry Potter series).

I’ve been actively on the look-out for good audios primarily because of the 19 hour drive (I can’t read in a car, unfortunately); the other day on Twitter Miriam Parker from Hachette Books suggested that I give Bill Bryson a try, and ever since then I’ve been walking around the house sounding rather demented because every now and then I’ll give out a big burst of laughter. Listening to Bill Bryson in audio will do that to you.

Right now, I’m listening to Bill Bryson’s I’m a Stranger Here Myself; my version is actually called Notes From a Big Country, which you can buy at Amazon UK. Notes From a Big Country has eight more essays than I’m a Stranger Here Myself (I have both titles in trade paperback, so I counted); otherwise, they contain much the same essays (I didn’t do a title-by-title check, though).

If you have an Audible membership, you’ll be getting Notes From a Big Country if you go for the unabridged version; unfortunately, Bill Bryson only reads the abridged version, but William Roberts, the narrator of the unabridged version, does a pretty good job. This listen is, obviously, a “reread” for me (since I ended up buying both versions of the book, it would be pretty sad if it wasn’t!); Bill Bryson’s books are brilliant and very funny reads whether you get them in print or in audio.

This Week: No Picture, but a Video

Rather sharing a picture from my life this week, I wanted to share the following video, called Validation. I discovered it at my dear friend Bethie’s blog, Simply Blessed. It’s a long video – 16 minutes – but I guarantee, if you have the time, and you’d like something to give you a bit of a lift and put a smile on your face, it’s well worth the watch. It was written and directed by Kurt Kuenne, stars TJ Thyne (of Bones fame), and has won a whole string of very well-deserved short film awards. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Flash Reviews: The Agatha Christie Audiobook Edition, Part 1

Introducing Flash Reviews here at MsBookish.com, in which I will occasionally group together shorter reviews in a courageous attempt to reduce the height of my to-be-reviewed pile (not to be confused with my to-be-read pile, which no amount of derring-do on my part will have any discernable effect on).

I’ve been listening to a LOT of Agatha Christie in audiobook format lately. There’s just something so incredibly comforting about listening to Poirot or Miss Marple demonstrate their brilliance and solve yet another case. It’s the kind of thing that makes you sigh and think, ah, yes, all’s right in the world …

In many ways, the audio version of a book is a great indication of the strength of the story the author is trying to tell. Stephen King has written:

There’s this, too: Audio is merciless. It exposes every bad sentence, half-baked metaphor, and lousy word choice. (Listen to a Tom Clancy novel on CD, and you will never, ever read another. You’ll never be able to look at another one without gibbering.) I can’t remember ever reading a piece of work and wondering how it would look up on the silver screen, but I always wonder how it will sound. Because, all apologies to Mr. Bloom, the spoken word is the acid test. They don’t call it storytelling for nothing.

As it turns out, Dame Christie wrote some very nice dialogue indeed, and she most definitely told a good story. Throw in a skilled narrator like Hugh Fraser, who narrates many of the Christie audiobooks, and what you’re likely to get is pure delight.

The following titles were all titles that qualify as “re-reads” for me (first listens, but re-reads nevertheless); in most cases, I remembered “whodunnit” a while before the actual unveiling of the culprit. I found that this didn’t take away from my enjoyment at all, which is perhaps as good a reason as any to give a Christie novel a re-read.

Murder is Easy, by Agatha Christie

Murder is Easy It was just Luke Fitzwilliam’s luck to be stuck next to a dotty old woman like Miss Fullerton on the London-bound train-although he found himself quite entertained with her tall tales about a series of perfect murders in the quaint village of Wychwood. But when he reads the next day of the freak accident that killed her, too, Fitzwilliam’s amusement turns to grave concern. A visit to the isolated village confirms his worst fears. For Wychwood seems to be divided by an eccentric lot of locals: those who are in on a dark and dangerous secret-and those who don’t live long enough to share it. (Amazon.com)

My thoughts: This is one of Agatha Christie’s “standalone” mysteries, so don’t expect either Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple to show up (or Tommy & Tuppence or Mr. Quinn or even Superintendent Battle, for that matter). I think once a reader falls in love with a series detective like, say, Poirot, it’s difficult to beat back the flames of expectation that surely, those extravagant black mustaches must show up in the story some time?

Still, this is a nicely crafted story, featuring Christie’s version of a serial-type killer. As is usual with many of Christie’s books, there’s a romance thrown in for good measure and the denouement is quite quick-paced and thrilling (although I couldn’t help but feel that the good Poirot or Miss Marple would not have let things get quite so hairy before stepping in). I listened to the audio version narrated by Hugh Fraser, and he was very good, as always.

Where to buy: Amazon U.S. | IndieBound | Chapters (Canada) | Amazon UK

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, by Agatha Christie

One, Two, Buckle My ShoeA dentist lies murdered at his Harley Street practice…The dentist was found with a blackened hole below his right temple. A pistol lay on the floor near his outflung right hand. Later, one of his patients was found dead from a lethal dose of local anaesthetic. A clear case of murder and suicide. But why would a dentist commit a crime in the middle of a busy day of appointments? A shoe buckle holds the key to the mystery. Now — in the words of the rhyme — can Poirot pick up the sticks and lay them straight? (Amazon.co.uk)

My thoughts: This was a marvelous re-read for me, as I continued to wonder “whodunnit” almost right up to the point of Poirot’s unveiling of the murderer. There were quite a few twists and turns, and a rather big red herring that threw me right off the track. Poirot is in on the action from the very beginning; this is something I like very much. Again, the version I listened to was narrated by Hugh Fraser; he really is perfect for the medley of characters encountered throughout the course of this mystery.

Where to buy: Amazon U.S. | IndieBound | Chapters (Canada) | Amazon UK

A Pocket Full of Rye, by Agatha Christie

A Pocket Full of RyeAfter wealthy financier Rex Fortescue’ s sudden death, grains of rye are inexplicably found in his pocket. The coroner’s verdict is death by poisoning, yet only one of the dead man’s relatives seems upset. The others all have motives to want the old man dead. When two more members of the Fortescue household are murdered, Miss Marple enters the case. But is one bizarre clue — the pocket full of rye — enough to solve the strangest case of her career? (Chapters.ca)

My thoughts: This Miss Marple mystery is actually reminiscent of a Hercule Poirot mystery that I had listened to earlier in the year, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (not the abridged regular audio version, but the wonderful BBC Radio dramatization). There are quite a few somewhat similar elements, and so perhaps because of my recent re-read/listen of the Hercule Poirot story, I was a little bit muddled. That’s probably just my excuse, of course; the point being, it took me quite a while to remember who the bad guy was.

As can happen with a Christie mystery, Miss Marple showed up later in the scene rather than earlier; I prefer her to show up earlier but still, it’s a great whodunnit for the cozy mystery lover. The audio I listened to was narrated by Rosalind Ayres, who gives Hugh Fraser a run for his money.

Where to buy: Amazon U.S. | IndieBound | Chapters (Canada) | Amazon UK