Friday, August 31, 2018

Whoosh! Books, Too!

I've had an unplanned blog break for no particular reason. While July seemed to pass at glacial speed, August seems to have whooshed by me somehow. Isn't it always the way? When it's hot, sunny, and highly annoying, the hours seem to stretch into days and when it's grey, rainy, and a bit cooler, they speed right up. People often complain that winter lasts forever. This is never the case for me. It comes, it blows by me, and is gone. Summer, on the other hand, goes on and on and on and on.

This morning we stopped at the tourist info centre so Bill could print out a page of cross-stitch charts for me. It was sunny and I know it's hot in there, so I stayed outside, reading some poetry on my e-reader and enjoying the sights of the harbour. There are not as many sailboats on the pier these days. This boat was heading back in.
Earlier, I'd seen this plant in the bank--not sure what it is, but I like the red leaves.
The sun is setting earlier, the kids are back in school, the fireweed has gone to seed, and some leaves have started changing colour. When I feel myself getting a wee bit grumpy because of the bright sun and warm temperatures, I remind myself that autumn is just around the corner!

When I'm not wandering around town, I'm doing the usual happy things, like stitching and reading. here are the first few books on my August book list:
Full Circle: My Life and Journey by Ellen MacArthur
I had not heard of this woman before, or if I did, it wasn’t a name that stuck in my mind. A friend mentioned her in the course of a conversation and said she’d written some books, one of which was about the thing she’s best known for, which is circumnavigating the globe in a sailboat by herself in what was a record time when she did it. I was intrigued, so immediately did a search, found out the name of the book, went to the library website, found it, and placed it on hold. I’m so glad he brought her up because I loved this book. The author, who grew up in a landlocked part of the UK, knew from a very young age that she wanted to sail. She focused on that dream and started sailing and winning awards at a young age. She was a competitive sailor and was a part of many races. Eventually, after breaking the record for the fastest solo sail around the world, she began to feel herself becoming interested in the earth itself and the creatures we share it with. She continued to sail for a time as she worked through her evolution and explored what the next chapter of her life might look like. Now she encourages people to understand that we cannot keep simply extracting things and expect that to go well. We need an entirely new system that will allow for sustainability and she thinks people have the capacity to do it. She’s trying to make more people have the will to do it. As I was reading about her time in the southern ocean, as she was sailing and when she went to stay on some islands there, I was thinking about how incredible the things she was seeing must’ve been, even as seeing some of the damage caused by humans even in that remote part of the planet was sad.

The Sing of the Shore by Lucy Wood
This is a collection of 13 short stories in which the sea plays a role. A review described the stories as miniature thrillers and I’d agree with that. Some of the stories leave the reader slightly off balance. In each, we see some aspect of life in the ‘off-season’ when the holiday homes are empty and the tourists are gone. I enjoyed this book a lot.

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
I loved this book. I sat down to read a bit of it one day and ended up zipping through the next few hundred pages to the end. As I was reading, I was thinking how history repeats itself over and over, politically speaking. One theme of the book involved so-called ‘purity tests’ within movements, which are evident in various social justice/human rights movements, the environmental movement, as well as in both major political parties in the ‘United’ States. This story begins in 2006, with Greer Kadetsky who is off to university. It is not the Ivy League university she got accepted to and wanted to attend, because her space cadet parents (her mother is a library clown by profession, which is a comic touch, but also, we later find out, a worthwhile occupation) messed up the financial aid applications. Her father thought they were too complicated so submitted them incomplete, assuming they’d get in touch with him about what needed finishing. They didn't. So Greer is glum about going to a college that lacks prestige, especially since her boyfriend is off to an elite school. She is lonely, goes with another new student to a frat party, is violently groped by a misogynist frat boy, reports this assault, and is angry when he gets off with a slap on the wrist. Greer finds it difficult to speak up for herself, so it takes a lot for her to raise her hand and ask a question when feminist icon Faith Frank comes to speak at the college. After the talk, Faith and Greer have a conversation in the restroom and Faith gives Greer her card. Greer hangs onto the card, but does not contact Faith until after she has graduated. When she does contact Faith, it is to inquire about a job at the magazine Faith has been running for years and she gets an interview, but it’s too late for the magazine. Another opportunity presents itself, however. The story goes on from multiple points of view and we learn about Greer, Faith, Cory (Greer’s boyfriend, who experiences a shocking loss), Greer’s friend, Zee--what came before in their lives and where they are now. The story ends in 2019 with a misogynist (and despicable in many other ways) president in office and a bittersweet realisation that, although progress had been made, in the ‘United’ States, there was much going backwards and some battles were going to have to be fought all over again by a new generation. This is not just a story about the women's rights movement, but encompasses the battles for human rights in all areas--intersectionality is an issue on which one important plot twist revolves and is a theme throughout. It avoids easy stereotypes and presents characters who are trying to live in self-awareness, and to do good things, but who wrestle with how to do these things. How much change can be made before the backlash starts to erode the gains made? The book brings up important current issues in the form of a very well-crafted story that entertains while making the reader think.


Brenda said...

Some interesting books

Lynne said...

I wondered where you were.
Great book reviews . . .
If I add anymore books on my list . . . Mister Irish might holler . . .
Oh well . . . three more will be fine!