The Sunday Salon: Hot books for a hot week

It’s early Sunday morning, the birds are chirping, a light fog is lifting, and I have a batch of Zucchini Raisin Bran muffins in the oven.  Yes it’s that time of year, when my garden’s zucchini threatens to take over the planet, and I have to get creative in the kitchen.  Plus the weather has been very hot and dry around here, which calls for light and easy dishes that don’t generate a lot of heat.  The muffins are a favorite recipe I discovered last year, but I’ve also found some new zucchini-focused main dishes to try this week: a salad and a curry.  We still have way more than we could possibly consume.  I tried (unsuccessfully) to convince my husband we didn’t need to plant as much this year.  I’ve already started my 2011 zucchini campaign, while the evidence is right there in front of us.

While this has been a hot week for gardening, it’s also been a “hot” week for reading.  Last Sunday I posted my review of When Everything Changed, a nonfiction book about women in the US.  It left a strong impression; during the week I found myself reflecting on my activities, and on events going on around me, marveling at how different things would have been 50 years ago.  I have a blog post percolating in my head about this — look for it in this Wednesday’s Midweek @ Musings.

I finished two books this week: 

  • The Master, by Colm Tóibín, a fictional portrait of the author Henry James (read my review).  I knew almost nothing about James and had never read any of his work (shame on me!)  A brief bit of Wikipedia research helped, and I was off and running.  I enjoyed getting inside this author’s head, and have decided to read one of his books for the 1 percent Well-Read Challenge — most likely Portrait of a LadyIf you’ve read Henry James, recommendations are welcome!
  • Beside the Sea, by Veronique Olmi, a tense and haunting novella that I first learned about from Jackie at Farmlanebooks.  I read this in one sitting, on a train.  In my review I wrote, “I still gasped out loud when the novella reached its inevitable climax.”  I wonder what the woman sitting next to me thought?

This week I also went on a bit of a rant about required summer reading in schools.  I’m for it, not against it!  But sometimes the school can do certain students a disservice.  Read the post and let me know what you think.

The muffins are almost ready — time to roust my other half out of bed so we can get out to the garden before it gets too hot.

Have you had a “hot” reading week?

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Read more from The Sunday Salon here.

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8 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Hot books for a hot week

  1. Those muffins sure sound good, and am I ever hungry! Hubby promised to take me out for breakfast this morning, but it’ll be a long while before he’s up yet. He’s the night owl in the family while I’m the early bird.

    I’ll be eager to read your post on Wednesday, Laura. Women have made such great strides over the last several years and continue to do so. It’s amazing when you think about just how far we’ve come.

    I just read your post about the summer required reading and am as appalled as you and the other commenters.

    I hope you have a great week, Laura!

    • You were certainly up early today, Wendy! I’m the early bird in my family, too. Thanks for stopping by, it was nice to hear From you!

  2. I loved The Portrait of a Lady. Daisy Miller is much shorter and usually recommended as an intro to James. I read it first and liked it, but Portrait was amazing! The Master has been on my tbr list for far too long.

    • JoAnn, if you’re a Henry James fan you’ll definitely enjoy The Master. I may have to read Daisy Miller as well someday, thanks for the recommendation!

  3. I was drooling reading about your muffins!! I notice that you have The Lacuna in your sidebar as your current read…I can’t wait to hear what you think since it has gotten so many mixed reviews. I keep bumping it down in the pile…but if you love it, I will have to rescue it from the stacks! Have a great week, Laura 🙂

    • Wendy, both Terri and Jill loved The Lacuna, which bumped it onto my Orange July reading list (I’ve started OJ early!) Watch this space, I’ll be sure to let you know what I thought of it!

  4. I’ve read Portrait of a Lady, The Wings of the Dove and The Golden Bowl and enjoyed them equally, and struggled with the same quality in each. That is, I normally read too quickly to properly appreciate his style (from leafing through The Master, it seems similar stylistically), and I try to rush long sentences that I’m actually meant to amble through. Once I adjusted to that (and, really, I should have known), I enjoyed them. My first was actually Washington Square, which I really enjoyed for the issues considered about woman’s roles and social capacities and limitations, but it didn’t really prepare me for the longer works. I’ll be interested to hear what you think about the James you do try!

    • Great recommendations, thank you! I agree with you about The Master being similar stylistically. Because I was completely ignorant of James, I read a bit of The Turn of the Screw via DailyLit as I read The Master. With the latter being very much inside James’ head, I thought it was really interesting how Tóibín adopted his style as well.

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