Sunday Salon – July 31, 2011

July 31, 2011

Welcome to The Sunday Salon, an event that unites readers each week. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee or your beverage of choice and join the discussion!

It is hard to believe this is the last Sunday in July. The days are flying by. We’ve been working hard to put a back deck on our house before the end of summer. I’ve also been crazy busy at work…and I have joined a couple of quilt-a-longs here and here which are eating up vast amounts of time on the weekends (although I am not complaining – I love my quilting time!). All of this has interfered with my reading and July has been my slowest reading month of the year.

Thanks to Jill, July was filled with Orange prize books:

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (read my review)
Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch (read my review)
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin (read my review)
The Long Song by Andrea Levy (my current read)

Despite knocking off four books from my Orange stacks – there were many I hoped to read but didn’t get to. I’m going to try to squeeze in at least three more Orange books before January rolls around and we celebrate Orange January.

I also read two other books this month (one for a TLC Book Tour and one for a BOOK CLUB read):

Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy was everything I hoped it would be (read my review): gorgeous writing, wonderful sense of place and characters who felt like living, breathing people. I am really glad that Van Booy has started writing novels. Although I love short stories (and Van Booy’s are some of the best out there) my heart really belongs to the novel. There is something about the more extensive character development that happens in a novel which delights me. I want to spend extended time with a story and always feel a little disappointed when a short story’s characters pull me in, only to leave me too soon. What about you? What is your favorite: short stories, novels, nonfiction, novellas, poetry?

I finished reading The Reservoir by John Milliken Thompson this week (read my review) and I really liked this book, although it started a bit slow for me. I like fictionalized true crime, and Thompson did an admirable job of pulling together the psychological aspects of a crime committed more than 100 years ago. The novel leaves much unsolved and up to the reader’s imagination as to what actually happened. For readers who like their mysteries tied up in a neat bow, this may not be their cup of tea. But it makes for great discussion…and I think The Reservoir could be a good book club choice.

I should finish The Long Song by Andrea Levy today. This Orange Prize nominated novel features one of the most memorable characters in fiction. July is a black slave living on a sugar plantation in Jamaica in the early 1800’s. The book opens with her as an old woman who is writing down her memoir for her son. July’s voice is engaging, opinionated and surprisingly funny given the subject matter. This is my first book by this talented author, and I am loving it. I should have a review posted by Tuesday at the latest.

The other day I sat down and sorted books, re-stacking and organizing, and trying to figure out how I am going to read everything on my list. I have been turning down 95% of review offers these days, and still my shelves are practically toppling over. But I do have a plan for August!

There are three must read books: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield for a TLC Book Tour on August 9th (the author has also provided a terrific guest post for that day), By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham for BOOK CLUB’s next discussion (to take place on Nicole’s blog on August 23rd), and Steinbeck: A Life in Letters edited by Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Wallsten for The Classics Circuit on August 17th.

Other books I would love to read in August include three books sent to me by authors which are already overdue for a review:

Broken: A Love Story by Lisa Jones
The Good Side of Bad by Beverly Olevin
The River of Forgetting by Jane Rowan

So we’ll see what happens. I am taking a 10 day vacation  in the latter part of August and if all goes well, I hope to spend a large part of that reading! What about you? Have you looked ahead and started planning your August reading?

Thanks for stopping by – have a wonderful week!


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  1. Your reads look intriguing…I’m very curious about The Reservoir. I’ll be watching for your review.


    • Tea on July 31, 2011 at 08:30

    I’ll bet the quilt along is really fun. Those quilt blocks are sooooooo pretty.

    • Deb Nance at Readerbuzz on July 31, 2011 at 09:41

    I’m very impressed with your Orange reading. It’s challenging to take on difficult books, but it looks like it has been easy for you.

    Here’s my Sunday Salon for this week:
    Sunday Salon: How to Read, Use, and Abuse Beautiful and Pointless Novels Like a Professor

    And a reminder: Today is the last day for you to throw your hat into the ring for my July Giveaway! Win a $25 Amazon gift card!

  2. Very nice. I haven’t read many Orange prize winners aside from this year’s seriously good pick. Enjoy your week!

  3. Sounds like you have a very busy month coming up! I’m way behind in my review books (and books in general that I really want to read) so I’m making August a readathon month. I’m hoping that will help me to catch up a bit 🙂 Good luck and enjoy all of those lovely books!

    • Amy on July 31, 2011 at 12:56

    You have some wonderful books lined up to read. I’m looking forward to your reviews! I missed the date to enter for the next Book Club in August & I’m annoyed with myself because Michael Cunningham is an author whose books I’ve really enjoyed. I’m very interested to see what you think of “By Nightfall”.

    The Long Song sounds captivating…I love good characters and it ounds like July is one who’s hard to forget.

    I’m sure you’re looking forward to your vacation & 10 days is a lot of reading time, so long as you feel like reading! If you have a good variety of books, something will get read. Have a terrific time!

    • Staci on July 31, 2011 at 13:01

    So many great sounding books!! Enjoy 😀

  4. I read Van Booy’s The Secret Lives of People in Love this month – and he does write beautifully! I enjoy short fiction, but it is harder to get involved emotionally with the characters in a short story. I definitely want to read his novel!

  5. I’ve got so much going on between now and the middle of October that I sat down and made a three month reading plan. We’ll see how good I am at sticking to it.

    • Megan on July 31, 2011 at 17:52

    My heart definitely belongs to the novel. Short stories just feel like a tease to me most of the time. Having heard so many great things about Van Booy’s short stories, I was thrilled to find that he’d written a full-length novel. And he *is* as good as everyone says! 🙂

    • Jill on August 1, 2011 at 04:40

    Thanks for the shout out! Glad you had a great Orange July! =)

    • Wendy on August 2, 2011 at 06:28

    Laurel: My review of The Reservoir is up 🙂 It was a good read!

    Tea: I really love the on-line quilt alongs – they are fun and I am learning a lot of new skills too!

    Deb: The Orange books can be challenging – but I find them to be pretty consistently good!

    Pam: So glad you also liked Obreht’s novel! I was surprised at some of the negative reviews of it.

    Samantha: An August readathon – sounds great! I really wish my work schedule would slow down a bit!

    Amy: I’m sorry you missed out on Cunningham’s book – we’ll miss you in the discussion! The Long Song is very memorable – will hopefully have my review up soon…and I cannot wait for my vacation!!!!

    • Wendy on August 2, 2011 at 06:31

    Staci: Thank you!

    Carrie: Oh, you should definitely read Van Booy’s novel! So good!

    Kathy: I am almost afraid to look at what I have to read over the next 3 months! Good luck with your plan!

    Megan: Glad you too have discovered the joy of Van Booy’s prose!!

    Jill: You’re welcome, my friend 🙂

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