shelf by shelf : from Jenkins to Koch

shelf (2)No sooner do I mention that I have been on a reading streak when it starts to slow down. I finished the amazing Station Eleven and didn’t know what to move on to. Thankfully not a full reading slump. Seems like a small blip given that I found two more books pretty quickly to get me back on track. The slight difficulty for me was not a lack of good books to read, but the opposite. Not only have I purchased tons of old and new books but I have also started using the library again.

Recently on Goodreads, Carol Ann asked me if I was a fast reader because she couldn’t figure out how I could read so much. Compared to some bloggers I am a sloth, but here are my secrets to reading a lot.

1. I don’t have kids
2. I do read fairly quickly. At least compared to audio book narrators, I probably read at least 50% faster than they do.

3. I listen to audio books on my commute which is at least five hours a week.
4. I read at lunch.
5. I always have a book with me.
6. Sometimes I even read for 15 to 30 minutes in the morning before leaving for work.

7. I’ve gotten really good about setting aside books that I don’t like.
8. I generally don’t let other people tell me what to read.
9. Lots of variety (or not!) depending on my mood.

Don’t forget to click it. Plenty of room to zoom.

SHELF THIRTEEN: 32 books, 16 unread, 16 read, 50% completed

Jenkins, Elizabeth – The Tortoise and the Hare (completed)
One of those odd cases of a man leaving a glamorous younger woman for a tweedy, age-appropriate one. When I wrote about this four years ago, I likened this story to the Charles/Diana/Camilla triangle. Really enjoyed this one. Quintessentially Virago.

Jenkins, Herbert – Patricia Brent, Spinster (completed)
This is what I wrote about this one in 2013: “This one comes close to Miss Buncle status for me. An absolutely delightful idea for a book that reminded me in a tiny way of the George Glass episode of The Brady Bunch where Jan is tired of everyone thinking she is a lonely loser so she makes up a boyfriend. That is exactly what Patricia Brent does, except it is 1918 London, not 1970s California. And like Frank Baker’s Miss Hargreaves, Patricia’s lie becomes real–although without the supernatural elements of the Baker–and many complications ensue. This out of print (I think) gem has Persephone written all over it.  If you find a copy snap it up. I was lucky enough to get mine from British expat Roz who some of you know.”

Jesse, E. Tennyson – The Lacquer Lady

Jones, Sadie – Fallout

Joyce, James – Dubliners
I read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and really disliked it. In general I have written off the impenetrable Joyce and have no intention of ever trying again. Except for this one. During the Art of the Novella challenge that I attempted a few Augusts ago, I read The Dead, which is a part of Dubliners. I loved The Dead and so think it may be possible I will like the rest of the book.

Joyce, Rachel – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (completed)
I just read this one recently and really loved it. Attempted the sequel and had the opposite reaction, didn’t even finish it–an example of not slowing myself down with books I am not enjoying.

Just, Ward – The Congressman who Loved Flaubert (completed)
Just, Ward – Honor, Power, Riches, Fame and the Love of Women (completed)
Just, Ward – Lowell Limpett and Two Stories (completed)
Just, Ward – A Family Trust (completed)
Just, Ward – Forgetfulness
Just, Ward – Echo House (completed)
Just, Ward – The Translator (completed)
Just, Ward – The Weather in Berlin (completed)
Just, Ward – Twenty-one Selected Stories
Just, Ward – American Romantic
Just, Ward – Rodin’s Debutante
Just, Ward – Exiles in the Garden (completed)
Just, Ward – An Unfinished Season (completed)
Just, Ward – The Translator (completed)
As you can see, I like Ward Just. I had never heard of him until I read Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust. A former reporter for the Washington Post, Just writes really great fiction about politics and government–but you don’t have to be interested in those things to like his books. Many are set in Washington, at least one about Chicago politics, and a few written in conflict zones, or in the milieu of American embassies abroad. Not all of the are perfect, but he really is a superb writer. In addition to these, there are at least three more that I have read: Jack Gance, In the City of Fear, and The American Ambassador.

Kaye-Smith, Sheila – Joanna Godden

Keane, Molly – Devoted Ladies

Kennedy, Margaret – Lucy Carmichael
Kennedy, Margaret – The Feast
Kennedy, Margaret – Troy Chimneys
Kennedy, Margaret – The Ladies of Lyndon (completed)
I really, really liked The Ladies of Lyndon so I am not sure why I haven’t read any of the other Kennedy’s I own.

Keyes, Frances Parkinson – Joy Street
Keyes, Frances Parkinson – Also the Hills
Keyes, Frances Parkinson – The Letter from Spain
I am assuming I am going to love Keyes when I get around to reading her.

King, Lily – Euphoria

Koch, Herman – The Dinner (completed)
Koch, Herman – Summer House with Swimming Pool (completed)
I love these two books so much I am willing to overlook some serious implausibilities in both. I love how Koch explores how seemingly upstanding people can be evil.

NEXT TIME: Lanchester to Lewis

8 thoughts on “shelf by shelf : from Jenkins to Koch

  1. Travellin'Penguin June 12, 2016 / 9:34 am

    I have been listening to audio in the car. Everytime I start it up my phone kicks in on bluetooth and I hear it. Amazing how much you can read driving around. I have time to read more but I find the more leisure time I have the less I read. I think working for 40 years I learned how to squeeze more books in. Funny that.


  2. Claire (The Captive Reader) June 12, 2016 / 11:15 pm

    I loved Lucy Carmichael and Troy Chimneys by Margaret Kennedy and have heard only good things about The Feast – definitely books for you to look forward to!


  3. Karen K. June 13, 2016 / 12:33 pm

    I’m really surprised at how much less reading I’ve done since I stopped work — I can’t really justify sitting for an entire hour every day and reading during lunch like I used to (plus my 15 minute breaks). My commute was fairly short but I nearly always had an audiobook. I’m way behind on my reading for the year but hope to catch up this summer after we’re finished with the big move.

    And I also own The Lacquer Lady! I’ve packed nearly all my unread books to send to the new house so hopefully I’ll buckle down and make some progress on that owned-and-unread pile.


  4. Mystica June 14, 2016 / 2:30 am

    The Jenkins books (both of them) are definitely up my street. Now to track them down.


  5. carpediemblogger June 14, 2016 / 4:01 pm

    I really love your Shelf by Shelf posts, Thomas. Sometimes, I own almost all the books, sometimes none of them, and sometimes I do not even know the authors. But this could be due to the fact that I live in Belgium.
    I am glad you enjoyed Station Eleven so much, I thought it was an amazing book and recommended it to a lot of my friends.
    I also immensely enjoy The Readers. I always listen in bed before I go to sleep and have often woken up my husband because I was giggling or even laughing out loud with your “book based banter”. Thank you for that (and Simon too, of course).


  6. Liz Dexter June 17, 2016 / 4:15 am

    I’ve read both the Jenkins books, which pleased me. I must get on with my own shelf by shelf posts – which means doing the reshelving ..


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