The annual “What I Read at the Cottage” Post

September 18th, 2022Posted by Nancy

Yes, September is the month in which Nancy goes to the rental cottage. Cookies are eaten, swimming is done, walks are walked, wine is drunk, some words get written, and books get read. Fewer books than I previous years, I admit, but then we did have guests for part of the time.


Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner. I absolutely adored this. Downtrodden spinster decides she needs to remake her life, so obviously she must become a witch. Dry, funny, strange, and beautiful.

Bellweather Rhapsody, Kate Racculia. A book that manages to be a plausible depiction of “band/musician kid” life (I assume, given that the writer was herself a band kid) and a weird tale featuring sociopaths, disappearances, crushes, and several hat-tips to movie version of The Shining.

Raisins & Almonds, Kerry Greenwood. I continue to work my way through the Miss Fisher series. As usual, there are beautiful young men, fabulous clothes, and some semblance of a mystery. This one has to do the added heavy lifting of portraying early 20th century racism in Australia in a way that doesn’t make a 21st century reader a bit worried whether the writer can stick the landing. Still not sure.

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, Becky Chambers. Her second novella about Monk and Robot, in which they venture back into society and try to determine if it fits. Warm and hopeful, which is nice is these decidedly unhopeful times.

Descendent of the Crane, Joan He. Fantasy novel with Chinese influences. Entertaining, if not entirely my thing.

Interference, Sue Burke. The second book in the Semiosis duology (which I think more trilogies just just admit that they are). Both books focus on the challenges of communication across species. I quite like the sentient plants, though I’m not quite persuaded by the first person narration from their POV.

The Golden, Lucius Shepherd. I haven’t reread this since it came out in 1993. I’d forgotten how strange and baroque it is, and how deeply unlikeable all the characters are. I mean, they are vampires, but still….

To Paradise, Hanya Yanagihara. A friend lent me her physical copy of this. It is 708 pages and I’m on 93, so no verdict yet. However, I’m enjoying the alternate 1893 New York in which arranged marriages are common and can apply to homosexual as well as heterosexual unions.


Difficult Men. Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad, Brett Martin. I found this very interesting, despite the fact that I have not seen any of the shows in the title (don’t judge me). There were difficult men behind the cameras as well as in front of them, which should come as no surprise.

The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis, Christiana Figueres. See my note on the Becky Chambers book above. I wish this one had made me feel hopeful but it didn’t.

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted, Suleika Jaouad. The author’s life is interrupted when she is diagnosed with a dangerous cancer in her twenties. She chronicles the challenges, victories, and losses she experiences over the next few years, including the unexpected difficulty of finding her way back to life after coming so close to death.

Butler To the World, Oliver Bullough. Lays out the author’s contention that Britain has becomes a malevolent “Jeeves” to the world’s rich and predatory “Woosters”. If I’m ever in London, I’ll definitely try to go on one of his “Kleptocrat” tours.

If Venice Dies, Salvatore Settis. I love Venice and we’re planning to go back as soon as we can – but there’s no question that the tourist love for the place is toxic to life in the city itself. Settis, an archeologist and art historian, looks at the meaning of places to their inhabitants, the value they offer the world, and a few ways the tide of destruction can be slowed.

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