August was a slowwww reading month. I didn’t pick up a book until I had to start reading for book club and I filled the rest of the month with short stories and an art book.
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
This was our book club read for August. It was well-received by the group. It’s a memoir of a woman who had spinal tuberculosis and spent ten years as a child flat on her back. The treatment was supposed to minimize the curvature of her spine. Sadly, her spine was still affected and she lived the rest of her life hunched over, her head lower than her shoulders. Somehow, she ends up living a mostly “normal” life, not really feeling like an outcast and working her way through college and buying a house on her own. The story is heartbreaking, and fascinating, and inspiring, especially because at the end you learn that she has two love affairs with Japanese men and gets married to another man (which isn’t a spoiler because she does have two last names.) There is a collection of her journals and letters which I’m perusing now. I thought her childhood/early adult memoir was interesting, but I’m more interested in her adult life, which she spends among artists in New York and Paris.
The Heavenly Tenants by William Maxwell
This is a children’s book that Maxwell wrote in 1946. It’s a fantasy about a farming family who enjoys stargazing and the zodiac comes to life. It was the runner-up for the Newberry Medal and the illustrations are fantastic. It was a little weird but as usual, he handles the human connections so perfectly.
Gelli Plate Printing by Joan Bess
Obviously this was more for research than enjoyment but I wanted to learn a little bit more about the different stencils and layering techniques involved with gel plate printing. I found this to be a good resource, but I have another book coming so maybe next month I can compare the two.
“Bliss” & “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield
“Bliss” has it all: a dinner party hosted by a happy wife, major symbolism, a lovely tree that has multiple meanings, adultery… It asks the question, is it better to live with the truth or in ignorant bliss? (I think I’m a bitter truth person, how about you?)
Like Dandelion Wine, “The Garden Party” was a coming-of-age, discovering death story…it’s weird that the same themes are accidentally coming up in some of my reading this summer. The descriptions of the party preparations were delicious and were the perfect contrast to the more serious parts of the story.
I’m having a hard time getting into my next book. I think my mind is too distracted for reading right now, but that just means I really need to be reading! Have you read anything great lately?