My 2013 reading challenges are off to a good start. I’ve already read six books (out of 24) from my To Be Read (TBR) pile and two books for the Vintage Mystery Challenge (out of eight), with a third in progress. Having to wait around in the jury duty pool in early January wasn’t all bad! (For a complete list of books I've read for the challenges, click here. I update the list every time I finish a book, and it can always be found by scrolling down the sidebar at right.)
I haven’t been adventurous at all with this year’s reading challenges. I do need to do the TBR challenge if I don’t want to be entirely overrun by books and the Vintage Mystery Challenge isn’t so much a challenge as a way to discover new authors in my favorite genre. Next time I should choose a challenge that really is a challenge, perhaps? I don’t know.
is such a pleasure and relaxation for me, I hesitate to turn it into a true
“challenge.” I have enough of those in my life. Perhaps instead of more
challenging challenges, I might participate in the various read-alongs I hear
about that don’t last a whole year?
But enough about why my challenges aren’t really challenges—let’s talk about books.
The first book I read this year was from my TBR pile: The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir, originally written in Icelandic and translated by Brian FitzGibbon. The Greenhouse follows Arnljotur, known as Lobbi, a young man from
who leaves his home, father and autistic twin brother, to restore an old garden
in a remote village monastery in an unnamed country in Europe.
Lobbi’s mother, with whom he shared a love of gardening, has recently died in a
car accident. On top of that, during one
impulsive night, Lobbi has fathered a child with Anna, an acquaintance. Anna is
raising their baby daughter, Flora Sol, without much input from Lobbi, who
doesn’t really know what his role with Anna and Flora Sol should be—though he’s more
clueless than unwilling. After he begins work on the monastery garden,
Anna and Flora Sol come to visit. Anna wants to continue her studies and needs
Lobbi’s help to care for the baby. During their time together, Anna and Lobbi begin
to build a relationship, and Lobbi slowly learns how to nurture the people in
his life as tenderly as he nurtures the flowers in the garden. I loved this
book. It was a quiet and gentle story, with interesting secondary characters, such as Lobbi's father and the film-buff monk Father Thomas. It was a page-turner in the respect that I enjoyed that world so much I could hardly wait to get back to it.
My first Vintage Mystery read was Georgette Heyer’s Why Shoot a
? In a twist on a murder mystery cliche,
a butler is the first victim. Amateur sleuth Frank Amberley must help the
baffled police find the murderer before they arrest the young woman Frank is
falling in love with. Reading this type of cozy mystery feels like slipping
under a fuzzy blanket with a good cup of tea (I always crave Earl Grey tea when
reading books or watching movies set in Butler England).
I love Georgette Heyer’s historical novels, which she’s better know for, but
the few mysteries she wrote also contain her trademark wit and humor. I plan to
read at least one more of her books before the challenge is done. I love the
covers of these editions as well—wonderful vintage artwork.
By the time you read this, I’ll be in
catching up with a few girlfriends I used to work with, as well as my roommate
before I got married, and maybe even my old boss. If you hear a lot of laughing
and carrying on coming from the general vicinity of Dallas,
that’s us. In addition to the talking, laughing and eating I expect to do, I
should have some good reading time on the flights to and from. So please excuse
me while I go choose what to take with me—my clothes are already packed, but
the books…that takes me longer to decide…
What did you do this weekend?