1) Educating two little girls in the basic arts of personal hygiene. (And wondering why it's so terrifying to stand directly under the spray of the shower...)
2) Keeping a baby boy away from the marshmallow bag. (But understanding his obsession...)
3) Admiring my stack of novels to-be-read.
Because after I packed up all of our books in anticipation of possible home-buyers touring our dusty corners, I freaked. There was nothing in the house under which to bury my procrastination when I needed to escape from my housely duties. So I ordered lotsa books, and there they sit, decorating my night table once more.
They are a work of art.
And not just in the literature-as-art field. I mean, the actual stack of books appeals to my senses artistically. If there's anything I love more than a well-stacked tower of books (besides a child who will willingly step under a shower-head), I don't know what it is.
Well, a chocolate donut, maybe.
BUT THAT'S ALL.
Right. I'm very digressive today. Let's talk about BOOKS.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Oh, this book -- I adored it. I haven't read much fiction set in this time and place -- 1938, Manhattan -- so the novelty was probably part of my appreciation. But not all! Towles writes beautifully in this book about Katey Kontent, a Brooklyn-born New Yorker. She is smart, surprising, and glamorous, despite having not even a spare nickel to her name, and somehow rises through the ranks of New York society through one, chance meeting. The story itself is understated; there is a lot of setting and character, all jazzy and polished. But the undercurrents in the characters's lives are where the dirt of real-life shows through. It makes me want to wear silk stockings and pearls, and smoke cigarettes across from a dapper gentleman in a tuxedo while we sip martinis and laugh at the bourgeoisie. (Of which we are closeted members. But the pearls ane martinis cover nicely!) This was the best book I've read all summer. So far.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
I may be the last person on the planet to have read Major Pettigrew, but it's not my fault. It's the kids' fault. Yeah.... Anyway, this book is lovely and quaint and hilarious, in the staid, embarrassed sort of British hilarity that follows people of a certain importance, of which Major Pettigrew is (or feels himself to be) one. He is a darling older gentleman who is very set in his ways, and would seem to be the last inhabitant of his bucolic village to embrace the influx of immigrants. Nevertheless, he befriends a beautiful, widowed, Pakistani shopkeeper, and chaos ensues. Oh, Major Pettigrew -- I love your wit and your unintentional humor and your bravery. I would very much like to have a cup of tea with you, kind sir, as long as you can tolerate my newfangled dependence upon technology. iPhones are welcome at afternoon tea, right?
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
Wait, maybe this is the best book I've read all summer. Except, I rather read it in the late spring, but cannot stop thinking about it. A ZOMBIE NOVEL, of all things. This is another one that I'm the last to know about, but it was worth both the wait, and the trepidation at handing it over to the cashier. Does she think I'm some sort of ComicCon weirdo? Does she think I don't know good literature?! I KNOW GOOD LITERATURE! If you don't think reading about the Zombie Wars sounds like the perfect summer reading, though, you're totally wrong. Not only is this book excellently crafted -- in the style of a documentary, interviewing those affected by the world war -- but it's so well done that it comes off as completely plausible. I stayed up WAY past my bedtime to turn these pages. Plus, the cussing by military interviewees lends a credibility that nicely boosts the logistics of Zombie battles. I know you're thinking you'd have to suspend a jillion tons of disbelief, but you won't -- it's so realistic and believable. And that's why I sleep with a sawed-off length of PVC pipe next to my bed, now. I really can't recommend this book enough. If for no other reason than to prepare you for the Zombie Apocalypse and GO GET A FLATHEAD SHOVEL, for pity's sake.
So what are you reading this summer? Anything glamorous? Humorous? Zombie-ous?