I need a book to read….(plus sonnet)

I’m a bit off my reading game lately. I don’t feel like tackling anything too hefty. Lately I’ve been going to my local library and getting design or coffee table books, which are like the analog equivalent of Instagram for me…but it’s a small library and after a few months of this I’ve read a lot of their best offerings in those categories.

So I’ll try to hit a larger branch this weekend (and of course I welcome book suggestions for ordering!). I also ordered a new puzzle to work on at night, but its design is undermining my usual approach. I (like I’m sure most people) tend to put together the edge pieces of puzzles first. But the edge pieces in this particular puzzle are almost all the cream background color, and the design is in the center of the puzzle. So after a night of work earlier this week, I hadn’t gotten very far.

All of which led me to spend a lot of time scrolling last night instead. Oh well.

My boys are seemingly packed for their trips to that state technology competition. I did ask at 10 p.m. if one child had packed his dress shoes. He had not. Good thing I asked. I also had the fun parenting experience yesterday of coaching another child down from a tree (one of the blooming Kwanzan cherries, actually) that he had managed to climb. He had gotten up to a high limb, but then was having trouble getting down from there. I mean, there was the obvious way, but he was high up enough that this didn’t seem like a good idea.

In the meantime, here’s another sonnet, this one loosely inspired by the trip to Spain…


A little window, in an upstairs room,
a wooden table, sturdy, like this chair,
outside the rain, a Monday full of gloom
but still the shutters open to the air.

Nearby a baby babbles, passed between
a dozen hands, all gathered for a meal.
Off in the kitchen flutter hands unseen —
paella in the pot — but so unreal

to find this place, a door, just barely signed,
a world away from where I often eat.
Yet in a day-long journey I could find
myself at home, with other little feet

that patter, not so very far away
from saffron, bright, amid the clouds and gray.

23 thoughts on “I need a book to read….(plus sonnet)

  1. Have you read ‘hello beautiful’? That was my fave book of 2023. But it will likely have a long hold list at the library. It covers some heavy topics so YMMV… shu didn’t love it for example. As someone from a large catholic family, I could so relate to the sibling dynamics. Second suggestion is ‘commonwealth’ by Ann Patchett. But you may have already read it as it’s very backlist!

    1. @Lisa – I haven’t read Hello Beautiful, so I’ll check it out and see if that fits my reading mood. Honestly, though, my reading mood is a bit…lazy at the moment.

  2. You could also try requesting a bunch of books from other branches in your city. Look at your history and see which authors or styles you liked, then request 5-10 (to catch the task) then wait for them to come in.

    1. @Kat – there’s a very large branch only 10 minutes from our house, right by the Starbucks we often visit, so I’ll probably just be able to browse and find stuff there. I just need to do it…

  3. For the puzzle, you might try sorting out all the pieces that have the edge of the design – part design, part cream – and making that your starting point. Or pick a distinctive area of colour/texture and start there! I love a good puzzle!

    1. @Katie – I love a good puzzle too – I think I’ll pick one of the butterflies in the middle, very colorful, and start there instead of the edges.

  4. Book recommendations- Nightwatching by Tracy Sierra is a propulsive suspense novel with an undercurrent of feminist rage. This was unputdownable for me. I read it in a day.
    Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez is her newest novel & in my opinion her best yet. This book is a romance but also tackles many deeper topics like mental health and complicated family relationships.
    The Book of Doors by Gareth Brown is a story where books are portals to another world.
    In Light of All Darkness by Kim Cross is the story of the Polly Klaas kidnapping told through interviews with the investigators. It’s a fascinating look into the scientific methods that were developed in this case that impact how crimes are solved today. It’s told in a very respectful way to Polly’s family.

  5. Book recs- Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley is a funny but affecting ensemble story about a group of British train-riders at all stages of life. Starter Villain by John Scalzi is as ridiculous as it sounds and as good as everyone says. If you liked Wellness, you will probably like Good Material by Dolly Alderton (middle aged literary men screwing up their marriages, with good writing). If you have not read Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, it should be at the top of your list.

    1. Thank you for this recommendation. I just finished Rules for Commuting. It was a quick and enjoyable read.

  6. A few book recommendations!
    Fiction: Remarkably Bright Creatures (sweet, charming, endearing), Tom Lake (made me want to visit northern Michigan, set on a cherry farm), Go as a River (lesser known – set in western Colorado on a peach farm)
    Non-Fiction: Have you read Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean? It’s very specific – about the Mann Gulch Fire in Montana that killed 13 Smokejumpers – but you’ve mentioned before you like non-fiction, and it’s really well-written. Tracy Kidder’s Rough Sleepers is another non-fiction to consider… it’s a moving, important, engaging read about Dr. Jim O’Connell’s founding of Boston Healthcare for the Homeless.

  7. The Wishing Game was the best book I’ve read in a long time. I’m currently listening to Shogun which is not fluffy, but the story moves and is interesting. My favorite nonfiction from the last couple of years was The Boys in the Boat. Haven’t seen the movie, but the book was great.

    1. @Calee- I read The Boys in the Boat and I did enjoy it! Sort of like Seabiscuit, which I also liked.

  8. I am in the same situation, suddenly my pile of unread books was empty. Your post inspired me to order a few books from other library branches.

  9. Two recent reads I highly recommend, only coincidental that “beauty” is in both titles 😊:
    – nonfiction: All the Beauty in the World by Patrick Bringley (”…portrait of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and its treasures by a former New Yorker staffer who spent a decade as a museum guard.”)
    – fiction: Beautyland by Marie-Helene Bertino (“… a remarkable evocation of the feeling of being in exile at home, and it introduces a gentle, unforgettable alien for our times.”)

  10. When I’m in a reading slump, my go-tos are children’s/ middle grade/ YA books and memoirs. They both generally read quickly and are often good in audiobook format.

  11. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus; Pachinko and Free Food for Millionaires, both by Min Jin Lee.

    I have recently gone back and read some classic children’s books that I didn’t read as a child, e.g., Black Beauty and (at the moment) Where the Red Fern Grows. Easy and worthwhile.

    1. Lessons in chemistry and reads like a train (I translated that Dutch saying in English, don’t know it if it common but you’ll probably get the point!)

  12. A recent easy but engaging read was ‘The Skeleton Key’ by Erin Kelly – about a book of cryptic puzzles and a complicated family. If you like that kind of thing then any books by Janice Hallett would be good, I particularly liked ‘The Twyford Code’. (Both UK authors, hopefully available there though!)

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