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Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Annual Book Bag Review

 By Jan Pease
How I spent my vacation, or a peek in the Pease family book bags. We enjoyed our week away, but as always, the time passed too quickly. I spent hours reading, napping, walking and even did a tiny bit of writing. When I look out over the expanse of Lake Superior, I feel a sense of far-sightedness, somehow seeing more clearly than at home. The Lake rewarded us with its constantly changing moods, gray and still one minute, blue waves with white foam crashing on the rocky beach the next.

I always bring a mystery or thriller along for vacation. This year I read “Red Mist,” by Patricia Cornwell. This, the 19th Scarpetta novel, reminds me of some of her early books, written in the first person. I enjoyed the book. A long-running series tends to become a little tedious, but I think Cornwell is back on track.

I usually bring along a nonfiction book, because I tend to read fiction but think I should read more nonfiction. This year’s book is “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” Written by Susan Cain, this book celebrates the quiet ones. Since I’m a person who needs a lot of down time, this book resonates with me.

Another nonfiction find is “A Jane Austen Devotional,” by Steffany Woolsey, and Jane Austen. This devotional book pairs excerpts from the Austen novels with scripture and a short devotional thought by Steffany Woolsey. I enjoy reading Steffany’s thoughts on favorite passages from my favorite novels. Her choice of Scripture is always appropriate

Because of my enjoyment of all things Austen, I tried “Shades of Milk and Honey,” by Mary Robinette Kowal. Amazon.com called this book “a quasi-Regency fantasy debut.” Ms. Kowal blends characters that would fit quite well in “Pride and Prejudice” or “Persuasion,” with a light touch of magic called “glamour.” It could be Jane Austen with magic, but somehow it isn’t. But it was a great quick vacation read. If I could work “glamour,” I’d find something more interesting to do with it other than hiding bad teeth or making wall murals.

Another, more successful blending of wit reminiscent of Miss Austen with the paranormal, is “Soulless,” the first book in the “The Parasol Protectorate” quintet, by Gail Carriger. Amazon.com says that “Soulless” is “is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.” I’m not a fan of paranormal fiction, but this blend of steampunk, the paranormal and Victorian London is a lot of fun. I plan to continue on with the next four books even though vacation is done.


The other series I’m reading is George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire.” We watched the dvds based on the series, HBO’s “A Game of Thrones” each night before going to bed, which made for some interesting dreams. I’m reading the newest book, “A Dance with Dragons” as slowly as I can, to savor the experience. Mr. Martin is working on the next book in the series, but it won’t be published for some time. I plan to re-read the series to get a better understanding of the complicated plot and characters and will enjoy every word

Dave is reading Brandon Sanderson, the author chosen to finish Robert Jordan’s monumental series “The Wheel of Time.” Dave read the first two books in the “Mistborn” series, “Mistborn,” and “The Well of Ascension.” (He already read and enjoyed the George R.R. Martin books.) He also continued to read his Bible, as he reads it in its entirety every year. I admire his discipline. Some years I get stuck in Leviticus or the minor prophets and don’t make it farther. It’s hard to admit such frailty, but there it is.

Finally, I should admit that I really didn’t bring a book bag. All of my books fit on my e-reader, with room to spare. Technology really is amazing. See you at the library!