Monday, March 01, 2021

The Book Chase March 2021 Reading Plan

I've slipped back into my old habit of reading multiple books at the same time, and now I wonder why I ever quit doing that in the first place. Having more than one going at a time (7 seems to work best for me) ensures that a single book won't go so stale on me that my reading slows down. In the long run, it probably will also result in me abandoning fewer books. As long as the books are different enough from each other that I don't begin to confuse plots, and as long as I have them in multiple stages of completion, I enjoy reading more than ever - and that says a lot. 

So, coming into March, these are the ones I'm already reading - or looking forward to reading soon:

This turned out to be the first book in Jess Montgomery's now three-book "Kinship Series." It tells the fictional story of the first female sheriff in the state of Ohio who was given that job after the assassination of the prior sheriff, her husband. The story is advanced through the alternating points-of-view of Sheriff Lily Ross and Marvena Whitcomb, a unionizer who lost her own husband in a coal mine explosion. The book is set in the 1920s and is very good.


I discovered this one via Netflix because it is the basis of a 2020 movie starring George Clooney called The Midnight Sky. The movie was good, but the book is fantastic. The basic plot is that the world is coming to a rapid end that cannot be stopped. One man and an eight-year-old girl are alone in an Arctic observatory and a space mission is returning from a close look at Jupiter with its six astronauts. The chapters alternate between the two scenarios, as each group struggles with the more and more obvious reality of the situation.


The Brutal Telling is Louise Penny's fifth Inspector Gamache book, and one of only three of the sixteen books in the series I haven't read. This one is really Olivier's story, a character that fans of the series by now know quite well, but in this 2009 book, Olivier is a prime suspect in the murder that brings Gamache and his team to Three Pines. This one is part of the project I started last year to catch up on as many of my favorite detective series as I could - but now I'm dreading the withdrawal period that will result when I've done that.

Summerwater has been named a best book of the year by two of the U.K.'s newspapers, so I grabbed a library-copy even before I knew much about it. It is short, only 190 pages, but even though I've only just finished the first chapter, I'm hooked. It all takes place in a Scottish vacation park during a day in which the weather is miserable. No one really knows anyone else, and they seem to like it that way right up until one family starts to seem different from the rest and "tragedy sneaks into their lives." 

I'm about 40 pages into this one now, and just noticed that it is "book 2 of Between Us." I had noticed that a previous book of this author's had a very similar title and wondered why. Now I know. So far, though, The Secrets Between Us is reading just fine as a standalone, and I'm confident that it will continue to do so. The two main characters have now been introduced in alternating chapters, and I'm enthralled by the horrible lives these women are being forced to live because of their utter poverty. 

Luster got all kinds of attention after it was published in August 2020, and it ended up making too many "best books of the year" list to count. I have literally read less than ten pages so far, but I am totally taken by what is going on in the head of the book's narrator, a twenty-three old black woman with a slightly off-kilter take on the world. It looks like it's going to be one of those stream-of-consciousness books that can end up being very funny, very dark, or both. Reader-reviews have run the spectrum; some love it, some hate it.

And then there's Lonesome Dove. This one will almost definitely not be finished in March because I'm limiting myself to a chapter or two per day at most. It's a story I know so well from my two previous reads of the novel, and the great television series, that there are really no surprises left for me to discover. Yet, I find myself laughing in the same places I always laugh, and falling in love with the same characters I always favor. I really don't want this one to end - and that's nothing new either.

Others books I'm looking forward to in March, or perhaps April, include several ARCs. Among those are James Lee Burke's latest book (part of his Holland family saga) Another Kind of Eden; Nick McDonnell's The Council of Animals, an Animal Farm-kind of take on what happens when humans begin to die off; Laurie Frankel's One Two Three, a book I've mentioned before; and You Belong Here Now by Dianna Rostad, an "orphan train" book that takes place in 1925 Montana.

Potential library surprises include Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens, The Good Girls by Sonia Faleiro, The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, Blood Grove by Walter Mosley, A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by George Saunders, and The Searcher by Tana French. Depending on how long I can check these out for, they may move directly up to the top of the reading list. 

So there you have it: book choices in abundance. Life is good...considering.

Edit: Change of plans after reading a few more pages of Luster. I've decided that I'm among the "hate it" crowd on this one because it all seems kind of pointless and an overreach to be snarky. Luster becomes my third abandoned book of 2021. 







16 comments:

  1. Reading two books at a time is something I do a lot, especially if one of those books is nonfiction. (I like having both a nonfiction and a fiction story going at the same time.) But seven books at once? I've never tried that. Happy reading this month! :D

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    1. It's not really very difficult, Lark. Like you having a NF and a Fiction book on the go at the same time, the only requirement is that the books be different enough that you don't get them confused. Have a great March!

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  2. I usually have (2) books going at the same time sometimes (3) but my aging brain can't handle more than that LOL I love T. Umrigar and have read all she has written but one book and the one you mention may be the one. I need to check. I'm curious about Summer Water now as well as The Council of Animals...off to check them out further. Happy March Sam.

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    1. I have high hopes for The Council of Animals...and Summerwater is sucking me in so far, so I'm hoping they both turn out to be good choices.

      This is my first experience with an Umrigar book, but I really like her style and the approach she takes to telling a story, so it is unlikely to be my last.

      You'd be surprised how many books you can have going at the same time, Diane. It's more a trick of setting them up properly so that you don't end up finishing four or five of them in the same couple of days. Once you get the conveyor belt going, it's kind of automatic. It allows me to satisfy my curiosity with a little instant gratification.

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  3. I've got four on the go at the moment, no three, I just finished one tonight... two long-term type reads and a longish non-fiction. Tomorrow I'll pick out a new fiction, it's never an easy choice. Four books at a time seems to work nicely for me but I think whatever floats your boat is good.

    I own The Widows so I'll be interested to see what you make of that. The Brutal Telling was superb, I'm waiting for the library to reopen to get my next Gamache. And The Searcher by Tana French is one I have my eye on too.

    Happy March reading, Sam!

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    1. Like I mentioned above, Cath, I think maybe the real reason I enjoy doing it this way is the instant gratification of picking up an interesting book and starting on it even if I'm not done with something I'm already reading. That's gotten me into trouble a time or two with the library because I've had up to 12 going at a time and hated to turn any of them back in even if they were past due. :-)

      The Widows is a good story. I like the two female main characters a lot...two strong women, especially for their times. If it ends well, I'm planning to look into the next two books in the series. I've had that Tan French book on library hold since early November, and I'm still potentially weeks from getting my hand on a copy. As for the Gamache, I'm a little surprised by some of the things I'm learning about Olivier. He's much more complicated a character than I've been giving him credit for.

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  4. I had wondered, Sam, if you were reading an entire book per day, but now I know it's just multiples overlapping! I sometimes read two books at once, occasionally three, more than that and I get them muddled. Always wanted to read Lonesome Dove . . . and now I will add Council of Animals to my list too. I saw that film the Midnight Sky recently! There was one scene that seemed a bit too far-fetched and the film conveniently skipped over showing HOW he survived the incident, which annoyed me and made it hard to enjoy the rest. Well, good to know the book is better!

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    1. Jeane, I don't think I've ever read a whole book in one day in my life. These days, I usually manage between 150 and 200 pages a day, but that number has been higher during the pandemic than before. I read The Times from the UK every day, too, and that takes me a minimum of an hour.

      The best thing about Good Morning, Midnight is that half the book is spent on the space ship coming back to Earth. That's something that the movie didn't bother much with, so it's a whole new group of characters to deal with. It adds depth to the story.

      The Council of Animals sounds pretty cool...the animals meet to decide whether or not they want to help the human survivors or not.

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  5. I have to at least begin reading two and maybe even three books at a time because I agree it makes the reading go faster. Stick with only one book and the reading slows down. So glad you are reading Secrets Between Us and I must start reading Louise Penny. I have heard many good things.

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    1. Kathy, it works that way for me for sure. Sometimes, I'm just not in the right mood for a book, so if I have only one going, I'm not likely to pick it up at all and end up doing something else with my time. This way there's always something I'm kind of excited to get back to reading.

      The Secrets Between Us is impressive - and so heartbreaking. I know it has a positive message (at least I think it does) but the set-up is very disturbing.

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  6. I used to have that many books going at the same time, too, and didn't have a problem at all. Now I live a much "narrower" existence and keep it confined to two, one physical and one digital.

    I'm glad to see that you've been enjoying The Widows. I just finished The Stills. Now I'm waiting for the fourth book. I really like the way Montgomery writes.

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    1. I'm pretty sure at this point in The Widows that I'll be continuing on with the series, Cathy. I really like the main characters in this one a lot, and I'm enjoying the way that Jess Montgomery tells a story.

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  7. I usually start several books, then one will really engage my interest, and I'll speed through it before going back to the others. I read The Secrets Between Us years ago, and it is one of those books that has stayed with me.

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    1. That happens to me sometimes, too, Jen, especially when I find myself within 75 pages or so from the end of a book that I'm enjoying. I usually end up reading the last 75 or 100 pages of a book in the same day no matter how many I'm reading at the time. I think that helps me get better organized for what I want to say about the book.

      I don't know how I missed out on Umrigar's writing for this long...yes, I do...the author haystack is too immense to catch all the good ones. But I'm enjoying this one a lot and plan to read a lot more from her.

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  8. SEVEN books at a time? Wow. I do one print book and one audio book at the same time, but that's it. Otherwise, I'd never be able to keep them all straight.

    I think you'll like THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB. It's just fun. A totally diverting read, although it does have some serious bits to it. Mostly, though, it's just pure entertainment. THE BRUTAL TELLING is, well, brutal. I'll be interested to see what you think of it. Your other picks sound good, too, although LUSTER doesn't really sound like my kind of thing. I'm planning to read LONESOME DOVE soon. I loved it when I read it years ago, so I'm excited to revisit the story.

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  9. The seven I try to keep going generally include one audiobook, two e-books, and four tree books. Different formats seem to help keep me reading, too, for some reason. I suppose it's harder for the books to go stale on me that way.

    Luster turned out to be absolutely terrible. I still wonder what so many people saw in it...but all books don't fit all readers.

    I'm looking for to The Thursday Murder Club. You make it sound like a lot of fun, and different enough from what I usually read that it will serve as a nice change of pace. Lonesome Dove is holding up well on this re-read, too, so I don't think you can go wrong by picking that one up again.

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