It’s been a long year. But that probably goes without saying. And I’ve had a busy few weeks. I spent several days the first week of August at The Greenbrier in West Virginia, attending a law conference with my parents, doling out book recommendations (which inspired my return here!), and on a self-guided tour of reading spots.
From West Virginia, I went almost directly to Cooperstown, NY with friends for Glimmerglass, an annual summer opera festival, where we spent a fabulous weekend watching two shows a day (minus a production of The Magic Flute unfortunately cancelled due to lightning risk). We can’t wait to go back next year!
All of which to say, despite vacation days used and travel time, I got suspiciously little reading done. My summer and winter vacations usually see me consume about five books a week. But this time, I finished only one! Mostly for work!
But I did manage to start Maggie Shipstead’s magnificent THE GREAT CIRCLE, which I’ve been eager to read since the spring. Charting the course of a woman circumnavigating the globe and an actress playing her in a present day biopic, the novel feels both epic and deeply personal. The way Shipstead moves between time is fascinating. It makes me want to grab a legal pad and map out the novel’s structure.
I’m not very far along, and I have a feeling it may take me the rest of the summer to finish, but I’m eager to complete it before fall submissions bury me. (Not that summer ones haven’t–why do you think it will take me until September?!)
I’ve been drawn to lengthy books of late, mostly by authors I love. Fall 2021 provides an embarrassment of riches in fiction–new Lauren Groff, Anthony Doerr, Colson Whitehead, Amor Towles, to name just a few–and it seems clear that some put pandemic productivity to good use. I had the chance to read Anthony Doerr’s spectacular CLOUD CUCKOO LAND earlier this summer, which is sure to remain one of my favorite books of the last few years. For the first couple hundred pages, I didn’t quite know how these disparate threads (1492 Constantinople; present day Idaho; a spaceship a century from now) came together, but when they did, wow, was it incredible. CLOUD CUCKOO LAND was the first book that I truly felt had to have been written during the pandemic (although has been in the works for eight years). The final twist blew me away. I can’t wait for other people to read it, to trust it, to see how inventive it truly feels.
On the breakfast side, this weekend I’m nibbling away at treats from the newly opened Maman near my house–a nutella beignet, strawberry rhubarb croissant bun, and chocolate pistachio croissant shared with my visiting parents.