Month in Review: May 2024

Literature

This month, I reviewed April’s Reading the Theatre event and looked forward to my 10 Books of Summer plans. I kept up with my one book a month for the Ozathon (Emerald City) and read another book for the Nonfiction Reader Challenge, though I have yet to post about that one.

Otherwise, my reading was all over the place: comfort rereads, kooky mysteries, dark-tinged stories from a favorite fantasist, a visceral memoir of mental illness and relationship woes, one of the most baffling novellas in English literature, and more. Here’s the list:

Language

The Turn of the Screw is a book written in English, but upon first encountering it in college I found even more obscure than reading in another language. It was picked by an English student to read together, but I have not heard from her since, and hope it hasn’t put her off English literature altogether!

Upon rereading it, I still can’t parse all the sentences, but I gained more insight into this ghostly tale — which, like all the best ghost stories, appears to be about a haunted person, not just a spooky place. James has created a compelling but ultimately impossible to solve puzzle about how we store and process memory, capturing us within the mind of a narrator we can neither trust nor get away from. I’m glad I finally read it again and that it offered up a bit more of its secret.

Meanwhile, I keep plugging along with German and French — more the former, but that is soon to change with what has become an annual French Summer Book Club hosted by Emma of Words and Peace. This year we’re reading Madame Bovary, a request of mine as it’s another book I read in college and could get very little out of. The link to join our Discord discussion group is here — feel free to read along in translation if you wish. The discussion will be in French, but the level there will be much simpler than the book!

Madame Bovary, with Isabelle Huppert — from the 1991 film by Claude Chabrol

Life

My digestion has been up and down lately. After a scary bad migraine, I had a gastrocopy to check for a bleeding ulcer or other serious issue. I found that I don’t have that, but I do have a hiatal hernia (a very common condition where part of the stomach pokes up through the diaphragm, making it easier for acid to get into the esophagus.) Could that have been causing some of my problems? With this information, will I be able to take steps that improve my digestion and overall health?

Hoping that to be the case, I am hoping to get somewhere further afield during our July holiday — I don’t want to jinx the plans yet by sharing them, but will certainly do so if they work out. In the meantime, it’s mostly been a cold and rainy spring, though with some opportunities to enjoy the blooming season.

My favorite sheep have appeared by the roadside, where I walk daily as part of my work shift when weather permits … I think they are Valais Blacknose, also known as the world’s cutest sheep. When their fleece grows you can see why: it’s long and curly and makes them look adorable. Here they are taking a nap, and I can only aspire to be so relaxed.

Linked at The Sunday Post at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, the Sunday Salon at Readerbuzz, and the Monthly Wrap-up Round-up at Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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15 thoughts on “Month in Review: May 2024

  1. I agree with you — have always found Henry James’ language usage baffling. I am thinking anyway of reading something by him soon.
    best, mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  2. I had a long conversation at a friend’s retirement party about books that are difficult to read and comprehend. The woman I was talking to was upset because she’d tried to read a book by Cormac McCarthy and she found the book very difficult to read. She kept saying, But I’m a good reader, and But I read a lot, and I assured her that some authors can be difficult no matter how good a reader we are, no matter how much we read. I hope Henry James didn’t ruin English for this student.

    I have now downloaded a copy of Madame Bovary in French. Fingers crossed.

    1. Yay! I made it through the first chapter. It helps to be able to click on words for a translation although my e-reader cannot deal with verb forms.

  3. I love Henry James!! ❤

    I hope you can get relief from your digestive problems and some medical guidance. 😯

    I love those sheep. The first time I saw them on social media, a few years back, I thought people were mistaking stuffed animals for real sheep! 🐏

    Have a wonderful new week. ☀

    1. I’ve finally begun to see the appeal of Henry James, although some of those sentences just seem unnecessarily obfuscating. And as I saw someone complain somewhere, just not believable that a 19th century governess would write that way. (It’s easier to believe in the ghosts…)

      Thanks for the good wishes!!

  4. I recently read ‘The Turn of the Screw’ as well! It isn’t a super long book, but it still does take a bit of effort to get through, doesn’t it? And “a compelling but ultimately impossible to solve puzzle” is a great way of describing it.

    Good luck with tackling those health issues (fingers crossed that this new finding provides the key to managing things), and I hope you have a lovely upcoming holiday too.

  5. On the one hand you make me kind of want to start picking up again the classics I was going to read that I never did. But then you also remind me why I got to where I didn’t want to bother anymore either, lol. Love the sheep! If only life was as easy for us as for them. I hope you get your digestion and migraine issues figured out so you can have a nice trip in July. Here’s to a good June!
    https://lisalovesliterature.bookblog.io/2024/06/01/the-looooong-and-the-short-of-it-may-2024-wrap-up-post-and-looking-forward-to-june/

    1. I was just too young to read a lot of those books. Now I get more out of them, though I wish I had the time to read I did in school. Thanks for your good wishes!

  6. Sorry about the health worries! I remember talking to a young priest in Rome about his back pain once and I said eagerly, “Oh, who is your local doctor? My brother also has back trouble!” The priest looked at me quizzically and said, “Dr. United Airlines!” I hope the doctors in your area are better than that.

    Magic Flutes is one of my favorites. I have read my adult Ibbotsons to bits.

  7. I can only commiserate with you on your ongoing health difficulties, Lory, I don’t know how you remain so positive when they would floor me.

    Glad you enjoyed your Ibbotson reread, despite the protagonists being too good to be true! Curious how the male who’s pulled himself up by the bootstraps here turns out so differently from his counterpart in the Aiken novel Blackground which I’ve just read and scheduled a review for.

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