Monday, March 30, 2015

The Year of Reading Dangerously and Brother of the More Famous Jack

Somehow, I've managed to finish two books in the last few days, despite visits from family, buying a new car, and all the other day to day responsibilities.  It took about a week to read The Year of Reading Dangerously and two days to read Brother of the More Famous Jack.  It helped that my husband Jack went to Connecticut yesterday to meet up with some sailing buddies, leaving me alone to read for most of the day.

I read about The Year of Reading Dangerously, by Andy Miller, on someone else's blog.  I should write down where I hear about or read about books so I can give the person credit.  Thank you person I've forgotten!  I don't know why I like to read about other people reading.  Maybe to see how they fit reading into their lives and how much they read.  

Andy Miller read from the time he was a child, but marriage, a job, and his own son had seriously cut into his and his wife's reading time.  He picks a dozen books he'd like to read and he gives himself a year to read them.  Instead of frittering away his commuting time on the train, he reads.  It takes him a while to get back into the habit and rhythm of reading, but soon he's back in the saddle.

He intersperses his thoughts on the books with anecdotes about his home life, his work life, his social life, book clubs, and his childhood.  He adds to his list after he's finished with the first dozen.  He and his wife read War and Peace together and she declares it the only book necessary.  I read it back in the early 1970s and enjoyed it, but I don't remember much about it.  Maybe it's time for a re-read.

I heard about Brother of the More Famous Jack, by Barbara Trapido, on First Tuesday Book Club, a podcast of a book show from Australia.  I love this podcast, I love the regular panelists, Jason Steger and Marieke Hardy, and the host, Jennifer Byrne.  They discussed Brother on the last podcast and were so enthusiastic about it that I ordered it from my library.  It was published in 1982 and is only 218 pages long.

The book is narrated by Katherine Browne, a young English woman attending college.  She becomes friends with her philosophy professor and his Bohemian family, the Goldmans.  There's Jacob, the professor, who escaped Germany during or just before World War II, his beautiful but continuously pregnant wife Jane, who spends her time gardening, playing the piano, and ordering her children about.  The house is filthy.  Roger is the gorgeous elder son who falls in love with Katherine and she with him.  But the course of true love ...  Then there is Jonathan, the younger brother, and a bunch of littler kids.

Katherine moves to Rome to teach English, has a long affair, and returns to England, where she reunites with the family.

I don't want to spoil any of it.  It's not full of twists and turns or surprises and earth shattering events, it's just life.  But it's an interesting trip to take with Katherine and the Goldmans.

If I've made any mistakes in any of this, I'm blaming my cat Turtle.  I'm trying to write these two books up before leaving in a few minutes to return them to the library (and pick up another book).  She's been on the bed all day, but from a floor and several rooms away, her feline ESP told her that I had finally sat down and was in a hurry to write something.  So she quickly moved downstairs to my lap  -  which is also where my appropriately named lap top is.  Cat or lap top, which is more important?  Cat, of course.


  1. I really like reading about people reading too. I suspect most avid readers do, it feels like we get to peep into the lives of others to see how they go about it.

    Oh Turtle! Cats do have ESP don't they? Mine do the same thing!

    1. The only real problem with reading about what and how others are reading is that I'm often adding to my already endless TBR list!

      I'm amazed at how skilled Turtle has become at insinuating herself onto my lap no matter what else is there - books, lap top, crossword puzzle!

  2. I like the sound of both of these but the Trapido one is only available in Fife libraries as an audio book, I don't know if I fancy that. The Miller one is marked 'on order' in the library catalogue so I think I'll request it, I wonder how long the queue is.
    I suppose that Turtle knows there's going to be another source of heat when you put your laptop on - then you'll end up getting heat from them both too!

    1. The Trapido book is not one I would have been interested in if they had not been so enthusiastic about it on First Tuesday Book Club. I was curious about it and, fortunately, my library had it. It's sort of dated in that it takes place in the 1970s / 80s, but I knew two families that were similar to the Goldmans. 'Grown up' flower children or hippies, very casual about everything.

  3. Laps are for doubt about it.

    Thanks for the reviews and thanks for the tip re the podcast...and happy lap to Turtle.

    1. Cats, dogs, any animal gets priority with us!

      That podcast, which I think is now just called The Book Club, is great. I like the personalities of the panelists and the host. They discuss new books, old books, classics, the whole gamut. It's a free download / subscription from I-Tunes.