Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book-a-Day Challenge: Week 4 Recap

Here is the final installment of my June Book-a-Day responses. The challenge was a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too. I hope some of the books I've mentioned over the last month have found their way into your To-Be-Read pile.

June 22. Out of print: FRANCIS THE FIRST, FIRST GENTLEMAN OF FRANCE by Francis Hackett. Published in 1934 by Irish journalist and novelist Hackett, this witty biography presents a colorful and fairly accurate account of the French king's exploits. It was the first biography of Francis I ever read. I own a copy of a later edition, but I'd buy a copy of this first edition for the dust jacket alone!

June 23. Made to read at school: As a literature Ph.D, I couldn't possibly count all the books I've been made to read at school! Here's one, though, dating back to college, that I probably never would have picked up on my own: HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad. For whatever reason, I expected to hate it, but it's turned out to be one of my favorite books. I've read it several times, once aloud to my husband as we drove from New Jersey to North Carolina. Sure made the miles pass quickly!

June 24. Hooked me into reading: BARNEY BEAGLE by Jean Bethell. I remember my mom buying me this book at the grocery store when I was five or six years old. I loved this story of the beagle in the pet shop window and the boy brought him home. I kept the book for years, and although I eventually lost it in a move, I've never lost the love of reading it inspired. I still remember how much I treasured that pink and brown Easy Reader...it was the very first book I got to choose for myself.

June 25. Never finished it: PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN by Vanora Bennett. I made it more than halfway through this novel set in Tudor England and then had to keep bumping it to read books scheduled for review. Eventually too much time passed and I realized I'd have to start over to rescue the plot and characters from the mists of memory. I was enjoying the novel and fully intend to finish...will make it one of my TBR goals for the summer.

June 26. Should have sold more copies: I'm changing this one to Should SELL more copies and listing all my writer friends' current books. All these authors have written excellent novels and I want to see their books continue to fly off the shelves! The list includes Heather Webb's BECOMING JOSEPHINE; Susan Spann's CLAWS OF THE CAT and soon-to-be-released BLADE OF THE SAMURAI; Marci McGuire Jefferson's GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN; Lisa Janice Cohen's DERELICT; Patricia Bracewell's SHADOW ON THE CROWN; Lucy Pick's PILGRIMAGE; Helene Wecker's THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI; Sophie Perinot's THE SISTER QUEENS; Ann Weisgarber's THE PROMISE; Maryanne O'Hara's CASCADE, and all the wonderful books by Michelle Moran, Christopher W. Gortner, and Catherine Delors. Reader friends can't go wrong by picking up any of these books! How high can we push their numbers?

June 27. Want to be one of the characters: THE HEPTAMERON by Marguerite de Navarre. If I got to be one of the characters in the Queen of Navarre's story collection, I would experience life in Renaissance France and see for myself the places, people and things I love reading and learning about. I would choose to become one of the characters in a tale set at court, or even Parlamente, the figure who, in the collection's frame story, represents the author herself.

June 28. Bought in my favorite independent bookstore: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN. Twain is my husband's favorite author, and I bought this at our local independent bookstore, Towne Center Books, a couple of years ago when it first appeared and kept selling out. The owner of TCB miraculously obtained a copy for me, making my husband one happy camper on his birthday. TCB is a great shop and hosts marvelous events--my friend Susan Spann will be appearing there again in a few weeks' time to celebrate the release of her second Shinobi mystery.

June 29. The one I have reread most often: I really don't like to reread books...there are so many books I haven't read, I hesitate to spend time rereading a story I already know. The two books I've reread most often are GONE WITH THE WIND and KRISTIN LAVRANSDATTER, but since I've already used those as answers for other questions, I'll mention GREEN DARKNESS by Anya Seton. I loved this book in high school. When I came across a used copy at a book sale a few years ago, I decided to reread it, hoping to recapture the magic. Unfortunately, the story didn't appeal to me at all thirty years later. Guess I'm not as romantic as I once was!

June 30. Would save if my house burned down: GIRART DE ROUSSILLON ou L'EPOPEE DE BOURGOGNE. I would save this book because it is the most beautiful I own: a full-color facsimile reproduction of the illustrated manuscript of the twelfth century chanson de geste recorded by Jean de Wauquelin in 1453 for the Duke of Burgundy, Philippe Le Bon, who wanted to claim Girart as an illustrious ancestor. An absolute delight to view, it was an extravagant gift from my husband back when we had little money.

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