Book Report: April Round-Up and Powell’s Book Store Purchases

May 12, 2022

I have now read all four of Mary Lawson’s wonderful novels, and I hope she is writing, writing, writing! The Other Side of the Bridge (2006) is her second novel (Crow Lake is her first) and is set in a small Canadian town, shifting between two time periods, WWII and the 1960’s. The main character Ian, the son of the town’s physician, is often called upon to help his father, but as a teenager he prefers working on the farm owned by Arthur and his wife Laura. The story of Arthur and his brother Jake is a major part of the story, as is the story of Pete, a Native American friend of Ian’s. Many subplots, but they weave together beautifully.

Lawson’s 3rd book is Road Ends (2013). Warning: Dysfunctional family alert! The mother just wants to have babies and then ignores them when they have grown out of babyhood. Tom is the oldest of seven boys and Megan is the only daughter. She escapes to London and the father, who is a banker, escapes to his study. A heart-breaking story, but oh, Lawson can write. I reviewed her most recent book, A Town Called Solace in my March Round-Up.

I am now fully immersed in a mystery series by a husband-wife duo whose pseudonym is Nicci French. I read the first in the series, Blue Monday (2011) in April, and we listened to the second, Tuesday’s Gone (2012) on our road trip to Portland, OR, and this week I read the third, Waiting for Wednesday. I guarantee I will complete the remaining days of the week this month. Set in London, the main character is the highly intuitive psychotherapist, Frieda Klein, who could use some therapy herself. She develops an informal, but key relationship with the police department. A small boy is kidnapped and this re-opens a case from years before. Get ready for a major twist at the end. I recommend reading these books in order, by the way, for some of the characters and plots continue from book to book.

I have already reviewed two favorite nonfiction books read in April, Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jauoud and On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed, but I will mention two others. First, Susan, Linda, Nina and Cokie, The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR by Lisa Napoli. (2021) As an NPR junkie, I throughly enjoyed reading about their key roles in the early years of NPR, and as I write this, I can hear each of their distinctive voices. My only complaint about the book is that it lacks pictures, but it is radio after all!

I have not yet moved the other book, The Divine Dance, The Trinity and Your Transformation (2016) by Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell from my basket of morning meditation materials to my bookshelf, for I keep re-reading sections, in order to reflect and absorb the words even more. Despite the deep topic, the writing style is conversational, and invites inner conversation. The words “flow and “relationship” are key to the discussion. No doubt I will refer to this book again in future blog posts.

The Powell’s Report

First, I should mention that one night of our road trip to Portland, OR, we stayed in Missoula, MT, which has a charming downtown and a good independent bookstore, Fact and Fiction. Even though I knew I would make a big haul at Powell’s, I can’t pass up supporting independent bookstores wherever I find them. I bought two novels on my TBR list: Beneficence (2020) by Meredith Hall, which I read on the trip and loved and will write about in more detail in a later post, and A Ghost in the Throat (2020) by Doireann Ni Ghriofa. I listened to an interview with the Irish author on NPR recently and am intrigued.

I also bought a book at the Crazy Horse Memorial; a book I have been meaning to read for a long time, and I am so happy to have bought it at the memorial location: Black Elk Speaks, The Complete Edition by John G. Neihardt.

Then Powell’s. Armed with my TBR list on my phone and a store map, which is definitely needed, I took a deep breath and realized I needed a plan. I decided to focus on two sections–mystery and literature, both on the same floor and close to the coffee shop. At Powell’s used and new books are shelved together, and I decided to only buy books that had not been published recently, instead of current books easy to find in most bookstores. I made one exception, Great Circle (2021) by Maggie Shipstead. By the time I made the decision to narrow my purchases, I already had this in my basket and couldn’t force myself to eliminate it.

These are the used books I found that are on my TBR list:

  • Solar Storms by Linda Hogan (1995)
  • The Gown by Jennifer Robson (2019)
  • Jubilee by Margaret Walker (1966)
  • The Expats (2012) and The Paris Diversion (2019) by Chris Pavone

I also decided to get a couple books I loved and want to re-read: The Stone Diaries (1994) by Carol Shields and The Shell Seekers (1987) by Rosamunde Pilcher.

Finally, a surprise find, a book I had not heard about, The Pleasure of Their Company (2000) by Doris Grumbach. This slim hardcover memoir written near her 80th birthday was on the shelf next to her novels. It caught my eye and for $6.95 used I could not resist.

I’m thrilled with my pile and the whole Powell’s experience. Now I know what our granddaughter meant when she said we would need to set a timer for ourselves or we would still be wandering the aisles when the store closed for the day.

An Invitation

What were your favorite April books and what is waiting on your shelves for the right time? I would love to know.

2 thoughts on “Book Report: April Round-Up and Powell’s Book Store Purchases

  1. How have I not heard of Mary Lawson? Her books sound very interesting. I’ll be putting her on my TBR list. Ah, The Shell Seekers…read many years ago and an all-time favorite.

    I would love the chance to spend an entire day at Powell’s!

    My favorite book that I read in April was Bewilderment by Richard Powers.

    My to-read pile right now consists of several library books: Lymph & Longevity (reading that one now), I Didn’t Do the Thing Today by Madeleine Dore, Everyday Trauma by Tracey Shors PhD, Bittersweet by Susan Cain, and Seeking Wisdom by Julia Cameron.

    Liked by 1 person

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