The Second Stack

comments: 97


Here are the books I picked out on Friday. What I did was print out all the comments and then start at the beginning and circle everything that looked interesting or that I hadn't read yet. I only made it through maybe the first third. Then I went around the bookstore and pulled everything that they had from my circles, and a couple more that I just thought looked good. Then I sat in the coffee shop (in the bookstore) and very quickly went through the stack and thinned some things out. If anything looked even remotely sad or serious or complicated I didn't want it. I don't like to know too much about books before I read them. Most of my choices are just based on intuition/cover/first page. I don't read book reviews. This is possibly why I am constantly coming home with books that I don't actually like, but that's why I mostly go to the library. I almost never seem to agree with the reviews, anyway. For me, it's best to have a big pile, and no due date. I cannot read my library books on time, generally. I don't like hardcover books, for the most part, and I hate dust jackets. Neither do I like new mass-market paperbacks. They don't open. Old ones are okay — they sort of crack open. I like trade paperbacks printed on nice paper. You can see I have many requirements before I even know what the book's "about." And you thought I was picky about lasagna (which, by the way, I didn't have this weekend, because the oven is still busted. We had shrimp scampi).

Andy is different than I am. I have never known him to do much "light" reading. In the past several years he has read The Canterbury Tales, The Plague, The Aeneid, Beowulf. Frankenstein. Not even kidding. Things the rest of us were forced to read then write papers about. Since he recently survived a period of head-exploding work-related stress, I convinced him to perhaps read something a little less taxing on the gray matter. He picked out several Louis L'Amours and I think he is enjoying them immensely. There really is nothing better, or more relaxing, than losing yourself in a great book, don't you think? I would love to see, like, some research on what people's brainwaves look like when they're reading some fiction they are loving. I bet they're long, loose scallops.

I've finished two books since last week, which is more than I've read in a looooong time, so I am psyched, on a roll. I read Mary Stewart's Rose Cottage, which I loved and was just what I wanted: English village, gypsies, cottages and roses, a second chance at love, mysterious disappearances, missing documents. Thornyhold is next for me. Already it has a witch and a lonely child. Perfect. And I finished Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone, which was brilliant. I've seen that book around for the past several years and probably wouldn't have picked it up had my friend not handed me her copy, but I really loved this memoir, and I will put her other books on my list now, too. She is such an honest writer, economical and evocative with her language.

I realized when I got these books that it has been a long time since I've bought fiction. I am really out of the habit. I miss it. I used to read constantly and this past year I've just made it through a page or two before falling asleep every night. I want to change that this summer. I might need a summer-reading t-shirt, and some stickers. I'm going for quantity here. 


I get exactly what you mean about the old-paperbacks.

I'll have to add these titles to my book club's list. Looks like some awesome reading!

i have book-envy. i don't know what it is, but over the last few years i just can't keep my mind focused enough to read a book from cover to cover. i love vintage books in particular and buy them for the cover art more often then to actually read them!

Your book pile looks great! I love Marian Keyes especially, and I think Anybody Out There is my favorite.

There are surely some treats in that stack! Enjoy!

Eat Cake is one of my favorites. Have you read any Rosamunde Pilcher? Or her son Robin Pilcher? Also most excellent authors. Your description of the Mary Stewart book sounds like something I need to read. I just might be stopping off at the book store on the way to pick up kids afterschool today!

You are just going to love Thornyhold, does your copy have the darling line drawings at the beginning of the chapters?

Heh, you definitely need this t-shirt :)

I've seen them at Powell's on Burnside before, in the little knick-knack section by the back entrance.

I'm definitely more on the heavy reading side of things as well, and end up reading more philosophy and philosophical fiction than anything else, though I love well-written light fiction and poetry and a lot of other things as well, when I get into them. I suppose it says something about me that my two favorite writers are Sylvia Plath and J.D. Salinger, one who spent life in and out of mental hospitals and committed suicide and one who is a manic-depressive recluse. Their writing just gives me shivers though, it's fantastic :)

I was just thinking, have you read The Secret Garden? That's a wonderful, wonderful book.

Cheers and happy reading!

Oh, you're going to love Jeanne Ray's books! If you haven't read Julie & Romeo, you must. And you'll also like Elizabeth Arthur's book Binding Spell; some of the characters are dogs...

Oh, you're inspiring me to read, read, read! Love how you describe what kind of books you like..and can't wait to find the rose cottage book! yipee!

My bookworm daughter (teen) is just the opposite. She loves hardcovers. I've been getting into books on tape lately. I pop a cd in when painting or driving. Sometimes I get distracted though and have to play it again. Cat ^..^

I think you'll enjoy the Marian Keyes. She's an extremely amusing Irish woman - always excellently funny when interviewed on TV. Have you tried any Phillipa Gregory books? Or how about some English crime books - I can highly recommend Ruth Rendell, Margaret Yorke, Minette Walters, Nicci French or Patrick Redmond.

Oh what fun. Nothing like a stack of books and time to read! But I'm all nerves too because a book I suggested is on the pile. I hope you enjoy it! And I've added a couple of books to my wish list thanks to you and your book-contributing friends.

Re. fiction, I've been off it for a while too, and have been breaking my self back in very, very gently--"I Capture the Castle" last weekend, and both the first and second Penderwicks books this weekend and both made me feel very cozy and happy.

Happy to see you had my suggestion "World of Pies" in your stack. Perfect, light summer "sitting-in-the-yard-with- a-dog-and-some-lemonade" reading. Hope you enjoy it.

I printed out the list you put together last year - very handy...when I remember to take it with me. I read a lot less than I used to - busy life and fatigue gets in the way, but you have inspired me to create another teetering pile of books to put beside my bed :)

"The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets" was one of my recent favorites -- a sharper and wittier version of "I Capture the Castle" (another favorite), complete with a hint of rock and roll and an amateur magician.

Perfect spring reading! Great choice. Hope you enjoy it! :)

Yippeee! I not only see that "World Of Pies" made it in there, but that someone else recommended it as well! Let us know what you think!

Not on the topic of books at all…
But you and Andy (and perhaps Clover, I can't tell if it was Clover or my new pup) made an appearance in my dream last night.

We (along with my family) were watching a movie lounging on the floor, in chairs and on a bed. Actually looking back at yesterday's post, Andy appeared in the same loungin position in my dream. Perhaps I'm reading too many blogs?

If you liked Reichl's book, then you will love, love, love Patricia Volk's "Stuffed". One of my favorite books ever.

Enjoy them all--you have some great titles there! I'm all for the tshirt and stickers, too. Hey, do you think that if we finish all of our summer reading that we can treat ourselves to a beautiful Posie bookbag? Hmmmm.....

Yes, yes, yes! Trade paperbacks, yes. Hardcovers with dust jackets, no. I used to devour books too, but since crafting (and two children) took over my life, I haven't read anything cover to cover in like 5 whole years. Maybe I'll change that this summer, too... thanks for the gentle reminder that getting lost in a book is sheer bliss.

I think you should go all out with the Sarah Utter "Reading is Sexy" line... Shirt, bumper sticker, magnet, etc.!

Excellent pile! Does your local library have a summer reading program for adults to help keep you going? Might be fun.

eat cake and od magic - two of my past faves...

Libraries should have summer reading programs for grownups. I loved signing my kids up for that every year and taking them to pick out books. My daughter would read the required number of books in about a week. My son would only read a book if it had Garfield in it. They're in college now and I miss those summer days.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


post a comment

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at