Trying something different for Lit Life this time; let’s just call it Diary of a Person Who Might Read Too Much, or, less elegantly, Some Stuff I Read This Week.

Share story

Lit Life

Trying something different for Lit Life this time; let’s just call it Diary of a Person Who Might Read Too Much, or, less elegantly, Some Stuff I Read This Week.

Saturday, March 10: A few days ago, I interviewed Laura Lippman, author of numerous excellent mysteries (she’ll be in town March 30), and we briefly discussed how her current book, “Sunburn,” references Anne Tyler’s “Ladder of Years.” Which is a very good book that I would like to reread this weekend! But I can’t find it. Vaguely remembering that it’s a red paperback, I check all of my shelves, including the broken one (damn you, Ikea); but it appears to have walked away.

Like a traveling loved one, the book becomes all the more desirable with absence and I become mildly obsessed with finding it, trying the library online as well as my local secondhand bookstore. Obviously, there is some sort of “Ladder of Years” conspiracy going on, as I can’t find it anywhere. Are all known copies being rounded up? For some nefarious purpose? Eventually I give up and have a swell time reading Luis Albert Urrea’s new family saga, “The House of Broken Angels,” instead. Now will have to lay my hands on more of his books. In my spare time.

Sunday, March 11: Working out — and everyone reads on the treadmill, right? The treadmill is where, years ago, I made what may well be my most significant literary discovery: that the “Twilight” books make way more sense if you’re breathing really hard. (Seriously! It’s something about the sentence structure.)

Anyway, treadmill reading is challenging because it needs to be hardcover (or a really big, spreadable paperback), not too complex or difficult, but engrossing enough to distract from the general unpleasantness of treading. I often find myself turning to the Holy Grail of treadmill reading: one of three volumes of “Downton Abbey” screenplays, which are full of delightful explanatory footnotes from series creator Julian Fellowes. And if I get a little weepy upon re-encountering What Happened To Lady Sybil In Season Three — well, I can explain it away as sweat.

Sunday, March 11, later: Several things I should be reading for work … but I’m in the mood for an Irish mystery, so I pluck Dervla McTiernan’s “The Ruin” from a pile. It’s an early reader’s copy of a novel that won’t be published until July, and it pulls me right in; one of those small-town-murder-investigation things, with a nicely stalwart detective named Cormac Reilly at its center and plenty of darkly colorful characters rotating around him. Very Tana French (and shouldn’t she be having a new one coming out soon?); very addictive. And so goes the afternoon. Various domestic chores don’t get done, but I need to know whodunit, don’t I?

Wednesday, March 14: With a weekend solo trip coming up (going to East Coast for a wedding), I posed a question on Twitter: “Going out of town for three nights. Is six books too many? (In my defense there’s a long plane ride involved.)”

“Is this a real question?” one person responded. It was. I packed seven.

Thursday, March 15 – Sunday, March 18: OK, maybe seven books was extreme. But I’m talking about a total of more than 11 hours in-flight, plus waiting time in airports, plus bedtime reading … and if I only brought a couple of books, what if I didn’t like them? (Don’t start on me with the e-readers. If you have one and you enjoy it, that’s great. But I like paper, especially worn-soft used books and brand-new review copies. I promise I won’t make you carry my books for me.) On the flight out, I enjoyed Laura Thompson’s biography “Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life”; particularly the lengthy section in which Thompson describes — in prose as sleek as any noirish mystery — how Christie famously vanished from sight for 11 days in 1926, after a revelation from her caddish husband.

And on the way back, since I seemed to be in an English biography groove (it seemed to go well with peanuts and Diet Coke), I made my way through Sonia Purnell’s 2015 book “Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill,” a selection inspired by the way-too-brief glimpse of Clementine Churchill in the movie “Darkest Hour.” Kristin Scott Thomas, playing her, hinted at a much more interesting woman than the film had time to reveal. And she was indeed fascinating; though her husband, alas, rather stole this book as well. (He was fond of turning somersaults in the bathtub, which necessitated installing a drain in their bathroom floor.)

During some pleasant solitude in my hotel room, I got caught up in local author Jonathan Evison’s latest, “Lawn Boy” — a beguiling coming-of-age-while-broke tale, set on Bainbridge. (More on that next week; watch for my interview with Evison, who’ll be making a number of local appearances for the book.) And I squeezed in a reread: Lippman’s 2016 “Wilde Lake,” a murder mystery wrapped in a nuanced story of how the past, in different clothing, haunts the present.

Books I didn’t get to this week, but will be tackling very soon: Yaa Gyasi’s “Homegoing,” which is the 2018 Seattle Reads selection; Gyasi will be in town in May for a number of events. Christine Mangan’s “Tangerine,” an atmospheric Patricia Highsmith-ish novel that I got exactly halfway through several weeks ago, then by necessity had to put down and have been dying to get back to (though I may just have to start again). Alan Hollinghurst’s “The Sparsholt Affair,” which just sounds delicious. Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad,” which has been on my to-read list for approximately forever (and recently came out in paperback, so I actually have it now). A new biography of Robin Williams, by Dave Itzkoff (coming in May, but I have an early copy). And … well, next week is a new week, isn’t it?