Saturday, August 30, 2014

Beat the Heat Readathon - Finished!

Here I am with a long-overdue update on my progress for the 2nd Annual Beat the Heat Readathon (hosted by Jessi at Novel Heartbeat and Reanna at Phantasmic Reads) which I finished as of today.  Speaking of beating the heat, our summer so far has been mild to say the least for South Mississippi.  Granted, it is still officially August (for one more day!), but we have not actually had any 100 degree or hotter days this summer yet.  We even get a break from the oppressive humidity at times.

All of which is to say, I don't know that there has been much heat to beat around here during this readathon.  But I plugged away at it, regardless.

To recap my books for the readathon, I had two to read.  The first one was Summer's Lease by John Mortimer, which I finished a couple of days ago, and it was a great choice of book for the readathon.  First of all, unbeknownst to me when I chose it, this novel is set in the dog days of August, when an English family named the Pargeters is on holiday in Italy.  Now I was not on holiday in Italy myself (and likely never will be), but I could certainly sympathize with the August part.  And there's something cool to me about reading a story set in the season in which I am reading it.

Molly Pargeter is an Englishwoman who has secured the lease of an Italian villa for the two weeks of her family's summer vacation.  She, her husband Hugh, their three daughters, and her philandering father move into "La Felicita" for the vacation, but from the start there's something not quite right.  What appears at first to be some harmless idiosyncratic rules of the villa's owner (only a family with three daughters can rent the villa; the family must have dinner by candlelight outside on the villa's terrace every night) turn out to be signs of something more ominous, and the story quickly turns into a wonderful mystery.  I suppose I should have expected this, since Mortimer is better known for his character Rumpole of the Bailey, but I didn't make the connection at first.  There is a lot of humor in this story as well.  The characters were so interesting and the mystery was so -- um, mysterious -- that it was one of those rare books where I sank into it and did not want to get out of it.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes a good "cozy" mystery.

The other book I read for the readathon was 50 Things To Do When You Turn 50, edited by Ronnie Sellers.  This book was given to me by a couple of very dear friends on the occasion of my 50th birthday a few weeks ago.  However, it was a book that I ended up forcing myself to read and actually I skimmed through quite a lot of it.  I just lost patience with it, and much of the advice on things to do now that I am 50 were not applicable to me at all.  For example, I sailed right past the suggestion to learn to belly dance.  My belly dances sometimes, it is true, but it's not because I want it to.

I mentioned I lost patience with the book, and that's because some of the advice in the book was frankly contradictory.  I know a book like this has to appeal to the widest possible audience to be successful, but honestly: one piece of advice was to "Stop obsessing about your flaws," and then IMMEDIATELY AFTER IT was another piece of advice to "Put your best face forward" (TRANSLATION: Why Not Try Some Plastic Surgery Now That You're 50?).  Which one do you want me to do, guys?  I need to know.  Actually I don't, because I probably will not follow either of those pieces of advice.

I'm being a little hard on this book, but these kinds of books are never my favorites, and if it had not been a gift, this is a book I never would have read.  The "advice" in these kinds of books is typically trite, unrealistic, or plainly self-evident boilerplate.  (For those of you who are curious what other kinds of advice I'm not taking from this book, I have no plans to "Embrace my inner Trump," "Play golf in Scotland," "Throw a slow-dance party," or "Drive a race car.")

So that's it for the Beat the Heat Readathon!  I suppose I should have posted daily pages read or stuff like that, but that kind of thing is probably never going to happen on my blog.  I just enjoy the reading too much (usually) to keep up with a lot of statistics on how I am going with it.


  1. Oh, I don't know. If someone wanted to finance a trip Scotland for me to play golf, I could deal with that. (Never played golf in my life and have never wanted to.) Do you think it's okay to do at forty?

    1. I'm sure it is. I can give you a permission slip if you need one. :-)