My Week in Books: October 17-23

Welcome to a new Saturday feature here at Erin Reads that I’m calling:

My Week in Books

My plan is to highlight what new books have entered my life, what I’ve been reading, and what’s happened on Erin Reads over the past week. Please let me know if you like (or hate) this new format!

New Acquisitions

I’ve had some books arrive this week about which I am extremely excited. Two showed up in the mail, and one came in at the library.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

This new novel from Kate Morton, out on November 9th, arrived in the mail yesterday. I’ve not yet read anything by Kate Morton, but her books have been recommended to me over and over again. Here’s what GoodReads has to say:

“A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WW II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941.

“Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in ‘the distant hours’ of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.”

American Rose by Karen Abbott

By the author of Sin in the Second City, this one is a biography of Gypsy Rose Lee, who inspired the musical “Gypsy.” Somehow I missed that she was an actual person, so I am thrilled to read more about her! The book will be published at the end of December. From the back of the book:

“America in the Roaring Twenties. Vaudeville was king. Talking pictures were only a distant flicker. Speakeasies beckoned beyond dimly lit doorways; money flowed fast and free. But then, almost overnight, the Great Depression leveled everything. When the dust settled, Americans were primed for a star who could distract them from grim reality and excite them in new, unexpected ways. Enter Gypsy Rose Lee, a strutting, bawdy, erudite stripper who possessed a preternatural gift for delivering exactly what America needed.

“With her superb narrative skills and eye for compelling detail, Karen Abbott brings to vivid life an era of ambition, glamour, struggle, and survival. Using exclusive interviews and never-before-published material, she vividly delves into Gypsy’s world, including her intensely dramatic triangle relationship with her sister, actress June Havoc, and their formidable mother, Rose. Jazz- and Depression-era heavyweights make appearances as well, from Lucky Luciano and Harry Houdini to FDR, Fanny Brice, and the Minsky brothers–scrappy, savvy showmen who forever changed the face of American entertainment. Karen Abbott weaves their story into her rich narrative of a woman who defied all odds to become a legend–and whose sensational tale of tragedy and triumph embodies the American Dream.”

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

I’ve known about this book for a while, but it was Jodi’s review over on Minnesota Reads that prompted me to request it from the library. I’m hoping it will be a relatively quick read that I can squeeze in over the next few weeks! From the jacket flap:

“It’s not that far from Evanston to Naperville, but Chicago suburbanites Will Grayson and Will Grayson might as well live on different planets. When fate delivers them both to the same surprising crossroads, the Will Graysons find their lives overlapping and hurting in new and unexpected directions. With a push from friends new and old–including the massive, and massively fabulous, Tiny Cooper, offensive linesman and musical theater auteur extraordinaire–Will and Will begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most awesome high school musical.”

Read This Week

I spent this week frantically reading my first-ever challenge book as well as the book for my first-ever (voluntary) readalong, both of which are supposed to be done by the end of the month:

  • Yesterday I finally finished The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde for the Dueling Monsters readalong. I liked it quite a bit, except for chapter 12, which took me forever to get through! Once I finish listening to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde I’ll be posting thoughts on both.
  • I’ve just started A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini for the World Party Reading Challenge. This month’s country is Afghanistan. I was unimpresed with The Kite Runner, but many people have told me they liked A Thousand Splendid Suns better.

On audio, I’ve just about finished up David Sedaris’s When You Are Engulfed in Flames. I’ve read Sedaris’s books before, but listening to him read them is a completely different experience!

Reading October 17-23: The Picture of Dorian Gray, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and When You Are Engulfed in Flames

Erin Reads Recap

  • I started the week with a Sunday Salon post in which I asked how different readers cope with awful books. There were lots of interesting replies as people chose sides: completionist or abandonist?
  • On Monday I shared an overdue review of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, which I read for Banned Book Week but couldn’t quite figure out how to write.
  • Next up was my long-awaited look Daniel Pennac’s splendid little volume, The Rights of the Reader. It’s one I think just about every reader will thoroughly enjoy perusing!
  • Wednesday’s post was a plea for help from world literature lovers; I needed suggestions for my World Reading Challenge books for the year. I was thrilled that so many people offered recommendations. If you have any to add, I’d be quite glad to hear them!
  • I reviewed The Girl Next Door by Selene Castrovilla on Thursday. It’s a young adult novel about two friends, one of whom has terminal cancer. Just one minor quibble, and the rest I quite liked.
  • Finally, yesterday, I began a Friday miniseries discussing audiobooks. I quite love them and, over the next few weeks, will be highlighting some of my favorites in different genres.

Your Turn!

How was your reading week? Do tell!

Join the Conversation


  1. Can’t wait to hear what you think of The Distant Hours – my book club loved The Forgotten Garden. I really want to read Dorian Gray… wish I could have participated in the Dueling Monsters. I liked A Thousand Splendid Suns more than The Kite Runner, too.

    1. I’m hoping to finish The Distant Hours before it’s officially released, but I’m not sure my reading schedule will allow it. If not, then shortly thereafter! I really enjoyed Dorian Gray, much more than I expected. So far, A Thousand Splendid Suns is leaving The Kite Runner in the dust. I think I like hearing about the women.

  2. I also received “The Distant Hours” ARC, which I’m totally looking forward to. I really liked “The Kite Runner”; I thought it was very good, and if A Thousand Splendid Suns is better, it MUST go on my to-read list!

    Julie @ Knitting and Sundries

    1. Definitely check out A Thousand Splendid Suns! I am liking it SO much better than The Kite Runner. Suns focuses on the women of Afghanistan, which is really interesting. I hope you love it!

  3. Isn’t listening to Sedaris the best? I’ve tried reading him and it just doesn’t translate as well. Enjoy WG, WG. It’s a pretty quick read and I really enjoyed it.

  4. Yeah that one chapter DOES take forever!! Thankfully, no chapters like that in J&H and it’s a quick book. I really should listen to it on audio!!

    I can’t wait to see your thoughts on both books!

    I’ve not read The Kite Runner, but I read A Thousand Splendid Suns. It was underwhelming. Not bad, just not great either. I barely remember it, except one scene (involving pebbles) that I wish I could forget. I have phantom pain every time that image flashes unexpectedly into my mind. If you haven’t gotten there yet, don’t worry, it’s not gruesome or anything, it just hits on one of my weak spots.

    1. Hmm, if you thought A Thousand Splendid Suns was underwhelming, I’m not sure you would think too highly of The Kite Runner! Compared to The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns is, in my mind, a vast improvement (so far, at least!). I have gotten to the pebble scene, and it’s lodged in my mind as well. *shudder*

  5. Enjoyed your recap! My reading week was one of those really focussed ones, balanced, seemingly, by this week, which is shaping up to be one of those really NOT. Looking forward to your audio mini-series; I loved The Help on audio, most likely more than I would have enjoyed it on the page.

    1. I love those rare weeks when everything balances out! I’ve heard The Help on audio is amazing. I’d love to listen to it, once I’ve forgotten the story a little more 🙂

  6. I am so jealous of everyone who got ARCs of Kate Morton’s books! She’s an Australian author, but I don’t know any Aussies who got ARCs! Oh, well. Will get it soon enough.

    1. I didn’t realize she’s Australian! That seems unfair that no Aussies got ARCs. Mine came from Shelf Awareness. I’ve not read her books before, so getting this ARC may be what I need to get me into her novels.

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