Tag Archives: reading

The Beadworkers by Beth Piatote

The Beadworkers by Beth Piatote brought back memories of gingham table clothes and picnics near Clark Creek with Grandma, trips to Omak, where I learned about suicide races, and the smell of tender beef stew from the crock pot, sliding in Grandma’s passenger seat as she accelerated over the railroad tracks, the proper way to make a flowerbed, the importance of reading, assimilation because your life depended on it, adoption.

Piatote knows the inland northwest well, and reading her work is like learning that someone else has the same secret you do. I have a similar feeling when reading authors like Sherman Alexie and Raymond Carver. They know these places and these people too, and it’s so nice to feel seen by them.

Reading is one thing that renews me and gives me a stronger sense of who I am. That sense of who I am has changed in wonderful ways in the past few years as I’ve become a mother, but also in worrisome ways. There is a daily grind, a constant sense of work to be done, no rest for the weary. Reading Piatote’s bio, I saw that she is also a mother, and I felt even more reaffirmed. She is able to remember. So can I.

The book made me feel creative and curious and revitalized, and in reading it, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my job, my colleagues, and my students and the life I get to live that puts me in the way of this literature.

The Nez Percé language throughout
the book was powerful to see and sound out.

Beneath the Apple Leaves by Harmony Verna

Despite my fears that after having a baby it would be years before I could read again, I was actually able to read a book before the semester started! Beneath the Apples Leaves was my first foray into “genre fiction” in I don’t know how long. Years and years. It was a gift. It was there. And so, during one of the baby’s long naps, I picked it up and started reading.

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image from Amazon

The characters fulfilled the strictest and most obvious gender expectations. The plot lines and their resolutions could be spotted from a mile away. I found myself skimming through the first quarter of the book, getting through the basic (and, again, predictable) background information as quickly as possible.

After that, though, I was surprised at myself when I started to slow down, the details engaging me a bit more. In fact, toward the end, I’d even refer to this book as an enjoyable “page turner”!

So, despite it’s obvious shortcomings as a piece of Literature, it was worth reading for me for the following reasons:

-It took me back to my high school days when I read so many Victoria Holt books, an experience which, I swear, has allowed me to understand, predict, and analyze plot lines like no other. While reading this book, I had a tinge of nostalgia for the time when I was reading Holt’s novels and being immersed in place, a house, a setting.

-Similarly, Beneath the Apple Leaves creates a setting–a quaint, if dilapidated, Pennsylvania farm. Even when the characters fell short, I enjoyed “being” at the farm.

-It’s entertaining. While much of the plot is predictable, there are many twists and turns that kept me reading. It’s similar to watching a romantic comedy in that way. I don’t watch them often, but sometimes they’re entertaining.

-I like to keep my finger on the pulse. I’m not sure why, or if this is necessary, but sometimes it’s seems important to read what the majority of the public is consuming.

I’m not sure what I’ll read next, or when, but this book gave me confidence that some regular easy reading could be possible for me again soon, and that’s just the kind of hope I need right now.