Thursday, May 09, 2024

Rounding Up: Seeds, Christie Mysteries, and the Brennans

Time for another roundup of books I've been reading...

Seeds: One Man's Serendipitous Journey to Find the Trees That Inspired Famous American Writers from Faulkner to Kerouac, Welty to Wharton, by Richard Horan - I cannot remember where I heard about this one, from a fellow blogger or from one of the many gardening sites that I follow? Anyway, I wanted to love it and did...sporadically, which means it was a 3-star read for me. The idea is that English teacher and novelist, Horan got the idea to make pilgrimages to the homes of literary luminaries and other noteworthy people who have inspired him and collect seeds from the trees in their yards and then plant and nurture them. A cool idea, a great notion that naturally leads to a book about the pilgrimages and the trees and the challenges with gathering seeds. 

Among my favorites is the first featured in the book when Horan and his family visit Lincoln's home in Springfield, IL and he recognizes the tree in the front yard from a photograph of Lincoln. Turns out, the tree from 1860 is still alive and gracing the property. Cool, right? My other favorites were his visit to Gettysburg where he shows off his writing chops and writes a beautiful tribute to this hallowed ground, his visit to several of Robert Frost's homes, and the trip to Herman Melville's farm. I got a bit bored towards the end and will confess to skimming a bit. I like visiting favorite author's homes and seeing landscapes that inspired or influenced their work, and with my interest in gardening and trees this was a natural. I learned a lot, gained some interesting factoids, and got itchy feet that long to be on the road. Speaking of which, his bit about Kerouac has made me think maybe I should reread On the Road, which I read as teen in the 1970s and loathed, but maybe I might appreciate it as an adult. Maybe.

We Are the Brennans, by Tracey Lange - Unlike Seeds, I know exactly from whom I heard about this novel, JoAnn of Gulfside Musing. She raved about a reread of it, and JoAnn has not steered me wrong yet. This is a wonderful story about an Irish-American family in New York that is navigating the troubled waters stirred up by secrets from the past. I enjoyed getting to know each of the family members, from only daughter Sunday to her various brothers, her senile father, and the larger extended family. I would like to read more by this author.

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie - a chilling study in psychological warfare in which a sociopathic killer systematically accomplishes ten murders, following the recipe of an old nursery rhyme. The racism of the original version has been cleaned up. Not a fun read but a good look at why Christie is still the queen of the mystery.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie - Audible offers members freebies and when I saw that Richard Armitage was the reader of this first Hercule Poirot mystery and it wouldn't cost me a credit, I jumped at the chance to listen to Richard and fill in my backlist of Christie mysteries. It was actually more fun than the other Christie I read at the same time, although I must say that Hercule Poirot gets on my nerves a bit and his foil, Hastings, must be the stupidest man on the planet. Published in 1920, it is a between-the-wars story with a good cast and lots of admirable red herrings and a clever ending.


  1. Interesting about the trees book and the one at Lincoln's home, Wow. Did Kerouac's place have a tree too? I think I liked On the Road better in my 20s than my 40s ... I reread it in 2013. It's not an easy book ( ). I'm glad you liked the Brennans book - I have not read it. I think she has one other novel. Happy May reading.

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed The Brennans... can't get enough of those family stories! The author was delightful in her zoom chat with the MMD book club and I've added her new book to my tbr list. Haven't read much Agatha Christie, but I did like And Then There Were None, especially the Dan Stevens narration. I've just added The Mysterious Affair at Styles to my audible account - thanks for the tip!

  3. Regarding Seeds I am wondering if it might have been better if the author had chosen one writer's home to pilgrimage to, the writer who has meant the most to him. I would be very interested in a pilgrimage to Kerouac's hometown Lowell MA and Horan could explore the trees but also what the place is like today, the stores, the bars etc. Of course I know how many books about Kerouac are out there but I could always read another.

  4. And Then There Were None was the first Agatha Christie I ever read. And it got me hooked on her mysteries.

  5. Can't go wrong with Agatha. Happy reading week.

  6. Well, I do think that the author of Seeds is a kindred spirit, even if the delivery eventually became a bit tedious!

    I am not familiar with We Are the Brennans but it sounds like something I would enjoy.

    Do you watch Masterpiece Theatre? I thought you would enjoy Mr Bates and the Post Office but kept forgetting to say so.

    1. I do like Masterpiece Theatre. I will look for Mr. Bates and the Post Office--don't know anything about it, but I like the title!