5. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Married, but with an absent husband, Hester Prynne finds passion with another man, resulting in the birth of a baby girl, Pearl. Shortly after Pearl's birth, Hester stands in front of the townspeople, with a bold letter A embroidered on her bodice to shame her for her part in adultery. As she looks out at the crowd, she sees her husband. He meets with her later in the prison and tells her he's changed his name and won't interfere with her life anymore. However he is curious and makes it his mission to discover the man she refuses to name as her lover. For seven long years, Hester, always wearing her scarlet letter, and Pearl are ostracized. Her husband has discovered the secret offender, and he secretly torments him. Finally Hester realizes what's going on and vows to put an end to things, but they don't turn out the way she planned.
This book was easier to read than Emma (from January), but it was still difficult because of the language. I found myself mentally summarizing what each chapter was about, based on a technique I read about several years ago in The Well-Educated Mind. Of course, since the chapters had titles instead of just numbers, it was easier to recall what happened in each one.
I enjoyed this book and often found it hard to put down. Earlier I saw a recent novel exploring a current author's creation of Hester's earlier life. I might see if I can find it again and add it to my ever-growing stack of books.
6. Wally's World: Life With Wally the Wonder Dog by Marsha Boulton
Yes, another animal book. I'm a sucker for a good animal story, and this one was superb. The start was a little slow, with the author going into detail about all the dogs she had previously owned, from childhood until she got Wally. I kept wondering if she'd ever get to him. Once she did, though, the story flowed beautifully. Wally led quite a life, full of love, play, and pain. From his experiences living on a farm to staying in 4-star hotels, and everything in between, Wally's world was fun. He made sure of it.
While I do rate this book highly, I was able to put it down for days at a time to do or read something else, especially in the beginning. But I always came back to it because I wanted to know what Wally was up to next - and there was always something to laugh about.
7. Quesadillas by Donna Kelly
Yes, I read a cookbook. Actually I peruse cookbooks frequently, but this is one I actually read from cover to cover.
I make quesadillas often, but they're usually the same: black beans with corn and a few other varying ingredients, based on what I have on hand. This book inspired me to put all sorts of things between flour tortillas and "glue" them together with various cheeses. Then there was the dessert section... YUM!
While it's not a cookbook I feel I need to have on my shelf, it did serve as a springboard for all sorts of creative ideas. I made BBQ chicken quesadillas, and BLT quesadillas are not far away. I really want to try a few of the dessert ones, too, but I feel like I need to justify eating them. I'm trying to watch my fat and sugar intake (again!), and tasty desserts aren't conducive to success in that area...