Random Notes from the Troposphere

It recently occurred to A Reader's Respite that we rarely - if ever - share any of the backstory behind our reading adventures. Yes, we post book reviews and book giveaways, but those are just the end-results of our reading adventures, not the path we took to get there.

Oh sure, we could participate in a weekly meme (there certainly are many worthy ones out there), but A Reader's Respite is commitment phobic. And besides, we're pretty sure you're not remotely interested in what books various publishers sent us this last week.....and if you are, you'll find out about them when a review is posted.

So why "Notes from the Troposphere"? Well that's where we seem to spend most of our time, in that space that encompasses the 8 miles or so above the earth. Now most folks assume that if an airline pilot is in the air, we're working. Wrong. Of the 1000+ hours we spend in the air each year, a goodly portion of that is spent getting to and from our home base city.

You see, if we actually packed up and moved each time our airlines opened or closed a base or simply just shuffle crew members around between bases for what seems like the perverted fun of it, all of our income would go to real estate agents. So after enough years spent in commercial aviation, a crewmember learns to buy a home somewhere (anywhere!) and then simply commute via airplane to work. See, all those free flight passes certainly look glamorous now, don't they?

That said, A Reader's Respite happens to live in the Seattle area. But the vast majority of our trips for work begin and end in Houston. Do the math here and you'll see why we get a lot of reading done. 4+ hours each way to and from work adds up to a LOT of spare time to read.

Anyhoo, now that that is 'splained, onward and upward (bad pun) with reading adventures......

With a couple of unexpected free hours today, we ended up at a used bookstore in Houston and picked up more books than we intended (we have a hard time remembering that the suitcase is only so big).

Sandy over at You've Gotta Read This! was re-reading Judy Blume's Forever this week. In that spirit, we found a few old copies of Blume novels at the bookstore today and saw a copy of one we'd never read, called Wifey. Admittedly, the back cover led to a raised eyebrow:

is tired of chicken on Wednesdays
and sex on Saturdays.
This morning the mysterious motorcycle flasher
revealed himself to
and brought her frustrations into rigid focus!
sees her wildest fantasies talking flight, and
has an itchy - and uncontrollable -
urge to catch up with them!

Somehow we don't think the use of the word rigid was accidental. *Ahem* What the hell, it was $2.00. ( Stop judging us!)

Speaking of recommendations, we remembered that Jackie at Farm Lane Books Blog suggested that we give Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale a try since we've proven ourselves to be unable to actually finish any Atwood book. Never-say-die, that's our reading motto. We'll let you know how this one works out for us.

Since we broke our Booker Curse last week, we've been feeling bold. So bold, as a matter of fact, that we finally succumbed to the gorgeous cover of Booker-winning author A.S. Byatt's newest novel, The Children's Book. Just drink in the gorgeousness of that cover.

Gorgeous cover or no, this 688-page whopper is giving us a run for our money (thirty bucks worth in the St. Louis airport, to be precise). In a nutshell, the story is set at the turn of last century through World War I and is purported to be a family saga centered around a matriarch who writes children's books.

We've made it to chapter fourteen and are admittedly flagging here. Publisher's Weekly claims that "Buried in here somewhere is a fine novel" and frankly, that's all that's kept us going.

How do you all make it through a novel that you know you should read, but isn't exactly a page-turner? Our latest strategy is to religiously read two chapters every night, but we're open to other suggestions.

Oh, and speaking of buying books in airport bookshops....last week we left our current read on the airplane (Mildred Pierce by James Cain....and we got the book back eventually, thanks to a very vigilant flightcrew, but we're seriously digressing here...sorry) and found ourselves scrambling for something - anything - to read on the what would end up being a six-hour flight home that night.

So we grabbed a The Alexandria Link, a Steve Barry novel, quick as a bunny, and paid with a Border's gift card from last Christmas floating around in the bottom of our purse (can you believe it still had a balance on it? we can't either....). It wasn't until we were safely ensconced in seat 16A on Alaska Airlines flight 15 from Boston to Seattle that we discovered the damned book is part of a series.

Evidently, Barry has been writing these books about one central character by the name of Cotton Malone. And The Alexandria Link is NOT the first of the Cotton Malone books.


We tried to overpower our Series OCD, really, we did. We kept telling ourselves that even though previous Cotton Malone adventures had taken place, each book can be considered a stand-alone. Yeah, well by page twenty there had been no less than a dozen references to some other big adventure Cotton had just completed in the PREVIOUS book. There was absolutely no way we were going to overcome our OCD.

Soooooo....if anyone out there knows which damned Berry book is the first in the Cotton Malone series, could you let us know, please???



  1. I guess as a result of FB, I am well-aware of your obstacles with work logistics, but I didn't fully appreciate the fact that the official workplace was Houston! Sheesh! No wonder you get so much read! God bless ya, that's all I say. I did read and finish Forever in about a day...underlined passages about Ralph and all. I loved it just as much as I did when I was reading it under the covers with a flashlight. And I do have Wifey on the list of Shelf Discovery Challenge books, which I am hoping to read (all 10 of them) by the end of December! Maybe it will be a magical youth elexir!

  2. "Damn.It."

    Lol! I recall getting ready to settle down with a book (the only one I had) for the night and it was one I'd read before, just a new cover. Damn. It.

  3. You make flying seem so glamorous. I have two friends who are flight attendants (have been for years and years), and their stories pretty much took the trill of flying right out of my heart.

    Thanks for the fun.

  4. I sympathize: I totally have Series OCD. (And perhaps other OCDs, which I will not describe unless you do first!)

    The list for the Cotton Malone series, in order, can be seen here: http://www.amazon.com/Cotton-Malone-Steve-Berry/lm/R1TAHH23QS6560

  5. Huh, I thought Judy Blume wrote kid's books - I can't wait to see what you have to say about Wifey.

  6. The Templar Legacy (Cotton Malone Series #1)

    You're welcome.

  7. I remember taking The Handmaid's Tale with me to a baby-sitting job in high school and letting the kid watch tv so I could read. I'm not proud, but I could not put it down. At that point in my reading life, it was unlike anything I'd ever read. I hope you like it!

  8. I see you got the answer already - I too enjoy the Cotton Malone Books.

  9. I have often wondered how you find so much time to read, considering how much you have going on. :) I guess the four hour commute would do it.

  10. I had a one and a half hour commute to my last job and whinged about that. But this is extreme commuting. I hope those free flight passes let you into first class. Am I being naive again?

    I didn't know Mildred Pierce was ever a book. I loved the film.

  11. I always did wonder how you found the time to read ... I thought maybe it was the autopilot!! HAHA! Now I undersatnd your secrets!

    And I remember finding a copy of "Wifey" on the bookshelf of a house where I was babysitting when I was about 12 and being scandalized by the cover and the description. To me, it was like I was finding a porn stash!

  12. Thanks for the insight into your life and how you are able to get so much reading done! I fly a fair amount for business and always look forward to the reading time that affords me!

  13. I think that you are getting me confused with someone else. I am not a big Atwood fan and have not read Handmaidens Tale, so there is no way it would be me recommending it! Perhaps I should give it a try though?

    I did recently recommend that you try Vernon God Little as a Booker you'd enjoy - perhaps that is the confusion?

    I understand your frustration over The Children's book. I agree that there is a good story buried in there somewhere, but it does take a lot of digging. It is very slow and I'm not sure it is worth the effort. Good luck either way.

  14. Sorry you lost Mildred Pierce. I'd have been crying. I heart James M. Cain.

  15. Scratching The Children's Book from my wishlist. Too many other wonderful books out there that do not require extensive digging to find.

  16. That's some flying life you're living :). And commute too. Anyway, I know what you mean about series OCD, I suffer from exactly the same illness and will not open a book if it's not book one if a series, most often I also have to own the whole series.

  17. My mom really liked that Judy Blume book she raved about it for a week.


  18. I remember reading Wifey when I was about fifteen...it was totally shocking to me then. I'll be interested to hear what you think of it!

    Hope you had a successful cooking day! Happy Thanksgiving!



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