Sunday, October 1, 2023

The Sunday Post #342

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The Sunday Post is a chance to recap the past week, talk about next week, tell you what I’m reading, and share news. It’s hosted by The Caffeinated Book ReviewerReaderbuzz, and Book Date.

The Sunday Post #342

On The Blog Recently

In My Reading Life

I read 24 Hours In Ancient Rome: A Day In The Life Of The People Who Lived There by Philip Matyszak. It was fine. It reminds me of a textbook that's trying very hard not to be a textbook. Each chapter covers one hour of the day and follows a different character in ancient Rome. The characters aren't well-developed and are clearly being used for educational purposes, which is why this reads like a textbook that's in denial. It's trying so hard to be entertaining! But it's still a textbook.

I did learn a ton of things. The Romans washed their clothes in human pee. It actually did keep the clothes clean and white. The Romans had fire engines because fires were a massive problem in a city that was mostly made of wood. Oh, and Vestal Virgins could be buried alive if someone accused them of not being virgins anymore. Interesting stuff.

If you're curious about ancient cities, this is a good place to start. It gives you a quick overview of what life was like on an ordinary day.

Then I read The Black Project by Gareth Brookes. Have you ever finished a book and then couldn't stop thinking about it? That's me with this unsettling graphic novel. It's haunting me! It keeps randomly popping into my head during the day, which is a problem because it's a disturbing book!

It's about a tween (I think? His age is never given) boy who desperately wants a girlfriend, so he decides to build one. Unfortunately, real life keeps destroying his "relationships," and he ends up constructing multiple girlfriends. Each one is more elaborate than the last. His girlfriends provide a refuge from his real life, where people are pressuring him to grow up and conform to their expectations.

I was frustrated with this book at first because it's mostly focused on the construction of girlfriends. I wanted more info about the boy who's doing the building. Then I started to understand. The narrator's parents and classmates are trying to make him into their definition of a man. A stereotypical man wouldn't share his feelings in a journal, but he might write detailed instructions about how to build an object. The character development is very subtle.

This book is disturbing because the narrator's girlfriends look . . . corpse-like. It doesn't help that he hides them in the woods. His weird girlfriends are paired with his sweet, innocent voice. You're never sure if he's a budding serial killer or just a socially awkward kid who's struggling hard with puberty. That's why I keep thinking about this book. Sometimes you don't know if your kid's behavior is a problem or just weird. It's unsettling.

The art style is pretty cool. It's done in embroidery. I can't imagine how long it took the author to make the images. They work nicely with the story because they look imperfectly homemade (just like the narrator's girlfriends) and add to the creepy vibes.

I could write an essay about this graphic novel, but no one would want to read that, so I'm just going to tell you to buy the book. It'll stick with you.

Then I (finally) read The Overstory by Richard Powers. OMG, this book is huge and pretentious. I loved it at first. The beginning is like a series of short stories. The characters in each story have vastly different lives, but they all develop a passion for trees and forest conservation. Their passion brings them together and tears them apart.

The book made me think about how human society is a lot like a forest. A human (or a tree) might not survive very well on their own, but we can form forests and support each other. Just like a forest, human friendships and families can be destroyed by outside forces. We're more like trees than we care to admit. Maybe we should give trees more respect and not just use them for our own purposes.

I flew through the first two thirds of this giant book. Then I got bored. I don't think I'm patient enough for this novel. Once I understood the point of the story, I wanted it to be over, but there were still hundreds of pages left! The end is bloated and overly philosophical. It took me weeks to slog through it.

I think I would have rather read a nonfiction book about trees. Any recommendations?

In The Rest Of My Life

I've been working a billion hours. I feel like a zombie. Since my brain has rotted, and I have no memory of what's been happening, let's look through the photos on Penelopy and see what she has to offer. (Penelopy is my phone, btw.) These photos come from work. (Yes, I get paid to go fishing and wander in the wilderness. I have the best, most exhausting job.)


Take care of yourselves and be kind to each other. See you around the blogosphere!


  1. I loved The Overstory because I love Richard Powers. I first fell in love with Powers after I stumbled upon The Gold Bug Variations when I was much younger. It's a story with two parallel timelines and it draws in physics and chemistry and poetry and Edgar Allan Poe and lots of other things that I don't really understand. I plan to reread it and review it (for the first time) before the end of the year.

    I'm trying to imagine how long it must have taken to make embroidered illustrations for a book. Oh my.

  2. I hope you have a better week, and it's not so busy for you. Happy Sunday, Aj!

  3. Yes... I know what you mean about loving a book at the beginning and then deciding that the theme has been done to death and you want the author to move on... I love the pics - that little fish that looks like it's swum through a rainbow and the colours have stuck to it - what IS it, it's gorgeous! I hope you get a chance to put your feet up a bit in the coming week and regain your brain, AJ.

  4. I have not read any of those books, but you're reviews are so much fun to read. That second book does sounds a bit unsettling. Looks like you had some nice weather for working your billion hours.

  5. I've heard a lot of good things about The Overstory, but I think like you I would get a bit bored after a while. I know there was some big tree nonfiction book that was out when I was still working at the bookstore back in 2020 that I think was supposed to be really good, but I can't remember for the life of me what it was! lol. Hope your first week of October is good!
    Lisa Loves Literature

  6. Oof, I thought things slowed down after Labor Day?? In any event, at least the weather looks nice!

  7. I guess that soon work season will end AJ? Will you go back for a third round? Honestly I'd love to work outside in Colorado LOL

  8. There's some book about trees by a German guy that's supposed to be really good. I'm thinking it has a white cover with a yellow tree on it. Not helpful, eh?

  9. Too bad the Roman history book didn’t work out — I agree that it’s too hard to read textbooks even if they have a clever handle on how to present the material (too much material)!
    best, mae at

  10. At least the weather should be good and the scenery beautiful. I'm very happy with the current weather here.

    Anne - Books of My Heart This is my Sunday Post

  11. It must be great (mostly) to be outdoors so much. I stare at a computer screen for waaaaay too many hours each day.

  12. I'm envious of your job. "Overstory" sounds interesting. -Jeff

  13. "I own you" lol. Right? The computer should do what WE say.

    Oh my gosh I'm glad I didn't live in Rome, I think?

    Fun pics :)

  14. Looks like some neat books this week, Aj. Sorry to hear work has been crazy. Hope it slows down soon.

  15. Sorry to hear you've been working so much even if you get to enjoy such beautiful scenery as you work.

    That meme you started with is hilarious.

  16. Too bad the book on trees didn’t end before it got boring. Some authors don’t stop when they should snd drag a book or story out tediously.

  17. Great pictures. You read such an interesting variety of books. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  18. The nonfiction book about trees that was really popular at the library and with book clubs a few years ago is The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. I think that's the one Jinjer was thinking of.
    Richard Powers is an author I keep thinking I "should" read, but in actuality I read very few nature- or environmental-themed novels.

  19. I recommend Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard.