A few weeks before Lent started, I read a comment on a religious discussion board that said that people with allergies and asthma should just endure their reactions to incense (no matter how severe) in order to fulfill their religious duties. Basically, incense was too important to change its use for a bunch of whiners.*
Since I have asthma (back under control now, but it was really bad in November & December) and it was the height of seasonal depression, my first reaction was that maybe God just doesn't like asthmatics (& other people who have reactions to incense).
My second reaction was that I needed to stop reading things that made me feel like I couldn't be a Christian. That's what I should give up for Lent!
I've never seen the point of New Year's Resolutions - if you want to make a change, make it! Why wait until New Year's?! The same with this. A few weeks before Lent, I gave up reading things that looked like they would make me feel like I couldn't be a Christian. Basically, this means that before I start reading articles or discussion boards, I pause and really think about the possible results of reading them.
This was so useful that I'm also doing the same thing with articles & boards that have nothing to do with religion. Is this article really going to give me any useful new information or is it just rehashing the same arguments? Does it give a new perspective? I read far fewer articles now.
The wonderful thing is that I'm reading more books.
I also decided to try reading more things that actually encourage my faith! While this seems like a fairly obvious thing to do, I've spent lots of time reading things that other people recommend because they encourage their faith. I've never tried to focus on thing that will help my faith because that seems like cherry-picking - maybe I'll only focus on the easy stuff. However, with my bout of not-being-sure-of-what-I-believed a few years ago,** I decided that it would be good to nurture my faith for a while. I've been listening to Father Phillip's homilies online, and I've been reading Inspiration from Pope Francis.
The thing is, unlike the usual Lenten changes, I don't see a reason to change back when Lent is over.
* I tried to go back and find the link, but my internet history doesn't go back that far.
** During the Nicene Creed, I would mentally add "I would like to believe" at the beginning of every section.
[The photo is of the mother and baby dolphins that we watched in the harbor in Charleston, SC a month ago. The photo is only loosely connected to the post (I bought the book about Pope Francis from the Pauline bookstore in Charleston).]
We have a lot of books. There are these two bookshelves in the library (there used to be more, but we moved the piano into the library and the bookshelves into the playroom, and we added a CD cabinet):
and these three bookshelves in the playroom:
and these stacks of books on the floor in the playroom. They're from the last trip to the used bookstore in Mebane - their most recent 4-paperbacks-for-$1 sale:*
Most of the paperback shelves are double shelved, and the science fiction/fantasy section is triple shelved:
We're thinking of making the wall that the three bookshelves are on into a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookcase - something like what Centsational Girl does in From Billys to Built-Ins, except going all the way to the ceiling. We looked very seriously at what she built. She uses Ikea Billy bookcases and then builds around them to make them built-in. It turned out very well, and she says it only took a weekend and less that $400. We would want the larger shelves on the bottom for large books - and we could maybe even get our record collection out from the floor of our closet!
However... I've been looking at the room at various times over the last week. The playroom has two windows on the front of the house. Compared to most of the other rooms, particularly the living room, it seems like a bit of a black hole. It's darker than the rest of the downstairs, and it almost seems to absorb light.
So, I mentioned to dear husband that it would be nice to have a window in that room, and build bookshelves around it. I've always like the look of built-in bookshelvesaround a window.
That would be a lot more expensive, though. Adding a window actually doesn't cost as much as I expected, but it does add a lot to the price. The shelves would have to be totally built so we couldn't save by using already made Ikea shelves.
We also talked about putting a garden window in, but that idea quickly disappeared once I found out how expensive they are.
We're still discussing.
We've passed Ikea stores before - up North and while driving through Charlotte, but we've never been in one (the Charlotte one is two hours away, and we've never had a reason to go there). However, I do enjoy this Ikea song (to buy, go to his website and page down to the song) by JonathanCoulton:
[Note: If you're the sort of person who clicks on the photos in order to see what books are on the shelves (I am), please leave a comment.**]
* Plus older son has 2 bookshelves and many stacks worth of books in his room, but that's not MY worry!
** If you did look, the book is The Joy of X - it's a MATH book.
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc). Temeraire and Lawrence in Empire of Ivory
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY on a Recommendation From Somebody Else: This is a difficult question. I enjoyed the Bartimaeus books by Jonathan Stroud, which all three of my kids recommended, and I also enjoyed the Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, which they also recommended.
21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013? Interestingly, this is due to the CPAP I had to get used to this year. I ended up with lots of insomnia from it, and I read Regency romances when I have insomnia. I find them (overall, but not always) easier to put down after a few chapters. OTOH, I read Leviathan at bedtime once and stayed up half the night.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
Alexia in Soulless by Gail Carriger. Here's the beginning of the Publisher's Weekly review:
Carriger debuts brilliantly with a blend of Victorian romance, screwball comedy of manners and alternate history. Prickly, stubborn 25-year-old bluestocking Alexia Tarabotti is patently unmarriageable, and not just because she's large-nosed and swarthy. She's also soulless, an oddity and a secret even in a 19th-century London that mostly accepts and integrates werewolf packs, vampire hives and ghosts...
23. Best debut book you read? The Night Circus (again)
24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
The Leviathan Trilogy
25. Book That Was the Most Fun To Read in 2013?
I started reading Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson to myself, and then I went back, started at the beginning, and read it out loud to the guys. It's hilarious!
27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
I would like more people to read Skater in a Strange Land by D.W. Frauenfelder. In my blog review of the book, I described it as: "... a sort-of-Steampunk novel about a hockey player, a phase-shifting continent, political intrigue bears, and a romance." As I mentioned in the previous post, I'm not very interested in sports, but this book actually made me interested in the ice hockey games.
28. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I stopped doing reading challenges last year because I focused more on reading books for the challenge than on reading the books I actually wanted to read at the time.
29. Bookish Events on your blog in 2013?
Going back through the list of books this year, I realized that I didn't blog as much about some of the wonderful books I've read as I would have liked. With the exhaustion from the CPAP being the major feature of the year, however, blogging took a definite back seat. [Actually, I just looked back at my book blog posts, and I wrote even fewer of them in 2012.]
30. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?
It won't be my #1 priority because I only read it when I have my full energy and attention so I'm not trying to finish it quickly, but I think I will probably finish Little, Big by John Crowley in the next month.
31. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)? I have no idea what is coming out in 2014.
32. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014? More blogging.
Last book note: Two book activities are special luxuries for me. One, in the winter, is a hot bath with a good book. The other, which I do far less frequently, is reading something for fun before noon. I have the most energy in the morning, but I'm usually using it on many other things. This year, I was getting allergy shots two mornings a week, and I would have to stay in the allergist's office for half an hour to make sure I wasn't going to have a reaction. I got a lot of enjoyable reading done those mornings!
1. Best Book You Read In 2013? The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (my review here). It was so good that, when I got 3/4 of the way through, I started over so I could have another experience of reading it without knowing the ending.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? Tongues of Serpents - Naomi Novik (#6 in the Temeraire series). I've loved all the others in this series (which is sort of Master and Commander with dragons), but this one, which takes place in Australia, didn't strike me as much.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? I didn't know anything at all about The Night Circus before I read it. My daughter gave it to me for Christmas last year so I thought it would be good, but I had no idea that I'd love it as much as I do.
4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013? The Night Circus
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013? Erin Morgenstern. I read her blog while waiting for her next book.
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? I didn't read any that really fit this. The closest I came was Summerland by Michael Chambon. It's fantasy, but it includes baseball, and I'm not a sports person. Still, I enjoyed it, and baseball was woven in well.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013? Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. This one's kind of cheating because I read it about once a year.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013? Do you know how difficult it has been to NOT answer every question with The Night Circus? It is now my favorite book. Ever.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013? Guess. It is beautiful. [Clue: #'s 1, 3, 4, 5, and 10]
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? Yes.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? Twisting the Rope by R.A. MacAvoy. It's the sequel to one of my favorite books, Tea With the Black Dragon, which I first read many years ago. I'm not sure why it took my so long to read the sequel.
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013? I don't have the book in front of me, but I love the quote from Good Omens about all tapes left in the car long enough metamorphose into Queen's Greatest Hits.
I've never been to a book reading at a bookstore before. Driving somewhere, sitting in a crowded room, listening to someone read just a small excerpt of their book has never appealed to me. Why not just sit somewhere peaceful at home and read large parts of the book?!
I understand book readings now. Tonight, I went to one at the Purple Crow bookstore in Hillsborough (a very short drive). D. W. Frauenfelder and Lyn Hawks were reading from their new books, and I really enjoyed it!*
Before I went, I hadn't thought about the authors voice-acting their own stories as they read, which was great. I also enjoyed the introductions, interactions, and questions. I think it was probably even more interesting because the two discussed their reactions to the other's work. I'm also fascinated by discussions of the creative process. What makes someone create something out of nothing? Where do they get their inspiration? How do they go about creating?
If you're interested, they're doing two more readings. Here are the descriptions from his blog, Skater in a Strange Land:
Saturday, September 14, 2 PM, McIntyre's Books, Fearrington Village, Pittsboro, NC. We're doing a tribute to our mentor, brilliant, literary-medalled, late author and creative writing professor Doris Betts. McIntyre's is a great independent bookshop. We will have a couple of surprises for this one.
Sunday, September 15, 2 PM, Fullsteam Brewery, Durham, NC. A laid-back party with games, trivia, munchies, and beer. Come by to say hi and have a pretzel, a craft brew, a signed book. Perfect for your Hallowe'en (?) gift plans.
How to describe it... it's a sort-of-Steampunk novel about a hockey player, a phase-shifting continent, political intrigue bears, and a romance.
I was absorbed in the book. The characters are well-drawn, the interactions are vivid, and the plot... well, as you can tell from the description, the plot is complex, but it kept me engaged the whole time. I really enjoyed the setting, which was a combination of totally alternate fantasy (with the phase-shifting continent), Victorian manners, and 19th century Europe.
24-year old Sherman Reinhardt dreams of playing professional ice hockey, but after a disappointing career at a backwater Minnesota college, he's going nowhere fast. Nowhere, that is, until he becomes the first North American to play in the mythical Borschland Hockey League. Borschland is a place lost in time, where the locals ride in horse-drawn carriages, fly helium-buoyed airships, and go mad for their ice hockey. Making the team here turns into the least of Sherm's worries-- he's an overnight sensation and his team is skating towards a championship. But almost as fast he's hip deep in talking bears, political intrigue, the attractions of Rachael, a Borschic poetess-- and rumors that his hockey success is fixed. Is Sherm being used as a pawn in a grander game? Finding the truth, even if he loses Rachael, becomes this skater's ultimate goal.
A brief word about Lyn Hawks book, How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought, which I haven't read. She describes it as a young adult novel for adults. The excerpt she read is well-written, and she really gets into the head and the angst of a 15 yo girl. Although I haven't experienced what this character has, the angst is painfully familiar.
Two final compliments for Skater in a Strange Land:
Dear husband and I were beta readers about a year ago so, after being absorbed in the story the first time through, I picked it apart the second time through. Now that I have the published version, I'm looking forward to reading it again!
I don't generally care for spectator sports,** but this book made hockey interesting!
* Even though it was a very crowded room! If you look at the Purple Crow website, that's the room it was in, and there were probably 30 people in it.
** I'm not much at spectating in general. As much as I love musicals, I spend more time onstage in them than I spend watching them!
I was at one of my favorite Zumba classes last January, and I was looking at my watch every five minutes. I wasn't enjoying it at all. I had noticed this feeling creeping into Zumba classes over the previous few weeks. Somehow, I had managed to make Zumba into a chore.
This was not only sad because I love Zumba, but also because it was one of the few non-family things I still enjoyed. I wasn't enjoying reading. The only thing I was reading much of anymore were Regency romances - and those only because I need to wind down before going to sleep. I had stopped listening to classical, jazz, and folk music. All those CDs and tapes were dormant. I listened to pop music on the radio just to have something to do while driving. I didn't listen to any music in the house anymore. If someone else wanted to watch a movie, I would, but there wasn't much that I was interested in.
I enjoyed doing things with my family (I'd have to be really severely depressed not to do that), but I had almost no outside interests left. Photography, blogging, etc. - I had no interest in anything creative.
I was really upset during that Zumba class because I was losing one of the few things I still enjoyed! Fortunately, I was able to realize why I was feeling that way, decide that it was stupid, and go ahead and enjoy the rest of the class.
In the middle of that class, I realized that I was feeling guilty about having moderately high blood pressure, and I was, subconsciously (I hope I wouldn't do anything this stupid consciously), punishing myself for my blood pressure.
I said it was stupid.
Back when my blood pressure was higher, I got guilt trips - not from my doctor because she knew everything that I was doing to try to lower it - and not from the hypertension specialist because, when my blood pressure was measured correctly, it wasn't all that high - but from other doctors and nurses who were incorrectly measuring my blood pressure in bad situations. You're supposed to measure your blood pressure when you're at rest; not when you're panicking because your throat is closing up as a reaction to an allergy shot, your husband is in another state, and you're wondering what will happen to your younger son if they take you to the emergency room; not when you're really light-headed as a reaction to a flu shot and you're wondering how you and younger son are going to get home; and not at an appointment which you've rushed to immediately after a Zumba class (not even having any time to stretch) and your heart rate is still up.
Surprisingly, I'm not at rest in those situations. The hypertension specialist doesn't even pay attention to readings from other doctors' offices because she can't be sure that the other doctors take blood pressure readings correctly. The only readings that matter are the ones in her office.
These other readings didn't do me any good, and the doctors and nurses only did harm. Unfortunately for me, other peoples' emotions affect me a lot. If you know me in person you might say to yourself, "But she seems so calm."
I try my hardest not to impose my emotions on others. I know how much harm comes to me when others spray their emotions all over me.
[Note: If you have any good practical advice as to how not to be affected by others' emotions, I'd love to hear it. "Just toughen up" is not good advice. If I knew how to do that, I wouldn't have this problem.]
The other doctors and nurses didn't do me any good at all, but they did a great job at making me feel guilty for having moderately high blood pressure. All the "serious talks" that they gave me just kicked the guilt into high gear. None of them ever asked what I was actually trying to do to get my blood pressure down:
Two knee surgeries plus half a year of intense physical therapy so that I could exercise regularly again. I did 2 - 3 hours of physical therapy every single day. I watched most of Battlestar Galactiac sideways because I was doing PT on the floor.
Four crash diets (I spent last Thanksgiving saying, "No, thank you.")
Lots and lots of exercising. That's one of the few things that actually helped.
Stopping using salt in cooking. After a few weeks, the guys weren't eating much for dinner, but they were having snacks later in the evening. I eventually got the hypertension specialist's book out of the library, and the amount of salt she used in her heart-healthy recipes was the amount I usually used before I stopped using it. I'm still making smaller reductions now, but keeping the food edible.
Drugs. One of them knocked me out for a month and raised my blood pressure to a consistent 175/100. Nobody's been able to explain that one, which makes me wonder about how much they know. All three of the drugs made my throat close up. All of them gave me bizarre side-effects.
Visiting a throat specialist to see why my throat closed up - no results. He sent me to a specialist in chemical allergies.
The chemical allergy specialist (regular allergists don't deal with drug allergies) was really enthusiastic about my strange case. I actually took the last drug in his office, and he was amazed at the bizarre side effects. Fifteen minutes after a 1/10 dose, I seemed drunk and couldn't sit up. He told me that no doctor would be able to accept that I have such bizarre reactions to drugs without actually seeing it.
That's when my regular doctor sent me to the hypertension specialist who said that she'd never seen a case like mine (allergic to 3 bp drugs)
The hypertension specialist sent me to an integrative medicine specialist. Unfortunately, the IM doctor was a crackpot so I never went back. There's a long post about that that I never wrote.
The IM office does have a great yoga class (for people with previous injuries)* that a friend recommended. That's another thing that gave an observable reduction in my bp.
The sleep study. It turned out that I had severe sleep apnea when sleeping on my back. I've been using a CPAP for the last five months, and it's brought my blood pressure down. However, as I've complained in previous posts, it also made me exhausted for most of the first four months. For the first two months, I couldn't drive in the afternoons or evenings because I was too tired to drive safely. I didn't do any dance or Zumba in the evenings, and I was so tired that even walks were almost impossible. I got so out of shape. However, getting rid of the sleep apnea did bring my blood pressure down.
It didn't matter that fighting my blood pressure had become not only my major focus over the last five years, it also dominated our family life. The doctors and nurses still gave me guilt trips, which I didn't need on top of everything else. It gave me the feeling that my not being successful gave them the right to emotionally beat me up. It also made me feel constantly tense, which, SURPRISE, makes blood pressure go up.
That's one way in which my discipline in not showing my emotions is bad for me.** If I discussed blood pressure calmly with a medical professional, they thought that I wasn't taking it seriously, and they gave me a big guilt lecture. Maybe I should have made myself panic so that they would have had to calm me down instead.
I can't even picture doing that.
Anyway, I had stopped myself from enjoying more than just Zumba. Because of the guilt, I wasn't enjoying music, reading, movies, blogging, photography - pretty much anything creative. I'd made my life pretty flat and grey in response to the guilt.
The wonderful thing is that, once I realized that I had turned these things off, I was able to start turning them on again. I was too tired to enjoy things while I was getting used to the CPAP this spring and early summer, but, beside that, I've started enjoying all these things again! It's been wonderful. There are so many intersting things to photograph, so many wonderful books (recent post), great movies (just added a bunch to the Netflix queue), so many interesting places to go, a wide variety of food to try at Sunday's Food Truck Rodeo in Durham...
...and so much beautiful music!
Which, of course, is where I'm ending - with a song.
I've loved folk music for years, and losing that the last year or two has been really difficult for me. I've been listening to lots of it lately. Here's a current favorite song, Brighter from Here, by the folk duo, Martha's Trouble:
* I can do just about everything else after my second knee surgery - hiking, Zumba, dance, etc. - (Duke Sports Medicine is fantastic!), but I still can't sit cross-legged for more than a minute or two which knocks out most yoga classes.
** I've also read that women who don't display their own emotions and try to take care of everyone else's are more likely to have high blood pressure.
For a few years, I was not really reading much (for me) and enjoying it less and less. I'll explain why in a later blog post, but, now, I just want to enthuse about all the great books that we've been reading lately.
Younger son is reading one of my favorite fantasy novels, Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg. I last reread it 4 1/2 years ago (while healing from knee surgery). I wanted to reread it again so that I could discuss it with fresh details. The local libraries didn't have an available copy so I ordered another one from Amazon. Older son is filling out his book collection with family books that he'll want a copy of whenever he moves out on his own.* I told him that I could either order the book for me and give him that copy as a used book, or I could order it for him and borrow it right away. He wanted a copy with the same cover photo (right) as the one we have so I ordered a used copy which will be his when I'm through with it (and which is in better shape than our copy!).
Dear husband is reading Kraken by China Miéville. I'd like to eventually read it, although older son and dear husband have cautioned me that it has more violence in it than I usually read. I shouldn't read it at bedtime then. I made that mistake with American Gods by Neil Gaiman - an excellent book, but not one to wind down with. I ended up reading half a Regency romance to get myself calmed down enough to sleep after that!
Older son is reading Iron Council, also by China Miéville. I'm wondering which one of us will get to Neil Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane first. That came this week. I don't usually order hardbacks, but it's his newest book, it was on sale for half price at Amazon,** and it would have taken a long time to get from the library. The Durham County Library has 29 copies and 116 holds (Chapel Hill Library: 6 copies and 42 holds)(Hmmm... Orange County Library is down to 11 holds on 6 copies).
Daughter read Daniel Boorstin's The Creators when she was homeschooling in high school. Younger son loves science and also likes reading about explorers so I was going to get Boorstin's The Discoverers for him to read. I thought it was the shortest of this series of books.
At the Chapel Hill Library, I found that I was wrong. At over 700 pages, it's only 100 pages shorter than The Creators. The Seekers is actually the shortest of the three at 351 pages. I got The Discoverers out anyway just to take a look at it and see if I wanted to recommend it to younger son.
However, I got it out a week before the opening night of the musical so I didn't get around to checking the book out right away. After a few days, it disappeared from its spot on the kitchen island because younger son decided to read it. He's enjoying it, and, if he's still reading it by the time can no longer be renewed, I'll just order a copy. It would be a good book to have (I was surprised we didn't already have it since we have the other two).
My books... of which there are a lot. I've kind of gone crazy reading this last half year since I've started really enjoying it again. I've been keeping track of what I've read/am reading in Goodreads, and I'm currently in the middle of twelve thirteen books.***
[Later addition: I'm now also back into reading Adventures with Old Houses, which younger son recently finished. It's a large book to bring into the allergist's office.]
At the times when I have the most attention (which is not when I might be having an allergic reaction) and ability to savor a book, I'm reading Little, Big, one of dear husband's favorite books, and a beautiful fantasy, and Amadeus.
And, at various other times, depending on what I feel like at the moment, I'm rereading Going Postal, another wonderful Discworld book by Terry Pratchett, and reading Lackadaisy, a graphic novel recommended by other family members, It All Turns on Affection, essays by Wendell Berry, and Searching for God Knows What, which I've posted about before and which got buried under a pile of other books.
I used to read while eating breakfast, but younger son has gotten past the sleep-until-ten-am part of his growth spurt so Hiking NC's Blue Ridge Mountains, which was my breakfast book, is still unfinished.
I stopped reading out loud when younger son hit his growth spurt and started sleeping in. I had been reading The Sword and the Stone out loud at breakfasts (back when he ate breakfast later than I did). We both recently mentioned that we need to get back to that.
In September's world, many things began with pan. Pandemic, Pangaea, Panacea, Panoply. Those were all big words, to be sure, but as has been said, September read often, and liked it best when words did not pretend to be simple, but put on their full armor and rode out with colors flying. - p. 51
Some of the most common reviews don't affect me at all. I don't really care what the New York Times, The Washington Post, Time Magazine, etc. think about a book.
I do look carefully at books recommended by some of my favorite bookstores - Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, the Regulator Bookshop in Durham, and Malaprop's Bookstore in Asheville. I love to browse in their "Recommended" or "Staff Picks" sections. At Malaprop's, the staff member whose tastes are the closest to mine usually has her recommended books at the bottom right hand end of the "Staff Picks" shelves.
That's where I found The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (back in June when I had my vacation in Asheville). Granted, I was already looking for it because of a review that they'd had in a Tumblr post. Unfortunately, I can't find the exact post, but it highly recommended the book and said to ask any staff member if you couldn't remember the title while you were there.
The book had three recommendations which also almost sold me on it right away. Neil Gaiman's recommendation was on the front cover, Tamora Pierce's was on the the second page, and Peter S. Beagle's was just below hers. When three of the most creative fantasy authors recommend a book (and I don't know if I've ever seen another book recommendation by Peter S. Beagle), then I look at it very seriously.*
Recommendations aside, I always read the first few paragraphs of a book. If I love the writing style, the plot isn't actually as important to me - or... maybe it's that, if I love the writing style, liking the plot seems to flow naturally from that (as long as the plot isn't too depressing/gory/etc.). If I don't like the first few pages, I'll read a bit from various points in the first few chapters. If I don't like the writing style, I probably won't finish the book.
The first paragraph charmed me:
Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents' house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog. Because she had been born in May, and because she had a mole on her left cheek, and because her feet were very large and ungainly, the Green Wind took pity on her and flew to her window one evening just after her twelfth birthday. He was dressed in a green smoking jacket, and a green carriage-driver's cloak, and green jodhpurs, and green snowshoes. It is very cold above the clouds in the shantytowns where the Six Winds live.
I bought it at Malaprop's. It continues to charm me, and I'm about 1/4 of the way through. It's one of those books that I only read when I have lots of energy and attention so that I don't miss any little detail.
However, I'm not sure I'm going to continue where I am. I was reading it this evening, and realized, about the time that I got to the quote at the beginning of this post, that it would be a beautiful book to read out loud.
Younger son is 14 yo now so, before June, it had been a while since I read out loud. In June, I injured my hand and there were lots of things I couldn't do, including dishes and cooking. I started reading out loud to dear husband while he was cooking, and younger son and older son usually ended up in the kitchen listening too. So far, I've read many chapters of Let's Pretend This Never Happened** by Jenny Lawson, which is a hilarious book, and the first chapter of The Americans: Fifty talks on our life and times by Alistair Cooke,*** which is as thoughtful as you'd expect from him.
I think I'll start reading this new fantasy out loud soon.
* Here are the three reviews:
“A glorious balancing act between modernism and the Victorian fairy tale, done with heart and wisdom.”—Neil Gaiman
“September is a clever, fun, strong-hearted addition to the ranks of Bold, Adventurous Girls. Valente’s subversive storytelling is sheer magic.”—Tamora Pierce, author of The Immortals series
“When I say that The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making reminds me simultaneously of E. Nesbit, James Thurber, and Eva Ibbotson, I don’t mean to take anything away from its astonishing originality. The book is a charmer from the first page, managing the remarkable parlay of being at once ridiculously funny and surprisingly suspenseful. Catherynne M. Valente is a find, at any age!”—Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn
** Also bought at Malaprop's on vacation.
*** Bought at The Book Exchange on vacation. It was a wonderful vacation for bookstore browsing!
"In many countries, and Britain used to be one of them, a reporter is a potential enemy. The Americans, however, feel it is better to have a friend in print than an enemy. And this, too, is a great danger, for nothing castrates a reporter so easily as flattery." - "Telling One Country About Another (Marth 2nd, 1969) - First Chapter in The Americans: Fifty talks on our life and times by Alistair Cooke
When I was in Asheville visiting my daughter, earlier this month, there was a day or two of near record heat. First thing in the morning, I'd wander around outside, but, eventually, I'd go in search of air conditioning. One afternoon, I spent an hour and a half reading Little, Big in the branch library near where she lives until the rain came through and cooled everything down.
Another late morning, after getting overheated, I cooled off by wandering around The Book Exchange in the Grove Arcade. The store is sort of like a snail shell - you keep going through rooms that are arranged going round and up and in until you get to the end room.
Children's books (also books about music and film)
This room and the next one have Art, Architecture, and Design.
I've spent the most time in this room (the end of the spiral on the inside). It's nice and cozy, and it has a wonderful book on U.S. Art Deco architecture which I looked at this time. The S & W Cafeteria building, the first building in the section on the Southeast, is just a block away in Asheville:
I had already picked up Alastair Cooke's book, a selection of radio talks for the British about the United States in the 1960's and 1970's. As you can tell from the quote, it's a very pithy book. I read the first chapter out loud to dear husband this evening while he made dinner. I injured my hand earlier this week so I couldn't be much help in any other way.*
Back to The Book Exchange - I also bought Adventures with Old Houses by Richard Hampton Jenrette, whose hobby is restoring old homes - very expensive old homes, which he restores with meticulous accuracy. These include Edgewater, on the banks of the Hudson River,** and two houses in the Carolinas which I won't name because dear husband hasn't read the book yet. He goes into great detail about buying and restoring the houses and about their history. Younger son, who has always been interested in engineering and design, is reading it right now.
* I can type a bit, but anything involving any gripping or lifting is painful.