- Now that the Olympics are well past and winter has finally begun to break–it’s somewhat hard to believe that January, worldwide, was among the warmest on record, when winter locally has been among the coldest on record–I suppose I’m out of excuses for my little blogging break. Although I think we’re about to get swamped at work–two big projects came in over the past 8 days, only days (literally!) after the specter of possible layoffs was raised. No layoffs currently projected. Insanity much more likely…
- I’ve been reading, a bit. My February plans were slightly derailed when it took much longer than expected to get books I’d requested from the library. I think the out-of-area request must have been bicycled in, it took so long!
- That said, my library is the best! I requested, via Inter-library Loan, the English translation of The Wizard of the Emerald City, after the discussion about it in the comments on The Wizard of Oz readalong post. Having looked it up on WorldCat, I wasn’t really optimistic, but my library didn’t just find a copy–they bought one. I don’t know how ILL works; it may be that there’s a cost involved and that it was cheaper for the library to buy a copy. Or maybe the librarian in charge of ILL was intrigued. Either way–I have a book I wanted to read. Incidentally, this will also be the first novel I’ve ever read translated from Russian.
- Speaking of translations, have you seen THIS article on the lack of translations (and readers thereof) published in the U.S.? I always have grand ideas of reading more translated fiction–I have a particular interest in Spanish and Italian fiction after studying those languages–,but usually fall short. (Last year: 0 books in translation.) Reading this article, though, I’m tempted to make my next project (next year, perhaps) one to focus just on translated fiction for a while. Heck, I have so many translated books on my shelves, that at my reading rate, I could probably go for a couple years just from those… I think what really struck me when I read this particular article was the idea that when we don’t read literature from other countries–or even outside our own comfort zone/culture–we make it that much more difficult for ourselves to have meaningful conversation with or related to those who are different from ourselves. This isn’t really a new idea for me, it just struck me particularly here.
- I just realized, I’m sitting here listening to Pink Martini as I type–specifically their album Get Happy–a band I love not just because of the style of their music, but because of all the languages of the various songs on their albums. Spanish, German, Turkish, Japanese, Romanian, French, English, Neapolitan, among others. I love the sounds of other languages, love learning other languages…come to think of it, why didn’t I study languages or linguistics in school instead of architecture? At the very least, it strikes me as odd that I seem to be so stuck in the rut of original-in-English only reading rather than translations.
- Veering away from the international back to much, much more local, my Ohio project is full-steam underway (now that the one hold request has come in). If it weren’t for my blogging break, I’d actually have two or three posts written by now, so hopefully I can get those done in the next couple weeks. While still reading.
- I have to admit, I was a bit surprised at all the attention paid to my little Ohio-authors map. I mostly created it for a fun little image of my project, that was more bookish than a plain ol’ map, but it seems that everyone wants to know what I might be reading… The map’s not actually all-inclusive, nor will I guarantee reading something by everyone listed on it–but it’s a fun place to start!
- Happy reading!
Posted by amanda on March 9, 2014
Geographically nearly Northeastern U.S. but considered Midwestern–and long ago western frontier!, Ohio is often, as is so much of the U.S. midsection, overlooked by those on the coasts (excepting, of course, that madness every four years known as “presidential campaign”). But it has produced its share of authors, from regional to well-known. Over the years, I’ve found myself compiling a mental list–the memoir of that local author, that prize-winner I’ve never gotten around to, this book on an Ohio historic event. I compiled the list, but I didn’t read from it. So now’s the time, the start.
This will be a fun project, I think. And unlike other projects where I’ve posted lists then long-neglected, this one will have no posted list, but will be the focus for much of the remainder of this year. (With a few exceptions, I do believe.) It will encompass different genres and eras and a wide variety of authors–some of whom I hadn’t even heard of before I began this project, others who I’ve been meaning to get to for years. It already has pushed me into reading poetry, a type of writing I most usually avoid. I’m also hoping to add a few “field trips” into the mix; there are a few sites I can think of that will tie into this project.
I’m defining “Ohioan” a little loosely. So many people move so frequently among the many U.S. states, both currently and historically, that there are few authors who have lived their entire lives in this state. So I am looking at authors who spent a significant time of their lives here: growing up in Ohio, going to school here, living and working here for many years. When the whim strikes me I may even strike “significant” from the definition.
And now? The reading!
Posted by amanda on March 8, 2014
- I didn’t mean to take such a (relatively) long break between the end of the January Children’s Classics event and, well any post, but I seem to have lost a bit of steam. I’ll blame the weather–it’s been much more conducive to hiding under covers than to reading or thinking. I wouldn’t mind the winter so much if I didn’t still have to do so much regardless–still the long commute (made longer by the bad roads; we’ve had so much snow and cold that the local road departments are all running low on road salt), still full-time working hours, still keeping up with all the miscellany of life.
- And now the Olympics. I’m afraid I enjoy watching rather too much–and watch too much, given that there’s only a few sports I actually like watching. Which means I find myself rather short on time for reading and blogging at the moment. So this may be a “I’m taking a semi-break” post. Resume full schedule after the Olympics.
- Of course, this might not stick–I’ve a post or two somewhat written in my head, so if I find a moment to get those typed up… Say, if it stops snowing long enough that I can resume taking full lunch breaks rather than shortening them up to make up time for being late in the mornings.
- And in the meantime, I can share some recent book and book-adjacent acquisitions:
- I rather enjoyed Much Ado About Nothing when I saw it early last fall, and it served to confirm my opinion that watching Shakespeare is even better than reading him.
- Although I’ve enjoyed both Hobbit films to date, true confession: I enjoy the soundtrack even more. Although, it does have the consequence of prompting me to want to watch the movies again–when’s the next DVD out?
- And well, the Faulkner–after my enthusiasm over As I Lay Dying last fall, I’m ready to begin collecting (not that I have any room on my shelves…) My dad really liked The Reivers, so hopefully it will prove a good follow-up. Not that I’m likely to get to it soon!
- And after the enthusiasm for Rufus in December, I thought I should share that he now has a friend, Oscar:
- Here’s hoping I’m back in time to post on this month’s Classics Club reading theme! (I have plans…) Happy Reading!
Posted by amanda on February 9, 2014
I can’t believe the month is over already, it’s gone by so quickly! A big thank you to everyone who participated this month.
For my own part, I was off to a bit of a slow start, but am very happy that I managed to finish three books by the end. And I discovered a wonderful series that I will definitely read more of. I hope everyone had as much fun as I did and found as many new books to add to their lists!
Below is the summary of links for the month. If I somehow missed you, please add your link(s) in the comments below. If you happen to have a wrap-up post, please feel free to link it below. And, if you happen to have a straggler post/book that didn’t quite make it into January, feel free to share that here too!
Adriana at She’s Got Books on Her Mind:
Arabella at The Genteel Arsenal:
Carissa at Musings of an Introvert:
- The Light Princess by George MacDonald
- Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Cleo at Classical Carousel:
Jean at Howling Frog:
Plethora of Books:
- Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
- Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
amanda at Simpler Pastimes:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz RAL:
Posted by amanda on January 31, 2014
Anne of Green Gables
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?
Nostalgia. If we are to be entirely honest, that is a prime reason so many of us choose to return to children’s books, to old favorites. To remember that book we read long ago and all the delight we found in it before, hoping that it won’t turn on us to disappoint, and not be the book we remembered.
It was this nostalgia I expected to find when I returned to Anne of Green Gables for what must be the fourth or fifth time. (Or more? I didn’t really keep track of all my many readings and re-readings when I was little.) I did not expect to be transported back, not to a previous reading, but to my childhood itself, to my own days of make-believe play with my best childhood friend. It was, I must admit, a bit bittersweet: it’s been ten years or more since I last heard from this friend, who moved away when we were only in sixth grade (we lost touch when we went to college). I found myself not contemplating Anne’s latest mishap but wondering what had become of my friend and what might have been different had her family not had to move away. This was not what I had expected of Anne! Yet Anne of Green Gables is not changed; it is only me, growing older. I am not too old for Anne–in the end I love her story as much as I ever did. I simply read it differently.
A huge cherry-tree grew outside, so close to that its boughs tapped against the house, and it was so thick-set with blossoms that hardly a leaf was to be seen. On both sides of the house was a big orchard, one of apple trees and one of cherry trees, also showered over with blossoms; and their grass was all sprinkled with dandelions. In the garden below were lilac trees purple with flowers, and their dizzily sweet fragrance drifted up to the window on the morning wind.
January proved perfect timing for returning to Anne of Green Gables, or rather, Anne of Green Gables proved a perfect antidote to the wickedly cold, snowy January we had. I’m not a very good reader of descriptive passages, my mind tending to wander off when I encounter one–typically, I assume this to be a failure of me the reader rather than on the author’s part–but for some reason I do better with Montgomery’s nature scenes. Looking them over, I suspect that this is in part because she tends to use precise nouns and verbs rather than many flowery adjectives, and partly because the scene she is setting is so often one I want to be in. All those spring flowers! I can smell them as well as see them, and in turn I am reassured that spring will return, even if prospects seem dismal at the moment. Interestingly, for a novel set in Canada, winter seems to take a minimal role, with only a few mentions of pulling on a coat or taking a sleigh-ride. Perhaps the reminders of pleasant springs and summers were as beloved for Montgomery as myself?
But here I am, wandering through nostalgia and seasons, and I’ve barely written a word about Anne or the story itself! I strongly suspect that the reason so many fall in love with this book and series is Anne Shirley, a delightful, spunky, imaginative, and mishap-prone girl, that I imagine many of us can relate to as children. But returning to her story as an adult, I find myself taking the point-of-view, not of Anne, but of the adults in her life. I honestly did not recall that this book could at times be laugh-out-loud funny, whether because of Anne’s latest mishap or her earnest little speeches that so often echoed what adults thought but could not say. I think the story must become more humorous as we grow older, for as children we share Anne’s earnestness, and perhaps her mystification that Miss Barry should laugh at her every speech.
I do want to mention a book I read a few years ago, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. At the time I compared it to Anne of Green Gables, for there are many similarities–an orphan sent to live in a new home among strangers, who enchants those around her, gets into many scrapes, and has boundless enthusiasm–but I did not find it to live up to my memory of Anne of Green Gables (while remaining absolutely charming in its own way). Now, having finally revisited Anne of Green Gables, I find that my previous assessment holds. Green Gables is simply more even, and better paces the passage of time. I am never in doubt of how old Anne is or how much time has passed. That said, the last year or two of time covered in Green Gables does seem to rush by rather quickly. Perhaps Montgomery thought that a maturing Anne would find fewer adventures and mishaps and be of less interest to readers. Of course, we know that their demand for a sequel proved otherwise. And even though I found that it took me much longer than I expected to finish Anne of Green Gables this time around, I have no doubt that I shall be returning myself before long.
Posted by amanda on January 30, 2014