Week’s End Notes (26)

TreeFarm2

I feel like I’ve had serious blogging block of late. I’ve thought about posting—even started a now out-of-date draft of this very post in October—but I just haven’t been able to do so. And I’ve three books I’d like to write about.

Part of this is time, of course. When time is limited, choices must be made, and it is far easier to choose to read a book or watch a movie than to put word to screen. But part is…a weariness of continuing, I suppose. Or maybe just a weariness of writing. No, the weariness of always trying to catch up to a target that is continually moving forward. I considered, seriously, that perhaps it was enough to read. That with all the other things I want to do—to knit, to bake, to learn—perhaps the blogging is just too much.

But perhaps it was just the weariness of damp, dreary late autumn days talking, and now that the hope and light of the Christmas Season is near upon us, and that the temptations of reading “challenges” again begin to raise their alluring heads, I find myself rejuvenated. Not just to read all the books and blog about them, but to take part in some challenges, to write about books—and perhaps some other things, to make plans I might possibly keep.

I’m not sure yet which challenges I will participate in. I’ve my eye on a few that I might try. The excitement of both group participation and knocking some books of my list!

One thing I DO know—while I still plan to host a version of the Children’s Classics Literature Event I’ve held the past few Januarys, it will not be until the spring. This is for a reason most practical—I often lose several hours of reading per week in the winter months due to commutes made lengthier by snow, so last winter I decided that any future such events would be better later in the year. I’m thinking April. (Of course, thanks to el Niño, it now looks like we’ll have a mild winter locally, but who can tell?) At some point early next year, I’ll ask for either recommendations or votes on a readalong title and post other pertinent information.

In the meantime, my current reading. I’ve a library hold I need to pick up (The Martian by Andy Weir—all the publicity for the movie finally prompted me to request it), another that will hopefully come in soon (White Nights, the second of the Shetland Island Series of mysteries by Ann Cleeves), and most excitingly, I’m joining in on a readalong of Emma (Jane Austen), hosted at Dolce Bellezza over December. I’ve been thinking of rereading it since I re-watched the 2009 TV adaptation (staring Romola Garai) over the summer. The timing could have been more perfect. There’s also still a few books hanging on that I just can’t seem to finish. I’ve nothing against either Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel García Márquez) or Ghostwalk (Rebecca Stott), other than I just can’t seem to remember to read them. It’d be nice to finish them off before the end of the year. (Especially the Márquez—I’ve been working on that since July!) But it’s probably a little overoptimistic to think I’ll finish everything! Especially with all the usual holiday busyness. One can only try, though….

Happy Reading!

Thanksgiving Snapdragons
Snapdragons from my mom’s garden – fresh picked for the Thanksgiving table!

Week’s End Notes (3)

It seems a constant refrain, but here it is half-way through September and I’m wondering how we got here already. Although I think I know the answer this time: a frightening series of deadlines at work. The timing of new jobs and client expectations certainly proved the phrase “never rains but it pours.” I think this week will be more sane. Think. At any rate, the weather should be much more cooperative: last week featured a two-day heat wave that could have done me in by itself even without the midnight power outage the second day. Good-bye ceiling fans and any hope of a decent night’s sleep. I’ve made quite a good zombie impression this week! (And it would of course have been the night before the office-sponsored marketing even we were all requested to attend. At least I didn’t doze off in my potatoes…On the other hand, I believe I’ve found another book to add to my will-eventually-happen local reads project list. A comedic one.)

All this to say I don’t think I read more than two pages this week prior to yesterday. Nor even last weekend–I sat down to read a new book (my Classics Spin title, Rebecca, if you must know) and decided I simply couldn’t until I had dumped all my thoughts of my various spring and summer reads into posts. So I spent a good deal of time working on those, and really, this should be my post on Quiet, but I decided to write this instead. (I think maybe after I finish this I’ll proof my Quiet post and schedule it for this week. Otherwise, if not careful, I’ll be posting on books I read in June come December.)

I’m a bit dismayed to realize it’s also a quarter of the way through R.I.P. and I’ve barely made a dent. (Only a teeny bit of Rebecca.) I really like the challenge, or at least the idea–so what am I doing with this stalling thing? Silly me. Maybe the arrival of fall’s chill will inspire me.

Wingfoot Lake

Sitting at the lake (at a local state park) yesterday, waiting for the family reunion to start provided me the best reading I’ve had in over a week. It was cool (chilly, actually), but the sun beating on my back was pleasant, and the sound of the waves lapping and the insects humming put me in a mood to read I haven’t found in my brief lunch breaks lately. I don’t think we get enough of nature in our busy (sub)urban lives. I don’t even mean the rough, backwoods variety, I mean the quiet sounds of out-of-doors. It’s so nice that the state parks in Ohio are still free to visit. I don’t know why I don’t go more often. I think if you throw a stone you hit one. I pass near the entrance to this one everyday going to and from work. It’s just always a matter of that pesky word, time.

May you find time this week–for reading, for resting, for nature. Happy reading!

Week’s-End Notes (2)

Well, two weeks later (or so?) and I have another Week’s-End Notes, so I’ve at least managed a two-part series. Sometimes that’s more than I can expect of myself.

  • I’d hoped that either last weekend, or at the latest mid-week, I would have caught up completely on blog-reading and put up another book post. Unfortunately a summer cold got the best of me, and I didn’t manage much last week besides work–glutton for punishment I am, I still went in everyday–and some TV watching. Summer colds are the worst–it was warm enough this week that one night I wasn’t sure if I was feverish or if it was the weather. (Answer: weather.) The cold is almost gone, so there’s that improvement. I think I’ll be caught up on blog-reading tonight.
  • I’m considering purchase of a tablet computer, for various reasons (fully-functional tablet, not dedicated e-reader). Anyone have any thoughts or experience with a tablet? I’m kinda leaning one direction, but could possibly be convinced otherwise…
  • I’m also toying with the idea of internet-free weekdays (outside of work needs). I’m not sure, but I kinda think it’d be more efficient to do all my internety-stuff in one chunk rather than dripped out during the week. Of course, I say that about my reading too, so what does that leave me? Nevermind, if I’m not online, I’ll be reading. I’ve always read in dribs and drabs.
  • Speaking of online/blogs (was I?), I’ve been having trouble leaving comments on blogger blogs lately, even though I have a blogger account (for commenting). Anybody know what that’s about? I haven’t had time to look into it. Maybe I’m signing in wrong?
  • My reading’s been a bit slow recently. I did finish Much Ado About Nothing  this afternoon. I’ll wait to post on that until after I see the movie this week. (Thursday night! Extra hours or no, going to the movie is non-negotiable!)
  • As for upcoming reads:
    1. Rebecca for Classics Spin–seems nicely seasonal. My only concern is that all the library copies are checked out. Was it required summer reading for one of the local schools?
    2. Mansfield Park, not quite for Austen in August–I’ll never finish by the end of the month but seeing all the Austen posts I’m craving a reread.
    3. As I Lay Dying–maybe. I saw the movie trailer, um, months ago, and my thought was, “Hmm, I really should read that.” (Not, “Hmm, I should see that”–perhaps marketing department needs to work on this? Of course, it won’t likely show anywhere close to me anyways…)

RIP8main400

  • I was interrupted from posting this, which is a good thing. In the intervening time, Carl announced his eighth (eighth!) annual R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril non-Challenge. It’s probably my favorite event I’ve participated in (certainly my most successful), so OF COURSE I’m in! I can’t say how much I’ll actually read, but there are so many options. Rebecca of course is apt. And I’ve been saving The Hound of the Baskervilles and ‘Salem’s Lot just for this challenge. The read-a-long for The Historian is tempting, but probably unrealistic (and it would be a reread anyways). There’s always Poe and The Turn of the Screw…so many choices. I’m not going to commit to a level, as I don’t think I can accurately guess how much I’ll actually finish. But. Itching to get started!

Happy Reading

Week’s-End Notes (1)

So. Yeah. Doing great on the keeping up with blogging thing here. Or not! I had thought I’d at least get caught up during my (stay at home) vacation in early July, but…um….the books distracted. I guess there’s worse things to happen to a book blogger. Glancing over my “Books Read 2013” page, I see there are currently five books on the list that I’ve yet to write anything about. The backlog seems to only grow. (Well, so does my TBR, but that’s another matter entirely.) Sometimes it seems just so much effort to put my thoughts about a book into coherent form and the sad truth of a full-time job with a long commute (that doesn’t even have the benefit of being via public transport) is that I’m often too tired evenings to post anything (or even comment on others’ blogs) and weekends have been a mite bit busy. But I did think recently that it might be nice to start a new sort of post (for me) here that I can use for quick thoughts, short tidbits and updates. At least make a stab at keeping my finger in blogging waters. We’ll see, it might not last (I’m not very good at keeping up with these sorts of things), but here goes my first, of hopefully many, “Week’s-End Notes.”

  • As I said, I’ve been reading, almost entirely by whim. Nice to do! Every book I’ve read these last few months, excepting Inferno (which was still a whim of sorts) came to my fingers unexpectedly–because of something someone said or a lingering memory of something I wanted to explore or a chance passing of the shelves.
  • August is becoming a little more planned: I’m currently reading Tea with Jane Austen for Adam’s Austen in August, and Much Ado About Nothing is up next because the new adaptation will finally play locally at the end of the month. Yay local independent theater! I only wish you got films quicker…
  • Which reminds me, I don’t believe I’ve watched a single film for my project this entire year. No, take that back–I suppose I could count Bringing Up Baby and Singing in the Rain, but I didn’t watch either with that thought in mind, so I find I have nothing to say about them at the moment. Other than I still can’t believe my mom hadn’t seen either until recently…
  • I’m hoping to actually have a lot more time the next few months. I’m through all the Continuing Ed that occupied most of July (what me, wait until the last minute? Never?! Oops…) Specifically, it was to maintain my credential as a LEED Accredited Professional, which means I know something about the LEED green building rating system. I wouldn’t have minded so much if I thought it was worthwhile, but honestly a) most of it was really redundant b) I didn’t learn that much and c) most of it was clearly more about product advertising for the education unit sponsors than anything actually having to do with environmentally friendly construction methods. Although the pervious paving hour was interesting.
  • I’ve been listening to audiobooks on my drive home. Pick the right one, and the drive goes much faster! (Well, other than that day there was traffic congestion in S—, home of about 6,300 people. How does that happen?) I’m not very good at staying focused on audiobooks, so I’m mostly picking lighter, easy-to follow fare. Most likely I won’t be blogging about any of these books; I’m just not listening to them that way. (OK, there’s one exception, but I’ll explain that when I post.) One thing I’ve found already: the reader definitely matters. Good thing I’m just listening to library borrows!
  • Speaking of the commute, one nice thing about it is following the change of seasons. My drive is a good bit rural (with a fair amount of suburban thrown it–the worst of the drive as the traffic is much heavier), and I get a small pleasure out of passing by the dairy cows every day. Seeing the fields of corn and hay. The bales bound for winter. Pumpkins forming on the vine. The glint of the rising sun over the lake. The deer and coyote bounding in front of me. Okay, maybe that last is a bit more heart-stopping than heart-pleasing.
  • I had high hopes for my participation on Ekatarina’s Language Freak Summer Challenge, but so far I’ve finished nothing. But I’ve learned that my Spanish really IS that much better than my Italian. After about four chapters, I’m afraid I’ve given up on Le avventure di Pinocchio, at least for the time being. In contrast, although momentarily distracted from it, Cervante’s Three Exemplary Novels (Spanish edition) is going much better–I’m rather surprised, actually, at how little I’ve had to look up. It gives me hope that I might someday get through all the Spanish-language books on my shelf!
  • Hm. I’m surprised at how quickly this has gotten long. Random musings go down so much faster. Perhaps this tells me I try too hard with my other posts. Regardless, I think I’ll leave off now and attempt to start writing up drafts of posts for my completed reads.

Happy reading!

Bookish Miscellany at the Change of Seasons

Happy Summer! (Err…northern hemisphere… 🙂 ) It even feels like summer around here–after a nice mostly cool-to-slightly-warm spring, the first day of summer opened with hot, humid weather, and today is even hotter. I’m not too keen on hot (especially humid) weather, but a little bit to remind us it IS summer is okay. But just a little. It’s perfect weather for lounging on the screen porch with a cold drink, jazz standards playing in the background and a book in hand. (Except I cheat–I don’t care for iced tea so I’m still drinking the hot stuff. NPR reassures me I’m not crazy!) I’m a bit in-between books at the moment so I thought it was high time to play catch-up instead.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post when I open up my dashboard and the visuals have all changed–nothing major, just a bit of re-imaging by WordPress. Apparently it’s been two months–I guess I should officially admit to being in a blogging slump. Plenty of reading, on the other hand. Now with the change of seasons, though, I’m feeling more interested in blogs than I’ve been in a while. Maybe with this official start of summer my brain is expecting more free-time like all those school-teachers/students I’m slightly jealous of. Or maybe the weight of a backlog of books to talk about is just catching up to me.

As a way of easing myself back into this blogging thing, I thought I’d share some of the bookish odds ‘n ends from the last few months. (Click pics for larger versions)

January 28, 2013 marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, an event marked by British Royal Mail with the issue of a set of stamps inspired by each of Austen’s six major novels. I can’t recall where I saw the preorder posted, but waaay back in January I ordered a first day set which included the Steventon postmark. It also seems a good time to mention that I received Emma: An Annotated Edition as a gift (um–can’t remember when exactly, maybe Christmas?) in the past few months. I have three of these annotated volumes now–I really need to start reading them, they’re so pretty just to look at. Maybe for Adam’s Austen in August event?

(And yes, that’s my subtle announcement that I’m planning on participating this summer!)

Look, more books! Which is a tale of two bookstores. I no longer consider myself to have a local bookstore. Yes, there might be a big Books-A-Million nearby, but after my last visit I’m not going back. They’re so pressured by corporate to sell the discount cards (because the cards are mostly profit to the company, and only benefit the user if they buy a LOT of books) that it ruins the shopping experience. The last time I was there the wait in line was twice as long as it needed to be and the salesclerk wouldn’t shut up about the [adj.] card even after I told him, curtly, to just ring the transaction up. So, The Wizard of Oz, Les Misérables, and 2666, consider yourself privileged–you are the last books I will buy from that particular chain. Which makes me very sad. I love a good bookstore, and there isn’t another new books bookstore in the county left, that I know of.

A few months later, however, I found myself in a small town about 45 minutes to the west. A college town with a lovely, independent bookstore. Not very big, but decently sized, and with a very good selection, including a nice selection of local authors. It’s a bit too far to go just on the spur-of-the-moment or if I want a particular book, but for the drop-in-and-browse, perfect. I found a collection of early Jeeves & Wooster (as well as unrelated characters) stories and an absolutely lovey, if a little pricy, garden book. I have a weakness for lovely garden books, even though I don’t garden myself.

Which leaves the Book Darts. I recall, way, way back when Book Riot first started one of their early “Book Fetish” columns mentioned these. I kept in the back of my mind, and as a first paycheck reward ordered some. They don’t know me from Eve, so no kickback here, but I love these little darts. The design is so well thought-out that they slide easily onto the page while still holding the place perfectly. My only problem? I only have 75 and since I use them where I used to use sticky-notes in my reading, I can easily run out. (I mark passages as I’m reading and then go back later to copy them down.)

Blog Plans

In terms of bloggish-related things, my last post was a sign-up for a summer challenge to read books in other languages. So far, a big fat FAIL on my part, but I’m planning to get to that on my vacation in two weeks.

Thanks to my big blogging slump I’ve read four books that I haven’t written about yet. Soon, hopefully–before I forget any more about them than I already have. At least the reading’s been good!

A New Project?

I’m tentatively considering a project for the second half of the year or so. At this point I’m not sure if I want to commit myself to it or not (and if I do, it would likely account for only some of my reading). I’m also not sure if I should open it up to others, as I’m not really sure there would be any interest–it’s kind of a specialized project. Here’s the idea though: reading books by local-to-me authors (living or deceased, ideally not-so-well-known) or about local people/events. If it became a larger group, I’m thinking that each reader would read local-to-them. I live in Ohio, USA, so that’s my local–and I already have some reading ideas. (Feel free to offer suggestions, actually–even if I don’t do this project this year, it will happen sometime.) Regardless, it would be very flexible.  If you’re interested, do let me know–it might be the push I need to get a project together that I do want to tackle.

Of course, then there’s all the reading goals I made at the first of the year. The only one that’s on track is reading 26 books this year! That’s okay; ultimately my goals are mostly guidelines so that I don’t forget what I want to read eventually. I was looking over my TBR challenge list a bit ago and reminded that I really want to get to some of these soon. Good thing I’m not in a reading slump!

Now the promise: I have four books to blog about–I hereby promise to post on the first no later than the last day of June. (Teaser–it will be one of my bookish weaknesses!)