I’m not dead and neither is the blog- it’s just up until rather recently my life hasn’t really been my own, primarily because of the demands of work. However, I recently switched jobs, with the result that I have a lot more time to write and read while being able to keep a roof over my head. Which is great- I read more books in November than I’d thought was possible for me to do ever again, and hopefully I can keep that pace up.
I’m going to be putting up a post on one of those books tomorrow. In the meantime I want to apologize to anyone who’s commented and never got an answer. I’d see the comments, be delighted and embarrassed that someone was still reading this thing, and then they’d get buried in my inbox without the chance for me to respond. At this point I’m going to just let them lie, largely out of shame, but going forward, I’m going to try to answer any comments I get — if blogs still get comments nowadays — more promptly.
In the meantime, enjoy my cat making reading even harder than it already is.
One desert island. 10 books. Which ones do you bring?
(Still no sign of my reality TV contract. I can’t imagine what’s taking so long.) Continue reading
My bed is calling to me like a siren, but before I go, the tallies of the Readathon this time around:
Books read: 5
Books completed: 3 (1 in progress at the start of the readathon, 1 reread, 1 never-before-read)
-1 poetry collection
-1 YA/middle grade
-1 historical/horror/literary/thriller (whichever you’d want to call The Historian)
Pages read: 1,122
I will hopefully be back later in the week with more detailed thoughts on The Sea Shall Embrace Them and The Historian, assuming real life hasn’t buried me alive first. But for now- to sleep, perchance to dream.
I have a decidedly morbid interest in maritime disasters. I don’t know where it comes from, particularly since I tend to flinch away from them after examining them for long stretches. There’s something viscerally horrifying about the power of the ocean, and perhaps it’s this terror that makes it so fascinating. There’s an awesomeness to it. Stories of the things that happen at sea almost always have to be considered in that context, and it was with that in mind that I picked up The Sea Shall Embrace Them, by David W. Shaw, as my third readathon book.
The sea’s awesomeness is an undeniable backdrop in the disaster of the steamship Arctic, but what makes the disaster of its collision with the Vesta so agonizing to read is how much of the loss of life might have been prevented if meeting scheduling hadn’t been such a pressure that the captain opted to churn at top speed through a thick fog by Newfoundland. If regulations had been more of a concern at the time. If the captain of the Arctic, Luce, had made the choice to try to aid the ship he rammed in defiance of the bad position his ship was in for honor’s sake (the Vesta, though it ironically looked done for at time of collision, ended up making it back to land and might have been able to help the passengers and crew of the Arctic had turned back. But with the Arctic itself floundering, it’s very hard to blame Luce for trying to keep his ship afloat as long as possible). If the crew had had more courage, enough to let the passengers off instead of opting to rush the lifeboats and save themselves.
All I can say is that the murder mystery I have planned to follow will come as an uplifting and sunny change.
My second readathon selection is a book that I read over and over again when I was a child- I wanted to see if it still had the magic and I wanted something that would be a relatively quick read. Given hockey playoffs, it did not turn out to be as quick as I was hoping, but the game ended well, and the book still has its power.
I think The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke, is the first book I read where I became acutely aware of the power of words as devices to move, to stir, to paint as vivid a picture as a photograph. I read it at some point between the ages of 12 and 13, probably closer to age 12, and the power that it had over me was a strange one. I was moving past the age of children’s books, but this one has a captivating power beyond most. And when I reread it for the readathon, there is so much that still resonates (and a lot that made me laugh, this book has some amazing lines and exchanges). As an older sister, Prosper’s situation as he tries desperately to care for his little brother hits even closer now that I know a little more about what is needed to watch over of people. Victor still makes me smile, and Ida Spavento remains a role model for me in terms of her generousness with the children and in the hints that she’s overcome and forgiven a painful past. The book captures the magic and the beauty of a new place, one of possibility and history, where legends can- just maybe- come to life.
Greetings, ladies and gentlemen! If any of you follow me on Twitter, you will know I have signed up for Dewey’s 24 Readathon, a day devoted to book-reading. How faithfully I’m going to be able to follow this is open to question, given how much laundry I have to do, but I’m going to give it my best shot. Given how much of my life is spent reading anyway, I’m sure the hours I’m going to lose are already more than made up for.
Anyhow, I have finished my first book of the reading madness just at the end of the sixth hour and it was glorious. If you love history, reading, academia, legend, the preservation of history, travelogues, and Dracula, read “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova. It is magnificent- a twisty, wild book that juggles a labyrinth of storylines and showcases the wonder and the awe that knowledge, literature, and history have. It’s a testament to the power of the past, the power of stories, the hold of culture, the joy of travel. It reaches back into the centuries and shakes into the layers and layers of years covered in the story. The horror sprinkled throughout adds bits and pieces of terror, but what kept me turning the page was the searching for the bits of documents, the books, the legends, that every generation featured in the book undertakes in their search for the source of the Dracula story- Vlad Tepes. It’s a wild, almost ridiculous undertaking and premise, and it’s all the more magnificent for it. I cannot wait to give it a proper review, one that doesn’t involve my flailing.
Now to the other books in this pile:
Today I am taking a moment to mourn the passing of a treasured help and companion that saw me through three years of college and a year and a third of adult employment: my ~$20 electric kettle purchased from a humble CVS that passed away quietly on Sept. 8, in the year of Our Lord 2015. This kettle saw to the boiling of the water for tea that prevented me from freezing when walking to work during apocalyptic Chicago winters, kept me caffeinated during the multiple papers and midterm papers, saw me through the one all-nighter I pulled for academic reasons and the one all-nighter I pulled for reading in the 24-hour Readathon. I’d crank it up and hear the whir when I needed to curl and calm down from stress, and when I began adult employment, it became routine to stumble into the kitchen and blindly grope for the kettle. The rumble of the water beginning to bubble was the sound of my lifeboat approaching as I tried to get ready for work without either putting on a shirt inside or knocking over things in my sleep-dazed stumbles, and it became a part of my pre-bedtime routine to whip it for something herbal, ridiculously sweet, and decaffeinated as I tried to readjust from my customary night-owl habits to those of someone who had catch a train before 6 a.m.
It will be greatly missed, and I have no doubt I will mourn its passing for many days to come. Not least because it was my primary method of getting caffeine for the mornings and I am genuinely at a loss for what to do tomorrow (I’ll probably end up forking over for coffee).
ETA: Tweaking some cords and things seem to have brought it back at least for the moment. How long that’s going to last, I can’t say, but here’s hoping the zombie version will at least get me through the rest of this week for caffeine…
Your grave will be watered by the tears of the uncaffeinated. Or at the very least, your memory will live on in my complaining.
What I’ve been doing: SO MUCH STORY REWRITING. This is what happens when you give up writing for a year- you think you’ve gotten the hang of finishing something decent and then you open the document again and it’s all spiders and cobwebs and overgrown ivy, where things are constantly scratching, nibbling at or distracting you as you try to clear things out. Writers, if you write… just don’t stop, for the love of Heaven. Having taken hiatuses in both writing and exercise, I’m finding regaining the writing stamina infinitely more excruciating.
What I’ve been listening to: a lot of podcasts, notably Thinking Sideways and The Tolkien Professor