Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year in Review

I started this blog with the sole purpose of keeping track of my reading activities; the books I wanted to read, the books I was reading, and my thoughts about all of it. Looking back at my posts, I don't think that I did too badly. Granted, I've had several lapses here due to a variety of reasons (and yes, some of them could have been avoided), but I never stopped reading, so I'm going to say that overall, it's a win.

Now, last December, my first post, I posted several things that I was going to try and do this year, reading-wise. Out of the four of them, I have to say that only one of them was a success. I've posted 67 books in the sidebar, which means that I read 17 more than I "had" to. I only managed to read 5 classical books (I'd hoped for 21) and 5 to be read books (I'd hoped for 12)...hmm, I was almost halfway to meeting that second goal there, wasn't I? In any case, I'm still seeing them as wins, despite the fact that I didn't met my goals, because hey, in each case, I read 5 more in 2006 than I had in 2005. I also managed to read a few books that weren't fiction, although not as many as I would have liked; but a win is a win, yes?

So this year, I'm going to do the same things again: post reading resolutions.
I just have to come up with some first.

Resolution 1: Read more non-fiction.
I know, I always say this, and I always mean it...yet it never seems to happen. I've got dozens of books I want to read, on a variety of topics, but I never seem to even start them. In an effort to do so, I've put 6 of them on hold/reserve/what have you at the library; one for every other month.

1. Great Fueds in Mathematics: Ten of the Liveliest Disputes Ever by Hal Hellman
2. Altered States by Catherine Fisher
3. Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century edited by Rory Dicker and Alison Piepmeier
4. Literature and the gods by Roberto Calasso
5. Before the Fallout: from Marie Curie to Hiroshima by Diana Preston.
(Okay, this one is kind of cheating, since I'd read almost 2/3rds of this work before I had to give it back. Still, I didn't get the chance to finish it, so it's going back on the list.)
6. A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Resolution 2: Read more classical novels
Well, seeing as how I managed to read 5 of these starting in the later half of the year, I think that making a goal of reading 6 should be no problem; yes, one for every other month.

1. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
2. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
3. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
4. The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
5. The Vampyre by John Polidori
6. The Inferno by Dante
(7. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky)

Resolution 3: Post weekly, and with content.
Honestly, I think this one is going to be the hardest out of all of them, unsurprising, I'm sure.

And that's it, three goals. I'm not going to bother with the 50 books goal, or trying to read in an alphabetical list (although I might post one if I seem to be reading in that direction). No, instead I'm just going to concentrate on reading these 12 books this year (1 a month, could I have set myself easier goals?) and posting my thoughts.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Oh, snap

SNAP.

I really did not mean to let this happen again, but. Well. Good intentions vs the road to Hell. Welcome to my life.

Let's just gloss over that shall we, and get back to the books.

Oh, how I love my precious, precious books. (Also, I need more bookcases because the dear things are super crowded.)

When we left off, I had finished "The House of Mirth" and was starting "Crime and Punishment", with the sole purpose being to complete one challenge this year, dammit (and no, I didn't). I've only been able to read the first 'book' so far, since time, that precious commodity is seemingly so rare these days. I was getting to work early, so I could quickly read a chapter before going to the office, but with the way Seattle traffic has been lately, well, these days I'm starting to feel lucky that I'm making it to work, much less on time. Still, I will continue reading "C&P", since I really am enjoying it.

(Right now, he's just killed the old lady and her sister and is kinda sitting around going 'well huh, I guess I did it.')

I've also missed my last two book club meetings, not because I didn't read them, but I had plans (Baltimore and then the Rolling Stones Concert), so it kind of hit me on Monday that hey...you have a book club meeting coming up and wait, what's the book? ("The Glass Castle", by Jeannette Wells) Oh, right. So, when are you going to read it? Uh, yeah.

I bought it that night and was able to read it Tuesday, which is good as both yesterday and today are crammed full of things to do and places to be.

It was a really quick, and surprisingly entertaining read, for all that her stories about her life growing up were actually pretty damn sad. Her father was an alcoholic who had dreams of making it rich by finding gold and then building the glass castle for his family to live in; he might have been successful as he seemed highly intelligent and creative except he kept drinking away and and all money the family had. Her mother, an artist, really didn't want to be bothered by raising her children or dealing with her husband and so chose to mostly live for her work. Both parents would pretty much leave the kids to themselves, letting them learn and grow and experience for themselves, which sounds like *yay*, but really. It's not. They had rarely seemed to have food, clothes, money, or even a decent place to live. They'd move from town to town whenever the bills got to high and the creditors came looking, sponging off Jeannette's grandmother when they could.

Still, Jeannette has a way of writing these story that make them sound like fun times and not something horribly sad, which I suppose is the point. You know, the whole what doesn't kill you makes you stronger thing.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The House of Mirth

I just finished "The House of Mirth" and man, am I ever depressed now. I started off really not liking Lily Bart one bit, and then I was annoyed with her for being so naive about Trenor, etc, but at the end, oh, I felt for her, I really did.

I don't know that I liked this work, and it certainly took me long enough to read it, but I will say that Lily won me over in the end.

Now, off to "Crime and Punishment". Or, maybe Monday.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Interesting, interesting

This, R.I.P reading challenge looks rather interesting. I won't be joining it (not with only a month and a huge desire to finish "THoM"), but if I was, I think my books would be:


1. Fahrenheit 451
2. Vampyre
3. Bleak House
4. Coraline
5. Ghost Stories (by Edith Wharton)

Guidelines: pick out any 5 books that you want to read that you think meet the very open, broad criteria of being scary, eerie, moody, dripping with atmosphere, gothic, unsettling, etc.

October = Not sunny in Seattle

Well, now that the summer here in Seattle is over (hello rainy fall days), I think it's safe to say that I finally feel like reading again. I just could not get started, or finish, anything, despite picking up several different books. I'm never sure if it's the sudden heat, or the sunny days, or what, but picking up anything more than a comic or a magazine just doesn't happen. (That said, I read a lot of comics and gluten free cooking magazines over the past two months.)

Despite my lack of wanting to read (or post, or read blogs!), I did do some reading. I got my hands on a copy of "Danse Macabre" by Laurell K Hamilton and found it surprisingly decent, compared to the last few in the series. (You were right Colleen, this was pretty good, and much better than the last few). It's still got nothing on the first couple of books, but I'd like to take this as a positive sign.

I also read "The Birth House" by Ami McKay, which I thought was phenomenal. Very beautiful writing, the way she set the tone with a few lines really grabbed me. I did have particular things that I loved, but unfortunately, I was on a plane while reading this and getting access to my bag was impossible. I'll have to re-read it again sometime and try and remember the things that grabbed me. The second book I read while traveling was "Labyrinth" by Kate Mosse, which really didn't grab me at all. It wasn't the going back and forth Alise and Alice that bothered me (which I liked) but by the absolute predictability of it all. I got it because it looked interesting, but I only finished reading it because I was on a plane and had nothing else.

I completely "failed" the Summer Reading Challenge, and while that wasn't unexpected, I really thought I'd do "better" than I did. (I knew I wouldn't read all 14 of those books, but I thought I'd get through at least 8 of them.) That said, I'm still incredibly proud of myself for reading those 4 books; it's more than I'd read the previous summer (0). I'm still working on "The House of Mirth", and to keep myself motivated, I'm doing Sassymonkey's October reading challenge. I've made this one much easier on myself, at least I think so. All I have to do is finish "THoM" and then (re)read "Crime and Punishment". (I know, I know, but I haven't read that book since I was 18 and I since I really liked it, I'm thinking that this one I can do.)

I've been slowly catching up with people's blogs (some of you got quite a few comments from me today) and adding your recent reads to my library list. I've been doing pretty good about not putting too many books on hold all at once, although I think I have about 6 in transit to me now. Speaking of libraries, I'm down to just one now. The King County library system changed their rules/agreement with the SPL because of some sort of imbalance, so now, if you live in the Seattle area, you can't put things on hold at a KCLS library. (You can still check them out, but having two libraries to put things on hold at was the great thing.) And while the SPL is a great library system, I've always thought that KCLS had a much broader selection of books (seems odd, I know, but really, they do).

So I think that's it for now; I still have a few more blogs to (try and) get through today, and I'm toying with the idea of writing down a list of all the books I want to read for the remainder of 2006. Steven Brust has a new one out, but it's been years since I read his last one that I'm thinking a reread of the series is in order.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I know I know I know

Right, so I haven't been doing any reading lately. Not even an on line newspaper (although I have been reading the online version of TV Guide; does that count? Yeah, didn't think so).

I kinda feel bad about this, but at the same time, I just don't want to read. The urge isn't there, which is a problem.

I mean, not only am I completely failing the SRC (still on "The House of Mirth"), but I've got to have "Saturday" read before Tuesday's book club meeting.

However, I have received several new books from my boss-boss (a voracious reader, he decided to unload quite a few from his collections), including:

"The Professor and the Madman" by Simon Winchester. It's been on my list for a few years now, so I'm quite happy with this one.

"The Devil in White City" by Erik Larson. I already own this, so this one will go to my cousin for Christmas.

"Menace in Europe" by Claire Berlinksi...dunno. The title grabbed me.

"On History: and other essays" by Michael Oakeshott. I don't know if he wrote all of these, or collected them, but the name was familiar, so I stole it from my boss's hand.

"Europe: a history" by Norman Davis. I like history, and despite taking AP Euro History, remember very little. Except 1066 was when William conquered England and 1666 was the Great Fire of London.

and then...

"The Scarith of Scormello: a tale of Renaissance forgery" by Ingrid Rowland. Apparently based on facts from a case of forgery during the seventeen century.

"The Meaning of Treason" by Rebecca West. I grabbed this solely because I remember Pages Turned was reading her works.

"The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule" by Joanna Kavenna. Grabbed this because I remember Collene from chasing ray mentioned...well, something about Thule.

The last two, "Infamous Scribblers: the Founding Fathers and the rowdy beginnings of American Journalism" by Eric Burns and "Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion's World Series of Poker" by James McManus, I picked solely because of my unholy love of Rory Gilmore. (Yes, tv. Evil thing, I know.)

Her character is/will be/wants to be a journalist, hence the first book. During an ep, she was at a poker game where somebody mentioned "fifth street". That's been bugging me for two years.

So that's the new haul, haven't read any of them yet, and probably won't for a while. I'm going out of town this weekend, so I'm hoping that I'll at least START "Saturday".

(Also, my uncle is in the hospital and it is/was pretty serious so that was..well, distracting. Much better now.)

Man, I hope I can kick this summer slump soon.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Back on track

(I hope!)

Right, so I left off at finishing "1984". Immediately after reading that, I started "Animal Farm", which, looking back, was something of a mistake.

"Animal Farm" was an incredibly quick and easy read, but so similar to "1984" that it was all I could do to finish the book. Again, rather a depressing book about life and dictatorships and never getting ahead and being lied to, but at least it was written in an interesting way; I can see why this book is usually assigned in High School English classes.

After that, I started and finished "Tam Lin", by Pamela Dean. I think I heard about this over at ChickLit, but I can't be sure. I know they had a discussion about it though a while back. I skimmed through it because I was hoping that someone else had already compiled all the literary reference that Dean threw in (someone did). If you don't know, Dean rewrote this (Scottish) ballad, setting it during the 70's in a college in Michigan. I have to be honest, while I figured out who "Tam Lin" was, as well as the Fairy Queen, I had no idea about Nick and Robin. That one took me by surprise.

Now, I've started "The House of Mirth" by Edith Wharton, but I'm only 5 chapters in. While I'm enjoying it, especially Lily, I'm getting a bit antsy for the "story" to start...which I think is the wrong mindset. From the bit I've read about this story (and it wasn't much because I didn't want to be spoiled for the ending), the whole story is part and parcel and I just need to keep reading. For some reason though, it's a bit difficult this time around.

Taking stock, since starting the SRC (and I've yet to update since "Sense and Sensibility"; the very first book!), I've read 4 of my 14 books. It would have been 5, had I been able to slog my way through the last half of "The Beautiful and the Damned"...

I knew going in that the odds of me actually meeting my self-imposed challenge were slim, but I really thought I'd have gotten up to at least 8 books read. I know that there's still a bit of time (23 days, right?), but I don't know that I can read 4 classical books (The House of Mirth, Crime and Punishment, The Awakening, and Bleak House) in that length of time.

Still, I'm so going to try.

Where did the time go?

I can't believe I haven't posted in 2 weeks!

That will be rectified tonight!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Postscript

So...I realize (after reading a couple of comments), that I might have sounded a bit harsh on "1984". It wasn't that I didn't like the book, it was that I felt bogged down in the middle section (Goldstein's book). It actually reminded me of why I don't enjoy Ann Rand; her whole montage for pages just drives me nuts.

I liked the beginnings of the novel, the idea that Winston knows what he's doing is wrong-especially the photograph of the three framed party members, the first meeting with Julia, the shop owner (I've forgotten his name). I'd actually forgotten how they'd gotten caught, so him being a member of the Thought Police was a nice "surprise". I liked the ending too, well, the part where O'Brian is trying to convince Winston that four is five...it reminded me (Oh God) from an episode of Star Trek: TNG (Oh God) where Picard has been captured by the Romulains (Oh God) and he's being tortured and to get it to stop, all he has to say is that there are five lights (there are four).

(Yes, I used to watch Star Trek: TNG. I like Patrick Steward; he rocks. And I was 15. Wesley was cute.)

Anyway. I think what I didn't like was the idea of living like that. Where you had no say, no voice, no hope. You couldn't read, write, love, have a life. That scares me, which did colour my overall impression of the book. I think that "1984" is going to be put up there along with "The Grapes of Wrath" on my "well written, descriptive, thought provoking, but never want to read again" list.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Books

Oh my...it's hot. It's supposed to be somewhat of a record heat weekend for us here in Seattle. In fact, it's as hot in my apartment as it is outside of it...maybe hotter.

But that's not important right now.

Nope.

What's important is the fact that I have, just now, finally, on the 5th week, finished 1984.

Fi.Nal.Ly.

Let's take a second shall we, the heat is making me faint. Or maybe that's hunger.

I just, this book...dry. Especially the middle, where we're reading Goldstein's book and that dry and long and lecturing and so not keeping me focused. I enjoyed more the parts where Winston (and Julia) are "disobeying" Big Brother, living their lives, or trying too.

I don't think I'll ever be able to make myself read this again; I've pretty much forced myself to finish the last half of it. Seriously, once we started reading Goldstein's book...it all went down hill.

That said, I'm glad I did read it. Really. It's a rather interesting novel, with some rather bleak subject matter.

And for the record, if we were living in that 1984, I'd want to be a prole.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Follow up

A few months ago, I read "The Bookseller of Kabul" for my real life book club. I can't say that I liked or related to this book (it's the story of one family's life in Kabul), but it was interesting. Last I'd heard, the bookseller was suing the author because of the way he'd been portrayed.

Bookseller of Kabul's wife applies for asylum

gacked from bookslut

Saturday, July 15, 2006

1984, by George Orwell

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four. If that is granted, all else follows.


1984, page 69

It's been stuck in my head since I read it.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Don't get used to this.


Grandma's kicking new hair....


And an old heh, 2 weeks self-taken picture of my own. It's much, well, duller would be the word I'd choose, now, less bright. It's still fun and different, but I liked it the deeper, kick you in the face color that it was in the picture.

It would have been wonderful

Oh, how I slack.

I have just now (well, actually last night) caught up with your (incredibly prolific, damn you) posts from the last three weeks.

It's really putting me off righting my own...which will read something like this:

SRC Update
Right. I finished the second book (Wives and Daughters) back on June 27th and it was just okay. The story was interesting (all about Molly Gibson's life), but I don't think that I enjoyed it. Molly was too much a pushover for me to relate too. She didn't really ever speak up about her feelings or wants, instead, she just let everyone decide things for her. That's not to say she didn't stand up for the people she cared about, because she did, just never really for herself. My other complaint is that the book was never finished, due to the author's untimely death. Granted, I knew that before I started reading the book, but it was still disappointing not to have it "finished". (Her editor/publisher was someone that she corresponded with regularly, so he put in something of a postscript after her death, so at least we get to know how and where she was going to end her novel.)

So yes, book 2 was finished on week 5 (Yea gods, I'm so behind) and I started book 3, "The Beautiful and the Damned" by F.Scott Fitzgerald. And oh, how I despise it. I tried to read it, really. I tried to imagine myself in the '20s, all full of illegal alcohol and idleness....but all it made me do was drink. Or want to drink, depending on where I was reading. Anthony and Gloria were some of the most boring, self-centered, and annoying main characters I've ever tried to read. I managed to get halfway through the book, but on Tuesday, I had to put it down.

Which means that I've got to know read my first alternate..."Paradise Lost". I think.

But in the meantime, I've picked up book 3, "1984" by George Orwell...and book 4, "Animal Farm". Well, I tried to pick up book 4... See, it was a book sale purchase, so I didn't peruse it at the time. I just grabbed it and went...and found out on Wednesday that the first 27 pages were gone. So now I've got to read my second alternate too..."Woman in White". And...jump to book 5 (while reading book 3 still), "The House of Mirth".

Sigh. I so called it. I knew it was going to be like this.

Other readings

Um, have there been any? Oh right...

"Captain Alatriste" was just...okay. Not thrilled like it, at least not how I wanted to be. I'm a big fan of the author, but it seems like every fourth book or so, he writes something that I just can not get into, which disappoints me. However, this is the first book in a series, so I'm thinking I might give the second book a chance. Maybe. I've got a year or so to think about it.

"Skinner's Drift" was also okay. Again, not wowed by it, but it was something of an interesting read, as I've never read anything set in South Africa before. It was written from the point of view both before and after apartheid, again, a subject I haven't read much on. I think that was the most interesting part...the story didn't really grab me either.

And I read the last of "The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants" books...which was again, eh. (Is it me?) It ended the trilogy nicely, but I was expecting certain things to happen, which didn't, based on the way the first two books were written. Still, I'm not unhappy with it...and I've heard rumors that they're going to continue the series.

"Black Powder War" was good. (That's right..I'd nearly forgotten I'd read that.) I didn't enjoy it as much as the first two, but we were introduced to a bunch of new characters, including a pack of feral dragons (hee, they were fun). The French seem to be winning the war though, and as an enemy of Teremarie is helping them...well, let's just say that it got almost ugly there. But they live.

As for the library books...I'm giving up the ghost on them. I've returned nearly all of them by this point, and I did little more than scan the titles for most of them. I'm going to implement a new policy once I've gotten through them all. No more than 2 books checked out from the library at a time. This means that I put no more than 2 books on hold at a time and if I have to wait 5 weeks to get a book, so be it. I have more than enough books here to keep me busy. (And I'm really behind on my knitting!)

That's how the post would go, if I was writing it. The SRC forum update would be something similar too...although I might have to flesh it out a bit, explain more why I despised "The Beautiful and the Damned" a bit more.

Which I'm not. Maybe tomorrow I'll write it.

P.S. Grandma is still doing good. Tragically though, the purple is all gone. Sad really.

Friday, June 30, 2006

My grandmother rocks

Oh, where to begin.

Right, my grandmother. She's much better. Much MUCH better. In fact, she was released from the hospital (again) yesterday and is now at my aunt's house in Hardin. (The again bit...she was released last Thursday from the hospital in Billings and sent to a rehab hospital in Hardin, and so we left on Friday. However, when we were halfway to home, we got the call that she'd gone critical again and had been sent back to the hospital in Billings. So we turned around.) Good news all around, and I had the added bonus of spending some time with relatives I hadn't seen in oh, a decade.

Grandma also has purple tipped hair and bright orange fingernails, courtesy of yours truly. Heh. (And then I dyed my own hair a deep, but bright, red.)

As for reading while I was away, it seemed like every time I picked up a book, someone would want me to do something, go somewhere, or begin to question me about what I was reading, and then why. So I didn't get a whole lot done. I did finish "Wives & Daughters", and have started "The Beautiful and the Damned", so I'll post my thoughts over at the SRC forums. I also read "Skinner's Drift", "Captain Alatriste", and "Black Powder War". I'll try and write up my thoughts on them this weekend, although "Black Powder War" was the only one I really enjoyed.

I've got big plans this weekend, full of finishing "The Beautiful and the Damned" (which I'm struggling with) and a couple of other books that are suddenly due back. (I'm so behind on my SRC plan...I think I'm supposed to be on book 5 by now.) Oh, there are the fireworks and friends too. And graphic novel buying...I think Polly #6 came out while I was gone.

And of course, 2 weeks of you all to catch up with.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Well, I'm back. (Actually, got back at 12.04 am Tuesday, to be technical.) I'm incredibly swamped with work and other things at the moment, but I hope to get a post up by Friday.

And to catch up with all of you.

Also, Grandma is doing much better. And had purple hair, but that's another story.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Change of Plans

Well, my mom called a little after 1pm to tell me that my grandmother (her mother) had been taken to the hospital and was in critical condition.

So, we're leaving for Billings, MT tonight. By car. (Apparently, it's very expensive to fly into Billings and there are only a couple of flights a day.) Just me, my mom, and my cousin Cort. It's anywhere between a 12 to 16 hour drive, and I think she wants to do it nonstop. No clue when I'll be back; my mom says a week minimum, but I don't really think I can stay any longer.

We'll see.

Someone pray for us all. Positive thoughts, whatever.

I've got 10 books stuffed in a bag, 2 for the SRC. No idea if I'll be able to post or not, although some of the family there has internet access.

Third Place Books

OH MY GOD!

He's coming back.

He's really coming back.

Jim Lynch is coming back to Seattle. And he's going to be at the store I mistakenly thought was the correct store.

Do you realize what this means?

I know where I'm going!

And I'm going.

If I was to be stranded on a desert island (again)

Gacked from Dani, who stole it from litlove...

What ten books would you take with you to a desert island?

Granted, Dani put a lot of thought into the scenario, things like how long was she going to be there for, any chance of rescue, even climate. Me, not so much. I figure if I'm there, I'm there for life. Although...making a list of the books I'd bring with me strikes me as kinda odd. I mean, doing something like this clearly brings up the point that I know I'm going to be stranded on a desert island. That isn't something I'd really be willing to do, either.

Eh. Anyways, the books and in no particular order...

1. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
Now, this may seem like cheating to some people, but I actually have this book on my shelf.

2. The Bible
Not starting a debate, by my version of the Bible rocks. I mean, there are notes on the notes in there. It'll take me forever to read this, and that's what I'm looking for.

3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
It's always a toss up between this one and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but I think the OotP is my current fave.

4.Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
It's just a brilliant book and I always see something new in it with each read.

5. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Such a good, thoughtful, well-written book. And sad too. Which might help me take my mind off the fact that apparently, I allowed myself to be stranded on a desert island.

6. Chocolat by Joanne Harris
I did love this story and since I probably won't have access to anything other than coconuts and raw fish, at least I'll have Harris's descriptions.

7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

8. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
It was a really good story and I've only read it once.

9. SAS Survival Handbook found here
Because their motto is: He who dares, wins. And that's the kind of mindset I'm going to want while I'm stranded on that desert island.

Ohh, the last book....

10. The Inferno by Dante
Seriously? Because of this: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
I'm so going to weave myself a blanket (out of palm leaves and grasses) with that quote.
And also, because it will help me remember that my life could be so much worse.

What would you bring?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My life in less than 27 words

Heh. Dani has just summed me up with this sentence:
"Oftentimes I will see something or read something and it will pique my curiosity to a point where I become sort of [read completely] obsessive about the topic."

Monday, June 12, 2006

SRC update: finally, a goal accomplished

Well, "Sense and Sensibility" is done. Finally

I can't say that I enjoyed this book, which surprised me because I love Jane Austen's work. I mean, one of my favorite books is "Pride and Prejudice" ("Persuasion" was a close second), I've enjoyed all of the other ones immensely...I just don't know what it was. Maybe I didn't enjoy it as much because it was more "mental" than "verbal"? (Did that make sense?) Or it could be that I had such a built up hope for this book that I just set myself up for disappointment.

Either way, it'd done. And as a reward, I put the movie version (with Emma Thompson) on hold at the library.

In such a good mood that I'd finished, and because it was so sunny here on Sunday, I started book 2, "Wives and Daughters". I'm only four or five chapters in, but I'm enjoying this one so much more. I'm hoping to get a good chunk of it done tonight, it is a rather large book, but it reads so fast that I'm hoping the length won't be a problem.

(That's really all the news I have...at least for now. I mean, I am WOEFULLY behind on my readings. The stacks and stacks of library books I have are going unread...and in some cases I'm getting fined for them. I renew them, but then they get due again. Vicious cycle. And I haven't done more than read the back cover of the book Stefanie sent me for winning. (I'm so sorry Stefanie, but I WILL start it this week. I WILL.) Stupid real life...why's it always having to get in my reading way?)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's been 7 days, and I'm already behind

So the Summer Reading Challenge started last week, and I'm already behind. It's a combination of things...plans that couldn't be changed, catching another cold, meeting a new guy. But I honestly think it's the book. Sense and Sensibility is just not as good as I'd hoped.

I mean, I know it's not really fair of me to compare, but I'm afraid that

The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex. Their estate was large, and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of their property, where, for many generations, they had lived in so respectable a manner as to engage the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance. The late owner of this estate was a single man, who lived to a very advanced age, and who for many years of his life, had a constant companion and housekeeper in his sister. But her death, which happened ten years before his own, produced a great alteration in his home; for to supply her loss, he invited and received into his house the family of his nephew Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal inheritor of the Norland estate, and the person to whom he intended to bequeath it. In the society of his nephew and niece, and their children, the old Gentleman's days were comfortably spent. His attachment to them all increased. The constant attention of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood to his wishes, which proceeded not merely from interest, but from goodness of heart, gave him every degree of solid comfort which his age could receive; and the cheerfulness of the children added a relish to his existence.
is just not gripping me like

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
did.

"Pride and Prejudice" is funny, sarcastic, witty, and fun. "Sense and Sensibility"...isn't. It doesn't help that the first 412 (not really) pages are all about setting up the story. I know that's important to the plot, but I don't really need 14 pages of Mr. John Dashwood (Elinor and Marianne's elder half brother) dithering on in his head about whether or not to help his siblings and step-mother after his father dies. (He ultimately doesn't.) I'm up to chapter 18 (which you think would be an accomplishment), but each chapter is maybe, maybe 4 pages long. (And 4 X 18 = 72. 72 pages in 7 days. 72 / 7 = 10.3 pages a day. I'm so ashamed!)

"Sense and Sensibility" has finally started to get "good" though...Willoughby's just left and Marianne is in tears over it (and the engagement 'thing', which clearly, they were not engaged. Nope. You can tell that even though everyone thinks they are, but it was never said, which means, they were not engaged. I'll be proven right, you just wait.). In my head, I keep seeing scenes from the movie...is it dreadful that I can't wait to get to the part where Marianne nearly catches her death from the rain? (Hmm, probably, but whatever. She's been a rather annoying character so far.)

I'm going to finish this book by Sunday, I have to. Seriously. (Did you all not see my motto up top? I thrive on stress and challenges and planning.) Besides, I have "Wives and Daughter" to read this week, and if I let "S&S" linger, I know it'll turn into "Anna Karenina"...or that bloody "Oliver Twist". (You can see where this is going right? By week 5, you know I'm going to be juggling the first 2 books, finising the third and putting book number 4 in my bag, with book number 5--Animal Farm--languishing by my bed.) I don't dare go and look at the SRC forum...it'll only depress me. All you people, reading right on schedule...I wonder if there's a place for us not-on-schedule people to post?

(And no, I'm not cranky because I was up all night coughing and only got 5 hours of sleep. Why, did it seem like I was? Because I'm not. I'm not!)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Nothing but apologies from me

I'm sorry to say.

I've got things to write about, including the fact that I won Stefanie's drawing (and received the book last Wed), and that I'm already behind in the Summer Reading Challenge, but.

I'm sick.

And when I'm sick, I do nothing.

So,hopefully by the end of the week I'll be better and I'll have something more to say than "sniff".

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My fangirl heart is weeping at the tragedy that was X-Men 3.

(I'm almost hoping for some memory loss.)

Also, I finished Coyote Cowgirl by Kim Antieau over the weekend. Fun book.

Monday, May 29, 2006

It's almost time....

...for the summer reading challenge. Which I'm really excited for. It's odd, though. They're my books, I've had (some of them) for years now. No one (but myself) stopped me from reading them, so why am I so damn giddy about it?

In anticipation of this event, I've been reading through my library books as quickly as I can. It helps that a good portion of them are due in the next couple of days.

First up was The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist. This book was rather simplistic in plot; Petra (the writer and observer) and Calder (the math genius), along with Calder's best friend Tommy (the finder), try and stop a group of thieves who are attempting to steal from the Robie House. (The Robie House was one of the houses that Frank Lloyd Wright designed and it's full of interesting patterns and geometric shapes in the stained glass windows.)

What held my attention though were the puzzles that Blue and Brett include throughout the story. For example, there are clues in every illustration that one is supposed to look for and they can be challenging to find. Also, Calder is completely obsessed with pentominos, so the children use a code to write down their notes that he derives from them. And while they give you clues to it, you have to figure it out for yourself.

It's not a great book in my opinion, but it is a good one. It makes you stop and think and work towards something, so you get the feeling that you have solved the puzzle, along with the children.

The next book was The Gods in Winter by Patricia Miles. As I mentioned in a previous post, it's a modern re-telling of the myth of Persephone. (If you don't know it, you can read it here.) Adam Bramble and his family (dad's a physicist, mom's an American-I think she used to be a teacher, and two younger siblings, Charlotte-called Lottie, and Zach, with a third on the way) are moving to their new home in the Midlands as their dad has just gotten a new job there. Nearing their new home, they pass a young girl who's picking poppies in a field by herself. A bit later, they're nearly run off the road by a large black vintage car, which is careening down the road. Inside, they see the girl from before, screaming, while being held by the driver. Shaken, they brush it off as her being terrified of the near crash and continue on. Well, until they come to the great hole in the ground, that is.

The story continues from there, with them settling into their new home, and their mom trying to find some help as she's having a rather rough time with her pregnancy. A Mrs. Korngold is the name of the woman who's hired. She settles in well enough, although the oddest things start to happen. There's the fact that she's crying for her missing daughter, that strange visitors start to ring and appear on their doorstep, asking her to return-she always says no. Then there are the dreams that Adam and his siblings are having, not to mention the strange guy who keeps trying to get Adam's attention at school. (He keeps changing his appearance, but Adam can still tell that it's the same messenger as before.) And did I mention that their mom can't seem to get well, or that it's the worst winter anyone can remember?

As the story goes on, the Brambles' eventually come to the conclusion that there is something going on with Mrs. Korngold, which comes to a head the day the messenger finally gets a hold of Adam and give him a telegram, which Adam passes on to Mrs. Korngold: her daughter is coming home. There are still things to be resolved though, but in the end, the family comes to the conclusion that they weren't hallucinating the things that happened over the winter and that Adam should be the one to write the story down for a future reader.

The book after that was Pay the Piper by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple. It's another re-telling, but this time about the Pied Piper. Callie McCallan is 14 years old and desperate for some freedom from her parents (they'd had the kids fingerprinted and registered with the local police). So, when the band Brass Rat is scheduled to play in her sleepy hometown, she comes up with a plan to get her parents permission to go to the concert; she's covering it for the school paper. Her plan backfires a bit, when her parents (fans of the band) decide that the whole family is going to go, including Callie's eight year old brother.

At the concert, where it seems that everyone is dancing like they can't stop, Callie and her brother go backstage to interview the band, along with a few other children. But the band doesn't give answers; instead Peter Gringras (the lead singer) tells a tale about where he got the name 'Brass Rat'...apparently, after purchasing one, he was whistling a tune while walking home, when he suddenly noticed he was being followed by a group of rats. Realizing that he couldn't shake them, he ran to the river and threw the statue in, and every last rat in the city followed, drowning themselves. That's when Callie begins to get suspicious and clues into the fact that the members of Brass Rat aren't exactly...normal. Going back to get another interview, she over hears a conversation in which Gringras is told that they aren't going to be paid, which ends with Alabas (the drummer) telling Scott (who's been with the band 21 one years, but looks like he could be Callie's age, but must be at least 20) that
He [Gringras] must send silver or gold or souls Under the Hill. Human souls. To pay off a blood guild, a teind. And if he does not, he will grow old as any who walks upon the earth instead of living long Under the Hill. He will grow old and then die himself.

Callie begins to research all of this, tying together the Pied Piper of Hamelin with the Children's Crusade, the missing Tower princes, and all the children whose faces you see on milk cartons, and writes one version after another for her article. But she can't hardly believe that what she's writing is true, and she knows that no one else will. But then it's Halloween night and every child in the town turns up missing, except Callie, who'd been trying, once again, to re-write her article and had been wearing headphones. She decides that it's her duty to find the missing kids, as she was the only person who knew what had happened.

Throughout the story, in alternating chapters, we're treated to Gringras's story. In his point of view, we see the events that lead to him becoming the "pied piper", his friendship with Alabas, and the only way that they'll be allowed back Under the Hill. It ends rather satisfactory, with Callie realizing what needs to be done, and Gringras getting his heart's desire. (The irony is what he discovers once he gets it.) The authors plan to continue this "Rock 'N' Roll" series, with the next book about a troll bridge; I'm looking forward to it.

The last two books that I finished over the weekend are Aftershocks by William Lavender (author of Just Jane), and Bowery Girl by Kim Taylor.

"Bowery Girl" is set in Brooklyn in 1883, and tells the story of Annabelle Lee, a prostitute and Mollie Flynn, a thief. The girls, best and only friends since the day that Annabelle rescued Mollie, have one goal: to earn enough coin and leave the Fourth Ward, via the Brooklyn Bridge. However, that dreams seems to be impossible once Annabelle comes back from jail pregnant. Unwilling, and soon unable to work, she'd rather spend her days at the Cherry Street Settlement House, learning to read and write, which Mollie sees as nothing but a false attempt by the "do-gooders", led by Emmeline DuPre, to make themselves feel better. She'd rather pick pockets all day, since they still need money to keep Annabelle's boyfriend/pimp Tommy off their backs, pay the rent, and buy food. But when Mollie starts to lose it (her hands just won't stop shaking), she ends up at the Settlement House too.

It's not a "happy" story, there isn't any white knight or saviour at the end. It's more about friendship, love, and having a dream and then doing whatever it takes to keep going, even after you're just left with the dream. And it's not just a "New York 1883" story, no, this is a story that's constantly being retold by women all around the world. The heroines aren't "good" people, but they feel real as do the choices they were forced to make. The author includes a ton of references that she used in the back of the book, and I think several of them will be fascinating reads.

"Aftershocks" is set a few years before the great earthquake of San Fransisco in 1906. Jessie Wainwright wants nothing more than to be a doctor when she's older, which her father finds intolerable. She single-mindedly pursues this dream, under her father's nose, with the help of Mei, the seventeen year old niece of Ching Lee, the family's servant. One night though, Jessie witnesses something involving Mei that she shouldn't and the end result is that one day both Ching Lee and Mei are gone without word, leaving Jessie to decide which is more important, her dream of becoming a doctor or braving Chinatown to find her friends. She gives up the search after being robbed and then arrested for entering an opium den and focuses on her studies.

A few years later though, the earthquake hits, Chinatown is destroyed and Jessie once again begins to search for her friends. Although she finds some of them in one of the refugee camps, helping them isn't easy as everyone is still prejudiced against the Chinese. Her friend Hazel, jealous because Jessie seemed to care more for her servants than her, didn't want to help, her parents flat out forbid her to have anything to do with Chinatown, her friend Wanda, also her father's head nurse, was resistant to helping as well. In fact, the only two people who really did want to help was Henry Wong, who Jessie and Hazel had met the first time they ventured into Chinatown, and Dr. Alan Lundquist, a doctor working in the refugee camps. (In all honestly, at first Dr. Lindquist and Henry really seems to be the only people who cares about the Chinese. Jessie is just looking for her friends; while she thinks things are bad for the refugees, she doesn't seem to give their situation much thought. That does change as the story goes on.)

This story has a much happier ending for those involved, ending with Jessie enrolled in college and actively working her way towards becoming a doctor, her goals realized and her friends helped. But it also re-enforced (at least for me), how poorly the non-white immigrants were treated when they came to America, and how poorly they still are. (This isn't unique to America though; it seems every country is trying to "block their doors" and bar entry, or make things impossible once immigrants do arrive.)

Now, I think it's time I run a few errands, like buying food for myself and getting my oil changed. It's amazing how little I care about errands when I have 3 whole days to do them. But give me 3 hours and I'm all about being non-stop. I'm also trying desperately to forget the horror that was X-men 3: The Last Stand. It's so un-cannon that it's pissed me off and left me rather desperate for the comics. I've put every last one I could find at the libraries on hold.

Hope you all had a nice Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Temeraire

Recently, I read both His Majesty's Dragon and the Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik and they rocked! Seriously good books.

So good in fact that when I started reading the first book around 11pm, I'd only planned on reading a few chapters or so. Yet before I know it, it's after 4am and I've just devoured the second book. (Granted, that has thrown me off for sleep this whole week, but I really feel it was worth it. My coworkers however don't agree, something about me being cranky.)

Novik has taken the Napoleonic Wars and added dragons to them. Yes, dragons. Dragons that think and speak and serve in their countries Aerial Corps (think Air Force. Every country has their own breeds, bred for abilities like speed, or shooting acid from their nostrils, which are highly guarded. And that is where the trouble starts. Captain Will Laurence and his crew capture a French ship, which was given the dubious task of transporting an egg to the French Emperor. Pleased with their success, they crew is quick to dismay when they figure out that the egg is about to hatch, and they are days from land. When that happens, they are surprised, as Temeraire ends up being a black (Chinese) dragon, the likes of which no one in Europe has ever seen. (The Chinese are somewhat fanatical about their dragons, which plays out in book 2.) Laurence is chosen by Temeraire as his 'companion'; so he's forced to resign his commission in the Navy and join the less than illustrious Aerial Corps. (Personally, given a choice, I'd pick the Aerial Corps any day. I mean, hello, dragons vs scurvy, rats, and unwashed men. So easy.)

The story continues from there, with Laurence and Temeraire going to Scotland for aerial training and then quickly plunging into battle with the French Aerial Corps. (Novik does a really good job of describing the battles; I've read quite a few different reviews where people have commented on her attention to historical details.) Laurence and Temeraire also get closer, as he begins to see Temeraire as a friend and companion. (Which is the norm in the Aerial Corps; I really enjoyed reading the bits about the other members of their unit) There's also the discovery that women serve in the Aerial Corps as well, something thought to be unheard of. (See, there are a few breeds that are only willing to tolerate women companions, but this is kept a state secret as during those days, women were considered too fragile to do more than stay at home. Granted, we could cook, clean, sew, birth children, work on a farm, manage a store, and wear those damn corsets, but God forbid we dressed in man's pants and served in the armed forces. yes, I'm coming off the soap box now) Laurence has the reaction you'd expect to that bit of news, which was amusing to read as well. (He handles it nicely though.)

The first book ends at a celebratory ball for the Aerial Corps (with the women in dresses that they complain about and the musicians playing for the dragons) after their amazing victory over the French's sneak attack, but with surprising news for both Laurence and Temeriare; not only is he a Chinese dragon, but he's the type of dragon that the Chinese will go to war over to get back.

That leads us to the second book, where members of the Imperial Chinese court have come to demand that Temeraire be returned to them. However, both Laurence and Temeraire disagree with this idea, Temeraire going so far as to 'kidnap' Laurence, so the British and the Chinese reach a compromise: Temeraire will go to China, but Laurence (and the crew) will accompany them. The plan, since the voyage is too long and dangerous to fly, is to take a dragon transport ship, captained by an old friend of Laurence's. The journey itself is a challenge, not only is there a sea serpent, a battle with the French, illness, but they have the Imperial Court trying to woo and sway Temeraire into wanting to stay in China, without Laurence. That's where the Chinese are most successful. In Europe, dragons are treated more as (intelligent) beasts of burden, but in China, they are revered and treated as royalty. Dragons read and write, shop, even walk in the cities, all things that are unheard of back in Europe (but try fitting a dragon in London). Temeraire starts to see how things could/should be and is understandably mad, while Laurence feels incredibly guilty, because these things aren't done and he feels they should.

There are so many things that go on during this novel, from Temeraire meeting his family, meeting a 'girl', several assassination attempts on Laurence's life, and meals that sound incredibly good. (Small tangent here, but Novik did an excellent job of describing the dishes and the types of food prepared, not just for Temeraire, but Laurence and co. I could almost taste the dishes, like I could see the battles in my head. Really, an excellent writing job.)

Novik has put up the first chapters of both books on her site, as well as other interesting bits to read. She also has a live journal, where she mentions that she's working on a forth books, with ideas to carry her thorough the sixth book.

I've heard people compare these books to works by Jane Austen/Patrick O'Brian/Anne McCaffrey and I have to say that I don't disagree. I adore Jane Austin as a writer; she's topped my favorite list for almost a decade, ever since I first got my hands on "Pride and Prejudice". Patrick O'Brian wrote a fantastic series, starting with "Master and Commander", and I spent an entire summer one year, going back and forth to the library to get more of Anne McCaffrey's novels; the Rowan series, and the Dragonriders series were particular favorites. I'm going to be keeping my eye out for more works by Novik; I can't wait to see what she comes up with after this.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Last night

...was a disaster. Really. Although I shouldn't be surprised.

I look up the directions to the Mill Creek store yesterday afternoon; unsurprisingly, I couldn't find any. The area it is in is sort of a collection of stores, so MapQuest wouldn't let me narrow it down. But, as I looked at the address, I felt comfortable that I could find the place. Despite the littlest feeling of nerves, I decide not to call the store and ask them for directions, as I'm sure that it was the book store in this little "commons" area near where a friend of mines lives.

So, 6.30, I grab my book and bag and head off. Traffic is just a bit sticky, so I don't pull into the lot until 2 minutes till 7. Look up at the sign and it's...Third Place Books? Um...

I'm starting to feel just a bit more nervous about this whole thing. Granted, a lot of the bookstores in this area "share" readings, so it's still possible that I'm at the right place.

Go inside and see a "Who's Here" sign by the information desk. Quickly, while securing a place in line, I scan the list and...do not see Jim Lynch. At all. Um...

Politely ask the guy behind the counter if this is where the reading is. He replies that there are so many of them, he can't remember and grabs the June schedule. I pick up the May one and put it down as he realizes his mistake. As we both look...no Jim Lynch. Um...

I then ask if this is the correct book store and was not surprised to be told that it wasn't. I then ask for directions to the correct book store, which he is more than willing to give me. However, they are incorrect. I know this because the road he was telling me to look for is the same road that I drive on daily to get to and from work. It is nowhere near there. I nod as if I understand and while I begin to ask him to clarify, his coworker interrupts and tells me the correct road to be looking for. I smile, because that makes more sense.

Then a third coworker interrupts her to let me know that it's going to take me at least 30 minutes to get there. I look over my shoulder at the clock. It's already 7.10. That would put me there at 7.40, at the earliest. And let's all keep in mind that I am routinely, habitually, not my fault, always 15 minutes late when going to a new place. It doesn't matter how early I leave, how good my directions are, or if there is no traffic. I'm always 15 minutes late.

I smile, thank them all for the directions and leave, as they wish me luck.

Sitting back down in my car I think about this. Odds of me getting there before the reading is over...slim. Very slim. Is it worth it? I really wanted to attend the reading, but at least I can still get my book signed, which will be cool. I look down at my book, so pretty. So...

I see the "autographed copy" sticker on the cover.

I say a few things that my mom would no longer blush to hear, then start laughing.

I needed to go the library and the store anyways.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Summertime fun

Well, I think I'm officially excited for summer. I mean, despite the rain and clouds and grey we've been experiencing here in Seattle, I'm really feeling the summer vibe. Not only is Copper River suddenly appearing in all the stores (note to self: go, buy!), flip flops are on everyone's feet (despite the rain and clouds and grey), my tomato plants are looking good (not to mention my potatoes), but it's almost time for the summer reading challenge to "officially" begin.

Amanda is still taking sign-ups for this, and she's got a whole list of recommendations if you're stuck on what you'd like to read. I've got to say, I've been checking out the sign up list and it's grown quite a bit in the past few days. (Looks like I'm not the only one excited, 'eh?)

I'm also looking to see what other people have chosen to read, such as Work in Progress, Pages Turned, The Book Junkie, Sassy Money (her list looks quite challenging!), and Oil on Ice (she's got a theme going). I can't wait to find out what everyone thinks about the books they've chosen to read.

(I know I owe a review of the Temeraire series; I've read books 1 and 2, while 3 comes out next week...but that's going to have to wait. I'm also desperately behind on updating my goals, etc.)

Monday, May 22, 2006

How I love a book reading

Some days, I want to do nothing but go home, feed Bailey, then curl up on my couch and read one of the (hundred thousand) books I have on hand waiting for me.

And then on other days, I want to go and meet authors. Authors of books that I've loved, or liked, or just sound interesting.

Lucky for me, the University Bookstore does a great reading event. I've only been to a few of them in the past, but I've been making a conscious effort this year to constantly check (and re-check) who's coming to town.

Charles de Lint was here on the 14th (but my mom was in town visiting for Mother's Day, so I couldn't go.). Jim Lynch, author of The Highest Tide will be here tomorrow (I loved this book when I read it last year right before Christmas. It was such an excellent story), and I'll be attending that. A publishing house that I'd never heard of before, Aqueduct Press--they publish science fiction written by women, will be there on the 31st (which I can't go to either!).

Then in June, there's Robert Asahina, who wrote a novel about the 100th Battalion/442d Regimental Combat Team, made up of Japanese-Americans who volunteered to fight in WWII. 4 days later, Rachel Cohn & David Levithan will be there, to talk about their new book, Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, which I haven't had the chance to read yet, although it's been on my list since I first heard about it. Jacqueline Carey will be here on the 15th; I haven't read any of her works yet either... M. John Lubetkin, who wrote Jay Cooke's Gamble: The Northern Pacific Railroad, the Sioux, and the Panic Of 1873, which sounds like a fascinating novel, will be here on June 27th. Maureen McHugh, who wrote Mothers and other Monsters, which I have sitting in my library to be read pile, will be in town on on the 27th as well, although she'll be doing her reading at the Science Fiction Museum here. (Dammit! Which one to go to???)

And that's only the smattering that interests me, from one bookstore.

I can already tell it's going to be one busy, busy summer. Still, I love a good book reading.

On Reading

Lately, it seems that every book I pick up sparks an interest in more books. Every book.

For example, "Year of Wonders" has me looking for more books (preferably non-fiction) about the plague in Europe and China (since that's where it originated). I'm reading "The Gods in Winter", which has me re-interested in mythology. I'm still reading "Before the Fallout" (it's taking me forever, unfortunately), but now I want to read books about all the different scientists involved, including Michael Faraday, Marie Curie (and her family), etc, more books on the science involved, the aftermath in Hiroshima (I know what happened, but only barest of details) --which has now sparked in interest in learning more about Chernobyl, more about what happened to the Jews and other persecuted peoples during WWII, the camps, more about the Swedish government during WWII (which made the offer that any Dane seeking sanctuary could find it in Sweden), the Danish underground during that time (I've only read one book on that, "Number the Stars" and that was at least a decade ago), --which has sparked in interest in the French Resistance, --which has re-sparked an interest in the Underground Railroad here, which will lead me back to my childhood hero, Harriet Tubman...

I just finished a bunch of fantasy short story collections ("Farey Reel", "Firebirds", and "The Wolf at the Door"), which now have me searching for books by the various contributors (Tanith Lee, Neil Gaimen, Kelly Link...). Also, "The Wolf at the Door" was a collection of retold fairy tales, so now I want to look up them. Then there is the fact that since I've found two of Diana Preston book's so good, I need to get her other novels ("The Boxer Rebellion", "A First Rate Tragedy", and "Lusitania"), which will lead me to yet more topics.

No doubt, I could continue this for an hour...maybe making up some kind of flow chart. (Actually, that's not a bad idea. I'd be able to keep track of what sparks what, etc.)

But that's not the point, right? The point is...the point is that there are too many damn books. I will not be able to read every book that interest me, and I'll never be able to make even a dent in that "list" if I keep finding more interests.

I really wish I could blame somebody other than myself for this.

(edited: And I just finished two books over the weekend, which I shouldn't have done since it kept me up all night and has totally screwed me for sleep, which were about the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons...and now I've got a whole 'nother set of interests.)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Year of Wonders

Well. It has been a really long time since I've written a review about anything other than the overwhelming stack of books in my apartment, hasn't it? And as I'm bored with talking about that...

Recently, I read the Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (yes, that Geraldine Brooks) for my real life book club.

Set between 1665 and 1666, the year the Bubonic Plague decimated Europe, it's the story of Anna Firth and the small village of Eyam, where a remarkable thing happened. Eyam, a small village to the north of London, was exposed to the plague when it was brought in a shipment of cloth. Stories had already reached them about the outbreak in London, where people were being buried before they had died, and where anyone with the means to leave did. (As we know, this did nothing but help the plague spread.)

Anna, a young widow who now works as a maid for the Vicar Michael Mompellion and his wife Elinor, takes in George Viccars as a boarder. He settles into their life rather quickly, stepping in as the father figure for Anna's oldest son Jamie, and as a potential husband for Anna herself. However, the day he receives a shipment of cloth from London (he's a tailor), everything changes. George is the first victim in Eyam, but it spreads quickly via the clothes he had made from the cloth. Pretty soon, children and other adults are falling ill, covered in sores and boils, before dying a rather painful death.

And that's when the remarkable thing happened; the vicar makes a plea for everyone in the village to willing quarantine themselves. No one is to enter or leave the village until the plague has left them. Mompellion has worked out an arrangement with the Earl; in exchange for their quarantine, he will provide food and stores, ensuring that those who do not die of the plague will have the means to survive. Despite their fears, the villagers all agree, with the exception of the Bradfords, the wealthiest family in the village. They immediately return to their home and begin packing up their belongings, the Colonel even going so far as to mock Mompellion when he arrives by quizzing him over which book should he bring with him.

From Anna's point of view, we see how the effects of the plague (thought to be God's punishment for sin) affect the villagers. Anna, who buries her own two sons, becomes something of the village mid-wife/wise woman, along with Elinor, after the town's two wise woman are killed for "conspiring with Satan, bringing on the plague, cursing various villagers, engaging in sexual relations, etc." Villagers both cleave together and turn on one another, depending on the various moods of the town. There are also outbreaks of superstition, worshiping the devil, and self-flagellation. Changes happen to the villager's personalities too; Anna's father (a bully to begin with) becomes a grave-digger/attempted murderer in his desire to get rich off the dead's belonging, Elinor, the rather quiet and gentle wife of the vicar, reveals herself to have something of a sordid past, as well as an inner core of strength, and Anna herself grows from a rather weak woman into one of strength and purpose.

A little over a year after the plague first shows up in Eyam, it leaves, taking with it over half the villagers. However, it did not spread to any of the neighboring villages, so the townspeople were successful in that. In the aftermath, Mompellion has fallen apart with his wife's death, the Bradfords have returned, and Anna still hasn't realized her full strength. (I'm deliberately not telling you the ending; there were a lot of surprises in the last few chapters that I think shouldn't be spoiled.)

What made this story so good, in my opinion, was that it was based on facts. There is a village named Eyam, north of London, that did in fact quarantine themselves after the plague arrived to stop it from spreading to neighboring villages. Half of the townspeople survived, seemingly by random. However, in recent years there have been tests done on the direct descendants of the surviving villagers, where it was found that they all carry a gene called "delta 32", which seemingly made them immune. Testing on the gene has also been done in regards to the HIV virus; still in the early stages, the researchers/drug companies are working on a drug that could prevent the HIV virus from attaching to the white-blood cells.

I also found it interesting that the plague first arrived in Europe (Italy) back in 1347. It was brought over by ships from China (where the plague first started) that were carrying flea-infested rats. A year later it reached England, where it killed 100,000 people. After that, it seemingly went into hibernation, popping up now and then, until the Great Plague struck in 1665-6.

And also, there are still outbreaks of plague to this day. In fact, there were cases in LA less than a month ago. Granted, these days we know how the disease is spread and we have antibiotics for it, but it's amazing to me that something the plague is still around. I realize that's a rather naive view, given that we still have Malaria, Small Pox, and Influenza...but maybe that's because we still learn "Ring around the Rosie" as children. (I guess it depends on what you think was the foundation for the nursery rhyme though.)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Books are going to be the death of me

So, I spent the weekend reading (when I had free time), talking about reading (to my mother who can not believe how many books I have from the library), thinking about reading (because my mother kept giving me these looks about all the library books), and plotting out my reading.

Specifically, for the summer reading challenge. Pretty much immediately after posting that I was up for this challenge (please oh please oh please), I began to think about which classics (that I own) I was going to read. That in itself took an hour, as I had to think about which books I owned (did I mention I was still at work?) and which ones I thought would be interesting enough to keep me interested for a full week.

So, may I present, in the exact order I'm going to read them...

1. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
(I have to be honest, I can't remember if I've actually read this book or not)
2. Wives & Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
(This book has been on the list for a couple of years)
3. The Beautiful and the Damned by F.Scott Fitzgerald
(The title grabbed me)
4. 1984 by George Orwell
(I haven't read this in several years)
5. Animal Farm by George Orwell
(I've never read this)
6. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
(I read a collection of her short stories last summer and just fell in love with her)
7. Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
(I love this novel, it was my first Russian, but I haven't read it since I was 18)
8. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
(We had to read one of her short stories back in AP English and I thought it was brilliant. So explain why I've yet to read anything else by her?)
9. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
(I've yet to make it through anything by him--Oliver Twist, I'm looking at you, but from the parts I saw on Masterpiece Theatre, well, it looks excellent)
10. The Forsythe Saga by John Galsworthy
(Someone once told me it was excellent)
11. The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
(I've wanted to read this since I was 17 and no matter how many times I start it, I've yet to finish it.)
12. The Vampyre: And Other Tales of the Macabre by John Polidori, Robert Morrison, Chris Baldick, etc.
(Hee, vampires!)
13. Inferno by Dante
(Another book I've wanted to read for years, yet never have)
14. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
(I think any book that can be read over the radio to cause mass panic, should be read)

So that's the list...and it's been giving me grief ever since. I mean "Wives & Daughters" is a huge book. Do I really think I'm going to read it in a week? Or "The Forsythe Saga"? Sometimes I wonder about my subconscious.

So I've given myself four alternates, just in case.
1. Paradise Lost by John Milton
(I think knowing that this book is the first alternate will make me rethink giving up whatever book I'm planning on giving up on)
2. Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
3. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
(Hmm, can I really have two books by him on the list?)
4. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
(I know, I swore off him, but a friend asked me to give this book a chance)

Currently, all 18 books are stacked on the top row of my new "classics" book case...that's right, I spent 2 hours on Sunday reorganizing every damn book in my apartment, while my mother napped. I've now got the young adult, children's, and picture books in my bedroom (um, subconscious, what the hell?), all of my classics on the new book case, in alphabetical order.

Then, the next book case is Science Fiction (only one shelf?), Fantasy (a bit more than a shelf), the Harry Potter series (yes, it does get it's own shelf), and then a collection of History/Biography/Memoirs on the bottom.

The third book case is All Fiction. All Fiction. Lit fiction I guess the classification is. (and I think I've read MAYBE 10 of them. Dear God, how I have a problem.)

Then, in the last book case...the first shelf is travel books/guides, books on coffee and other little things (you know, the random book in the random subject). The second shelf is all Urban Fantasy (yes, I have distinctions in fantasy), and the third shelf is "Fiction that is not literature", Women's studies, Poetry, Mythology, and Philosophy. (Please, do not ask me how or why I came up with that last shelf. I think it's because I was out of room and I can double shelve things in this last book case.)

I'm a little bit dissapointed with myself, because now, I have maybe a shelf left. Maybe. If I add up all the spaces in each of the 5 bookcases.

Oh. I did finish "A Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks. I'll write up a review sometime this week, hopefully before the book club meeting. (And speaking of reviewing, Bookslut is looking for reviewers...and part of me wants to submit. The other part is looking for duct tape.)

Friday, May 12, 2006

This may be the push I need

...to finally start reading my classics.

Amanda has issued a summer reading challenge, starting June 1st and lasting 14 weeks. Now, while Amanda is going to read 2 books per week, I'm not quite that ambitious (not after the past few weeks), so instead, I'm issuing the following challenge to myself:

I will read 1 of my classical books per week, for the 14 weeks.

It's public now, so really, mock me if I don't, kay? The year is almost half over and I've done little more than add to my collection of classics...so I've still got my minimum of 23 to read.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I've been overwhelmed...

...and sadly, it's been with books.

Two weeks ago, one of my co-workers left for her wedding (in Hawaii) and suddently, I was busy busy girl at the office. Non-stop back and forth, with a phone in one hand and a pen in the other, trying to keep up with everything that the two of us normally do. Those duties, combined with another co-worker's (she went to a wedding) simply left me swamped, with no time to read anyone's blog, much less type something for my own.

Unfortunately, that wasn't all: I didn't even have time to read. Which was something of a problem, as I have 5 stacks of books from the library sitting on my coffee table. I'd come home, look at them, and sigh. Errands, Bailey, food, the plans that couldn't be changed, hell, even sleep; all kept me from reading. And as the week went on, and I hadn't even managed to pick up one book, I think I got a bit overwhelmed. (A lot overwhelmed.) The sight of those stacks, combined with the stacks on my table from the book sale, well.

It was a bit much. All I could do was click on the renew buttons, and only go to the library when I absolutely had to (or I'd lose the books).

Hopefully, I think it's going to be better from here on out. My new book case arrived last night, so I was able to set that up and put all of my book sale books neatly on the shelves, although any sort of actual order is going to have to wait. I just don't have time this week to reorganize them all (which will bug me until I do). I don't have anything due back at the library until early next week, so that does give me some breathing room to read. Sadly, I think Friday is going to be my only night...and I've already bookmarked that night to read "The Year of Wonders" as my book club meeting is on the following Tuesday. (It's Mother's Day weekend, and my mother is spending it with me. I don't think she'll let me ignore her for the whole weekend while I read, although I might try.)

I think the worst thing about being so busy was that I missed reading about what you're reading. (Actually, that's probably a good thing, since all that does is give me more books to put on hold...vicious cycle!) And I missed any mention of Free Comic Book day, which was the 6th. Luckily, one of my errands was to the Comic Stop in Lynnwood, the place where I buy all of my comics. I had "Polly & the Pirates" #4 and #5 to pick up, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was told that not only was it free comic book day, but that I could have one of as many of the free titles as I wanted. (Did I never mention I was a comic book/graphic novel girl? Another post I guess)

In fact, thinking about it, the only things I've really read in the past two weeks have been "Polly" 4 & 5. And my grocery list. Oh, and I can't forget the to-do list.

I'm going to do my best to catch up with all of you (on my sidebar) in the next two days, so sorry if I start bombarding you with comments. I'm also promising myself right now that I will put NOTHING on hold until I read through all the ones I already have.

Promise.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

ugh

Sorry, real life is just killing me at the moment; I haven't even had a chance to read anyone's blogs, much less update my own.

I'm so behind.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Antibiotics are a wonderful thing.

In fact, I almost feel human right now.

The only upside to being sick is that I've had two days (when I'm not sleeping) to read. I've gotten through several more books these past couple of days, as well as watched a couple of dvds that I had laying about.

I also had a chance to look through my books more, and as Dani wanted to know what they were...

Children's Books
The Nutcracker, illustrated with these beautiful "pencil" drawings. It used to be "Sarah's Book".
The Cat in the Hat
Green Eggs and Ham
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, for my niece Emily
Lon Po Po, by Ed Young. It's a Red-Riding Hood story from China, again with beautiful illustrations.
The Legend of the Willow Plate, by Alvin Tresselt and Nancy Cleaver. Beautiful pen and watercolor illustrations. (are you sensing my theme?)
The Samurai's Daughter, by Robert San Souci...again, lovely illustrations, especially the one where she's battling a water dragon.
Tam Lin, by Jane Yolen...how could I pass this one up? I mean, Tam Lin, for children!
Brother Eagle, Sister Sky, a message from Chief Seattle
The Brave Little Tailor, by Eve Tharlet, for my niece Emily
and The Real Mother Goose, again, for Emily

Young Adult Books
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, by JK Rowling, for my mother.
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery
Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare. Oh, how I loved this book when I was younger.
A Taste of Blackberries, by Doris Buchanan Smith. Again, another book I loved as a kid, and this was the first one I can remember dealing with friendship and death.
Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry. Another old favorite.
The Giver, by Lois Lowry. My brother pushed me for years to read this, so of course I never did. And when I finally did..just excellent.
Lost in the Barrens, by Farley Mowat. I was in the sixth grade when I read this book; I remember because we were going to watch the movie at my birthday party, but I got sick and it was cancelled.
Witch Child, by Celia Rees
Bunnicula! by Deborah and James Howe. Hee, Bunnicula. I picked up Howliday Inn, The Celery Stalks at Midnight, and Bunnicula Strikes Again! too.
Witch Business, by Diana Wynne Jones
The Headless Cupid, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I loved The Egypt Game when I was younger, so I had to pick this up once I realized why it looked so familiar.
Another old favorite, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by EL Konigsbury. After reading this book, I've never quite lost the urge to run away and live in a museum, although, I've always preferred the British Museum to the Met.
The Grey King and Greenwitch, by Susan Cooper. Last year I remember reading something about the author, so I picked up The Dark is Rising...now, I only have two left to find, and then I can start the series. I mean, I can't start without the first book.
Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
and four Ramona books that I picked up on the behalf of a friend

Classics
The Magnificant Ambersons, by Booth Tarkington
Inferno, by Dante
Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope
Bleak House, by Charles Dickens
The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
The Forsythe Saga, by John Galsworthy
Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton
The Vagabond, by Colette
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton
Henry James' Midnight Song, by Carol DeChellis Hill
The Master & Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov
1984, by George Orwell. I actually have a copy of this already, but the cover was just too cool to pass up.
A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway. I have this one already too, but I forgot.
The Vampyre, and other tales of the macabre, by John Polidori. How could I pass this one up?Hiroshima, by John Hersey. I think I'll read this one once I finish Before the Fallout.
I, Claudius, by Robert Graves
The Beautiful and the Damned, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I've been looking for this book for a couple of years now, hee!
A Clergyman's Daughter, by George Orwell. I've never heard of this book before, but I do like Orwell's writing.
The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle. I loved loved loved this movie as a child; how could I pass up the book?

Literature
Baltasar and Blimunda, by Jose Saramago. I picked this up only because I recognized his name from Blindness.
Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters...I keep hearing what a good book this is.
Five Quarters of the Orange, by Joanne Harris. I love this author, but I'd walked right by this book without seeing it. However, another woman in the literature room saw it and passed it to me; she'd been pulling out books that she liked and passing them to whoever was closest. Lucky me, eh?
La Cucina, a novel of rapture, by Lily Prior. I picked it up solely because Joanne Harris had written a blurb for the back.
The Dew Breaker, by Edwidge Danticant. I've wanted to read this for a while now, but I read Breath, Eyes, Memory, and didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.
Snow, by Orhan Pamuk. Another that's been on my list.
Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks. It's my book club selection for the next month.
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
The Illuminator, by Brenda Rickman Vantrease. It was the alternate for my book club selection for next month.
Galileo's Daughter, by Dava Sobel. And damnme if I don't already have it.
The Alchemist's Daughter, by Katharine McMahon
Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier...another one on my to be read list.
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. Hee, I love his writings.
Dreams Underfoot, by Charles de Lint.
Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson.
In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Ducant. I really enjoyed both The Birth of Venus and Mapping the Edge, and I've heard good things about this one.
Three Junes, by Julia Glass.
The Queen of the South (which I've read), The Seville Communion, and The Nautical Chart by Arturo Perez-Reverte. I really love The Flanders Panel and The Club Dumas and I've read The Fencing Master (which I thought was okay), but I haven't had a chance with these other two yet.
and I picked up The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, because everyone keeps comparing him to Arturo Perez-Reverte.
Eah! I nearly forgot! The Ghost Orchid by Carol Goodman.
Misc
Books that Changed the World, by Robert Downs. Sounds promising
The True History of the Kelly Gang, by Peter Carey. I can't count this as "literature", because to me, it should be history, even if it's technically historical fiction. I know, I'm odd.
Careers for Bookworms & Other Literary Types, by Marjorie Eberts and Margaret Gisler. Hee.
The Great Divorce, by CS Lewis
Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv. It's been on my list since I first heard about it.
Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, by Gloria Steinem
and finally, Bibliotherapy: The Girl's Guide to Books for Every Phase of our Lives, by Nancy Peske and Beverly West. How could I pass this one up?

So that's it, that's every book I purchased at the SPL book sale this year. Right now, the poor things are all stacked on my dining room table, as my stupid book case hasn't been delivered yet. Once it is, I'll have to re-arrange my books, and then get reading. Such a miserable life I live.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Wow. Just, wow.

Well, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news; I'm feeling worse. My mild little cold has turned into a full fledged "disease", which currently is leaving me rather voiceless, sore, and with a general feeling of illness.

The good news; I made out like a bandit at the book sale this year. Picked up 79 books. 79. Honestly, I think that's a record. (Although to be perfectly honest...4 of them were books a friend asked me to look for and 3 of them will be birthday gifts for my niece Emily. But 72 is a respectable number, yes?)

The score:

11 picture books
22 young adult books
(including "The Little Prince"; because Colleen recommended it and "Speak"; because Leila did.)
19 classical books
(including "The Magnificent Ambersons"; because Dani recommended it and an absolutely beautiful translation of Dante's "Inferno". It's so shallow of me, I know.)
22 novels (literary would be the classification, I think)
and 6 others (a history, 2 books on other books, some social stuff)

(It's sad that I look at them and have no idea where to start.)

In other book news, I've finished several more from my library stack, including Neil Gaiman's "Smoke and Mirrors", which was excellent (as always). I'm a huge fan of his writings; I just think they're brilliant and descriptive and just a bit mind-twisting. For example, he rewrote "Snow White", but this time from the 'evil queen's' point of view, which gave it a whole different spin. In his version, Snow White is an evil little thing and the Queen is the one who's harmed while trying to protect herself and the kingdom. (He said in his author notes that he hoped that anyone who read this story would never be able to think of the "original" in the same way.)


"Rain", by Kristy Gunn was a novel that someone in my book club recommended we read (but they chose "The Buffalo Solider" instead). It's told from the point of view of Janey at an unknown age; she's flashing back to when she was a 12 year old girl responsible for her 5 year old brother, James. They spend all their time out on the lake, whether swimming or sitting in the family's boat, trying to avoid their parents (as well as everyone else). For the most part Janey is successful; she's made her whole life her brother and he loves her, but inevitably, they get sucked back into their mother's view, where she alternates between loving them, ignoring them, and treating them like they're toys to be showed off. Her husband is too busy trying to keep her happy to do anything about it. And as for the other adults, well. They're either egging her mother on, indifferent, or a whole other problem.

The author uses some incredibly detailed language,


Up in that part the water smelled rivery. We hadn't even passed the little bay at the end of the first beach but already the air was touched by the promise of our destination. All the trees were drowning. They reached their long skinny branches into the lake, leaning so far that their gnarled roots could barely hold the clay. You knew it was only time before whole bodies would be dislodged, allowed to drift, then sink. The water would seal over them again and that's how it would end: you would never know there had been trees there at all.


so much that I could picture the lake, the trees, the hidden paths in my head. I felt like I was there with Janey, watching their treks to the hidden places, jumping into the waves when the crashed towards shore. (However, the author kept using "lovers" to describe things, and as she was talking about children, that bugged me in the beginning.)

Unfortunately, there are just some things that Janey can't control and the end of the book is pretty much heart-braking.

I probably should have waited a bit before picking up "Siberia" by Ann Halam, because I was in tears during half of it. (I'd like to blame it on the cold, but I think I'd be doing the author a disservice.)

Sometime, somewhere, it seems that the human race has killed off most of the planet they live on, ending up in a "Siberian" place; it's almost always winter, people live in cities which are strictly controled, and the only animals left are "farm animal", which are used for clothing, and mutants. Rosita and her mother are sent to a camp for prisoners when she was 4; it seems her parents were scientist working with animal DNA and when the figured out what their government was actually doing, they attempted to steal the DNA samples (refered to as Lindquists), and destroy everything else. However, things go wrong, someone sells them out, and they end up trying to ekk out an existance in a miserable plot of land. Her mother is forced to make nails; there's a camera in everyone's "home", and Rosita is merely trying to understand. One day though, Nivvy appears on her doorstep and after that, everything changes for Rosita.

The story begins to move quickly from there, with Rosita's mother teaching her about the "magic" of the Lindquist, as well as their importance. However, she doesn't get to explain everything before Sloe (Rosita's name was changed as a pre-teen) is sent away to a special school. As she still doesn't understand that the government doesn't want anyone knowing anything about science, Sloe ends up selling out her mother and becoming a "permanent" at the school; no hope of leaving. From there on out, all she has is herself and the Lindquists.

(I doubt I've done a good job giving you any sort of description about this book; really, it's truely fantastic. There are twists, and bits of scientific knowledge, and such sadness. I loved it.)

Finally, the last book I finished recently was "Socerey & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot" by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.

It's like a cross between Jane Austen and, and I don't know...someone who writes magic books, I'm blanking right now. It'll come to me after I post, no doubt.

Anyway. Kate and Cecelia are cousins in 1817 England; Kate is off with her sister Georgina having her first Season (with their harridan of an Aunt Caroline), while Cecelia is stuck at home in the country, with her father and her strict Aunt Elizabeth. (It's never explained what happened to the girls' mothers, which did kind of bug me.) Things start to get more interesting though, when Kate is nearly poisoned with chocolate by a witch who thinks that she's actually a wizard and Cecelia makes a new friend, who not only has every young man who sees her desperately in love with her, but she's got a stalker too.

The story is told in letters from one girl to the other, where they begin to piece together all the things that are happening to them, which turn out to be related. While figuring this out though, Kate has to deal with a fiance (not to mention her aunt), and Cecelia is battling a magician or two, while trying to teach herself magic on the sly. It's truly a great story, very entertaining, and I'm looking forward to the sequels.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Book Sale

Bah! I can't focus on work today. Instead, all I can think about is the semi-annual SPL book sale. Which starts tonight, members only. (However, you can purchase your membership at the door, so it's not a big deal.)

My friend 'Rin and I started going to this a couple of years ago, after we'd both settled in Seattle. I heard about it on the SPL website and we both decided that it sounded like a good time (you know you're a fan of reading when public, book, and sale sound like fun). However, we had no idea how big this thing was. (It's big. People come from all over the western part of the state to attend this sale.)

We get there, Friday night and the line is long. Really long. Starting at the door (to an old hanger building), it snaked around the front of the building, then down along the side, then snaked around this fence (we lost sight of it there)...and there was still 30 minutes to go before opening (6.30). (Needless to say, we learned to get there earlier.) Then you go inside...

which is a whole 'nother maze of tables and boxes and books and just madness. I think that first year they had people passing out maps to where the different sections were...not helpful. Eventually, we just dove into the classics and went from there. Two hours and 25 books later (that's the book limit per membership) and we lined up to have our books sorted, then lined up again to pay for them. (Yes, lots of lining up. But it's clearly marked and the volunteers do an excellent job of keeping things quick and orderly.)

You'd think we'd be exhausted and sore, from lugging clumsily stacked piles of books, quickly shoved into bags and back packs. You think our feet would be killing us from standing and crouching. You'd think our backs would hurt from lugging around said books, from diving under tables to look at the boxes stacked on the floor. You'd think our arms would hurt, again from the lifting and the carrying and the oh-so-polite (we're in Seattle after all) shoving and pushing that goes on. You'd think we'd be cold, because there is no heat in that drafy old hanger building. And you'd be right.

So explain to me why we met up EARLY the next day, to do it all over again? Or every 6 months since. Rain or shine, we're there.

It's all I can think about today....the planning of shoes and clothes to layer, the two page list of books that I doubt I'll find, but since you never know, the cash I have to remember to get (although there's a rumor they're taking credit cards now), to make sure I pack water and Advil, because I'm going to need it. And the books, the blessed 25 (or more, depending on how many I can convince 'Rin, and her sister, a first timer, to get for me--'Rin never meets the limit, slacker) books I'll be taking home with me tonight. That's why I can't focus today...I'm dreaming of 25 new books (and the 50 or so I'll get tomorrow).