Sunday, April 26, 2015

Readathon Ramblings

Roscoe, Les Miserable


"Every bird that flies carries a shred of the infinite in its claws."  Victor Hugo
 
 
I wasn't a legitimate Readathon participant in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, as I can't do anything for 24 hours straight, and I also can't skip sleep, but I did read and drop in and out on Twitter as much as possible yesterday.  I decided to use the day to survey some of the books I've had on my shelves forever and have never gotten around to reading.
 
In Hour One, I dipped into Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel.  I read these books as a teenager and enjoyed them.  The first few chapters grabbed my attention, but when I tried to go back to it in Hour Fifteen, I became impatient with the odd "dialogue" between Creb and Iza.  Just fatigue?  I'm not sure.
 
In Hour Two, after some homemade biscuits and jam and a bit of yoga to stretch, I read the prologue of Spiral by Koji Suzuki.  I've had three of his books on my shelf for years and don't know anything about either him or the books.  I can't even remember how I came to have them.  I do think, however, after that quick look, that I will go back to this one.
 
The beginning of Hour Three was interrupted by these visitors:
 
 
Anna was supposed to be with her dad today, but as she was dog-sitting for a friend, she thought I might like some puppy time.  Roscoe is a Boxer/Catahoula mix and is briefly delightful.  I'm too old for puppies long-term.
 
After settling down a bit, I used Hour Three to read a few chapters of Alexander's Bridge by Willa Cather.  Last year, I decided that I wanted to try to read all of Cather's novels in order, so this is what I hope will be the beginning of that project.
 
In Hour Four, after more yoga, more Roscoe, and pizza for lunch, I dipped briefly into The World Without Us by Alan Weisman.  I really want to read this one, but I'm afraid it may send me into despair.  I already spend too much time worrying about our impact on the planet.
 
The bubble bath, candles, and Anthony Trollope novel I chose for Hour Five led to a major nap in Hours Six and Seven.  This combination was not a good choice for a Readathon.
 
Hour Eight was my hour to read in Les Miserable.  I have been working my way through this one for years.  Luckily, I was at an interesting part.  If you haven't read the description of the garden at the house Jean Valjean rents upon leaving the convent, find it and read it! Truly fabulous stuff! I'm going to keep plugging away at this one I'm sure for many more months.
 
Hours 9-11 were given over to life and a lovely steak dinner.
 
Hour 12 was Ken's and my hour to read aloud from To Kill A Mockinbird by Harper Lee.  I love this book every time I read it, and it's so much fun to read and share aloud. 
 
Hours 13 and 14 belonged to Ken.
 
Hour 15 I went back to Alexander's Bridge.  I think I'm going to like this one!
 
And that was it for me.  Hours 16-24 + belonged to The Sandman.  I require a lot of sleep.  I loved being able to give myself an excuse to read all day!  I do this a lot anyway, but yesterday, I had a reason for it.  No guilt! Yay!  Definitely something I'll dip into again in the future!
 
 


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wherein Russian Names Almost Defeat Us


Nellie Olsen Again Unimpressed With Weighty Books

 
Ken and I finally finished Doctor Zhivago last night.  It definitely is not a book to read aloud.  Let me repeat that:  DO NOT attempt to read this book aloud.  It should come with a warning label to that effect.   I am thoroughly confused about what happened and to whom it happened, when, where, and how.  So many different characters with so many different, unrecognizable names and different permutations of those names.  Lest you are tempted to adopt haughty airs, as did I, and think, "Oh, I can handle that one;  I know all about the movie," let me just say that the movie only tells about half the story, with fewer characters who all consistently use the same names.  And in the movie, someone else is pronouncing things for you and, I repeat, consistently using THE SAME DAMN NAMES.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to pick a name and stick with it, especially if it is a long-ass Russian name made up of multiple consonants in a row.  I took Russian in college, and those names still defeated me.  Of course, I only remember how to say Hello, Good Day, How are You, and Where's the Vodka...so there's that.

We've been struggling to finish this one for months.   Listening to us trying to pronounce these names for each other became almost farcical and was a better exercise in patience and understanding than any couples counseling session could ever be.   It was my choice for an oral co-read.  Ken's staying with me through it I think says something about his commitment to me.  Either that or he's too confused to leave now.  He's chosen To Kill A Mockingbird for our next co-read.  I'm pretty sure we'll be able to pronounce those names. 
And now, perversely, after I've said all that, let me admit that I am seriously considering starting the novel over on my own, because I feel like I missed too much that I should have caught and considered.  Don't analyze me; it won't get you anywhere.  Talk about down a rabbit hole, sheesh.
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, April 20, 2015

A New Discovery

 

It's been a rainy, Rumer Godden week-end for me.  Last week, while I was waiting for my other books by Chimamanda Adichie to come in, I was trolling blogs looking for some reading ideas when I came across a review by Kate at Nose in a Book about Rumer Godden.  For some reason, the name seemed familiar to me, although I know I've never read her work, nor did I know anything about her.  On a whim, I decided to see if my library happened to have any of her books.  Often my small, underfunded library doesn't have what I'm looking for, but lo and behold, they had several of her books on the shelf.  It seemed like they had more Juvenile Fiction than Adult Fiction by her, but they did have a few novels shelved, as well as a book by her sister, Jon Godden.

My first choice, The Kitchen Madonna, was shelved as an adult novel, but I think should have been in Juvenile Fiction.  This is a lovely little book about a reserved, unusual young boy who finally bonds with one of his sitters, an older Ukrainian woman named Marta.  When Marta tells Gregory that she is unhappy with the lack of a small holy place for a Madonna in his family kitchen, Gregory sets out on a journey to find Marta a Madonna.  Throughout the course of his project to provide Marta with a "Kitchen Maddona," Gregory begins to open up to the scope and power of loving other people.

My second choice, Pippa Passes, was odd.  I enjoyed reading it, but it was decidedly odd.  Parts of the plot felt random and forced and not particularly believable, and a few times I felt like Godden was proselytizing for the Catholic church, but the writing was solid, and the setting was Venice.  I love reading about Venice, because I love Venice.  At the end of the book, I decided it was probably just not one of her strongest works, even so, I was engaged and interested by it, so I went back to the library this morning to pick up her other books.

I think Rumer Godden is going to be a great author for me to pick up when I'm between denser reads looking for an entertaining break.  I have a hard time finding authors to fill this need for me because I have neither the patience nor the time for poor writing.  What a wonderfully diverting discovery!  Thanks Kate http://www.noseinabook.co.uk !




Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fun Sensoria Event!

 
Susan Pardue, Kristin Knox, Carin Siegfried, Emily O'Shields, and Amy Brandon


This past Monday, I had the privilege to serve on a panel with some excellent fellow North Carolina book bloggers at Central Piedmont Community College's Sensoria event entitled "Blogging in the Literary World."  Amy Burns with the CPCC library did a great job organizing the event.  The lively discussion ranged from why some of us accept books for review and some don't, to stalking in the literary world, to using Twitter as a micro-blog, and on to questions from authors in the audience about author blogs, and questions from professors on to how to incorporate book blogs into lesson plans.

I thoroughly enjoyed an entire morning devoted to books and blogging, and I am so happy to have met these new friends in living color!  Thank you so much to Amy for putting the event together.  Here's a list of the panelists and their blogs.  Check them out!

Susan at http://pagesturned.blogspot.com

Kristin at http://booknaround.blogspot.com

Carin at  http://blog.cseditorial.com

Emily at http://readingwhilefemale.blogspot.com

Amy at http://sadiebellereads.blogspot.com


And last but not least, NC's newest resident blogger (she just moved from MA) who came to cheer us on:

Care at https://bkclubcare.wordpress.com


If you are a fellow NC, or even SC, book blogger, let me know who you are in the comments, or if you'd rather, email me at amypbrandon at icloud dot com.  I'd love to "meet" you too!








Friday, March 13, 2015

It's Been Both DNF and CNF For Me Lately


Nellie Olsen is flabbergasted that I can't seem to finish this book.


Winter is nearly over, Spring has almost sprung,  and I just now finished my first book of the year.  I have been mired down in David Copperfield and Doctor Zhivago since before Christmas.  For a person who loves checking completions off a list, this has been a trying few months.  I am truly beginning to believe I will never finish David Copperfield.  I've been in the 930s of 990 pages for days.  Every time I open the book, I feel like I'm starring in my own personal Groundhog Day.

In January, I tried to break up the toiling with The Sun Also Rises, which I hated and abandoned.  So that went well.  I have decided I have a serious Hemingway issue, which I am ignoring for now.

In February,  I listened to Krista Tippett's interview of Mary Oliver (an On Being podcast:  it was fantastic, and I can't recommend it enough), and I decided after listening to Mary Oliver basically say she sucked at poetry when she first tried it that it was now or never for me, so I'm now spending more time writing.  I started a WordPress blog for my poetry to keep it separate from my book blog.  That address is www.sadiebellewrites.wordpress.com for anyone interested.  Please don't steal my poems.  Obviously, I can't really stop you, but seriously?  Why would anyone except a Dementor want to steal my memories and emotions? 

This week, I read An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski.  I love the idea of the book, the idea that one small thoughtless act can save a life, but I didn't love the voice of the narrator. Because of the structure of the book, she often came across as self-congratulatory and redundant.  If  Maurice had been a co-narrator instead of everything being told through Laura's voice, I think this issue could have been avoided.  The writing seemed simplistic and predictable, but that could be because everything does now that I've spent months with Dickens and Pasternak.

On another note, a blogger I follow recently published a list of the books Rory Gilmore read on The Gilmore Girls.  As I love Rory Gilmore, and I love a book list, I promptly printed off this list to add to the other 10,000 lists on the side of my fridge.  I noticed several books by Nick Hornby on the list.  I have never read Nick Hornby.  Any recommendations on where I should start? 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

For Ivy Annalise

 
 

Here we sit
sorting our lives
like the daily mail,
measuring our progress
by old photographs,
judging our worth
by unseen gain.
 
Then here you come
waited, wanted, already loved,
beautiful and perfect in your own right,
and more important than any
unseen, unfelt, unwritten belief.
 
That you are here,
that you are ours,
that you are loved,
forever now,
no matter.


 

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Woodpecker


 

The woodpecker brash and brawny
plans his attack on the cat food,
darting up and down and in and out,
snatching at the morsels
like avian ambrosia.
 
Red-hooded, white-throated, bodkin-beaked,
he flings his chirruping song into the air all around him.
 
How like him we are,
perpetually darting,
snatching at shards of bliss,
grasping, clutching, grabbing,
as the slivers slip ceaselessly from our hands.