Saturday, November 27, 2004

Nun Books and Turkey

People might wonder what "nun books" are. I thought it was a genre of my own invention--at least my own classification, but I think it's really a group of books. The thing is, I'm not talking about exposé-style, underbelly-of-Catholicism stories. What interests me is the idea of a life lived with focus, a life committed to creating yourself as a person in a certain image, using a certain code, and then the challenges of undertaking this mission as a mere flawed human being. My favorite book is The Nun's Story by Kathryn Hulme, and other good ones include Lying Awake (Mark Salzman) and In This House of Brede (Rumer Godden). There are movies, too (The Nun's Story, Agnes of God). It's the story that interests me.

But, as usual when I go home, there was really no need to bring any library books with me. I wander through my collection (most of which still lives under my bed) and end up caught up in, say, the first fantasy novel I ever read, or (God help me) rereading the Babysitter's Club series (they're like Pez--you can read one in less than an hour, and they're just so sweet and perfect and satisfying, you can't have just one). I spent at least three hours this weekend looking for a book called Arrows of the Queen, which I then proceeded to read in about an hour.

It's strange being home. It's like I'm a different person, both different from the person I used to be when I lived there, and different from the person I am when I'm back here. It's not that it's bad--I get along great with my family and I love not being at work. But I didn't sleep well, and I felt not quite myself. Now that I'm back, though, I have to wonder if "myself" is much better.

Not that I'm mopey. Mariette in Ecstasy, here I come.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Holiday Reading

I've been borrowing books lately, which is better than the library because there are no deadlines. But I haven't read many of them yet, and the list just keeps getting longer. I went to the library last night with the best of intentions, and now have four books for the holiday weekend. Two are nun books, my favorite unofficial genre. The Nun's Story by Kathryn Hulme is one of my favorite books. I don't know about these two: The Two Nuns and Mariette in Ecstasy. The latter looks like a long prose poem, told in the present tense, and the reviews were wonderful.

I also got The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman, which is the sequel to The Golden Compass, which I'm just about to finish. It started out very slow, but not so boring I put it down. Then around page 100 it just kicked into gear and didn't let go. I'm excited about the next one, which is always fun. I always love finding a new author who's prolific, so when I finish one book, there's another one waiting.

And then there's The Planets, by James Finney Boylan. I read the memoir She's Not There by the same author, whose name is now Jennifer Finney Boylan, because she's had a sex change. The book was just great--both in its humor and storytelling, and in its honesty. To tell such a personal story, and to be able to both accuse yourself and forgive yourself with the wisdom that many writers don't even bring to fictional, third-person accounts, is really remarkable. I recommend She's Not There to anyone.

I'm also reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea online at, from some Jules Verne aficianado's website. It's got a nice navigation, though the background makes it hard to read. I end up highlighting the whole page to read it. I like reading it online, though--the chapters are short, so they make a nice little break from work (sorry, Ruth), and to tell you the truth, I probably wouldn't find time to just sit down and read it through. There are so many, many things to read!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Welcome aboard!

Defining statement: I read. To modify and amplify: I read a lot. I choose from a broad spectrum of books, though many of my best friends are at least a little snobbish about literature. I read chick lit (Bridget Jones), nonfiction (The American Way of Death), young adult fantasy (The Golden Compass), literary fiction (A Carnivore's Inquiry), classics (Persuasion), comics (Persepolis), prizewinners, romance, books about nuns, etc. etc. etc. I know people who read all these things, but no person who reads them all.

So now I have a blog; we'll see if I actually post to it.