Sunday, May 18, 2008

Where Does the Time Go?

Seriously, I thought I'd be posting all the time now that I have free time. But you know, my reading life has been seriously pathetic lately, and not only am I a little ashamed of it, it also leaves me with sadly little fodder for blogging.

So I'm still reading The Queen's Fool, by Philippa Gregory, but because I don't ride the train much, it doesn't make it out of my bag very often. In the waiting room at the optometrist (which sounds way more like "optimist" than my eyesight warrants) I'll probably get through another chunk, and now that I have lawn chairs, I'm hoping to read outside a bit this week. I need to get over my feeling that sitting outside in the shade doesn't count as enjoying the lovely outdoor weather--I just recognized this prejudice in myself, and I blame it on my family history of toiling in the fields all day. Sitting under a shade tree on the lawn just doesn't cut it.

Wow, two digressions in one short paragraph. Anyway, I'm puttering between three or four slow-moving books upstairs. It's quite possible that I'll be reading Star-Spangled Manners for the next couple of years, which is probably how it should be read, so I have no regrets there, except it's messing with my quotas. Children of God, which is the sequel to The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell, is not bad, but it's rich, and I think I jumped the gun when I started it. Also, it messes a little with the ending from the previous book, which makes me a little mistrustful.

I'm also reading Fisherman on the Inland Sea, which is a book of short stories by Ursula LeGuin, who I'm pretty fond of, actually. Her books are hit or miss for me, but when they hit I love them, because they do an excellent job of being very well-thought-out science fiction that is still very human-centered. I didn't love Wizard of Earthsea, though I liked it, but I did love The Tombs of Atuan, which I found haunting, partly because it seemed more "feminine." Anyway, this book of stories begins with a great essay about non-sci-fi readers, and what makes sci fi feel inaccessible to people, sometimes justifiably so. This is something I think about a good deal, and there are a few good essays about it out there, and the preface to this book is one of them. Most of the stories are very good, whether light or deeper, but the last few are getting too philosophical and tech-heavy for my full enjoyment.

So that's it. I've finished THREE books this month. Isn't that sad? We're more than halfway through, and I'm not near the end of anything. And that includes the audiobook I listened to! (Oh, I'm also listening to Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier, and who do the unabridged versions of audiobooks always have the worst readers and the hyper-abridged versions the best? Mike claims it's because good readers are expensive. Someone should hire me; I'm pretty good, if I do say so myself.)

I'm not even going to count the digressions herein contained. We'll call this a five book month and strive to make it so.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Running Behind

No more school, no more books, no more teachers, dirty looks!

Well, way more books, actually, because now that I've turned in my evaluation books and even my reference book for a whopping $31 (less than 1/3 of what I paid for them, and I shake my fist menacingly at my former coworkers in the textbook industry. Though to be honest, they really needed to produce a new edition of that reference book--the technology in 2001 is now obsolete, and the book is full of remarks that read like "this whole internet thing is really starting to look like it might take off," including a conviction that video chat would be the online communication wave of the future for things like electronic reference services. Which, I have to say, is wrong, as evinced by David Foster Wallace's not-so-distant future in Infinite Jest, where everybody gets a video phone before realizing that most people multitask on the phone, and no one really wants to stare at you while you plan what time you're going to meet for coffee, so everyone gets a picture of themselves and hangs it in front of the videophone camera, and it becomes more like a phone conversation with an avatar. I think DFW was right about videophone, even if the book was incredibly long and impossible to read in parts. But I think I might have digressed.)

So now that I'm rid of my textbooks, I can--nay, must--turn my attention to the more pleasing literary world. I have a month off before my summer class starts, and when it does, it's a young adult literature class, so that should be fun. The pre-class homework consists of reading two books--one from the 40s, when they didn't even have YA books, and one that's very modern and About Sex. I also have to watch Juno and Superbad. Can you already tell what an onerous class this will be? (And they'll make me read manga. I can't stand manga! Everyone's always shouting at everyone else! Shout shout shout! With big squeezed shut eyes!)

So in addition to my pre-reading, I have a bunch of stuff to get through before class starts and I can't read anything but assignments. I checked out a Jodi Picoult book, Keeping Faith, but now I'll have to return it unread, because if I read two Jodi Picoult books within two months of each other, my brain will explode. This is what happened when I read Plain Truth and The Pact in quick succession--I realized how similar they were and my brain exploded. Not pretty.

I've got a jumble of other stuff lined up--some shots in the dark from the library, including some Ursula LeGuin short stories, Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier (which I've still never read!) and my first Patricia McKillip book, Alphabet of Thorn. Plus I'm still reading Star Spangled Manners, which will take a while, and Children of God, which is the sequel to The Sparrow.

It's sad that I can't bring this level of ambition to any other aspect of my life. If only reading paid better than $15 per book at the agency. Ah, well, for God and country, onward!

Friday, May 02, 2008


You know, I suppose it's really appropriately blogger-like to write a lot of entries about things I'm embarrassed about, but when I think about the number of posts that start with an admission or confession, I still blush. Still, these are not my true sources of shame, so here I go again, trumpeting my ignominy to the anonymous cyberworld.

Ready? Here we go: I'm really enjoying The Queen's Fool.

Yes, that's right. Philippa Gregory, whose last book made me laugh out loud (not the author's intent, I assure you), feel sorry for my fellow book club member who selected it, and want those hours of my life back, whose work I certainly would never have thought I ought to invest in again...she who wrote the phrase "the chase of sex that ends in bed," (TQF, p. 1), yes, SHE has drawn me into her damnable web by writing a book about the intriguing subject of Jews trying to escape the Inquisition and, well, persecution in general in the 1500s (a sadly losing proposition), as well as by creating a character with something some backbone (unlike OtherGirl Boleyn, whose name I don't even remember).

Whew! So much for a run-on sentence. I'm not that far into the book, but, in spite of that awful prologue, this story appears to have at least a twinge more subtlety than the brick-through-the-front-window that was The Other Boleyn Girl. I can't say I'll be running out to grab her newest gem, but I'm not disappointed to be reading this. I'll probably pick up something a bit meatier when classes are over in a week, and I have nothing to worry about but reading (and insurance, and a new roof for the garage, but you know. That kind of nothing.)