Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Very Special Book Stack

What would you do if it had been ten years since you had been "home?"
And you are headed there for three weeks?
And "home" does not include internet access?

Well, my strategy is to ship books to myself ahead of time.  Growing up in my family I could read as many books as I could carry and play the piano as many hours as I wanted, but television had to be educational and no more than thirty minutes a day.  I understandably didn't watch a lot of tv.

It is fitting that I need to first plan the books I'll bring. I haven't even considered any other part of the trip.  But books, I'll have.

I wandered my room of unread books, I asked friends for advice, and put the box together tonight.  I discovered that I could easily pick a majority of ironic or not-so-ironic titles, and so I have.  At the very least, seeing them will make me smile.

I don't know, do I need to explain them?  The Journey Home? Homeland? My Family and Other Animals? Small World? In the Woods?  Heh.  

Some are for other reasons but the Crux of the pile is home and family. Oh yeah and my Dad is from Yamhill.

I have a bunch of books on my iPad too.  I think I might be okay for three weeks.  I'll be an hour from Powell's if things get desperate.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Reading Envy 007: Top Secret Dance-Off


Ms. Marvel #1 by G. Willow Wilson
Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal


One Human Minute by Stanisław Lem
"The Hedge Knight" from Legends by George R. R. Martin


Diaries by George Orwell
Serena by Ron Rash

Other items of note:
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanislaw Lem
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
Jane McGonigal TED Talks
SC Book Festival

And Poland was never part of the USSR.  Jenny would like to express sincere apologies for her complete lack of historical knowledge.  *grin*

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy, Episode 7

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Library Books Mid-June Edition

This past month has been light on bringing books home from the library, because I was extra busy teaching a Storytelling class during our May Experience term.  It was my first time teaching it, which always requires more attention, so I wasn't going to bring home many books that I'd chance not reading by the time they were due! 

Interesting that this stack is 3/4 female authors, and 1/2 science fiction.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
I was talking to our circulation supervisor at the library, and as I always do, wandered the books heading to be reshelved after being checked in.  I kept seeing this on my various friends lists in GoodReads and it sounded like what I needed to take a break from heavier things.  I checked it out and read it the same night, tonight! My review is already up in GoodReads if you are curious.  Relationships, family, career, told through blurbs and thoughts and conversations.  I loved it!

Flowering Judas and Other Stories by Katherine Anne Porter
I can blame my On the Southern Literary Trail group for this book, but I am so glad having this as a June pick brought my attention to it.  Porter was unknown to me but is a masterful short story writer.  Many of these stories are about Mexico, which Porter loved, relationships, and writing.  They were originally published in 1935 although this mottled volume was an expanded edition from 1940, despite what the call number says.  I enjoyed the stories very much, but I am even more interested in the author's life!  Four husbands, drama the whole time.  I'm planning to read her biography someday.  I had some favorite stories, including The Rope and The Jilting of Granny Weatherall.  I managed to bring up the Granny story during a discussion of an eminent-apocalypse police-procedural novel just a few days ago.  They stick with you!

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Winner of the Nebula award, on the nominations list for the Hugo award, and an earlier pick for the Sword and Laser this year.  I need to read it by June 22, when the book I got from interlibrary loan is due. 

Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross
Another book from the Hugo nomination list. Despite the fact that I quit the first book in this series/trilogy(?) after 100 pages, I decided to give this one a try anyway.  So far I'm glad I did, because it has a lot more complexity to both story and character, and it has even made me chuckle a bit.  I'm past the 100 page mark and I'm hoping to get past the describe-the-economics slump that sent me looking for a palate cleanser.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Summer Reading

I have to admit that I'm an eye-roller.  I roll my eyes at the people who think of summer reading as the time to "read something brainless" or to "take it easy." To me, summer means I have MORE downtime with fewer recitals and meetings that might bleed into evening, fewer conferences and deadlines, and sometimes an actual day off!

I'm the girl who read Gravity's Rainbow on a beach in Mexico.  I read Infinite Jest along with the Summer of Jest group last summer.  That group stuck together and read several more books together, including The Pale King.  Not long ago, people were feeling lethargic, unchallenged, and disconnected.

Obviously the answer to these feelings is to read a more challenging book!  We agreed in less than a day that this summer we would tackle War and Peace.  Unlike last year where there were weeks of planning to read Infinite Jest, we just kind of jumped in, although one kind soul did come up with a schedule involving a certain amount of the book every week and targeting dates for online video chats about the mighty tome.

Today the library where I work was closed for the annual fumigation and carpet cleaning.   What did I do for my day off?  I started reading War and Peace, of course.  I downloaded the Kindle version because I had yet to read a very large book as an eBook.  I'm not sure I'll be happy with this decision, as so far I have to click every time I want to read a footnote or the translation of the French, and seeing it on a separate page isn't quite the same as glancing down to see it in the print.  And the translators of this particular edition kept the French parts French! 

Oh, the translation.  This is an important issue and I did a lot of research about which one to read, which could have been a 1,024 page error.  The article in The New York Review of Books about the newer translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky made my decision easy.  They are pretty much the new champions of Russian literature in English, and made strides towards capturing the best of Tolstoy, including his sentence fragments, repetition of phrases and descriptive language, and quirky word choices. 

So far it has been pretty amusing.  Tolstoy really seems to capture the complicated imperfection nature of his characters.  The reading experience may also be quite educational as I am not ashamed to admit that I know very little about this period of Russian history.  Or Napoleon, for that matter.