Month: May 2013

I want you to think about your ideal reading experience. Think about the location. (Your bed? Favorite chair? The beach? Indoors or outdoors?). Think about the sounds. (Is there music playing? Happy children playing in the background? Utter silence?) Is there a snack or beverage nearby? Are you alone or with friends/family (presumably being quiet enough for you to read in peace)? What kind of lighting is there? Are you dressed in something ultra-comfy? What’s your position? Curled up? Stretched out?
Now … describe it so that we can all feel exactly how perfect it is … and why. – BTT

To start, it would be a big chair and there should be natural light if possible. Everything else depends on the season. I like reading indoors by a window, but outdoors is nice. I want tea near by if it’s colder, but water works otherwise. No food as I find that an activity on its own. No music and mostly silent. I do not mind friends and family there, but they must be generally quiet. If it’s winter, I have a wool lap blanket and am wearing comfy leggings or trousers and a sweater. If it’s summer, I am wearing a skirt or a dress. I am usually curled up, but occasionally stretched out. I like to put my feet up sometimes. I move around as I read.

I was on and saw this photo yesterday:

Not perfect, but almost. I like the idea of a library/reading corner in a living room. A fireplace is always necessary with a nice rug at the feet. I love that chair. I realize I really want big, comfy chairs with arms. I like the feeling of being engulfed by my seating arrangement.

Here’s another nice chair:

Right now, I read in my study corner with a big desk and a leather chair. Leather chairs are nice, but depend on the room and the season too of course. I don’t need the desk near by though. I do like taking notes on the laptop from things I read though.

How about you?

Welsh Country Stockings

This was first time completing fair isle on socks after failing to do so three years ago with the same white yarn. Nancy Bush is my favourite sock designer even though I always modify her parents a lot. Maybe part of the reason I love her that her patterns are easily adaptable. I converted this pair to be toe-up.

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Have your reading habits changed since you were a child? (I mean, I’m assuming you have less time to read now, but …) Did you devour and absorb books when you were 10 and only just lightly read them now? Did you re-read frequently as a child but now only read new books? How about types of books? Do you find yourself still attracted to the kinds of books you read when you were a kid? – BTT

As with last week, I rarely reread books as a kid or had the desire to do so. It was always about the next book, but today, I keep a running tally of books I’d like to reread in the future. I’m still not a big rereader though.

While I may have less time to read now, reading was my only real hobby as a child other than TV and socializing which aren’t really hobbies to begin with. Nowadays, I have a lot more things that occupy my time, but I read faster than I was as a kid obviously. I read faster than I did five years ago I think, but my speed has more or less plateaued now.

I think the intensity is the same, but I love books more than I did then. I am still drawn to children’s books because there were many that I missed out on such as Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. As a child, I really liked children and YA fantasy and mythology. While I am less into mythology, I still read a lot of YA fantasy. I actually am not as interested in adult fantasy as much which I’m not quite sure of the reason. I’m only now slowly getting into it with Game of Thrones.

Another humorous book of essays by Mr Sedaris. I first read Sedaris’s books in 2008 with his When You are Engulfed with Flames. He appears in the Best American Travel Writing series a lot, but reading one of his books is different altogether as you get immersed with his worldview and humor. This was my fourth or fifth of his books that I read, and I bought Me Talk Pretty One Day, but had to leave it in England with all the rest of the books I bought there (save my Completed Works of Shakespeare). I wish I had kept it because I think the aforementioned are two of my favourites of his.

There are always at least a couple of gems in his collected essays. I am wondering if Sedaris is getting more and more grumpy as he ages. He was in town two years ago, but I didn’t manage to go at the time and I was turned off by the idea that he was going to be crowded. It was from photos I saw of the event, but I regret not going because as written in this book and in interviews, Sedaris is very engaging to his fans.

This was the first of his books that I heard in audiobook form, and I’m surprised again why I hadn’t done this sooner. He has been Grammy nominated for a reason. I’ve already put in a library request for another of his books on CD.
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My second YA espionage novel in a little over a week! I thought this would be a good follow-up and foil to Ally Carter’s series. I really enjoy Carriger’s urban fantasy steampunk series The Parasol Protectorate. This is her new series called Finishing School. It is set in the same universe and set a few decades before the events. A couple of the tertiary characters in the PP series are in this one as well.

The focus in this book was less on supernatural relations than the first series, and more Harry Potter style school for female spies or intelligencers. Carriger’s books are really fun. This spy book works more for me because of the sci-fi and steampunk variations. This series is more tween and young adult targeted than the late teen margeted Parasol Protectorate though. This was one of the things that I like about PP, but this new series may get more mature as the protagonist grows from age 14.

Carriger tends to write charming and adorable characters. The cast is usually quite diverse and even though there isn’t a gay character (that we know of) in this series yet, there is a person of colour as a supporting character for the first time. Another thing about Carriger I like is her characters often speak in that weird Victorian steampunk, but it means she uses what now seem to be archaic words. I like the idea that real teenagers actually read a book like this that has sometimes more advanced words than some adult drugstore novels.

All in all, a fun start to this new series.

Read May 19th 2013.

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

I was apprehensive of this children’s book mostly because I get very sad with animal stories. I remember watching Black Beauty (1994) as a kid, and being crying. I rarely cried during movies when I was younger, and even now, it’s not that common for me. But animals are a soft spot for me, especially when they are exploited.

I remember reading All Quiet on the Western Front and being appalled by the idea that horses were sent into battle in the First World War. It’s abhorrent to have animals fighting and dying for our wars and that war was costly in itself.

This novel is an antiwar novel and it also demonstrates the human kindness between man and animal. A lot of the characters interact with Joey the horse and through war, they receive what is now known as animal therapy. There is much love and respect between the men and horses in this film and rightly so.

The book is not very long and only took me 1.5 hours to read it (with breaks). The prose is simple but beautiful. The messages are clear and I really enjoyed it. Maybe all the positivity did go slightly to the cheesy side for some, but it worked for me. There is death, but this is a story of hope of course. Is it realistic? Not necessarily, but there is a lot of love in it which works for me.

I really think it’s a lovely book for children. I don’t believe children should be coddled and it’s a book that teaches history as much as animal rights. Recommended.

Read May 17th 2013

War Horse (2011)

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Sunday Salon

Hello, everyone! It’s the first long weekend of the summer, and I haven’t done much. Poo.

I went to a tulip photo spree on Tuesday. Usually, I do not take a lot of flower photos, but tulips are one of my favourite flowers and are omnipresent this time of year. May is one of my favourite months.

Tulips 2013

This week, I read and watched War Horse (review up tomorrow). Today, I am going to read Gail Carriger’s Etiquette and Espionage. It won’t take me long so I may also start Stoner by John Edward Williams or Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin or one of the other many (MANY) books I have from the library.

Sometimes, knowing how many books I have in the house unread makes me overwhelmed, but in a good way mostly.

Tulips 2013

Fitness: I wanted to run yesterday or today, but I think I’ll hold it off until tomorrow since it’s about to rain soon. I did at least go rock climbing on Friday. I average about 8km a week for running which is just OK, but not great. I really need to get up to 10-12km a week at least.

In other news, I’m planning on a trip to New York City in July which for me will mean seeing an old friend, exploring a new city, taking lots of photos and modest shopping. I’m looking forward to it.

How is your weekend so far?

What book(s) do you find yourself going back to? Beloved children’s classics? Favorites from college? Something that touched you and just makes you long to visit?
(Because, doesn’t everybody have at least one book they would like to curl up with, even if they don’t make a habit of rereading books? Even if they maybe don’t even have the time to visit and just think back longingly?) – BTT

Definitely those books that I read as a child and even as a teenager really stayed with me. I’ve read both the Harry Potter and His Dark Materials series about 2-3 times. There are a few books from my adolescence that I’d like to reread one day such as some of Shakespeare’s plays, Anna Karenina, and other memorable books from that time in my life. I don’t think I’m ready to go back to them yet. I’ve already reread Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion as well.

The older I get, the more I feel like I want to reread more books. In general, I am not someone who makes a habit of rereading books. This is good because I only ever buy new books when they are cookbooks or they are books I know I will reread.

This was my third Muriel Spark book, and I continue to like her style and prose. There is something distinct and a bit strange about her writing. The characters seem both real and unreal at the same time.

This does not have a memorable plot as The Driver’s Seat, but I found its character even more formed than in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

The book takes place in London after the VE Day of the Second World War, but before VJ day. The slender means refer to poor young, single women living in a boarding house in that austere time and how they managed. It seems to be an accurate portrayal of young women during that time as they borrowed clothes, swapped coupons, and engaged in relationships with men. The climax of the book also highlights the effect of war into their lives,

This microcosm feeling of this world created by a small group of women reminded me of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford actually except a little more moody and darker of course. I like that about Spark. It lends realism and frankness especially since I read this after a fluffy YA novel devoid of this kind of reality.

This was my second Spark book of the year, and I am starting to think it won’t be my last either. Nick Hornby wrote about how satisfying her short novels are and I concur heartedly. They are not hard to read, but they still are provocative in their own way.

Read May 11th 2013.

I only read this because I thought this was the last book in the series and. It isn’t and I’m done with this series. It’s not actually that bad, but I grew out of young adult contemporary fiction a long time ago. I really should have learned my lesson after The Princess Diaries series.

This series is basically a Harry Potter for girls and instead of wizards, it’s a school for spies. They even have equivalents for Snape and McGonagall. Unlike the Harry Potter books, these books are pure fluff in that there seems to be very few consequences for the characters. It leaves me feeling as if the suspense is for nothing since the stakes seem so low. It reminds me how special Harry Potter and to an extent The Hunger Games are in YA fiction.

It’s not that bad because Carter is decent at pacing. It’s rated very highly on GoodReads, but I am really not the demographic for these books. I missed a wider range of vocab, and the little things bugged me such as Bex, the British teenage spy, calling her mother “Mom”.

I think if I read these books when I was 10 or 12, I would have liked them more since it would have aligned with my limited view of the world, national security, and boys. I recommend it for the preteen or tween girls in your life who are interested in spies, but still not as good as some other aforementioned YA series out there.

Read May 11, 2013.

Classics Club

The Second Classics Spin from the Classics Club. As with before, I must pick twenty books, then a random number will be selected and each of us must read the number listed at X number by July 1st 2013.

These Spins are really useful because other challenges, reads, and activities have taken me away from the classics this year.

I have mostly kept the same books as I did my first Classics Spin. My challenge is that I own almost every one of these books so I must read them to clear my TBR shelf. I removed Walden since that was what I read last time, and took out Wives and Daughters if only because I really want to read North & South before that. I added Cannery Row by John Steinbeck and Lois the Witch by Gaskell instead. I think I own the latter; I can’t remember because I’m at work at the moment.

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Sunday Salon

Hello everyone!

I did not post very much this week, but I read two books yesterday including Muriel Spark’s The Girls of Slender Means and the reviews will be up for them this week.

As usual, work and fitness have kept me busy. So much so that I realized that I haven’t watched a new movie in two months. I’ve mostly been watching TV shows and rewatching other TV shows and movies such as Finding Nemo.

Today, I did some light cleaning, watched a couple of things, and I’ll go for a run in a bit I think. I didn’t do much this week in way of fitness as I just did a couple of small runs and one really light yoga class. I may jump rope too.

In reading challenge news, I am one book away to having read 30 books this year. I’m quite pleased with my Non-Fiction challenge as I’ve read 11 non-fiction books this year which is over one third of my total books so far. I don’t remember ever reading so much nonfiction over fiction.

I’m less pleased with my TBR challenge. I am just very bad at reading from my own bookshelf. I’m too addicted to the public library.

As for the Classics Club, I have done less for it, but I’m alright with taking that slowly. I’ve decided that after my 50 books, I’ll challenge myself to read the Complete Works of Shakespeare. That won’t be for another couple years though.

How are your challenges going?