Category Archives: books

Final readathon update. I promise.

First of all, apologies to my subscribers for the whole pile of email you got from my blog yesterday. I’ll likely return to silent mode for a while, just like you’re used to.

But here we are. The 24 hour readathon is over and I lasted 18 hours.

Around 1:30 am, I thought that reading from my bed would be fun and comfy. It was getting cold in the house so I grabbed my last book and headed up, leaving behind the little nest that had served me all day.

Unretouched, actual nest of this readathon participant.
Unretouched, actual nest of this readathon participant.

Ollie curled up on the other side of the bed while I continued on with The Empathy Exams. After a few minutes, he dove under the blankets and lay with his head on the pillow and his back pressed against my back. He has never done that before and it was exceedingly cute. And then I started to feel myself get very sleepy. It must have been the rhythmic doggie breathing. I was a goner.

I woke up shortly before 8, the end of the readathon. I had set my phone alarm for 9 am just in case. (I like to wake up to The Stones’ Beast of Burden (soundcloud clip).  I find it the perfectly positive and motivating music for first thing.) I have to be at choir for 10 am on Sunday mornings so this was my cutoff for sleep, regardless of how much I managed to get. Having scored a good 6 hours, I’m ready to sing!

Thanks for following along. If you want to get more of my nonsense, you can subscribe by clicking the button to the right.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Readathon: update and mid-event survey

We’re over halfway through and I just finished my third book. What We See When We Read (Peter Mendelsund) will change the way I read FOREVER. It is a remarkable piece of writing/art and I will return to it often. Anyone who reads seriously, writes, watches films based on books, or thinks about perception will enjoy it

Here is a random two-page spread.

What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund. pp 154-5
What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund. pp 154-5

But more about me, LOL.

After I finished my last book, I fed my doggie and hit the shower. I got into one of my caftans. (My mother put me on to the Nanso brand of Finnish loungewear. I have a long-sleeved one for winter and sleeveless for summer.) I spritzed on some Orange-scented perfume, a gift from my French goddaughter, for the aromatherapeutic effects, and mixed myself a martini.

IMG_3022

For supper I had a big bowl of chilled cooked shrimp, cocktail sauce, and more strawberries. It was kind of a red-themed meal. And them some jujubes for additional colour.

IMG_3026

And speaking of colour, my next book up will be Tory Burch: In Color by Tory Burch. It’s a sort of coffee table book and I’m probably not all that interested in Tory Burch, but it fulfills a Goodreads challenge task AND will take my mind off the chaos that is my house at the moment by having me look at her house instead.

Mid-Event Survey

The Readathon peeps have created a little survey for participants to answer, so here’s mine.

1. What are you reading right now?
Technically, I am between books. But starting Tory Burch: In Color by Tory Burch now.

2. How many books have you read so far?
Three

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamieson. I pre-read a few pages and I’m going to love this book.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Just my dog, Ollie, bouncing for his dinner. I fed him.

My readathon pal dozes beside me.
My readathon pal dozes beside me.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I have been pretty light on the chocolate. That may change as we move into the night time hours though.

Readathon Hour 10: progress report

It was a slow, lazy afternoon. My sofa gets lots of sun and I slipped off into my first readathon nap. This in no way was related to my second book, The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes, as it was a terrific read, lots of suspense, and has me hankering to read author Amy Thomas’ next one!

IMG_3018Apart from reading and napping, I snacked. My advance prep on this front was excellent. After lunch I had a Sweet and Salty Caramel Drumstick. In not terribly quick succession: a Coke, a small bowl of mixed nuts, a couple of Nanaimo bars, and a bowl of strawberries. I’ve been on a sugar fast for some time so I went a little wild. I’ve also been pushing ice water which, as we all know, washes excessive calories out of the system.

I’m going to take a shower and change into some pants-less loungewear. (I’m currently wearing sweatpants and a tunic, but with all this snacking sun, I’m feeling the need for a caftan.)

Next up will be What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund. This one should be a quickie as it’s fairly image-intensive. But it’s been on my to-read list for a long time. It’s also part of the Goodreads challenge I’m currently participating in (as are all my readathon books this time ’round.)

First completed book: a readathon update.

Just finished Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession by Apostolos Doxiadis. It was the first book I reached for and it was a great kick-off to the readathon. The book was full of pencil markings, annoying as it is a library book, and I spent the last 100 pages erasing the marks. (Someone else will have to do the first half.)

IMG_3015
I started off the day with a latté, cinnamon raisin toast, and some sharp cheddar.

The book is fiction, but a very lifelike tale of the joys and trials of mathematics, or in particular, being a mathematician. I recommend it for anyone interested in the field, or with a scientific bent. It is out of print but I ordered two copies on AbeBooks to scatter around to mathy people in my life.

Next up is The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes. I met author Amy Thomas at 221B Con a couple of years ago and bought her first two books, which she kindly signed. The readathon was a good time to get at least one of them read!

My bookish childhood.

Hour two of the readathon, we’re asked to relate our top 5 bookish childhood moments. While not really moments, I’ve chosen to share memories. In approximately chronological order:

  1. I have a vague recollection of learning to read from the newspaper with my mom. There was a feature every day that might have involved cutting out letters or something. My sister and I were both strong, early readers, so this was key.
  2. Weekly trips to the library. We started very early. First my mother took us and then we went with our school classes, as the library was pretty much next door.

    Rosemount Library, Ottawa, Canada
    Rosemount Library, Ottawa, Canada
  3. My parents were both big readers, and we had lots of books in the house (as well as our weekly stack of library books.) We didn’t have a television in the living room, so a lot of our time was spent lounging around there with books, while my father played jazz records.
  4. Our parties at the cottage involved candy and reading! We didn’t have electricity up there and it was quite remote. My father would declare a party night, the candy barrel would come out of the storage room, the powerful Coleman lamp would be lit, and we’d all sit around it, reading and eating. This is perhaps why the readathon appeals so much to me: books and snacks!
  5. My favorite childhood book memories are the Winnie the Pooh books, the Narnia books, Harriet the Spy, and the books of fairy tales with colours in the names that my sister always checked out.

 

Ready to read!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon starts in a few minutes and I’m ready to go, with a pile of books and lots of snacks!

Our first “event” is a set of questions to answer about the upcoming challenge:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
I’m in Toronto, Canada, in the midst of a beautiful spring.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Probably What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund. It’s full of images as well as text and the topic really interests me.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Peel-and-eat shrimp, a big pack from Costco. All for meeeee!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I am going to be veery tired at choir tomorrow morning. But it’s my favorite hour of the week.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?
I’ve chosen mostly shorter books to keep the interest level high. I’ve also got a couple of audiobooks on the go so that I can get outside for a walk from time to time.

Reading internationally

book-1014197_640
My book club has a no-stress December meeting, where rather than reading a book and discussing it, we each bring a book to share with the group, something that we’ve read that we loved and that we want to introduce others to.

One year it was completely open. Last year, it was a favorite novel. At our last meeting this year (for which I was absent), there was discussion around sharing an international book (that is, a book not set in North America or the UK).

Today, one of our members posted this video about the pleasures of reading internationally.

In one of the Goodreads groups I belong to, there is an international challenge that runs each year. Points are awarded for each country from which you read (one book per country) with bonus points for non-fiction books, books by an author born in the country, and books originally written in the non-english language of the country (if applicable.) Also, countries are awarded points based on the UNESCO count of how many books are published each year in that country.

My list so far (links are to Goodreads):

USA: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Switzerland: Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

England: Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley

Scotland: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

Norway: My Struggle: Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgård

India: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Vietnam: The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

Spain: The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Canada: Bone & Bread by Saleema Nawaz

Australia: True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

South Africa: Summertime by J.M. Coetzee

France: How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest

Egypt: Baking Cupcakes in Egypt by Elizabeth MacLean

When I do this next year, I’d like to work harder on reading voices from each country, rather that North American or British authors writing novels set there (although this is permitted in the challenge.) And some of my reading didn’t qualify because 3/4 of the book must take place in the country, so two books by Ruth Ozeki that are partly set in Japan and have a very Japanese sensibility (My Year of Meats and A Tale for the Time Being) didn’t fulfill that rule.

 

Readathon: last update!

For my followers, it was probably a bit strange to hear nothing for months and then get a bunch of posts in one day. But I successfully completed the readathon and here’s the last challenge (a little late, but whatevs.)

Which hour was most daunting for you?

Hour 22 (5 am). Around 5:30, I lay down “just for a minute” to read and woke up an hour later. I guess all the Diet Coke didn’t really do anything for me.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Reading is such a subjective pleasure, that it’s difficult to recommend. But in general, a readathon is not the best place for anything too thought-provoking or requiring a slow read. I started out with the marvellous Cain by Jose Saramago which is only about 160 pages long, but it took me a few hours to get through it.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

This was my first readathon so these two questions are really difficult to answer. I appreciated the support and the challenges, but I’d be happy to do it in a little bubble of my own as well.

How many books did you read?

I read four paper books and finished three. I also listened to part of an audiobook.

What were the names of the books you read?

Cain by Jose Saramago
How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest et al
Iris and Her Friends: A Memoir of Memory and Desire by John Bayley
Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins (not finished)
A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (audiobook; listened to about a third of it)

Which book did you enjoy most?

In terms of pure joyfulness, the book about being Parisian was great. An excellent break after Cain. I also loved the Ozeki and will be listening to the rest over the next few days.

Which did you enjoy least?

The book about Iris Murdoch, written by her husband, was really about him. I was disappointed in many ways. Goodreads review to follow.

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I will definitely participate again, taking a little more care in choosing appropriate books. My spouse wasn’t able to participate this time, but says that he wants to do it with me next year.

Mid-way through the readathon…

…and i’m watching TV.

We’re eating dinner and I agreed to start watching The Fifth Estate with my husband, but I’m going to escape to the bedroom to read momentarily.

It’s hour 12 and we have a little survey for the current challenge:

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest et al. This was in our Airbnb apartment in Paris last month and I had to have it. My new lifestyle guide.

2. How many books have you read so far?

I’m on my third book, but I’ve only finished one (Cain by Jose Saramago.) I’m also listening to the audiobook of A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, but this is a fill-in book for when I”m cooking, walking the dog, or folding laundry and can’t read a regular book. It’s also a great read.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Iris and Her Friends: A Memoir of Memory and Desire by John Bayley.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Mainly as above, and i’ve used an audiobook. Plus I felt for my dear husband and agreed to watch a movie with him for a few minutes.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

How difficult it is to stay off social media. Monitor me at FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and tell me to get reading!

Back to my book!

Readathon: Book Scavenger Hunt

The Hour 9 Mini-challenge is interesting.

To enter the Book Scavenger Hunt, look at the item list below and find a word, phrase or thought IN THE BOOK YOU ARE CURRENTLY READING that fulfills that item.  For example, if the item were “something soft”, your answer could be a word – “kitten”; a phrase – “a satin ribbon the color of Jersey cream”; or a feeling “he leaned to her and kissed her cheek”.  Be creative!

I switched to an audio book a couple of hours ago so that i could shower, prep my lunch, and relax my eyes a little. I am very much enjoying A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. This is the book I’m using for my scavenger hunt. It’s set in Tokyo and on Cortes Island in British Columbia.

  1. Something hard – barnacle
  2. Something fast – gyre
  3. Something sweet – cataracts in great-grandmother referred to as flowers of emptiness in Japanese.
  4. Something high – crow in the bough of a maple
  5. Something funny – the word kotodama in Japanese that refers to the spirits that live inside a word that give it special power