Tag Archives: Wolf Hall

Books, books, books.

I’m just coming down off of a 3 month reading challenge at Goodreads, and am pretty happy with how it went. I read 19 books, all of at least 250 pages and a couple over 600.

As I’ve described before, the challenge proscribes a set of tasks for which you much read books to fulfill. Example:

20.5 Let Freedom Ring!
Multiple countries celebrate their independence during the months of July, August and September. Choose one book about a country’s struggle for independence or which is set during a revolution (Les Miserables, Madame Trousseau).

These challenges take place twice a year and they get me out of my reading rut, and to try new genres and topics. I read some non-fiction (e.g., arctic explorer Andree, astronomical measurement in the 18th century), old classics (The Grapes of Wrath, Tender is the Night), and I managed to fit my real-life book club books into a couple of tasks (Wolf Hall, The Dinner). These tasks also take me out of my comfort zone as they’re often not easy reads, and so once the challenge is over I’m back to going through my carefully curated to-read lists of things that I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy.

The same Goodreads group has a variety of monthly activities, one of which is “Short Stuff”. This month, they are reading and discussing the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe and I’ve decided to read one story per day for the month. I managed to grab Great Short Works of Edgar Allan Poe from the library (in ebook format) so I can read these in bed before I go to sleep. I need to take Poe in short doses because I find the writing quite intense, requiring dictionary (regular and translation) lookups and the old “parse the sentence after reading it three times” exercise. I think it may get easier as I get used to his style.  So far, I’ve read Mezengerstein (Oct 1) and Loss of Breath (Oct 2).

While searching for an epistolary novel for one of the tasks last month, I came across e Squared by Matt Beaumont, a humorous tale that takes place in a new-age ad agency, told in a series of emails, texts, and blog posts. I didn’t have time to read it for the challenge but it arrived from the library a few days ago so I’m halfway through that. I’m currently listening to Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes, a sort of fictionalized biography-mystery about, well, Gustave Flaubert’s parrot.

Later this month, I’ll be re-reading The Dinner by Herman Koch as it’s our October book club read. I saw the film based on the novel at TIFF 2013 and wanted to read the book prior to the screening. Sadly, my aging brain tends to forget what I read, so I’ll need to go through this one again. I’m also moderating the club meeting this month so I’ll be doing a little research about the author and the book.

What’s up next? Just loaded an audiobook of Nassim Taleb‘s  Anti-Fragile: Things that Gain from Disorder onto my iPhone after Alex recommended this author. Taleb is a controversial writer and academic in the area of statistics and risk management and takes a number of contrarian stances on standard statistical practice. I’ll also be getting back to clearing my bookshelves by reading and passing on from my collection.

So, what are you reading these days? I love comments. Click and post.

[Disclaimer: Links to books go to amazon.ca. I am an amazon affiliate and get a tiny commission (pennies) if you buy a book. No pressure. At all.]

And then all hell broke loose.

Image courtesy Pain in the Drain.

We had a problem with our sewer drain pipe a few years ago. It was clogged with tree roots and during a major rainfall, we had sewage back up into our basement through a drain in the laundry room.

We rented an electric sewer snake and cut out what we could, and everything seemed to run free.

Until last night.

We survived the incredibly heavy rain storms earlier this summer, but my guess is that that city-owed tree on our corner just LOVES our new sprinkler system and has been shooting out roots like crazy. Including into our drain pipes. Last night, around 9 pm, a toilet was flushed in the basement and …. well …. the flooding began.

We called the general Toronto help line (311) and they sent out a guy within about an hour and a half. He snaked the line, ran a camera down, told us that there were roots clogs on both our side of the property line as well as the city side. He submitted a work order for the city to come out as well as the gas company so that they could mark where the gas lines are. Gas man came this morning, said that the city has been asked to clean our lines.

Zou and I took a trip to Home Depot to get a replacement filter and drain cover for our long unused wet/dry shop vac so that we could do a decent clean up. He and Alex had started the process last night and they’d run a fan overnight, so everything was dry by this morning. But dirty.

We’ve now cleaned up, sprayed all the floors with Lysol, and now we just need the slight smell to dissipate. Luckily, it’s windows open weather so we’re getting a full house refresh.

Artist: Diane Romanello

In other excitement, it’s a race to the finish for my book club meeting next Sunday. We’re reading Wolf Hall and I’m 356 pages in to the 517 page total. I like to finish a few days in advance so that I can have a good think and prepare for the meeting, so I figure 40 pages per day over the next four days should do it. I’m not usually like this, but I’m reading another book at the same time which is a little faster paced (ahem), coincidentally called Lone Wolf (by Jodi Picoult) and so I need to have some concrete goals to get the club book done. It’s just how I work best, ya know?

On the platform, reading
On the platform, reading. (cc) Mo Riza

Seven Quick Takes – Getting my groove back

Seven Quick Takes Friday

  1. Well, my darling readers, it’s been an incredibly busy summer with house guests, travel, TIFF, and a fancy-schmancy wedding. Fall is my favourite season and it’s time to get back into my routines. My Istanbul blogging stopped as TIFF began, and I hope to get a couple more posts up about that trip (that seems so long ago at this point.) I have been out of email and phone touch with many of you, but that will change. Promise.

    Rami and Rita's Wedding Reception
    Rami and Rita’s Wedding Reception
  2. I’ve started two programs at my local community centre. On Monday afternoons I’m taking a Feldenkrais class. It promises to help me work out some of the body kinks I’ve been feeling as I age. I can remember seeing posters about it back when I lived in Ottawa and have wanted to try it for years. The first session was excellent and I’m looking forward to more. I also went to my first yoga class (ever) yesterday. The instructor has been teaching for 40 years and it’s the Sivananda style of hatha yoga (quite classical, if I understand correctly.) While most of the class are experienced (and many have been coming to the same teacher for years), the newbies like me are being brought on board slowly. I’m looking forward to learning to breathe more intentionally and to strengthen my core. The centre is walking/biking distance from home so that’s a bonus.
  3. I’m working my way through the Man Booker-winning Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel for book club next weekend. It’s a big book, chosen by the group to read over the summer when we only had one meeting. I’m about two-thirds of the way through. While I’m planning to keep my comments (and review) to myself until after we meet, let’s just say that if there was a trivia game based on Thomas Cromwell, I’d stand a good chance of winning.
  4. I have so many small projects around the house to get to. This week, I’ve been mainly focussed on getting through stacks of laundry and ironing. I need to reorganize my books now that they’ve been (randomly) moved to our new study (in our old dining room) and get my new crafting area set up in a recently vacated bedroom. I have a couple of sewing projects ready to go once I get a table. I also need to finish my travel diary/scrapbook from Istanbul. We’re looking for a round table for the study, and we want to replace our built-in oven that buzzes randomly (and continuously) due to a wonky clock and very poor temperature control. It’s 20+ years old so I don’t feel bad about not repairing it.
  5. How’s Michael doing at McGill, you ask? I have no idea. I haven’t spoken to him at any length since he started classes so I need to have a good chat with him this weekend. I’m going with the no-news-is-good-news scenario. I know that he had a couple of lessons with his teacher in August but am anxious to hear what ensembles he’s in and how the classes are going.
  6. Alex is settling into life in our basement, working on his Master of Management Analytics, and tutoring math part-time. Yesterday, he had road-trip to London Ontario to tour a brewery as part of his program (for his supply-chain management course, or so he says.) He saw some vintage delivery vehicles there.

    1935 Labatt Streamliner (Canadian Design Resource)
  7. This weekend Zouheir and I will be attending a meeting of the Bootmakers of Toronto (Sherlock Holmes Society of Canada) as a guest of a member. Author Terry Fallis is speaking and I hope to get one of his books signed (if I can find it in my currently non-alphabetised home library.) I loved his first two novels (The High Road and The Best Laid Plans, now getting made into a TV Miniseries), and I read Up and Down in early summer. The Sherlock Holmes connection in the latter brings him to the Bootmaker’s meeting. Oh, and Sunday is Word on the Street so I’ll be checking out this years offerings down at Queen’s Park.

And that’s all folks! Hope to be more regular with the posts going forward.

Summer Reading

There’s a new Goodreads summer reading challenge coming up at the Bookish group. These are tough challenges and I’ll be starting on my second one since I joined. Some of the basic requirements are that books must be at least 250 pages long and can be nothing remotely smelling of Young Adult or …sniff… junk. (And I am not in any way implying that these are synonymous, although there is some overlap.)

The challenge involves reading tasks (as I think I’ve explained before) that are worth different point rewards. Bonus points are also involved. The tasks were just announced and I’ve started my planning. The actual reading must happen between July 1 and September 30, 2013, but challenge groupies get planning well in advance. I admit to staying up until 3:30 this morning searching for books (when I should have been reading my book club selection due tomorrow….).

Summer is one of my favorite times to read, and I have fit a number of my must-read books into the challenge parameters. For example, we’ll be reading Wolf Hall for book club so it’s there. I’ve got a couple of novels set in Turkey as I’ll be in Istanbul for a week in August. I received Arlene Dickinson’s book Persuasion for Christmas a year and a half ago and very much want to read it, so it’s on the pile.

If you enjoy Goodreads and like to discover new and sometimes challenging books, consider joining the Bookish group. If you’re a Bookish member and planning to join the challenge, feel free to use my spreadsheet. Otherwise, have a look at what I will be (trying) to read this summer.

Reality check: this is something of a fantasy list. I only read half the books I planned for in the last challenge, but at least I’m never scrambling for ideas.

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