Field Notes, vol 3
As I mentioned last week, I began The Mysteries of Udolpho on Sunday. Life got quite busy, so between that and Udolpho‘s six-hundred-something pages, I didn’t finish it until Wednesday. That made for quite a change from last week’s constant reading! A good change, though: I loved every moment I spent with Udolpho, I got to do fun non-readerly things, and I managed to catch up with my blogging so that I had posts on every book I’d read this year. Wednesday, I was contemplating what book to begin next, and visited the library website, only to discover than I have seventeen holds waiting for me to pick up. This is important, because my library limits patrons to fifty books at a time, and I already have forty-seven out. Which means I need at least fourteen books to return the next time I visit (fortunately, I can put off my usual Monday visit until Tuesday and thus gain twenty-four hours)! This arithmetic led me into ‘reading priority’ mode, which dovetailed nicely with my body’s need to rest for hours on end to make up for my excursions earlier in the week (if I leave the house more than twice/week, especially back-to-back days, I aggravate my illnesses and can fall into a flare-up).
Fictionwise, after my success with Radcliffe, I decided to try another new-to-me author with Kobo Abe’s The Woman in the Dunes. This did not go well, due to Abe’s horrific objectification of the titular woman, and after finishing it I knew I needed a book I could trust to, as it were, cleanse my palate. Fortunately, I had Patricia McKillip on hand: I began Song for the Basilisk and was immediately swept away, reminded of why I love reading so much. It was quite a balm for my soul, and I thanked my past self for having the foresight to request two McKillip’s at once, so that if I wanted to I could loose myself in another of her stories right away! Instead, though, I decided to pick up a book that’s due on Tuesday (no more renewals): Conversations at Curlow Creek by David Malouf. I read Malouf’s Remembering Babylon ages ago (2008?) and loved it, so I hoped I would love this one too, but I was fully prepared to abandon it if it showed any misogynistic tendencies and scurry back to McKillip. Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary. It was in fact a lyrical, gorgeous, engrossing novel (I don’t read publisher’s blurbs if I already know the author, so I was actually expecting a short story collection by the title) that was yet more balm. Funnily enough, this was the most realistic novel I’d picked up since Discretion, but it still had a dash of gothic flavour to it. It was also historical fiction, set in Australia and Ireland, so I’ve yet to return to the present day. And now I’m almost done with another historical novel, this one set in early twentieth century India: The Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy. I chose it while browsing my library’s shelves last month because the plot summary sounded vaguely gothic, so I thought it would be a nice follow up to the Malouf. Also, I’d just finished reading a nonfiction book by an Indian author (more about that in a second) and was craving some extra time on the subcontinent! I love how I seem to have a book for every mood; it’s the nice thing about a generous library check out policy.
On the nonfiction front, I got away from the social justice reading and instead went for a more international relations flavour, with both Beyond the Age of Innocence by Kishore Mahbubani and Snakes and Ladders by Gita Mehta. The latter turned out to be any essay collection about Mehta’s native India, with an emphasis on politics and economics, but also broader cultural themes (her wonderful essay on reading supplied yesterday’s bookish quote and there are enough other notable passages I’m sure she’ll turn up on a few more Saturdays!). It was a wonderful read: the tone was witty, funny, exasperated but loving, and always wickedly intelligent. Just my kind of woman! It also reminded me that I love essays; I’m thrilled that Litlove is reading more of them this year, as I’m sure she’ll fill my wish list. Now I just need to remember to put a few on hold! I also read both of my interlibrary loans (I try to prioritise them, as other library books I can renew and/or always check out again in the future): Crow Planet and A Big-Enough God. Both were fascinating, giving me plenty of things to mull over as well as filling me with inspiration (of the ecological and theological varieties, respectively). I’m always happy when an interlibrary loan lives up to my expectations; since I and my library both went through extra trouble to get it, I like when the book proves it was worth it. Speaking of which, I had an interesting little Twitter conversation about interlibrary loan costs and policies, so I thought I’d mention that my public library does not charge for ILLs, and allows patrons to have ten active requests at once. Do you have to pay to interlibrary loan a book? If so, is it worth it or do you just buy a used copy?
Blogging is still going well: I feel full of joy and inspiration each time I sit down at my keyboard and pull on my gloves! In fact, I’ve already written posts about twenty-three of the twenty-six books I’ve read this year, which leaves me with a nice plump drafts folder. Since I only post three ‘reviews’ a week, this means what I’ve got over five weeks worth of reviews already written! I would worry about the obvious discrepancy of posting about three books when I read more than three a week, but I’m sure that eventually I’ll have a flare-up or get busier with life or just experience in a reading slump, and then it will all balance out. If not, I’ll re-evaluate, but no use borrowing trouble! I’m still mulling over the aesthetic changes I want to make to my blog, playing with my new camera, investigating templates. One of these days, I’ll finally decide enough is enough and actually carry out the update. Until then, I’m content to let things percolate.
I’ve been keeping up with my blog reading as well, but I forgot to save the interesting links and posts I’ve been following. Whoops! Still need to get used to this new feature. :) The only link I have is to a photo a day prompt, which I found thanks to Kelly/Kailana and have been visiting if I’m in need of inspiration. Oh! Just found something else! I have discovered a few new-to-me book blogs this week thanks to the bloggers leaving comments here that I currently have open in a different window to explore further, so I’ll share those with you: Reader in the Wilderness, Like I Am Feasting, Lily Oak Books, ahorseandacarrot, and bookwanderer. I know I’ve said this many times before, but I love discovering new blogging ‘kindred spirits,’ so if you’d like me to visit your blog just leave a comment or send me an e-mail! And I love helping new bloggers, so now that I can type far more again, I’ll happily reply to any e-mailed questions.
P.S.: Since everyone was so kind last week, I included more photos this time. You can click to enlarge. It’s funny; due to formatting, I end up choosing only my favourite horizontal photographs. Poor vertical ones! They’re the neglected orphans, never considered for my wallpaper desktop either. We live in a landscape world.