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Field Notes, vol 3

January 20, 2013

field notes
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).

I have recently taken up bread baking and found it be delightful.

I have recently taken up bread baking and found it be delightful.

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.
My mom snapped this of me with my camera while we were at our favourite Indian restaurant.

My mom snapped this with my camera while we were at our favourite Indian restaurant.

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?
Potted trees at our botanical garden, where I spent a chilly morning wandering.

Potted trees at our botanical garden, where I spent a chilly morning wandering.

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.

I loved the tiny cobwebs on this fence.

I loved the tiny cobwebs on this fence.

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.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2013 6:23 am

    Once again I am in awe of your reading. The bredth, the depth. Very impressive. Since I haven’t been by in a while, I scrolled through quite a few posts and can I saw how terrific the overall look of your blog is. The photos, the layout, the way you photograph the books you review, makes for a very clean, very professional look. You have me thinking about how I can improve my own, now.

    • January 22, 2013 7:57 pm

      Thanks CB! I’ve just begun photographing the covers myself, so I’m glad it’s working out. And I’m also glad that my basic structure is sound: just want to do a bit of sprucing! I might end up doing the changes in such a gradual piecemeal fashion that there’s never a makeover to announce. ;)

  2. January 20, 2013 6:54 am

    Regarding interlibrary loans, my library charges $5 for them. It would be worth it to me if I really wanted to read a book right away, but most of the books I want to read right away are available in my library system (or the one in Arlington, where I also have a library card). I usually just add books that aren’t in either system to my Paperback Swap wishlist and keep an eye out for them at used bookstores where the price is often less than $5.

  3. January 20, 2013 7:05 am

    The bread looks delicious! What recipe do you use?

  4. January 20, 2013 7:06 am

    Great pictures!
    I’ve had Udolpho on my TBR-list for a long time, but have not yet got to reading it. I’m looking forward to reading your post about it.
    In the Helsinki metropolitan area libraries an ILL from Finland or other Nordic countries costs 4 euros/loan. That’s 5,3 US dollars. But then again Helsinki city library and the public libraries in the three neighbouring cities belong to the same library system, and when you put a hold on an item, it might come to you from any of the 4 cities. It is not often that you have the need to ILL fiction, you’ll mostly find it from our own library system.

  5. January 20, 2013 7:36 am

    That picture your mom snapped of you is fantastic. And I love the short hair, it looks great.

  6. January 20, 2013 8:07 am

    I live in a big city with an extensive library collection so I’ve never needed ILL although I know it is available. I did obtain a provincial library card which allows me to borrow anything from any library in the province free of charge (including university libraries) so unless I am pursuing a very specific and obscure topic in depth I doubt I’ll ever need to use it.

    Thank you so much for the link to my site, Eva!

  7. January 20, 2013 8:22 am

    I used to use ILL when I lived in Louisiana, and now that I live in New York I for some reason feel guilty about trying it. No idea why! I should give it a try if it’s free (it was in Louisiana, GOD that was a good library). Using ILL is better for me than buying it used just because I hate having clutter. And things. I like getting rid of things, not acquiring more and more. Even, because of bookshelf space issues, books. :/

  8. January 20, 2013 8:36 am

    I’m amazed and jealous of how much you’ve been able to read so far this year! And good for you for being so caught up on reviews! That’s something I’m really trying to be good about this year, too. Regarding ILL I believe my library does charge for them although I’m not sure how much. I tried to do one once and it asked for my credit card information so I stopped, hehe. :)

  9. January 20, 2013 8:37 am

    Oh and I forgot to say, thanks for letting us know about those new-to-you blogs. I also love meeting new bloggers!

  10. January 20, 2013 10:24 am

    Thank you for the mention, Eva! I’ve been following A Striped Armchair for a long time and it remains one of my favorite book blogs, so to see that you visited my humble site made me squeal a little bit! (Not to sound too fangirl-ish, or anything…)

    Anyway, your thoughts, and your photos, are fascinating as always. I especially love that your new hobby is baking bread! If you enjoy that, you might also consider trying pickling or making preserves. I’ve been trying my hand at pickling and was surprised to find that it’s not only fun, it can be easy depending on what you want to make! :)

    Looking forward to your thoughts on your recent reads, especially Song for the Basilisk! Thanks again for the kind mention!

  11. January 20, 2013 10:30 am

    That bread looks amazing. What recipes and/or books are you working from? Mine always turns out a little flat, and I’m working from one of those “EASIEST BREAD RECIPE” ever recipes…

    As for ILL, I don’t know about my public library, but my school library has very specific restrictions—and if you are late in returning it, you can never ILL again. Ever. So it frightens me.

  12. January 20, 2013 10:48 am

    Thanks for linking me! I am new to blogging so I am happy to get to know any and all bloggers! (although I must admit I have been a silent follower of your blog for some months now :) ) Luckily my library does not charge for interlibrary loans- in fact, till you mentioned it, I had no idea that some libraries charged at all for them!

  13. Dana permalink
    January 20, 2013 12:36 pm

    I’ll say again that the hair cut is adorable! As far as ILL, our libraries are similar. We are allowed 10 per month and there is no charge. We “request new materials” so there is a chance that the library will actually purchase a copy to keep in the collection. If not, they request it from their network of libraries. Most of my ILLs are non-fiction.


  14. January 20, 2013 2:05 pm

    Thanks for all the links to those blogs, Eva. And your bread looks yummy!

  15. January 20, 2013 2:17 pm

    Great pictures and well done for finishing Udolpho. I’m always interested in what inspired Austen.

  16. January 20, 2013 5:45 pm

    Supposedly, ILLs take up to 6 weeks to arrive so I don’t even bother using it. It’s just easier to get a library card in a surrounding city and go get the books myself. I love the picture of you. You are so beautiful. :-)

  17. January 20, 2013 10:05 pm

    Yaaay for McKillip! And you’ve read one of the few I haven’t read by her, so I can’t comment on it! I have it, so it’s just a matter of reading it……I’m so glad it cheered you up right away. Her writing is so lyrical and imaginative, isn’t it?

    We have ILL here, and we didn’t used to get charged for it. It’s been a few years since I used it, so I can’t say if the policy is changed or not. I do enjoy it, though the not being able to renew policy does get in the way sometimes, as I often renew books before getting to them.

    You read quite an amazing number of books this week, Eva, and such a wide variety too. I love how widely you read, and how many books I find because of you.

    I am happy you are enjoying blogging, and being able to blog, again. I meant to say last week that I hope you gave your mother a huge hug for getting those gloves for you :-) We all benefit from having you being able to blog, too!

  18. January 21, 2013 2:14 am

    That bread looks so deliciously tempting! I really enjoy making it but at this time of year I don’t have anywhere in my house warm enough to prove it :-)

    ILLs are expensive in the UK I think, though it differs from library to library service. All requests and holds where the books are in libraries within our service in York (there are 14, tho some are very small) are free. If they don’t have a book and it’s new and in print in the UK they will usually buy it for stock if you ask. As long as its not an £180 monograph or something. If you have to ILL it costs £8, about $13 per book to get it from the British Library and takes aaaages to come.

  19. January 21, 2013 8:36 am

    The part of London that I used to live in didn’t charge to reserve from other London libraries, but the bit that I’ve moved to does. Ditto for audiobooks. It’s all a bit annoying – but I suppose I should just be grateful that I still have my library!

    Also – I like the new haircut… did you get what you wanted this time?

  20. January 21, 2013 8:43 am

    Can I say again that I LOVE LOVE LOVE Field Notes!!!! :)

    You know, I’m sure our library must have ILL, but I’ve never looked into it. But just requesting books from other libraries in our own county system costs $1 (unless of course you want to drive to pick it up yourself at the other library), so I’m guessing ILL would definitely not be free.

  21. January 21, 2013 11:38 am

    some great pics Eva ,all the best stu

  22. January 21, 2013 1:10 pm

    My library charges for ILL loans, too. It’s $2 but that’s enough to make me pause and ask myself: do I really want to read that book so badly? I’ve never yet used it. On the flip side, when I lived in San Francisco ILL loans were free and I used them all the time to read obscure or hard-to-find books I was curious about.

  23. January 21, 2013 4:01 pm

    26 books read already? I’m seriously impressed. :)

  24. January 23, 2013 5:47 pm

    Thank you so much for the mention. I will try very hard to live up to it in the days and weeks ahead.
    I’ve always loved, and have read and reread the 19th century gothics. I haven’t read The Mysteries of Udolpho, but I must because it inspired so many of the writers whose work I admire. Onward, for me!

    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

  25. January 24, 2013 11:53 am

    Wow, you’ve been busy! Lot’s of good books finished and on the go. And can I just say that if you find you bake more bread than you know what to do with, let me know and I will send you my address because I’ll be glad to take the extra off your hands ;)

  26. boardinginmyforties permalink
    January 31, 2013 1:55 pm

    I’m always so happy to hear how much you utilize the services of your local library. I love my library and use it every change I get. I’m very lucky that I don’t have to pay for ILL’s. I use them quite often and while I would be happy to contribute to the library would rather donate my money to the library some other way! ;)

  27. February 18, 2013 11:11 am

    I have to comment on this. Your library allows you FIFTY books at a time? FIFTY? Like five zero? This is just amazing. I can only take 12 and I thought that was plenty, because I remember in Poland I could only take four.

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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