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Field Notes, vol 15

November 16, 2014

field notesI went on a bit of a novel binge since my last field notes. I was struggling with my health, so I loaded up my Nook and got a few audiobooks, and lost myself in the magic of fiction. I just managed to update my books read page, and as far as I can recall, I’ve read all of since then:

  • Death at Wentworth Court by Carol Dunn
  • Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo by Ntazake Shange
  • Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard
  • Confronting the Classics by Mary Beard
  • The Wave in the Mind by Ursula le Guin
  • The Blacker the Berry by Wallace Thurman
  • Died on a Rainy Sunday by Joan Aiken
  • Blood Child by Octavia Butler
  • Some Kind of Fairytale by Graham Joyce
  • Dead Wrong by Eleanor Taylor Bland
  • To Dwell in Darkness by Deborah Crombie
  • Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • A Distant Mirror by Barbara Thurman
  • Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery


Note that out of sixteen books, only three are nonfiction. And two of those nonfiction are bookish! This isn’t typical of me, but it’s what I needed at the time, and I loved just revelling in stories. Of course, this leaves me witha dilemma; how on earth to I blog about all of those books in just one post? I don’t know; I hope to figure that out in the future during a reading lull. For now I’ll just say that of these books, I loved almost all of them, and would heartily recommend them to anyone intrigued by a publisher summary. The exceptions would be the Joan Aiken, which I thought was a bit thin, although it was certainly creepy at times and the Thurman, which involved a bit too many specifics of 14th century military battles to win my heart. Both of those are still worth reading, I just didn’t love them wholeheartedly!
The past few days I’ve returned to my more usual fiction/nonfiction rhythm, as well as adding international and classic authors back into the mix. I’m almost through The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol (trans. by Pevear & Volokhonsky of course), and they’ve surprised me. A pleasant surprise, to be sure! I just began writing about them, but I was at five hundred words and just delving into their heart, so I’ll save that for a different post. ;) Let’s just say that I’ve been happily picking it up, even though it’s an epically large hardcover that might otherwise make my arthritic hands shudder. In between, I’ve been delving into two very different nonfiction books: Bernd Heinrich’s Winter World and Rosalind Mile’s The Women’s History of the World. I must confess Heinrich is not my favourite natural history writer, but I do love the topics he chooses to write about, so I read him anyway. Winter World is my favourite of the ones I’ve read, and it’s quite fun to see hints of what he’s talking about in my own small urban woods. I definitely like it more than Summer World, but then I prefer cold to heat and snow to deserts, so I suppose that’s not a complete surprise! I have quite mixed feelings about The Women’s History of the World: it contains so many massive generalisations, which while not unexpected in a world history of merely two hundred fifty pages, does make me question her scholarship. I also find it depressingly colonialist in its approach to cultures outside of Europe. That being said, I’m still reading it, because there’s something compelling about her anger and revisionist approach. It’s not the type of women’s history I’ve read in the past, and I’m fascinated by the contrast, even if I’m not terribly impressed by its academic credentials.

The wonder of snowfall outside my windows proved elusive, resisting my attempts to capture it.

The wonder of snowfall outside my windows proved elusive, resisting my attempts to capture it.

Apart from reading, I’ve finally begun to settle into a new daily routine, that leaves me plenty of time to enjoy the shift into late autumn. In a piece of sympathetic magic, as soon as I finished knitting some snowflake-bedecked mittens for myself, snow obliging appeared! So far it has just floated about prettily in the sky, giving me the chance to experiment with shutter speeds in an attempt to capture its beauty, but this week’s forecasts include the promise of several inches on the ground. I cannot wait to see what Thistle makes of it. Yes, November is shaping up into a beautiful month. I hope all of you can say the same.

P.S.: Does anyone have a good pumpkin bread recipe they’d like to share? I’d appreciate it!

P.P.S.: I’ve sent an e-mail into Vimeo, as I couldn’t determine the problem via their help section. Hopefully I’ll get the library loot vlog working very soon!

If you look closely, there are a few crows flying overhead.

If you look closely, there are a few crows flying overhead.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2014 6:38 am

    Are you planning to review them all?! I’m looking forward to your thoughts on A Distant Mirror. I’ve heard great things about it and has been on my to-listen list for ever.

    • November 17, 2014 10:51 am

      I don’t know if I’m going to review them all.

      As I said in this post, A Distant Mirror was a bit too focused on the military/political side of things for my tastes; I prefer ‘everyday life’ types of history. But it was stunningly researched and very exhaustive and does include information about general world views and a bit of everyday life (these were my favourite bits). It’s worth reading, but it’s a ton of information!

  2. Kathy permalink
    November 17, 2014 8:18 am

    You might enjoy The Happy Herbivore’s recipe for healthy no fat pumpkin bread. It tastes even better the day after you make it. I am looking forward to Winter World and Anne’s House of Dreams. Thank you!

    • November 17, 2014 10:49 am

      Oh thnx for the pumpkin bread suggestion! Off to google it. :)

      • Kathy permalink
        November 17, 2014 10:59 am

        Note that using only 1 TBLSP of pumpkin spice is plenty (instead of 2 called for in the recipe).

  3. Vishy permalink
    November 17, 2014 9:58 am

    Rosalind Mile’s ‘The Women’s History of the World’ looks quite wonderful. Sorry to know about the massive generalizations in the book. Hope the book becomes better as you read. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it. I want to get that Nikolai Gogol book! I didn’t know that Pevear / Volokhonsky have published a new translation of it. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it – like favourite story etc.

    Thanks for sharing those beautiful pictures. Happy reading and Happy November!

    • November 17, 2014 10:54 am

      I’ll be posting about Gogol tomorrow so you won’t need to wait long for my thoughts on that! :) This translation was published in 1998, so not that new; they’ve done Dead Souls too.

      I’m glad you liked the photos! I’ve misplaced my camera strap (a very well padded thing that helps me) so I haven’t been getting my camera out and about as much as I’d otherwise like to. But hopefully I’ll find it soon, and in the meantime I’ve found a temporary solution.

  4. November 17, 2014 5:13 pm

    This is an impressive list. I’m also a little in awe that you have tackled Gogol.

  5. November 18, 2014 9:27 pm

    How was the Mary Beard? I’ve been wanting to read something by her for a while. I was planning to read her book about Roman humor, but my university library hasn’t got a physical copy, and the ebook copy can be read online but not checked out and downloaded onto an ereader (bah). I still want to try her at some point though! I hear good things.

  6. November 22, 2014 11:54 pm

    Ooh, I’d like to know what you thought of Some Kind of Fairytale. I liked it immensely, it had the fairies are not to be toyed with at all vibe that is dangerous and dark about it, didn’t it? I hope you liked it. I’m so sad he has passed away now, he was such an interesting and good author. I have to read the Dunn and the Le Guin. Such good books you read there, Eva! Glad you are settling in to our area, too. That won’t be the last of the snow, I’m afraid! lol

  7. November 23, 2014 7:40 pm

    I look forward to hearing what you have to say about Gogol. He’s one of my favorites.

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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