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October 15, 2009


Well, I have limited myself to purchasing only one book a month. But. We’re off to England on Friday, and therefore it only makes sense to order Howards End is On The Landing and Wolf Hall from there, as they’ll be either more widely available and/or a wee bit cheaper. And by the time I get back, What Boys Like will be out, and as I’ve been planning to buy that for ages, it doesn’t quite seem like my monthly allotment (which should be more spontaneous, you know). And that copy of Birds of America that arrived last week doesn’t count either, because I only bought it to get free postage on an order of CDs. So basically, we’re halfway into October and I haven’t even bought one book yet. I am very proud of my restraint.

All of this is a little less ridiculous, because I’ve been reading like a madwoman lately. Harriet’s naps have turned out to be much longer when taken on me, which means that I can read a lot and nap as well. So that’s what we’ve been up to lately, which leads to a Mommy who is better-read and less exhausted.

Now reading nothing! Or rather little bits of lots of things– I’ve been rereading Jennica Harper’s poetry, the LRB (I’m caught up to late July now), and the ROM magazine. Because I’m saving Birds of America for my holiday, and am too superstitious to start it before it’s time.

October 7, 2009

Wolf Hall: Dare I Venture There?

Pictured here is Hilary Mantel’s Writer’s Room, and HARK! She won the Booker! Which is good news, because I love Hilary Mantel: may I recommend Giving Up the Ghost, Beyond Black, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, Every Day is Mother’s Day, A Change of Climate. But, similar to Margaret Atwood’s forays into sci-fi, I really don’t have much to do with her many adventures in historical fiction. To be honest, I’d rather read sci-fi than hi-fi (can I call it that?). And for an excellent take on the problems with historical fiction, read Alex Good’s assessment here.

But now Hilary Mantel has won the Booker for Wolf Hall— dare I venture there? “Peeling back history to show us Tudor England”: ick. The premise does nothing for me, whatsoever. And didn’t I already read it all in A Man for All Seasons (and apparently find it completely forgettable?). But, however unbelievably, I am tempted. And I do love everything I’ve ever read by our ‘Ilary, and I am going to England next week where they’ll have the book in paperback. Oh, I have a feeling I’ll be buying another book. Except this is one I might hate. A wise decision? Stay tuned…

September 23, 2009

Finally getting around to

Am currently suffering from the plight of every avid book-buyer, that is my unread books shelf getting rather crowded. Certain books have been up there for a year, which you think would be a hint that I’ll never get around to them, but for some reason I can’t give up the ghost. And I keep buying irresistable books that sit on that shelf for just a day or two, so that the others get pushed further and further back in line. The Vic Book Sale next week will do nothing to help matters, and so I’m getting around to one of these volumes. As of later today, I’ll be now reading Little Women. I think I found it for free in a box out on some sidewalk, and though I read the book years and years ago, I scarcely remember it at all (except for Beth’s death and Jo’s hair) so I’ll go back there again. I’m not terribly motivated to do so though, perhaps due to the fustiness of my particular novel, and damn, that book is long. We shall see. I’ll let you know how it goes.

September 8, 2009

On Atwood's new novel

I won’t be reading Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, and I tell you this now in order to promote the book, actually. Because Atwood is a certain kind of author, the kind who might be one of your very favourites (as she is one of mine), and you could decide to give her new one a miss. Her range is absolutely epic, which is why I’m always troubled by readers who claim not to like her work. Which work then, I wonder– The Robber Bride? The Blind Assassin? The Handmaid’s Tale? Because if you’re not partial to any of these, I’m not sure what else of literature is left, really.

I, however, am not really partial to sci-fi/genre fic/spec fic, or whatever you decide to call it. And this, I realize, is just as infuriating/limiting as claiming to dislike all Atwood, but that’s a blog post for another day. Today, however, I’ll just have you know that because I probably won’t be crazy about this one, it’s not taking priority among the to-be-reads. Which does not mean that the book sucks, because I probably will buy it for my husband for his birthday. But rather that ‘something for everyone’ means a boatload of stuff that’s not for me, which is just fine. Margaret Atwood’s flexibility and fictional experimentation have made her one of our country’s most fascinating writers for the past thirty years, and even if not in love with every book, you can’t help but admire that.

(I’ll also probably get to this one eventually, and enjoy it a great deal).

August 19, 2009

Breaking up is never easy, I know.

Now reading Swimming by Nicola Keegan, which wasn’t at all what I expected, which is probably a fine thing. I’m also reading the latest issue of The New Quarterly, which is more than I expected, which is an amazing thing. Its contents are so diverse, surprising, current and consistently excellent. I’m not sure if it’s wrong of me to say it’s more “magazine” than “journal”. And not because it’s less high-brow, but just because it’s interesting. I also just broke up with a trashy novel I was expecting to love and tell you all about, but it was crap, or at least its first 124 pages were, and life is just too short to find out if the rest of it is better.

August 7, 2009

Now reading/not reading/etc.

I am now reading Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading, and I’m loving it, loving it, loving it. The “book reports” it contains remarkable, not just because Lizzie Skurnick indulges in good nostalgia, but because of the subtext she unearths the second time around– her treatment of classics, including Daughters of Eve, Harriet the Spy, Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade, and The Cat Ate My Gymsuit demonstrate something wildly substantial (and subversive) going on in YA literature back in the day.

I’ve not managed to read through a single magazine/periodical since my daughter was born, and so I’ve got a stack beside me on my desk right now and no clue when I’m going to get to them. (FYI: my “desk” is now an end-table beside my gliding chair in the living room, which actually works out quite handily.) There are so many books and so little time that periodicals hardly seem to factor into the equation. I should probably make a new blog label called “Not Reading” and then I could write about it all the time.

Last Friday I had to spent two hours waiting at the Passport Canada office, and they’d probably never seen anyone happier to wait. Mostly because I HAD A BOOK IN MY BAG and BABY WAS ASLEEP IN HER PRAM. Baby stayed asleep for two hours (and then, having exhausted her patience/goodness resource, proceeded to be horrible for the rest of the day, so much so that I was destroyed by evening, but alas) so that I had more uninterrupted reading than I’d had in 2.5 months. It was extraordinary, particularly as I was reading the marvelous Between Interruptions: 30 Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood. Only problem with that being that the book was so engaging, I felt like I’d lived the lives of 31 mothers that day, which probably contributed to my destroyment by 5 pm.

Anyway, speaking of waiting, Rona Maynard on waiting-room lit and Marilynne Robinson’s Home. Rebecca Rosenblum’s submission tips for aspiring writers is also worth a read. The great Lauren Groff, illuminatingly, on rejection notices. What’s wrong with charity book shops? is an interesting (though not conclusive) response to questions raised in the thought-provoking article “Selling Civilization” from Canadian Notes and Queries.

Now, must wake baby, feed baby, change baby. For we’re off to a program at the library that promises songs, and stories and “tickle rhymes” for all. (I’m not sure if it’s sad or amazing that this is my life now.)

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