Reading Update

After a couple of very slow months, I’ve read five books so far in June. I bought eight during my mom’s visit last week, and then I got a cold, so I haven’t been doing much else other than read.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. I’m always late to books! I enjoyed Jonathan Strange etc., but it was such hard work to read that it took me a long while to pick this one up. Glad that I did, since I just devoured it. Much smaller scope than the other, but beautiful descriptions and an interesting story.

Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin. Out of print, looks like, except in collected editions. I occasionally muse on the idea of reading our entire fiction section starting from A, and I haven’t read this one in decades. There isn’t much to it–there was a time when you could publish a short, whimisical fantasy novel like this–but it was a fun revisit.

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. Ravelry book club pick for June. I didn’t think that I would like this, and then I read the whole thing in one day. A much more philosophical piece than I initially expected, the book consistently surprised me and gave me a lot to think about thematically.

The Big Short by Michael Lewis. This was a “saw it at the used book store, recalled that I have previously considered reading it, bought it” purchase. A well-told tale despite its arcane financial subject.

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit. This book is harrowing in places–her awful relationship with her mother, her mother’s Alzheimer’s progression, her own brush with cancer, other friends’ crises, ecological catastrophe–but also a fascinating reflection on the nature of story and selfhood and what makes us, with Solnit’s usual wide-ranging artistic sense arranging all sorts of disparate things into patterns for fresh consideration.


Reading Update

Covering February and early March:

  • Entangled Life – Utterly fascinating; I had no idea how little we knew about fungus.
  • Life in the French Country House – The last Christmas present of the season, a beautiful book, full of interesting material that I am sure to use in a story someday.
  • The Thursday Murder Club – February pick for my Ravelry book club; very fun. I immediately bought the sequel.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel – One of those books we have owned forever, and I never got around to reading it before. Interesting in a historical-artifact sort of way.
  • A Man Lay Dead, Enter a Murderer, Overture to Death – Three by Ngaoi Marsh. I was looking through the storage space and found a box of old paperbacks.

The year-to-date total is 10. I have been buying books at a hilarious pace lately, so I will need to scurry a bit to get back on top of the pile.

The new knitting project is going well, I’m up to chapter 6 in my editing, and I have a hike scheduled today. Come on, spring!


Reading Update

It’s snowing! As with last year, I resolved to read everything I got as a Christmas gift first thing, so as not to keep growing my TBR infinitely.

1. A Field Guide to Getting Lost – Rebecca Solnit. Delightful, moving, educational, thought-provoking. So glad to have discovered her work last year.

2. The Deeds of Louis the Fat – Abbott Suger. Contemporary account of the French monarchy around 1100. Definitely useful for those of us who like to write fantasy worlds loosely based on medieval Europe; reality is a lot wilder than fiction.

3. A Cup of Silver Linings – Karen Hawkins. Emphatically not for me.

Two books left from the gift batch.

In other news, the weather continues very cold, wet, or both at once, so we have been stuck indoors a frustrating amount. We have all spent the past week watching Encanto, listening to the Encanto soundtrack, and thinking about Encanto. I wrote a flash fiction story for a group exercise I’m taking part in — it’s terrible, but at least I wrote something. COVID cases locally seem to be dropping again as fast as they spiked, but we have no idea where they’ll stabilize yet, so long-term planning remains difficult. So tired of this!

life, monthly updates, reading, writing

2021 Wrap-Up

I re-read my 2020 post before I started writing this one. If nothing else, I can say that 2021 was better than the year before it. Not as much better as we had hoped, of course, but better. There was that brief, heady period back in June when we were 4/5 vaccinated here, and it seemed like the end was in sight, and then… well. Not really surprising that I slid into a funk over the summer. That seems to be lifting, although we are now staring into the maw of an unnervingly warm winter.

So what did we do this year?

Finance: Savings are steady. We are moving our money out of Bank of America for climate reasons. Hello, credit union!

Home: We got a lot of stuff fixed and got rid of some stuff we aren’t using (I have rediscovered Freecycle). It’s far from a “room of one’s own,” but I do at least have a workspace now. House ownership seems as far away as ever, so I guess we should continue trying to make this place comfortable in the meantime. Got some new bookcases this month, that’s always fun. I experimented with a bunch of sustainable products this year, and enjoyed my little driveway garden.

Work: No-longer-new job is going fine. I have divested myself of two volunteer obligations. Hopefully the result will be a less frazzled me in ’22.

Writing: My goal this year was to treat writing like a serious thing, which I did pretty well until the summer pandemic spike and attendant mood crash. A lot of activity went on here, but not much got finished. Much of the year was spent in querying, editing, and preparing for self-publishing two projects next year; these things don’t happen entirely on my schedule. I did work on a couple of drafts for new books, but did not get as far as I had hoped with those. I have written dozens of letters, however, since I discovered Penapalooza.

Knitting: Very nearly the entire year was spent on one project, which is now done and gifted– yay! I also bought a shameful amount of yarn to power me through ’22.

Reading: As of this writing, I read 39 books in 2021. I might add one or two to the total still. 22 of those were new reads, most of the remainder a Terry Pratchett binge I went on this fall. 14 were non-fiction, two were epic poetry, one was whatever you call The Secret Commonwealth, and one a novella. My favorite non-fiction read was How to Do Nothing, which I still think about regularly as I walk around the neighborhood, and my favorite new-to-me fiction read was The Dispossessed. Nothing like catching up on books the same age as me!

Media: We still haven’t been back to a movie theater since Onward that last weekend before everything shut down. The eldest child and I watched a lot of TV this year, much of which I liked (Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts was my favorite) and some of which I did not care for (Centaurworld). We seem to be in a grand period for animated shows. This month we’ve been working our way through the Ghibli catalog, most of them old friends, but there were a few I either hadn’t seen at all or haven’t watched recently.

There was a bunch of other stuff, of course, but looking back on the year, much of my activity seems to have happened in fits and starts. I did yoga off and on, running off and on, languages on and then decidedly off for months now. We saw friends a handful of times before gathering started to seem like less than a good idea again (although at least the youngest is vaccinated now). There hasn’t been much continuity anywhere except for hiking. I am so happy to have found hiking this year! It’s gotten to the point where I am cranky all week when I don’t get out on the weekend.

Could have been a lot worse. Next up: 2022 planning.