Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

What is the best way to spend Halloween? Reading, eating chocolate, and updating my RIP V status, of course!

I nearly finished my reading for this year's RIP, but still have about a third of the way to go in The Woman in White, so can't count it -- though I will finish it, soon, as it is great entertainment. I do love Wilkie Collins.

I did read two books by Ray Bradbury, one vintage reread (The Slayer of Souls), and a new novel, the spooky magician's tale The Art of Disappearing. So I've actually completed the Challenge even while I still have the Collins to finish up.

It's amazing how many participants there are in this Challenge, and the resultant HUGE additions to my reading list. Some of the authors I want to explore are Arthur Machen, who I put on my list but never got to; Marghanita Laski; and Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. So many more to read! But, as I've said before, a large TBR is a reader's life insurance plan.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Slayer of Souls

New York: George Doran, c1920.
301 p.

My book has a simple red cloth cover, without a dust jacket, so I have a different image of the characters than this dust jacket presents. Although it was written in the 1910s sometime, this book has a irrefutable feel of the Roaring Twenties to me. I've had my copy for ages and ages, since childhood really, and it has an inscription in antique penmanship stating that it belonged to Const. Phil. J. Power. I picked it up again during the Readathon, as I knew it was a fast, light read.

I've read it numerous times over the years and always enjoy its rather over-the-top, sensational plot: evil Yezidee sorcerers from "the east" are trying to take over the minds of good Americans and convert the world to a socialist nightmare. There are Bolshevik plots in there somewhere as well. The main characters are three young professional men (an architect, a banker, and a professor) who have volunteered to work for the intelligence service, and three young women, all formerly captive temple girls in the Yezidee stronghold who are now the only hope for humanity. The primary focus is on Tressa Norne; she is a Westerner whose parents were diplomats to the region in question, and were killed in an uprising, at which time the very young and beautiful Tressa was taken to the Temple of Erlik. She is now free (another uprising) and is returning to the United States, bringing with her the uncanny sorcery she learned in her years as a temple girl. Thus, she is the only person able to defeat the enemy on their own ground.

There is a strong romantic plot, mainly between Tressa and the professor assigned to protect her, but also involving the other Americans and the other girls, who are Chinese (but carefully described as almost white, only 'almond shaped eyes' indicating otherwise.) As I read it through this time I was struck by how much the casual racism of the 1920s comes through. There is a rather shocking reference to black Americans; the evil sorcerers are defined as Asiatic; Jewish New Yorkers are dismissed in a line or two; and of course, the romantic interests must not be really Chinese. The story doesn't go out of its way to point these things out, and it doesn't dwell on them. But it is the assumption that its contemporary readers will understand and agree with (or at least not really notice or be bothered by) these kind of throwaway comments that is almost worse than being blatant about it. It really makes one realize how deeply society has changed -- not saying that there isn't racism today, but that making these kind of 'obvious' statements today would be provocative and shocking to the reader. Rather interesting to think about -- unfortunately it does make it impossible to love this book, though I still enjoy the plot overall.

The two main characters are great; lots of melodrama and wit, and a creative romantic situation for the four supporting characters. The descriptions of the landscapes of both the United States and of China are quite dreamlike and engaging. The strength, I think, is in the complex magic and culture of the Yezidee cult -- Chambers has created a logical organization with the sorcery following certain rules, where symbols play a large role. It hints at a very foreign, very ancient culture with its own rules and expectations. Some of the scenes are quite bloodthirsty, but at the same time give you a thrill of horror despite the general melodramatic nature.

There are of course, touches of sexism -- the men are all square jawed and sensible American capitalists, who find it hard to believe in the reality of sorcery. Tressa is a lovely 1920s woman, slim, blue-eyed, fashionable, who does a lot of trembling, blinking, and gesturing, yet is the most powerful mind in the book. One of my favourite lines comes when Tressa is explaining to one of the other men, Benton, that her friend, still in China, has seen him on a visit she made on the astral plane, and essentially thinks he is hot. Benton can't believe this, and when Tressa asks why, he stammers, "I'm an Episcopalian!".

Despite the flaws in this book, I do like the creativity and action of it, and each time I read it I think that with a bit of tweaking this would make a great movie. I would love to see some of the settings brought to life visually, like the Florida country cottage they retreat to at one point, or the Lake of Ghosts in Tressa's Yezidee years. Also, the romance is sweet, while the horrible bits are quite visual (for example, as Tressa saves them from someone trying to throw a tube of poison gas as them, the tube melts into the villain's hand and his whole face slides off as his body disintegrates - pretty disgusting stuff!) It has a touch of the supernatural, clever women who laugh at the seriousness of men, and a strong sense of threat and the necessity to fight evil. Very much of its time, but still enjoyable for its creative plot.

You can read it online in full text thanks to Miskatonic University Press, if you so wish.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Inspiration through Introspection

I have an exciting book review/interview/spotlight to share with you... introducing the launch of my sister's first photo book, Introspection!

Arranged alphabetically by theme, it is full of inspiring images and brief essays, leading a reader to ponder and reflect. This book has recently received an honourable mention in the world-wide Writer’s Digest self-publishing contest, and author Karen Kindrachuk is set to take it on tour starting today.

I am especially proud of this beautiful book, as Karen is my sister. Her original photography and thoughtful words are a reflection of the many years in which she has pursued both her artistic interests and her career in helping others, most particularly seniors, via recreation therapy. To celebrate the launch of Introspection, I’ve asked Karen to speak about what inspired this book, and how she envisions it helping others.

What inspired you to create this book?

My brother-in-law [yes, that would be my dh] found a new self-publishing website and thought I should check it out. When I saw the page dimensions, I thought I’d just start to mess around a bit and put together a sample page to see what a couple of people thought. They liked the first page…nine days later the book was finished – complete. Nine really, really long days in the batcave. Nine 16-20 hour days in the batcave. Once I started, I couldn’t stop.

What caused your decision to self-publish? or, what was your publishing process?

I went the self-publishing route for two main reasons:

1) I am not renowned for my patience, and

2) I spent 13 years as a graphic designed in the commercial printing field, so my technical skills were up to the challenge and I knew how to create the product in order for it to look as I wanted it to. The technical expertise proved invaluable when negotiating with and interviewing printers. When I found the right printer for me there were no ‘initial’ mistakes and time-wasting multiple proofs – everyone was on the same page.

I started with a hosted self-publishing option, but had zero control over quality-control. That didn’t work for me, so I started my own publishing company – Sole Purpose Books. It didn’t take as long as I expected to registered with the Canadian ISBN Service System, get an import/export number registered, then design and set up a new website. I just did my first bulk order, and 1000 copies of Introspection will be arriving at my door in mid-November.

This book is beautifully put together & very thoughtful. What do you hope readers will take away from it?

Thank you for your kind words! The goal behind Introspection is to nurture and inspire the human spirit. Because each person is unique, the goal is simply get people to start to speculate, dissect, evaluate, contemplate and just generally explore their thoughts. The way they translate those thoughts into their own lives will be unique, because they – and their situation – is unique.

The photography and the writing is all your work, as was the design & printing — can you tell us a bit about how you put all your skills together in creating this book?

My technical skills took care of the design & printing aspect. It was great to be back in – both feet – in a graphic project I was passionate about. My eye just tells me when it’s right, but with this book I saw the layout in my head before I even started, so that saved some time.
The photos were a bit more challenging as I found it hard to choose just the ‘right’ picture for some of the letter, considering the significant size of my photo collection.Each picture relates to the topic being discussed, one way or another. Sometimes that connection is obvious, sometimes it’s a bit more hidden. People always ask me about the photos, where they were taken? what was I doing? Introspection was a perfect way to start introducing my photos and gauge people’s reactions.

Sometimes the photo influenced the writing, sometimes the other way around. Not only does the writing contains pieces from as long as 20 years ago, but I’ve also switched up the writing design-wise. When discussing the concept of "Understanding" the prose is in the shape of a funnel. When reflecting on the concept of "Escaping", the prose is presented as the outline of a palm tree. It’s fun to do, and by changing up the text style now and again, it forces your brain to process the information differently, meaning your brain also stores the information differently. Did I mention I am fascinated by brain research?

So, to answer your question the long way, I just took three components of myself that are important to me and combined them into one package.

How are you letting people know about your book?

I kind of feel like I’m doing a grassroots political campaign! A lot of ‘getting out there’ and getting to know people. Learning how to ‘talk up’ my book at every opportunity, while not being hard-sell and turning people off. Tag-teaming with Starbucks to do author events at different locations. I’ve gotten involved in social media…I now Facebook, Twitter, soon-to-YouTube, and host a blog dedicated to Introspection.

The original concept of the website being a landing point for Introspection expanded somewhat in the process. I convinced my sister [yes, me again] to add her books to the Sole Purpose name, then I added a cover design service and a listing service — both intended to provide an economical option for other writers wanting to self-publish. And last, but not least, an Accessories section evolved containing other products focusing on wellness such as journals, art cards, motivation prints, and nature photography, all of which use my photos and/or designs.

Karen’s book launch and first reading is going to be held at the Okotoks Starbucks tonight, for all of you in the Calgary area, with another reading at the Okotoks Library on November 1st. For everyone else, pop over to the blog to get more information and take a look!

Congratulations, Karen, and good luck with the launch.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Short Story reading with Ray Bradbury

The Illustrated Man /Ray Bradbury
New York: Avon, 1997, c1951.
275 p.

October Country / Ray BradburyNew York: Avon, 1999, c1955.
352 p.

What better choice than Ray Bradbury's short stories for the RIP Challenge? I had these two books on my shelves just waiting for the right moment...and since I finished the second during last weekend's Readathon, I will share my impressions of both. They are both collections of stories first published in the late 40's and the 50's. The age of the stories does show a bit, especially in the way that the male main characters have a tendency toward casual dismissal of women as equal actors in life. It is of the time, but Bradbury does transcend the shortcomings of the era, generally.

First, The Illustrated Man. This collection contains some of the classic Bradbury stories, like "The Veldt". I enjoyed nearly every story in this book, some of which were new to me. Early on in the book comes a story called "Kaleidoscope", which is hauntingly Bradbury-ish. It is a brief tale of a group of men in space, whose rocket is damaged; they all end up floating out into the void. As this was a rather sudden accident, they are in their space suits but haven't had time to avail themselves of any means of propulsion. Thus they are all stuck on their various trajectories, floating further away from each other even while they can still communicate via headset. The matter-of-fact acceptance of certain death in conjunction with the mundane banter they share -- no deep final words shared here -- is quite a combination. Some memorable images and writing in this one.

October Country wasn't as enjoyable. The stories felt more dated, more of the "b-list" of his writing. But perhaps that was just because they were mainly horror stories, while I really enjoy his space/science fiction-y stories more. There were certainly still moments of Bradbury greatness, but I found the hillbilly lingo in one story, and the representation of women in a couple of others, quite offputting. The opening story was strong, in which a dwarf spends much time looking at his regular sized self in a funhouse mirror, only to be thwarted at the end - very dark and sad somehow. And perhaps since I read it all in one day I didn't give myself enough time to linger with some of the atmosphere created by each story. Even so, this book does include two stories I really love, "Uncle Einar" and "Homecoming". Homecoming is now in picture book format, illustrated by Dave McKean, as well.

The Illustrated Man was my preferred collection, but in all cases, Bradbury is always a favourite, and there is always something to enjoy in his work. Very suitable to this time of year, and so many other stories still to read, even younger-audience books like The Halloween Tree.

I'm interested to find out whether others also read him, and if so, do you have a favourite Bradbury story? I think my favourite stories are "All Summer in a Day" (unforgettable) and "There will come soft rains" -- although it is hard to narrow it down.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Healing with Words

I've been writing about how writing can assist us in maintaining our health -- either through creating our own writing, or reflecting on what we're reading. This was inspired by Diana Raab's newest book, Healing with Words, which I am featuring on my other blog as part of a blanket blog tour.
I really believe that writing is a self-care technique that has huge benefits. If you're interested in finding out more, check out what I have to say about this topic, and FYI -- if you comment on that blog post (not this one) you will have a chance to win a free copy of Diana's book, thanks to WOW (Women on Writing), the hosts of the blog tour.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Reading Synchronicities

I had a great time reading for a whole day for Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, even if I didn't quite make it to 24 hours. Having set aside all that time specifically for reading, I felt no guilt, or any urge to do anything else at all. Fortunately, I had more time off as it is a holiday weekend here, so was able to recover nicely and still get some holiday time in -- even some cooking, too.

But something I noticed, reading all sorts of different books all at once, was the odd synchronicity among the texts. I had a stack of about 22 different books, all sorts, selected rather randomly. Some were my own, some belong to the library. Yet, as I read, connections were being made...

I spent a lot of the day reading short stories by Ray Bradbury. I like his work, and one or two short stories between other books was a good way to stay inspired. After one session of Bradbury, I picked up a nonfiction book about the power of intuition, opened it and at the top of the chapter was a quote by Bradbury. This was not a writing book, and so it was completely unexpected, though delightful.

I began reading William Boyd's Blue Afternoon, then switched over to Penelope Lively's City of the Mind -- both were about architects, opening with the main character at a building site they were responsible for. Reading along in Boyd, I noticed a mention of Enfield (England) which some of my relatives have connections to. I was just thinking how funny it is to see discussion of a place one lives in a book, and how this rarely happens to me since I am from Saskatchewan, not a hot spot in international fiction. Then I picked up Jonathan Coe's The Rain Before It Falls, which I was halfway through, and within two pages one of the major characters abruptly leaves England and moves to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

All these odd little connections made my reading even more entertaining than usual. Do you notice such things when you're reading? Are there any unexpected synchronicities you have discovered in your reading lately?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Readathon Wrap-Up Post

I read until 3 am -- or the beginning of Hour 20, which was much more than I expected to do! It was a great first experience of the Readathon, I'm so glad I could join in this year. The Readathon organizers have created a finishing-up questionnaire, so here are my answers.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

I think Hour 13 was tough- I needed to take a break and move around and talk a bit. Then I got right back into it, and read until Hour 20, when I was just too pooped to go on.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Can't come up with a title; but I'd definitely have a couple of quick reads for next year.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

Um, not really. Seems to work just fine.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

It was really organized considering how many participants there were. I liked the hourly update posts at the Readathon blog; they were fun to read and useful to keep track of things.

5. How many books did you read?

Finished 4 and have a few more still in progess.

6. What were the names of the books you read?

Ray Bradbury's October Country, Theresa Kishkan's Phantom Limb, Jonathan Coe's The Rain Before It Falls and Penelope Lively's City of the Mind all finished.

Still have Anne of Green Gables, Woman in White, The Slayer of Souls and Watership Down in progress, and I intend to keep at them -- they were all so enjoyable.

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

I think that Ray Bradbury's short stories were the most strictly entertaining; they were good to read in between other books, and kept my interest.

8. Which did you enjoy least?

There were a couple of books on my pile that I picked up but after a few pages I realized I wasn't interested, so I just chose the next title.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

I was only a Reader this year

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I would love to participate again, schedules willing. Next time I might Read and Cheer, both.

Readathon: Hour 20 update

It's the start of Hour 20... and the end of the line for me. That's it, too tired to keep reading even the excellent book I have underway now. I do need to get some sleep so I won't be completely anti-social tomorrow.

Here is my last update, although I know I'll be reading again tomorrow to finish off two rereads I am halfway through.

Title of book(s) read since last update:
Still going with my Anne of Green Gables reread. Also finished Penelope Lively's City of the Mind. Started rereading an entertaining c1920 paranormal novel, Slayer of Souls.

Number of books read since you started:
Finished 4; have 4 in progress

Pages read since last update:
192 p.

Running total of pages read since you started:
1151 p.

Amount of time spent reading since last update:
2.5 h.

Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!)
14h. 35 min.

So fun to do this...I need to be better prepared for next time, though. Didn't get around to commenting much on other people's posts. Plus I lost track of my reading time. No idea how long I spent reading! A wrap-up post will follow, when I wake up in a few hours.

Readathon: Hour 17 Update

Hey, it's the beginning of Hour 17! Commonly known as midnight around here. I haven't updated in a few hours: I took an hour off between 8 and 9 and it got me motivated again (and gave my poor eyes a rest). I'd like to start with a nice big THANK YOU to those of you cheering all the readers along. Now is when it really helps ;) In honour of all the determined cheerleaders, I'd like to share a picture of one of my favourite typos (the model is my sister) In case you can't read it, the label says "cheery cheesecake", just what we all need about now, don't you think?

I'm not sure how much longer I'll keep reading -- another hour or two should be easy and we'll see how I feel after that. I've had so much fun today, so far. Here is my current update.

Title of book(s) read since last update:
Really enjoying my Anne of Green Gables reread. Also read a bit of Watership Down and Penelope Lively's City of the Mind.

Number of books read since you started:
Finished 3; have 5 in progress

Pages read since last update:
136 p.

Running total of pages read since you started:
959 p.

Amount of time spent reading since last update:
2 h., 30 min.

Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!)
10h. 35 min.


I'm actually feeling kind of tired now. Not in a have-to-sleep way, but in a think-I'm-getting-too-old-for-all-nighters way. I'll try to finish another book before I pack it in, though. Next update before then...

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Readathon: Mid-Event Update

Time is flying! Halfway done and I was so caught up in Anne of Green Gables I almost forgot about updating halfway through. :) I'll add the Mid-Event mini-challenge to the end of this post.

Title of book(s) read since last update:
Finally finished Ray Bradbury's October Country; continued on with The Woman in White; began William Boyd's Blue Afternoon and Anne of Green Gables (reread) .

Number of books read since you started:
Finished 3; have 3 in progress

Pages read since last update:
197 p.

Running total of pages read since you started:
823 p.

Amount of time spent reading since last update:
2 h.

Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!)

8h. 05 min.

I am totally losing track of what hour it is and how long I've read; I need to keep better records next time. Make a chart to fill in or something! ;)

I was feeling a bit dull for an hour or so, but picking up an old childhood favourite has revived me (well, that and some chocolate...) So far it hasn't felt much like a chore to read for so long -- it kind of feels like a normal long weekend for me, LOL. But I am sure it will start to feel a bit longer now that evening is drawing in.

And now for the Readathon official survey

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

Anne of Green Gables and The Woman in White

2. How many books have you read so far?

Finished 3

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Continuing with Anne of Green Gables; also keeping a vintage paranormal thriller, The Slayer of Souls, in reserve for the late hours as I know it is great fun

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?

Not really; it's a long weekend and I didn't have any committments to arrange, since for once I wasn't working today

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Nope, I warned everyone not to expect me to respond to them today ;)

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

Time goes quickly! But I have found stopping to update and to eat takes a lot more time than I'd expected

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

No, it runs perfectly!

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?

Organize myself a little better; more ready-made treats and a real list, also a plan to comment on others' blogs as well

9. Are you getting tired yet?

Not at all. I love to sit around and read! Though I may have to read while exercising after dinner to keep my focus

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?

No, but if anyone has any tips to share with me I'm open to them

Readathon: Hour 10 Update

Wow, how is it possible that it's Hour 10 already? Just spent 3 hours reading in the sun on the porch, how heavenly. Here is my latest update.

Title of book(s) read since last update:
Ray Bradbury's October Country, Theresa Kishkan's Phantom Limb, Jonathan Coe's The Rain Before it Falls

Number of books read since you started:
Parts of 3; plus finished 2 (Phantom Limb and The Rain Before it Falls)

Pages read since last update:
318 p.

Running total of pages read since you started:
626 p.

Amount of time spent reading since last update:
3 h.

Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!)
6h. 05 min.

It's really nice to change up the location of your reading. Makes it seem much less of a "block" of time. Lucky me, it is gorgeous out today so I've spent a fair amount of time in the sun.

Also, short stories are really good for pacing yourself between longer stretches of novel reading. I'm still working my way through Ray Bradbury; should finish it in this next block of time. Fortunately I have many short story collections if I need another. It's also nice to finish something!

At Readathon Central, Danielle's posted a song to keep us all going. Here is a song I'd say represents good advice for readathon day: stay home and sit around!

Readathon: Hour 6 update

Back again after a bit more reading -- lunch is heating up in the other room & I'm updating here.

Title of book(s) read since last update:
Ray Bradbury's October Country, Theresa Kishkan's Phantom Limb, Wilkie Collins The Woman in White, and Jonathan Coe's The Rain Before it Falls

Number of books read since you started:
Parts of 4

Pages read since last update:
178 p.

Running total of pages read since you started:
308 p.

Amount of time spent reading since last update:
1 h. 25 min.

Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!)
3 h. 05 min.

Mini-challenges completed:
Hour 1 challenge; Estella's Revenge's 6 Word challenge
I've been jumping around between books and enjoying it, but my goal for my next block of reading is to finish at least one of the books I've started. I have already found that an essential part of the Readathon for me has been getting my husband to make tea and bring me food ;) He is busily preparing lunch now. I do like having a variety of kinds of books to dip into, but it's a gorgeous holiday weekend here so I'll be heading outside soon -- to read, of course! But that means I won't be checking in here for a while. Hope everyone else reading & cheering is having tons of fun also.

Readathon Mini-Challenges

Like Amanda from the Zen Leaf, I am going to keep all my mini-challenges together here in this post. Except for Hour 1 which I've already posted ;)

Hour 3 MiniChallenge thanks to Estella's Revenge is to write a 6 word celebration of the Readathon. Here's mine:

Reader's arithmetic: edition subtraction via Readathon!

Readathon: Hour 3 Update

And it's 10 am, time for an update. I've started off wonderfully, with some tea and two great books.

Title of book(s) read since last update:
Ray Bradbury's October Country & Theresa Kishkan's Phantom Limb

Number of books read since you started:
Parts of 2

Pages read since last update:
130 p.

Running total of pages read since you started:
130 p.

Amount of time spent reading since last update:
1 h. 40 min.

Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!)

1 h. 40 min.

Mini-challenges completed:

Just the introductory Hour 1 challenge

Time for a break to make a fresh pot of tea and change up my books ;) I've enjoyed my first 2 hours a lot, they flew by in my normal weekend morning routine of reading with a cup of tea. I have a feeling I won't be checking in on the computer too much today, but will just read and look in at others intermittently.

Dewey's Readathon: Hour One Mini-Challenge

For Hour One, here is a brief questionnaire:

Where are you reading from today?

From a wide variety, to keep me from getting bored! Short stories of Ray Bradbury, novels of Penelope Lively, Barbara Pym, Jonathan Coe, and Wilkie Collins, essays by Teresa Kishkan, perhaps even my psychology textbook. Plus I have a few books in reserve, some well-loved favourites if I want to re-read instead. Also have two poetry books to refresh my palate!

3 facts about me …

Basic facts:

  • I'm a librarian, and love to read.
  • My ideal desert island experience would include chocolate, tea, and books. So pretty much today's plan. :)
  • I like to keep busy, so I have my own business alongside my day job, and also write.

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?


Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?

No goals except to finish at least 3 books. And enjoy reading as long as possible.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?

I've never had the chance to do it before. I'll have to take others' advice!

Dewey's Readathon: Hour 1

Aaaaand we're off!

It's the start of my first Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon as a participant. I'm really looking forward to wallowing in a pile of books for the next 24 hours...or however long I can stay awake ;)

I will be posting fairly frequently today, for those readers who aren't warned....
Now off to pick up my first books, essays by Teresa Kishkan and a short story by Ray Bradbury.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Readathon: Required Reading!

I'm busy selecting my pile of books for this weekend's 24 Hour Readathon! Here's what it looks like so far:

I'm excited to be participating this year; every single other Readathon weekend since the beginning I've been working. So I'm making big list is more of a huge pile of potentiality at this point. I like to have choice, and although I could probably read for the entire Siege of Leningrad with just the books in my house, I've brought home some from the library as well.

I have a pile of six YA novels that I've been meaning to read for a while now, for those hours when I need something a little lighter. I also have a handful of mystery novels for the same reason.

I have some of my favourite authors ready for novel reading. So much to choose from! I'm hoping to read a few of the books I've earmarked for various challenges as well.

For the morning hours when my brain is really active I have some non-fiction lined up: on the pile is Stuart Kaufmann's Reinventing the Sacred and Phantom Limb, essays by Teresa Kishkan.

And then I have my comfort pile of rereads if that is what I am in the mood for. Anne of Green Gables, Watership Down, Sheri Tepper's After Long Silence, and a great vintage read that I think would make a fabulous movie, Robert W. Chambers' The Slayer of Souls all make up this pile.

Somehow I think my eyes are bigger than my stomach in this weekend buffet of reading!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Rainy Day Musings

Perfect for a rainy afternoon, here are a few musings on books and stories about umbrellas.

First, a suggestion for picture book reading, here is a new story from Korea, called, charmingly, The Thingamabob. It's the story of an elephant who isn't quite sure what it is that he's adorable tale and great to read aloud.

Then, who knew that Robert Louis Stevenson was so funny? Read his essay on umbrellas, written with a friend who states:
'Not the least important, and by far the most curious property of the umbrella, is the energy which it displays in affecting the atmospheric strata. There is no fact in meteorology better established—indeed, it is almost the only one on which meteorologists are agreed—than that the carriage of an umbrella produces desiccation of the air; while if it be left at home, aqueous vapour is largely produced, and is soon deposited in the form of rain... '

After that, check out The Umbrella, a quarterly art journal that is archived online and is full of wonderful tidbits of art and amusement. Sadly, it ended too soon, with the editor's final illness. But 1978-2005 is available to be perused thanks to digitization.

And finally, a verse from a delightful little poem my husband wrote some years ago -- this is the final verse and one of my favourites:

Umbrellas are useful in all kinds of weather
They can even be used as a boat
Like the boy in Madras
Who to impress a fine lass
Crossed a stream like a knight o'er a moat
And together they travelled the stream that unravelled
And off into the sunset did float, did float,
And off into the sunset did float.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Welcome, October

It's the beginning of October, my favourite month in the year. I love the colours, the weather, even just the word 'October'. The wheel of the year is turning to longer evenings and colder weather, just right for reading and reflecting, and of course, drinking hot chocolate. It is time to cook again; soups and chilis, casseroles, roasted vegetables - all those things I avoid over the hot summer months. The colour of an October sky, the smell of leaf mould and cooler winds -- well, there is just so much I love about October.

But from the generic to the specific, here are a few Octoberish things I've been thinking about lately.

First: speaking of hot chocolate, I was almost the victim of a shell game perpetrated by hot chocolate manufacturers at the grocery store. Feeling virtuous and thinking we should buy the "light" hot chocolate packets (yes, the powdery mix, I am too lazy to make it from scratch half the time) we picked up a box and thought it was very light indeed. That is because the "light" hot chocolate is simply HALF AS MUCH mix in each packet. Same price. 28 grams vs. 13 grams. Hmmmm. Let's see, maybe I'll just buy the regular box and only use HALF the package, it will last twice as long! Sheesh.

But on to lovelier things. I am reading some Ray Bradbuy for my RIP Challenge, as is my habit, and I have awaiting me, very seasonally, his "October Country". Excellent! I've just finished off "The Illustrated Man" and I have to say, one of the stories creeped me out so much it gave me actual nightmares. Reviews of these story collections to come, sometime soon.

Also quite delicious for October is my coworker (and artist's) Hallowe'en Artist's Trick or Treat Studio Tour, running for the month of October. It is a collection of artists and crafters from all over North America who are participating in this event in support of Bat Conservation. Check them out.

Also in October is the return of Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon. This is the first time since its inception that I have not been working on the day of the Readathon, the spring or fall incarnations. So of course, I must take this opportunity to participate. I'm planning on reading for as many of the 24 hours as I can, and although I am never glad to have a terrible head cold, at least I have it now and not on the day of the readathon!

Related to Dewey's Readathon, I have decided that I'll read in support of the wonderful Toronto charity Literature for Life. Their mission statement reads as follows:

Literature for Life is committed to providing a supportive environment where, through reading, writing, and self-expression, at-risk teenage mothers develop a sense of self worth and acquire the knowledge and skills to live up to their full potential as individuals, parents and community members.

I'll place a link to their charitable donation page on Canada Helps in the sidebar for the entire month, if anyone would like to donate in a sort of sponsorship for the Readathon. Even if donating is not in the cards for you at this time, take a look at their website; it is a fascinating charity doing some great work. I am convinced of the power of the written word to facilitate wellness in all aspects of our lives, as evidenced by my own small business (Four Rooms Creative Self Care) and feel that Literature for Life is putting these kinds of notions into action powerfully and successfully.

I'm sure I'll think of more wonderful things about October as the month progresses, and will share them with you along with, as always, a few overdue reviews of some great books I've been reading.