Friday, August 29, 2008

I am back from California. It was very sunny, and frankly I'm glad to get back to the cloudy Seattle weather.

I discovered in the course of the trip, much to my delight, that reading in cars no longer makes me ill. Accordingly, I finished Le Ballon Rouge and The Pursuit of Love. The Pursuit of Love was excellent travel reading, as it didn't require too much work but was invariably fun, wonderfully anecdotal, and besides, rather interesting characterwise. Now I've got to read Love in a Cold Climate, as I have them both compiled in one book. I've started it, and so far I'm not sure I like it quite so well, but it may simply take a while to get into it.

Incredibly, I only bought one book in the course of the trip, and it wasn't even in a used bookstore, and it was on the very last day. The Story of French, by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow. I started reading it in the car on the last stretch home, and it looks like it'll be really very interesting. I love historical linguistics, and that's a lot of what this is, so I'm sure I'll enjoy it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


So, I made one last trip to Couth Buzzard yesterday, since they were having a bit of a closing party. Bought Edda (Snorri Sturluson), The Girl at the Lion D'Or (Sebastian Faulks), and Costume Throughout the Ages (Mary Evans).

Friday we're leaving on a road trip to Oregon and California, and I don't imagine I'll be doing much reading while there, so it'll be a while before I post again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Flowers are blooming

It's been a while since I posted, but I have been busy. Doing what, I couldn't exactly say, but there you are.

I finished reading The Enchanted April. It was a rather charming book, though I think it could have used a better editor, and though it has elements of contrivedness it was still really very good. It was tremendously well described, and made picturing everything very easy--except for the gardens, which I can picture but don't feel like I've got quite right. That's probably because I've never been to Italy.

This really was a perfect morning to finish reading this book. It was bright and sunny when I got up, and I got to wear summery clothes, and ride the bus to work in the sun. I kept noticing flowers blooming everywhere.

My next book will have to be Pencillings, since I have that from the library and it's pretty short. After that it'll be either The Pursuit of Love or Villette, since I am determined to do something about that stack of books I bought. I should also reread at some point Jane Eyre, so that I can write a scholarship essay about it.

Apart from the reading, I started editing my novel, just about finished my summer internship at the Seattle Children's Theatre, and have been doing lots of research on college. I'm looking forward to having a couple of days off.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Booking Through Thursday---on a Thursday!

Here is today's Booking Through Thursday:

Are there any particular worlds in books where you’d like to live?
Or where you certainly would NOT want to live?
What about authors? If you were a character, who would you trust to write your life?

I'd very much like to live in the Villa San Girolamo in The English Patient. I could do without the mines all over, but the room the English patient lives in sounds wonderful, and the fact that it's all crumbling would just make it better--it would be a bit like living in the past, but with present, living flowers all around you. The world outside the villa, however, not so much. And in reality, of course, I might not like it so much. But for a visit that would be great.

The Oxford of To Say Nothing of the Dog I'd also be pretty keen on, because what's better than living in Oxford and being able to time travel?

I can't actually think of a place in a book that I would really not want to live, although I'm sure such a place is out there. I think I probably avoid books that are about places that I would not for any reason want to live in. There are lots of books that I would not actually want to live in even if there are appealing bits of them, but none that sound wholly unpleasant.

As for an author who I'd like to write my life--overall, I think Pamela Dean could do a creditable job of it, but that's mostly because I like her writing so much. I think if we're talking about my life at present and somebody writing a novel about me as I am now, I'd like Eva Rice to have a go at it. She wrote The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, which was a great book, with a main character who is about my age, and which captures incredibly well being that age. Something in that book, though none of the events or the settings or anything much about it resembles my life, something really reminded me of myself.

Not much to speak of

So, I finished The English Patient a couple days ago, and it was lovely. It has added to my interest in World War II England an interest in Italy and North Africa of the same era.

I have now moved on to The Enchanted April, which is a pretty little book but not terribly striking, especially as I've already seen the movie and the movie doesn't appear to have changed much. I think now that they've got to Italy it might be more interesting, certainly in terms of the descriptions. It just occurred to me this is the second book in a row I've read that's set in Italy.

At present I am attempting to do some reading and some writing in order to get my novel out of my head so that I can start editing it. I've started a list of things that I already know need writing or adding in or expanding upon or changing, and I'm sure a rereading of it will just add more things to my list. But I'm really looking forward to my editing. I'm attempting to write some short stories in the meantime, but I find short stories way more difficult to write than novels, at least in first draft, and way more difficult to come up with plots for. But I would like to get better at them. I'm looking forward to reading Katherine Mansfield's Stories, since I don't read a lot of short stories and it's probably a helpful thing to do in preparation for writing them.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Books purchased

So, a day later than intended, here are my purchases yesterday at Couth Buzzard.

Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham (J.R.R. Tolkien), The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate (Nancy Mitford), The Enchanted April (Elizabeth von Armin), Wives and Daughters (Elizabeth Gaskell), Stories (Katherine Mansfield), Villette (Charlotte Bronte).

The Nancy Mitford one has been on my to read list for a while, as was Katherine Mansfield, and partially The Enchanted April (I was looking for Elizabeth and her German Garden, but I saw the film of this one a while ago and have been vaguely meaning to read it). I already own Farmer Giles, but not Smith, and it's such a neat little copy of it. Wives and Daughters I've read already and just thought I ought to have, and Villette I definitely want to read, since I love Jane Eyre and I think I've heard people say they like this one even better.

I'm almost done with The English Patient (and loving it), so once I'm finished with it I'll head on to this lot.

In other news, I finished my novel today.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Couth Buzzard

Well, as the much-loved Couth Buzzard Used Book shop up the street is going out of business and has things on sale, I have plans today of taking a trip up there and seeing what's for sale. We've had trade there for years, and are slowly pecking away at it (there was more than 100 dollars there to begin with, now I think we're down to about 40), although I don't think we'll have got through it all by the time they close. It's a bookshop I spent my childhood in, and slowly I have progressed from the children's book section through the fantasy section, onto the classics, poetry, litcrit, and fiction sections. They used to have a pet canary. I'm very sad they're leaving.

Anyway, I intend to write up my To Read list and take that up there, although it's the sort of bookstore that's better for unexpected gems than for specific goals.

I shall post a record of my purchases when I return.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The books of 2007

This is mostly for my own reference purposes, but here is a list of all the books I read in 2007.

Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne Brontë)
The Playmaker (Thomas Keneally)
Chocolat (Joanne Harris)
The Eyre Affair (Jasper Fforde)
Some Tame Gazelle (Barbara Pym)
The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)
The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield)
Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
Good Omens (Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman)
Codex (Lev Grossman)
Which Brings Me to You: A Novel in Confessions (Steve Almond and Julianna Baggott)
The Mao Game (Joshua Miller)
Gods Behaving Badly (Marie Phillips)
These Three Remain (Pamela Aidan)
Bridget Jones's Diary (Helen Fielding)
The Devil Wears Prada (Lauren Weisberger)
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (Helen Fielding)
Shoe Addicts Anonymous (Beth Harbison)
Tam Lin (Pamela Dean)
Thomas the Rhymer (Ellen Kushner)

Children's Books/YA Books
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood (Ann Brashares)
Carrie’s War (Nina Bawden)
Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
Tithe (Holly Black)
Pure Dead Trouble (Debi Gliori)
Love Rules (Dandi Daley Mackall)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)
The Railway Children (E. Nesbit)
The Slippery Map (N.E. Bode)
The Secret Country (Pamela Dean)

The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)
The Tempest (Shakespeare)
The Recruiting Officer (George Farquhar)
Our Country's Good (Timberlake Wertenbaker)
As Bees in Honey Drown (Douglas Carter Beane)
Over the Checkerboard (Fred Carmichael)
Twelfth Night (Shakespeare)

The Professor and the Madman (Simon Winchester)
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (Anne Fadiman)
Letters to a Young Poet (Rainer Maria Rilke)
No Plot? No Problem! (Chris Baty)
Rereadings (ed. Anne Fadiman)
The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the
Oxford English Dictionary (Gilliver, Marshall, Weinver)

Selected Poems (T.S. Eliot)
Poems (John Keats)
Renascence and Other Poems (Edna
St. Vincent Millay)
Wessex Poems and Other Verses (Thomas Hardy)

Booking Through Thursday, one day late

Here's yesterday's Booking Through Thursday.

What are your favourite final sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its last sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the last line?

Well, there are a lot of books that I have favourite beginning lines from--Daniel Deronda, The Tennant of Wildfell Hall, and beginning lines tend to be the better known (maybe because so many people get that far in the classics, but not all the way to the last lines). But I am a total sucker for a good last line, especially in my own writing. I strive to end on something neat and tidy, that says something either witty or meaningful. It tends to wind up curtailing some of my scenes, though I try to avoid that, simply because I can't resist ending the scene on such a good line. I really liked the last line of North and South (which I won't give away), but I can't say it was that memorable--I just looked it up so I would remember what it was I liked about it.

So I guess I really can't say that there's a book that I remember especially for it's last line.


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