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Readerly Rambles: Looking to 2015 and the TBR Challenge

readerly rambles

Heavens to Betsy, it is after 10am and I’ve been intending on blogging all morning. I’m on my third cup of coffee, so I suppose I am finally caffeinated enough to write something. First a brief word on this year’s reading. I’m three books away from meeting my goal of 40 books in 2014. My original goal was to read 50 books, but then I decided to be realistic. This has been my year of chunksters equally a high page count despite the low “book” numbers. Whatev. I plan on finishing The Luminaries and then reading a short Christmas novella and a short non-fiction book. Boom. Done. Now onto 2015.

I’ve considered signing up for some reading challenges and there are some fantastic ones out there, but I will have to pass. I’m going to do Adam’s TBR challenge, but that book list is coming straight from my Virago Project list. Instead I’m going to focus on readalongs, monthly events, and other short-term “challenges.”

And now for my 2015 TBR List!

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  1. The Semi-Attached Couple and the Semi-Detatched House by Emily Eden
  2. Frost in May by Antonia White
  3. Mr. Fortune’s Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  4. The True Heart by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  5. Letty Fox: Her Luck by Christina Stead
  6. For Love Alone by Christina Stead
  7. Precious Bane by Mary Webb
  8. The Holiday by Stevie Smith
  9. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
  10. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley
  11. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
  12. A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse
  13. (alternate) The Lacquer Lady by F. Tennyson Jesse
  14. (alternate) Gone to Earth by Mary Webb

I am excited about the 2015 reading year!

5 Things I Loved About This Week: 13 December 2014

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I had no intentions of disappearing for over a week. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that this week has been so many shades of marvelous. Although my intention was to blog, my first week of stay-cation was so busy. There was Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, addressing cards, social engagements, coffee with friends, crocheting, baking, and a wee bit of reading. I even managed a date night with Sam and getting some sleep. In light of my wonderful week, I decided to nix a weekend cooking post and instead celebrate the week. I haven’t done a celebrate post in quite awhile. Here we go…

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The week started out truly wonderful. On Sunday Sam and I were the receipents of an act of kindness. I won’t say a random act of kindness because this was completely God working through some dear people. I don’t want to go into too many details, but suffice it to say that we have been filled with warm Christmas fuzzies. YES, even my metal husband has Christmas cheer although his doesn’t take the form of singning Christmas songs loudly, poorly, and at all hours.

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Sunday night we bundled up the kids and saw the Christmas parade. It was nice walking around and seeing all the holiday lights afterwards. Not even Persy pitching a royal tantrum because we didn’t chase down Olaf could dampen our spirits.

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The family time has been nice, but I’ve also enjoyed the kids being at daycare during the day. Sorry, kiddos. Mama is being honest. I finished up holiday shopping and then I’ve had loads of introvert time. I’ve read and finished TWO crocheted cowls. It has been nice to sit, let the quiet envelop me, and think. I’m a better and more patient parent for taking time to think and be still.

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I’ve spent a lot of time at my favorite haunt: Inman Perk Coffee. This coffee shop opend the same month I began dating Sam in 2008. Nearly all of our courtship took place at the Perk, and baby showers, and meeting new friends. This week I’ve sat alone in a cozy chair by the Christmas tree reading, I’ve hung out on the couch crocheting and chatting, and I even spent time with Sam talking and laughing. And, of course, I’ve been enjoying their delicious coffee while I’m at it.

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Lastly, I’d like to celebrate this guy. I love him so much. We’ve had a wonderful week together and we even managed a last minute date last night (DESPITE Persy waking up with pink eye yesterday morning).

Yes, this has been a very good week with lots to celebrate. Now to go get ready for a holiday party; tis the season!

Thursday Thoughts: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

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I’m taking a fifteen minute break to pop and say hi, “HI!”. I’ve been working teen hour days this week to try to wrap some stuff up. Interlibrary loan is typically quiet this time of year as we are in finals week, but for some reason it is insanely busy. INSANE. It looks like another full day tomorrow and then I’m off until the next Friday when I have a four hour meeting.

I hit the ten years of employment mark this August and that means I get 21 paid vacation days in addition to my holiday time and sick leave. I’m slap broke so travel vacations are out. Instead I’m taking some time off work and I’m going to be an awful parent (sarcasm) and let the kids go to daycare for the next two weeks while I act like an indulgent, spoiled Real Housewife of Gainesville, Georgia. I plan on doing insanely decadent things like sleeping, reading, writing Christmas cards, and putting together Lord of the Rings LEGO sets (don’t judge).

This week of work has been busy and stressful, but knowing that I am so. stinking. close. to curling up with books and drinking pot after pot of coffee. I’m also a little nervous because each time I take vacation leave to be a bum some child ends up with a terrible illness. Please, PLEASE, let mommy have a few days. PLEASE.

If all goes smoothly and the kids stay well and the house doesn’t burn down and the stars align properly then it will be a marvelous start to the holiday season.

Of course, this means a list is in order. You knew I’d make a list, right?

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Engage, make it so….

Works in Progress: 3 December 2014

Tis the season for making, baking, cooking, and being merry. Let’s jump right in!

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I made seitan for the first time this Thanksgiving. It tasted good and wasn’t as complicated as I thought, but I actually think I prefer mock meat-like stuff either in something, like a stew or casserole, or not at all. I think next year we will have some lovely stuffed squash instead.

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I wrapped all the kids gifts. I have one left for Hope and then the homemade thing I am making for Atticus. I find that discussing the nitty gritty of gift buying for kids seems taboo. I may do a post after Christmas on how much we spend, how we shop, and what we decide to buy. Would that be interesting or boring/weird?

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Christmas cards are underway! I also have my bake list figured and my secret santa swap stuff went out today.

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Here are the beginnings of Atticus’s blanket. I’m much further along now with it. Maybe it will be done by Christmas?

That’s what’s up at my Christmas village, let me know what holiday projects are underway in your neck of the woods!

#AMonthofFaves: Five on a Theme – Unreliable Narrators!

amonthoffavesThis month Estella’s Revenge, Girlxoxo, and Traveling with T are hosting a month of bookish – and sometimes not – favorites. Check out this intro post to learn more. Today it is five on a theme and I’ve chosen to talk about my favorite books with unreliable narrators.

The Ripley novels by Patricia Highsmith

Talk about a mindbender! The reader is completely aware that Tom Ripley is a sociopathic serial killer but the way it is written makes the reader sympathize with Ripley. I found myself thinking, “oh you need to brutally murder that person who annoyed you.” Ripley’s self-absorbed, narcissistic narrative voice is so strong that even gnarly murders seem okay. This certainly the character that is not only unreliable, but he makes you not care that he is unreliable.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

This one isn’t quite about an unreliable narrator, rather the reader can see how Esther Greenwood narrates her half-truths to others while she is battling mental illness. We’re all kinda “in” on her unreliable narrating of her life.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Oh Em Gee what a ride. I really cannot say much with out completely spoiling the plot, but TRUST NO ONE.

Pretty much anything written by Shirley Jackson

I was going to go with my favorite, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but truly almost any book or story by Jackson is narrated by an unreliable narrator. Some times it is a criminal (Castle), some times it is madness (Hangsaman) and some times it is paranormal influence (Haunting of Hill House).

Villette by Charlotte Bronte

Not all books with unreliable narrators are filled with nefarious plots. Lucy Snowe’s keeps her self closed off from the people in her life (a paltry few people) but she also keeps her secrets from the reader. She withholds information only informing the reader of what she told people and this heroine certainly guards her heart. The reader is left wandering who the real Lucy is and if anyone can really get to know her. I feel like this description doesn’t do her justice, think of her as a Jane Eyre who is a bit more cynical and private with her emotions.

 

I would love some unreliable narrator book recommendations. Throw ‘em at me!

#AMonthofFaves: An Introduction

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This month Estella’s Revenge, Girlxoxo, and Traveling with T are hosting a month of bookish – and sometimes not – favorites. Check out this intro post to learn more. The task for today is to introduce our reading year. How has this year “shaped up” and a basic snapshot of our year in reading.

If you look at straight up numbers my reading year has been dismal. My original GoodReads goal of reading 50 books was soon ditched for the far more realistic 40 books. Looks can be deceiving; although my numbers are low I have read so. many. chunksters. I’ve read five books well over 500 pages — Middlemarch, The Woman in White, Alias Grace, A Game of Thrones, and Doctor Thorne — and when I finish Framley Parsonage that will be six chunksters in the bag. I’ve also read ten classics which, if I make it to 40 books read and read the other classics on the docket for the month, will be about a third of my reading for the year.

I have to remember that my life is in a different season right now and it is not a reading intense series. This year we’ve endured two bouts of the kids having a stomach flu of lasting over the week, I’ve had strep throat four times, Sam switched jobs and ramped up his college courses, and we moved amidst less than ideal circumstances. Life has been busy.

I think I have successfully met my goal of making this year a year infused with the written word despite my low numbers. I wanted to write in addition to read and I’ve done that. Nanowrimo didn’t happen but I’ve written more letters, journaled with more depth, and my blog writing has been more consistent. Mischief managed.

I have decided that I am not an e-reader fan. While useful for traveling and late nights with the kids I find my attention wanders with e-readers and I don’t have the same rich reading experience. I’m certainly an old fashioned girl when it comes to books. Having said that I am no longer purchasing electronic books DESPITE the cheap-o deals. I use the app on my Android WAY more than my actual Kindle as it makes reading easier for when I am stuck. I always have my phone, but I don’t bother to carry the Kindle. Long live the printed word!

 

A Rotten Time

I’m having a rotten time right now, so I thought I’d whine on my blog. I tried talking to Sam and he just rolls his eyes and explains to me that I need to not worry about everything.

I’m being grumpy so don’t judge him. I probably need for someone to tell me to shut up, but you all are far away and reading this with your eyes and I won’t really hear you until later when I read comments. Randomly screaming at the screen from where you are will not impact me in the slightest.

First, a disclaimer. I am woefully sensitive. Horribly sensitive. As much as I pride myself on being an individual and having strong beliefs, I also want people to like me. Please. I want approval and love and friendship and kindness. I crave it. So along with my firm beliefs and weird quirks I’m super sensitive and crave affection. I’m too much. My mom told me when I was little that I was tenderhearted. I will give you everything I own, if I think someone is wronging you I will brainlessly jump into the fray to standup for you. I cry when I drive behind chicken trucks. I cry when I watch the news. I cry when I hear about someone hurting.

The truth: I don’t want anyone to hurt. EVER. Animals, babies, kids, people, strangers. The poor, the sick, the disenfranchised, people who don’t have an advocate. Aching, I wish and look for ways to help. I want to help. Honestly. Prayer, donating, volunteering, and working to instill values in my kids to be “helpers” is how I cope with the horrible realization that I am helpless to help everyone.

Now I do have a sharp tongue and more than enough snark. I do my best to save this for folks who “deserve it.” In other words, if you are mean to my friends, or kick a cat, or say something homophobic/racist/sexist/hateful then I will unleash the full wrath of my tongue. I will Oscar Wilde your ass so quick you won’t know what hit you.

Let’s recap:

1. I want to stand-up and speak my mind for what is right and to protect people who need love and support (like, everyone).

2. I want to be loved and accepted.

Can you see how these two can clash? How sometimes doing one thing sacrifices another. In the past week I’ve had the following things happen:

  • I was called a name by someone I loved. It wasn’t totally unwarranted, but it hurt a lot because I thought that person was a safe person.
  • I had a lady grab my shoulder and embarrass me in the middle of church because I was crocheting. Let me just say that this is a blue jean-wearing, coffee-drinking, rock-music playing church.
  • Crochet lady then proceeded to email and facebook folks to apologize, but not really, saying her teen was staring at my yarn and she didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. I was embarrassed for more people knowing the details of the situation, but then more embarrassed that she was right: I was hurt and humiliated. All those eyes staring at me and the debilitating sense that I’d screwed up made me cry. Cry in the middle of church.
  • I’ve been mocked about being vegetarian to the point of annoyance. No, we didn’t have a turkey and guess what? No one starved. I know folks are joking, but it was ALL THE TIME.
  • I happened to disagree with the way our justice system worked (or didn’t work) in regards to the murder of Mike Brown. You can tell how I feel about it by my labeling it murder (because it was). I’m not going into the entire argument, but by posting two or three articles and expressing my sadness at a life ended I have become disgusted with several members of my church and alienated my child’s teacher at school. I was upset with church people making comments that “ISIS could clean up the streets,” that bricks were gift cards, and one person even wrote about “those people they be shooting up they town” (his words, totally). My kid’s teacher called me a racist against whites and made sure to tell me I’m ignorant at least a half-dozen times. Then another parent at the school piped up with tales of how black people really do commit more crimes… violent ones!!! I expressed my desire to remove Atticus from daycare so he won’t have a racist teacher next year and then I was told that I was stepping over a line. What. The. Hell?

Crying. I’m doing a lot of crying, because the world is broken and hurt and no one — even the people who are supposed to feel that hurt more acutely (teachers, cops, church folks) — cares that others are hurting. No one loves without malice. No one is willing to put their necks out for others. I did. And I wish I could say it felt good, but it just feels lonely. I’m lonely, angry, and deeply hurt.

So that’s my post-Thanksgiving post. I’m deleting Facebook after the holidays, I’m resigning a volunteer position at church, and I’m holded up in my Christmas decorated apartment, crying over dead young men, and holding my own babies.

Hey, let’s try to be nice to each other.