Goodbye, September and Hello, October

looking to October

Goodbye, September!

Highlights: This has been such a full month. The university was busy with students starting projects and papers. I love the library best when it is like this, busy… but busy in a fulfilling way.

I had so many events this month. The Decatur book festival and chance to hangout with Shannon and meet the ever-dapper Thomas in person, a date day with Sam in celebration of his birthday, Purity Ring concert with my friend Natasha, the first official meeting of the Young Democrats, lunches with friends and nights with knitters, and this past weekend a wonderful Welcome Autumn dinner with some good friends. At times I’ve felt so busy that I can hardly catch my breath, but it is a good busy. Yes, I am an introvert and I have been craving some peaceful time to write letters and read, but all of my busy days were filled with people close to my heart. You can’t get much better than that.

It wasn’t all hustle and bustle and excitement. Sam and I have been having regular dates on Friday and Saturday nights; these dates involve ice cream and watching an episode or two of Twin Peaks. I’ve taken to hiding on my lunch breaks to read. We’ve had loads of one-on-one time with the kids at the park or just watching them play at home. On the whole it has been really nice.

What I read: Well this is embarrassing. I only read one book in September. ONE BOOK. Of course that book was East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It was a chunkster and I had to take a break of about a week after reading it because no other book could quite live up to it. I am now five book behind in my GoodReads Challenge. Perhaps #15in31 and Readathon will help with that this month.

What I made: I spent a little more time in the kitchen this month, although not as much as I wanted. The first pumpkin spice baked good was made and consumed and I brought along some pumpkin baked beans to a dinner. I finished one baby blanket and I’m still working on my letter dishcloths.

Family Updates: Sam is busy with teaching and taking classes and tomorrow he takes the first two of his teacher exams. Hope has a new boyfriend and he is very nice. We had the dress code fallout that cost me a blog reader (cry me a bucket). After a dismissive email from the principal I wrote a letter to the superintendent. Still haven’t heard back. Atticus had only one minor blip, he told me didn’t want to do ballet after school. He wants to do ballet, but he said after school he wants to “put on jammies and play.” Oh my little introvert needs a recharge! We’ve moved him to an earlier afternoon class that he will start this week. His current hobbies include building forts and constructing elaborate fights between dragons, super heroes, and monsters. Persy Jane is suddenly busting out with complex sentences and a stubborn little will that is frustrating, amusing, and empowering all at once.

Hello, October!

Anticipating: I hadn’t anticipated that we would be starting the month out with a projectile vomiting toddler; we’re on day three and let’s hope it isn’t a nine-day stomach bug like last time.

I am anticipating quite a few things this month. First of all my work schedule changed. I’m back working every weekend, but on Sundays. I have the morning with the family and then go in later. This means that I have Fridays off to run errands (or read!) while the kids are in school. Also, Atticus won’t have to do afterschool which will save money and preserve family time. Oh yes, and there is a blissful regularity to my days.

October will also hold some fun events: a giant charity book sale, a day with my friend Catherine that includes seeing Of Monsters and Men, a date with Sam to watch the first Democratic debate with other liberals, a few days off for fall break, watching Crimson Peak with my friend Melissa, Readathon, an Art in the Park Bernie Sanders event, Atticus’s birthday, and Halloween. I’m also declaring October, Frocktober and plan to wear dresses as much as possible. Oh yes, and reading. Loads of reading plans.

My October TBR is ambitious (as usual), but I like to dream big:

  • In progress: The Quick by Lauren Owen, The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Tales by HP Lovecraft, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (audio).
  • Virago Project: Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
  • From my stacks: The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox
  • More audio: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
  • YA Series: Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City
  • Classic: The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins
  • Contemporary: Among Others by Jo Walton
  • Graphic Novels: The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde / Dark Horse Book of Hauntings / Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  • On my Kindle: This House is Haunted by John Boyne
  • Non-Fiction: Will Storr Vs. the Supernatural by Will Storr
  • A Re-read: The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield

Upcoming projects: Planning Atticus’s birthday party. We are going to do something different this year, but I’m saving that for another post. Halloween costumes. I really want to dress the kids as special agent Dale Cooper and the Log Lady from Twin Peaks, but they want to be Batman and a princess. Sigh. Also, I want to get from F to R on my alphabet washcloths. I have other things to knit and these are really so easy. I need to just do it.

Okay, October… I’m ready for you!

Readerly Rambles: 9 July 2015

readerly rambles
I am truly feeling a need to jump start my reading. I’m in a lag. My current read is phenomenal, The Children’s Book by A S Byatt, but it is a chunkster. It hasn’t proven great for the tiny pockets of reading I find each day. Work and kids mean that I have to relish in the 10 and 15 minute blocks of reading time just as much as a three hour long reading bender. This book draws me in and has a slow build. I just end up getting cranky when I have to put it down.
Nothing revitalizes my reading like making huge plans, drawing up mega lists of books and then start reading with wild abandon. Below are a few bookish events I’ll be participating in or, at the very least, I am planning on participating in (who knows where my whims will take me).
First off this weekend is the start of the 24 in 48 readathon. The goal is to read for 24 hours within a 48 hour time period. You all know I’m a cheater-cheater-pumpkin-eater so I’m going to go for reading for 12 hours during the event. It will be a huge uptick in my reading seeing as I think I read for 12 minutes last weekend. At the very least I hope to polish off The Children’s Book this weekend.
Next is the Shirley Jackson Reading week running from July 13th – July 18th. I’ll be reading The Bird’s Nest, listening to We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and possibly picking up one of Jackson’s memoirs.
A really great event that I’m not participating in is the Socratic Salon’s Alice in Wonderland discussion. The only reason I’m not participating is because I’ve decided I must purchase a beautiful copy and I’m on a book buying ban until September. I will be reading this in the autumn, but not right now. Their button for the event is so beautiful that I think everyone else should participated. Now.
Since I am itching to re-read a classic, I’ll be jumping on to a long-term Emma reading event. I can manage five chapters a week, right?
Let me know if you’re participating in any of the above events and throw some reading event recommendations my way. Happy Reading!

Two Reviews: The Lost Traveller by Antonia White and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

losttravThe Lost Traveller by Antonia White is a follow up novel to Frost in May. White changed her heroine’s name from Nanda to Clara and this odd quirk annoys me more than it should. The Lost Traveller follows Nanda/Clara’s life after leaving her Catholic school for financial reasons.

Throughout the novel Clara wishes for love, wrestles with religion, makes friends in her new school, forges an identity, tolerates her mother (she is awesome) and desperately tries to please her father (he’s an asshole). In short she is a teenager. The reader follows Clara on her search for meaning and purpose and eventually Clara settles on becoming a governess to a ten-year-old boy, Charles. Clara adores Charles and becomes friends with a soldier, Alfie, on leave.

Clara alternates between moodiness and elation, clear purpose and floundering for meaning. Her anxious self-analysis and yearning seem typical for a teenager. Also trapped in an adolescent-like reality are Clara’s parents. The Lost Traveller exposes the internal struggle each parent feels as they work through resolving their own identity and place in the world.

Writing about this novel is difficult. As far as subject matter and characters it was very much like an Elizabeth Taylor or Anita Brookner (dark, the internal struggle greater than outward strife, female characters, etc), BUT, the writing just falls a little flat for me. It took eons (hyperbole, duh) to make it through this book. I didn’t feel compelled to keep reading and I wasn’t invested in the characters. I felt as if White were telling me what was going on rather than experiencing it myself. Towards the end of the novel the writing feels stronger, but there are expanses of the story that feel like filler. I don’t mind if a writer puts in “extra stuff” for several pages to express mood and setting, but I’m going to need some beautiful writing. The writing was meh and made descriptions of farmhouses and dressing for dinner boring. Of course boredom means that shocking and exciting elements get a half-disinterested yawn. The poor writing and lack of a real build are most evident in both the mother and father’s various urges towards infidelity. It came out of nowhere, climaxed quickly and dissipated (and I am completely aware of the “that’s what she said-ness” of that description).

I’ll continue int he series, but this book was underwhelming and could have been effective in the hands of a better writer.

~~~ Stats ~~~

Started: 27 April 2015

Finished: 9 May 2015

Pages: 320

Challenges: Virago Project, Classics Club Spin

Owned/Borrowed/Library: owned
Stars: 3 out of 5 stars

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Gilman the yellow wallpaper book

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is one of the best stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. My favorite thing about this short story is that one *can* read it many different ways. In some respects it reminds me of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. While James intended for that story to be a ghost story many people have read it to be about insanity, female sexual oppression, or really evil little children.

In the same vein most reader’s see “The Yellow Wallpaper” as representative of female oppression during the author’s time. I suppose you could make a case for something paranormal to be happening, but I really feel that the figure in the yellow wallpaper is allegorical. I, however, have read this story two completely different ways.

Postpartum Depression: The narrator expresses that she misses her baby and that the baby is being cared for my someone else. She is also trapped in a nursery. In fact, in the Victorian era childbirth was thought to often be a “trigger” for insanity and some women were even institutionalized for insanity after giving birth.

This last reading of “The Yellow Wallpaper” has me thinking that this short story is really about domestic violence. The narrator’s husband keeps her child away from her, bars visitors, is away all the time yet monitors her every move, keeps her in an isolated area of the house, forbids her to write, tells others that she is insane, and gaslights her by repeatedly telling her she is ill. She must even keep the “freeing and escape” of the figure in the yellow wallpaper a secret. The most telling sentence for me that this is a thinly veiled story of domestic violence occurs after the narrator refuses for her to have guests because of her illness, “there is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down.” A page later, in talking about the wallpaper, “and it sticketh closer than a brother – they must have had perseverance as well as hatred.” The narrator feels trapped and sees everything around her as threatening violence. Only when “she” is nearly “free” does she feel in control. If you are doubtful that this story could be read as a tale of domestic violence, then read this about the signs of an abusive relationship. John has many of the traits of a abuser and our narrator has many traits of a victim.

(Note: If you enjoyed this story then I think you’d like The Victorian Chaise-Longue; it reminded me very much of “The Yellow Wallpaper”. Here is a link to my review.)

~~~ Stats ~~~

Started: 21 April 2015

Finished: 22 April 2015

Pages: 64

Challenges: Virago Project, Read-a-thon Read-along

Owned/Borrowed/Library: library copy
Stars: 5 out of 5 stars

#Readathon: Closing Meme


Which hour was most daunting for you? Hour 16. I finally had to go to sleep for a few hours. I woke five hours later and finished strong.
Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Peter and Max by Bill Willingham was great! Easy to read but with fantastic characters and a thrilling plot.
Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I think Read-a-thon is managed extremely well, but I feel like if Read-a-thon keeps growing there will be some real problems (like the lovely Andi and Heather feeling like they are in The Yellow Wallpaper). I don’t really have a suggestion for accomodating that growth, except I worry that spreading Read-a-thon over so many social media channels could stretch volunteers and lines of communication too thin.
What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? Praise be to the hashtag! I was mostly on Twitter and Instagram and it was so easy to find everyone.
How many books did you read? Three completed and one short story collection in progress. I didn’t read as much this year. I had to take frequent breaks because my glasses haven’t arrived yet. Blurry vision and headaches are no good.
What were the names of the books you read? Peter and Max by Bill Willingham, The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, and Fairest,v. 1: Wide Awake by BIll Willingham
Which book did you enjoy most? Fairest! I love some girl power in my graphic novel!
Which did you enjoy least? Honestly I enjoyed all of them! #winning
If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? Cheering on instagram was GREAT! So many young people participated! It was just the huge number of people made cheering feel a bit more like a chore. Not that I didn’t enjoy cheering, but I had to comment and go the next person. I didn’t have as much time to hang out and get to know new folks. That’s totally okay! One thing I DO NOT LIKE are the people who complain and are demanding. They whine about people not cheering them, or the number of cheers, and they are generally buzzkills. I honestly feel that folks honestly concerned with “where is my cheer” are there to gain clicks and visits. I love the idea of a more organic form of cheering. Like, pick a platform, look up the hashtag, and everyone cheer for each other. Pretty sure the cheer-haters didn’t volunteer in any capacity, so screw ’em. The more you put in to read-a-thon the more you get out of it.

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Duh. Read-a-thon or Die! I will always do read-a-thon work schedules and children allowing. Sign me up to participate in everything: mini-challenge, co-host, and cheering!

#Readathon: Mid-event Survey!

1. What are you reading right now? Peter and Max by Bill Willingham!
2. How many books have you read so far? one graphic novel. I’m also midway through a short story collection. I’ve done a ton of social media and cheering! The chat on “The Yellow Wallpaper” was awesome! I think read-a-thon gets better each time.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I actually have no idea. I might go with more graphic novels.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? YES. The two-year old was well-behaved and played quietly. One half-hour whine fest from the four-year old before bed and then one epic teen meltdown. All is well now. Let’s just say prom season can be rough.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? That there are folks who complain about a free event that is run completely by volunteers. Let’s all be kind and patient, m’kay?

Update time! Don’t forget you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and GoodReads!

Pages Read: 324

Currently Reading: Dipping into Peter and Max

Books Finished: 1 (Fairest, v.1 – Wide Awake by Bill Willingham)

What’s Up Next: Hubs is making a frozen pizza since our kids ate ALL THE PASTA at dinner tonight. Reading, tweeting, cheering.

Snacks Eaten: Tofu stir-fry for lunch, chips and dip, coffee, water, a wee bit of pasta and green beans

Mini-challenges completed? 2 (Opening Meme, Classic Words of Wisdom)

Miscellaneous info and oddities: My mini-challenge! 

Picture of the Hour:

11182030_671791014645_1084583490129849174_nPersy Jane is wearing a Read-a-thon appropriate tee!

Mini-Challenge: Bookish Brews


First off, no… that is not my Read-a-thon stack, but it does contain my two favorite things: Coffee and Books (okay, three… I really like owls). Right now we are in the thick of Read-a-thon and I know you all are reaching for some sort of caffeinated goodness. If not, you’re a robot. I’m going to make this challenge really quick and easy:

-snap a picture of your current beverage of choice AND your current read
-post it to your platform of choice (Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, blog, etc)
-use the hashtags #bookishbrews AND #readathon
-leave a link to your picture post in the comments section

You must follow these instructions precisely to win!

At the end of the mini-challenge I will randomly pick a winner for a Starbucks gift card.

Get to percolatin’!

#Readathon: Hour 4 Update!

Update time! Don’t forget you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and GoodReads!

Pages Read: 178

Currently Reading: Dipping into The Virago Book of Fairy Tales

Books Finished: 1 (Fairest, v.1 – Wide Awake by Bill Willingham)

What’s Up Next: More fairy tales and starting Peter and Max

Snacks Eaten: Clif bar for breakfast, 3 cups of coffee, water, Mr. Goodbar

Mini-challenges completed? 2 (Opening Meme, Classic Words of Wisdom)

Miscellaneous info and oddities: I’m getting ready to co-host for a few hours, find me over at!

Illustration of the Hour:

From the Virago Book of Fairy Tales, v.1