Saturday, April 18, 2009

Read-a-thon: Hour 13

Responding to Dewey's mid-event survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

I'm currently working on Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America and Drood (historical fiction featuring Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins).

2. How many books have you read so far?

Maybe two if you add up Death's Daughter plus fragments of three more.

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

Drood is the most promising, though I don't think I'll finish as it's quite long.

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

No, in fact, I didn't know about this until yesterday, so I'm doing my best without disrupting my family's plans.

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

Frequent. At one point, my husband took our 4-year-old to the park so the house would be quiet for me.

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

That west coast readers would be willing to wake up by 5 a.m.? :)

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

This is my first. I can't participate fully for a couple reasons, but I'm just happy to take part in any way.

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

Hmm . . . I'd plan to get more sleep in the days leading up to the read-a-thon.

9. Are you getting tired yet?

I've been tired for 5 years! :) Seriously . . . I was already tired when I woke up from having little sleep two nights in a row. I'm not burned out on reading at this point, but I doubt I'll be able to stay awake past midnight.

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?

I'm fairly laid-back, so I do best with 20% planning and 80% winging it. I didn't feel like reading another chapter of my history book just yet, so I started a historical fiction novel that sounded intriguing.

Read-a-thon: Hour 11

I finished Death's Daughter an hour ago before taking time off for lunch (reading fuel: banana-PB-chocolate-hemp smoothie) and chatting about this evening's dinner and movie plans.

I'm now reading Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America. I read a really good review for it many months ago (I forget where now) and had been far back in the library queue until a dear friend gifted the book to me. I only read a half chapter earlier in the week because I needed to (try to) finish my book group's selection by discussion night yesterday. Now I've finished the first (of thirteen) chapters, on Of Plymouth Plantation, which claims that much of what we know of the Pilgrims came from Bradford's text, which had been quoted from but the full text had been long lost before being rediscovered in an old book shop in Victorian England.

I have two more hours of reading before going out for the evening.
Read-a-thon: Hour 9

I didn't know if I'd switch books hourly, but I don't want to start anything else until I finish Death's Daughter. I'm only 80 pages from finishing now, so I might be able to finish before DH and DD return from the park. After that, I'm breaking for lunch before starting something new.

I haven't kept a tally of how many minutes/hours I've read, but it looks like I've read maybe 350 pages today between DD and the end of To Say Nothing of the Dog - probably the most I've read in a single day in 2009 so far.

Drood is still planned for today, but it's so long I won't finish. I may switch between Drood and All Other Nights (an in-progress Dara Horn ARC I need to review).
Read-a-thon: Hour 7

I'm now 100+ pages into Death's Daughter, so I'm now in the thick of the plot. It turned out to be a really good choice for today as it boosts my spirits.

My husband and daughter just left for the park for a couple hours, so I'll be able to focus in silence (assuming the cat's done puking for the day). I just heard about the challenge starting yesterday, so we already had plans for this evening (adults' night out while the munchkin goes to a kiddie event), so there will be no reading from 5:30-10:30. When we return, I'll decide whether to call it a day for the read-a-thon or whether I want to stay up to read more.
Read-a-thon: Hour 6

I took a short break to make a large mug of golden chai before starting Death's Daughter. It sounded fun from the description, but I wasn't prepared for how funny it is - Calliope cracks me up. I'm eager to find out what happens next!
Read-a-thon: Hour 5

Since I got a late start, I've only been reading for an hour.

I just finished To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. My general weariness fit in perfectly with the characters' time travel-lag symptoms. I may read it again one day, but somewhat more immediately, it makes me wants to dip into 1930s mysteries.

Next up is Amber Benson's Death's Daughter, her first solo novel (I got a signed copy at Mysterious Galaxy). It sounds like a fun read.
Read-a-thon: Hour 1

* Where are you reading from today?

I'm in San Diego, where the forecast calls for lots of sun and a high of 74 (clearly a day to stay inside reading).

* 3 facts about me …

1. I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 4-year-old, so I won't be able to do the full 24 hours, but I'll try for 8+ (at least my husband is home).

2. I've had ~8 hours of sleep in the past 2 nights combined.

3. I'm obsessed with LibraryThing.

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

I'm somewhat playing it by ear, but I'd like to finish To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (which I was meant to have finished for book club last night). Books I'd like to start are Drood by Dan Simmons, and Death's Daughter by Amber Benson.

* 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)?

I'll try for 8 hours, but no promises. :) I hope to enjoy myself most of all!

It's 7:30 a.m. in California, and I'm off to start now (better late than never). I'll post updates to my Twitter account.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ida B
Katherine Hannigan

To the amusingly eccentric, 4th-grade, eponymous heroine, the trees in her family's apple orchard make for interesting conversation partners:

Now, some people might stop me right there and say, "Ida B, you could wait for eternity and a day and you're not going to hear one of those trees talking to you, let alone a brook. Trees don't have mouths, and they don't speak, and you might want to take yourself to the doctor's and get a very thorough check-up real soon."

And after I took a minute to give my patience and forbearance a chance to recover my mouth from the rudeness that was itching to jump out of it, I would just say this: "There's more than one way to tell each other things, and there's more than one way to listen, too. And if you've never heard a tree telling you something, then I'd say you don't really know how to listen just yet. But I'd be happy to give you a few pointers sometime."
Near the end of the book, I repeated to myself resolutely, "Not going to cry. Not going to cry." After one tear slipped out, I thought, "just one tear isn't really crying." Then another . . . Ida B wasn't sappy, just moving in its wonder and honesty; I'll have to keep it in mind to suggest to my daughter when she's older.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

On Chesil Beach
Ian McEwan

SPOILER! What follows is the book's final paragraph. It was so beautifully written and made such an emotional impression on me that I was compelled to include it. On Chesil Beach has rattled about in my head since I read it, and I would heartily recommend it to someone who would like to experience McEwan but is wary of committing to Atonement or Saturday.




When he thought of her, it rather amazed him, that he had let that girl with her violin go. Now, of course, he saw that her self-effacing proposal was quite irrelevant. All she had needed was the certainty of his love, and his reassurance that there was no hurry when a lifetime lay ahead of them. Love and patience - if only he had had them both at once - would surely have seen them both through. And then what unborn children might have had their chances, what young girl with a headband might have become his loved familiar? This is how the entire course of a life can be changed - by doing nothing. On Chesil Beach he could have called out to Florence, he could have gone after her. He did not know, or would not have cared to know, that as she ran away from him, certain in her distress that she was about to lose him, she had never loved him more, or more hopelessly, and that the sound of his voice would have been a deliverance, and she would have turned back. Instead, he stood in cold and righteous silence in the summer's dusk, watching her hurry along the shore, the sound of her difficult progress lost to the breaking of small waves, until she was a blurred, receding point against the immense straight road of shingle gleaming in the pallid light.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams

(This is a fresh post - I just read this book last week, in mid-April.)

Am I the last person or dolphin to read this book? Generally, the only fiction genre I enjoy is mystery, so unless I get a strong recommendation from someone, I tend to avoid science fiction, horror, romance, etc. Chris encouraged me to give Hitchhiker's a try recently and said that I'd know right off whether I should slam the book shut or read the whole series. (I'm currently reading a book of which it was said, "the first 300 pages are slow, but if you can trudge through them, it gets a lot better.") I really liked the book and already have the second on reserve.

We are told the poetry of the Vogons is among the worst in the universe (one such title: "Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning"). What made me chuckle was earthling Arthur's flattery in "theory" speak:
'Oh yes,' said Arthur, 'I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was particularly effective.'
[. . .]

'Oh . . . and, er . . . interesting rhythmic devices too,' continued Arthur, 'which seemed to counterpoint the . . . er . . . er . . . .' he floundered.

Ford leaped to his rescue, hazarding '. . . counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the . . . er . . .' He floundered too, but Arthur was ready again.

'. . . humanity of the . . .'

'Vogonity,' Ford hissed at him.

'Ah yes, Vogonity - sorry - of the poet's compassionate soul' - Arthur felt he was on a homestretch now - 'which contrives through the medium of the verse structure to sublimate this, transcend that, and come to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of the other' - he was reaching a triumphant crescendo - 'and one is left with a profound and vivid insight into . . . into . . . er . . .' (which suddenly gave out on him).

Ford leaped in with the coup de grace:
'Into whatever it was the poem was about!' he yelled.
Ah yes, "the other" - must-use babble for "theory is so hot!" grad students. (Not that years of literature studies have left me cynical or anything. . . .)