Monday, August 09, 2010

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? #13

Finally, finally, finally. I finished The Book Thief last night.

Sadly, sadly, sadly. I finished The Book Thief last night.

Finally because now I can crochet, read other books, surf blogs, write, play solitaire--all those things I deprived myself of after choosing to start a 535 page book with difficult typeface two days before it was due. On my sister's library card!

Sadly because there are no more pages to turn, no more fresh and startling metaphors and similes. No more Liesel and Rudy and their escapades. No more looking on breathless as 9yr old Liesel morphs from a terrified young girl who can't read into a child obsessed with words and books and eventually into a teenager who is able to write her own memoir. All this while living near Munich, Germany between 1939 and 1943 and witnessing the power of words and story to mold a people into a monstrous killing machine, tear apart families and friends and create an atmosphere of hate and fear and paranoia. During several of those years she helps her foster parents care for the young Jewish man they are hiding in their basement, the son of the man who had saved her Papa's life in the first world war.

Oh. Almost forgot I wasn't writing a book review here. :)

So. What's next?

Well, I currently have 22 books out between my sister's two library cards (Longview and Vancouver) 5 are novels of which I've read 2. Of the remaining 3, I'm passing on one because it isn't want I expected and I have to make choices. That leaves two novels, both chunky. One is available back home and the other isn't. Yet I'm choosing to start the one my home library has because I've been in queue for it for months and yet still won't get my turn before New Year's. Here, I put myself into a short queue for the large print edition of The Help by Kathryn Stockett before I left home and my turn came last week as I began The Book Thief. The 5th novel is The Book of Dave by Will Self, which our system doesn't have and it looks very interesting. But the font is going to challenge me. I will see where I am with The Help by next weekend before I decide whether to continue hoping to read it this trip. I would hate to start it and not finish and have to wait for another chance to get it the next time I visit my Mom.

My leave date has not been set yet but it will be by labor day weekend.

Of the 17 NF two are thread craft--Japanese Braiding and The Crochet Stitch Bible. The latter I've been checking out over and over at home since last summer but the first one isn't in our system tho I've been checking out a different one on the same craft repeatedly for months as well. I may learn one or two new stitches or stitch patterns to use on my new thread and I may attempt to start a braid sometime in the next two weeks but neither of those books needs to be read cover to cover before I leave.

Of the 15 remaining NF 5 I was reading at home and can get again just about whenever I want to as none are high demand. I may or may not be advancing my bookmarks any further while I'm here. For there are 10 NF which I can't get at home and 2 more waiting at the library for my sister to pick up. Those 2 are both about how to read and write about fiction and I'm hoping to get as much as possible out of them before I leave. They are older books and out of print but I've found them useful in the past. One of them is Robertson Davies' A Voice in the Attic which I first checked out while still living in Longview in the mid 90s.

Of the ten NF already at my side which I can't get in Phoenix there are seven which I will be focusing intensely on in the time I have left here:

The Art and Craft of the Short Story by the short story writer Rick DeMarinis

The Art of the short Story: 52 Great Authors, Their Best Short Fiction, and Their Insights on Writing. There are two sections that talk about the form and the craft of the short story with 52 stories sandwiched in between coupled with a short piece by its author. This looks like and Anthology/Textbook. I hope to at least read those fore and aft sections and maybe a few short stories. I am participating in the short story challenge after all.

Aladdin's Lamp: How Greek Science Came to Europe Through the Islamic World. I started this one last summer not long before my six month visit ended in June. I think I read a couple chapters but am not sure how far I actually got so I'm probably going to have to start over, skimming over the familiar paragraphs.

Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism by Dr. Temple Grandin and Sean Barron. Temple Grandin herself has a high-functioning form of autism. I've been reading her memoirs back at home but our system doesn't have this one and I really find it useful. I find social interaction mystifying and my anxiety issues are all rooted in an it so it is helpful on that level. But I'm finding it especially helpful in creating my fictional characters and the scenes when two or more are on stage at once and interacting. I think I would like to own this book as a writer's reference.

The Religious Case Against Belief by James P. Carse. His thesis stems from the significant difference between the meanings of belief and faith. They are not synonyms. I started this last summer and checked it out again during my January visit.

Believer, Beware: First-person Dispatches From the Margins of Faith. had this one checked out last summer and again in January as well. It's a collection of essays by individuals from many faith communities who have taken a different path from the one they were raised in.

Banquet at Delmonico's: Great Minds, the Gilded Age, and the Triumph of Evolution in America by Barry Werth. I have a good chance of finishing 1 to 3 of the above NF but I will be lucky to advance my bookmark in this one even one chapter past the introductory materials but I will plug away at it as best I can. This is a bit more dense than any of the other NF and the only one longer is the anthology/textbook on the short story. I've had this checked out while here both last summer and last January and only managed to browse in it. This time I hope to do more than that.

One of my favorite ways to learn about science (or anything else that intimidates me) is through a historical narrative whether of the particular discipline or discovery in general or a biography of a scientist responsible for significant discoveries. My first such book was a bio on Marie Currie which I read in 10th grade. This book is as enthralling as that was. Granted, the focus is directed more at the history of the spread and eventual acceptance of the concepts and theory developed by Darwin than on the theory itself but that is exactly where one of my abiding interests lies.

Having been raised a fundamentalist Christian I was indoctrinated to cringe with disgust and smirk with derision at the very mention of Darwin; to shake my head sadly at the poor benighted souls who succumb to the enchantment of a 'science' that puts man discovered 'fact' above God's Word or tremble with fear and anger at the thought of children being forced to study it. I purposely flunked a genetics class exam in 11th grade by refusing on principle to give the answer the teacher wanted because he had worded it such that my answering it correctly would imply assent. It was partly because of this F that my guidance councilor suggested that my longtime dream of becoming a child psychiatrist was not achievable as I showed no aptitude for science.

Since I took back my right to think for myself in 94 this has been one of the topics I've been trying to at least learn how to think about--not what to think just how to think. And to learn the history of the idea as well as the history of the conflict between the religious and secular thinkers over the idea--especially over the legitimacy of teaching the idea to children and teens.

It took me years to shed the intense anxiety triggered by even approaching the subject but now I enjoy reading about it. I still haven't settled on what to think about it other than I am adamantly in favor of everyone's freedom to think how and what they choose. Because, after all, once a president were set to curtail one groups right to think one way, all other groups would be in danger of having their right to think their way curtailed, including the group that 'won' their showdown with the suppressed group.

I don't know how much reading time I can actually count on this week. There is the visiting with family and the traveling to Vancouver to visit Jamie in rehab (post ICU not drug) and the desire to crochet with my new thread and the need to get on the mini-tramp and some major hints of the urge to write in my fiction files again and of course the blogging and the several projects and tasks associated with it including book reviews! Speaking of which, I hope to get the notes I need from The Book Thief for a review before I sleep as the book must go back tomorrow and I will likely not get my hands on a copy again for months.

2 tell me a story:

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