24 Hours of Reading! Dewey’s #Readathon

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5am

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon officially begins, and I am still sleeping. My plans to get up early were derailed by one of my kids keeping me up talking until 12:30 last night. No matter. I’ll stay up longer at the end of day.

7:30am

The Readathon finally begins for me! I start with an audiobook of Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk as I get dressed, make coffee, drive one kid to her volunteer location, and grocery shop for readerly snacks and beverages. I’ve had this book on my TBR list for a while and I am not let down. The first 3 chapters are moving and beautiful. I tear up when she talks about her dad and laugh out loud when she remembers secretly praying the the Egyptian god Horus because he has the head of a hawk. Delightful.

Continue reading

2016 Challenge: 40 New Places In My 40th Year

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“I dwell in possibility…” -Emily Dickinson

Less than a week ago I turned 40. I have some mixed feelings about this. If you ask me how old I am my brain starts at 26 and I have to wind my way up through numbers until I reach the right one. I’m always a bit surprised how high it’s gotten. On the other hand, 4 is my lucky number, so I can only predict my 40s will be amazing. (Especially 44–watch out!)

The big question I had going into this birthday was how to properly celebrate this milestone year and kick off the new decade in the manner it deserved. Fast cars and hot young men (typical midlife crisis reactions) just aren’t my style. So I did some soul-searching about exactly what I wanted to bring into my life.

I think as we get older we tend to feel like we’ve seen almost everything. We start to feel that the world is a known entity. No longer is there a new adventure waiting for us at the beginning of every day. We have our routine, we fall into a rut, and we tell ourselves we like it, that it’s security.

What I want for my 40th year is to bring discovery and wonder to my life. I want to go outside of my known world, and feel once again that something new and exciting might be waiting around every corner! As Emily Dickinson put it best, I want to “dwell in possibility.” Not just metaphorically, but literally.

To that end, I gave myself the challenge of visiting 40 new places during my 40th year. These new places could be as extreme as going to a new state or (should I win the lottery) a new country, or as simple as eating exotic food at a restaurant I’ve never been to before. The only rule is that these new places should have the possibility for discovery and wonder. A new hamburger joint doesn’t count, an authentic Ethiopian restaurant does.

I’ve already started making a list of potential places, but I’m hoping many will crop up (in true “dwell in possibility” fashion) spur of the moment. Books, nature, and food have always been the first things to make me feel young and filled with wonder, so I hope to go on a good number of those types of adventures throughout the year.

40 new places in 52 weeks. I’ll be back to tell you all about it!

adventure

How To Spot A Book Lover

Book Lovers are dangerous people. Avid readers are like rabid creatures—we can’t see straight (usually because we have a book in front of our faces), we can’t walk straight (same reason), and we often drool or foam at the mouth (when a Really Good Part overpowers our swallow reflex). Luckily, keeping away from the book-toting-crazy-eyes should be easy… as long as you know what to look for.

It’s not difficult to spot a book lover, we avid readers give ourselves away in so many ways:

You can find us at parties perusing the bookshelves instead of hanging with the crowd.

Our go-to conversation starter is “So, what are you reading?” 

We bring books with us to the bank and supermarket (anywhere we might have to wait in line).

We don’t think of trees as beautiful things to photograph, draw, or even climb… they’re merely another place to sit and read for a spell. 

We don’t just walk, we biblioambulate.

We NEVER have enough bookshelves.

We wear T-shirts that say things like “Call me Ishmael”.

Keep in mind that Book Lovers are VERY DANGEROUS CREATURES. Be warned! Should you spot a Book Lover, generally the safest thing to do is to put as much distance between them and yourself as possible.

BUT…

For today, and for today only, because it is National Book Lovers Day, should you come across a Book Lover, you should go up to them, ask them what they’re reading, ask if they can recommend any books for you to read, and watch their faces light up with joy. You will have made their day.

Happy Book Lovers Day!!

A Fundamental Shift in How I Look at Literature

In the most recent issue of The Believer magazine there is an article by Colin Asher about writer Nelson Algren which states that “… every word Algren wrote was guided by the belief that writing can be literature only if intended as a challenge to authority.” I didn’t know much about Nelson Algren before this, but the article was very good, and it got me thinking about this idea that literature must challenge authority. My first reaction is to disagree. I believe that literature is complex and varied, and that putting parameters or limitations on our definition of it does the idea of literature—and ourselves as readers—a disservice. But. . .

. . . But then I started thinking about all the books and writing that I consider “literature” and I found that most of them DO challenge authority in one way or another, even those works that I consider the most tame. Pride and Prejudice challenges the social and economic conventions of the time. Lolita challenges the idea that a pedophile is a monster who can neither elicit nor deserve sympathy from the moral majority. The Hobbit challenges the assumption that the smallest and quietest among us can’t change the course of history. These are just a few examples, but the more I thought about it the more I began to convince myself that great literature does indeed pose a challenge, if not always to authority, then at least to the status quo.

I’m still not sure that I would agree with Algren’s purported belief that writing can only be literature if intended as a challenge to authority. What about non-fiction, beautifully written biographies, pieces of literature in which all the author wanted to do was write the truth? I don’t believe that writing has to be an act of revolution, or civil disobedience, in order to be literature. However, I’m not as sure, nor as quick to shoot down the assertion as I was. To be honest, I’m having more trouble than I thought coming up with examples of good literature that don’t support Algren’s belief.

I now can’t help but ask myself a question that could lead to a fundamental shift in the way I define literature: Can great literature be truly great literature if it doesn’t challenge our ideas about the world in which we live?

Five Resolutions, Kept and Failed, and One Great Poem


5 Resolutions Kept in 2013 (So Far)

1. Write every morning. Even if it’s only for an hour. Just sitting down and getting started leads to so much more productivity.
2. Schedule daily guilt-free reading time. Every afternoon I give myself at least an hour to not be a housekeeper, cook, wife, mother or business-owner; I let go of my responsibilities and find new aspects of myself in a book.
3. Eat better—If by “better” you mean richer and tastier. I’m currently reading Julia Child’s My Life in France, there’s no way you can read that book and be on a diet at the same time.
4. Drink less. Cocktail pounds are so frustrating. Happily, this has been an easy one so far.
5. Find one Great Poem per week. Well, it’s only been one week, so… check. You’ll find this week’s Great Poem below.

5 Failed Resolutions in 2013

1. Walk every day. I missed one day—ONE DAY—because of a Downton Abbey marathon. No regrets. It was totally worth it.
2. Finish one book before starting another. I think I’m going to have to give up on my idea of reading one book at a time. I have too many personalities to be a monogamous reader.
3. Say “yes” to the kids’ requests to play with them. Don’t get me wrong, I play with my kids, but I don’t think I can keep this resolution AND resolutions 1 and 2 (above) at the same time. I can say yes sometimes. It will just have to be enough.
4. Be more reliable on Twitter. Oh Twitter, why can’t you and I get along?
5. Clean a little bit of the house every day instead of going on a cleaning binge every two (or three, or four) weeks. Ha! Who was I kidding with this one?!

This week, while the kids have been off school and we’ve all meandered through in that residual “vacation” mode have been easy. It’s next week, when school, work, and after-school activities start up again that will be the real challenge. It’s easy to be a free spirit when your responsibilities are cut in half. Next week I go back to the writing/mother double-shift, and that’s when things get challenging.  Just the thought of it had me turning to Anne Sexton for comfort and commiseration, and it was in The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton that I found this week’s Great Poem:

Her Kind by Anne Sexton

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

The Passion is Back! Looking Back on December and Forward to 2013

Can the last month of 2012 be an indication of what’s to come in 2013? I hope so, because when it comes to books, December 2012 was my most satisfying–and hopeful–month in a long time. This wasn’t because I read the best books of the year during this month, but because this was the month when I found my passion for reading again. After too many months of reading ennui and halfhearted dips into chapters and verse, December found me falling once again down that literary rabbit hole; getting caught up (delightfully) once more in words and story. And I’m not ashamed to admit that it all started with Romance…

December Books Read

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
Unmaking Hunter Kennedy by Anne Eliot
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Malory Family Series by Johanna Lindsey
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells 
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

There’s no doubt about it, December is a BUSY time of year; and what with all the shopping, wrapping, traveling and socializing, it’s a month when most people find it difficult to really lose themselves in a book. December can be a difficult month to finish one book, let alone two or more! But for me, all the demands of December make it necessary to have an escape, someplace I can go to utterly lose myself when the stress gets too high, and that place, of course, is books.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, above, I had found it distressingly difficult to get excited about my reading in 2012. It’s not that I wasn’t reading good books, because I was (Gilgamesh, Dracula, Moby Dick) and it’s not that the books I was reading were too dense or metaphysical, because they weren’t (The Pilgrim Hawk, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid) it was just that somehow the passion was missing. I didn’t find myself falling into a reading worm-hole with any of my books, where the real world disappears and leaves me intimately alone with the story, the words, and the characters. Instead, most of my reading during 2012 took place with the physical world all to present in my consciousness. 

Along came December, with its many distractions and demands. I decided that December just wasn’t the time for serious reading; December was the time for easy reading, for fluff. One of the book blogs I follow had mentioned The Fine Art of Truth or Dare as a sweet but non-challenging Y/A novel and I thought “Maybe this is exactly what I need right now.” I was right. I started the book at lunchtime one day, and when I finished it 3 or 4 hours later I realized that my entire afternoon had flown by with nary a thought about the practical world. I had lost myself in the thrill, angst and crescendo of first love. Amazon’s recommendations led me from The Fine Art of Truth or Dare to The Unmaking of Hunter Kennedy; another Y/A novel, another story of thrill and angst and heart-palpitating first kisses. Again, I was lost in the story and the world around me went silent.

I had worried after those two books that maybe I was regressing in my reading needs, that I now needed that excitement and fluff and romance to feel passionate about a book. I was wrong. When I picked up The Time Machine, and then Fahrenheit 451 to read for my Rediscovering the Classics group I was again whisked out of my Southern California world and into the past, the future, and a disturbingly alternate present. Again my heart raced, my breath quickened, and my own life briefly ceased to exist… And this time it happened without a single young lover in sight.

The Mysterious Benedict Society seemed like the perfect book to read while I was baking cookies, planning parties, and Yule shopping for my two daughters–both strong-willed and independent, literary-minded young ladies. It was a great story for stopping and starting on a dime. Easy enough to put down in the middle of a paragraph when the oven timer went off, but compelling enough to tickle at the back of my mind, not letting me forget how much I wanted to know how it ended.

Johanna Lindsey and Nick Hornby came along at the same time–and two more strange literary bedfellows I really cannot imagine. Lindsey is top-notch bodice-ripping, bosom-heaving, historical fiction romance, while Nick Hornby is practically the spokesperson for the inhibited, romantically-averse, pop-culture loving modern male. How these two authors managed to complement each other I will never know, but complement each other they did. Hornby is one of my favorite contemporary authors. He has a unique ability to capture the beauty in the mundane. Every single one of Hornby’s books looks into the boring corners of our lives and makes them interesting and important. His books prove the old adage that “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making plans.” High Fidelity‘s main character Rob Fleming brought me into his life, showed me the dark corners and ugly neuroses, and still made me love him. While Hornby was shining a light into the dark and supposedly boring corners of everyday life, Johanna Lindsey’s Malory family was making me feel a thrill and passion for it again.

Finally, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? was borrowed from an out-of-town library while my family was on vacation. I checked it out of the library 48 hours before we were to leave town to return home, giving me a definite hard deadline for finishing. Luckily, Semple’s story is so compelling that I had no trouble powering through it happily, in spite of the fact that our final days were already packed pretty full. I can see why this book is getting so much attention from book reviewers and blogs; it’s a heart wrenching yet funny story, that faithfully expresses the modern technophile’s conflicting desires for adventure and solitude, and the hilarious mess that those conflicting desires can often make of our lives.

Yes, after a year of ennui and frustration, the final month of 2012 has given me hope for 2013. The passion and voracious desire for books that was somehow returned to me this past December has stayed with me for the first few days of January, and it thankfully shows no signs of leaving. As I delve into My Life in France, a memoir of Julia Child, I find that once again the world around me falls away, and I tumble into the culinary world of post WWII France. My cheeks flush, my heart quickens, and I am once again passionately in love with story, with words, with the world.

The Busy Parent’s Guide to Finding More Time to Read

The end of the year is very hard for me as a reader: My calendar suddenly gets full, I’m trying to finish up projects I’ve had going for too many months, there’s shopping to do, etc. As if all this wasn’t bad enough, this is the time of year when everyone publishes their “Best Books of the Year” lists. The Millions’ Year in Reading 2011 has been particularly devastating to my TBR list this year, not to mention to my self-confidence as a reader. How did I miss all these great books? What have I been doing with all that time I could have spent reading?
I know I’m not the only one feeling this way, and it’s time to take some action. Let’s take back the book! Who’s with me?! 
I have to warn you that it won’t be easy. I know this sounds antithetical, but making time to read requires some sacrifice. You’re going to have to be disciplined. You’re going to have to enlist the help of your family. But most of all, you’re going to have to give yourself permission.  Here we go…

1. Read more than one book at a time. I generally have four to six books going at once, but not everyone needs that many; you really only need two: one for your purse/briefcase and one for by the bed. The one by the bed should be something light and easy so that you can let your mind relax after a long and tiring day of being a parent. This could be a collection of short stories, or a non-taxing novel. I find Christopher Moore and Alexander McCall Smith to be great bedside authors. Your purse/briefcase book (or books) is whatever you’re focusing on at the moment. This is the book you’ll pull out during lunch, while you’re waiting in line, sitting at the doctor’s office or in the after-school pickup line, etc.
2. Find one chore you can let slide. Certain chores have to get done, I accept this; grocery shopping and meal preparation are not chores I can let slide. But there must be something in there that you can let slide. Not get rid of, just let it slide a bit. I’ve decided to do this with laundry this month and see how it goes. Is anyone really going to die if I do the laundry tomorrow instead of today?
3. Forget about the news. The 24-hour news cycle has been terrible for readers! There’s always something being tweeted, or shared on Facebook, or one internet article leading to another through a series of links. Not only do I have less time to read, but I’m far more discouraged and depressed! My advice is to give yourself one hour of the day when you check in on what’s going on in the world. If anything really important rocks the news world after that, you’re going to hear about it one way or another anyway, so relax and pick up a book.
4. Put books on your coffee table (or any empty surface.) This has multiple benefits: It keeps you motivated, it keeps your books accessible, it makes your kids far more likely to pick up a book and start reading, and it makes your whole family look smart, really. This particular strategy is win-win. Quick, go put some books out right now!
5. Delegate one chore to each of your kids. This one will obviously depend on the ages of your children, but trust me; your kids can do far more than you think they can. I promise I’m not trying to tell you how to raise your kids, but anything you can delegate to someone else is more time you have for reading. (Hey, don’t start to feel guilty on me now! I warned you that this wouldn’t be easy.) Here are some of the chores even a young child can do: empty the dishwasher (or at least the silverware); put away folded clothes and linens; dust bookshelves (of which you probably have many, if you’re anything like me); set the table; clear the table; sort the laundry; pack all or part of their school lunch. The list doesn’t end there, but I’m sure you can come up with the rest on your own.
My 10 year old’s “orange dinner”
6. Pick one day a week when your kids make dinner. Again, this will depend on the ages of your children, but my youngest is seven and has been making dinner two or three times a month for the past year. I’m not recommending you leave them alone to fire up the BBQ and grill burgers or anything, but there are plenty of safe things kids can make while you sit on the couch with your book and supervise. Sure you may end up having macaroni & cheese, sandwiches or cereal on those nights, but it won’t hurt anyone to have sandwiches for dinner once a week, and it WILL do your kids good to see you reading.
7. Liberate yourself from your T.V. This is often the hardest one, but it’s always the most important. Cancel your cable subscription, say goodbye to your satellite, take a break from the TiVo, or best of all just throw your T.V. out the window! Our culture spends so much time watching T.V. when we really could be doing other things. If you don’t want to get rid of your T.V. altogether, I challenge you to at least cut your viewing time by 1/3 for three months. If you’re still going through withdrawals after that then maybe you should resolve to cut your reading time and watch more T.V. instead.
8. Read to your kids at bedtime, regardless of their age. This is another win-win strategy. Your kids will love it, you will get more books read, and you’ll be one of the only parents with a finger on the pulse of youth reading culture. You might be surprised at some of the great Y.A. books on the shelves right now. Many of them are definitely worth reading, even as an adult. (I won’t make a list of Y.A. books here, that’s a topic for another post, but if you’d like some suggestions please leave me a comment.)
9. Set your alarm on weekend mornings. Wait, don’t stop reading yet! I am a BIG supporter of sleeping in on weekends, so I’m not going to urge you to get up at 5am or 6am; I’m merely suggesting that you set your alarm for just a tiny bit earlier than you normally wake on weekends—maybe 30 minutes or so. Then spend that time snuggled in bed enjoying the unhurried morning with your book.
10. One word: Audiobooks. (I have to admit that I am not personally a huge fan of this option; but that’s just my particular reading style. I’m a visual learner rather than an auditory one, so when I listen to books they tend to go in one ear and out the other.)  Many of the members of my Rediscovering the Classics group listen to their books and I’m always amazed not only by their insights and attention to detail during discussions, but also by the sheer volume of books they are able to “read.” Audiobooks can set you free. Now you can read on your commute, while doing data entry, while washing dishes or folding laundry, while gardening, while teaching yoga (okay, maybe not that that last one… Actually, who am I to hold back yoga instructors? Listen away!) 
If you feel I have forgotten anything, or have a strategy you employ and would like to share please comment and let me know! I’m assuming that readers of this article are parents (obviously) and either work full time, run a household, or both; but that is not to say that some of these strategies won’t work for readers in different walks of life. 
Good luck and Happy Reading!

Looking Back on November: A Month of Reading

Books I’ve Read this Month
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Ragnarok by A.S. Byatt
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The month of November is not the happiest of months to begin with; let’s get that right out there in the open. We’re coming off the candy, costume, come-as-you-aren’t high of Halloween and looking at the busy and expensive winter holidays ahead. The sky is getting darker; the weather is getting gloomy and cold. April is the cruelest month? Move over T.S. Eliot, here comes November!
Looking back over my list of books I realize that although I was picking books without any particular agenda, most of those I read during this past month fit right in with the dark and desolate mood. Frazier’s Cold Mountain is dark and heavy and fraught with danger. Byatt’s Ragnarok makes no apology for the dark demise of the entire Norse world at the end. Collins’ The Hunger Games takes place in a (you guessed it) dark dystopian future. As for the 84th issue of The Believer, well the editors of The Believer always have a somewhat dark sense of humor, but I suspect that’s what I love about them.

 

Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain is the kind of book that deserves to be read all at once, immersing yourself in the time, place, and story that Frazier has so beautifully crafted—but the world is almost too well crafted, and the disintegrating South of the civil war is a stressful, frightening, exhausting place to be. I had to stop reading every few chapters just to recover from the anxiety and concern building up with each page I read. I had a November deadline for this book, however, so I finally had to stop being a baby and read it all the way through. What I discovered was that this really would have been the best strategy to take from the beginning. 
Frazier’s prose is beautiful; his descriptions of the natural world—while somewhat lengthy at times—will take your breath away.  The stories of the three main characters are woven together beautifully, chapter by chapter, until you feel as invested in their futures as you are in your own. The book itself, because it is set against the backdrop of a desperate and terrible war, is fraught with danger. A feeling of vulnerability imbues each and every page of the novel; and when it comes down to it this is an important part of the reading experience. So learn from my mistakes—get Cold Mountain and a large bottle of corn whiskey, and don’t stop reading until you’ve finished them both.
After being almost completely psychologically devastated by reading a brilliant novel set in a war-torn country, I decided that the best road to recovery would be… to read another brilliant novel set in a war-torn country. Reading A.S. Byatt’s Ragnarok was a little like walking through an old and beautiful minefield, waiting for a mine to go off with every step, and getting through to the other side with nary even a pop; the result of which is that everything is fine and beautiful, but it still feels like you’ve been through hell. I came into the book expecting it to be primarily the story of a child’s experiences during WWII, and how these experiences were parallel to Ragnarök, the story of how the great Norse gods met their end. I didn’t exactly want to, but I expected to find some horror in a story about the infamously cold and war-loving Norse gods mingled with the infamously cruel and soulless nature of the Second World War. What I found instead was an intelligent and entertaining retelling of the Norse myths, vaguely framed by the story of a young girl romping about the English countryside. Not at all bad, but not what I expected.
Of course there is much more to it than this. The little girl is romping about because she and her mother have been evacuated from London during the air raids. It is very disconcerting that this little girl never gets a name and that these long-dead gods are much more vibrant and real than the world around her. As the Norse myths are revealed we begin to notice eerie (and not always flattering) parallels between the fall of the gods and the slow deterioration of our own modern society. Byatt is never heavy-handed though; her language is almost lyrical and the retelling of the myth is insightful. But reading this book was an exercise in patience for me. I kept wondering when the real story would begin. Byatt writes towards the end of the book that “Myths are often unsatisfactory, even tormenting. They puzzle and haunt the mind that encounters them. They shape different parts of the world inside our heads, and they shape them not as pleasures, but as encounters with the inapprehensible.” I would say that this is a wonderful description of the effect Ragnarok had on me.
As long as we’re on the subject of haunting and tormenting, let’s talk about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This is the story of a young girl chosen through lottery to represent her district in the eponymous and deadly games. As a young adult novel The Hunger Games may have been a much quicker read than the previous two books I’ve mentioned here, but it was no less emotionally draining. After all, who among us can read without emotion a story about good people being exploited by the very government that is supposed to protect them? Or about a society so hopeless and downtrodden that it watches the televised violence and murder of its own citizens and calls it entertainment? Or about the safety and well-being of innocent children being sacrificed for profit? Or… Wait a second… are we sure this is fiction? It’s starting to sound disturbingly familiar…
Perhaps it was the fault of the dark and emotional nature of November (although it’s more likely that Suzanne Collins has simply spun an affecting and ensnaring tale) but The Hunger Games stuck with me long after I finished reading the relatively short book. As engaging as the story is, there is very little to be hopeful about in the world of Katniss and Peeta, and I wanted to be able to scorn and forget the book after I finished. But the story is too raw and emotionally honest, and the characters are utterly human in their vulnerability and imperfections to be cast aside so easily. I haven’t yet decided if I will finish the trilogy, but I certainly won’t forget the first book.
After all this dark and serious reading material, I was so glad to have an issue of The Believer to lighten the mood! I can always count on The Believer for some witty and irreverent writing and I was not disappointed. This particular issue, however, I have chosen to call “the mind-blowing issue” because every article in here blew my mind in some way. Most notably: “Postmodernism as Liberty Valance” was so damn smart it blew my mind; “How to Explore Like a Real Victorian Adventurer” was so fun and insightful it blew my mind; and “Meat and Light” was so weird and confusing that it exploded my mind right out of my head (to be fair, I think the weirdness and confusion probably came from the author if the book(s) being discussed, and not from the author of the article itself, which was very clear and clever.)
All in all, the general malaise and heavy reading material of November has conspired to completely drain and exhaust me. I’m ready to take December off, curl into a fetal position on the floor, surrounded by cheery and hopeful books such as A Christmas Carol, Calvin and Hobbes, and Pollyanna, sucking down egg-nog and spiced cider with a straw until I recover. If you have any suggestions for warm and happy books OR beverages, please let me know.
* My apologies to the amazing Nick Hornby, whose column “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” in The Believer magazine was the inspiration for this post format. I’m terribly sorry for stealing the idea. I can only hope I can do it justice, and that if Mr. Hornby should ever to find himself reading this post he will resist the urge to take legal action. (Although if legal action meant I got to meet Nick Hornby in person it might almost be worth it.)

And So, Two Years Passed…

In books it is all too easy to gloss over a passage of time that has no relevance to the story; a line or two at the beginning of a chapter will suffice to inform the reader that a certain number of years has passed:

“This is not to be a regular autobiography: I am only bound to invoke memory where I know her responses will possess some degree of interest; therefore I now pass a space of eight years almost in silence…” –Jane Eyre

“The days of my youth, as I look back on them, seem to fly away from me in a flurry of pale repetitive scraps like those morning snow storms of used tissue paper that a train passenger sees whirling in the wake of the observation car.” –Lolita


“Nearly ten years had passed since the Dursleys had woken up to find their nephew on the front step…” –Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The authors of these books were wise enough to know when it was best to let certain years remain silent, trusting that any important details would reveal themselves during the course of the continuing story; I shall endeavor to have a bit of that same wisdom here.

And so, two years (give or take) passed, in which life (my life) continued in much the same fashion that it always had… But a clever reader knows that life is never exactly the same from one day or week to the next, and so there are some changes. I have books on my shelves now that weren’t there two years ago, many of which I hope to share with you in the coming months. I have a new writing desk which looks out onto the backyard and the open, rolling hills beyond the fence–which has the effect of both inspiring and distracting me depending on the day. And I have a new blog url! one that I think is both easier to remember and better reflects the content of the blog and the personality of the blogger: www.bkwurm.com. I look forward to improving and personalizing it with bookish tidbits for myself and my readers.

In the past two years I have become a terrible Literary Magazine addict, keeping up five paper subscriptions (The Paris Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly Review, The Believer Magazine, Poetry Magazine, Brain Child) and four online (NY Times Review of Books, Wag’s Revue, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and Five Books.) In a world of ballet lessons, parent club meetings, legal writing and bill paying, it is these subscriptions (as well as all my bibliophile friends and acquaintances–both online and on the street) which keep me creatively challenged, sane, and connected to the world that I think of as my world. My readers can expect to read more about these inspiring publications–as well as book reviews, author news, and overbearing opinions on the reading and writing life in general–in future posts.

If you are reading this blog then I know that this world of books and words and ideas is your world too, and I look forward to exploring and sharing it together once more.