webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
2. Your earliest memory of reading or being read to

I don't have any memories of being read to. I mean, J read Half Magic to me, but that was as an adult and I don't think it counts.

But, I guess ... it does! There. My only memory of being read to. Well, actually, when I was really sick W read a very silly history book of England to me (1066 and All That) so it's not my only memory, but those two are all I have. To be honest, I can't remember not being able to read, but since the question didn't say "as a child" (though I think it was implied), this is what you get.

I mean, I guess I can say I remember my teacher reading Where the Red Fern Grows</>I> to my class when I was in 4th grade but I don't think that counts either because it was a group and not a private reading.
webcowgirl: (Reading)
Right. The first question is hard:

1. A fictional character you identify with and why.

Um. I keep thinking it's going to be Madame Bovary or the lead character of the Awakening, but I just don't really feel like I'm the kind of person to passively sleepwalk through a tragic life that I've never tried to change. The problem with trying to choose a character from a book that I relate to is I don't know how my story ends. Am I a comic heroine, a tragic heroine, or a side character in some other story? I'm not sassy enough to be Becky Sharp and not ... Jane Eyre.

Wait. I remember. I identify with Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God. She felt like there was more to life than what she had, and she stuck her neck out to try to make a life that meant something to her, that felt real. She was passionate and impulsive but also suffered and struggled - but despite all this, she could still see how life could be amazing. And at the end, when she was broke and broken, she didn't regret a thing.

The rest of the questions. )
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
I have been somewhat discouraged by the latest meme people have been doing, which I feel has questions that encourage gossip and stirring drama. This is of course not what we want to do online - we want to share information about ourselves. At least, that's what I'd like: and opportunity to learn about my friends and have them expand the horizons of my life. I'd like to encourage people to join in this book meme that [livejournal.com profile] robot_mel is doing. I am not going to be able to answer the questions due to brain fail for some things, but I'll do my best. Here's the meme so you can steal it. I will try to answer the questions myself starting this afternoon.

1. A fictional character you identify with and why The rest of the questions. )
webcowgirl: (Twit/ter)
Wow, I posted on Twitter that I was looking for a roommie, and 10 minutes later got a response from someone in the Twitter theater community that she was looking, and for the price and dates I was offering ... she came by that evening and is moving in April 1. So for two or three months or so I will be having a female theater junkie living with me, and I'm exciting about having someone who I can come home and witter on about shows with. It'll be fun!

Speaking of which I went last night to Watford (somewhere north of London) and saw a very good play called Love Love Love. I think the play imagines it's about how selfish the hippie generation was (and how they're responsible for how shit England is now) but in fact it's really about how fucked up families can be and still function. I really enjoyed it a lot.

Tonight I went and saw a show called the "Hot Mikado" up in Finchley (at the Arts Depot, no, I can't really tell you where it is either). It was definitely an amateur production and while I enjoyed the songs and dancing and the way it had fun with the real Mikado but it was just too sloppy in too many important ways to actually refer anyone up there unless they're a desperate G&S fan looking for a new good time (or they have a friend in the show in which case they already know about it). The Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan society did not have actors who flubbed lines. And it wasn't horrible, but ... though truth be told I liked it a lot more than Ordinary Days.

Of course it doesn't help that I'm sick. I came down with something yesterday and spent the day in a conference blowing my nose and sneezing. Thank God the last talk of the day involved two women wearing super hero costumes and attempting to kindnap a giant stuffed ladybug and (later) sing Abba songs with the lyrics changed to be about software testing. It was utterly surreal and I loved it.

Cold or no cold I'm off to Inverness tomorrow to visit [livejournal.com profile] noirem, a trip I've owed her since Christmas. I think it will be lovely to see her and her lovely boy and I'm looking forward to four days with no work. Oddly despite the major bad things that have happened this week I'm feeling fairly calm and not stressed out by life. I'm also really enjoying reading Gods Behaving Badly, a book [livejournal.com profile] varina8 gave me when I came to Seattle.

Calm. Good. I'm wondering if my mental health strategy, and the Get Happy plan, are actually working. I'm avoiding stressful events and people, focusing on doing things that make me happy (like reading silly books and seeing my friends), and taking care of myself with Pilates (also good for serotonin I think) and counseling. I feel like I'm bouncing back faster from bad things. That does kind of make me think I'm on the right track. Who knows, maybe it will stick.
webcowgirl: (Proust quote)
The books I am reading: The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton), Wigs on the Green (Nancy Mitford).

The book I am writing: working on my first short story.

The book I love most: In Search of Lost Time? Hard to say for me.

The last book I received as a gift: Lady Audley's Secret from [livejournal.com profile] booklectic.

The last book I gave as a gift: Proust's Days of Reading. Not sure if the person I sent it to has received it yet.

The nearest book on my desk: the Degenerate Book Club is meeting on the train to Lyme Regis next Friday, and I'm trying to race through House of Mirth.
webcowgirl: (Reading)
I'm really just making this post because I wanted to share the note that came in the copy of For Whom The Bell Tolls I got via Bookmooch a few days ago. It's for The Degenerate Book Club (the one I'm in with [livejournal.com profile] robot_mel and [livejournal.com profile] beluosus), and I think we're due to read it in a few months. Anyway, this is what I saw when I opened the book:

Hi! Hope you will enjoy this book more than I could do. The book was my mother's, and as far as I know no one ever read it so I'm glad it will now reach a better owner! - Hilda

Not very encouraging, is it?

At any rate, last year I read 44 books. I keep the list permanently on my LJ page, so if you're ever interested (and I assume nobody but me is), it is there. Oddly, I started the "books read" and "books bought" list as a way of keeping track of whether or not the number of books I read was anywhere near to the number of books bought, as I seem to acquire a HUGE number of books. I managed to finally shift the number to more bought than read for the first time last year thanks to, well, borrowing from [livejournal.com profile] booklectic. This year, she and Bookmooch were huge aids in pumping up the number of free reads I got in, as I don't count books received as gifts against my total. However, I've lost a bit the value these lists have in helping me remember what I actually have; in years gone by I've been able to do a search on the list and discover if I've read or bought a given book since 2004. This is very helpful when you're in a used book shop and trying to decide if you have book X in series Y for which there are N books total and you may only be on book 2 but wanting to take advantage of used book store prices to fill in the gaps in the series.

By the way, I know a lot of you might say "Use the library!" but I got too many late book fees for this to be a good plan for me; I read books at my own pace, and libraries don't like it if you want to drag out reading a particular book for, say, 6 months. Vanity Fair took me about three, and while that's not normal, it's typical of the way I read books. Also, if my favorite author has a new book out, I don't want to be #60 on the list of people who get to read the one at the library, and I don't want to have to rush through it because someone else is waiting. And, hey, as a book buyer, I am supporting authors, which is nice.
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
"Bloody good poacher, if you ask me!" (p 265, New American Library Edition).

15 books

Jul. 19th, 2010 03:31 pm
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
Stole this meme from [livejournal.com profile] varina8: 15 books you've read that will stick with you forever. No more than 15 minutes to write down, and right off the top of your head. Here's my list. Read more... )
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
My goodness, I am ever so sick of reading phrases like this:

"Woman's primary happiness is marriage to a man she respects as much as she loves; who is her superior in mind and character; and who makes all decisions for her, not because he crushes her will but because he enlightens her reason and gives support for her weakness."

Really, I haven't read anything so irritating since La Nouvelle Heloise! I want to just throw it across the room!
webcowgirl: (Theater)
I feel like, while I've posted a few things, most of my weekend has gone unremarked on other than Saturday. Friday night I saw a really good play, 11 and 12. It's by Peter Brook and it's about this Sufi mystic in Mali in the early 20th century. Any description I might make of it here wouldn't do it justice. I think, in short, it was pretty much perfect; read my review for more detail.

This actually meant that rather a lot of Saturday was spent writing up the review, in addition to seeing a movie and having people over for games. I wound up drinking a lot that night (well, a lot over a long period of time) so I didn't finish the review that night.

I saw two Ozu movies, both of which gave me strange insights into Japanese values. Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family taught me that working was considered extremely unclassy if you were an upper class woman; better to be penniless and not embarass the family.

But, you know, the real reason I'm writing right now isn't to bore you with the minutiae of my life; it's to share with you how awesome Their Eyes Were Watching God. I'm going to quote you a passage, Tea Cake (a man) and Janie (his wife, 15 years older than him) talking, from p 171 in my copy. Janie starts.

"Tea Cake, 'tain't no use in you bein' jealous uh me. In the first place Ah couldn't love nobody but yuh. And in de second place, Ah jus' uh ole woman dat nobody don't want but you."

"Naw, you ain't neither. You only sound ole when you tell folks when you wuz born, but wid de eye you'se young enough tuh suit most any man. Dat ain't no lie. Ah knows plenty mo' men would take yuh and work hard fuh de privelege. Ah done heard 'em talk."

"Maybe so, Tea Cake, Ah aint' never tried tuh find out. Ah jus' know dat God snatched me out de fire through you. And Ah loves yuh and feel glad."

"Thank yuh, ma'am, but don't say you'se ole. You'se uh lil girl baby all de time. God made it so you spent yo' ole age first wid somebody else, and saved up you' young girl days to spend wid me."

It's really just an amazing work, fantastic evocation of life in Florida at that time. At one point it kinda reminded me of Katrina all over again. I can't tell you how highly I recommend this book. And, well, as a woman who feel the way Janie does about herself, it sure does resonate.
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
I started being in a bookclub back in 1998 or so, when I was at a law firm. The group was mostly other filing clerks and legal assistants, and while it was friendly, it still had a cliquey feel and I didn't feel like I was a part of it. After about 6 months, the stress of the company breaking in three caused the bookclub to take a hiatus, but I'd become bored of the dull memoir/touching books the group tended to choose ("Angela's Ashes" being typical) and the flat conversation (all about the plot and personal response and nothing about the actual literary qualities of the books).

A year or so later I started a book club with one of my former coworkers. We agreed on a manifesto (6 classics, 4 modern books of literary merit, 1 non-fiction, 1 science fiction for the summer when we would have a barbeque), found a few other people that liked what we wanted to do, and proceeded to have a bookclub for about two years, when the increasing hostility of two of the members of the book club led me to stop organizing meetings and let it go on its way. Still, I read some great books during those two years, like Cortazar's Hopscotch and The Sound and the Fury, and I knew damned well that the motivation of the club deadline is what kept me going.

Last year I managed to attend a bookclub about twice (maybe just once?) and got as my gift the treasure of having read Madame Bovary, not to mention the pleasure of talking to other people about books again. I have friends who do wind up reading the same books, but since we often read them in series (since we will share a book with each other - The End of Mr Y comes to mind) - we usually can't talk about them in depth. Once again, my membership in this bookclub ended due to the hostility of the other members (one of them isn't talking to me anymore, and I can't imagine dropping in again just to face that!), but my desire to "up my game" and read books of lasting value continues.

Now I see books on my shelf - Master and Margarita, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Don Quixote - that I know I want on my life list but haven't been able to motivate myself to read - well, that's not entirely true, as I made it through three classics last year - and I want even more to have people to talk about them with. Tonight I meet to see if I can reach that special detente with two other people. Perhaps I should just assume that book clubs have a fixed life and then get my enjoyment out of the time I'm in this new one, but mostly, I can't wait to pick up a really great book and have someone to talk to about it. It's not true that no one enjoys Proust in a vacuum, but, like Proust himself, there is so much enjoyment to be found if you can share your reading with others.
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
I've been reading The Uncommon Reader, a book by Alan Bennet that [livejournal.com profile] booklectic led me, due to it having passages about Proust. And it has indeed been a treasure: last night's passages about Proust themed charades cracked me up. This morning I read a passage in which the lead character, being fond of horses, is being encouraged to pick up Dick Francis; her response is that Swift is good on horses. This made me crack up, too, and feel like I've done well to be continuing to read the classics so that I could get jokes like this.

Anyway, time to get on with work - I've got a lot of meetings today.
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
Just finished reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The ending has left me feeling rather sad, which I take as, in part, a sign of exhaustion. I think I'll nap on the couch if the guys won't be leaving for another half hour or so. Then at 3 [livejournal.com profile] wechsler has got a van that he and I will fill with groceries and boozes and a Boo Kitty and take to the new place, where [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy will already be waiting for us (only room for three in the truck).

1006 pages really isn't all that much. If I have some time I might check to see if I've read all of the footnotes, but later (after unpacking) I can also enjoy reading The Ladies of Grace Adieu, which was alluded to in this book.
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
Well, somehow I've convinced [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy to make dinner - chicken and peanut stew. I'm too beat to stand up long enough to cook. It's pathetic; going to the store to pick up a few groceries completely wore me out. I said I'm sad; J said I'm sick. Well, okay, it's just hard to be so weak and not feel lame.

While on my way out of said grocery store, I was briefly distracted into going into a bookstore, where they had a table full of books recommended by Phillip Pullman. I am fascinated; I think I am going to add all of them to my Amazon wish list. They really do look like good reading, and I think that list gives me ideas for Christmas presents for all sorts of people.

My Sunday: sleep until 11 (blissful lack of coughing); eat the nice waffles [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy made; say goodbye to him as he went to do something fun; find [livejournal.com profile] wechsler in Waitrose; let him make me lunch (salad and omelette); snooze on his couch; go back home. Yep, it was quite a day.
webcowgirl: (Theater)
Perhaps I'll regret not going to see Candide tonight, but, hey, maybe the weather will be crappy on Sunday and I won't want to go to Brighton and I can catch it then. That said, I don't know when else I was going to see The Quiz if I didn't go tonight ... review now up on my other blog. ("The Quiz" is about "The Grand Inquisitor" from The Brothers Karamazov.)

Sadly, I think I was motivated to some extent to see this show because I wanted to pump up the stats for my site - if I don't go to a show for two weeks, what the heck am I supposed to write about? But J and I had dinner at Trafalgar Square beforehand and walked from the theater to the Houses of Parliament afterwards, so we still managed to enjoy the nice day despite hiding out in a theater for an hour. I was actually motivated to walk toward Westminster because of the book The Amulet of Samarkand that I've been reading ... the protagonist keeps looking at them out his bedroom window and dreaming of a day when he'd have enough power to be there. I was just at a good bit when I put the book down last night, perhaps I can get in ten minutes before I fall over dead asleep ...
webcowgirl: (Proust book)
I've hit what I think is a watershed point in The Fugitive, but who knows, really, maybe it's just a blip so the narrator can get on with the rest of the story. Maybe I've misunderstood the title and really he is the fugitive! At any rate, I've been reading a great bit on dealing with the breakup of a relationship and the strange mental turns people take to justify their behavior, especially when you tell someone you don't want to see them anymore when it's the exact opposite of what you really want. Fascinating! Anyway, I'm at page 444 and the book is cooking along pretty well despite being put aside completely while I was in Orlando and Genoa. I'm eager to see how the rest of this book plays out.
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
I've got a new Charlaine Harris book to read - Grave Surprise. She has really been a treat for me since I read that first book of hers that my brother gave me. The sad thing is, I bet I'm going to want to stay up all night and read the whole thing ...
webcowgirl: (Darger)
Well. [livejournal.com profile] wechsler and [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy got "Random Dance," I didn't. My review here. I find the whole idea of a dance piece being a big mathematical joke impossible to make sense of, but if it's somehow made [livejournal.com profile] wechsler a modern dance fan, then something's going right - or I've really just cracked his nut. I guess hanging out with me for this long has to have some kind of deleterious effect ... read his review and see if you think I've dragged him down the long path to artsy fartsy-ness.

Oh, and I finished Jasper Fforde's Something Rotten tonight - there's something about reading a book featuring Neanderthals playing on a professional combat croquet team at 8 in the morning that does a body good. I'll wait a bit before I get on to book four in the series, but I have really been enjoying these books.
webcowgirl: (Bottlecap)
Well, I had a good time this weekend in Madrid with [livejournal.com profile] spikeylady. I've never really done so much drinking whilst on vacation, but she and I really plunged into the whole Madrileno tapas bar crawl thing. A city full of bars with delicious ciders and yummy eats was really just too hard to turn my back on (and sangria and port and manzanilla and what all did I drink?). I swear I'd go back next weekend if I had enough energy to manage!

Personal high: at the Meson de la Guitarra, the guys (that are always there as far as I know, locals who play music in the back room) were sitting around in the middle, one guitar, one singer and clapper (palmas), another guy occasionally clapping or hitting the table. I joined in with some clapping, and afterwards they complimented me (either "ole" or "vale," I can't remember, but two of them smiled and nodded). I was so happy! I was there, I was able to do it, I crossed the cultural divide, I was able to participate in music that I find so beautiful that it flattens me, and yet, when I've seen it performed live, it's always felt impossible for me to ever be a part of it. And Friday, I was a part, maybe for the only time ever. It was great.

I have brought home some 6 bottles of Asturian cider, port, sherry, Cuban rum, and some honey rum. This is in addition to jamon iberico, olives, and boxes of marzipan sweets for the office. (To be clear: they are only getting the marzipan, the rest is for us.) Oh, drool! And yet, with all of this food, all I can think of right now is finishing my Charlain Harris novel. Once Brideshead Revisited was done, I lunged into this one and in less than 24 hours it is almost completed. Back to the Proust tomorrow ... and work. Ah well! One can't be on vacation forever, at least, not until you retire, and I need to get this travelling bug out of me while my knees can still handle all of the walking.
webcowgirl: (Proust book)
Well, The Prisoner and the Fugutive isn't quite as good as the last book (so far) - I'm at page 33 and I'm finding the narrator's endless obsession over Albertine rather unattractive. Meanwhile, in Brideshead Revisited, there's hope of the story becoming interesting as one of the main characters has become a filthy drunk. I'm interesting.

I have also left my phone at home, meaning I won't get the calls that I wouldn't have normally got, so, if you weren't planning on calling me, I won't be getting it.

And why is it that I'm always on the train that gets used to "regulate the service?" Can't I be on the one that gets there ahead of time?

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