- Ten Years in the Tub by Nick Hornby
- “Strange Beads” by Wendy Brenner
Ladies and gentlemen, this lady is on vacation! As with every vacation, I had grand ideas about how his was going to go. I was going to finish a book every other day. Plus I was going to clean the whole house from top to bottom, going through drawers and throwing out the accumulation of useless shit that has managed to pile up recently. This was a complicated procedure because the first thing that I had to do was construct my new shelves, move my old shelves, and manipulate my office into some sort of working order. Now that it’s done, it’s the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. But while that was happening the whole house was in complete and utter chaos.
I am happy to say that this is a state of affairs that I have spent days righting. The office is done. The bedrooms are done. The bathroom is done. The hallway is done. I’ve got a good start on the kitchen. I haven’t finished a book since I started.
I am, however, in the second half of Stephen King’s latest, Revival. I’m enjoying it. I have no idea where it’s going. It’s pretty exciting. I’m glad that I decided to buy new King as it comes out. The first half of the book was full of this great music and nostalgia and it made me want to play rhythm guitar.
I thoroughly enjoyed “Strange Beads”, the essay I read this week. It actually made me click around Ebay a bit for the first time in years.
The holidays are a busy time and I’m a crazy woman who makes way more work for herself than is good. Then there are the after holiday distractions. You know, all of those video games that have made their was into the house, plus a new version of Trivial Pursuit. Book smarts? That’s for the new year!
I don’t think that I’ve made it a secret that Hornby is one of my favorite authors. I like him. He makes me laugh and he makes me think and he has a way of telling a story that puts a kind of distance between the story and the emotions involved that I really enjoy. But it is my absolute favorite when the man takes on something he loves, like reading.
Ten Years in the Tub is a collection of his columns in The Believer called “Stuff I’ve Been Reading”. Each column starts with a list of books bought and a list of books read, two lists that rarely sync up. Hornby’s columns are about books, sure, but what they are really about is reading: How we get from one book to the next and how reading effects our daily lives and vice versa. Plus, they are funny and brilliant and wise. Hornby’s insights into why we read what we read and what makes this or that book wonderful are so smart that I kept reading bits out to Hubby.
This was one of those sneaky books that includes four books plus new material so there were bits of it that I had read *cough* a few times. Still, I never tired of reading about someone else who loves reading and thinks about it both deeply and with humor. Also, I glowed with pride when Hornby read one of my favorite books of all time and said he would defend against a soccer hooligan any day.
- The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
- In the Island of Excess Love by Francesca Lia Block
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Audio)
- The Wheel on the School by Meindert De Jong
- The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks
- Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (ebook)
- Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
- Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
- Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
- The Kindly Ones by Neil Gaiman
- The Wake by Neil Gaiman
- “A Matter of Life and Death” by Timothy Aubry
Now that I have finished the ten main Sandman trade’s, I think that it would be fair for me to tell you this: Nothing has made me feel better about death than these comics. That may seem weird, especially if you are just joining this fruit basket. It has been just over three months since I lost my father suddenly and early. In the first week, I tried desperately to read and had some luck with the Buffy comics. Then, purely by accident, I ended up reading Simone de Beauvoir’s An Easy Death about the death of her mother which didn’t hurt but didn’t really help either. Only Sandman had the ability to actually make me feel better about it. Death is my favorite character and I love how the whole damn set deals with death.
Bummer aside, you may have noticed that I was a very bad girl this week. I bought SIX books. Six of them! Why? Well, the first two I stumbled across in the book sale and they ran me $1.00 total. I had never seen the De Jong and I had been dancing around the Banks since it was published in 1999. Then the Gaiman was on sale for $2.99, so I had to buy that. Next we went to a used book and record store and they were having buy two used books, get a third for free and I had been meaning to take up some fantasy reading and I had also been craving Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. It all makes sense again…
Except that my office is in shambles. My three beautiful bookshelves arrived over the past two weeks and I have constructed 1.5 of them. The one that is complete can’t be used until the other two are completed, set in place, and anchored to the wall. All three have to be done so that I can be sure that they fit. In the meantime, the books from two of my smaller shelves are in piles (alphabetical, of course) on my office floor and most of my trinkets are on my desk. The two smaller shelves have been moved across the room and now hold my antique book collection. I had to move my CD collection make that work. At some point I needed to see the top of the new shelf for building and I took my office chair out to stand on and that is now just inside the office door. This does not even convey the chaos. Basically, I need to be a shelf-building mofo tonight and tomorrow. (I need to take the boxes to Mom’s trash on Christmas Eve.)
I cannot wait for my vacation to start (tomorrow at 3:30) because my plans are basically to read and clean. Wish me luck! Happy reading!
- Vote for Larry by Janet Tashjian (Audio)
- Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel
- Butler’s Lives of the Saints
- Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer (e-book)
- “Going Home” by William Trevor
- Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman
- “Lifeguard” by John Updike
- At World’s End by Neil Gaiman
- Oxford Book of Short Stories
I spent some time thinking this week about how books have helped me over the the past couple of months. Once upon a time I was heart broken and I couldn’t even read until I made myself sit down with Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, which I had already read twice before. It was the kind of book that always was different for me. The first time it was funny. The second time it dealt with death. The third time it was truly about heartbreak and all of the crazy thoughts and feelings that go along with it. I thought that maybe I would find a book that made me feel better about Dad’s death because it would be about loss, yada yada. What I found instead was that being whisked away made me feel better. The Buffy comics made me feel better first. Then, surprisingly, Sandman made me feel better.
Books are glorious things. They are tools, medicine, education, transportation, escape and probably something completely different to every single person in the world. This week I rounded the corner of 100 books for the year and I don’t regret a single minute of that time. My life is about books, truth, and love, not necessarily in that order.
Obviously, I liked the Larry audio well enough to order the next one in the series. These are great little audiobooks, short and sweet. This one got me a little fired up for a bit, made me feel all political and stuff. Then I had this weird break with it today while in the last hour of listening. It was like I suddenly couldn’t suspend my belief anymore. Maybe because it’s the story is about an eighteen year old boy running for president and I just read a Sandman about a twenty year old president. It was just that I couldn’t believe it anymore. And that was the moment I realized that I was an adult.
I actually didn’t really care for either of the short stories that I read this week. I liked “Going Home” best, I suppose. One of those mad woman in the attic kind of stories, when you realize that the woman who seems perfectly nice and normal is on the verge of insanity and, possibly even worse, that you understand just why she is. I didn’t really “get” “Lifeguard”. I think I may have just been ready to get the short story collection done with as the book is now in three pieces.
Also, I don’t really know that I’m excited about any of my purchases. They were there and I wanted a book.
We’re nearing the end of the year. Did you reach your goal?
- Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
- Perlandra by C.S. Lewis
- That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis
- A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
- Thrive by Ban Buettner (Audio)
- The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian (Audio)
- “Parker’s Back” by Flannery O’Connor
- Fables and Reflections by Neil Gaiman
There now. Doesn’t that look a bit better?
As much as I am enjoying my rendezvous with Sandman, it’s starting to feel a little like a battle. I have four trades left to go and I have a feeling that they may just take me through the month if I don’t do something soon. I like them, I really do, but I’m starting to feel the ache for some traditional books.
Perhaps that explains my crazy amount of purchases this week. Actually, that’s wrong. See, I’m getting bookshelves for Christmas and I have been using it as an excuse all week. Plus, all of the Lewis was sold as a little gift set in a used book sale. They were in great shape and I had never heard of them and I wanted them. $5 didn’t seem like it was too much to spend.
On Saturday we went out with friends to a giant second hand/antique store nearby. This place happens to have what I like to call The Best Book Booth Ever. Last time we stopped I got a couple of books and Hubby made out like a bandit on the vinyl. This time I sat on the floor and read through the titles and was…. disappointed. The next booth over, however, was where my friend handed me the Moore and said, “Read it. You’ll love it.” Oh! Book people! It feels like I am never actually around book people so I bought that thing without second thought.
Both of the audios I finished last week were great. I already wrote a review about the Tashjian and I ordered the second one in the series on audio too. Thrive was about the happiest places in the world and what makes them so happy. I am currently in love with Denmark, which is the happiest place in the world. I really like this audio too. I’m a sucker for happiness books and this one was cool because it looked at what made people in different cultures happy and talked about how to apply those principles to your own life.
I like the O’Connor short story, too. (Really, it’s rare that I don’t like what I read to completion.) Parker was a sinful man who married a religious woman. He was covered with tattoos everywhere except on his back. When he is involved in an accident, he decides to fill his back with something that will please his wife. O’Connor and I have an odd relationship but I think she may be a bit cooler than I gave her credit for in my undergrad days.
Still plugging away! I hope you guys are too!
I’ve been working my way through my giant TBR list bit by bit and really I was supposed to be listening to Gone with the Wind, a gigantic audiobook that is cataloged in two parts, the first of which has been checked out for two months. While waiting, I moved on down the list which had been alphabetized by title at one point. Next up was The Gospel According to Larry, a book that was most likely put on my list in 2001 when it came out and I just never got around to it.
Too bad because it was pretty great. Even better, it was just over three hours and I listened to it in a matter of two days just on my regular drives.
Josh is just an outsider. He lives with his stepfather since his mother passed away three years earlier from cancer. He’s the kind of guy who really values his privacy and his solidarity. He only has one real friend, Beth, and he has been in love with her forever. She seems a little more interested in finding a cool guy than her best friend, though.
Josh starts a website called The Gospel According to Larry and starts to post “Sermons” about consumerism, celebrity worship, and all of the things that bother him about modern society. He never expects it to take off. Then it does. There are tons of followers who do everything from organize protests to vandalize billboards. Eventually Larry even gets the attention of U2. Things are going well but Josh, anonymously Larry, is torn between enjoying the changes being made by his fans and worrying that his message will end up corrupted. Plus, when will he find the right moment to tell Beth who he is?
Then he is outed and everything gets out of control.
This was one of those audio experiences where I was pretty sure that the reader really helped make the book but I totally would have read it anyway. I liked Larry. I liked his ideas. He was just a kid but, hell, we all make mistakes.
- Seasons of Mist by Neil Gaiman
- A Game of You by Neil Gaimain
No, this is not going to be the most boring Tally Monday ever because I have decided to make some changes and I am ready to announce those things now. Right now! Here it goes. Seriously.
Since I have fallen down the rabbit hole of Sandman, which holy fuck btw, I have decided that I need to make some *changes* around here. I already mentioned that I intend to slim down my TBR over the next couple of months by trimming down the number of authors that I “need” to read every book from as well as trying to be a little less greedy about the books that I “need” to read right now. I have been toying with what to do about my audio books for a while too. I already planned on adding them into my book count next year and upping my goal to 125 but even before that I have decided to include them in the blog. I will also be listing any short stories I read from here on out and discussing them at least on Mondays.
You know, there are going to be times when I just don’t get to read a lot. I like doing this every week because then things are still fresh in my mind. Freshness is important.
In the mean time, let’s talk a little bit about Sandman. I love Sandman. I love it. I love how it blends just so much together. I honestly think that A Game of You was my favorite trade so far. It’s the story of Barbie’s dreams. Barbie was in one of the earlier Arcs as a side character and it was really kind of cool to see her take center stage. Since she was a little girl, Barbie dreamed about the same story in the same world. Unlike a repetitive dream, it was a progressive story. After her divorce, she stops dreaming completely until one of the characters in her dream comes to find her in our world.
It amazes me sometimes how much I grow to love these characters, even when I am spending so little time with them. A Game of You left me feeling destroyed. I was sad for the dream, sad for the characters, and, somehow, sad for myself.
Who said that comics are trash? Nobody lately!