Category Archives: Thoughts and other Miscellany

Some recent DNFs

<<mandatory “gosh it’s been a while since I posted. Baby stuff” disclaimer>>

So, maybe my concentration span has been destroyed by the experience of a small person, and maybe I’m just finding it tough to get time to read, but I’ve had a run of Did Not Finish books recently. A quick round-up (I won’t bother with ratings, and I won’t be counting them in my statistics for the year, or noting on LibraryThing or Goodreads that I read them):

The Piper’s Son, Melina Marchetta. I quite enjoyed Saving Francesca, and you can bet I’ll be putting a copy of Looking for Alibrandi in Bookmark’s hands at some point in her teenage years. But this one totally failed to grip me – not least because of the sheer number of male characters referenced but not seen; I found it impossible to keep track of them all. Filched from the box of books Mini-Me was throwing out, read 50 pages, dumped it at the Tube.

piper's son

Disclaimer, Renee Knight. A woman reads a novel which seems to be entirely about her. She tries to get in touch with someone she once knew. That woman’s husband is trying to get in touch with the “character”. There has been some unspeakable event. Much Too Confusing. Abandoned my NetGalley copy.

disclaimer

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins. The world has been going crazy about this one, and I just didn’t get into it. Partly because I found the narrator unsympathetic from the get-go, partly because I struggled to tell characters apart/keep them straight in my head. So… abandoned my NetGalley copy.

girl on the train

Londoners, Craig Taylor. I have been listening to this one since before Bookmark was born (in fact, I was trying to listen to some of it while in early labour…) it’s a good book, but it does not lend itself well to audio format. The individual stories are too disjointed to be able to be retained in the memory between listens. So after renewing it from the library 23498719384 times, I’m abandoning it.

Londoners

The Collector, Anne-Laure Thieblemont – this sounded really attractive on the mailing from Le French Book, but either the writing is bad or the translation, because the language in the first few chapters was too clunky for me to want to carry on with it. I might be missing out on a gem, but I was reading in red-pen mode and that’s a bad sign for a book. the collector

Jane Austen imitations

“Upon my word, Caroline, I should think it more possible to get Pemberley by purchase than by imitation.”

I’m reading Georgiana Darcy’s Diary by Anna Elliott* which is free on the Kindle at the moment. It’s pleasant enough but given my limited reading time these days I think I’ll be abandoning it soon.

During Advent with Austen some years ago, and since, I have got into some of the Austen fan-writing (Lizzy and Jane, Death Comes To Pemberley, Darcy’s StoryJane Austen Made Me Do It), but none of it has really stuck with me.

I’m perplexed by this need to continue Austen’s story. Why must authors take up their pens and keyboards, giving Elizabeth a pregnancy, giving Wickham more terrible deeds, making Jane and Bingley even more nauseatingly happy?

I read Bridget Jones’ Diary as a teenager and it took me most of the book to realise it was a Pride & Prejudice homage – only “Darcy” seemed to be the link! Much less clunky.

Anyhow. End of my whinging. Georgiana is a perfectly satisfactory example of the genre, but I’ve lost patience with the genre as a whole.

*it amuses me that the author has a name so similar to one of my favourite Austen heroines. A nom de plume, perhaps?

Top Ten Tuesday – Diversity

TTT

July 21: Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC,  neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc etc.)

 

I’m answering this one because I want to see whether I can actually name 10!

1. The Flavia de Luce series – the de Luce family are Catholic (definitely a minority in the UK, particularly in the 1950s) and the narrator refers to this frequently.

2. Alan Marshall’s I Can Jump Puddles – I remember this book so clearly because the idea (to me, as a 9?-year-old) of being so disabled by a common childhood illness was so strange to me. A beautiful, wonderful book – well, it is in my mind anyway!

3. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. All over the news at the moment because of Go Set A Watchman being released, but I think that this, and other books featuring unjust accusation of African Americans in a predominately white society (at least one, if not two or three, of the John Grisham books are in this mold?) definitely deserve a mention here.

4. Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi – being an Italian Australian is almost as big a theme in this as being a child born out of wedlock.

5. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) is entirely about diversity (or lack of it).

6. Narnia! How did I get to item 6 on the list before I thought of the Narnia books?

7. Several of Amy Tan’s books touch on being Chinese in the USA and assorted cultural conflicts.

8. Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto is full of cross-cultural conflict and romance – particularly the romance between Gen (Japanese translator) and Carmen (illiterate rebel native to the unnamed Central/South American country)

9. Anne of Green Gables? Orphan, red hair, often picked on for one or the other…

10. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies – is it a stretch to list Piggy as a diverse character?

This was a real challenge – and several of mine are a stretch!

Books I should have read and which The Physicist says it is embarrassing that I have not read:

Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited

J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (“It’s even got 4 different species of characters, how much more diverse can you get?”)

All sci-fi/fantasy, ever.

The Bible (OK, I’ve read most of this in small pieces)

28 before 28

Last year I made a 27 before 27 list, although I only gave myself 6 months to achieve them as I came up with the list on the way home from an exceptionally wet cricket training session in April 2014.

While I didn’t manage all that many of them, I rather enjoyed the process, so I’ve done a 28 before 28. My list included quite a few items that needed to wait until after Bookmark was born (including a weight-related goal!) but in 4 months I’ve already knocked off quite a few of my items. My list is (including the number in brackets of what I’ve managed)

Visit 28 different new restaurants/cafes (11)
Get paid for 28 pieces of translation work (1)
Find 28 photos I love and display them (0 – I want to get some of our wedding photos and some early photos of Bookmark printed onto canvas, or put into a big collage frame)
Cook 28 new recipes (10 – this has been a really enjoyable category and I’ve found lots of new things to cook!)
Remove 28 things from my house (14 – such a therapeutic category)
Watch 28 films which won the Academy Award for Best Picture (0 – we watched Forrest Gump a few weeks ago but that doesn’t count because I’ve seen it before!)
Play the piano for at least 28 minutes 28 times in the year (0)
Do 28 things outside my comfort zone (1)
Write 28 postcards/letters, excluding postcards to my grandparents (10 – they’ve all been birthday cards though)
Discover 28 new artists (2)
Read 28 books (no DNFs) (6)
Eat veggies every day for 28 days (mushrooms definitely count) – I keep having to restart this one! up to 2…)
Learn some computer coding skills for 28 mins, 28 times in the year (3)
Get to a streak of 28 days on Duolingo (0)
Get to 28000 points on Duolingo (0)
Remove 28 books from my house (multiple times?) – done once in late 2014 and done again in Feb 2015
Buy 28 things for myself. (clothes that are needed thanks to baby don’t count!) (2)

-Things that had to wait for Bookmark to make an appearance-
Run 5k in under 28 mins, 28 times
Cut out chocolate for 28 days
Work out every day for 28 days consecutively for 28 minutes
Weigh less than x again
Cycle 28 miles in a day
Attend 28 ballet/yoga/Pilates classes

If you can count, you’ll notice that is only 23 items! Suggestions for the last 5 very welcome

I opened a book again

So it turns out that reading one-handed while nursing is quite the different skill from reading one-handed while eating. Also that 3-in-1 editions of Kinsey Millhone mysteries are not the most physically accessible to the one-handed reader.

That said, I read the first 20 pages that I’ve read since Bookmark was born, and hope to continue!

Also I’ve renewed my loan of Craig Taylor’s Londoners, which I was listening to the day I went into labour (so the loan had lapsed) – our walks are long enough that once I’ve caught up on a podcast, individual episodes are too short. So I’ll be restarting that one too!

Currently

(inspired by Cassie’s posts at Back To Her Roots. There are lots of links in this post – affiliate links are marked with asterisks)

Listening to Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast. I am a huge fan of her blog and her books (The Happiness Project*, Happier at Home*) and the podcast is just the thing for walks out and about with Bookmark.

Wearing my 7-9 month pregnancy jeans (bought for me by The Musician and Mini-Me from my favourite jeans shop in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD). Which is dull. But I can’t get into my 4-7 month jeans just yet. I’m ok with the idea that it took 9 months to grow a baby and it will take me at least 9 months to reverse the changes that caused to my body (those that can be reversed), so I’m hoping to make it back into the smaller jeans in 2 months’ time or so.

Also wearing my Fitbit Charge. I bought it for myself just before Bookmark was born, as something to motivate me to get out and about (are you seeing a theme here)? I’ve managed 7,000 steps (the goal I have set for myself) a few days, and two days I’ve made 10,000 (one of them I got to 14,000!). I’m quite enjoying wearing it and keeping an eye on my activity level.

Catching up with friends: partly because it’s one of my favourite things to do, partly because it’s a brilliant motivator to get out and about with Bookmark, partly because if I don’t, I will become a hermit. I’m trying to make sure I get out of the house every day. So if I know you in real life, feel free to suggest a day when I should come and visit you! Have Bookmark, will travel (by tube, bus, on foot – whatever).

Eating things I have cooked less than a month ago. In advance of Bookmark’s arrival, I cooked up lots of food and shoved it in the freezer in takeaway containers. That saw us through the first three weeks of her life, but I’m over frozen tuna pasta now. I need something fresh. I use Pepperplate to save recipes and to plan out my meals for the week.

Watching Downton Abbey. On the Day of 16 Hours of Feeding when Bookmark was a week old and wouldn’t stop feeding, we watched it basically non-stop. And got totally addicted. We’re into season 5 already (within 2 weeks of starting watching it).

Welcome to the Bookmark!

Baby RWT, henceforth Bookmark, finally made her appearance (very overdue) in late February. I am slowly emerging from the fog of the constant sleep-eat-repeat cycle she operates on – long enough to type a few words anyway.

We’ve been for a few long walks (she goes to sleep straight away) so I feel this may be the year of the audiobook.

I’m also hoping to finally get my reading mojo back (which disappeared along with any semblance of a waist in late pregnancy) – though I have bitten the bullet and am discarding vast numbers of my books because I am accepting that I will never get to read them and I’ve already moved house with them twice. Watch this space for a post on that topic.

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