Sentence of the Day: YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY, p. 23

Self is very slow in reading this book. Whether it’s because she’s decided to landscape her whole yard (single-handed) — The neighbors are liking the changes, leaving bags of persimmons and lemons, even two pots of young plants, on her porch as encouragement! — or because she’s shortly to begin teaching her on-line course, or because POTUS’s life hangs in the balance — she knows not. The fact remains: she’s only able to read a few pages a day.

Nevertheless! Here is the attention-grabbing sentence (Honestly, she’d have been outside again if she hadn’t just realized she was out of clean masks, and if the Century 20 were still showing first-run movies):

  • Miriam lived in Silver Lake, a hipster yuppie neighborhood, and ever since she moved there, she’d developed a biting scorn for the Valley — Granada Hills in particular.

Huh! Self actually knows a few people who live in Silver Lake. They are nice.

Oh! She also finished putting together a HUGE raised planter box in the backyard, right next to the magnolia tree. She’s emptied two bags of potting soil in it, which only filled it about a quarter of the way. About eight more bags, maybe? It’s for lettuce.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Reading Year, So Far 2020

At the end of January, she landed on her first great read of 2020: Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg.

February was TOTALLY GREAT! She spent the entire month reading two good books: The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison, and I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith.

The end of March brought her to Brideshead Revisited.

The end of April brought her to Leviathan Wakes, by James. S. A. Corey.

Last half of May: Caliban’s War (Book 2 of The Expanse) and Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker.

June: Abaddon’s Gate and Cibola Burn, Books 3 and 4 of The Expanse

July: The Snakes, by Sadie Jones

End of August: The Charterhouse of Parma, by Stendhal

September: Great, great month. Read In West Mills, by De’Shawn Charles Winslow, and Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Sen. Joe McCarthy (totally absorbing, great biography) by Larry Tye.

Currently reading: Your House Will Pay, by Steph Cha.

To look forward to this month: the official launch of Caroline Kim’s collection, The Prince of Mournful Thoughts, the winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Lens-Artists Challenge # 115: INSPIRATION

There’s a beautiful gallery of inspiring photos on Travels and Trifles.

What gives self inspiration? Flowers. And books.

These blue flowers are so pretty. Every year, they come back, and this year the blooms have been especially profuse. They wind through the branches of the cherry trees and drape the sidewalk. No one seems to mind.

Front yard, September 2020

Self is a writer. As a writer, she finds inspiration in books. These are a few books she recently checked out from her local library:

Finally, a very special place, one that self would spend every moment of every day in, if she could: the London Review Bookshop in Bloomsbury. When she sees the orange couch, she knows she’s home.

London Review Bookshop, November 2019

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Political Reads for This Fall

These are exciting times. Self is reading The Charterhouse of Parma (Brilliant and funny and moving).

Five on her ‘To-Read’ List

  • The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
  • Surrender, White People! Our Unconditional Terms for Peace, by D. L. Hughley
  • Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy, by Larry Tye
  • In West Mills, by De’Shawn Charles Wilson
  • The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories, by Drue Heinz Literature Prize winner Caroline Kim

Books Are Life

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New COVID Reading, post-Expanse:

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2020 in Books

Self had an unbelievable string of great reads, in the spring. Here were the books she read:

  • Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory, by Rafael Bob-Waksberg
  • The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
  • I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
  • The Run of His Life: The People vs O. J. Simpson, by Jeffrey Toobin
  • Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

After that run, she stumbled on The Expanse, and has so far read four novels in the series (The ninth is supposed to appear either this year or next. Ha!), all of them super-engaging. Highly recommend!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Reads of Julys Past

Self is still reading Cibola Burn. What can she say? It’s been a busy week. Havelock and Naomi are together (She’s his prisoner; they should hook up). But Holden is still Naomi’s titular boyfriend (though he doesn’t think of her much, not for almost 300 pages)

Self does like Havelock. Which is why, if Naomi were to start developing feelings, self would not mind a bit. Besides which, she loves their conversation while she is Havelock’s prisoner.

Did self say caged? Indeed she did! Naomi is in a cage, and she has to do all her business in that cage, including pee-ing.

Perhaps her affection for Havelock developed from the actor who plays him in the series. (He survives a pole sticking out of his chest! He visits a Belter brothel to learn how to speak Belter! He knew Miller!)

Someone on goodreads has written a thesis in the guise of a review on Cibola Burn, and hundreds of people apparently read it and liked it. So Americans do read! Probably as much as, or more than, POTUS!

This post is about all her favorite reads of Julys past. Herewith:

July 2016:  Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart (Is this ever going to be a movie?)

July 2017:  Barbarian Days, by William Finnegan

July 2018:   Manderley Forever, by Tatiana de Rosnay

July 2019:   Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table, by Stephen Westaby

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Top World-Building: LEVIATHAN AWAKES

The thing about science fiction is: the worlds couldn’t be more different from each other (She’s read three so far this year: The Goblin Emperor, Children of Time, and this book), yet they each have an intricately detailed universe, and the authors write that world with such conviction. If you’re going to build a world from scratch, you better make sure it’s consistent in every particular. In other words, it takes commitment. And energy. And of course imagination.

Self had started watching The Expanse, that’s why she ordered Leviathan Awakes. After the book arrived in the mail, she decided to stop watching The Expanse because she wanted to form her own ideas about the characters.

Alas, whenever she reads about Miller, the image that immediately pops into her head is Thomas Jane wearing a porkpie hat! Whereas, if she had never watched a single episode, she would have had fun conjuring Miller’s appearance (Not that she has anything against Thomas Jane, who’s a very good actor)

Back to the world-building. On p. 26, Miller eats dinner and has some thoughts:

An hour later, his blood warm with drink, he heated up a bowl of real rice and fake beans — yeast and fungus could mimic anything if you had enough whiskey first — opened the door of his hole, and ate dinner looking out at the traffic gently curving by. The second shift streamed into the tube stations and then out of them. The kids who lived two holes down — a girl of eight and her brother of four — met their father with hugs, squeals, mutual accusations, and tears. The blue ceiling glowed in its reflected light, unchanging, static, reassuring. A sparrow floated down the tunnel, hovering . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Four

Some years, self reads by theme. There was the year she read only women authors. Another year, she read only memoir. She remembers the summer she decided to read everything ever written by Henning Mankell (That was a very fun summer)

Last year, hmm, she doesn’t think she had a theme last year. Looking at her reading list for 2020, it’s clear 2020 is the year for reading fiction. Just straight-up good literary fiction.

Self read twelve books so far 2020.

Here were her top reads (arranged in the order in which she read them):

  • January: Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg
  • February: The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
  • February: I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
  • End of March, beginning of April: Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

She’s currently reading her first Liane Moriarty: Big Little Lies.

She’s hoping to get into the Ruth Galloway detective series. She’s just ordered Book # 1, The Crossing Places.

Even if there were no “shelter in place,” self knows she would still be doing the same things she’s doing right now: reading, writing, watching TV, gardening, cooking, laundry.

Sharing a picture of her Fourth of July rose, just starting to bloom.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

For Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month. These are the women (prose) authors on self’s 2020 Reading List:

  • Liane Moriarty
  • Diane Gabaldon
  • Edwidge Danticat
  • Mathangi Subramanian
  • Jacqueline Woodson
  • Jung Chang
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Sally Rooney
  • Peg Alford Pursell
  • Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Dacia Maraini
  • Shahrnush Parsipoor
  • E. R. Ramzipoor
  • Elizabeth Tallent
  • Sadie Jones

Also: Caroline Kim-Brown’s short story collection, which won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, coming this fall: The Prince of Mournful Thoughts. You can read the title story now, in Ms.Aligned Vol. 3.

Women self has read so far 2020:

  • Dodie Smith
  • Katherine Addison
  • Jia Tolentino
  • Kathryn Ferguson

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