Kristine’s (very late) Taleathon results

My excuse is essays and exams (that I’m currently procrastinating studying for).

What I read:

  1. Taken by Benedict Jacka
  2. approximately 50 pages of The Song of the Red Ruby by Agnar Mykle
  3. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie issue 2 (+ a re-read of issue 1)

Challenges done:

  1. Read a book published before you were born: The Song of the Red Ruby was indeed published prior to my birth.
  2. Read a comic or graphic novel: The Big Lie is a series of comics.

Wooh. I wrote the post. I also watched all of season 2 of Sense8, in case you wondered why I read less than 300 pages worth of stuff. Well that and did some essay writing. Sense8 took most my time though. I just couldn’t help myself.

 

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Taleathon #3

2016-06-27 20Welcome to the third annual (grasp!) Taleathon, as usual it’s the first weekend of May (5-7) and we’ll be ignoring the spring weather we’ve hopfully got and snuggling in bed with books (or actually going outside, audio books are great too!). We decided to do only three challenges this time, because we couldn’t be bothered with more…

Challenges:

  • read a book published before you were born
  • Read a comic or graphic novel (bonus if you read it on Saturday, Free Comic Book day!)
  • Read a different text type/format than you normally read (ie. if you read novels normally you might try a poem, short story, essay or non-fiction of some kind).

If you want to join us you are welcome to do so, let us know in the comment section! What do you think you’ll be reading?

We’re back! May book! Taleathon!

Okay, so we are  co-reading again! Yay! We’re stating up in May, and we’re reading a Norwegian book, The song of the Red Ruby by Agnar Mykle! You might find a used copy of the English translation somewhere… So I’m not going to talk about it at length, we’re reading it because it got banned, there was a trial and the decision was overturned, but this cemented the book in Norwegian history, so we thought it would be fun to read.

Plus it’s one of the few books that have been banned or challenged in our country, and certainly the most recent, so we can tick it off our Read Harder challenges!

The first weekend of May (5-7) we’re bringing back Taleathon! We’ll be back with a post about that later. I just wanted to pop in and resurrect this old carcass. Just kidding, I’m avoiding writing my essay on the idea of novels and how it changed between romanticism and modernism, I can only write 2250 words. Send help!

The Wander Society

wander, verb.
to walk/explore/amble i an unplanned or aimless way with a complete openness to the unknown

2016-06-28 19.27.16The Wander Society by Keri Smith is a book that encourages wandering freely, just going out and having a look at your surroundings, leaving distraction behind. If you should need something to structure your wanderings there is a whole section with assignments/research/field work (this is my favorite part of the book really, wandering practice).

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The  look and feel of the book, the art on the pages, the instructions and assignments (even if the DIY section seemed a bit redundant) are wonderful. Then there is the interactivity of looking up the websites mentioned (I did not call the phone number) etc. I’m a sucker for that and it wasn’t overdone. I did apply for access to the “underground” on the website (though have yet to receive any kind of email). Smith’s handwritten notes and comments also added to the overall impression of the book, and made some parts less dry.

To wander is to seek the unexpected (pp. 16)

I didn’t like talk of “excessive” use of technology and only seeing the world through screens, though certainly this is the case for some, but as a lover of technology and the sharing of things online it annoyed me. The book relies upon tech to document (and it wants you to document everything) so complaining about it read hypocritical to me, even if the book never meant to state that technology is a bad thing in general. On page 117 (“Wandering by Bicycle”) one suggestion is that one has a portable library on the rack, and I found myself shouting at the book “It’s called a smartphone or an ereader!” because that must be far more practical than lugging around a bunch of books. Smith also writes that she discovered the society though a used copy of a Walt Whitman book, that there is no way to recognize the members on sight, that it is underground and secret, yet at the same time she made a book about it, with instructions on how to make a easily recognizable patch, pamphlets, stickers, symbols to put out into the world, there’s a printable membership card on the website. All of this is fine, if it wasn’t supposed to be “secret” in the first place. I get that this book is built around this secret society (that the reader is encouraged to join), but as a frame for the narrative it just doesn’t sit right with me. I love the name “The Wander Society” it is poetic and beautiful (and I’m taking it an adapting it to my own uses, which is encouraged), but does it have to be secretive? I don’t think so.

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In the introduction Smith said that she had “limited training in literature” (only a college class, or was it two?) and then proceeded to list a lot of writers she had read and enjoyed that suggested a familiarity with literature that, regardless of academic training, was more than limited. A false modesty, or if we’re reading her with kindness (which is something I try to do) a clumsy way of explaining her background. I like that this book seems to have grown from a fondness of Walt Whitman, and I get the inclusion of a lot the writers (sorry, “fellow wanderers”) that are listed in the book. I love the reading suggestions, even if a few more modern ones would have been appreciated, especially as I am in fact working through a list of books about walking myself (probably why this book intrigued me in the first place to be honest, even if I found it because of an Instagram hashtag).

The book also harps the point that society wants us to follow a certain path, but that wandering can break it, but it isn’t really more specific than that, aside from the fact that wandering is rebellious because it isn’t productive. That’s it. So take a walk and pay attention to things around you (the assignment section was full of good ideas). I like this, but I think perhaps there wasn’t enough to say so the book became bloated with elitism and cliches. There are also a few instances where one is encouraged to “summon the spirit of your favorite writer or thinker” (page 91) , on page 35 there is a whole section about this, followed by a list of “fellow wanderers”. I get that thinking about the works and lives of these people can be interesting and helpful, but “you will conjure the souls an energy of the great thinkers, creators, and writers during your wanderings” turns on my “new age bullshit” radar, and made me sigh and shut the book for a bit.

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Wandering can make you feel closer to nature, and to other people, fictional or otherwise, this is true. What this book advocates is a bit meditation and a bit awareness of your surroundings, this allows you to get really introspective and philosophical. I know this state of mind, and it isn’t “conjuring” anything, except perhaps your own ego, some peace of mind and if you’re lucky the solution to a problem you’ve been puzzling at. What is happening is this: You are thinking, and having removed yourself from some distractions the mind is free to wander. It’s lovely, but not magic.

I did really like the assignments though, and I will be bringing them with me on my walks, and if found myself inspired to look at the ordinary with new eyes. Page 63 has the section “Secrecy, or how to be invisible” which appealed to me a lot, I like to think that I am pretty good at going unnoticed (though this I think is just me deceiving myself). If you can stomach the repetitions and pretensions of the texts, and embrace the enjoyment of the assignments and the base of the writing this book is for you. If your eyes threaten to roll out of your head at mentions of dead white male authors, a slight new age touch, and the suggestion that literature is somehow better than other forms of narratives then perhaps avoid this.

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I brought the book, a notebook and my phone on a walk around the neighborhood (left my headphones at home, normally I’d listen to music or an audio book while walking, the latter is a great way to experience nature and get in some reading time) and it was really enjoyable. I decided to walk slowly and look at things I would otherwise just glance over. What I saw was: flowers, early blueberries (yum), driftwood, shells, trash, other people, bugs. This post contains some of the pictures I took while I walked.

Before I go: I have an assignment or suggestion of my own to add:

Bring a plastic (or otherwise) bag plus a pair of gloves and pick up the trash you see on your walk. I made notes of the things I saw during mine today. Here are some things I found: beer/hard cider cans (lots), plastic cups (with Disney princesses on them), Empty candy wrappers, empty cigarette box (and some cigarette butts), a concrete tile, a tarpaulin, a used bus ticket, two plastic bottles, plastic bag, little bits of plastic and paper. On a more positive note: I saw two cats (who didn’t want to say hi, but oh well), and someone had planted flowers in their hideous stone wall.

 

 

July pick: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

16131077The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die Hunts the Killer Who Shouldn’t Exist

The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless. It has a terrible fury all its own.

Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.

Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times.

At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He’s the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives.

Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth . . . (from Goodreads)

 

Kristine’s TBR #11

I have about five million books I want to read, right now. So I’m reading none of them. I evaded the issue for a while, by finishing the books I was currently reading,  but now there’s really only one book left on that list that counts and I have to check it out of the library and it’s not happening right now. We took a trip to the mountains and I had only my ereader with me, so then I only had five (unread) books to choose from so that was easy too. Now I’m home, I’ve finished the ebook and the book that was waiting for me in the post (The Wander Society by Keri Smith) and I’m about to start our monthly book choice Out by Natsuo Kirino. I know it sound like I’m doing alright with my reading, but after this? I have no idea.

I’ve been putting off Out for a bit because I wanted to read it near the end of the month, and instead of reading I’ve been thinking about all the books I want to read or should read, looking for new books to put on my TBR and into the subcategories there (contemporary SFF, books about walking etc). Five minutes ago I finished Wicked as they Come (that links to my review) and now I feel a bit fatigued. I know which book is next, but after that? The choices! There’s too much so I’m avoiding making a decision. This has been going on for a while.

I don’t know if anyone remembers, but I used to do a monthly TBR thing, where I tried to par down my literal piles of unread books. I did about 10 posts on the matter and did OK until I went to used book sale and came home with 20-some books. Now there are more even though I barely buy books anymore.

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Yeah, those are my two piles turned into three rather large ones. Since I am also doing the Mt. TBR challenge I thought starting this up again might be a way to keep me accountable (because clearly, I need it). I’ll be throwing out some of those books because it is becoming apparent that I won’t be reading them, but that’s only a few.

Kristine’s Taleathon wrap up

If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen what I’ve been reading, but I’m here to repeat myself.

taleathonwrapup

The first thing I did was finish Prudence by Gail Carriger, and I cannot decide how I feel about it, I had a lot of issues with this so this is definitely my least favourite Carriger book (I’ve read all but one of her others). Let’s skip to the comic that I read, Body Work, which is a story about Ben Aaronovitch’ Peter Grant. I really enjoyed it, it was a fun and fast read, the art was nice and it was fun seeing the characters I’ve read and imagined drawn and coloured, some look a lot like I pictured, others far from it.

Then I read Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. This is an essay based on lectures so a genre/thing I don’t read often! I really like Woolf and the way she thinks so this was great to read (and honestly something I should have read a long time ago, I’ve read other essays by her though). Lastly I started (but did not finish, I’m about halfway through, loving it so far) What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. Which is translated from the Japanese and by an author not from Europe/N.A. So I got 4/5 optional challenges.

All in all I’m really happy about the reading I got done, even if it didn’t all align with my plans I had a good weekend. It also got really warm here so I’ve been busy not melting, and having neighbouring cats come visit. I swear I’m about to start Neko Atsumeing in real life if they keep it up. Their mother is often gone anyway…