Tag Archives: The Sunday Salon

[TSS] The #Bookmail Post

 bookmail

It’s #bookmail time! I don’t often get book mail, but I recently won a couple of giveaways, I’m participating in a book tour at the end of the month and a publisher offered me a book I couldn’t resist. So here they are, in no particular order (or rather, in the order I stacked them in, I guess):

royal weddingMeg Cabot is one of my favourite authors, although I haven’t read anything new by her for a long while—years, actually. I’m not sure why. So when Trish from TLC Book Tours asked me if I wanted to participate in the book tour for Royal Wedding I said, “Yes!!” Trish had some shipping issues on her end—I think she tried to send me the book four times. I’m not sure what happened, but fourth time lucky (and I guess there’s a chance I’ll eventually end up with three more copies as they wander my way from wherever they ended up …).

hungry ghosts

The nice folks over at Simon & Schuster Canada emailed me to see if I’d like a copy of Hungry Ghosts, the third book in Peggy Blair’s Inspector Ramirez series. Know what I love about the publicists over at Simon & Schuster Canada? They seem to have a real feel for my reading tastes; they almost always send books my way that I’m really interested in reading.

Inspector Ramirez is a Cuban police inspector, and the stories in each of the books in the series takes place in both Cuba and Canada. I’ve enjoyed the first two books in the series, and I’m really looking forward to reading this third book.

jonathan strange

I won the book of my choice from Book Depository from Andi earlier this year during Dewey’s Readathon. I had SUCH a hard time choosing, which is why I didn’t receive my prize until just recently. I finally opted for Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell; it’s been in my to-read stacks for ages. I have it in audio, too, so I’m thinking I might try both reading and listening to this one at the same time.

mapmakers children I was SO excited when Kathy (BermudaOnion) told me I’d won the giveaway on her blog for Sarah McCoy’s The Mapmaker’s Children. I’m friends with Sarah on Facebook and we’ve had some delightful chats on Twitter, but I’ve never actually read one of her books. This one sounds like a lovely read—I’ve been on hold at the library for it for quite a while now, and it will be nice to be able to cancel that hold!

So that’s it for my #bookmail. What books have come into your place recently?

[TSS] Breaking Out of My Reading Slump

I’m so happy to report I’ve broken out of my reading slump!

I tried a variety of things suggested in the comments to my Reading Slump post, including reading short stories and graphic novels. And no, not even Nimona, which I both loved but still haven’t finished, helped.

So I kind of let it go. Stopped fretting about the fact that I couldn’t find any book that could engage me for longer than half an hour.

And then? Book club!

I’m a newbie member of a sci-fi and fantasy book club, the result of me making a bookish friend IRL. The first meeting I’ll be attending is this coming Wednesday. And the book we’ll be discussing?

Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris.

elantris

This is one of those whopping big fantasy books, a good 600 plus pages. And on Friday I realized my husband, the former book-reading demon, had already started the book (he’s coming to book club with me) and if I didn’t start reading I might be the only one to show up with the book unread.

So I put aside my upcoming work deadlines yesterday, and plunged in.

I keep forgetting how the best fantasy novels are always page turners, even though they’re often large chunky books with tons of world-building thrown in. Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris is good. I mean, really, really good. I knew this by the end of the second chapter.

I devoured the novel. Last night, at 2:30 a.m. I reluctantly put it down—I’ve been waking up earlier and 2:30 a.m. is now rather late for me. But first thing in the morning? Forget e-mail. Forget all the links and news I like to read on my phone. Forget meditation. I reached for my e-reader and picked up where I’d left off the night before.

I finished the book this afternoon with a deep, satisfied sigh. I’ve heard about Sanderson’s fans asking when he’ll be writing the sequel, and now I know why. I’d LOVE another Elantris novel!

And I’ve now officially busted out of my reading slump. It happened in an unexpected way—I honestly thought I’d be dragging myself through Elantris, trying to get through it before Wednesday night rolled around. Hah! Little did I know.

I’m now on a quest to read more of Brandon Sanderson’s work. And more fantasy, too. The past two years, I’ve mostly been reading mysteries, thrillers and urban fantasies, with the bigger, chunkier fantasies languishing in my TBR, even though I love fantasy novels.

It definitely feels good to be out of that reading slump. And I’ll probably finish Nimona soon, too.

And there’s also the #AtlasRAL over at Book Chatter. I’ve been doing terribly with readalongs the past couple of months, but now that my reading slump is over, I have very high hopes when it comes to my reading!

[TSS] Still in a Reading Slump

Well, I’m still in a reading slump. I’ve been dipping in and out of various books, but nothing’s “clicked” so far. And it’s really frustrating, because I’ve got some pretty interesting books around that I KNOW I’ll want to read once I get out of my slump.

I’ve had some great books come in this past week from both the library and also from a mini online book-buying spree I indulged in earlier in the week, in the hopes of getting the reading mojo flowing.

Here are some of the books I have out from the library right now:

Librarybooks

The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison. I read Bernadette’s review and knew I wanted to check this one out.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. I read Athira’s review of this one and found myself really intrigued by the unusual format the author uses.

I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter. I didn’t track where I first heard of this book, but it’s a Jack the Ripper novel. Enough said.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. I obviously have not perfected my “tracking where I heard about this book” skills, as I don’t have this on my Trello books board either. But it’s about a library that holds the secrets to the universe. Who can resist that? (Well, it appears I can, when I’m in the middle of a reading slump.)

Mislaid by Nell Zink. I do remember why I put this one on hold. I had read an interview with the author somewhere—I thought it was the New York Times but it appears my memory isn’t serving me right. This one’s not my typical read but something about it appealed to me in the moment of reading that interview.

The Year of the Storm by John Mantooth. No idea why I put a hold on this one. But now that I have it, it does look interesting. Just not enough to get me out of my slump.

And here are the books I recently bought:

Bought

A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey. Because it’s been on my want-to-read list for years. Years.

The Talented Mr. Ripley Omnibus Edition from Everyman’s Library by Patricia Highsmith. Because I’ve been reading Patricia Highsmith’s Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction which is more like a memoir of her writing process. And then I read Care’s post where she mentions how creepy The Talented Mr. Ripley is. I knew I wanted to read it. And I’m a sucker for omnibus editions.

To Sir With Love by E.R. Braithwaite. It wasn’t until I read the review of the book at Olduvai Reads that I even knew there was a book called To Sir with Love. I’ve seen the movie a few times, and I just knew I’d want to have my own copy of the book.

You’d think with this wealth of reading material surrounding me, I’d be out of this reading slump in no time flat, right? But that doesn’t seem to be happening. I WANT to read all of these books, i really do—but not right now.

Do you have any tips for coming out of a reading slump?

[TSS] Bookish Bliss: Readalongs

I’m SO glad I’ve discovered how much fun it is to read a book in the company of others. Fun because reading is still a very solitary thing (which I also love) but when you’re doing a readalong, it’s like being able to take a trip down the hall to the office water cooler (aka Twitter, Facebook and blog posts) for a quick chat, but with an added bonus: you certainly won’t be discussing the weather!

I’m joining in on three readalongs this month and next, with a fourth one coming in June. (One of the readalongs, alas, I’m already behind on (as in, just got the book haven’t read a thing yet, and it’s been a go for twelve days already now), so maybe I shouldn’t actually say I’m joining in on that one …)

So, first up:

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle Readalong

windmeup

I’m really really excited about this one—you can read all about it on Jill’s blog. Murakami is top on my list of “authors I want to read but oh my God they’re a bit on the intimidating side aren’t they?” and I’m going to need all the hand-holding I can get. (Strange Library doesn’t really count, because it’s more of a novella, plus it has lots of illustrations so it felt a little like reading a graphic novel or maybe a picture book for grown-ups. Although length probably doesn’t mean anything when it comes to Murakami, now that I think about it, because I’ve also read two Murakami short stories and let me just say, one of them flew right over my head. As in whoosh. I fared a little bit better with the other one.)

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle also made it to the Guardian’s list of “most disturbing novels” and after reading why it made it to the list I know there will definitely be some scenes I’ll be reading with eyes half-closed while quickly turning the pages. Because I’m squirmish like that. (My spell check is telling me that’s not a word and I should be using squeamish but squirmish feels right to me.) I have a feeling Jill is the perfect person to be reading a squirmish novel with …

So do come join us if you’re in the mood for tackling Murakami! It’s an informal readalong that runs from April 15 to May 31, so there’s lots and lots of time to read the book. The hashtag for this one is #windmeup.

And then some science fiction:

The Dune Readalong

Starting April 19, Suey, Jenni and Kami are holding a Dune readalong. I have had Dune, by Frank Herbert, on my to-read list for a very long time now. I can remember when I was a kid seeing my mom read it.

We used to have these weekly reading sessions where my sisters and I would all pile onto her bed with her, each of us with our own book, happily reading together. My mom doesn’t read fiction any more now, but when I was growing up she was a huge mystery, thrillers and SF reader. I grew up with Agatha Christie, John Le Carré, Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov scattered all over the house. So I do come by my genre leanings honestly (maybe it’s even hereditary!).

And I had to smile because this cover that Suey posted with the sign-up post:

Dune_Herbert

is the very same cover of the copy of Dune that I remember my mom reading! I love that she picked this cover instead of the one that graces the more modern edition.

There will also be three Twitter chats, which sound like they’ll be fun. The Twitter hashtag for this one is #DuneRAL. If Dune‘s been on your to-read list, too, I hope you’ll join in!

The one I missed (but maybe not):

Cloud Atlas Readalong

This is the one I’ve kind of dropped the ball on—it started back on April 1—but I’m still hoping to start Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell this month, and maybe even join in some of the discussion posts. Cloud Atlas is another one of those “I’m kind of intimated by this” books, although unlike Haruki Murakami, it’s not the author himself I find intimidating, just the book. I know this because I also want to read The Bone Clocks and I’m not intimidated by the idea of reading that one at all.

(Can you all tell, by the way, this is my year for reading outside my comfort zone?)

Hosted by Katie and April, the sign-up post is here, and the Twitter hashtag is #CloudAtlasAlong.

And coming in June …

The Misery readalong, hosted by Care! This is definitely going to be my year for reading Stephen King. I love the guy but I’ve really only read his earlier novels, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

I haven’t read Misery yet so this will be a first-time read for me. Haven’t seen the movie, either, although I always picture Kathy Bates when I think of the movie. It promises to be a fun, informal readalong. The hashtag for this one is #MiseryRAL. And you really need to pop over to Care’s post to see the really scary looking Stephen King picture she’s posted.

[TSS] A beautiful piece I hope all of you will read

I’m not going to post a Bookish Bliss post for today’s Sunday Salon. I’m still going to talk about reading, but this time it’s not about books. I really want to share this with as many readers as I can, and I didn’t want it to be in a fleeting way on social media, where a handful of people might see it and a fraction of that handful might click through.

I came across this personal essay by Cade Leebron earlier this week. Her words reached deep into me and wrapped tightly around my heart. And as I read, I cried.

Some of the frat boys are enraged, as expected. I just don’t care, I just don’t give a fuck if they’re feeling upset or inconvenienced, the safety of women on campus will always mean more to me than their hurt feelings or whatever loss they’re experiencing. I want to ask them to come lie on the floor with me, to feel really low with me, to understand that because of the actions of one boy four years ago I still sometimes stay up until five in the morning doing absolutely nothing other than lying in bed hating myself. I want them to know that he didn’t go to therapy, I did. He didn’t think about dropping out, I did. He didn’t drink himself to sleep for months, I did. Even now I am constantly monitoring myself, interrogating myself, trying to make sure that I don’t fall into those bad habits again, I’m still reminding myself to practice whatever self-care I can manage.

Rape is something that happens to too many young, college-aged women across North America today. It’s something that shouldn’t be happening at all, and yet it does. I am the mother of a strong, beautiful college-aged young woman, and it has happened to her. It has happened to many of the young women she knows. It is something that continues to happen, and without acknowledging that it is happening, that it is happening to those we know, that it is happening to those we love, without acknowledging the extent of the damage that’s done, we have no chance of stopping it from happening.

I hope all of you will click through and read this beautiful piece, even if it might make you cry. This piece, these words, this voice, everything this essay stands for and stands behind – it all deserves to be heard.

Update: Thank you everyone for your concern and support for my daughter, Hayley. She made this video last year, and it marked a turning point n her healing process.

[TSS] Bookish Bliss: The pleasures of late-night reading

I know. It wasn’t that long ago I posted about my quest to become a morning person. And I’m still on that quest. Just getting a little sidetracked, that’s all.

This past month, I’ve been really self-indulgent when it comes to my reading, giving myself permission to read late into the night. It’s been a while since I’ve done that, and I’m here now to say, yes, it is indeed a bookish bliss, one of the very guilty but oh so gratifying pleasures of reading.

I read 13 books in February, and much of that has been due to late-night reading. Around here, it’s the best time to read: everyone else is fast asleep, there are no interruptions, and even Twitter and Facebook are relatively quiet. And very few emails come in during those early morning hours, too.

I know early morning hours can be like that too, but to be honest, in the mornings, when it’s bright and sunny as Toronto winter mornings can be sometimes, I feel like I should be doing something productive, rather than reading.

So, I’ve been settling into a routine of opening up my current book at around midnight, glass of wine in one hand, snack-that-goes-with-wine in the other, and enjoying a rather bookishly blissful two to three hours of solid reading time.

I can’t keep doing this, I know. For one thing, I haven’t been waking up any later, so I’m starting to feel a little sleep deprived.

The other thing is, I’ve started reading Stephen King’s Pet Sematary for the #gangstercats readalong, and something tells me it’s probably a book I don’t want to be reading in the dead hours of the night, all by my lonesome on the couch with everyone else fast asleep.

On the other hand, I’m planning on balancing the horror with some lighter reading, like Helene Hanff’s The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, which is included in 84 Charing Cross, a middle grade fantasy I’m reading for a book tour called The Camelot Kids and Neil Gaiman’s and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens.

So maybe I can be self-indulgent for a little longer, as long as I remember to read Pet Sematary when it’s nice and bright out, and when the witching hour strikes, reach for a non-witchy type book!

Do you enjoy reading late into the night?

[TSS] Bookish Bliss: A new book by a favourite author (Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning)

There’s nothing like the excitement of a new book by a favourite author. No matter what the book is about, you can be pretty sure you’ll be in for a good time.

My list of favourite authors is a mutable, ever-changing beast of a list. But there are some authors who will likely be on it permanently. Neil Gaiman is one. Stephen King is another. J.K. Rowling – and wouldn’t it be something if she wrote another children’s fantasy series? Newer additions to the favourites list include Tana French, Laini Taylor and Justin Cronin. Other writers on the list (P.L. Travers, Elizabeth Peters, L.M. Montgomery, Madeleine L’Engle, Roald Dahl, Reginald Hill) are, unfortunately, no longer here with us.

Over the past few days, I’ve been indulging in the bookish bliss of reading a new book by a favourite author: I just finished Neil Gaiman’s latest, the short story collection Trigger Warning, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

trigger warning by neil gaiman

In any short story collection, there’s usually some unevenness. Some stories will be better than others – yes, even when they’re all written by your favourite author!

I enjoyed all of the stories and poems in Trigger Warning, but of course I had some clear favourites:

“The Thing About Cassandra” about a boy’s imaginary girlfriend.

“The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains”, which is a reread for me. It’s appeared in a previous anthology, Stories, but while I do have that anthology, I don’t think that’s where I read it initially. It might actually have been somewhere online …

“Orange” – I loved the questionnaire format and how Gaiman was able to tell the story so well using that format.

“The Case of Death and Honey” – a Sherlock Holmes story, and another reread, as it had originally appeared in A Study in Sherlock.

“Nothing O’Clock”, a Doctor Who short story. Need I say more?

“The Sleeper and the Spindle”, because I love how Gaiman portrayed the queen.

And finally, “The Black Dog”, because it’s a Shadow short story. In the introduction Gaiman says:

There is one last [Shadow] story to be told, about what happens to Shadow when he reaches London. And then, if he survives that, it will be time to send him back to America. So much has changed, after all, since he went away.

I can hardly wait until he tells that last short story! Hopefully it will mean that’s when Gaiman intends to start writing the sequel to American Gods!

Have you indulged in a new book by a favourite author lately?

[TSS] Bookish Bliss: Marginalia

The title of this post is a little misleading. I don’t actually know that marginalia is “bookish bliss”, because I have yet to indulge myself. It’s just that I really want to find out what it’s like, so I’m writing this post as a way of giving myself permission.

To, you know … write in books.

Kirchhofer_Wahrheit_und_Dichtung_016Kirchhofer Wahrheit und Dichtung 016” by Melchior Kirchhofer – scan from original book. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve never written in books. Not even when I was an English major in university and writing in the books I had to read for my classes probably would have been helpful when it came time to write those essays. And not even when I was in law school, when we had volumes and volumes of material to wade through.

I took notes, instead, on looseleaf paper. Lots and lots of notes, lots and lots of pages of looseleaf. I still have most of the books from my English courses (not the law school books, though – those are long gone). And none of the notes. When I look at those books on my shelves, I can’t help but think how much more interesting they’d be if I had written my notes in their margins.

What’s the allure of marginalia? In this New Yorker piece, Lauren Collins notes “Marginalia are the original comments section.” There’s definitely something to that.

Marginlia permits us to participate more fully in the reading of a book. Reading is often seen as a passive experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Over at Salon, Laura Miller writes,

“Marginalia is a blow struck against the idea that reading is a one-way process, that readers simply open their minds and the great, unmediated thoughts of the author pour in. In reality, reading is always a collaboration between reader and author, and even the basic act of underlining a passage represents a moment in the individual, unrepeatable experience that one person had with one book on one particular day.”

In a piece in The Millions which showcased the marginalia he made in the books he read in 2010, critic Sam Anderson has this to say about marginalia:

The writing I enjoy doing most, every year, is marginalia: spontaneous bursts of pure, private response to whatever book happens to be in front of me. It’s the most intimate, complete, and honest form of criticism possible — not the big wide-angle aerial shot you get from an official review essay, but a moment-by-moment record of what a book actually feels like to the actively reading brain.

His 2012 marginalia can be seen here.

I like the idea of having a conversation with the author as I’m reading his or her book, turning reading into more of an interactive experience. I already have these thoughts in my head as I’m reading, but I lose so much by not jotting them down. I do copy out passages and write down my reactions to them in a commonplace book, but there’s something about writing in the margins of a book that sounds so intimate and immediate.

So now all I need to do is give myself permission to write in a book. I’ve done worse to books – I’ve altered them as art projects, slopped gesso over them, stuck acrylic medium between pictures to make thicker canvases for paint. But those were all books I didn’t want to read. Writing in a book I do want to read? A part of me feels like its a form of sacrilege. I need to keep in mind what Mortimer Adler says in his classic How to Read a Book:

Full ownership of a book only comes when you have made it a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it — which comes to the same thing — is by writing in it.

Do you write in the books that you read? Tell me more about your marginalia habit, if you have one!

{TSS} Bookish Bliss: Adding to Mt. TBR

Although I like to complain about the size of my TBR stacks – the physical one, the digital ones (ebook and audiobook) and the library one – I really do like adding yet another book to my to-read lists.

Having a lot of books in my TBR stacks is just so comfortable, if you know what I mean. So many books! Which means I’ll always have an interesting book to read.

Last year, when I wasn’t online as much, one of my favourite things to do when I could find time was to go through the lists of new physical books, ebooks and audiobooks on my library’s site, and either put things on hold or save them to Evernote so I could put a hold on them later. (This was necessary or I’d end up hitting my holds limit. Not to mention hauling home way too many books from the library than I could possibly read in the time I’d have them out.)

This year, I haven’t had to go through any of my library’s lists. Now that I’m back to reading book blogs again, I am constantly adding new books to my TBR. And every time I do, it’s like I’ve found a little bit of treasure.

I do need to keep a record of who/what post lead me to add a book to my to-read piles, so I know who to blame thank for each book. Right now, I’m counting on my memory, which really isn’t such a good thing. I’ve been thinking of developing some sort of system (I’m all about systems this year) using Evernote or Todoist, since I use both these apps a lot. I wish, though, that I could just whip up an IFTTT recipe that would automatically add a link to a spreadsheet every time I put a hold on a book or add one to my cart or to my wishlist!

It’s reassuring in a way to know that the state of Mt. TBR will always be teetering, no matter how many books I diligently get through …

Do you find yourself adding titles to your TBR stacks every time you go blog hopping? And do you have a system for keeping track of which blog post enticed you to add which book to your lists?

[TSS] Bookish Bliss: More SAGA!

saga v2saga v3

 

I finished Saga, volume 2 and Saga, volume 3! Now I’m looking forward to getting Saga, volume 4 – I just checked my library’s website, and it looks like it’s in transit to me even as I type.

It’s not just the storylines. The art is just so incredible, too. There are so many things to take in, in each panel. I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this series.

Have you read the Saga series? What did you think of it?