Two Books at Once

What are your feelings on reading two books at once? When I was younger I did this all the time – before schoolwork decided to take over my life. But in more recent years I have been a one book only kind of girl. Lately, however, I have been debating delving back into the two-book way. Not permanently, just for now.

This is mainly because last week I had a pretty bad cough. It took away a lot of my energy and left me lying on a couch watching old episodes of Heroes on Netflix. I was also really in the mood to read, but I’ve been reading Great Expectations, and didn’t have the concentration to delve into that at the time. I have been really enjoying it a lot, more than I expected, but I just needed something less dense. So I FINALLY started Gone Girl. And then I was reading two books at once. I am fully enthralled in Gone Girl (more on that later), but am planning on returning to Great Expectations (review to come). It’s just such a problem when you have two good books that you want to read…

Anyway, I haven’t posted recently because I have been busy being sick and on vacation, but that’s an update on where I am in my reading life. I haven’t reviewed a book in a while either (Great Expectations is long after all), but I am planning on finishing Gone Girl sometime this week so review to come. (Not so spoiler alert: It’s good). Then back to Dickens and who knows from there? I miss talking about books on here. Signs that I am a bibliophile…

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and welcome to the (official) Christmas season!

Late Night Book Poetry

It’s late and I was in the mood to post something but I didn’t know what. Also, I traded working tomorrow for working on Friday, so I have a day off tomorrow. What to do, what to do…

Anyway, since I don’t have anything that is dying to be said on this blog at the moment (still very much in the middle of Great Expectations) I decided to try my hand at a little book poetry, or spine poetry, whatever the “official” term is for it. I have lots of books in my room, many from random college classes that are hard to sell back to amazon (Modern Irish Literature), or random books from college that I don’t want to sell back to amazon (poetry and fiction writing books). And of course, there is the random assortment of novels that I acquire on a regular basis. I used to have more (four large bookshelves full) but we gave away a ton of books when my family moved a few years ago. Still, it looked like I had some good potential for book poetry. So next thing I know I am sitting on my floor taking pictures of books at 12:30 at night. Very normal. Anyway, I might have gotten carried away but here is the result. It was pretty fun I will probably do it again in the future. 🙂

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Why I Am Not Doing NaNoWriMo

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It is impossible to be a regular reader of book and writing blogs and not hear about NaNoWriMo in November. My blog feeds have been filled with regular updates and word counts, so I feel like I have to give my reasons for not participating in this national event.

As I have talked about before I have a story idea brewing. I say brewing because it is still in the planning stages. Lots of planning going on here. And questions. Since there is history and time travel involved, two topics I have never really tackled before, I don’t want to rush through the writing and planning process just to get it done in a month. If I did that from where I stand now with my novel it would be gibberish and I would end up throwing most of it out anyway. This way I can write and throw things out at my own pace.

I have always been a page count kind of person as compared to a word count one. I also like to work on individual sections, scenes, and paragraphs, and make sure they are the way that I want them before moving on with writing. This doesn’t seem conducive to bulk writing, which would result (for me at least) in stress. I am working on cutting down stress and worry in my life right now -I am an excellent worrier, and although I work well with deadlines, just the thought of having a daily word count deadline with the way my life has been right now, and where my story is, makes me break out in a sweat. I feel the same way about reading. Writing never stresses me out. Even when I was putting together final portfolios for classes in college the physical writing process is very calming for me, which is probably why I like it so much. Even when I am writing academic papers (although that is more stressful than stories), once I figure out what I want to say, saying it is never that bad for me. I don’t want that to change – I don’t want writing to be stressful. That would take the fun out of it.

I have been thinking about and working on my story on my own time. There is the potential of an anti-hero which would make things exciting, and I still need to do some research, and make sure I don’t write myself into some sort of paradox with the time travel – it’s bound to happen. I am hoping at some point this weekend to sit down and work on some scenes, at least maybe get a beginning going.

I am not morally opposed to NaNoWriMo or anything – I don’t want people thinking that. I think it’s a really cool idea and a good way to get writing. I hadn’t heard about it until high school, and by that time my Novembers were filled with a mad rush of pre-vacation work, and trying to make it to Thanksgiving alive. Not a very conducive environment for creativity. NaNoWriMo is something that I would be interested in doing at some point in my life (I do consider myself to be a writer after all). Maybe even more than once. So some time in the future, when my life is more put together than it is at the moment (ie – not looking for a job), and I have a story idea that I have planned adequately in advance, I might make the leap and sign up for NaNoWriMo. In the meantime, happy writing!

Miraculous Times: The Age of Miracles

Well here is my review/discussion of The Age of Miracles (finally). I finished this book around 3 weeks ago, but have been pretty busy with different things so I haven’t gotten around to talking about it until now.

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Picture from NY Times

I was glad that when I went to the library they had The Age of Miracles, because as I have found out, it is hard to get new books from the library, because that is what everyone else is doing as well. The Age of Miracles is about what Karen Thompson Walker calls “the slowing”, where the earth’s rotation slows down, making both the nights and the days unnaturally long. During this time of change and crisis, Walker focuses the story on Julia, an eleven year old girl living in California and her life, family, and friends.

Although there is a coming of age story in The Age of Miracles, I viewed it more as a thought experiment. “The slowing” works its way into every detail of Julia’s life, and is what drives the story forward. Walker examines what the slowing of time would affect days, nights, friendships, schools, gravity, tides, soccer practices, and marriages. Julia herself wonders how many of the changes that she is experiencing could be attributed to the slowing as compared to simply growing up in a normal world.

I found that parts of the book were slow at times. Walker sometimes strays from the main characters to talk about “the slowing” itself, but the book is short so the slow parts never really lasted very long. I was drawn to it because of the unique story, and the writing is well done. Walker is descriptive and literary without being overly wordy. I tend to like descriptions both in my own writing and others, so I was attracted to that in The Age of Miracles. At times it reminded me of how I write, or rather how I want to write.

Another thing that I liked about the book was that Walker discusses middle school and adolescence without sugar coating it. Julia goes through some rough times at school and at home. It is important to realize that just because she is 11 and not an adult does not mean she doesn’t deal with real problems. She gets bullied at school, has a crush on a boy, and deals with friendships growing apart. All of these topics could be dealt with in an idillic way to make her life sound cute and quaint, but Walker does not do that. She is very blunt and raw in that way. There are real problems and stress in Julia’s life. Middle school is rough for everyone, and “the slowing” doesn’t make it any easier.

Another interesting thing that Walker brought up in her book was adaptation. There are people who stick to “clock time” once “the slowing” starts, and then there are those who work to adapt their life’s schedule to when it is light out. This creates an interesting divide in Walker’s society which I thought was interesting. Which time is the right time?

In a way this book reminded me of December by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop, which is about a young girl (also 11) who decides to stop talking. Both books are about only children (girls) and their families as they try to figure out how to live in these different times.

The Age of Miracles is a short read – it only took me about 2 days, and I started it at night. It can be a stressful book just because of the premise and reaction that the characters have to their change in environment. That and it’s middle school. But I definitely enjoyed the book and thought it was interesting and thought provoking. It all takes place in modern day (they mention bird flu etc.) which gives the book a certain eeriness to it. Julia’s world at the beginning of the book is no different than ours. All in all, I recommend this book.