Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #3

Hi all. I’m doing this as a running draft again, since I like the format.

Book #10 (Goodreads Challenge): I finally finished Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. I lived through the integration struggles of the 60’s and the Vietnam War (I know – it was technically a conflict) and Watergate, and I have never seen anything as scary as the goings-on described in this book. I note that GQ Magazine did an article on this book in which they noted that:

“As much as I wanna discredit Wolff, he got receipts and, more important, he used them. Wolff got it all. Wolff nailed them.”

They further note that,

“If Trump refuses to abide by the standard (and now useless) “norms” of the presidency—shit, if he doesn’t even KNOW them—why should ANYONE in the press adhere to needless norms of their own? They shouldn’t, and it appears that Michael Wolff was one of the few people to instinctively grasp that, and I hope more White House insiders follow his lead. Sometimes you need a rat to catch a rat.”

What I kept thinking, while reading the book, was that I had never thought I would live to see a President who would make me miss Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and both Bushes. Further, it took a lot longer to read than I had anticipated. The problem was not the book’s length, but that I kept getting so disgusted at the events depicted therein that I had to keep putting the book down.

I think it is a must-read, but only if you have the stomach for it.

Book #11 (Both Challenges): Courage is Contagious: And Other Reasons to be Grateful for Michelle Obama is a collection of essays from both famous and non-famous people about Michelle Obama and what they perceive her contributions to the country, The White House, and the role of First Lady were. It’s a very quick read and a very enjoyable one. I only wish the book had been longer.

Book #12 (Both Challenges): Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, by Sheri S. Tepper was definitely a page-turner. I read until I literally fell asleep way too late, with my Kindle still in my hand. I woke up this morning and had to finish it, even before my coffee and breakfast. It’s not a happy book; in fact, it is one of the scariest books I have ever rear, right up on a par with Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale or Eugene Wheeler and Harvey Burdick’s Fail-Safe. But it is beyond well-written, and well-worth the time it takes to read it.

Book #13 (Goodreads Challenge): “A City’s Favor,” by Racheline Maltese, with Joel Derfner, Tessa Gratton, and Karen Lord, which is the thirteenth chapter of Tremontaine Season 3, over on the Serial Box website. As I’ve noted before, I’ve been following this series from the beginning because it takes place in the same world as Ellen Kushner’s “Swords of Riverside” series. It’s a wonderful fantasy series, with several major female characters: Diane (Duchess Tremontaine), Ixkaab, Micah, and Tess the Hand all jump to mind immediately. Ellen has woven a complex society, with two very distinct classes – the nobility, and the Riversiders. You might want to read her trilogy, Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, and The Fall of the Kings before plunging into Tremontaine. Since it leaves us with something of a cliffhanger, I am sincerely hoping that there will be a Season 4. Whether there is another season ahead or not, I promise you, it’s well worth the time invested.

Book #14 (Both Challenges): The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin. The task was to read a children’s classic published before 1980. Several folks in the challenge forum suggested this book, originally published in 1978. When I looked it up, it sounded interesting, so I figured I’d give it a try. I am very glad I did. For one thing, it was not written “down” to some imagined kids’ level. It was written as if the author was writing for people with brains. Two, there were enough twista and turns that it held my interest all the way through, and had an ending that seemed both natural, inevitable, and totally satisfying. One thing I can tell you: Once this challenge is completed, I intend to look up Ms. Raskin’s other books and read them.

Book #15 (Both Challenges): Daytripper, by Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá, Craig Thompson (Introduction), Dave Stewart (Colours), Sean Konot (Lettering) was much more than I expected it to be. I’ve been a fan of comics since I picked up my first Adventure Comic back when comics were $.12 each. And I am certainly no stranger to comics that ponder deeper questions. But this was one of the more unusual comics I have ever read. For one thing, it was not meant to be comfortable. Relatable, yes; thought-provoking, yes; well-written, yes; comfortable, not so much. It’s about the choices one makes in life, and when and how we discover the meaning of life for ourselves. I highly recommend this. NOTE for the Unwary: There are several depictions of death in the book – partly because the protagonist is an obituary writer, partly because death is the capstone of life, and partly because in some ways our deaths tell us about how we lived. As I said, this was not a comfortable book, but I found it to be very worth my time.

Book #16 (Goodreads Challenge): The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin. There are some books that not only resonate with you, they inflame your love for reading. Between the descriptions of books that Mr. Fikry writes for his daughter, Maya, and the books mentioned in the book itself, my reading list has grown. Many of the books this book has caused me to look up are books that I probably should have read long ago but didn’t. Others are totally new to me (kind of like the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge stuff). This book is really about the power both books and people have in our lives, and it should not be missed.

So I think I have rambled on long enough about books for now. Whatever you are reading this week, may you find joy in it as great as I have.

Advertisements

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #2

Okay, I’m going to do this post as a running draft until I have a number of books reviewed.

Book #6 (Goodreads Challenge): I came across Philip Gourevitch’s Cold Case through an article in The New Yorker recommending books/stories to read during the current cold snap. It’s a bit slow-moving but is a fascinating look at how a 27-year-old crime was solved. If you like crime stories (as opposed to mysteries), you will enjoy this one, especially as it can be read in one sitting.

Book 7 (Goodreads Challenge): “Dragon Rampant,” by Karen Lord, which is the eleventh chapter of Tremontaine Season 3, over on the Serial Box website. I’ve been following this series from the beginning because it takes place in the same world as Ellen Kushner’s “Swords of Riverside” series. It’s a wonderful fantasy series, with several major female characters: Diane (Duchess Tremontaine), Ixkaab, Micah, and Tess the Hand all jump to mind immediately. Ellen has woven a complex society, with two very distinct classes – the nobility, and the Riversiders. You might want to read her trilogy, Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, and The Fall of the Kings before plunging into Tremontaine. I promise you, it’s well worth the time invested.

Book 8 (Goodreads Challenge): “Surrounded,” by Joel Derfner, which is the twelfth chapter of Tremontaine Season 3, over on the Serial Box website. Again, this is a wonderful serial, which I highly recommend to anyone who likes fantasy/adventure/dynasty/political books. In this installment, Duchess Tremontaine has a funeral for her husband, and the school Rafe Fenton has founded is attacked. As always, the writing is excellent, and the story compelling.

And a note – new chapters of Tremontaine are introduced on Wednesdays, although the next chapter will be the finale for the third season. OTOH, if you want to do some catching up before the fourth season (assuming there will be one), this will give you a good chance to do so.

Book 9 (Both Challenges): “I met Catheryyne M. Valente back when she was an NYU student, and I have been meaning to read some of her stuff ever since she sold her first story. Life intervened until now, but I finally got to read Tremontaine Season 3, over on the Six-Gun Snow White. It’s a version of Snow White set in the Old West, with a radically different scenario – instead of being poisoned with an apple, Snow takes off after years of being emotionally abused by her step-mother. One thing I like very much – this Snow is no-one’s patsy. She can, and does, take care of herself.

So, that’s it for this week. I’ve been slowly making my way through Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. It’s been slow going, not because of the writing, but because the subject matter is so appalling to me that I have to read it in short pieces. I’ll have a report when I’m done with it.

‘Til next time!

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #1

Okay, I’m six days into both challenges. I am not reading quite as fast as I’d like to be, but I have noticed that age and life have slowed me down a bit. Still, the Goodreads tracker says I am one book ahead of schedule, so I can’t be doing all that badly.

While I will not double-dip (use one book for multiple tasks) in the Read Harder Challenge, I will let books read count for both challenges where applicable.

Book 1 (Both Challenges): The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, by Allison Hoover Bartlett. Task #2 (a book of true crime) was easy to pick – I had just downloaded this book because it was not only true crime but about books – rare books – something I have been interested in since I first read 84, Charing Cross Road, by Hannah Hanff and its follow-ups.I was not disappointed. Not the fastest read, but one to savor, as the author learns more and more about the world of rare book dealing, independent bookshops, and about John Gilkey and how (and – to some degree – why) Gilkey acquired the books he was so obsessed with.

Book 2 Both Challenges: Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen. It’s a damned good thing I had been introduced to Austen back in high school. If this book had been my introduction to her, I’d probably never have picked up another book by her. Mostly, I wanted to slap the heroine all through the book. She is spectacularly naive – misses cues all over the place – some so broad that they should have been like getting hit with a two by four. Still, it solved the task for the Book Riot challenge handily (Task #1, a book published posthumously).

Book 3 (Both Challenges): Familiar Things, by Hwang Sok-yong translated by Sora Kim-Russell. I had already downloaded this because one of the writers I know had marveled about having read a Korean Sf/fantasy novel, and the idea intrigued me. It handily fulfilled Book Riot’s Task 19 (a book of genre fiction in translation). Again, while it was definitely not something in my comfort zone, it was well worth reading. I found it easy to empathize with Bugeye (the protagonist) and his friend Baldspot. I found it very realistic when it came to portraying how resilient kids can be, even under the most radical of changes. This was definitely worth the time spent.

Book 4 (Both Challenges): The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. I am not sure how I managed to miss this one over the decades, but I have now made up for that lack. These stories are about how man kept trying to colonize Mars, and what happened to each expedition. Some of the stories feel complete in themselves, some feel like cliff-hangers, but all of them are good short reads. It was a wonderful choice for Book Riot’s Task 5 (a classic of genre fiction {i.e. mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, romance}).

Book 5 (Both Challenges): Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Knisley. This is not a book I would have picked up on my own. However, since I do not know much about graphic novels/comics, I looked for recommendations in the discussion group for this task (Task #4: a comic written and illustrated by the same person). I am so glad I did pick it, though. The writer brings to life what it’s like to be the child of two foodies with different outlooks on almost everything. This is not only a really fun comic, but it lovely and sweet. One of the best parts of it is that it isn’t about blowing things up or catching bad guys, or any of the tropes of action-type comics, which I got bored with decades ago.

So, those are what I’ve read so far this year. My next book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff, will only work for the Goodreads challenge, but I want to read it now for several reasons. For one thing, any book that Trump tries to suppress should be very interesting to those of us who did not vote for him. For another, GQ Magazine noted:

“If Trump refuses to abide by the standard (and now useless) “norms” of the presidency—shit, if he doesn’t even KNOW them—why should ANYONE in the press adhere to needless norms of their own? They shouldn’t, and it appears that Michael Wolff was one of the few people to instinctively grasp that, and I hope more White House insiders follow his lead. Sometimes you need a rat to catch a rat.”

They further note that while his ways of obtaining information may border on sleazy, he “got receipts and, more important, he used them. Wolff got it all. Wolff nailed them.” To me, this sounds like the book is going to be just as fascinating as Woodward and Bernstein’s article about Watergate. I can’t wait to dig into this one.

So that’s my reading challenge update for the first six days of January. See you soon.

A New Year, A New Start…Maybe

While this is not the venue I journal about my life in general, let me just note that the past fall has been one of the roughest I’ve seen. My roommate spent much of it in hospitals and a nursing home dealing with things she had avoided dealing with for years. I lost – in rapid succession – two very good friends of over 30 years. I have been undertaking – with the help of a friend and the more limited help of my roommate – a major revamping of the apartment.

That last – the revamping of the apartment – actually borders on stuff that is the provence of this journal. I have gotten rid of about two-thirds of my record collection, and about one-third of my books. At the same time, the last few weeks have been occupied by boxing books (27 boxes), so we could get rid of an entertainment center and two of the old bookcases and get in ten new-to-us bookcases. Our acquisitions were from the IKEA Billy line: A corner unit, two glass-fronted bookcases, two wooden-fronted narrow cupboards, two narrow open bookcases, and three standard open bookcases. This was successfully done, although there were a few times that stress levels for all three of us were running pretty high. We are now unboxing the books (two more boxes to go), and trying to organize the bookshelves in some kind of reasonable order. My friend Lisa likes books organized by subject; my roommate is a former librarian who likes her books in alphabetical order within subjects; my preference is alphabetical by authors. We are using my roommate’s preference to organize things since that pleases all concerned.

The other thing is that I now have organized all the books that I was sent to review, and shall be starting to work my way through them shortly so you can expect a good number of book reviews for the next while.

The other thing I have taken on, relevant to this particular blog, are two reading challenges. I exceeded my goal for last year’s Goodreads Challenge, reading 223 books – 23 books over my goal of 200 books for the year. This year, I have raised my goal for that challenge to 250 books.

I have also taken on Read Harder’s 2018 challenge (and I shall incorporate those books into my total for the year). This is a challenge sponsored by Book Riot which consists of the following 24 tasks:

1) A book published posthumously
2) A book of true crime
3) A classic of genre fiction
4) A comic written and illustrated by the same person
5) A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa)
6) A book about nature
7) A western
8) A comic written or illustrated by a person of color
9) A book of colonial or postcolonial literature
10) A romance novel by or about a person of color
11) A children’s classic published before 1980
12) A celebrity memoir
13) An Oprah Book Club selection
14) A book of social science
15) A one-sitting book
16) The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle-grade series
17) A sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author
18) A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image
19) A book of genre fiction in translation
20) A book with a cover you hate
21) A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author
22) An essay anthology
23) A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60
24) An assigned book you hated (or never finished)

I will keep folks here updated on my progress with this list.

Thanks to my friend Debbie (aka mamadeb) I have become part of the planner community.Mind, I have had a love for planners for as long as I can remember. I can even say that I was doing a form of bullet journaling long before it became a Thing. I have, for decades, put a Table of Contents (ToC) in the back of every journal, so that I could find things again. It was a very simple thing: I numbered my journal’s pages, then did a three columnrule for the last six sides (three pages) of my journal. The columns were “Date,” “Page,” and “Item.” And I always used my journal for listing tasks, tracking things, and taking notes, as well as the usual diary entries.

One thing I do want to work on this year in my planning is doing better granular work, that is, improving my skill in breaking down large goals into smaller pieces that can be done as a progression, rather than trying to do an overwhelming task all at once. We will see how that tuens out over the course of the year.

So, no real resolutions, but a number of commitments and things to work on. I hope you enjoy the ride if you come along with me.

Taking a Virtual Walk

Most folks who know me know that I am a huge Lawrence Block fan.

Random Walk

Early today, I received a newsletter from him that discussed, among other things, his book Random Walk. I was intrigued by the plot: A guy quits his bartending job in Oregon, starts walking across the country, and Things Happen. (Yeah, that’s the best I can describe it without using spoilers, and I really want you to read this book and discover its wonders for yourself.)

Block, as always, weaves together disparate subplots into a unique whole that – to me, anyway, was very reminiscent of vision quests, coming of age sagas, expiation of sins, and books about following a Path. As always, his writing is transparent and does not in any way overshadow the tale he is spinning. He balances the characters’ introspection and actions perfectly.

I could not put the book down, nor did I want to. I ignored my phone; I ignored my email; I ignored my social media. I ignored everything but the cat – who would have shredded my leg completely if I did not pay him a few minutes of attention every couple of hours.

Seriously, if you have any inclination toward being on a Path, or looking at the larger questions in life, or how to change your life to be more what you want it to be, go and get this book. I don’t care if you prefer e-books, printed books, or audio books. Get your hands on a copy of Random Walk, settle in with your favorite beverage, and enjoy a walking tour like you have never been on before.

Happy reading.

BUJO – The Art of Bullet Journaling

Yeah, I’ve bitten the bullet. I’m slowly adapting some of the practices of bujo into my own journal-keeping.

See, I have a friend, Debbie, who introduced me to bujo because she was successfully using it. She knows I’m a big journal fan, so she thought I would find it interesting. I started reading up on it, and it sounded like an awful lot of effort for a very small return, but I kept reading.

As I read, I realized several things. First, I realized that I had sort of been doing a pre-cursor to bujo for a couple of decades. Whenever I started a new paper journal, I would number the pages, and rule off the back three sheets (both sides) for a table of contents (ToC). I would then note in the journal the start date and – when done with it – the end date. I also number the books themselves. (I had a friend who went even further and gave each of her journals a name, but that was more effort than I was up for.)

After that, and as I kept reading, I realized that the whole damned point of bujo was not to make my journal look like anyone else’s (Washi tape? Fancy hand-lettered boxes? Who the hell has the time?) I know that a lot of folks doing bujo also scrapbook, which is another thing I do not do, and that the pages looking pretty was important to them. Fortunately, my friend Debbie is – like me – a person to whom function is generally more important than form.

She showed me her disc-bound planner/bujo one day while driving me to an appointment, and that tipped me over the line. It was neat; it was no frills; it was totally functional for her needs. I had used something similar to a disc-bound book since the 1980s (remember Day-Timers?), so the concept of a book that I could easily add pages to or move pages around was not unpleasant.

Also fortunately, I live six blocks from a Staples, so I was able to get a disc-bound planner with the “planner” function set up the way I like. I was also able to get blank pages and a set of larger discs, which I knew I would need (I tend to use my journals instead of scrapbooks, which means in addition to any writing or drawing, there are also pages with ticket stubs and various other memorabilia attached (purple glue-sticks have been my friend since they came out).

So in addition to the planner itself, I have been doing my gratitude journaling there, tracking my progress in getting my walking range back, keeping a list of bills paid and a list of books I’ve read this year, and I have just added a habit tracker similar to the one my friend Debbie uses, although I just check off boxes instead of using a highlighter to fill them in.

So, as I said, I have been bitten by the bujo bug, but in a way that works for me. Will update if/when I make other changes.

Oh, and for those interested, Debbie’s blog, Steadily On, is here.

Catching Up on Life and Reading

First, I apologize for not being more regular about posting. It’s been a rough two years, including spinal surgery, and more heart work. That, plus all the usual junk that life piles on you, and writing crashes to the bottom of the priority list for a bit.

So, In May of 2016, I woke up one morning and could not get out of bed. Literally. It took three EMTs almost half an hour to get me into a transport chair so they could get me out of the apartment, and I was screaming in pain the whole time. It turns out that a number of things had gone wrong. There was sciatica, which I had known about, but there was also stenosis, a nerve so pinched at the base of my spine that the doctors couldn;t even find it on the MRI, degenerative arthritis at the base of my spine that no one knew about, two crumbling disks, and an infection between the two crumbling disks that was doing its damnedest to get into my spine.  I spent six weeks in what is probably the worst rehab place in Brooklyn (ask me offline if you want the gory details) getting IV antibiotics, then a few weeks at home to make sure the antibiotics had worked. Then I had a consultation with a neurosurgeon, and spinal surgery was scheduled. The good news is that even though there was some discomfort after the surgery, the relief was so profound that the discomfort could pretty much be ignored. Then came the slow recovery. Now, what I didn’t know at the time was that none of the doctors involved, except my primary care guy (who is a saint) believed I would ever walk again. Fortunately, I proved my primary care guy right and surprised all the others. However, just after Passover this year, my heart started racing. I mean my heart rate was something like 130 when I was just sitting at my desk. I called my doctor and was diagnosed with atrial flutter, a situation where the heart’s electric signals are getting missent. It’s not quite as serious as atrial fibrillation but does increase risks for strokes, heart attacks and the like. I went into the hospital for a cardioversion (basically electroshock therapy for the heart) and it worked. BUT…two weeks later, I had another episode. My cardiologist (another saint), set me up with a cardiac electrophysiologist, who recommended that I have a procedure called an ablation, wherein the tissue that is misfiring is basically destroyed, allowing the heart to return to a normal pace. I had that procedure about three weeks ago, and things are getting back to normal, although we are having some fun trying to find a new balance for my meds.

I have been able to start reading again, since my ability to concentrate is one of the things that has been returning. Not that I wasn’t trying to read this whole time; I was just having enough concentration issues that in stead of a joy, it was becoming downright unpleasant.

I am now trying to finish books I had started and given up on along the way, as well as new books.

In that regard, I am reading Excelsior, You Fathead!: THe Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd, by Eugene B. Bergmann. I was surprised at having a hard time reading this (not realizing that it was largely because of the physical stuff) before my health issues kicked up because I have always been a fan of Jean Shepherd’s. My mom always had WOR-AM on her radios in the house, so I grew up falling asleep at night to Shep’s delicious cynicism. I have picked the book up again (thank God for Kindle readers), and it now seems less of a slog.

In fact, what inspired this entry is something that Shep came up with in the late 1950s (when I would have been listening to him every night that he was on): Dream Collection Day! What Shep proposed was that the city declare one day to be Dream Collection Day, on which day everyone could put out on their stoop, like so much garbage, all the dreams they had not achieved, along with the paraphernalia for chasing those dreams. His contention is that those old dreams are doing nothing more than making us feel guilty and holding us back from what we could be doing if we were living in the present moment. Thing is, from my great perspective of almost 65 years, I think he might be onto something here.

I received an email today from an acquaintance who was bemoaning that nothing he had tried in his just under eighty years on the planet had worked out the way he had wanted it to. in his words, “My entire life could best be described as an unrealized potential–a tale of what MIGHT have been; not a tale of what ACTUALLY happened. Not for a single moment did my shafts hit the bullseye. I was off by a mile. I was considered second-rate; never a winner. I was no more than a face in the crowd; a nameless, unidentifiable being; a nobody.” Now, this friend is about to have a second volume of poetry published – not a mean feat these days. Yet all he can see is the things that didn’t happen. And he judges his life as being worthless because of those. I wonder what it could be if he could focus on going forward, rather than looking back in despair. I also am debating taking Shep’s idea and putting it to use in my life. I have been wanting to

I also am debating taking Shep’s idea and putting it to use in my life. I have been wanting to get rid of tons of things over the last few years, and have even made some attempts at doing so before I got sick. I think I need to look at the stuff in my life, and see what dreams are no longer relevant to me, and sell, give away, or toss out the things pertaining to them.

In other news, I have been reading a delightful series by Shira Glassman; the Mangoverse series. It revolves around a Jewish, lesbian queen named Shulamit; her wife in all but name, Aviva; Riv/Rivka, her cross-dressing bodyguard; and Riv’s husband, Isaac, a man/dragon shapeshifter. The series is fun, silly, delightful, and way too damned short. I want more stories about them. I stumbled onto this series because the author is a Twitter friend of one of my real-life friends, and I had interacted with her through my friend’s Twitter account and liked her. She’s also done some stand-alone book, and I read the first one, Knit One, Girl Two, with great delight (except that it was too darned short and I want to read more about Clara, Jasmine, The Phantom, and Danielle)! I highly recommend this book, as well as the Mangoverse series.

Another thing I got to read, thanks to the wonderful Lawrence Block, who seems to have gotten me listed as a reader/reviewer for Random House, was a book by Donald E. Westlake, Forever and a Death, which is – according to Random House – his first novel. It was delicious, with all the hallmarks of a great Westlake read. Not Dancing Aztecs, by any means, not a Dortmunder, but well worth the time spent reading it. Again, highly recommended, especially if you are a Westlake fan.

There is so much more I have to recommend, but I think that’s enough for one post. So I will be back to my regular schedule soon, I hope, and look forward to seeing everyone again.

White, Hot, and True – A review of Danielle LaPorte’s WHITE HOT TRUTH

 

White Hot Truth: Clarity for Keeping It Real on Your Spiritual Path from One Seeker to AnotherWhen I first heard Danielle LaPorte through The Yoga Summit, I knew I was hearing someone special. WHITE HOT TRUTH just reproves that. LaPorte is funny, wise, and practical. Part memoir, part what-to-avoid, part how-to-get-there, this book is an enjoyable survey of what worked for her and what didn’t. She has strong advice on how to evaluate teachers, gurus, or other practitioners, and lots of advice on how to follow your own star. Also, unlike many books of this type, she notes why many practices are not “one-size-fits-all.”

Much of her book resonated with me, and rang true to the experiences I’ve had with various groups. I also had a couple of key breakthroughs on things I had never gotten closure on through reading her experiences.

I highly recommend this book if you consider yourself to be on any kind of spiritual path, whether mainstream, New Age, obscure, or fringe.

Kindles and Tablets and Phones, Oh My!

As most of you know, I am a pretty deep and wide reader. I will read anything that doesn’t run away fast enough. My apartment has more books than bookshelves, even with the four additional bookshelves I inherited when one of my oldest friends moved. Further, my roommate is a retired librarian. If there is a flat surface in our house other than the kitchen counter and table that is not covered with books, you can be sure it soon will be. I love to crack open a good book, and I always will.

That said, I am a great fan of e-books and e-readers. I wasn’t always, I admit, but I have come around. E-readers and e-reading apps make life easy. My Kindle has, as of this morning, 3,098 e-books on it. Imagine the delight of carrying that much reading material with me, especially since having several major surgeries, both of which have required me to drastically cut down the amount of stuff I can lug around on any given day. Further, so long as I remember to bring a charging cable with me, the devices can be used to make long hospital stays much more endurable.

Even better, I can borrow e-books from both the Brooklyn and New York Public Libraries. This means that new books are just a few clicks away. I can even send things like knitting patterns to my Kindle or other e-readers, so I am lugging less paper.

Also, one advantage of e-readers and apps is that I can adjust the size of the print to whatever I can comfortably read. Many e-readers and apps also allow you to adjust the brightness and background color to something that your eyes find comfortable. I also like that I can easily make notes, place bookmarks so that I can pick up from the same spot in a book on my Kindle, my tablet, or even my smartphone. I can also choose to have a different book open on each device or app. Since I tend to read several books at a time, this is one of the biggest advantages as far as I’m concerned.

I have found only one downside to using e-readers and apps: I now tend to acquire books at an even faster rate than I did before. The thing is that people, both online and off, keep recommending books and series of books to me. And there are always newsletters and websites to tell me about all the books I might want to read Real Soon Now.  I have actually maxed out my Amazon store card on occasion because of this. It is far too easy, when buying a book for my e-reader, to just buy the whole series – just a few clicks and they are on my device. Still, this does have the upside of being able to have all of a series with me, just in case I need to look back to find something.

So, while books will always hold the premier place in my heart, e-readers and apps will tie for a close second. If you have not used an e-reader, I suggest that you download one of the many e-readers available to either a tablet or smartphone, and give it a try. You may discover that you enjoy the flexibility an e-reader or e-reading app.

I’d love to hear from y’all as to whether you like or hate e-reading devices and apps, so please feel free to comment below!

Reading, Religion, and My Quest for Knowledge

As you guys know, I am a reader. Nothing makes me happier than to curl up with a good book, whether it’s a hardcover or on my Kindle. What you may not know (unless you know me in real life) is that I read multiple books over the same period of time. I might grab a good Lawrence Block mystery in the morning (which I will undoubtedly finish at one sitting because I can’t put it down), and then dip into a few chapters of a cookbook. In the evening, I might read a bit about meditation or a few chapters of a biography.

This year, I am taking on two major reading projects. The first is to read the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) in a year. I’m using a New Revised Standard Version because I cannot find my King James version. I love the way the language is used in the King James. The New Revised Standard is a bit too modern for my taste but, in the smallish doses I read each day, it will serve. The reading plan I am using for this is www.walkthru.org’s “Walk Thru the Bible.

The other project is reading the Talmud. Since I cannot read Hebrew, I am reading the Koren Publications English version of the Steinsaltz Edition. The first three volumes, covering the first two tractates, arrived yesterday (I opted for “real” books for this, rather than an online or PDF version). I cannot claim to be going full Daf Yomi on this project — the reading for today is in the 26th volume, and I suspect it would take forever to catch up. However, I will advance at my own pace – I plan to try for at least two dafs a day on days when I don’t have doctors appointments or other things scheduled.

Now, those of you who know me know that I am not particularly religious so you might raise the question of why I am taking on these two projects. Well, I have always loved learning about religions, and I think it’s time to take the next step and start going deeper into that. I do not intend for these to be the only religious books I add to my list — there are a number of other religions I am also interested in. It just seemed to me that my own religion and the other major religion (Christianity as a whole, rather than any one sect of it) would be the proper place for me to start.

So, my reading multitasking just got bigger by two projects. We’ll see if I can stick to them.

Post Navigation