Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Peeking out of the burrow: Meeting 2013

You’ve probably had spells like this too, when — even though you usually turn to books for escape and entertainment and information and, well, nearly everything — reading is impossible.

Things have been unexpectedly and overwhelmingly quiet here, online, due to a couple of major offline events which completely eclipsed my reading for a time, but I am back to my books

And even though it’s now March and the new year has decidedly taken hold for most other folks, it feels as though mine has barely begun, so I’m carrying on with the posts planned for January.

Today? Talk of my aims for 2013, which are meant to soak its months in a more general way but which will influence my reading as well.

Sunday? Bookchat about the second story in Alice Munro’s Dear Life, “Amundsen”. (The schedule is here: please feel free to join in for a single story or for the remainder of the collection.)

Next week? Talk of my specifically bookish readolutions for this year, a recap of some of my favourites from 2012, and some housekeeping (including a summary of my 45 Days of House of Anansi reading, and the fun stuff that goes along with that).

And this year? At the end of 2013, I hope to look back and see that I’ve kept these ideas in mind throughout the year.

First? Persist. Perhaps with a very long book. But, also, with all those other things that I keep saying I’ll make time for, someday. I’m trying to move ‘someday’ into the present. (So far, this is working well. Except for the whole reading-long-books part. But, I’m reading again, so I’m not complaining.)

The longest book in my personal collection; I read 500 pages once, but then someone told me who the suitable boy was...and I haven't forgotten yet.

The longest book in my personal collection; I read 500 pages once, but then someone told me who the suitable boy was…and I haven’t forgotten yet.

Next, More Music. It doesn’t feel so long ago that which radio station I listened to — the mix that they played — defined who I was as a person. Music was so incredibly important that a day never passed without it, but in recent years, even listening to old favourites was something indulged in rarely, often just background noise. I will need to find some book-friendly listening, but I’d like to find some new favourites too.

Gaspereau Press has such gorgeous books; I picked this up on my first trip to Bryan Prince Booksellers in Hamilton with Nina: good times

Gaspereau Press has such gorgeous books; I picked this up on my first trip to Bryan Prince Booksellers in Hamilton with Nina: good times!

Explore. There are so many ways in which even our own neighbourhood could yet be explored, let alone corners and strips in the city that we haven’t ventured to yet. We’ve been spending one day each alternate weekend, morning-til-night, exploring a neighbourhood in this city, each time including a stop at a branch library I had never visited before (and, yes, borrowing a book each time…okay, one time, five books).

When I first heard of Moleskin notebooks, I actually thought they were bound with the skins of moles. Now I just wish they sourced their paper sustainably (but I'm still relieved they don't slaughter moles).

When I first heard of Moleskin notebooks, I actually thought they were bound with the skins of moles. Now I just wish they sourced their paper sustainably (but I’m still relieved they don’t slaughter moles).

Take care. Second Story Press sent me a copy of this book last autumn, and I’ve got it on the shelf with a couple other favourites (Gillian Deacon’s There’s Lead in Your Lipstick and Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie’s Slow Death by Rubber Duck). In short, less plastic and more exercise, fewer late-nights and more meditations, not-so-much “too busy” and more “making time” for healthier options and habits.

Last year, I read a good balance of mainstream and indie-press books, but I do hope to read even more indie-press publications this year.

Eat well. If I had a dollar for every plate of noodles and pesto with chickpeas that I made and ate last year, I would be out buying books for an entire day somewhere right now. More variety and more vegetables. More fresh greens and more tea. More home-baked treats and more fruit. More fair-trade chocolate truffles. More cookbooks for inspiration. More talk about more, less about what I’m not eating.

I used to choose practical and text-heavy cookbooks, but I've developed a love for the illustrated sort in recent years: this one is gorgeous and makes me want to spend more time creating tasty dishes (which is what cookbooks are supposed to do, right?),

I used to choose practical and text-heavy cookbooks, but I’ve developed a love for the illustrated sort in recent years: this one is gorgeous and makes me want to spend more time creating tasty dishes (which is what cookbooks are supposed to do, right?).

Look beyond the headlines. Which also involves more regular looks at the headlines, which I’ve avoided out of despair for some time now. And, then, a determined effort to reach beyond them and suss out other versions of the truth. Books like Gerry Fostaty’s remind me that there is always another side (actually, many other sides) to any given story, and I’m aiming for a kaleidoscope as my own version.

Goose Lane has published some great stories by: Rosemary Nixon, Doug Harris, Keith Oatley and Arley McNeney, but I'm checking out their non-fiction now.

Goose Lane has published some great fiction by Rosemary Nixon, Doug Harris, Keith Oatley and Arley McNeney, that I’ve enjoyed the past couple of years, but I’m checking out their non-fiction now.

Live creatively. When you lose a habit, a book like this can help you reclaim it. Reading poetry in the mornings? Taking a long walk and stopping to watch and listen or, simply, sit? Journalling or taking photographs? Visiting local galleries and listening to more live music? In a city like this I can, at the very least, inject my days with creativity-via-osmosis, which is great encouragement for cultivating it personally too.

Small enough to slip into a pocket, one hopes that a volume like this will also soak into your thoughts, making your everyday something brighter and your ordinary something remarkable.

Small enough to slip into a pocket, one hopes that a volume like this will also soak into your thoughts, making your everyday something brighter and your ordinary something remarkable.

And, Refresh. Look at the familiar with fresh eyes. Whether this is a classic novel that’s been revisited or a favourite book to be re-read, or getting reacquainted with people and places that matter. Whether it’s a new pesto recipe (because I’m not giving up my go-to pesto meals), a recent album by an old-favourite singer, a holiday with a loved one, or a new frame for an old photograph, I’m aiming to look at 2013 with bright eyes.

Broadview Editions are amongst my favourites for offering such wickedly helpful supplementary and contextual reading, particularly with their penchant for titles of interest to women's studies curricula.

Broadview Editions are amongst my favourites for offering such wickedly helpful supplementary and contextual reading, particularly with their penchant for titles relevant to women’s studies curricula.

And how about you? How has your 2013 been treating you so far?

Have you made any quiet declarations to yourself (or noisy outright resolutions) about how you would like the year ahead to be?

Or, have you been madly scribbling out booklists and readolutions? Are any of these books on your TBR?

Do tell me what you’ve been up to: I’m itching to catch up with you! (And if, by chance, it’s your first time here, please say hello and tell me what you’re reading.)

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33 comments to Peeking out of the burrow: Meeting 2013

  • Wonderful goals! I wish you all the best in achieving them. I must say that when I first heard of Moleskin journals I though they were covered in mole pelt too. I love cookbooks with full-color photos. It makes the recipes so much more enticing when I can see what they look like. Love the cover of Pure Vegan.

    • Thanks, Stefanie. I’m so glad that I wasn’t the only one whose thoughts went immediately to mass mole graves. I tried a vegan-cooking challenge for a week last spring and have, since, tried to have more vegan days than not; I find cookbooks like this one terrifically inspiring in so many ways!

  • Welcome back, I’ve missed you. I’m having a good reading year so far, involving a fair number of classics. And I thought of you when I read a Munro I didn’t especially care for (knowing that comment will pique your curiosity …). Also this is Barbara Pym’s Centenary year and as with Eliz Taylor, the LT Virago Group is reading one book per month. You might find this a nice antidote to the heavy stuff.

    Looking forward to more of your book chat.

    • Laura, you can’t say such a thing and then sidle away into the ether with the details: what Munro story exactly? I need to know! *grin But thanks for letting me know about the Pym event…I do vaguely recall something of it, but I had forgotten. And I am still reading Taylor (most recently The Sleeping Beauty, but do have some gaps to fill from last year’s plans. Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed your reading (mostly) so far this year!

      • Heh heh heh, dropping Munro’s name was a not-so-sly way to coax you over to my blog! I see it worked so I owe you an answer. I read The Progress of Love as the first volume in my 2013 short story project and it just didn’t do anything for me. I’ve enjoyed her work before so I was really surprised. But never fear, I haven’t given up on her. The View from Castle Rock is on the pile as well.

        • You’re so sneaky. *grin* So maybe it was just the timing then, if you’ve enjoyed others? That happens to me certainly. (I really enjoyed this collection, especially “Lichen” and “Jesse and Meribeth”; there are links to each story on the project page, though you might rather NOT think about it anymore, if you didn’t enjoy it at all!) Still, I do think you’ll enjoy TVfCR more anyhow; I think you’ll like the sense-of-linking and the idea of her family history soaking the stories…I hope so!

  • Good luck with A Suitable Boy! Three months on I’m still hovering around the 500 page mark. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back into it soon as I’d love to complete it. Hopefully we’ll be able to discuss it together some time soon.

  • Welcome back! Nice to see you writing again.

  • Welcome back! I hope everything is indeed ok in the offline world.

    I love that title ‘That tune that clutches my heart’. It is also too long since I’ve listened to music (hearing The Wheels on the Bus again and again hasn’t been helping). And to think I used to be all about the music…

    For me, my readolution of the year is to just inhale as much as I can before wee-er reader arrives! :P

    • Same for me: my younger self would be slapping me up the side of the head if she had had an inkling of where I was headed on that score! And, yes, it’s a great title: I’m quite looking forward to it…the sort of book you can read in an afternoon (with a soundtrack I assume). And now your Library Loot posts are going to be that much longer…with the wee-er reader’s gatherings…can hardly wait to see the board book pages turning again!

  • Welcome back to the reading blogworld. Sounds like a very interesting set of goals – I like your idea of exploring neighbourhoods. Isn’t it od how we travel to far off places for holidays and yet we don;t even know our own area that well.
    Pity about the spoiler for Suitable Boy after getting that far into it.

    • Thanks, Karen. I’m trying to think blurry thoughts about Vikram Seth’s story; I don’t have a great memory for what I read but somehow I can’t seem to forget this detail now that I know it. And, yes, I’m all for exploring locally as well as further afield. I love simple discoveries in the neighbourhood (i.e. a side street with a nicer view or a path underground that offers a new kind of shortcut that’s useful on a rainy day) but I also like crossing the city to a corner of it that I’ve never visited yet!

  • I’m glad to hear you’re back to blogging. These are some really interesting goals. I hope you’re able to make a positve start to all of them. My main goal this year is to make more time for re-reads of beloved favourites.

  • Lovely goals! I love the goal to explore. I didn’t do enough of that when I lived in a big city and I regret it. I should do more in my small town, since I know there are plenty of things I could be doing that I’m not.

    • I think that’s actually what is most niggling me, Kim…the sense that I want to be doing the things that I keep telling myself I “could” do (the things that go undone while I just keep doing the same ol’ routine things), so it is about the exploring, but it’s also about that sense of wanting to widen my view of the world to make sure I’m reaching out and not just sinking-ever-inward. Heheh. Thanks for the encouragement to keep at it!

  • So good to see you back! Funny – I read A Suitable Boy last year and can’t remember who the boy finally was(!)

    Have fun getting in different vegan meals – but the noodles with pesto and chickpeas sounds pretty good to me… ;-)

    • And they are good, but when you start to wonder if your dinner plate has adopted a uniform, you know you’re in trouble, right!? Heheh. That’s a great idea, Debbie: I’m going to start to think of the Seth novel as being about so much more than the actual identity of the suitable boy. It seems obvious now that you mention it, but there is a lot of other stuff in there I could focus on instead, and clearly it’s all that other stuff which has stuck with you anyhow!

  • It’s thrilling to see you back, Madame BIP! Curiously (or perhaps not curiously at all, really) I’m about to embark on my first proper longread of the year (a good sight shorter than A Suitable Boy, it must be said): Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End tetralogy. I, ahem, may or may not have been inspired into this by the recent HBO miniseries.

    Your 2013 bookish resolutions are lovely. I made just the one, in January, which was to read for pleasure as I freely pleased. It sounds terribly redundant, I know — I’ll elucidate in that email I’ve owed you for some time now. :)

    • Thanks, Shivanee: it’s good to be writing again (to some degree, anyway). I just checked out the trailer and I can see why you’d be angling for that one: looks great! I had a year like that not long ago…I called it The Year of Reading Fun-gerously. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Year of Reading (or Living, for that matter) Dangerously, but I have had some rather duty-soaked reading years, and I think I had reached my limit with them at that time. I hope your whimsy is your ally and leads you to many new and wonderful books and writers!

  • Your comment about stuff going on in life making it hard to read. We’re going through stuff with kids right now and I’ve been unable to settle into a book for a couple of weeks….which just feels so wrong on so many levels.

    After a few days of frustrated half-paged attempts in several genres of books, I went for pure comfort and familiarity.

    Pride and Prejudice has done the trick. I often only read a chapter a day, but it’s like going home to mother for chicken soup and sweet tea and crocheted blankets on the lounge.

    So, yes, I understand when reading becomes impossible.

    And like you, I turn to lists and plans! Which is how I found you – I’ve just joined up to the Orange Prize Project.

    Good luck with your readalutions!

    • Thanks for saying hello, Brona: I’m glad you found your way here and I bet you are looking forward to the announcement of this year’s Orange Prize (now Women’s Fiction Prize) longlist this week! Do you like to make predictions for such things, or are you happy just seeing what happens?

      Yes, it does feel “wrong” when you can’t read, doesn’t it! Well, at least when you’re used to finding an escape and some comfort in the pages of books, it’s unsettling and disturbing to find yourself without that avenue. It adds upset to upset, to my mind.

      I tried re-reading, but my eyes just slipped across the page, as though something too familiar wasn’t enough of a distraction, even though I was having trouble concentrating to start with so I thought re-reading would help. After about three weeks, I started to think of it as getting back into an exercise routine, and just started with 5 pages a day, until it felt more like a habit again…I’m still not reading in a way that was “normal” for me, but I am reading regularly, and I’ll take that, for now…

  • I am so happy to see you back here. I missed you. Every once in a while I took a peek at your blog and saw you were still awol. I did not want to bother you, but I do hope things are okay in the offline world. Your goals for 2013 look so ambitious, but also all kinds of wonderful. I hope the rest of the year is a good one for you *hugs*

    • I really enjoyed getting caught up with your bookishness and I love the event you were coordinating (with Ana, I think) in January for the books that you’ve been meaning to read for ages and ages…I’d’ve loved that and hope you’ll have another sometime. Last week, when I was updating some of the Books Discussed links for last year here, I came to the reading for Dutch Lit Month and found myself thinking ahead to the options for this year….always more bookplans, right? (Not that I know for sure if you’re planning to organize that again, but I know it was very popular with so many other readers too!) Thanks, Iris: much appreciated!

  • Yay–so glad you’re back too! I also would occasionally drop by (though as I didn’t see new posts via my feed reader I suspected you were taking time off) and was hoping eventually you would resurface and am so glad you have! It is never too late to make goals or resolutions–or redefine the ones you thought you made three months ago…ahem, so much for nor using the library (twenty books out and a further umm, 27 in the queue waiting for new book releases). And it sounds like you have some exciting goals with lots to look forward to. I sort of like the idea of revisiting them from time to time and chucking out what isn’t working and continuing on with a new dose of enthusiasm those that are! I had a hardcover copy of A Suitable Boy, which I must have got when it first came out–read a bit and when I went to look for it some time ago couldn’t find it. Did it get sent to the used bookstore, I wonder? I have not been doing so well with long reads (poor Camilla), but there’s always time to add something to my reading pile. I am so with you on Persisting. That is actually one of my goals this year and it’s good to bring it back to mind before my reading gets out of control (though maybe it’s too late and already has). I’ve started the Munro and must get back to the stories this week–have your first two posts marked and saved to read… Looking forward to your recaps and are you excited to see the Women’s Prize Longlist later this week? Something to look forward to…sometimes it’s just the small things, you know?

    • Oh, yes, right, that whole read-fewer-library-books thing; at first this year I was reading only my own books, but I almost have my card maxed out again now. (And, as I’m not reading at my normal pace, that’s even more ridiculous than usual.) Those two Munro stories are such a fascinating pair, even more than usual, I think, because of some of the similarities between them (and contrasting elements too); I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts. The collection from Persephone you’re reading sounds delightful; I really do need to place another order with them that would include that volume. I think the Women’s Prizelist is tomorrow, right? (March 13th) While I am excited, I am also feeling a bit guilty because for the first time in awhile I haven’t yet read all of last year’s longlist. But, as you say, it’s never too late to redefine the goals that you had thought you had made. Heheh. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • It is so good to see you back! Missed you and your regular brilliant bookish musings. Love your resolutions & the fact that you decided to share them upon your return. Enjoyed your way of sharing them too… eat well & live creatively are both part of my resolutions this year as well, and both the books you’ve illustrated those points with look fabulous. I also love a nicely illustrated cookbook, though I’ve taken to reading library ones, as I have over 80 of my own at last count… far too many, time for a bit of a clear out I think.

    I’ve read my first really long read of the year, Richardson’s Sir Charles Grandison, and will stick with shorter ones for a while now. I do have another one in mind but have to work up to it…

    • That is quite an impressive (or, overwhleming) collection; I would love to peruse it! I wish there were more regularly-running trains between Toronto and Stratford. (I am hopelessly addicted to the coconut milk lattes and mochas at that sweet little hangout in the square downtown…I can taste them now. Oh, right, and their treats. *sigh*) If you have specific titles to recommend about creative life, please let me know. I am dabbling in a bunch of them (though I do own the one pictured) in an effort to create the habit of living creatively…and figure, as with the pretty cookbooks, that there’s no such thing as too much inspiration when habits are fragile! Congrats on the Richardson: doesn’t it feel as though one should get a badge for such a task!?

  • I wish there were more trains too!

    Creative books? I liked Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit”. I know there are more…I’ll have to look at my shelves and let you know!

  • […] out of the burrow. Monitoring the conditions. Checking to see if I’m following my read-o-lutions and resolutions. August already? That’s […]

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