I’m out of the burrow. Monitoring the conditions. Checking to see if I’m following my read-o-lutions and resolutions. August already? That’s crazy-talk.
First, Persist. In bookishness, I have been doing alright with this. One long work by each of Wilkie Collins, G.R.R. Martin, and Margaret Atwood offer themselves as proof. (The Robber Bride was a fantastic re-read.)
And even though Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria is just barely 400 pages long, it was a demanding and invigorating read. Danielle and I now are reading The Quincunx, which has 788 Dickensian pages in it.
(Persistence, in real life? I have been working hard to break unhappy habits and make new ones, and I have to give myself a good talking-to most mornings, and often throughout the days as well. Even then, I ignore myself, at times.)
Next, More Music. Although I did read Paul Headrick’s That Tune Clutches My Heart, which I pictured with this resolution originally, I haven’t done very well with incorporating more music into my daily life.
Yet, there is a clear musical component to some of this year’s other reading: Teddy Wayne’s The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, the soundtrack of Harry’s debt in Mount Pleasant, and the guitar playing in Martin Millar’s The Good Fairies of New York. In a couple of weeks, I’ll also be featuring Paul Headrick’s musically-inspired collection, The Doctrine of Affections, and I’ve just picked up a copy of Ann Ireland’s The Blue Guitar.
But, in real life? I’d like to be listening more. Perhaps because, in contrast with my teenage years, I can’t seem to read AND listen to music at the same time, I recognize very few pockets of time in my days in which I choose to listen to music. (I still want to, though.)
Exploring. Reading-wise, more non-fiction and more writers-from-away: I am exploring.
Location-wise (from Jim Ottaviani’s Primates to Ayelet Tsabari’s The Best Place on Earth) to experience wise (from Jowita Bydlowska’s Drunk Mom to Janice van Horne’s A Complicated Marriage), I’m reaching beyond the known.
Geographically speaking, I’ve travelled to Australia with both Jessica Anderson and Alexis Wright, and I’ve made stops in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Japan, amongst other unfamiliar scenes.
In real life? Last weekend we discovered the Al Green Sculpture Park, just a few minutes from Yonge Street’s Davisville Station, even though it wasn’t an exploring day.
Taking time to walk off the path (in that case, Yonge Street), winding around a different set of blocks on your way home, choosing to try someplace new for lunch: all good.
Take Care, and Eat Well. Tamara Levine’s But Hope is Longer was both personal and informative, and I found myself pulling out Gillian Deacon’s There’s Lead in My Lipstick and spending more time reading ingredient lists.
Choosing books with pretty pictures when it comes to cooking has been quite inspiring.
Mark Bittman, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and Miriam Sorrell have helped keep food front-of-mind this year as well.
And now that the weather is nicer, the farmers’ markets are making it easy to choose veggies and fruits: a true pleasure.
Look beyond the headlines. Gerry Fostaty’s As You Were, pictured with this resolution originally, was unexpectedly affecting for me as a mostly-fiction reader.
And as I mentioned above, I have been reaching more often for non-fiction this year, although perhaps only Thomas King’s An Inconvenient Indian and Carolyn Abraham’s The Juggler’s Children echo contemporary headlines in terms of developments in both genetic research and the Idle No More movement.
There are several books lingering that I haven’t yet picked up this year (e.g. by Charles C. Mann, Jared Diamond, Michael Pollan, and Cordelia Fine), which I would like to make time for.
And, in real life? I’d hoped to be more engaged politically than I have been thus far in 2013.
Live creatively. I’ve dabbled in some books borrowed from the library (e.g. Eric Maisel and Julia Cameron), but I haven’t made a match yet.
So far, the ones that I have most enjoyed are Kelly Rae Roberts’ Taking Flight: Inspiration and Techniques to give your Creative Spirit Wings, Suzane Sanaitis’ Kaleidoscope: Ideas and Projects to Spark Your Creativity, and Jennifer New’s Drawing from Life: The Journal as Art.
Even so, in real life, I’m making more of an effort than I was last year.
But if anyone has any ideas for bookish inspiration in this regard, I’d be pleased to hear your recommendations.
Refresh. This is the one I’m most pleased about. Not only in real life, but bookishly as well.
Re-reading has been great (Margaret Atwood, Timothy Findley, Hugh MacLennan, Alice Munro, Barbara Pym) and delving into backlisted titles by long-time favourite writers (Thomas King, Sherman Alexie) has reminded me that as tempting as it is to focus on the new discoveries, there’s a reason why old favourites nudged their way onto my reading radar in the first place.
Truthfully, I haven’t done as much re-reading this year as I’d hoped. And by this time last year, I’d actually re-read more books than I have last year.
But all this year’s choices save one feel like deliberate pursuits, whereas last year’s re-readings felt almost accidental.
I really wanted to see how differently a reading of some of my favourite authors’ works compared and contrasted with earlier readings, and pulling specific books off the shelf with that in mind feels tremendously satisfying.
One other piece of bookishness to tidy up mid-year. The give-away of a copy of A Complicated Marriage, which I featured in my week of feminist reading in June. The randomizer chose Lara as the recipient, and I do hope she enjoys the book even half as much as I did.
In case you missed it, the other works featured in a Week of Women’s Words were Sally Armstrong‘s The Ascent of Women, Janet Hepburn‘s Flee, Fly, Flown, Rachel Kushner‘s The Flamethrowers, Lydia Perović‘s Incidental Music, and Carolyn Abraham‘s The Juggler’s Children.
And, yes, that was a mini-reading-project. Alongside ongoing reading projects, like the Alice Munro stories, but that’s the stuff of another post for sure.
How is your reading year moving along? Is it turning out the way that you imagined/hoped when you were looking ahead at it? How’s it looking from the perspective of all-things-August?