Novels: The piles are a-bloom, ever expanding. Each book has its own bookmark, each some degree of commitment attached, some commanding that kind of nervous energy that erupts when you begin a book and think that it might just be a perfect book written just for you.

Like  a debut novel that I have been meaning to read all summer, Patrick Somerville’s The Cradle: a very ordinary story, about a man whose pregnant wife asks him to track down a cradle that had been in her family for many years, but its parts woven so perfectly together that the theme and characters had my heart a-beating hard.

In Giller longlist reading, I’ve read four of the thirteen books and am about to start my fifth, Alix Ohlin’s Inside. 

In my A More Diverse Universe reading (the event is hosted by Aarti, from September 23-29), I’ve read 50 pages of Nalo Hopkinson’s first YA novel, The Chaos. The dialogue rings true, the characters feel real, and there are only quiet hints that something is about to go really wrong with Scotch’s world.

Short Stories: Later today I will be dipping into the anthology Nalo Hopkinson edited, So Long Been Dreaming. Earlier this week, I finished reading Russell Wangersky’s collection, Whirl Away, which contains many disturbing and gripping stories. I’m still reading Alice Munro stories. And yesterday I read Britt Holmström’s “Leaving Berlin”: an astute and meticulously told tale of a strained romantic relationship  in 1970’s Berlin.

RIPVII Reading: I re-read the first 60 pages of Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started this book, and I definitely can’t explain why, because it reminds me of Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret and that’s all kinds of fun.

And I began Ann-Marie MacDonald’s The Way the Crow Flies. “The crows saw the murder. A little blue cotton dress. Perfectly still now. From high in the tree, the crows eyed the charm bracelet glinting on her wrist. Best to wait. The silver beckoned, but best to wait.”

These are both long books (650 and 830 pages), so if I stick with my plan to read them, I’m guessing that it’ll be a tough haul to read beyond the four books I signed up for. In shorter reading, I picked up my copy of the fifth (and final) Locke & Key volume by Joe Hill.

Film/TV: RIPVII Viewing

Pontypool (Dir. Bruce McDonald, 2008)
Set in the “basement of the world”, where winter is “so cold” and “so dark”: Ontario, Canada. “But then something is always about to happen.” And when superfluous details collide: what do they mean? They mean that you’re at work, it’s an ordinary day as a radio host (Stephen McHattie), and the world goes awry. With only one truly gory scene, the bulk of the movie’s horror is rooted in what we imagine is happening, based on phonecalls from “outside” and the viewer’s imagination. Based on the novel by Tony Burgess: quietly horrifying.

Drag Me to Hell (Dir. Sam Raimi, 2009)
This is not the movie to watch if you are looking for positive role models for Gypsy women. It is the movie to watch if you are torn between 17 shades of blonde (literally: Alison Lohman). There are lots of gruesome effects, usually involving mouths and fluids. There is cake with unexpected ingredients and cute animals suffer. I don’t mind laughing in a horror film, so this wasn’t all bad, but I enjoyed his “30 Days of Night” more. (I thought we had already watched this, but apparently the disc we were watching wouldn’t play all the way through, so we started our spooky viewing this year by properly finishing last season’s final film.)

Audio: Archived podcast of The Next Chapter, September 3, 2012. Discovered that I had a caker upbringing (thanks to the explanation of Brian Francis, author of Fruit and Natural Order). Who knew that some Canadian kids did *not* have mandarin oranges in Jello with a main course. Also added Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Studies to my TBR, even though I swore that I wouldn’t be interested.

Archived podcast of The Next Chapter, June 25, 2012. In which Margaret Cannon, JD Singh, and PK Rangachari (and Shelagh Rogers, of course) reminded me that I should take some summers just for mysteries too. There are so many good ones. The reading list for this episode is here.

Archived podcast of The Next Chapter. April 18, 2011. Learned of the Torn from the Pages evening of music, which inspired by one of my favourite books, Michael Crummey’s Galore. As Shelagh Rogers suggests, this is an operatic novel, perfect for cross-platform inspiration.

Archived podcast of The Next Chapter, April 25, 2011. Added Catherine McKenzie’s Arranged (2011) to my TBR, based on the fact that the heroine is named for Anne of Green Gables.

I am not only a caker but a podcast-binger.And because I made a project of learning to pay closer attention to audiobooks earlier this year, I fell further behind in my other listening than I’ve ever fallen before.

But, no matter, I still enjoy episodes of “The Next Chapter” and “World Bookclub” whether I’m listening to them fresh or preserved. In fact, I was thrilled to learn this week that the BBC has added all kinds of podcasts to their site of earlier bookclubs that I’ve never heard before.

(I just downloaded Margaret Atwood’s 2003 interview; I guess, technically, that means I’m 9 years behind in my listening?)

How about you? Have you read or seen or listened to any of these stories? What story is preoccupying you these days?