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MINDS ALIVE ON THE SHELVES*
If you have the chance, I urge you not to miss out on the magical goodness that is the Squam Art Workshops. Elizabeth (Bluepoppy) has outdone herself with the wonderful weekends on offer for those able to take advantage of any of the five...count 'em, FIVE! different workshops that are spaced throughout 2010: go! GO! I've totally agreed to work the Swedish version when Elizabeth gets around to planning SAW, European style!

If there is anyway in the world I can get to the Reader's Retreat, I would be over the moon. Since I've already started the New Year out with a bang, by zipping through 5 books in 7 days, I think it sounds like the perfect retreat for me! Three of the books were fantastic, and I highly recommend them: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier who, frankly, never disappoints; March by Geraldine Brooks, and Chalice by Robin McKinley. I have book group next week but for the life of me I can't bring myself to start reading the book that was picked: Out by Natsuo Kirino. I'm just not in the mood for "dark, violent murder and crime." I don't like it when I don't read the book for book group, because I LOVE our book group and we always have such great discussions. It's only happened a couple of times, and in at least one of those instances, I did actually get around to reading the book later. But at least twice I haven't regretted my decision not to read the chosen book and I suspect this will be one of those times as well. Life is too short to read books I don't have any interest in.

Are there books you won't read? Why? Do they tend to fall within a particular genre or just have subjects that you abhor? I tend away from mysteries and crime novels, the first because you can only read them once and the second because, like horror movies, I just don't need most of that stuff in my head. I don't like books about horrible things happening to people either, especially children. Even so, a good book can be about any of these things and I may end up reading it regardless and thinking it's a great read, while still loathing the subject matter. The Lovely Bones was one of those, for example.

My mom doesn't read fiction anymore because she can't put it down when she does. She says she reads to relax and fiction just makes her obsessed with the need to find out what happens, so she has gone over to reading non-fiction exclusively. For me, the obsession with what happens is just exactly why I LOVE fiction. Even when I read in bed, before lights out, reading never ever puts me to sleep. I have to consciously put the book down, stop myself from "one more chapter" and turn out the light. Sometimes long after my eyes are blurred and my arms hurts from holding the book under the light and I know how much I will regret the late hour when the alarm jolts me from sleep in the few hours I have left myself for slumber. Non-fiction doesn't have at all the same draw, and while I read some non-fiction, it's definitely only a fraction of the whole for me.

I think most of the time, my reading interests vary pretty widely, but my choices do tend to fall in some obvious categories: historical fiction, linguistics, speculative fiction, time travel stories, travel essays, natural sciences. I read a wide range of novels, and tend toward science fiction and fantasy, but am pretty particular about the KIND I choose, without being able to easily articulate what the difference is for me. I just know it when I see it. If I find an author I like, I get my hands on everything they've ever written as soon as I can and wait agitatedly for their next publication. It's kind of the same with my favorite blogs, actually...only blogs don't make you wait so long. And because I wait for paperback before buying, that stretch of time can be real torture. KNOWING a book that I want desperately to read is available, just not in the right format or at the right price: O! It burns. I know, I know, there are libraries but it's not as easy as that, here in Sweden. Besides, even with the burning, it's always sweet anticipation. The wait is almost always worth it, at least.

I think good books should not only make you a) want to read them again and b) want to read or, in the case of March and Chalice re-read other things the author has written but also, if possible, make you want to find out more about something you discovered within the pages of the book. Since I closed Remarkable Creatures I've been reading up on the early dinosaur hunters and scouring Wikipedia for info on Mary Anning and Google images for the creatures she discovered, some of which is merely reminders of information already buried in the depths of my skull. What have you discovered in a book lately that you are interested in learning more about?

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted. You should live several lives while reading it.—William Styron

Happy Hopping Full of Popping Birthday Wishes to helloheather!

*Title from a quote by Gilbert Highet
 tired
mood: tired
music: Sara Bareilles—Love Song


Comments

I know, I know, there are libraries but it's not as easy as that, here in Sweden.

Could you explain? I'm a librarian in training (in the U.S.) so I am curious to know about Swedish libraries :) Is it just that they don't have the books you want in English, or is it something else?

They DO often have the books, but I'm rarely in Malmö with a chance to go, where the big library is. We have a tiny branch library here in our village, but they don't have much in the way of English books at all, and what they do have is usually not of interest to me.

I can order books from the main library (and in fact from all over Sweden), but they can take some weeks to arrive and there is a limited time period to read them, so for me, most of the time, it's just easier to buy the books I want.

Edited at 2010-01-08 09:24 am (UTC)

Ah, yeah, that all sounds familiar. Having to return them in 3 weeks always gets me too.

By the time I actually get them, there's often only a week left of the time period, and they still count the whole delivery time altogether, regardless of whether you actually have the book in your hand. Besides, even if I GET the book, it doesn't mean I'm necessarily ready to read it right away, since I have a huge pile of books that I'm working through at any given time. :)

(Anonymous)
From Megsie

I love to read as well, and you already know that. But, I am not the reader that you are. I am like your mom. I can't put down a good book, and a series? My kids grow inches before I see them again. There are many books that I love in many genres. I guess I just like a book to sweep me away and I like to get lost in the story. I don't know how else to categorize it besides that. The most recent book that I loved was The Help. Over Christmas I began The Sookie Stackhouse vampire-y series, and I enjoyed the first two books, but I was not obsessed like I was with Twilight. I like the fluff, and I also like more complex books, but I don't know if I really enjoy the books that I have to work at. My book group read Love in the Time of Cholera, and I really did NOT like it. Jeff LOVED it. He is way more literary than I am. Other favorites: A Time Traveler's Wife, The Red Tent, One Thousand White Women, Pope Joan...Harry Potter...I will stop there or I will go on FOREVER! I would also LOVE to be at SAW this year. *sniff*

Re: From Megsie

I'll check out The Help and One Thousand White Women :) I actually haven't read Love in the Time of Cholera...not sure why, ...it's kind of like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil...everyone raved about it when it came out but I never got around to picking it up. Best seller lists actually tend to turn me away :) What a snob I am! Haaa!

I kept hearing friends rave about the Sookie Stackhouse books and I've also picked them up and looked at them but put them down again. I don't know. I think I'd rather borrow one before I buy, since they actually don't look like keepers to me.

Harry Potter I have mixed feelings about. I enjoyed the first 2, but the 3rd one seemed badly in need of better editing to me, and I've never been able to bring myself to read the rest. They're all still sitting on my to-read shelf. I enjoyed the movies, though this last one was a snore and sort of made me feel justified in my waffling about reading the rest of the books.

I feel the same way. If I like a book, I tend to get all the rest of the author. Which can be rather problematic if it's an older, not so well-known writer.

I also prefer novels in their original language, if I can read it. This complicates the matter further. Moreover, Belgian bookstores only import the power horses and best sellers.

I only read in English, though I could read Swedish if I tried...it just slows me down too much :)

(Anonymous)

I read Remarkable Creatures just after Christmas and it really captured my imagination. I read everything Tracy Chevalier writes, even when it is gritty and a bit coal covered ;-). Have you found much on the fossils? I'd love to see links! I read March a few years back and found that book even more gripping in a very visceral way. Must search out Chalice now.

Books I don't like - gory murder mysteries (I do love a mystery but not the violent ones), books designed to play with your head (not sure how to categorize those, but Philip K. Dick and Tobias Wolf seem to specialize in them) and most anything about insanity. I also will put down a book about a loathsome character faster than you can say lickety split. Life's too short, really.

julia@kolo

I've mostly been trolling Wikipedia in regards to Mary Anning and fossils at the moment. But there is a TON of info out there!

(Anonymous)

I have read a ton in the last three months. Due to checking the entire Twilight series for my Daughter then again for my son(who is so MUCH younger)Then jumping into various other books until my bibliophile Seester sent my Christmas present.... The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I whipped through the first three books and then went and bought the fourth for myself. But like my Seester will not buy in hardback so am waiting for the fifth..... Thanks Lizard!!! The lack of sleep has been so worth it.:)

Seester

The first SIX books are out in paperback...it's the SEVENTH that just came out in hardcover!

(Anonymous)

Maybe over there, but the lady at the store said it is still only in paperback for the fifth and I would love to have the rest for my Birthday. :)

I'm not quite as big a reader as you (I think you're superhuman in this regard) but I'm enjoying the two non-fiction books I've got going now. One is a book by a tall woman about tall people. It's intended to be light-hearted but also an interesting look at "my people".

The other is the latest Malcolm Gladwell and I like that it's an audiobook so I am very effective in working in both books.

But the book I want to get to next is one called "Positive Discipline". The kids' school uses it and they want to start a faculty/parent driven study team to talk about it. I'm pretty excited about doing that. I feel like they're getting sassier and I don't want to be that sarcastic mom (I've avoided that so far). I guess I can never learn too many tricks of the trade.

I like the Gladwell I've read so far, and that Positive Discipline sounds like something I need to look into, as I AM that sarcastic mom!

(Anonymous)

Love talking books! The Reader's Retreat does sound positively wonderful, but if I'm going to Squam, I don't want to sit around reading. I have a feeling I'll be too busy chatting in real life with people I've been dreaming of meeting for YEARS!

I am so eager to read Remarkable Creatures...I need to write it down so I won't forget to look for it! And I loved March when I read it years ago...definitely deserves a re-read. I have so many books that I need to read (and I compulsively check things out from the library) that I am doing much less re-reading than I used to. Still, right now I'm re-reading The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard - one of my favorite genres - English family sagas set during the World Wars.

I do love historical fiction so. Recently I read "Helen of Troy" by Elizabeth George and it was magnificent. Now I have her "Mary Magdalene" on my bedside table. And you know I'm a total sucker for memoirs. Last year I read most of Joanne Harris' work (she wrote Chocolat) and Sarah Dunnant.

So exciting that "The Help" is such a success. The author is from Jackson, Mississippi - which means there is a very long waiting list at the library!

:) Sam, in true littlesambook form!

But Laini will be there! And it actually doesn't sound like sitting around reading, it sounds like sitting around talking about books with other bookworms! :) Like my book group, only even better!

Thanks for all the great book recs!! WOW!!

(Anonymous)

Liz, too funny, I just saw Laini's books today in the teen section at Borders! Her fairies seem ferocious indeed.

:) Sam

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