Look, I Read a Book!

I have been a huge booklover my entire life. In first grade I came in second place in a reading contest (and the boy who won it cheated!) I was that kid who would sneak a flashlight into her room and read under the covers after she was supposed to be asleep. For the past 10 years or so, I have read an average of 4-5 books a week.

In the year since I opened my own bookstore, I have read maybe 20 books. Maybe.

So this past week I made myself a challenge. For the rest of this year, I would read at least one book a week and blog about it. Kill two birds with one stone, as I tend to suck at blogging as well! There are 19 weeks left in the year, so we’ll see if I can stick to it even that long. If it works, maybe I’ll have to come up with a new challenge for next year.

Cover ImageThis week’s book was Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen [e-book], which has been on my reading list for a couple of years now. I’m so glad I finally read it, because it was excellent! It’s a memoir, not about a celebrity or politician, but about an ordinary woman. In the same week that her husband of 15 years leaves her for a man he met on Gay.com, she’s injured in a car accident and ends up returning to her Mennonite family in order to pet her life back together.

It’s not a straight forward memoir — it tends to flow from one story to the next, jumping around in time and place as one thing reminds her of another thing. It’s partly about returning to her Mennonite roots and the strangeness of that after living with a militant athiest. It’s partly about coming to terms with her ex-husband and his charm and bipolar disorder. It’s mainly just a very entertaining story about an average woman.

I would highly recommend it to anyone who liked Eat Pray Love. I would also recommend it to anyone who loathed Eat Pray Love. It’s the story of a woman finding herself after her life falls apart, but she does it with warmth and humour and a lot less whining than Elizabeth Gilbert…

Quote that I read to everyone in close proximity: North American Mennonites all used to grow up speaking Low German, using an outhouse, and shelling peas, sometimes all at the same time. This makes us ace multitaskers. My mother, one of seventeen kids, grew up with a two-seater biffy so that people wouldn’t have to wait to use the toilet; they could enter in pairs, do their business, and get right back to work. The family that shits together knits together.

Next Up: Silent In the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

A Note on the Type

Possibly this makes me an irredeemable dork, but I love it when a book has a little blurb at the back talking about the font it is printed in. You know what I mean… Or possibly you don’t, if you’re not the type to flip the page after you hit those inevitable words: THE END.

You get some lovely little blurbs like this:

The text of this book is set in Fournier. Fournier is derived from the romain du roi, which was created toward the end of the seventeenth century for the exclusive use of the Imprimerie Royale from designs made by a committee of the Academie des Sciences. The original Fournier types were cut by the famous Paris founder Pierre Simon Fournier in about 1742. This Monotype version dates from 1924. Fournier ia a light, clear face whose distinctive features are capital letters that are quite squat in relation to the lowercase ascenders, and decorative italics, which show the influence of the calligraphy of Fournier’s time.

~ A Year in the Merde, Stephen Clarke

It’s like reading the credits after the movie (which I also do) and being amazed at just how many hundreds of people worked on LotR… Or possibly it’s even geekier than that.

I refuse to quote Yoda here…

I have figured out how to successfully motivate myself to be patient with audiobooks — I’ve made them rewards for doing boring things. I’ve picked a couple that I really want to listen to and said that I can only have them on while I’m doing groceries (the worst thing about owning my own business, I swear!) or doing my nightly walk.

I actually enjoy walking, but I’m also lazy at heart so I tend to procrastinate about it. But now if I want to know what happens next in the story, I have to go for a decent length walk. This will at least work until there’s another 3 feet of snow on the ground. Maybe by next winter the hours I’m putting in at the store will be sane enough that I’ll be able to make it to the walking track during it’s open hours.

I think I probably add housework to that list, since the apartment is a sty and I need some motivation. Maybe I’ll get unpacked before I’ve lived here a year!

Anyway, tonight’s audiobook was Mariana by Susanna Kearsley. I have 1 hour and 4 minutes left on it, so tomorrow’s walk will have to be a little bit longer than my normal hour.  I refuse to stop that close to the end!

Hear Hear!

I have a strange relationship with audiobooks, in that I love listening to them (especially while doing the neverending grocery shopping required by the whole owning-a-cafe thing) but they just don’t go fast enough. I suppose I read quite quickly, so the thought of it taking 12 hours to listen to a medium-sized book seems ridiculous.

I know that lots of programs will let you speed up an audiobook (my Audible ap will for sure) but I can’t stand the chipmunky sound. And I despise abridged audiobooks, so I find myself getting fed up with how long it’s taking to find out how it ends, and I get the ebook and finish reading it in half the time.

The compromise I’ve come up with is only to listen to books I’ve read before. If I already know how it’ll end, I can be more patient with it. And I love rereading, so it’s no hardship.

But once I’ve read a book it kind of has a tone in my head, so if the reader doesn’t match that tone I’m thrown right out of the story. This is especially a problem when it comes to beloved kids book like Anne of Green Gables. But when it works right, it’s awesome. For instance, I’m not a fan of James Marsters, but his reading of the Dresden Files books is spot on, exactly right. Same with Grover Gardner’s reading of the Vorkosigan books.

Okay, so maybe this all comes down to one thing: I’m a picky prick.

Ode to A Library

Tonight I went to the library.  Not just any library, My Library. The library I grew up with, the library where I got my first real, paying job. And I realized just how much I adore it.

Whenever I walk in the doors I immediately get this wonderful feeling of being at home. I always check out the little new and hot section, even though I rarely pick anything up from it, and then head up the stairs into the kids section. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s the place I discovered so many of the wonderful worlds that I spent most of my time in as a kid.  The place where I made friends with fictional characters and sometimes even fell in love with them. The place where I discovered authors who still make me laugh or cry, or sometimes both: Gordon Korman, Jean Little, Lois Lowry, and Kit Pearson.

(It was in a completely different library that I found a Bertrice Small book miss-shelved in the kids section, thought it sounded like a fascinating historical fiction, and got quite the unorthodox introduction to sex!)

One year I decided that I was going to start at the beginning of the young readers section and read one book off each shelf, something I had never read before. I’m pretty sure I got to about M before I got distracted by some other quest, but what a lovely summer that was!  I would spend hours cross-legged in front of the shelves, reading the blurbs on every book before picking one and moving on to the next shelf.

Eventually I “graduated” to the adult fiction room, with its balcony overlooking the downstairs and its creaky floors.  I can remember glutting myself with fantasy novels and historical fiction.  I’m actually glad that the internet hadn’t really reached us yet, since it meant that I never realized how limited a selection there was — there were always lots more that I hadn’t read yet!

It was just before I started grade 11 that I got my dream job there.  When I went for my interview I told the assistant librarian that I was scared I wouldn’t get the job because I always had library fines and she assured me that that was pretty much a prerequisite for working there — it was a sign that I loved books.  I was in heaven, checking out people’s books and shelving returns. There was something immensely satisfying about looking up books in card catalogs and punching cards with the due date to slip into the pocket of each book. Does anyone even remember that system any more?

One of the favourite times working there was when we closed for two days to switch to the brand new computer system.  Those two days were spent putting barcodes on every book in the library.  And then when we reopened, we got to give out shiny new library cards to everyone who came in — I had card #00008.  Of course, we gave out almost 500 cards before someone pointed out that instead of saying “Dawson Creek Municipal Public Library” they said “Dawson Creek Municipal PUBIC Library.”  I think I possibly pulled something laughing that day…

Wandering around the library tonight, I was thrilled to recognize my own writing on shelf labels from one epic reorganization. Amusingly enough, I can still head unerringly for some of my favourite portions of the Dewey Decimal system, like 002 (meta about books) and the 940s (European history).

I pulled myself away with just three books, since I really don’t want to be racking up fines once again! So my upcoming reading consists of:

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley. I actually own the book, but it’s still packed away somewhere, so I picked it up for a re-read.  Susanna just mentioned that the book she’s working on now has Robbie, the child in The Shadowy Horses, as the hero!

A Proud Taste For Scarlet and Miniver by E. L. Konigsburg.  I am sad to say that I have never read a Konigsburg book, despite many people recommending them.  But I am proud to say that this book has been at the library since August 14, 1974.

At Home With the Queen: The Inside Story of the Royal Household by Brian Hoey.  Just because it looks interesting.  I like interesting.

What’s on your to-read list?

A Few Of My Favourite Things #1: Cabin Pressure

One of the things I miss most now that I’ve moved to the middle of freaking nowhere is having friends that I could gush to about my newest favourite show/book/movie/etc. So I figured I’d gush textually instead of verbally here.

Cabin Pressure
Stephanie Coles, Roger Allam, Benedict Cumberbatch, and John Finnemore.

“If anyone on board knows any card tricks, ghost stories, or would like to have some sex, please do make your way to the flight deck.”

I was trying to write an in depth summary/analysis about the show, but really… all I can really do is squee. Cabin Pressure is a BBC radio sitcom about a tiny charter airline (and by “airline” I mean “one plane”) written by the fabulous John Finnemore. He’s written for all sorts of sketch shows, including Mitchell and Webb, but since I can’t stand sketch shows I first discovered him as David Mitchell’s co-writer for these awesome soapbox-style rants he does.

“The only time this aircraft changes is when another bit falls off.”

I’m not sure if this makes sense, but it’s a very tiny show. There are 4 main characters, usually with 3 or 4 guest characters in each episode. The action mainly takes place on the flight deck and really, there’s not a lot of action. There is deliciously witty banter and silly games to pass the time and Douglas being devious and Arthur thinking everything is brilliant.

“One is the correct dosage of quiche for the adult human male!”

Despite being a radio show, it has a surprisingly active fanbase. Actually, given that Benedict Cumberbatch is in it, I suppose it’s not all that surprising. The man has a HUGE number of obsessive fans. I think he’s a great actor, but I’m more a fan of John Finnemore and Roger Allam.  But, hey, I’m all for anything that brings out other fans to chat with.

“At any given moment, I never have fewer than seven ulterior motives in play.”

Obligatory Intro Post

I have too many blogs… so I’m starting another one. It makes total sense, I promise! Well, TOTAL may be overstating it a bit. But I have:

1) a knitting/crafty blog that I share with friends
2) a business blog with my partner-in-crime
3) a fannish blog
4) a Tumblr account that I’ve just gotten hooked on
5) a couple of Twitter accounts
6) a Facebook account

They all have their uses, and their audiences, but I decided that I wanted one place that encompassed all the different sides of me. Most posts will probably get cross-posted to different sites, but this’ll be the warehouse.

Anyway, on to the obligatory ME ME ME part of the post. I’m a 33 year old woman who just moved back to her hometown (Middle-of-Nowhere-ville, Way-Up-North, Canada) this summer to fulfil her lifelong dream of opening a used bookstore. Somewhere along the way it became a used bookstore/cafe and since at the moment the cafe is paying the bills, she’s mainly a waitress/barista/dish pig. Working about 75 hours a week and making a hell of a lot less than minimum wage!

I’m a knitter and crocheter and occassionally even a spinner and a dyer. I make chainmail jewellery for fun and (occassional) profit. I’m the biggest booknerd ever, though for the last couple of months I’ve been having a really hard time concentrating on books. Someday soon I will recover my mojo and start reading a couple books a week again.

And now, on to the fun!