Posts Tagged ‘obsessions’

3rd January
2010
written by Steph
By now I’m sure everyone has read more than their fair share of recaps of 2009 reading across the book blogosphere; apologies for being late to the party, but the holiday time in Toronto left little time for perusing the internet (and even less for reading or composing my own posts).  I admit, it was nice taking a mini-break from blogging, and the time away readily filled itself with great meals, movies, shopping, sight seeing, and best of all, time spent with family and friends.  I won’t get all contemplative on all of you here, but prior to my trip home I was rather fraught with ennui – missing home, but worrying that I’d get off the plane in Toronto and fail to feel things click back into place.  Spending two years away from the place you grew up is really hard, and I don’t think I realized how much a part of me was missing until I did get home, and suddenly all the tension and stress and malaise I’ve been carrying evaporated.  That’s not to say I returned to Toronto with unchanged eyes – the city has changed (heck, my family’s home has changed… my parents now sleep in what was my bedroom!) and so have I – but no matter how much it changes, no matter how long I’m away, whenever I hit Canadian soil, I really do feel like I’m coming home. As ironic and paradoxical as it may seem, it’s this prolonged absence away from home that has helped me to better appreciate and understand the place that I’m from and how integral and important Canada as a country is to who I am as a person and how I conceive of my identity.  I mean, I may be able to hear everyone else’s Canadian accent now, and it sure is weird when I hear my own, but I can’t get rid of it, no matter how hard I try.  Canada is truly a part of me. But, this post isn’t really meant to be a reflection or musing on national identity or my time spent at home (there will be another post on the latter, at the very least… and that one will include pictures!).  No, this is supposed to be about books!  Well, you’ll note that in terms of the various activities I mentioned engaging in whilst in Toronto, one of the things that did not feature (along with blogging) was reading.  Despite the best of my intentions, I probably only did about an hour’s worth of reading while out of the country, so although I had hoped to finish Northanger Abbey before ringing in 2010, it didn’t happen.  However, I’m not going to spend my time lamenting the lack of Austen in my 2009 reading, because as you’ll see from the graph and my rundown after the jump, there was still plenty to celebrate (and really, kicking off 2010 with Jane?  Not a bad way to start the year, am I right?)… (more…)
17th December
2009
written by Steph
Yesterday, my good friend Abby sent me a copy of an interview conducted with Jasper Fforde over at Shelf Awareness (and note that because she is such a good friend, she entitled the email “Your BF”, and I immediately knew who she meant… despite having a husband… 😉 ).  The interview is quite short (and can be read here), and focuses on what Fforde is reading and who his literary influences are and all that delightful stuff that gives us fans a peak into the mind of this marvelous man. Now, largely I marveled at how similar my tastes in authors are to those of Mr. Fforde (clearly indicating that we are destined), but one thing jarred me.  I’m all for authors mentioning favorite books or authors that I’ve never heard of (I love the constant realization that there are far too many books in the world for me to ever keep track of them all… and it’s always nice to think that maybe one of these books or writers will become a new favorite), but it throws me for a loop when they list someone as a literary BFF who I do have some experience with and who I just… don’t really care for.  In this interview, Fforde lists Alexander McCall Smith as one of his Top Five Authors, which is no small deal in my book.  Everyone else on his list (Wodehouse, Bryson, Twain, & Vonnegut) are all writers I can get behind (and I’ve sung at least three of their praises on this here blog), but the McCall Smith mention stopped me dead in my tracks.  I tried several times (at least thrice) to read the first book in his Ladies’ Detective Series, and I just COULD NOT DO IT.  I was bored and just didn't get what all the hoopla was about, and I eventually wrote McCall Smith off as one of those writers that I assumed I just wasn’t going to get. And now because of Jasper Fforde, I have myself second-guessing myself and wondering if I have been too hasty in my dismissal.  Perhaps Jasper is referring to McCall’s non-Ladies’ Detective Series books?  To anyone who is well-versed in the ways of McCall Smith, would I be better served in trying some of his other series instead to see what I’m missing?  If I were to only read one McCall Smith book what would you suggest? I also found myself wondering if the rest of you book lovers are as impressionable as I am.  Are there any authors out there who would cause you to do a 180 and give an otherwise neglected–by-you writer another shot?  Or perhaps you have someone else in your life who you find gives unerringly good book advice and if they say to read it, said book automatically goes to the top of your list?  I have to say, with the exception of Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single, on which we have agreed to disagree, Abby has pretty much never steered me wrong when it comes to book choices (which is good since she ultimately decides which books I’ll review for BookPage, and it would stink if she was always sticking me with stuff that was not my thing… and even when she does stick me with something that’s not my usual quirky "Steph" read, she is aware she’s doing it... which counts for something, right?  And that doesn't happen all that often anyway...).  And even if I do have a massive crush on Jasper Fforde (but in a totally professional/respectable and not at all creepy way, I assure you), my darling husband has a pretty good read (ha!  See what I did there?) on whether a book will be to my liking, and it’s rare that we disagree on anything, never mind books, all that often.  After all, Tony is the one who has me convinced that I have to give my literary nemesis, Charles Dickens, another go.  Because of him, I will eventually conquer Great Expectations!  True love will out!  And then of course, there are all of you book bloggers, who add at least three or four books to my teetering and tottering mammoth of a TBR pile... No wonder I never make any progress with that thing!
22nd October
2009
written by Steph
A long while back, a friend forwarded me a link to a page on Zappos where you could watch in real-time what shoes people across the United States were buying.  It was pretty fun to watch as I am a self-confessed shoe addict (I love shoes almost as much as I love books, and have lamented on several occasions that you can only wear one pair at a time), and it was also kind of amusing to watch how buying trends for certain parts of the country aligned with my preconceived notions about that region (e.g., lots of Birkenstocks being bought in California, snakeskin cowboy boots in Texas, pumas and adidas and similar track shoes in NYC, etc.,).  I believe the friend who sent it to me referred to it as "my kind of tv", and well, he wasn't wrong. Until now that is! Because now, The Book Depository is offering a similar peek into the lives of its patrons.  For me, this is pretty awesome since it revolves around books (duh!), but also because it's a globally accessed site, and so you can see what people ALL OVER THE WORLD are intending to read, all from the comfort of your own home.  In the brief time I've been watching, someone from Spain has purchased a book on Gymnastics, someone from Italy bought Beloved, someone from New Zealand bought Interpreting Contemporary Christianity, and someone else from Italy (I presume) bought Complete Chinese Knotting (I don't even know what that is).  I love the real-time updates and zooming all over the map as someone from some corner of the globe buys something new. Sigh.  And people wonder how I get by without cable. [For all your book voyeurism (or vicarious book buying) needs, check out The Book Depository Live.]
21st October
2009
written by Steph

Is it still bad if most of these were free?

Is it still bad if most of these were free?

Now before y’all go calling me on the fact that I’ve fallen of the wagon yet AGAIN, I’m going to point out that this month, I’ve only gone book shopping at the shelves at work.  Which means I didn’t pay money for most of the books I’m showing you here today, so don’t get all up in arms! (I say “most” because Tony was away on business and bought a book or two as a gift for me/us, which doesn’t really count, does it?  I was hundreds of miles away and had nothing to do with it!!!)  While I admit that I still have a problem when it comes to acquiring books – seriously, I’m reading as fast as I can in an attempt to make a dent in our stacks - doing so when they’re free is far less worrisome than when they’re not, right? So, as we’re almost done with October, this meant that the September shelves at BookPage needed culling to make room for new stock (I believe I replenished those barren shelves with February books), and I nabbed two books from there, but my big jackpot this month was the “finished books” shelves down in the foyer, where we display all the books that are sent to us in finished form that were not reviewed in the magazine.  These are free for anyone to take and ultimately get donated to a library every few months.  Normally a steer clear of these as I have my arms laden down as it is, but I stopped to snag a copy of Long Past Stopping by Oran Canfield as a gift for a friend who was down visiting us this weekend (said friend is a fan of Augusten Burrows, and when I paged through LPS a few months ago I immediately thought of him, and her!).  Since I was already there at the shelves, I did a quick perusal and consequently managed to find another seven books to bring home…  Here’s how it all broke down: (more…)
29th September
2009
written by Steph

What was the first step again?  Admitting I have a problem?

What was the first step again? Admitting I have a problem?

No seriously.  I clearly have some kind of problem when it comes to book buying.  Why is it that I cannot go more than three weeks before entering McKay’s only to leave with more books than I entered with (in this case, I didn’t even trade anything in!), when I have more than enough books in our apartment to last me for at least a year?  Why did I go when I had just finished saying to Tony that I need to read through some of what we have so that we can reasonably make space for new stock?  And yet I go and buy 17 books (and this is after – and I kid you not – I put back at least 10 other books).  Clearly this is now verging on a certifiable addiction, right?  I knew I shouldn’t have gone into McKay’s at all, but my reason for doing so was that I just finished reading the most recent Douglas Coupland novel, and it was so AMAZING (and that is really all I can say for now, because I am reviewing it for BookPage… but stay tuned for more on that some time in November) that I had to go out and buy more Coupland.  Like right away.  Because I kind of wondered how the heck it is I had gone so long without reading anything by him, and I worried that I might somehow cease to exist if I didn’t rectify this by reading everything he has ever written.  So I told Tony I wanted to go to McKay’s to check and see if they had any Coupland and that was all I would buy… and then as you can see from the picture, clearly things went terribly wrong (or did they go terribly right?), because prolific as he may be, Douglas Coupland has certainly not written 17 books.  Ahem.  After discussing this most recent binge with my friend Taryn, I have decided that probably my first mistake was taking a cart with me while browsing.  Obviously I need to stop doing that. Do I get any leeway given that our grocery bill for the week was only $34?  Surely that balances out this spree somewhat, right? After the jump, we examine the damage!
25th August
2009
written by Steph
P1030168_v2

What a surprise... more books!

Ok, it’s been over a month since our last book buying expedition (our last trip was on the 4th of July weekend), which I think is some kind of progress!  I aim to visit the bookstore no more than once a month, because any more frequently than that would feel pretty decadent.  Also, there’s no way I can read fast enough to keep up with bi- or tri-weekly trips (not that that would stop me).  This time I managed to accrue 10 books in our stack to sell back before venturing to McKay’s.  I figured if I can commit to ensuring that I trade in at least 10 every time we visit then that will be a good way to curtail frivolous and unnecessary spending.  We didn’t get very much money for our trade-ins (just under $1 per book…), but as they say, every little bit helps, since we were able to walk away with 9 books for just $14.  And maybe the math might seem a little strange to you, but it was actually nice to see we were coming away with fewer books than we entered with as it means one less book to store at our apartment! Now, onto the loot! (more…)
23rd July
2009
written by Steph

[N.B. The somewhat patriotic motif in the title would have made more sense if I had been able to post this on the July 4th weekend, when I originally drafted this up.  But as you know, life and the wedding got in the way so now the title is more puzzling than it is cute.  I've not changed the text below, so any prospective references to wedding planning and the like can be ignored.  Just transport yourself back three weeks in time, and you'll be in the right mindset! 😉 ] One of the great things about keeping a blog is that I get to keep track of the frequency of our book buying binges.  On average it would appear that I am able to stay away from the bookstore for about 3 weeks before I finally cave and have to stalk its aisles once more.  As I mentioned in my last post in which I solicited recommendations for my summer/honeymoon reading (be sure to suggest a southern and/or summery classic if you haven’t already!), I’ve sort of been jonesing for particular reads that I feel our home library is lacking, so I suppose I just wanted to get out there and see what I could find.  The book I’m currently reading (hopefully I can finish it and get a review up before things really swing into wedding mode next week) makes frequent reference to Herman Melville and Moby Dick in particular, so my interest was piqued and I thought I might like to try to read that massive epic.  It was off to McKay’s to see if I could find a copy… I didn’t (not entirely true: they had several, but the minimum price was $8, and I just didn’t feel like shelling out that kind of cash for a book I wasn’t certain I would love), but we did wind up with a few other books. (more…)
3rd July
2009
written by Steph
As many of you dear readers know, a few months back, Tony & I got engaged.  What some of you may not know is that we're getting married ONE WEEK from today.  Crazy, but true!  If you've been wondering at the relatively sporadic stream of updates over the past month or two, I think we can probably blame frantic wedding planning... But this post is not about weddings.  Not really.  It's a call to arms, where I ask fellow readers to help me plan my reading pile that I'll drag along with us for our week-long honeymoon.  We'll be driving Pip down to Charleston, SC, where we'll spend five days, and then we'll be spending 3 days in Savannah, GA.  And yes, pictures will follow!  On my last pseudo-vacation back in May, I tried bringing one loooooong book with me, figuring that would cut back on my needing to haul many tomes with me.  Only that didn't pan out so well, because about 350 pages into the looooong book, I started to get bored, and consequently didn't do much reading.  So for our honeymoon, I don't want to be caught emptyhanded and plan to bring several books with me just to keep all my bases covered. I have two categories of books I'm specifically looking for, so hopefully everyone will get to play!  If you know of any books that fall into either category (or both!), please let me know so that my honeymoon (and the rest of this summer) can be a reading success! 1.  Southern Fiction I know that Maggie over at Maggie Reads has been hosting a Southern Reading Challenge, so hopefully some of y'all can help me out with my specific request.  I'm particularly looking for any literature set in Charleston or Savannah to accompany me on my trip.  I'm already planning to bring John Berendt's Midnight In The Garden of Good And Evil with me (is there a more "Savannah" novel than that?) and Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind (perhaps not strictly a Savannah read, but we're going to see plantations, so close enough).  So maybe I have Savannah covered (but don't let that stop you if you know of some other great reads that are set there or even just pass on through), but so far Charleston's been a complete bust.  Everything set there (or in the vicinity) looks to be trashy romance novels or just general pulpy stuff I've no interest in reading.  Anyone know of anything good set or written there?  I may wind up bringing our little collection of Edgar Allen Poe, since he was a fan of the region (particularly Sullivan's Island, I believe), even if he does seem a bit macabre for a honeymoon.  As an extension, I'm happy to accept suggestions set in the Carolinas or Georgia, even if you can't get them square in those particular cities. 2.  "Summer-y" Classics I want to read more classics, but so many of them just don't "feel" like summer reading.  As much as I want to tackle Great Expectations, it just doesn't seem like the kind of book to read on the beach or by the pool (more like the kind of book to read curled up on your couch with a mug of tea in hand and puppies warming your feet).  So can any of you suggest some great summer reads that would also be construed as classics?  I've already done Forster's Room With A View last summer, and I do have a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo I need to get back to at some point (but recall me not wanting to haul a huge 1000+ book with me on vacation), so no need to suggest those.  Also, Jane Austen's a given and goes without saying (so, you know, don't say her!).  But what else should I try?  I realize I'm not giving much direction here, but surely some of you know what I mean when I say certain classics feel summer-y and others don't, right?  Like: Vanity Fair by Thackeray, yes;  Wuthering Heights, no;  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, yes;  Dracula, no; All The King's Men by Warren, yes; Bleak House, hell no!  It's totally arbitrary, I know, and yet I unerringly feel like most classics fall into Autumn & Winter reading...  So help me, please!  What classics have you successfully read and enjoyed in the summer months? Hopefully I'll wind up with more requests than I can reasonably handle over our honeymoon, but that's not a bad problem to have!  I'll look forward to reading things even once I return back to Nashville.
7th June
2009
written by Steph

Or rather, a funny thing happened while we were at the used bookstore, in that I exercised a ton of restraint and put a bunch of books back on the shelves.  I know some of you are looking at the picture of our bounty thinking, “That’s restraint?!?!” but I promise it’s true.  This was the first time where I just felt pretty uninspired by a lot of the books I inspected, and while I put a bunch of books in my cart, I didn’t feel like I HAD to have a lot of them, so I placed them back on the shelves before we cashed out. So, total damage this time was 15 books – ostensibly one of our lightest hauls ever from McKay’s, but I will say the books that I got were ones that I really did want.  I did trade in a bunch of books and Tony culled his cd pile, so all of these books were purchased on store credit and did not cost any cold hard cash monies. (more…)
2nd May
2009
written by Steph

Book-based stalagmites are now developing at an alarming rate around our apartment...

Book-based stalagmites are now developing at an alarming rate around our apartment...

I’ve noticed that a lot of book bloggers out there do weekly accounts of the inventory they have coming into their libraries.  Normally the book influx is on the order of 3 to 7 books, which seems reasonable.  Of course, I don’t really participate in Library Loot or the like, because I really don’t have book entering the apartment on a regular basis.  Instead, I seem to operate under the “When It Rains, It Pours” principle, when it comes to acquiring books.  Total damage this time?  27 books (3 of them are graphic designy, so I’m not including them in this run down… I think 24 books are plenty to keep us busy.)… and this time, we paid with our own pocket money.  No vouchers or anything! Sigh.  I guess we’d better cut the preamble, as this is going to be long enough.  Let us go and revel in my total lack of self-control. (more…)
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