Book and Media Haul

Our city library system has regular sales, so I got a few items there. Plus I’ve been buying discounted Barnes and Noble giftcards and combining these with Barnes and Nobles coupons to buy books from Barnes and Noble. Finally, Half-Price had as store wide Memorial Day sale (I hope they have one for the 4th).

My library booksale haul. Suitably studious . . . now I just need to start those courses.

Barnes and Noble.

My Half Price haul. I think I buy beautiful books as idols or something since I’m afraid to actually touch and read them.

What I’ve Watched Recently

I have fallen off watching Hallmark mostly because Mom stopped, thank goodness. I would come home from work with no motivation and will-power and just agree every time she asked. I hope this lasts.

For my third free streaming trial recently, I tried Netflix again. When I had Amazon Prime and Netflix ages ago (maybe at the same time for a short period, I’m not sure), I always thought Netflix had more choices, but I don’t think they do anymore, maybe because they are focusing on their own films and shows. Anyway, definitely not for me either, most of what I would watch was stuff I’d already seen, and I didn’t try to look up old movies (my list is intimidatingly long). I did luck out on Thor.

New Watches

How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days. Rather like a dirtier Hallmark movie.

13 Going on 30. This was cute although I wish Mark Ruffalo’s (he was so adorkable) character was in it more and there were more romantic scenes.

Part of Doctor Srange. Cumberbatch drew me in, but then I got bored.

Part of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I wasn’t super inspired to finish and Netflix shut down or shut down on me on my last day. I do want to finish, but I doubt it will be a favorite. Ken, I mean Paul while handsome, isn’t Peter O’Toole or Gregory Peck, and I prefer Hepburn’s more innocent characters.

Thor Ragnarok. I hated the preview. While by this time, I wasn’t expecting to hate it, I didn’t think I’d like it. These low expectations probably made way for me really enjoying it. I rewatched it in the same week.

Re-Watches

Leap Year. I love this movie, but I need to stop watching it for awhile. I’ve watched it three times in the last two years.

I re-watched Sherlock and then rage quite before the fourth season (which I’ve never seen). I’m not besotted with Benedict Cumberbatch like I was when I first watched the first two seasons. I don’t think they are near as clever nor as subtle and understated (yes, I thought they were subtle and understated and refined and all that jazz; I was early twenties and so very un-subtle and awkward myself, I think I can be excused). However, they ARE clever (the first two seasons) in such a quotable way.

Before the third season, I had fun re-watching them and looking at them through cooler adult eyes. I can also understand more (the first two seasons clearly weren’t marketed toward U.S. audiences and although I’d seen many period dramas, I had trouble understanding modern British speech as I suppose they weren’t making an effort to be understood). I understanding why I fell so hard for Sherlock/Cumberbatch (in Doctor Strange, he could draw me, the old magic was still there, but it didn’t last; partially probably because his horrible American accent (not his job at it, just the accent he had)

The third season is as bad as a remember although not quite the shock to my senses it was when I first watched it. Because I’m thoroughly over the lure of the series, and I’m not sure I was quite then or I hadn’t re-watched the first two seasons to awake a bit more to the reality of the drama, meaning the contrast between the first two and the third is not as great, unfortunately, as I thought then. The first and last episode of the third series are truly dreadful in the mediocre, melodramatic, abysmal ludicrousness. I remember reading a blogger describe how in the fourth Pirates Jack is a caricature of himself (how much more so in the fifth then?!), well that describes Sherlock in this season. The second episode has a good bit of a mystery, but not enough.

Despicable Me 2. We did a family pool night Saturday and watched a movie/by in the pool. We were going to watch Captain America: Civil War, but because we were impatient we wanted to start a movie before it was truly dark enough to see the screen properly and choose the animated movie to see better. This was a really fun experience. Then my youngest sisters and Dad almost immediately watched Thor: Ragnarok, inside though.

What I Read April and May

I’ve not read much or well lately, sticking to a too high percentage of re-reads.

Re-Reads

  • Dragon Spear by Jessica Day George. The last of this trilogy, and I didn’t like them half so well this time around. Not all middle-grade can last through all adulthood.
  • Laddie by Gene Stratton-Porter. I loved parts and some parts bored me or made me cringe (she does tend to be rather sanctimonious, in this book it is rather heaped unevenly at the end).
  • The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy; The Penderwicks on Gardam Street; The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall; and The Penderwicks in Spring. All of the Penderwicks I read in 2 days (how I love these; these DO last through adulthood), so I could read the newest one. Which I stopped and returned. Period.

New Reads

  • The Five Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird. This was my first speedy read through. I need to go back and read more slowly (the authors recommended three times). I think I’m going to buy this one. I might even order it today.
  • Perelandra by C.S. Lewis. Rather stranger and more uncomfortable than the first novel, plus really boring at the end.
  • That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis. Although much longer than the first two, this book wasn’t long, yet I spent a month on it . . . and it felt even longer. This felt so different, less sci-fi/interplanetary fiction and more dystopia (which isn’t my favorite, and I’m rather bored of now). Also, rather twisted and disturbing. I should like to know what N.D. Wilson and Jeanne Birdsall so love about it. I’m clearly missing something.

9 books in 2 months. Ouch. I think I may have finished one or both of the Shirley Jackson autobiographical books in May, but I’m not sure, so I will just include those next month.

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Worlds I’d Want/Never Want to Live In

I’m linking up here. I think I will do five for worlds I wouldn’t want to live in and five for worlds I might.

No:

  1. The future in The Time Machine. No words, there are no words.
  2. Alagaesia in the Inheritance Cycle. Why live in a Knock-off when you could like in the real Lord of the Rings (and whatever other worlds were copied).
  3. Panem. Because it is both disturbing and second-hand.
  4. the Harry Potter universe. Because, if you haven’t gotten the memo, I’m a scaredy-cat, and I would rather enjoy the stories from my own safe vantage point.
  5. I’d have to say Middle Earth because it is so dark and scary, unless I could live with the elves before they started dwindling or in Hobbiton. The orcs remain (thanks in part to the brilliant mind of Peter Jackson) one of the most believably and truly horrifying fictional creatures (I think in part because they, as I think was the intent, seem both so man-like and beast-like, as if to be what man at absolute depravity could be; also, I remember the shock of disgust and horror I felt when learning Morgoth bred them from elves which again, I think might have been the point; to see the contrast of what man in God’s image and under His sanctification can/ought to be and what he can be because of the fall).

Yes:

  1. Narnia, if I could freeze it only into the good times.
  2. I know Rosemary Sutcliff painted a romantic and for all its seeming darkness, a rather mild conception of the little-known, so old and odd as to seem unreal, Ancient Britain, but I would like to see it, if only briefly, and through Roman or Romanized eyes (yeah, not so interested in the more brutal reality of my more likely forbearers, sorry). I’ll take a ticket to and from, please and thank-you.
  3. The world of the Fairy Rebels and Swift and Nomad, but I’d have to replace Ivy in the books, because Martin is MINE.
  4. PEI in all the Montgomery books, with someone like Barney/Jingle/Uncle Klondike with maybe a touch of Walter and Jem Blythe, thanks.
  5. If the land of The Ordinary Princess is exactly like the land in the 2015 Cinderella, and I think it should be, then that land.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Character Names

I’m linking up with Top Ten Tuesday. These are more “unique names I’d name my kids” but I like or only know plainer names for boys.

1. Evelina from Frances Burney’s novel of same name
2. Camilla from Frances Burney’s novel of same name
3. Cecilia from Frances Burney’s novel of same name
4. Ileana from Wildwood Dancing
5. Tatiana from Wildwood Dancing
6. Jenica from Wildwood Dancing
7. Marguerite from Calico Bush and The Scarlet Pimpernel
8. Armand from The Scarlet Pimpernel
9. Percy from The Scarlet Pimpernel
10. Lila from Marilynne Robinson’s novel of the same name

Top Ten Tuesday Books I Disliked, but I’m Glad I Read for Bragging Rights

  1. Les Misérables. Um, yeah, you can tell when authors are writing serials and don’t have enough talent or story to fill them. Sorry, Hugo, I don’t want to read 40 pages each about a minor characters, a Napoleonic battle with the only connection a piece of thievery, and the Paris sewer system. I would like more developed characters. Oh, I grant that the story is epic, but for all those pages, not much seems to be said, developed, or completed.
  2. Brother Karamazov. A bunch of absurd, disjointed, irrational, sanctimonious philosophizing. The pathos builds and then falls flat (there isn’t a death sentence for one thing, and I got bored for another). I liked Alyosha the best, but Dostoevsky had to spoil him with some incongruous preaching at the end. No real love story. No real tragedy. No real story. Tons of awful characters. I liked all the legitimate broters, but all the women they loved were . . . I’ll go with harpies, to put it mildly.
  3. Plato’s Apology. Something for school. Don’t remember a bit.
  4. The Aeneid. Ugh, and overrated and boring. Sorry Virgil, you are no Homer.
  5. The Great Gatsby. Overrated in the extreme.
  6. The Time Machine. Horror.
  7. Into the Wild. Something for school. Bizarre, poorly written, and depressing.
  8. Cloud’s by Aristophanes. Something for school. Don’t remember a bit.
  9. We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I was disturbed by the book (at the end) and by my reaction (I was so fooled for one thing) . . . probably more by my reaction.
  10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I liked this for the historical perspective, but I found most of the characters unlikeable, and the story featured some really freaky, vile episodes.

I’m linking up here for Top Ten Tuesday (late of course).

Yarn Along May

I finished the green book, but I don’t feel like taking another photo. I haven’t made much progress on the either the books or the knitting since I took this. And of course I have more projects on the needles.

I’m linking up here for Ginny’s Monthly Yarn Along.

My Reading Systems

How I Find What to Read
o In the early stages I relied mainly on friends, family, pulling directly from shelves (VERY early), and homeschooling.

o Now, my main sources for fiction are other bloggers.

o My nonfiction is more of a mix; friends, websites (not usually bloggers), and my research.

o I’m not really an off-the-shelf reader because 1.) I almost always order my library books and 2.) I have trust issues. I don’t even always digitally pull off the shelf (although I do sometimes for nonfiction and reference); I always like to hop over to Amazon for a bit more information. I do think I need to try to pull off the shelves a bit more because I could be missing out on interesting books.

Managing My TBR List
o TBR lists can be huge, so I prefer mine to be digital. I want to collect every book that someone recommends, so that I don’t forget about it plus I want to follow my own inclinations.

o I’m trying to only use the library site as much as possible; I sorted my library list into categories, and I’m trying to discipline myself to hop right over there when a blogger mentions a book instead of bookmarking and prolonging the process.

o I still need to streamline my interlibrary loan list for those books that aren’t available at my library; I think this needs to be an Excel file.

o I have a re-read list in my reading journal because this tends to be small and re-reads are often impulsive.

Obtaining the Books
o I almost NEVER buy books unread. I’ve purged many books of my own that I have read because of the quality of the physical book. Books are expensive and space consuming, and I’m really picky, so it is essential that I borrow.

o I live in a different county from my preferred library, so I like to order lots of books, so that I have a ton of options to last me for a few months. I’m still trying to perfect my system.

o For books that I plan to read in their entirety, I aim for these four categories: dense fiction, light fiction, scholarly nonfiction, popular nonfiction. I’ve also been gathering a random assortment of books to peruse for reference (cookbooks, historical fiction, craft books, etc.).

o We have the option to suggest a purchase which I like to use.

o We have an interlibrary loan system which allows 3 requests per months. I think it is hit and miss, but I need to utilize it better.

How I Read
o I have started to put sticky notes with chapters/sections broken down onto dense books, so that I can break down the reading a bit at a time and feel accomplished (sometimes I am able to get into the rhythm/discipline of reading after doing a few chapters or sections).

o I am a slow reader but for me at least, I think this helps my comprehension because when I’ve sped through things, I’ve noticed that I don’t absorb the information well.

o I dislike e-books; I have a Kindle app on my laptop with multiple books. I’d like to read some of them, but I don’t find this method of reading easy or comfortable, and I don’t feel that I absorb the content as well which is the most important part!

o I usually read in bed, probably should get some better habits going.

Reading Notes
o I’m hit and miss on this; I’m trying to discipline myself. I have done everything from written on scrap paper to typed in a document to written in a notebook.

o I recently page-numbered and added a “Contents” section to my reading notebook; I want to make that an early stop for notes; I can draw from these notes for posts and expanded thoughts.

o I have copied some work that I had on scrap paper into my reading journal, but sometimes, I think I may need to use scraps when I want to write an organized piece on a larger scale.

o I’ve also tried to start writing brief thoughts on books about which I don’t have much interest in analyzing deeply, so I can type up my monthly summaries quicker. I need to work on the content of these better, so that I can give other people more information.

o I have a separate quote book for quotes which I’ve been trying to use more; I think a digital source might be better, so I can find favorites again quickly.

My Reading Habits and Stratagies

I’m came across this post on ways to read more in college, and it got me thinking about what I do or need to do in order to read. I want to go through the aforementioned list with my thoughts, and then write another post on a few more actions I take that help me personally.

~Read one book at a time
I think that this is a personal thing. I can find it difficult to be motivated to read one book at a time when that one book is dense. Some books are hard to slog through but are worth it. And some are a bit more like candy. I could definitely be more disciplined in my reading, but I still think that having a few books in different categories (e.g. dense fiction, light fiction, scholarly nonfiction, popular nonfiction) is a helpful way to read widely and deeply.

~Read what makes you happy
I think this only applies to the light fiction category. I “need” this category to pull me away from the Internet, to help me stick to reading, to de-stress, etc. I oftentimes have a hard time finding enough of these books though, and so I turn to my small favorite reads; I LOVED how Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas called this concept having a “literary medicine cabinet.” 

~Take your book with you everywhere
This is a great idea, but one I still need to implement more consistently. I also like to bring my knitting everywhere, so I can be a bit of a crazy bag lady.

~Use reading as an incentive
I think this is more personal too. Again, this is where the multiple books come in for me. I kind of use the light books as a help to reading the heavy ones. I sometimes read, knit, repeat. But I think that I prefer reading my fun books straight and this would make my work slide (if you haven’t noticed discipline is a problem for moi).

~Don’t force yourself to read
I GREATLY disagree with this for everyone;  I think everyone should be reading hard books and most people don’t find those easy. Additionally, I don’t expect to desire to read period, I have to exert discipline. I think that is for these reasons: psychological reading issues, habitual lack of disciple (e.g. laziness), and computer addiction (e.g. lack of self-control).

Fiction Analysis and More Bookish Links

I wanted to write out some of my thought process for choosing or rejecting fiction (it IS important to be able to know when you are wasting your time and brain; this blogger mentions her 40 page rule, I prefer a different way) and some questions to help me analyze the books (my review ability could use some improvement). Now, I’m more intuitive than clearly analytical in my thoughts, so I don’t think in this organized way, but I wanted to formulate a neat set of questions drawn from my thoughts on how to choose good fiction. I’m trying to utilize my reading notebook more effectively, so I wrote the questions and prompts in there.

  • Is the quality of the prose high?
  • Is the quality of the story high? Is it interesting?
  • Is the tone forced? Is the action manufactured? Is the drama manufactured? Does the emotion feel genuine? Try to pin point the “why” of your answers.
  • Is the immorality, language, violence, etc. gratuitous or cheaply shocking? What is the proportion of bad to good? What is the tone toward these issues? Is it sympathetic? Indifferent/amoral/blasé? Hostile? Are the issues implied/subtly handled or graphic and explicit? Are they excessive/essential to the story? Can you cut/cover them and have a good story?
  • Describe the plot, the situations, the characters, the moments. What do you like? What is the feeling and tone of the story? How do you know this?

Now for some bookish links.

Some literary holidays. I’ve filled my calendar with many of these, and I will probably have some posts on this.

A conversation between two of my favorite authors, Jeanne Birdsall and N.D. Wilson. Some really great words here, on the importance of beautiful prose (YES, YES, YES! The lack of this is a/the significant reason I despise much of modern grown-up novels), on depth in characterization, on deep treatment of themes, on magic and Americana (Natalie Lloyd does this too; I LOVE this). This is just an awesome discussion, can they have an online bookclub?!!!!!! Or podcast (I’m not into podcasts, but this would be one that I would WANT).

The Persistence of Print.

Improve your vocabulary. I was putting a list like this into an Excel file and realized I might have the opposite issue for some of these words; I use the big words when I’m frustrated and so they are exaggerated and not accurate. I added these words to the other list I found, some of them repeated or had different suggestions, and I’m not sure I agree with all of the choices.

These quotes can apply to reading as well (sometimes the mainstream “reader” community seriously annoys me and reading merely as a hobby and only reading fiction is one pet peeve).

Learning techniqueWhich led me to this channel.

National Library Week: Websites and Research

This should be my last post for National Library Week unless I do a round up. I only did a cursory exploration of my library’s site (and I haven’t looked at my town library for this week).

I’ve already listed some items essential for research under media, but I thought I needed another post for more items that didn’t exactly fit under any other category.

In addition to information for all the items I listed before, my library’s website also has

  • educator, parents, teen, and children’s pages
  • a Genealogy page (as well as archives at the main library)
  • a page of all sorts of Internet links
  • a page listing sites with free Internet classes
  • Treehouse accounts available to checkout
  • a library newsletter
  • a partnership with a self-publisher e-book site

What I Read in March

Re-Reads
The Elusive Pimpernel and El Dorado. The succinct version of my opinion of these is similar to the first, so you can check out my January reads for that. I could rant and rave about how little we get of Percy and how stupid and selfish Marguerite is and how much we have to endure her, but I won’t  . . . for now.

Freckles and The Girl of the Limberlost. These are sweet, but I still found a lot to irritate (no, really?!). I love the nature descriptions and some of the romance. I disliked some of behavior and especially the attitudes.

Dragon Slippers and Dragon Flight. I wanted something light and easy; I don’t enjoy these as much as I did at first though. Creel is really getting on my nerves.

Light Fiction
The Grave’s a Fine and Quiet Place. I am thankful the weird conspiratorial elements are left out of this one. I found it too gross. I enjoyed it well enough, but I thought the story overall was unsatisfying, simplistic, and incomplete. The humor (the best part) is still great.

Dense Fiction

The Brothers Karamazov. Well, this had the potential to be a really thrilling novel (if the author cut the excessive, absurd, and rambling sermons), but by the end everything fell flat. I think it is hard to key up a reader when the penalty is not the death penalty; there is less trauma, less believable pathos. Plus I was sick of just about everyone and the plot.

The Old Man and the Sea. Poignancy and pathos. Although the story dragged, yet Hemingway’s artistry kept me interested although I was fearing a sadder ending (I’ve read at least two of his short stories). Prose is what makes a real writer great, NOT a extravagant story line (which anyone can plot).

The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway is a great writer but wow, his characters are almost always horrid. I got the feeling of almost, if not definite ant-social disorders. Zero conscience, dispassionate/removed discussion of others feelings, using/abusing others (cruel, rapier taunting), little real feelings besides short bursts of manipulative anger are exhibited, those characters who are sensitive are portrayed as odd, caricatured, rather flat anomalies. Unbelievably crass womanizing lechery. Hard, constant drinking. (All this applies to the two short stories I read as well).

Popular Nonfiction
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. I wrote tons of notes on this, but I really didn’t get much out of it. I thought it over-complicated and gimmicky, maybe someone might find a concrete yet abstract plan helpful, I don’t. I also found much of the descriptions and word-choices to be poor and to add unnecessary distraction and confusion. I preferred what I culled from my interpersonal communication textbook (very specific yet simple points that everyone can use at anytime, e.g. “you” sentences are accusatory, “we” often are presumptive, deceitful, and manipulative).

Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World. I found this extremely useful; the world of the Pilgrims is explained to give a context to their actions and role in history. This type of history is my favorite, and in my opinion the most essential aspect of studying history because you cannot understand events without understanding the times. While this seemed well-researched, and I appreciate the over-arching idea, the organization, editing, and writing could have used work (hence the popular nonfiction categorization). I think far more footnotes and factual evidence is needed also. However, I think the good is well worth sloughing through all the bad.