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The Joyce of Choice

January 14, 2012

James JoyceOnce again I’ve decided to splurge on a trip to the annual BookCrossing convention. This year it’s in Dublin, and in anticipation I’d like to read at least one book by James Joyce. I haven’t read any of his works before, so I’m at a loss over where to start.

That got me thinking that I should consult you, dear readers. Please vote in the poll below and leave a comment about what you like most about your choicest Joyce. No spoilers, pleaseūüėČ

What’s That Sound?

January 8, 2012

You may have noticed a chirping emanating from the right pane of this page that wasn’t there before. No it’s not The Sound and the Fury or the tolling of Hemingway’s bell. Rather, it my brand new Twitter feed. Some of you already follow me as @Steph_Spencer21, and by all means please do so if you want to receive my musings about the awesomeness of ukulele, tango lessons, dodgy travel advice, Doctor Who and other random nonsense. However, if you want a steady stream of tweets about nothing but books and reading, please follow @1000_Novels.

The latest tweets will also be visible on this blog, and it will be a good way to keep up with my reading progress. I tend to let blog posts percolate in my mind for a while and seldom write about a book at the time I’ve read it. If you follow my tweets you’ll have up-to-the minute updates on what I’m reading and some of the insights (be they humourous, profound, idiotic or otherwise) that spring to mind spontaneously.

Happy New Year, Have a Graph!

January 1, 2012

Novels Read Graph

I bet you were expecting a¬† “the year in review” post, or maybe a manifesto about “how I will be a better book blogger in 2012.” Surprise! I got you a graph instead!

This shows the progress I have made in the nearly three years that I have been pecking away at the 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read list. Several of you have written to ask about this very topic, so here it is. Despite life getting in the way sometimes and my inability to comply with the plans I set for myself, overall my reading pace has been fairly steady when plotted over the long term.

I also got you some other goodies. Don’t worry, they’re sugar-free and won’t undermine your diet. Widgets! In the right pane I’m now displaying a running total of the number of novels I’ve read from the list, and a Currently Reading section to display the book I’m reading now. I wish they were jazzier, but it’s the thought that counts, right? In those lonely intervals when I don’t write, or call, or send smoke signals, these will at least let you know that I’m still alive and reading.

Happy New Year!


October 10, 2011

It’s Thanksgiving in Canada. I’m thankful for the ability to read what I please.

Reading has always been big in our family, and something we’ve never taken for granted. Mom grew up in a household where reading was not just discouraged, but forbidden. Her stepfather was illiterate and banned reading in the house. In her early teens she had to leave home to be able to continue her schooling. So we were brought up to cherish reading and take advantage of every opportunity to do so. Perhaps this why I am so adamantly opposed to censorship today and thankful for the existence of organizations like Freedom to Read and the fact that I live in a society where ideas are free to flourish and evolve unimpeded (most of the time.)

As much as I have always been fueled by the fervent desire to read, we didn’t have the means to buy many books growing up, so I am eternally grateful for libraries. There was no public library in the very rural area where we lived, but the school library felt like a treasure trove and broadened my horizons immeasurably. In high school the library was my refuge from bullies and my passport to other worlds as I devoured the volumes at my disposal. Today I can afford to own books, and I do buy lots of them, but I still love borrowing books from the library, and especially browsing the stacks and discovering new authors and subjects that fire my imagination.

I’m especially grateful to have a supportive community of readers and booklovers who share my passion and fuel the fire.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Playing Hooky

September 25, 2011

As I do most weekends, I had planned to write a new blog post. However, instead of writing about Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Blindness, Pnin or any of the dozen other ideas for posts that flit about in my mind, I played hooky and went out and had fun.

Instead of the fun and frolic of a book review, you get to look at some pictures that I took while goofing off.

county fair

county fair

books are incredible!

Neil Pasricha

Not Everything is Illuminated

September 6, 2011

Hello. It’s a bit soon for another post. Just popping in to share a quick anecdote that you bookworms might enjoy.

The bulb in my bedside lamp has burned out. It’s a fiddly size of CFL that’s not easily replaced (a trip to the dreaded IKEA might even be required) so the last couple of nights I have been holed up under the covers with my trusty purple maglite reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court before going to sleep. Okay, maybe not a knee-slapper of an anecdote, but I certainly feel ridiculous.

Vacation Reading

September 4, 2011

Mr. ToadA big thanks to everyone who participated in the poll from my last post. It was entertaining to watch the books seemingly compete with one another as the results changed over time. Thanks to your input my dilemma was solved without further angst.¬† In addition to the book I had in progress, packed A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,¬† The Woman in White, and Master and Commander. The forecast called for rain, so I threw in Decline and Fall as well, since it’s a relatively slim volume.

See, here’s the thing. I’m feeling rather sheepish as I write this because, after all my neurotic analysis of what to take on vacation, the entire time I was away I didn’t even get through the book I already had in progress when I left. I was about a quarter of the way through The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay upon departure, and although I was reading it fairly steadily, I still had a few pages to go when I got home. I was enjoying it too much to set it aside, even temporarily, in favour of any of the books from the poll. It’s an engrossing book which I plan to post a review about fairly soon.

The poll has also helped me feel better about not being terribly eager to read Lake Wobegon Days. I have a ragged copy that I picked up at the library’s book sale months ago, and have started to read it on several occasions but thus far it hasn’t grabbed me. It met my vacation book criteria from the standpoint of being a book I wouldn’t care much if one of the clumsy calamities I’m prone to happened to befall it, and thematically it was a perfect fit for the kind of holiday we took, but I’m just not that into it. Thank you for saving me from my own good intentions, as I was planning to take it because I seemed like something I should read at that juncture, rather than a book I wanted to read.

family vacation on Georgian BayThis trip, the main objective was to spend time with my family, especially my nieces and nephews who are getting to an age when they will soon have lives of their own and probably won’t have much time to spend with their goofy old aunt anymore. We got a lot of visiting in. My nieces had great fun braiding my hair in many imaginative ways, I suitably impressed everyone with my prowess at trivia games, tried our hand at ukulele and salsa dancing lessons, and we took several outings. I went to the beach for the first time in years (decades even) and actually enjoyed it (being able to read at the beach probably helped.)

I didn’t get tons of reading time on vacation, but a decent amount. There was more reading toward the end of the week as we began to run out of things to say to each other, and some of us grew a bit tired and in need of relaxation. As the week wound down there were several long stretches when a few of us made ourselves comfortable on the chalet’s couches and read silently in each other’s presence. I was engrossed in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, while Dad had his nose in Grisham’s The Appeal, and my brother was ploughing through a Jeffrey Archer novel before having to give it back to Mom.

This brings me to today’s topic for discussion: Do you consider time spent reading with someone to be quality time together?

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