Category Currently Reading

Saunders, Catton, Bryson

I’ve been having one of the most challenging and exciting and dorkful reading life lately. At the heels of the first installment of The Annotated TBR, I started reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and couldn’t help but dive into A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. And, because both books were (or either of them was) ridiculous for me to transport that one time I had to show up for a meeting, I also started George Saunders’ much-lauded, was-everywhere-in-2013 Tenth of December collection. I’m having so much fun. [Continue reading.]

February, thus far

I’ve kept up the wonky momentum of January—characterized by good books and really good books resolving to nudge away a smattering of meh books—up until the start of February, but I’m seeing the possibility of even that faulty system flagging. This is, I am aware, an as-faulty observation—since three of the four books I’ve read since the month began were really, really good books. It’s only that, I suppose, I’ve more recently been mired in books I can’t bring myself to care for—books that I have been excited for, and books that would really be for me if some secret thing inside me wasn’t so listless lately. I look at my bookshelves and think horrible thoughts, among them: How can I be so drawn to all of you, but nothing at this moment appeals? [Continue reading.]

In anticipation of straying

I started reading Wild yesterday in anticipation of future directionlessness: I will need to find myself, too, in one way or another. Or, at the very least: Form more firmly—in the coming weeks—a path toward what I am to become, whatever that may be. See, I have always just fallen into things; I wave off Big Decisions with a wildly thumping heart yet an airy, “I’ll figure it out.” And I usually do, because I have a staggering amount of self-preservation [to offset my denial of foresight]. And I picked up Wild to very laterally approach the very thought of having to think about the future. I’m not going to figure it out now, no. But I need a semblance of direction; I need to know where to start. And although none of these decisions will be spurred the same depth and breadth of sorrow that Strayed’s were, I can only approximate her fear for the future. Fear and, yes, occasional denial of. It’s what I do, you see: I pick up books. [Continue reading.]


There remains shame in bewailing one’s difficulty with reading—never mind that stepping into books has always been a salve, a sanctuary for my sanity, my exhausted-with-feeling soul—more so the overwhelming gladness that a semblance of a reading life has returned, in light of all that’s happened. This is the shift, I suppose, when one belongs to a nation in mourning: Everything shall be [must be] held against that light. [Continue reading.]

Three notes on Galbraith

I had not realized I was looking for proof (the kind I could attest to) of J.K. Rowling’s hand in The Cuckoo’s Calling—published (and I daresay written) under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith—until I found it. There it was, something familiar, a reassurance. Once I’d found it, I let what semblance of a literary hunt there was in my head, and fully threw myself into Robert Galbraith’s vastly confident story. (At the back of my mind, though, there remained with every turn of the page: Pride for what Rowling had accomplished, pride at the pride she must have felt when something came to life once again under her hand.) [Continue reading.]

Clean slate

Apologies in advance for whatever craziness you may find in the post that follows. I’m feeling a little strange—I’m running on a cocktail of painkillers and antibiotics and the threat of ache and sleeplessness and worry. (Nothing strange about all that, though, except for the antibiotics.) (I need to go visit my grandfather in the hospital [he was rushed there this morning, pneumonia, goodness, our hearts can’t take this anymore], and I need to let the haze pass, and so now I’m sitting in a café with too much sunlight and too much people, and I’m hoping the relevant parts of my brain align at the soonest.) [Continue reading.]

Approximating normal

I’ve been—knock on wood—sailing calmer waters lately. Sure, my ever-lengthening list of gripes remains handy, but the clusterfucks are at a manageable, if not tolerable, level. I’m only able to articulate this now, actually—at the close of a day that’s oddly restful despite the terrible weather and the work that comes with it; at the close of a weekend that was fun and the happy kind of exhausting, give or take a few grumbles from my frail, mortal body. I’m in a good mood, if only because I’m not in a foul mood. Yeah, that’s cheery. Here’s another: The reading’s picking up, if only because the reading actually exists. [Continue reading.]

“Even for me life had its gleams of sunshine.”

My love for Jane Eyre seems to me one of my constants. It’s up there with Madame Bovary being my spirit animal, with Barthes’ “extreme solitude” ringing true time and again, with the implacability of Hogwarts. I first read Jane Eyre when I was about nine—having stolen my mother’s Bantam paperback edition from her dresser—and promptly avowed that spunky Jane was my best friend; was as furious and indignant with the slights and injustices at the Reeds, at Lowood, at Thornfield Hall, and wherever goddamned moor she stayed in much later; and fell violently in love with the odd Edward Rochester. I’d return to the book over the years, never something set; Jane Eyre would accompany me from one house to another, editions growing in number, the marginalia growing more and more confident (even in sometimes-quiet). [Continue reading.]

08232013: Mood swings

Recently, I’ve shyly crawled toward reading material that’s not precisely comfortable. I’m all too aware how my mind has refused to be biddable these past couple of months, but now it’s yearning for a challenge—almost missing having to be told to fucking stay still and focus, because there is much goodness to be had. Which is why I’ve been reading a re-issued novel about I-still-don’t-know-what-but-I-like-it-anyway, and a virtual textbook on the history of humourism. Welcome, dorks. [Continue reading.]

The world won’t stop hovering

Very late last night, right at the heels of some kaiju-attack-inspired wishful thinking re Monday, I realized why I’ve been so resistant to Susan Cain’s Quiet. It never really made sense to me, why I wasn’t all snuggly with the book, when it could very well be a manual against (erm, for?) the world. This book was on my side—who loathed the fact that the world won’t calm itself enough, won’t shut the fuck up, more than I did? Sure, my shorthand was to liken it to the Chicken Soup books—a whole lot of rah-rah encouragement without a lot of meat behind it; distressingly patronizing as though it very well knew that introverts will always be goddamned little weirdos—but I couldn’t quite quantify all that grump. The answer, it struck me, lay in Monday and all its myriad ills. [Continue reading.]