My couch has arrived! Well, it got here a few days ago, but I’m still bathing in the domestic glow that seems to come with new furniture. It’s weird how a single couch can change your entire living space. I had to move some things around- like the cedar chest that used to double as a coffee table is now in the bedroom serving as both storage and a cat bed. The living room feels so much more open now, and just feels so clean and comfortable. My new couch is perfect for reading, or crocheting, or whatever else. I’ve always tried to make my living space into a sanctuary, but now it feels pretty much perfect.
Needless to say, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, now that I have a comfier place to do it. I used to do a lot more reading in bed, but my back doesn’t like that very much these days
This week, I finished five books! Granted, three of them were titles I started last week and I just had a little bit to go on two of them, but I still got through them and started and finished two other books besides them!
- The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad- This book follows the life of a man known as Tor Baz from birth to adulthood as he is taken from one tribal group to another as the nomadic lives that the people of the the Pakistani/Indian borderlands face a changing world that will lead to the end of centuries’ old traditions. The characters in this story are often brutal, but they also have their moments of wisdom and beauty.
- Old Scores by Will Thomas, audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson. This is the latest book in my favorite mystery series, and though I read it just after it came out last Fall, I decided to listen to the audiobook because I love how Ferguson manages the characterizations and the myriad accents of late Victorian London.
- Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. This book details the life and culture of a young man of the Mongolian steppes named Temujin, who would go on to be one of the greatest conquerers the world has ever seen. In just twenty-five years, he unified the Mongolian tribes and formed an empire larger than the continent of North America. After his death, his sons and grandsons continued his legacy with varying degrees of success, until the Black Death wiped out a significant portion of the population and shut down trade and communication routes that were vital to the Mongol Empire. Weatherford spent some ten years in Mongolia researching his subject, and describes some eye opening facts (such as, Genghis Khan instituted the policies of religious tolerance and public education for all children centuries before the rest of the world) that will make readers think of Genghis Khan in a new light. Weatherford also posits that the Mongols’ expansion into the Muslim world and the subsequent expansion of Islamic learning helped to lay the foundation of the European Renaissance.
- Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold, audiobook narrated by Grover Gardner. This is the first book, chronologically (not publication-wise), in Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, a science fiction series that I have heard nothing but praise for, though I keep forgetting about it whenever I’m in bookshops or at the library. I finally downloaded the audiobook via the Hoopla app and gave it a try. It’s set far in the future, when humanity lives among many planets. A massive corporation has, in secret, genetically engineered a new kind of human designed to work in the zero-gravity space stations, in order to save on medical costs and downtime required for humans working in space. These new ‘quaddies’ have four arms and no legs, and simply cannot function where there is gravity. The corporation is intent on using them as secret slave labor. When engineer Leo Graf meets the quaddies, he grows uneasy about their potential fate and develops a plan to free them. This was, for the most part, an enthralling book, but I found that the ending was overlong and had a villainous POV that seemed superfluous in the end. That said, Lois McMaster Bujold is an amazing writer, and I will probably be continuing this series.
- Seeing Red by Lina Meruane, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell. This blistering, semi-autobiographic book tells the story of a young Chilean writer living in New York and dealing with a blinding illness. It is an unflinching and often unflattering view into the mind of a person dealing with a life-altering health problem. For example, Lina’s mother simply wants to take care of her daughter, but can’t understand that Lina mostly wants to be left alone. It is an often visceral description of the depression, anger, and hopelessness that chronic and debilitating illness can cause. This is not an enjoyable book, but it is amazing. I highly recommend it.
Currently, I’m only reading one book, The Blue Sky by Mongolian author Galsan Tschinag. I tried to read it last year, but could not get into the unfamiliar narrative structure. The Mongolian customs Tschinag talks about are also strange to me, but thanks to my reading of Weatherford’s Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, I have a clearer understanding of the importance of The Eternal Blue Sky and other Mongol customs. I started The Blue Sky last night, and read about a third of it in one sitting. I’m going to try to finish it tonight or tomorrow.
- Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, translated from the French by Ina Rilke
- Arresting God in Kathmandu by Samrat Upadhyay
- The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
I’ve been listening to the podcast, Edict Zero FIS for a few weeks now. The production quality is amazing, and the voice actors are great, too. And while I have a couple of complaints– the script is a little wooden and overly formal at times, and the story is on a massively slow burn– I am enjoying it and will eventually listen to the whole thing. It’s one that requires stereo sound, though, so if you like to listen to podcasts with only one earbud while doing other things, you’ll miss a lot of conversations.
I’ve been so enthralled with audio content lately that I’ve barely watched anything for the past couple of weeks. I intend to get a little farther into Altered Carbon on Netflix, and maybe give Queer Eye a try. It was highly recommended by one of my book club friends. She loved the previous version, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, but she appreciated how this new incarnation is a lot more up front and in depth about the issues the LGBTQ community faces these days.
A fun fact for the week: the Roman goddess of door hinges was named Cardea.
And last, but not least- this week’s suspect Dutch phrase, brought to you by Duolingo:
Mijn stiefmoeder praat tegen haar spiegel.
(My stepmother is talking to her mirror.)