I’ve lived alone for a long time, and I love it. But there are drawbacks to living on your own, and they all occur when you get sick. There is no one else to do all the household chores for you when you’re dead tired and your sinuses are so irritated that your whole face hurts. I keep trying to talk the cat into doing the dishes, but he just ignores me and continues napping in the sunbeams.
This is definitely one of those weeks where I wish I could be a cat.
So thanks to this cold and the sinus headaches it’s been spawning, I haven’t been doing much reading this week. It’s irritating, because I’m enjoying Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie. I didn’t expect that it would be such a delight, given how it’s about two Chinese teenagers undergoing ‘re-education’ in rural China in the 1970s and how a cache of forbidden Western literature opens the world to them. Mood-wise I had expected something along the lines of 1984, but it’s far brighter than that. I’m about 2/3 of the way through, and anticipate finishing it later today, assuming I don’t spend the whole day napping on the couch.
While it wasn’t a great week for reading, it’s been good for listening to things. I’ve gotten caught up on a couple of podcasts I’d fallen behind on, and listened to another audiobook in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, Shards of Honor. It takes place much later than the first book, and is where the reader is introduced to the Vorkosigan family that the saga is named for. Another good point? The main character, Cordelia Naismith, is in her mid-30s, which is a nice change from reading about teenaged heroes. It’s always nice to encounter heroes your own age in books. Nevermind the cover art. It’s dreadful. But the book itself is great. Expect an in-depth review later in the week.
After finishing Shards of Honor, I started listening to the second book in the Conquerer’s Saga, Now I Rise by Kiersten White. It’s narrated by Fiona Hardingham, and I’m kind of in love with this woman’s voice. I think I could happily listen to her narrate the dictionary.
I’m not very far into it, but so far it’s quite good. I have to admit that this time around, I prefer Radu’s storyline to Lada’s. It was the other way around in the first book, And I Darken.
Before I got sick, I went to the bookstore and picked up a copy of Jill Bialosky’s memoir, Poetry Will Save Your Life. I’ve read the first few chapters, but it has been languishing on the nightstand for the last few days. When I get to the point where I’m not too tired to read before bed, I will start it back up. So far, it’s been a beautifully written and often moving portrait of different chapters in Bialosky’s life.
And that pretty much wraps things up for books this week. I think. I’m not thinking perfectly straight right now, so I might be missing something.
In non-book news, I’m maintaining a 50+ day streak on Duolingo language lessons in French and Dutch. Hooray for that! But now I’m running into a problem with the Dutch lessons. With the French course, the lessons are varied- matching words, translating sentences, select the word that matches the picture, etc.- but the Dutch lessons involve little more than sentence translation. It was fine at the beginning, when all I was doing was translating simple phrases like, ‘you drink the water’ (je drinkt de water), but now that they’re introducing more complex grammatical structures, I’m at a loss. Duolingo offers no explanations as to how to structure sentences, so I have no idea which verb is supposed to go where, or how to really put a full sentence in past tense. I’m also not retaining words like I used to. I’d blame it on my cold, but it’s a problem that’s been getting worse over the past couple of weeks. If I want to continue learning Dutch, I think I’m going to have to find a different resource.
I’m not having any problems with the French course since it has a much better layout. In fact, when I went to Yahoo France early in the week and opened a couple of news articles, I was pleasantly surprised about how much I was able to comprehend. As of now, I think I could have a decent conversation with a French five year-old.
So that’s all the news from here. Right now, I think I’m going to make myself some tea, take my cold medicine, and curl up on the couch for a bit. We’ll see if reading or napping ensues.