At last! The heat wave broke! The Summer Solstice was downright chilly, and we had a week full of much-needed rain and cooler temperatures though my cat did not appreciate the thunderstorms. The mornings were perfect for reading, but I had to work and so I didn’t get to enjoy them. Alas.
On the bright side, an acquaintance gave me his old pro-level printer for free and though I had to rearrange my studio and buy a new bookshelf for it, I’m looking forward to getting it up and running and making some great prints!
I went for a walk last night before more clouds rolled in. Though the humidity was high, it was quiet and cool evening. I came across a feral cat who was as curious about me as I was about it, and then sat down to watch the fireflies and enjoy the singing birds.
I didn’t get as much reading done this week as I would have liked. There is a single reason for that, and that reason is BookTube. I came across an articulate (and hilarious) rant/review of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments books, watched the entire series of reviews, and was hooked. Instead of reading during my lunch hours, I’d get caught up on the channels I had subscribed to and, let’s be honest here, watch some wonderful rants about Sarah J. Maas’s and Cassandra Clare’s books. Seriously. Hilarious and well-observed. While I do have some criticisms of some of the reviewers’ critiques, I am thoroughly hooked and happily so.
My favorite channels so far:
- Jordan Harvey
- The Authentic Observer
- Insane Reader
- Lily C Reads
- My Name is Marines
- Paperback Dreams
So what did I finish reading this week?
- How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey
- The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
- blud by Rachel McKibbens
How We Learn investigates largely overlooked research into how the brain learns, and finds that the methods of study we generally use in schools aren’t necessarily the best ones. For example, all those terrifying distractions like social media and video games might actually help the brain work through a problem via lateral thinking, and testing and quizzes may be more helpful than we give them credit for. I plan to use some of Carey’s findings in my own studies of the Dutch language to see if they help me out.
I had the chance to see Rachel McKibbens perform her poetry live a few years ago, and she is both a powerful writer and performer. blud is a collection of poetry dealing with a childhood spent dealing with her mother’s mental illness and her father’s racism regarding the family’s Mexican heritage. These are not pretty poems about life’s pretty things. They are often hard to read and border on brutal, but it is worth the effort to make a connection with the poet and understand some of the realities of ingrained racism and mental illness.
My current reads are:
- My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, translated from the Turkish by Erdağ Göknar
- The Gods of Tango by Carolina de Robertis
- Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
I’ve barely begun these books– I’m about 10% of the way through each one of them– but so far they are all wonderful. My Name is Red has been on my TBR for quite a long time. It’s an extremely dense book with many references to Islamic religion and culture that I’m not completely familiar with, but the prose is gorgeous, and I want to know who killed the first narrator and why (not a spoiler. It’s the first sentence of the whole book). Also, the dog is a wonderful observer of human nature.
Thirty pages in, and I’m hooked on The Gods of Tango. Carolina de Robertis’s story about Leda, an Italian immigrant stranded in Buenos Aires in 1913 who falls in love with a new dance called the tango. As this dance is considered to be scandalous, Leda must disguise herself as a man in order to indulge her new loves of dance and the violin, and the consequences of her disguise could be dire.
My public library’s summer reading program’s theme is “Reading Rocks”, and one of the activities they suggest is to read a book about music or musicians, hence Musicophilia, one of Oliver Sacks’s meticulously observed and compassionate books about the workings of the human brain.
What’s on the reading agenda for this week? Honestly, to finish the three books I’ve just started. They’re not short. I have a lot of pages ahead of me.
And because I have little willpower when it comes to bookstores, and because one of the indie bookstores downtown was holding a fundraiser for a good cause, I headed there yesterday evening and bought a couple of books while I was in the store.
Someone in the book blogging community (I can’t remember who, sorry!) recommended Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, so I grabbed that, and then I finally remembered to pick up a copy of Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. This is after Barnes and Noble sent me coupons, which of course got me into that store where I bought a copy of Catherynne M. Valente’s novel, Palimpsest. I should go on a book buying ban until I get my TBR shelves under control…
So that’s all for now. I’m hoping the weather will cooperate with today’s plans, because there are outdoor activities involved. As long as the rain and thunder stay away, I’ll be heading to the farmer’s market in a bit, and this evening a friend and I are planning to see the local Shakespeare company’s production of The Tempest. During the summer season they perform outdoors in local parks, so if the weather is bad I will miss seeing one of my favorite plays! I’m crossing my fingers that the storms will stay away.