It’s been a busy week! I completed all my planned travels just in time because the first part of the week was warm and sunny, while the second half has been rainy and chilly. I’m perfectly happy with the London-esque weather, but hiking in the rain is no fun.
So where did I go this week?
Platte River State Park:
This is a small park along the banks of the Platte River. There aren’t many things to do here, aside from a bit of hiking and camping, but it is fairly quiet and has a beautiful little waterfall. And I do mean little, as it is just under five feet high. It’s the Great Plains. Waterfalls are not our strong suit. Fortunately, beauty does not require height. I will probably head back there when more of the leaves are turning.
Indian Cave State Park
Indian Cave is a much larger park along the Missouri River in the southeast corner of the state. It features a cave containing several petroglyphs that are somewhere around 1500 years old, as well as points where the Lewis & Clark expedition stopped. There are miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, a living history village, and scenic lookouts overlooking the Missouri River. It also had a ridiculous number of mosquitoes thanks to lowland flooding and a late summer heat wave that helped spawn some monster mosquitoes.
My third day of getting out of town did not involve the outdoors. I drove to Omaha to visit the Joslyn Art Museum for the first time in altogether too long. It’s not the most grandiose of art museums, but I think they do an excellent job with a fairly limited space. Plus, they’re starting to feature more work by classic and contemporary women artists, and at a rate that seems higher than most other art museums I’ve been to.
So those were my travels for the week! Nothing exotic, but I got away from work and out of the house, and it was great to experience a little bit more of my home state!
I made it out to my usual city park one evening this week, when the sunset was particularly apocalyptic:
I did not do vast amounts of reading on my days off, partly because I was driving and doing things, and partly because I was doing some major paring down of lists. I cleaned up my ‘favorites’ on Hoopla and my wishlist on Overdrive, and then came the major overhaul: my Goodreads TBR. While the number of books I had on the TBR at the beginning of the week was small compared to some monster lists I’ve heard about– about 230– I’d had enough of flipping through multiple pages of titles, some of which I barely remembered and many that I could not find for loan or purchase anywhere I looked. Many other titles were added because a reviewer somewhere raved about it, so I added the book because I trusted that reviewer’s opinion. But months later, my enthusiasm for said book had waned. So I did a major purge of the TBR, read a couple of short titles that I owned but hadn’t read yet, and pared the numbers down. I went from having about 230 books there to 131. Still a lot, but now I have a list of books that I am actually interested in and have access to. Somehow, it makes the bookish part of my brain feel lighter and more enthusiastic about the titles that remain.
Books I finished last week:
- The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, audiobook narrated by Rob Inglis
- Emma by Jane Austen, audiobook narrated by Donada Peters
- Confusion by Stefan Zweig, translated from the German by Anthea Bell
- Ansel Adams: Classic Image Essays by Ansel Adams, introduction by John Szarkowski
- Yosemite by Ansel Adams; Andrea G Stillman and Michael L. Fischer, contributors
I didn’t actually read that much, since the essays in the Ansel Adams books were fairly short and otherwise full of photographs. Stefan Zweig’s 153 page novel, Confusion is short, but it packs a fascinating, thought-provoking story into those pages. I will likely have a review for it later this week.
Rob Inglis continues to do a fantastic job of narrating The Lord of the Rings with his performance in The Two Towers. It’s one thing to read about the changes the characters undergo throughout this part. It’s quite another to hear it read to you. The part where Gollum is feeling guilt over his actions and nearly has a change of heart before being startled off by Sam is particularly heartbreaking when heard. I started listening to The Return of the King, and the battle scenes depicted therein are more horrific than any grimdark tale I’ve read so far. It’s all in the narration, and Inglis is first rate.
When it came to Emma, it was a good thing I was already acquainted with the story, because I often got confused about which character was speaking. Donada Peters is a good narrator on the whole, but there were times I wasn’t sure which character was speaking, because they often sounded alike. I’m tempted to give Audible a try because they have at least a few of Austen’s novels narrated by Rosamund Pike, an outstanding actor who played Jane Bennett in the 2005 movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. As Pike is my Jane it’s tempting, even though I am not a fan of Amazon…
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales
- The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
- Penric and the Shaman by Los McMaster Bujold, audiobook narrated by Grover Gardner
- The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien, audiobook narrated by Rob Inglis
I’m having a harder time getting through the Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales than I thought I would. Thought the stories are generally short– anywhere from 1/2 to 15 pages– the editing is not great, and so the stories are often rambling things that feel like they have no point. I will still push through as many as I can, but because (so far) there have been only folk tales and no fairy tales, I’m not finding it to be an engaging read.
I’m not quite a quarter of the way through The Traitor Baru Cormorant, but I’m finding it to be every bit as fascinating as all the reviewers promised it would be. It’s the story of a young woman whose country is softly conquered by a neighboring empire. They destroy her family and her way of life, and she vows to destroy it from the inside. I’m looking forward to finishing this off before the sequel comes out in a few weeks.
Penric and the Shaman is another novella set in the World of the Five Gods, though well before the events of The Curse of Chalion. As usual, Bujold’s writing is witty and wonderful, and it’s interesting seeing Penric from another perspective. Gardner’s narration is just as good as I’ve come to expect from him, so I’m looking forward to the last three-fourths of this one. The third novella in the series is already queued up and ready to go when I finish this one.
What Will I Read Next?
- The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2) by Allison Goodman
- Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, along with Sellic Spell translated by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien
- Penric’s Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold, audiobook narrated by Grover Gardner
My latest post in the Lord of the Rings reread is up: Frodo Gets the Heck out of Hobbiton, in a Leisurely Fashion
In other cultural news, I am going to see a Shakespearean play later today! The local indie theater shows plays from the National Theater in the UK. Most of them are Shakesperean productions, but there have been some non-Shakespeare plays, too. I’ve seen Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Coriolanus starring Tom Hiddleston, and one other that I simply can’t remember at the moment. Today’s presentation is King Lear starring Ian McKellan. I’m going with the friend I always see Shakespeare with, so I’m sure we’ll have a great time.