While Winter Storm Harper is battering the eastern US, it missed us entirely. The initial predictions claimed we were going to get up to twenty inches of snow, but we ended up with some freezing fog and exactly zero snow. If I had to choose between the bitter cold we did get or twenty inches of snow, I suppose I’ll take the bitter cold.
It’s been another laid back week around here with plenty of time for reading and television watching. Well, it was Netflix and not actual cable or network television, but whatever. The television was on, things were playing on the screen.
What I Finished Reading This Week:
- Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata, translated from the Japanese by Edward G. Seidensticker
- Arrow’s Flight (Heralds of Valdemar #2) by Mercedes Lackey
- Rocannon’s World by Ursula K. Le Guin, audiobook narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
Snow Country is the story of a man named Shimamura, a wealthy dilettante who carries on a relationship with the passionate but lowly hot spring geisha named Komako. He studies culture and emotion but lacks connection, while Komako devotes herself to him, knowing that it can’t last. Snow Country, like other Japanese novels I’ve read, implies more than it declares. It is evocative and sad, but beautiful all the way through.
Arrow’s Flight is the second in Mercedes Lackey’s The Heralds of Valdemar trilogy. In this volume, Talia has completed the majority of her training as Queen’s Own Herald. The only thing left is the year and a half spent as, essentially, a circuit judge along with Herald Kris. All is not well, though, when rumors regarding Talia’s political motivations clash with her Gift of empathy to create a perfect storm in the midst of a raging blizzard. The writing in Arrow’s Flight is marginally better than it is in the first book, Arrows of the Queen, and certain plot points are tied up a little too neatly, but overall it is a solid second entry in Lackey’s Valdemar books.
Rocannon’s World is the first in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle of science fiction novels. The story is a little odd and lacks some of the polish of Le Guin’s later works, but it is a solid opening to an intriguing universe combining science fiction and fantasy and speaks of the nature of friendship, understanding The Other, and sacrifice in the name of greater good.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The Trespasser by Tana French, audiobook narrated by Hilda Fay
- The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker
- Planet of Exile (The Hainish Cycle #2) by Ursula K. Le Guin, audiobook narrated by Stephen Hoye and Carrington MacDuffie
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated from the Greek by Gregory Hays
In The Trespasser, I’ve reached the point where Detectives Conway and Moran have figured out whodunnit. What they have to do from this point is to find the evidence they need to prove their theory. I’m tempted to check out the book from the library so I can read the rest of it rather than listen to it so I can find out what happens that much sooner.
The Half-Drowned King is a historical novel set in the Viking era, just before the reign of King Harald Fairhair of Norway. As the book opens, Ragnvald Eysteinsson is betrayed by the men he spent the last year or so sailing with. He’s left for dead, and must battle to reclaim what is his while his sprited sister Svanhild fights to attain greater independence than her society usually grants women. I’m about seventy pages in, and I’m hooked.
I started Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations the other day. It is full of brief philosophical discussions about how controlling one’s own reactions and emotions leads to less anger and suffering, and how to respond with at least some compassion to infuriating people. This is a book where you will want to read the introductory essay so you can place the book within its historical context, and into its original context as one man’s collection of notes to himself.
What I’m Planning to Read Next:
- Njal’s Saga by Anonymous, translated from the Icelandic by Robert Cook
- Arrow’s Fall (Heralds of Valdemar #3) by Mercedes Lackey
- Flying at Night by Ted Kooser
- The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Lang
- Ballistics by Billy Collins
- The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
I am considering taking part in the Sagalong hosted by several people on BookTube, including Steve Donoghue. Throughout February, they are planning to read an Icelandic Saga each week. I own a copy of The Sagas of Icelanders, which contains a few of the sagas included in the read-along, and the others are available for free from Project Gutenberg. I’ve been meaning to read all these sagas, especially the copy of Njal’s Saga, which I bought in Iceland so this will give me extra incentive to get it done.
What I Watched This Week:
I find cleaning to be meditative, and because of that and the fact that I have a tiny apartment with only a cat and myself to look after, my space is always tidy. Sure, I have little spots of clutter now and then, but overall my space is neat as a pin. That being said, I watched Marie Kondo’s show, Tidying Up on Netflix. While I wonder if the families featured in the eight episodes managed to keep their possessions from possessing them after Kondo left, it did inspire me to tidy up some of the remaining bits of clutter on the shelves in my studio.
Also thanks to the show, I read a couple of articles regarding people’s thoughts on Kondo’s opinion of books. On one side, people are up in arms about her statement that you should only keep about thirty books. They get rather shouty on Twitter and in articles, but in her article, ‘In Case of Rapturous Decluttering, Don’t Throw Away Your Books‘, Melissa Breyer makes a calm argument against minimizing your book collection. On the other side, some people view books as wonderful items, but not something that you have to keep just for the sake of having them. In her Quartz article, ‘The Case for Giving Away Your Books‘, Ephrat Livni argues that you can get rid of books without being a horrible person. Regardless of how much meaning and sentiment we put into our book collections, they are, ultimately, things.
I can understand both sides of the argument, and while my own book collection stands at nearly 250 (in a tiny apartment, remember), there are only a few volumes I would be heartbroken to lose.
Star Trek: Discovery’s second season began last Thursday and I haven’t seen it yet. What happened? I’ve been looking forward to it since the end of last season! Well, Thursday through Saturday ended up being a bit busier than I had anticipated, so I am going to watch the season premiere tonight. I’m looking forward to it!