Sunday Sum Up, 01/27/2019

It was a cold and snowy week here in windblown Nebraska. I put the knit wool cap I bought on the Irish island of Inis Mór to good use, and though a coworker jokingly called me “Tiny Kim”, my head stayed nice and warm on those frigid, blustery days. Really, I don’t mind being compared to a Charles Dickens character so long as my head stays warm.

And, by the by, if you ever find yourself at the Aran Sweater Market, do yourself a favor and buy a knit wool hat. The islanders know how to keep their heads warm in the cold and the storms. But enough about my Victorian-era fashion choices.

The wintry weather made for slow days at work and prevented me from even wanting to go out and do the things, so I got a lot of reading done. I did make it downtown on my day off, mostly with the intention of trying a bit of street photography, but the sky was completely clear which made for flat, ugly light while I was out. I took a bunch of photos, and hated all of them. C’est la vie. Better luck next week. But I stopped in at the used bookstore and picked up a few books, so the outing wasn’t a complete loss:

I stopped at Barnes and Noble on my way home yesterday for a cup of coffee and a dessert at the cafe and couldn’t resist checking out the clearance shelves. I found a hardback copy of The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova. I enjoyed her book The Historian, but I haven’t read anything else she’s written. For about $6, I figured I would give it a shot.

What I Read This Week:

Meditations is the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius’s personal journal wherein he wrote reminders to himself and delineated his personal philosophies. These notations, many dealing with the philosophy of Stoicism, have resonated with many people through the ages, and provide a guide for reacting to events and people around you. It reminds us that kindness is a strength, and that while we cannot control events that happen to us, we can control how we react to them.

I ended up downloading the audiobook of The Trespasser to my phone so I could listen to the last couple of hours without being in the car just so I could find out how the whole story comes together. While I didn’t guess the culprit’s identity until the POV character, Detective Conway did, I was enthralled throughout and was happy with the ending. I’m curious to see if Tana French will continue writing books in the Dublin Murder Squad series or if she is planning more standalone novels like The Witch Elm. Whichever way she goes, I will be happy to read whatever else she writes.

I will admit to being a little biased when it comes to Ted Kooser. He’s a former U.S. Poet Laureate from my home state, and I’ve actually met the guy a time or two. He’s a quiet, unassuming man but he writes the most amazing poetry. Though most of the poems in Flying at Night are quite short, they moved me to laughter and tears and provided quiet yet profound glimpses into life on the Great Plains and life in general. I especially loved the last few lines of a poem about the Voyager II probe:

“…who now grows smaller, smaller,

falling so gracefully

into the great blank face

of God”

Letters to Alice: On First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon is an odd little book that serves as a sort of introduction into Jane Austen’s novels and the time period in which she lived, as well as some of the realities of a writer’s life. I checked out a digital copy after I saw it recommended by a BookTuber I like, but I didn’t really enjoy it. The historical aspects were certainly interesting, but the “aunt’s” letters to her “niece” outside the history fell a little flat for me. Fortunately, it was a very short book.

I finished Linnea Hartsuyker’s historical novel, The Half-Drowned King last night, and promptly recommended it to three different friends. Set in ninth-century Norway, it is inspired by Snorri Sturluson’s saga of Harald Fairhair, the first King of Norway. It is beautifully written and feels true to the time and place, providing a window into a world that most people know very little about. The characters are fully formed and complicated, and feel true to their era. That made them a little unpredictable to this twenty-first century American, but completely understandable when viewed through the lens of history. The second book of the trilogy, The Sea Queen, was published in 2018, and the final installment, The Golden Wolf is due out this year.

Currently Reading:

What I Plan to Read Next:

In other news, I renewed my subscription to CBS All Access so I could watch the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, and was delighted with the season premiere. It had all the drama and humor I was looking for, plus an intriguing overarching plot for the season. I’m looking forward to seeing how Ethan Peck portrays Spock, who is one of my favorite characters across both the Prime universe (as shown in TOS, TNG, DS9, and VOY), as well as J.J. Abrams’s reboot. Obviously, I prefer Leonard Nimoy’s Spock, but I enjoyed Zachary Quinto’s performance, too.

It’s going to be interesting seeing how Anson Mount portrays Captain Pike. Anyone who is familiar with the original series knows what Pike’s fate is, so it’s a little bittersweet to see Pike as such a dedicated and active force to be reckoned with. I’m loving the interplay between him, Saru, and Burnham in the first two episodes, ‘Brother’ and ‘New Eden’. I can’t wait for the next episode on Thursday night!

**********

I’m trying to get out more and see more of what my local theaters have to offer, so I’m heading to a nearby college to see their production of Hamlet this afternoon. This is my favorite Shakespearean play, and I’ve seen many productions of it, but while I’m looking forward to it I’m also a little cautious. My experiences with this school’s plays have been hit or miss. They performed a gender bent version of The Tempest a few years ago that was a complete miss. I’m sure they intended to explore the relationships between mothers and their children (instead of the original fathers and children), but it ended up feeling like they hadn’t had enough people show up for auditions and so cast whoever happened to walk by. It was disappointing, to say the least.

Still, I enjoyed their production of Sweeney Todd a couple of years later, so I’m going to give Hamlet a shot. I’d intended to go with my usual Shakespearean play buddy, but an ice storm last weekend scuttled our initial plans, and our schedules didn’t line up at all this week. So I’m heading over there by myself, which doesn’t bother me. We’ll see another play together soon.

That’s it for now. I hope you all have a great week!

5 thoughts on “Sunday Sum Up, 01/27/2019

  1. Here in Indiana, we’re having a big crazy snow storm. As a result, it’s messing up our theatre schedule! Did you know I work at a community theatre? A Few Good Men will open this week, and there are supposed to be auditions for Grand Concourse tonight (assuming they aren’t cancelled). We’ve already cancelled everything for the education program and rehearsals for Fahrenheit 451. I didn’t realize you live in the U.S., too. You mention so many other countries that I assumed you were a worldly European! I hear Nebraska is pretty.

  2. It is pretty! Assuming you get off of the interstate, which goes along a broad River valley, and shows you a very flat version of the state. But get onto the back highways, and it’s lovely here! Especially if you like open skies. It’s hard to beat our sunsets and night skies.

    All that snow cancelling everything sounds lousy. We don’t get so much snow around here in a normal year. Just wind and cold. Stay warm out there!

  3. Don’t you love being able to pick up where you left off in a book with audio? It’s one of my favorite ways to stay involved with what I’m reading and also a nice way to change things up.

    I’m curious about Letters to Alice: On First Reading Jane Austen. I still have a few more Austens to read so I will see if this is one I can find at the library

  4. We’ve been battling some nice snowstorms lately in Canada, but I do like your tips and tricks to stay warm! 😀 Really nice haul as well; I spot some books I’d love to read at some point (The Trespasser and The Half-Drowned King)! Hope you have an excellent week! Happy reading! 😀

  5. Thanks! I’d recommend any of Tana French’s books, really. The Trespasser is the latest in her Dublin Murder Squad books, but you don’t need to read those in order. Broken Harbor and The Secret Place are my favorites of the bunch.

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