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:
- The Decameron by Boccaccio
- Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
- Parrish and Poetry edited by Laurence S. Cutler and Judy Goffman Cutler
- Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre
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 by Marcus Aurelius, translated from the Greek by Gregory Hays
- The Trespasser by Tana French, audiobook narrated by Hilda Fay
- Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985 by Ted Kooser
- Letters to Alice: On First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon
- The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker
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
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.
- The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
- Captain Alatriste by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers, audiobook narrated by Scott Brick
What I Plan to Read Next:
- The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing
- Arrow’s Fall (Heralds of Valdemar #3) by Mercedes Lackey
- Ballistics by Billy Collins
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!