It’s been a bit of a dreary week around here. We had straight three days of rain, which isn’t the most common type of weather around here, and while I appreciate a proper gloomy day, it gets less appreciable as puddles turn to ponds and you can’t go anywhere without getting at least a bit drenched, no matter how you prepare.
But the sun has come out, the ponds are receding, and we’ve all dried out so things are looking brighter. Literally.
In other news, it’s been a low-energy kind of week. I’m not blaming it entirely on the rain, but my energy levels have definitely increased in the past few days, and now I want to do All The Things. I don’t have time to do All The Things, so I’ll have to go and make a list and prioritize things. Do I want to read all the books or watch all the things or go for all the walks? I don’t know! I have two days off, and so many things to do!
Obligatory Mina Photo:
Mina has been positively squirrely this week. I think she stole all my energy. While I’ve been yawning my way through the days, she’s been tearing through the apartment, leaping off the couch and dashing into the bedroom to jump up into the window before running full tilt into the bathroom the hang out in the shower for a few minutes before starting the whole thing again.
She’s also been shutting herself in the bathroom at 4:00 in the morning again, so I’ll be woken up out of a peaceful sleep by frantic pawing at the door.
The funny thing about this is that she deliberately closes the door. I’ve seen her do it. She goes in, slips behind the door, and proceeds to shut it. It’s like she thinks, “I’ll just hide from everybody this way. This is cool. I’ll have the place to myself!” And then, a few minutes later, she realizes that she doesn’t have the run of the apartment and freaks out.
You’d think she would have learned after the first few times, but no . . .
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
- Hafiz: The Mystic Poets by Hafiz, translated from the Persian by Gertrude Bell
I finally finished Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell! It took just shy of a month to do, which is a little crazy as I don’t normally spend weeks reading a single book, though this one is a very long one and I also got a little obsessed with The Magnus Archives in the midst of it. But anyway. About half of my reading experience was spent being enthralled, and half of it was spent wanting to throw it out of the window. These halves were intertwined, so it’s not as though I can say “the first quarter was slow and so was the last quarter, but the central part was amazing!”. No. It’s not that simple. It was more like, “these chapters with Mr. Norrell are aggravating because he is an aggravating human, but the chapters immediately after are fantastic”. So. That was an experience. I don’t regret reading it at all, but I wish the experience had been smoother overall. Take that for what it’s worth. If you love sprawling eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels and magic that’s a little wild and whimsical, then this might be for you. Just be patient with it, as Mr. Norrell is a tedious man and you may want to throw tomatoes at him. Repeatedly.
I had all four of my ‘borrows’ remaining via the Hoopla app, so I searched for some poets (I haven’t read any poetry for a while), and was happy to find a volume of the great Sufi poet Hafiz’s poems, translated by Gertrude Bell. I have yet to be disappointed by a single poem of his that I’ve read, so I was happy to find an ebook of about 170 pages. Alas, about 2/3 of the book was given over to notes and commentary, and a paltry 1/3 of it was given over to the actual poetry. This is frustrating because I don’t really need Hafiz and his work to be contextualized at this point. I just want to read his poetry. But what was there was lovely in its post-Victorian translation that Bell provided, which the commentators assure the reader is quite accurate despite the English rhyme and meter that Bell imposed upon it.
I also checked out a short volume of John Keats’s lyric poetry, read the first third or so, and realized that 1) I still don’t care for Keats’s poetry all that much, and 2) I wasn’t in the mood for English Romanticism. So I put it down and will look for some other poetry.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, audiobook narrated by Carolyn Seymour (66%)
- Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher (36/256)
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (93/387)
I’m to the point in Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy has made his first, disastrous marriage proposal to Lizzie, after which he gives her a letter to explain everything and Lizzie realizes that all her notions about who was a good person and a crappy person were completely wrong. It turns out that Mr. Wickham is an awful human, and Mr. Darcy is actually a pretty good person who comes off as a jerk because he’s bad at talking to people. I can relate. But now that Lizzie has come to Pemberly and run into Mr. Darcy in a second-chance meet-cute, she now has a chance to see him in his natural habitat, away from the gossip of Meryton where everyone still thinks that Mr. Wickham is a capital fellow. I’ve read this before, so I know things are about to go sideways thanks to Lydia’s youthful impulsiveness, but all will eventually be well because this is a Jane Austen novel, and a Happily Ever After ending is what happens in an Austen novel.
I haven’t gotten very far into Nettle & Bone yet, but I’m intrigued by whatever has occurred. The story is going backward and forward between two time periods (a storytelling device I normally dislike), and thanks to the bizarre opening, you know things are going to go absolutely bonkers at some point in the flashbacks because it goes from ‘ordinary fantasy politics’ to ‘there are definitely cannibals out there, and I’m making myself a pet dog out of bone and wire’. So I’m looking forward to finding out what went horribly wrong, and what the bone dog has to do with the story.
I finally started The Night Circus, and so far I’m enjoying it. The only problem I have is that I start reading it late at night and end up falling asleep on the couch. This is not the book’s fault, as it’s beautifully written and has compelling characters. It’s just that I’ve been rather tired this week, and I shouldn’t start reading at 11:30PM when I’m already tired. I plan to read more of this either today or tomorrow, in the afternoon when it’s nice and bright so I don’t fall asleep. I’m not usually a fan of carnival or circus stories, or of stories that revolve around competitions (magical or otherwise), but Morgenstern is putting a different spin on that particular trope, so I don’t mind the circus or the competition. I want to see how she resolves the conflict, deals with the lousy old men who put the competition together in the first place and spins a love story between the two young people we’ve been following since their childhoods.
What I’ve Been Listening To:
I’ve been listening to a few different podcasts in my search for a horror show to rival The Magnus Archives. So far, no dice. I’ve tried The Storage Papers and didn’t care for the narrator’s voice or style of presentation, then moved on to Old Gods of Appalachia, which I didn’t care for either because the narrator’s voice reminded me of a couple of people I can’t stand to be around. Then I tried The Silt Verses and didn’t enjoy the story that was going on with that one, so I set it aside, too.
This week, I’d going to give Archive 81 or Welcome to Night Vale a try and see how it goes with them. I’ve heard great things about both of them, so hopefully, they’ll be able to fill the void that The Magnus Archives left when I finished that.
Do you have any recommendations for great horror or fantasy podcasts?