I wasn’t doing much better this month than last in terms of writing here. But I posted a book I had finished reading to my 2013 reading list, and I decided I was bored with the theme of this blog. I hadn’t looked at options for ages, and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the new options. I tried on several before finding this one. It was love at first sight!
Will I write more because I have a new theme? It’s worth a shot!
My husband and I are taking a road trip. We left Grants yesterday morning and are currently in Winfield, Kansas. It will be a quick trip, I’m afraid, as I have to be at work Monday morning. It’s OK, though, because in addition to the business we are here on, we will get to see an old friend. It’s great!
Last month was a pretty good one for reading. I didn’t get a huge number of books read, but all if them were really interesting.
The Dust Bowl by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns was one of the best nonfiction books I have ever read. It was especially meaningful to me since I live in New Mexico. We are in such a terrible drought now, and I see such bad dust storms fairly often that I could really relate to what the survivors of the original Dust Bowl went through. I do not mean to imply that what we are experiencing now is as bad as it was then, but I can see that it cold develop into an equally serious situation.
Conformity and Conflict:Readings to Accompany MILLER CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY edited by James A Spradley and David W. McCurdy was a book I found sitting on my shelves at work. I have been reading in it for quite a while now but really got serious about it toward the end of March. The readings were quite interesting. I have always been fascinated by anthropology, so this book was as much fun for me to read as any of the novels I finished.
Wired: a Jade Weekes Art Mystery by Judith Gaines was a complicated story. Who was the good guy? Who was bad? Nobody was quite what he or she seemed to be. And wile there was a lot of art involved, none of it was really stolen in the course of this story. It was a good read, and I would look for more of Gaines’ work.
With the Lightnings by David Drake was not a book I ever really imagined myself reading. But I did, and I am glad of it. I downloaded it from Baen Ebook’s Free Library. I have not read any of Drake’s other books, but I think I will now. The story was good, and the characters were interesting.
Looking forward to reading more books in May!
There’s no excuse for not having posted for so long. It has been a crazy and disheartening week at work, and I just haven’t felt much like blogging. But I have to try to do better.
I made it through four books in March:
- Diary of a Small Fish by Pete Morin
- The Innocence of Father Brown by GK Chesterton
- Blood Red Turns Dollar Green by Paul O’Brien
- The Black Cat by Martha Grimes
Diary of a Small Fish and Blood Red Turns Dollar Green were two I got in an ebook bundle. Both were OK.
Diary of a Small Fish is about an attorney who is, in the end, a small fish. But the crooked politicians go after him, and it takes quite a while for him to come out victorious. It was easy to read and pretty interesting.
I liked Blood Red Turns Dollar Green in spite of the fact that it was about professional wrestling in the early 1970s. Actually, I saw a professional wrestling match in the mid-60s, and the book helped me to understand that whole phenomenon. Apparently O’Brien is writing/has written a sequel to this book. I don’t know if I was interested enough to read a second one, but I might.
The Innocence of Father Brown was another good book. The stories, as in the other Father Brown books I have read, were simple and sometimes Father Brown seems to be clairvoyant, but overall I enjoyed the book.
The Black Cat was the first book by Martha Grimes that I have ever read. I liked it a lot and plan to read more of her Richard Jury novels. This one reminded me a little of Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley books, which I really like. I had a little trouble with the dog and cat that can talk to each other in this book, but even that didn’t bother me too much.
I am amazed by how little reading I am getting done this year. Oh well… Maybe it will get better. I am really not sure if the ereader has helped or hindered my reading — or maybe it is because I spend too much time on Hulu.
I read four books last month:
- The Hour Before Dark by Douglas Clegg
- Basil by Wilkie Collins
- Bypass Gemini by Joseph Lallo
- The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsey Buroker
I am not a horror fan, and I almost stopped reading The Hour Before Dark when it got to be the hour before dark. I kept going, though, and ended up being glad I did. It was a good story that kept me guessing up to the end. And then the very end took a, to me at least, very surprising turn. As I said, I don’t read horror so I don’t have a lot to compare it to, but I enjoyed this book a lot.
I have downloaded a number of Wilkie Collins book because people have told me they are good, but Basil is the first one I have read. And I thought it was a good book. It is, in some ways, a mystery. It made me curious about his other books, which I will probably read before long.
Bypass Gemini is a book I got through Humble Bundle. It is only the second of those books that I have read. I thought it was a good read. The story kept me going — although it was a bit predictable. I would definitely read more by Lallo.
The last book I read, The Emperor’s Edge, was one that I stayed up late to finish that last night of February (Something I had not been able or willing to do with The Hour Before Dark!). This is the first on a series that now has at least five books. It was a good story and has potential to develop into a good series. It is “high fantasy mystery”. I will probably get at least the second book in this series.
So now I am reading another book I got in a bundle somewhere. I have over 200 books on my ereader and others in my calibre library. I am not in danger of running out of books to read any time soon, and I keep getting more!
Finally back to watching some TED talks. When I logged on this morning, I discovered that today’s talk was Amanda Palmer: the art of asking. I recognized her name because of my husband’s interest in Neil Gaiman. Palmer and Gaiman are married, in case you didn’t know.
The talk is about her life as a performer. But more than that it is about being willing to be vulnerable, being willing to ask. She talked about her experience staying on the couch of Honduran immigrants in Miami and asking herself if it was fair to burden these obviously poor people with her presence. She decided that, yes, it was fair; the family wanted to show their appreciation for her and her music in the only way they really could: sleeping on couches while she and her band slept in the beds.
That story brought tears to my eyes, and it reminded me of the countless times I have been in houses in Latin America with dirt floors and little else. We would sit on the only chairs while the mother sent her children to the store to buy sodas for us to drink. In the beginning it seemed unfair to me, but I came to see the joy (and sometimes the prestige) it brought to the people. I stopped worrying and started to appreciate the gift they were offering us.
Palmer’s talk was interesting to me as a writer. I like the idea of asking people to pay what they feel a product is worth. I buy books that way. When we finish our novel, my son and I may sell our book that way. I think crowdsourcing is a great idea, but I doubt I would ever try to raise money that way. It is, however,a wonderful way to allow real people to pursue their dreams, to come up with the next great invention or to create the next perfect work of art.
While the talk was interesting, I found the comments on the site fascinating. I seldom read the comments on TED, but these were definitely worth the time.
So what did I learn? I think I learned — or relearned — the power of vulnerability. It is scary to put yourself out there as a performer or as a writer or even as a person. But when we open ourselves up to others, everyone benefits. Amanda Palmer gets pianos to practice on. Someone else gets more money for her book than she ever would have dreamed possible. And I… I get the knowledge that I opened myself up to people. That is something I have lost over the last couple years. I have become more closed, more guarded. And I don’t like it. Time for a change!