I’m back at it!

Work, that is.  I started work on March 5, teaching English as a Second Language in the Adult Education Program here in town. I taught there the first year  was living full time here in Deming. It’s only part-time, but that’s plenty for me now. Frankly, I was tired of sitting at home and was more than ready to go back.

We had a week of registration and orientation for new students, follwed by a week of spring break, so yesterday was my first actual day of teaching. Of course, I had to change my plan for the day before class even started, and I had to change it again during class. We had new students come in and want to join the class, and they had to complete the registration process while I was trying to work with the others. In other words, it was a typical first day of classes in this program.

I am normally a control freak and a perfectionist. In that way, I am not a good person for this job or this program. I am trying to be much more laid back about it all this time, though. I know I have a good plan for the 8-week term, but I also know nothing will turn out quite the way I think it will.  I have theoretically trusted the process for a long time now, but in reality I still stressed about it a lot. This time feels different. Of course I have only had one day back, but it was a crazy day and I came out of it pretty happy.

Anyway, I am glad to be back working. I hope I can say the same in 8 weeks when the term ends.



February Reading

I am here again to report on my reading. It looks like I read eight books.

I started off the month reading my selection from the list of 100 best non-fiction books, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Wolff. I had ever thought about reading it before and really didn’t have much of an idea about it.  But I thought it was great.  The basic idea is that women, as a group, cannot succeed as writers unless and until they have a room of their own. Physical space (and the money to maintain it) are critical to writing. The freedom that room allows the writer to flourish. I realize that I am able to write because I have that freedom.  I do not take it lightly. But the text really goes beyond writing to talk about women in general and our need for that same freedom. It was a very interesting book.

This was followed by  The Sign of the Four by Sir ArthurConan Doyle. I had never read it before and decided I would now since it was on the list of the 100 best novels in English. It was a typical Sherlock Holmes story, and I enjoyed it a lot.  I am not 100% sure why it was on that list (#26), not because it wasn’t good but because I  am not sure what makes it better than other Sherlock Holmes stories. I love them all!

I read three mysteries, books 2-4 in a series I started some time back.  They were Two Bare Arms, Garden of the Damned, and Let Us Prey by Blake Banner. They are all part of the Dead Cold Mystery series, stories of two detectives assigned to work on cold cases, in part because no other cops want to work with them. I enjoyed these books, maybe more than the first one, An Ace and a Pair. The mysteries are good, and the characters have developed into interesting people.

I read two entries in a speculative fiction series I started a while ago, too. Darknight and Darkmoon by Christine Pope are the second and third books in  her Witches of Cleopatra Hill series. They were fun to read. Witch Angela has found her consort, Warlock Conner. The problem is that they are from families who are feuding more than the Capulets and the Montegues. Fortunately, they don’t have to kill themselves in the end, but no one makes it easy for them.  This is pure escapism, but I enjoyed escaping for a while.

I also read Waking up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. A frind had recommended it, so I bought it and read it. It was a very thought-provoking book.  My experience growin gup was not like Irvings, but I did benefit from white privilege. I have lived in many parts of the world and have been in the minority, so I have had some of the experiences she felt were invaluable to her awakening. I also majored in history in college, but at a time when Black Studies programs were becoming popular, so I learned a lot of things she talks about  In spite of all I knew, though, the book made me realize how much of being white I have taken for granted. And, of course, since reading the book, I see things all over than help to drive home the point that things ae really getting worse. For instance, Roads to Nowhere: how infrastructure built on American inequality was published in The Guardian late last month.  And, on a lighter but realted note, What is white culture was published just a few days ago. I think reading Irving’s book allowed me to see these related pieces of information, wich I might have overlooked before.

So it wasn’t a great month, but it wasn’t bad, either. I start back to work next week, though, so this time next month I may see this as having been a great month after all!




The Tor ebook club is back!

I was so excited this morning to see an email announcing the return of the Tor ebook club. The book for this month is The Eye of the World, the first book in Robert Jordan’s  Wheel of Time series.

In case you don’t know, Tor.com offers a free ebook each month for many months of the year. I have gotten some great books that way.  You sign up to get their newsletters, which are usually interesting if you like Fantasy of Science Fiction, and then get access to the ebook club. The books are only available for a couple days, so you have to act fast. This one, for instance, will disappear after 2/15.

This is a great opportunity, and I hope ou will take advantage of it!

January reading

Well, I started off the year pretty well, I think. I read eight books, including one from each of the Guardian’s lists of 100 best Non-Fiction Books and 100 best Novels in English.

I read De Profundis by Oscar Wilde. I can honestly say it is one of the best books I have ever read. Written while he was in prison, the book describes Wilde’s coming to terms with his life in prison. It deals with very heavy but very important topics, such as suffering and loss. This is one that I will undoubtedly read again as there is much that can be learned. I cannot recommend it enough. It is, by the way, #52 on the nonfiction list.

From the fiction list, I read The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (#19). I have had an ebook copy of this book for years and often thought about starting it but was scared off by its length (This version says it is 695 pages.) This time, thought, I decided I had to read it. And I have to say that I enjoyed it. It is a mystery, the theft of a massive gem, told from the points of view of several people who were involved at various stages of the matter. As some of the reviews on Amazon say, you have to understand that this is a book written 150 years ago, not a modern detective novel. Everything doesn’t get laid out in the first 100 pages and solved before the end of 300. It was a great story, and I recommend it.

I read two mysteries, and I enjoyed both of them.

  • Mistake Creek by Rachel Amphlett was a very exciting book. Nina came home after 10 years to board up her father’s business before a storm, with an eye to selling the property as soon as possible. After a man shows up at the door all bloody and another man sheltering there is murdered, she struggles to figure out who she can trust. And who is the murderer? Is it her old boyfriend? The couple that showed up on a motorbike? This ws a good story that kept my interest until the very end. I recommend it if you like thrillers.
  • Murder in Adland  by Bruce Beckham is the story of the murder of an ad executive. I guessed the murderer long before the end, but the story was still interesting because I could never e completely sure. The book also takes place in the Lake District of England, with side trips to London and Edinburgh. I thought the story was very interesting, but what really captured my attention was the insight the book offered into these other locations. I am used to reading about London, but even the parts of the story that took place there were more interesting because the lead detective didn’t know the city at all. I have a few other books in this series, and you can be sure I am going to read them.

I also read two speculative novels.

  • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick was an alternate history in which the Germans won World War II.  I knew nothing about it before reading it — nothing except the fact that Amazon had a show based on the book. I have not watched the show but I may do so now that I have read the book. The tension between Japan and Germany is reminiscent of the tension between the US and the USSR after the war. No one seems any happier than they would have been if the war ended as we know it did. They are actually a lot more unhappy. It is an interesting story and will probably lead me to read more of Dick’s work.
  • A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe was a fascinating book about Japanese mythology set in the present. Two girls were switched at birth to protect the one who is the daughter of the rulers of the kami living on Mt. Fuji. The story brings the two girls together to save the mountain and all the kami. It is a great story. The girls have to come to terms with not being who they always thought they were. It is a story of self-discovery. I really enjoyed it!

I read one book that I couldn’t really categorize, Death Wind  by Travis Heermann and Jim Pinto. It is listed on Amazon as being horror, but it was much more than that. The story takes place after the Wounded Knee massacre and starts off as historical fiction. Then the Death Wind comes because of all the evil in the world and the story takes a drastic turn — cannibalism is part of the “cure” brought by the Wind. I didn’t enjoy this as much as I did Heermann’s samurai books, but that is largely because I am not a fan of horror at all. Overall, though, I would recommend this book if you are into this kind of thing.

I read one other non-fiction book, Writing into the Dark: How to Write a Novel without an Outline by Dean Wesley Smith. This book was exactly what I needed. I have read lots of books about writing, and they all had things I could try, and I tried them. But ultimately, most of them just slowed my writing down. This book, though, largely confirmed what I was already doing and legitimized it. That, and Smith’s example, has done more to spur my writing on than anything I have read in a long time.

So that was it for January.  Let’s see what February brings!


January is over?

How did that happen?

I have been busy reading, writing and looking for a job. I am happy to report that I read 8 books this month (More on them tomorrow, I hope!), added almost 16,000 words to the book, and found a job that starts in March. So I have been busy…