So I may not be posting much these days, but I am keeping my book list up to date – check it out if you’re looking for something to read! I’m happy to see that I’m on track to read more books in 2009 than I did last year – though I’m not sure why that really matters to me.
Archive for the ‘reading’ Category
I may or may not put effort into posting here more often… but maybe if I make the posts short and sweet it’ll stop seeming like such a chore! So I just updated my reading list… looks like I need to pick up the speed a bit if I want to read more than the 17 books I read last year (which seems like a more reasonable goal than the 52 in one year I’d put in the 101 list). Luckily, I currently have about 10 interesting books that I haven’t read yet (yet no bookshelf, nor comfortable place to read!). Some of them I brought back from the States last time, but it’s also been easier to acquire books here in Buenos Aires thanks to two book swaps I went to recently – hopefully just the beginning of what will become a regular occurrence! It’s a good way to get some new books (and not get too attached to the ones I have), meet people or see people I already know, and talk books with other readers. At the most recent swap we were talking about the feasibility of setting up a book club here, but it would be hard/expensive to get multiple copies of the same book, so we might try English-language discussion of Spanish books instead – would be good motivation to read more in Spanish.
I was just reviewing my list of things from The List that I said I’d do by the end of the year, and I spontaneously flipped through my calendar and chose Sunday, October 28, as the day I’ll spend the whole day reading, and wrote READING DAY in large capital letters. And then I erased it (nothing goes in my planner in pen!). I decided that before I designate a day for Reading Day, I need to find the book I will read. The book I’m reading now is ok, but not enough to keep me engaged all day, plus I’m already almost halfway through it, I think. So this is a plea for recommendations—what book can you suggest that’s long enough, interesting enough, engaging enough, that I’d want to read it all day long? Once I have some suggestions I’ll start the next step, which will probably be the more difficult—hunting down a specific English-language book in Buenos Aires!
Some time ago I thought it’d be a good idea to move all of my reading lists from past websites to this site, for one cohesive list of the past few years. I think there might be older lists floating around in cyberspace that I haven’t yet tracked down, but that’s ok. For a while I was more diligent about reviewing what I read, and was also reading a lot more than I am now, so the archives are pretty impressive, at least to me!
While looking for some of the old reading lists, I came across all of my blog entries from Blog City, which I used from July 2005 to February 2006. The first one, about my 30th birthday, was pretty well-written and an enjoyable read, if I do say so myself, and I started thinking that maybe that content should get moved over here as well, since my Blog City account is no longer online. And then I realized that none of my blog posts from before my RTW trip are online anymore, and then thought—get real. There are much better uses of my time (and this is something I’m really trying to pay better attention to these days—for example, I could get more reading done, and exercise more, etc. etc., if I use my time more wisely), and I can’t imagine anyone else is going to go back and read the old content. I have it for myself, if I ever feel like perusing the archives, but that’s where it can stay—archived.
Recently, I found myself with plenty of time to read, and it was a welcome luxury. I actually finished three books in the past few weeks: Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende; Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert; and Freaky Deaky by Elmore Leonard (which I’ve heard—and I didn’t know this when I bought it at a dusty store in Philly for a few bucks— is slated to be made into a movie next year).
I’ve read a few other Allende books, and have had Daughter of Fortune for a year or two (hey, that counts toward number 61 on The List!) and decided it was a good book to join me for my trip to the West Coast. Fittingly, the plot starts in Chile (in Valparaiso, which I loved, and where I’d thought about living) and ends in California during the Gold Rush. I enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel, and enjoyed the story as well. It’s written from the perspective of a narrator who knows how it’s all going to end, and there are just enough hints and foreshadowing to keep you pushing forward, curious to know how it will all turn out. (more…)
Someone asked a while ago what I was reading about Buenos Aires, which at the time seemed laughable—I hadn’t picked up a book, except for work, in eons. But I’ve since acquired The Argentina Reader and Time Out Buenos Aires, and started to make time to read a little now and then. The reader is full of interesting works, mostly by Argentines, on a wide variety of topics—I only wish I’d been able to read this much about every country I visited! It’s a hefty tome, but I’m planning to take it with me. And Time Out, known for in-the-know entertainment listings, should come in handy once I get there. I’ve also been finding some expat and local blogs, but more on those another time.
I finally finished reading Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. It’s impressive that anyone made it back (albeit only 18 of the original 260 crew members, and one of the original five boats), considering their spotty information about most of the world and the many real (monster storms, natives who didn’t know what to make of them) and imagined (monsters of the deep) threats they encountered or expected to encounter. Depending on which accounts you read (all of which the author references), Magellan is portrayed as a brave explorer, a hero, a traitor, a control freak, a religious zealot, or worse. The book is well written and I learned a lot about that period of exploration and life on-ship in the 1500s. It was particularly interesting to read about the armada’s experiences along the coast of South America and navigating the now-named Strait of Magellan, which I stood overlooking from a point near Punta Arenas, Chile, a few years ago.
It seems reading has taken a major backseat to knitting and watching movies in recent months (in my world, anyway), but I hope to rectify that in the new year. To get back in touch with my bookish side, I took this handy little quiz, which tells me I’m a Dedicated Reader (“You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.”). But that title barely nudged out Literate Good Citizen, Obsessive Complusive Bookworm, and Book Snob. As always, I don’t fit neatly into one category, and that’s okay with me.
A few weeks ago I finished We Wish To Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, which was a long, slow read. The subject matter—the genocide in Rwanda—is fascinating, and horrifying, and that’s what kept me reading, although there were a few times I thought about not finishing it, mainly because I was eager to get on to something else. The book was like one long (well-written) newspaper or newsmagazine article, and not exactly the kind of reading I felt like picking up before I went to bed at night. But how can you set down for too long something that reveals, for example, that France’s President Mitterrand said “In such countries, genocide is not too important”? I want to know about these things (and I wish it were easier to hear about them, and I were better at paying attention, before 12 years or more have passed). It’s like watching a train wreck—you want to avert your eyes, and yet you can’t (and really, in this kind of situation, we shouldn’t, though it seems our government did a pretty good job of it). And the fact that few of us actually did get to see this for ourselves means that we have to leave it to our imagination. As the author describes, “All at once, as it seemed, something we could have only imagined was upon us—and we could still only imagine it. This is what fascinates me most in existence: the peculiar necessity of imagining what is, in fact, real.” He is reminded of Marlow in Heart of Darkness saying, after it was all over, “It was not my strength that needed nursing, it was my imagination that wanted soothing.”
I've managed to pick up the speed on my reading since I arrived in New Jersey. When I first got here I was finishing Blue Highways, which I enjoyed, but once I wasn't traveling myself some of the magic was lost. And his experience was so different than mine—because he was self-contained, with a bed in the back of his van, he could just drive (somewhat) aimlessly, and find a place to stop for the night before it got dark. These days, on my budget, the same just wasn't possible for me. Even though I have a tent, and I'm a confident, independent person, heading off to some random field or even a campground didn't seem like the wisest choice for me, and I certainly couldn't afford a hotel every night. So I took the blue highways, but I pretty much always had to have a destination in mind. And he, and so many other travel writers, are so good at meeting interesting people along the way, and getting into fascinating experiences. Why am I not very good at this? It's something I'd like to improve but I'm not sure how. Maybe I'm not asking the right questions—of myself or the people I meet. (more…)