To indulge, unrestrained

When I am finished with my graduate studies, there is one life’s pleasure in which I will indulge, without restraint and without guilt, deeply and utterly.

I cannot wait to read. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, fanfiction, it’s going be a veritable OCEAN of words that I will dip into. And it will be SO enjoyable. The Kobo reader will never leave my side.

Just a glimpse of some of the books in my to-read list:

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So many titles, so little time

I went to our local Chapters bookstore on the weekend. It’s been a while since we went there to just hangout, peruse the aisles, examine the regular shelves, pick up and read a couple of pages of gorgeous, new books. It only works when we are tag-teaming when we have a family outing that includes the little one.

Anyway, there were so many awesome books out there. I’m loving the Kobo e-reader (and the Kobo and Kindle apps on our tablets) but I really really love and rather miss the glossy covers and the tactile feel an smell of the fresh-pressed volumes in my hands.

So, here are some titles I stumbled upon and can’t wait I get to.

a swashbuckling yarn

a swashbuckling yarn

Zenmotorcycle

the classic

Magicians

terrific literary fantasy

Speak

acclaimed teen fiction

Coates

another fantasy/mystery

Shine

a recommended read

So, when will I get to these titles?

After I work. And put Le petit to bed. And read the next 2 articles for my thesis. And edit the chapter of my research methods section. And …Ok, I’m dreaming just a little. It’s going to be a while before I get to these books but that’s ok – it gives me something to really really look forward to.

Bound to others, past and present

Three days ago I saw a trailer for David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas.

Now this book, I’ve seen bouncing around in used and new bookstores, like, FOREVER: Toronto, Kingston, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver. So much so, that the cover of this particular edition of the book is ingrained in my mind.

cloud atlas

I’ve never really been interested in reading it, and then when I finally got around to reading reviews, it just seemed like a thick, dense, thinking novel that would take way more devotion and energy than I wanted to commit to, for a book I was only partly interested in.

Then, I saw the trailer.

 

Holy. cow. Do I want to read the book now.

It’s got all the makings of a fascinating film worth hours of post-viewing speculation and conversation. The Wachowski brothers are producing: ’nuff said. Plus, Doona Bae, a doe-eyed Korean actress, has a major role in it, not to mention some other distinctive actors worth watching in any film: Tom Hanks, Jim Broadbent, Halle Berry and Hugo Weaving, just to name a few.

The quote that grabbed me and hasn’t yet let me go, spoken by Halle Berry’s character (I think), is:

Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present.

I don’t know if that is actually a quote from the novel, but for sure I will be checking it out.

Reads

I used to read TONS. As in, a book a week, sometimes 3 or 4 when they were delicious thrillers that kept me riveted.  Oh, those days when I could read until 3 am and still be perfectly alert the next day.

2 things in life happened: I hit 32 years old, and a few years later, I had a baby boy. Then a  third thing happened, and that was my discovery of the world wide web.

Since then, I cannot stay up and read. Which is really too bad, since I joined a book club about then, in early 2009, that still meets to this day, but which I sadly dropped out of last year.

But then, I need to sleep, or pay attention to Le petit who naturally requests his mama’s attention, or I am distracted by things on the web like fail videos, stupid hipster parodies, tech news, Apple rumours and on and on and on.  So, I’m reading way way less these days. The way I get through books now is via audiobooks. I walk 25 minutes to and from work every day, so that’s almost 50 minutes of listening I can get through. Of course, sometimes I listen to podcasts and the other thing is I read way faster than the audiobook narrators read. My iPod lets me put the narration speed on “faster” but that’s still slower than I could physically read.

But I’m still trying to read. So here are my current books on the go, as of July 2012:

The Art of Fielding  Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities  On Photography
American Gods  Walk Like a Man: Coming of Age with the Music of Bruce Springsteen  Shades of Milk and Honey

more of my reads »

“Get Focused – Read Books”

…I don’t think only paper book can bring salvation. In my opinion it’s any book, in any form. You can reach for a paperback or an enhanced ebook or an audiobook. Some better than the others, but they will all reduce this annoying feeling of distraction. You’re not in the endless abyss of the Internet any more, you’re in a fully formed world, following its story at the speed you choose.

You can say “yeah, but sometimes I’m distracted so deeply, that I can’t imagine myself reading a book.”

You’re right, I experience it every day. Among so many skills we learn to keep up with changes, we have to add one more – how to turn into a reading mood after a busy day full of multiple streams of information, smartphone rings, push notification beeps and nervous location check-ins.

It’s doable…

via Password Incorrect

I came across this post today and it totally reinforces what’s been going on my own life lately: not only getting back into writing but more importantly, READING. Ah, one of my earliest loves. It’s not that I’m NOT reading lately, but that I’ve read MUCH less of whole books, as opposed to snippets, posts, articles, post – all good, but quite different from the experience of immersing myself in a book.

Three weeks ago I went on a vacation to interior BC, hung out at some Rocky Mountain hot springs, and just READ. It was amazing, so much so, that I am determined not to neglect the practice. I’m going to be intentional about spending a solid hour or 2 at least twice a week (probably before sleep) just getting into a book. This means choosing to get OFF the MacBook and to not catch up on feeds, fanfic and links, and instead getting that tea or wine or water and sitting down and cracking open the pages.

More recently, though, I should say that turning on my newly purchased Kobo ereader is more commonplace than actually opening the pages.  It’s been incredibly convenient since I was able to load up the books I already have and read them on a good size device rather than my phone or iPod Touch (which, while convenient, never provided an immersive experience).  Two weeks in, I am loving it and have finished 3 books, and working through another two.  It’s great to get back into an old-but-not-forgotten love.

A thing of rare beauty

Beinecke Library designed by Gordon Bunshaft, SOM (photo credit: Nick Hollot)

Today in my Tumblr dashboard, someone had reblogged this picture of the Yale Rare Books Library.

It made me stop and stare.

I had to figure out some of what I was looking at but otherwise, the photo kept drawing me in: the colour, the content, the idea of the kind and smell and feel of the books in that room……

Book sipper or gulper?

On my morning walk to work today I was listening to the most recent Books on the Nightstand podcast, and hosts Ann and Michael discussed the topic of reading in sips or in gulps. Loved the topic.

From their blog:

blog post at Tor.com debates reading books in big gulps or small sips. Jo Walton, the author of the post, says she reads all the time (“…if I’m [at a restaurant] with you, I’ll get my book out for the two minutes while you’re in the bathroom.”), and doesn’t need to read for long stretches to fully enjoy a book.

They discussed the merits of reading in long chunks vs. in little pieces. It got me thinking about my own reading style. The sad reality is that by default – that is, LIFE with a toddler and working full time and owning a house with a yard – I’ve become a book sipper:

  • on the living room couch while Le petit is playing
  • at the table during snacktime (we read our newspapers and ebooks on our laptops, but no computers are allowed during meals, unless we’re watching Ted talks)
  • in the bathroom
  • while travelling by plane or by bus
  • for as long as Le petit naps
  • audiobooks for me while I walk to work
  • at night before sleeping

Sad, because I am MOST satisfied when I get to read in a long uninterrupted chunk, and able to really get into a book, its setting, mood, characters, the sense of place and people – and usually, it takes a little bit of time to get to that place where I am absorbed in the writing and flow and place that the writer have created. For the most part, I rarely can read for longer than 15 minutes at a time these days, the exception being when Le petit goes to sleep at 8pm and I have until 11 or midnight to indulge (if I’m not blogging, catching up on episodes, or cleaning….).

I mentioned this before, but for the past 2 years after Le petit was born, my reading list has consisted of mostly: mass market thrillers and SF/fantasy reads, magazines, articles on the web, and a whole lot of browsing Lucky and Japanese fashion magazines. There’s nothing wrong with this list, but there hasn’t been much time for, for example, tomes like Middlemarch or even smaller books that I know whose sentences and details will need more time and attention to get through.

So, to sum up, I am a gulper by nature who has become a sipper by circumstances.

Downsizing

On Thursday, I read an article at Becoming Minimalist about letting go of books and reducing one’s book collection. The author writes:

Until just a few years ago, books were stacked everywhere in my home. My two huge book cases were double-stacked with volumes ranging from children’s fiction to college text books, and piles had formed next to couches and the bed, not to mention on any available surface. I could not imagine my life without these friends surrounding me – the very thought of letting go of just one was enough to send me hurling at my shelves, attempting to wrap my arms around every book I owned in protection.

She could have been describing me exactly. She goes on to write that she was able to reduce her own collection to just 20 books, just 20! Some serious processing went into achieving her awesome organization goal.

To move from one extreme to the other took some serious work, and was not an overnight process. It started with the realization that I was not so much attached to the stories and words themselves, but the physical books sitting on the shelves. Once I had that realization, I began to let go of some of my books, and moved slowly towards a more minimalist reading collection.

Those few sentences were so inspiring that I actually planned to put them into practice on the weekend.

You know what? This past Saturday morning, I started on a pretty focused mission, sorting through our unwieldy book collection and got rid of about 230 books, a feat that surprised mon mari. We took most of the books to a local used book vendor and got cash for some of them, gave a box to a local non-profit society library, and donated the rest. I’m aiming to clear out one more book shelf over the next week, but dang, if I don’t feel terrific about it already.

In the meantime, I can still drool over other people’s gorgeous book collections over at Bookshelf Porn:

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I miss reading

reading cjazzlee books

I used to read TONS. As in, a book a week, sometimes 3 or 4 when they were delicious thrillers that kept me riveted.  Oh, those days when I could read until 3 am and still be perfectly alert the next day.

2 things in life happened: I hit 33 years old, and a few years later, I had a baby boy. Well, I guess I can add a third, and that’s my discovery of the world wide web. Since then, I cannot seem to find enough time to read. I need to sleep, or pay attention to Le petit who naturally requests my attention, like every 10 minutes or I am distracted by things on the web like fail videos, stupid hipster parodies, tech news, Apple rumours and on and on and on.  So, I’m reading way way less these days.

One way I get through books at all nowadays is via audiobooks. I walk 25 minutes to and from work every day, so that’s almost 50 minutes of listening I can get through. Of course, sometimes I listen to podcasts so I ‘give up’ a book for that particular walk and the other thing is I read way faster than the audiobook narrators read. My iPod lets me put the narration speed on “faster” but that’s still slower than I would physically read. In other words, I get to “read” or listen to books, but at a much much slower pace than it would normally take for me to get through them.  My source for audiobooks? Our local library has tons of downloadable audiobooks (yay, libraries!) and if you poke around on the web, you can easily find some, too.

Another way I get to read is if I go away from mon mari and Le petit on a trip. Doesn’t happen often, and sometimes it is for work so I can’t really stay up super late when I have a presentation and an itinerary to follow the next day. One of the best stretches of reading I’ve had in the past 2 years was on a 6 hour airplane ride where I started and finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which, by the way, is a fabulous fabulous novel.

Something that’s helped me focus on reading, even if it’s been only in small chunks at a time, has been joining a bookclub, formed on a whim by a group of us at work who love to read. Over the past 2 years, we’ve read and discussed about 20 books and whenever we get together, there’s been great food and drink, a terrific bonus.

Even now, at this very moment, if I wasn’t on my Macbook doing what I’m doing, I would be reading something. But I would rather be writing this post. Sigh. It’s a real give-and-take.

In the meantime, my books on the nightstand is growing by the foot. Seriously, there are now about 30 titles there. Plus, I have 3 books out from the library. And even WORSE, I still can’t stop buying new books or used books whenever they cross my path.

What I’ll do instead is finish posting and then lie down and plug in my earphones to listen to my most recent audiobook (Lindsey Davis’ Venus in Copper) until I fall asleep.  I still miss reading.

Update: I should have called this post, I miss reading BOOKS, because I am reading LOTS of shorter pieces – blog posts, essays, articles, tweets even.  Just less of the physical, paper, bound, hefty thingy we hold in our hands.

Mystery of airports

I’m sitting at YVR after a botched attempt to bring my mom home from her visit in Hawaii.

LOVE the anonymity of hanging out in the airport – where are all the people heading, journeying to and from, life events that have happened to them along the way…..

wpid-airport-2010-06-27-09-51.jpg

I think it’s Pico Iyer who writes a wonderful essay about how the experience of and in airports can symbolize a global soul, a phenomenon that has only really very recently emerged: someone who doesn’t necessarily identify himself by location, not attached to one nation, but somehow linked to many on a global scale, always in movement, yet still “grounded” through the temporal place that is the airport.

I do a very poor job of representing his essay. Read it for yourself: The Global Soul.