books


Random quote of the day:

“All books are either dreams or swords,
You can cut, or you can drug, with words.”

—Amy Lowell, “Sword Blades and Poppy Seed”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Bert and Ernie, Celine Dion, or the Band of the Coldstream Guards. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“When you are growing up, there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully—the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you.”

—Keith Richards, Life (with James Fox)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

I used to do a books read list every year, but I haven’t done one for a while. There is nothing particularly memorable or significant about this one. I just decided to do it. A pandemic snapshot, I guess.

I spent considerable reading time on escapist and comfort books. It was that kind of year—for many of us. I usually read a handful of romance novels in a year, but this year I went through as many as in the previous three or four years combined. Nothing wrong with that. They were good fun and what I needed at the moment. But before I said to myself, “All right, I’m good on the romance front,” I’d blasted through all eight of the Bridgerton novels, plus a Bridgerton related series (the Smythe-Smiths), plus two of the four Bridgerton prequels.

I also read an exceptional non-typical romance by Sherry Thomas before stopping (Not Quite a Husband) and loved her plotting and characterization so much that I looked up what else she’d done. This led me to her Lady Sherlock series (starting with A Study In Scarlet Women), in which Sherlock Holmes is the creation of a young woman who possesses Holmes’ acumen but knows she would never be accepted in Victorian English society for her talents because she is a woman. I admit to being skeptical of this premise because—let’s face it—these things are often quite lame. But Ms. Thomas showed such deftness and verve that these books have become a real pleasure for me.

Sometime earlier in the year while searching for something to stream, I came across a BBC Scotland TV show from the late 90s starring Robert Carlyle: Hamish Macbeth. It had that really quirky 90s vibe—sort of like Northern Exposure except set in the Scottish Highlands—and I binged all three seasons. Then I got curious about the source material, a long series of novels by M. C. Beaton, the author of the Agatha Raisin series. (I understand Ms. Beaton hated the TV show.) I also blasted through several of those. Fast, easy reads, humorous, interesting mysteries and characters, and a mordant eye towards human nature. But not particularly like the TV series.

I did dip into more serious stuff, but as I said, this was a year dominated by escape and comfort (à la Diana Gabaldon and J. D. Robb). As to the number of books read, I usually finish about 50 a year, not a spectacular accomplishment. I’m always picking up and putting down books and often have 3 or 4 going at once, which does tend to hold down my completion rate. But since it isn’t a contest, who cares? The list below is roughly chronological but doesn’t reflect the books I picked up and put down in between or when I started a particular book, just when I finished.

Books read in 2021 (with brief comments):

(more…)

Random quote of the day:

“Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren’t real, but they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books. All too often, that’s more than Mummy and Daddy know; for, in denying their childhood, the adults have denied half their knowledge, and are left with the sad, sterile little fact: ‘Unicorns aren’t real.’”

—Ursula K. LeGuin, The Language of the Night

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Currently reading:

(Subtitle: The life and mysterious death of Scottish churchman and scholar Robert Kirk and his influential treatise on fairy folklore.)

*

I have two novels that are fighting it out for my attention, one about goddesses and one about Faery with a substantial appearance by the Rev. Robert Kirk of The Secret Commonwealth fame who has been after me for years to tell a version of his story. They have been team tagging me for months, first one then the other.

But both novels are wrapped in a cloud of ennui and exhaustion that is summer seasonal affective disorder, with a side of pandemic miasma. My health hasn’t been great the last few months, most especially the last two weeks, so that is adding to the funk. Nothing serious, I don’t think, but chronic. Which means that any progress I make on these two novels is sporadic at best.

I am so not alone in this. I know many creators who are facing similar struggles, but I do feel that I’ve slipped my mooring and am drifting in circles, becalmed in a Sargasso Sea.

I get occasional signs from the universe that it isn’t done with me yet, and the Sargasso, beneath its floating mat of seaweed, is a fertile region of biodiversity for many species. But I fear mine will  wonder if I have another novel in me? And if I do, is it only one? Will I be able to finish both of these projects? I don’t know the answer to that.

All I can do is to keep chipping away at the marble, hoping that the form within will eventually reveal itself and come to life: a real flesh and blood woman. Or man. I have no preferences. Only a forlorn hope. And two metaphors, neither of which I can choose between.

Random quote of the day:

“Books choose their authors; the act of creation is not entirely a rational and conscious one.”

—Salman Rushdie, Independent on Sunday, 4 February 1990

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“It is from books that wise men derive consolation in the troubles of life.”

—Victor Hugo, Toilers of the Sea (tr. W. Moy Thomas)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love, and like that colossal adventure it is an experience of great social import. Even as the tranced swain, the booklover yearns to tell others of his bliss.”

—Christopher Morley, Pipefuls

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote.”

—Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Librarians are wonderful people, partly because they are, on the whole, unaware of how dangerous knowledge is. Karl Marx upended the political landscape of the twentieth century sitting at a library table. Still, modern librarians are more afraid of ignorance than they are of the political devastation that knowledge can bring.”

—Walter Mosley, The Long Fall

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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