In the High Peaks

Saturday, November 27, 2010


A massive swirling of flurries furled down on us most of the day, exciting me beyond measure. I walked farther than I have in quite a long while, though I tried to be very careful of my obnoxious, misbehaving foot. I am so tired of being inactive that I'm busting out! The wind was bitterly cold today, which I love.

What a wonderful little vacation! What a relief from the pressure of constantly having to plan lessons and projects! I had time to really dig in and paint on three different days, my first painting binge in what seems like eons. It satisfied me, made me want to do more and more, and I look forward to *more* painting after December 15, the last day of classes. I had to quit my bookstore-chainstore job. The day I returned home at 10:15 pm after leaving the house at 6:20 am did the trick. I wasn't expecting to have to do shifts after teaching, but that's what they expected. And so I said goodbye, with some regret, but the rest after the 15th will be a splendid break for the Christmas season.

I actually broke down and bought a Nookcolor and I love it. I've said for some time that whoever provides a decent color e-book reader at a reasonable price will make a fortune. I have much more I want to say about Nookcolor, and now that I no longer work at Barnes and Noble, I can. Stay tuned. No, I did not get a discount on it. No one gets a discount on the Nookcolor.

If you like audiobooks, the reader of Open by Andre Agassi is a marvel. And it is a superlative memoir. I know an audiobook is great when I hate for my commute to end, when I slow my speed way down so the trip doesn't have to end.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Think I've Got It! Final Books for 2010!

Please take a glance at my post earlier this evening or late afternoon. I just ordered Sunset Park by Paul Auster (please check out the wonderful interview!) and Russian Winter by Diana Kalotay in hardcover. Sunset Park is offered at 45% off the cover price! Looking forward! They won't arrive until Monday, I'm sure, though Barnes & Noble ships more quickly than Amazon.

So! Until then I'm reading The Hunger Games and a new memoir Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia De Rossi. I read acclaimed memoirs written by those who have suffered from anorexia, because I battled the disorder in my youth, from ages 17-21, with occasional relapses until age 40. For whatever reasons, none of the symptoms have troubled me since that time, not in the slightest. A baffling disease, to be sure.

But when I read memoirs of anorexia, I come away with the impression that I understand myself and who I was better than I did before.

Still Stuck on Which Books To End the Year

"Let's face it," I've been telling myself, "life has been a bit of a jumble lately." I started my holiday retail job mid-month and a week later realized what a ridiculous mistake I'd made. I quit, though with deep regrets. I think the day I rose at 5am and returned home at 10:20 pm made me realize I was out of my depth. Just stick to the teaching, which I love, and make a league of it!

I slept 12 hours last night and am recovering from double duty. So, onward! I spent time painting today, which was a way of reclaiming my inner self.

Books to read: I'm frustrated because I'd like to read some top-notch 2010 books to end the year but can't seem to settle down to any.

I have the second book in the Stieg Larsson trilogy, which I've been avoiding because I don't want the series to end.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What to Read before New Year's?

Ideally, I'd like to read a few more 2010 titles before January 1st rings in. I have so much fun reading the various "Best Books of 2010" lists. The New York Times list is my favorite. But I love the Publishers Weekly list as well. And, after browsing those, I hop around collecting the "best of" from wherever I find them, saving them all in one huge computer file. I've been doing this for years. One caveat: I have to wait for all this fun. Amazon has their list up, but no other U.S. source does, not that I've found.

As a result, I'm up in the air about what to read next. I'm going to finish The Hunger Games, and from there, I'm not sure.

What do you plan to read in the next five weeks and a half?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Frazzled Musings

Frazzled, perhaps, though I'm trying desperately to be relaxed. It's Friday night and I don't have to work tomorrow! Tomorrow morning I want to read without interruption for at least an hour before I have to attend to husband and dog.

My heart is calling out for nature and wild places. Due to my silly, misbehaving foot, it's been a month since I've been able to go walkabout, so my soul is feeling malnourished.

Readerly doings: I have been so moved by the memoirs I've listened to on my long commutes. Today I finished I Am the Central Park Jogger by Trisha Meilli, and was moved, uplifted, and comforted by her triumphant story of recovery from a massive brain injury caused by a horrifically brutal, heavily publicized attack in New York City back in 1989. She read her story herself, and I found it tremendously applicable to the challenges I've had to overcome in the past, though mine were nothing like hers. The memoir is just a good book, plain and simple.

On my way home today I started listening to Open by the American tennis star, and I was blown away by how incredibly good it is. I'm not into tennis!!! That's what's so wonderful about many memoirs. They're about overcoming obstacles, confronting personal challenges, following your heart, making mistakes, and listening to what's deep inside. Can't wait to travel to work again! Agassi's challenge? He despises playing tennis but can't bear to stop competition.

Okay. My reading of regular books has suffered from working two jobs. I'm still reading The Kennedy Detail and Gail Caldwell's magnificent memoir Let's Take the Long Way Home (see my previous entries).

I've just started reading the best-selling The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. What a compelling read! I must admit a have a fond spot for post-apocalyptic novels, and this one captivated me immediately. Yes, it's a teen title, but, as many books categorized as Young Adult, they're readable by any age group.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Am So Out of It--How to Focus on My Reading Life?

In a positive light, I finished listening to The Beatles by Bob Spitz, a splendid history. I have to confess that I could only find the abridged 9-CD version. I would have gladly listened to the 15-CD unabridged audiobook but couldn't get a hold of it. Still, the abridged made for very fine listening. Made the miles speed by.

Ken and I are listening to Nora Ephron's brand new book of essays, I Remember Nothing. I've been a fan of Ephron from way back, though I could not relate to the title essay in her previous book, I Feel Bad about My Neck. In I Remember Nothing, Ephron reminisces about her early days in journalism, the "wonderful" '60s and '70s when women had to kill to get a byline. It makes for great listening on my PC laptop via Audible had a terrific promotion for Amazonians, so we signed on.

Ken is now halfway through Let It Bleed and is loving it. His eyes lit up when I told him that Ian Rankin has an entire series of books based on John Rebus's adventures.

That's my book news for the moment. Life is intense this week.

The pressure is on because I am trying to show I want to be rehired, which will be a trick, considering that introductory English courses have lower enrollment in the second semester of the year. I'm being observed tomorrow, teaching my sleepy 8:30 class. I wish I did not suffer from extreme performance anxiety.

I'm hoping to post more interesting book news soon!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I Want to Read This Gem SLOWLY

Gail Caldwell's Let's Take the Long Way Home is a gentle, strong, rivers-run-deep sort of lovely torture. I call it torture because the book is less than 200 pages long, and I'm cherishing every word, every image, every snippet of conversation, but it's passing me by much too quickly.

I must own this book! I think I'm gushing over the top with it because the book describes life-altering events set in familiar, beautiful Boston landscapes, but also because I'm an unreformed dog lover, as are Gail and Caroline, and because I'm a bit of a lover of solitude and what I call "hermitude," as Gail describes herself to be. Excuse the tortured writing in this paragraph.

Gail Caldwell is a gifted writer, no question about it.

This weekend I also downloaded onto my Kindle The Kennedy Detail:JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence by Gerald Blaine. Paid too much for it but couldn't resist my attraction to all things Kennedy. The addiction can be explained. I was at such an impressionable age when he was assassinated, I'm half Boston Irish, my parents and grandparents thought he was divine, literally. The charisma never wore off. Yeah, I know ALL the sordid details, and that's part of the magnetism, too. I'm enjoying it, revelling in the stories. The hard parts come later in the book.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wanted: Time to Read

Hear ye! I have finished Let It Bleed by Ian Rankin. I ended up in complete admiration of the plot, though two-thirds of the way through I was wondering where Rebus's all-out pursuit of the corporate scandals was going.

Now I wait for Katrina, Scottish blogger of Pining for the West, who I hope will fill us in on the real-world background that must have motivated Rankin's plot. Corporate corruption--the robbing of state coffers--all in the name of providing jobs to thousands while stuffing the pockets of a few powerful men. Isn't that the way everywhere in the world?

I have two books from BookSwim that I am dying to read. The first is the highly acclaimed memoir by Boston's Gail Caldwell about her friendship with Caroline Knapp, another brilliant writer, author of the memoir Drinking: A Love Story. Let's Take the Long Way Home is short and unrelentingly pithy, about the love and tight bonds between two sympatico women friends, who weather the ups and downs in each other's lives, and who push each other to reach beyond their individual boundaries. The story is also about Gail's loss and grief: Caroline succumbed to cancer in mid-life.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Just Checking in, but Nothing Significant

Oh, I do hope I find a way to make the time for a decent blog post tomorrow! It is Tuesday, however, and I'll be preparing for my Wednesday classes, but still. Reading, and blogging, are important!

Tomorrow I hope to list a few of the memoirs my group of 18-year-olds are reading. I just finished listening to How Starbucks Saved My Life, a memoir by Michael Gates Gill. This is a book I listened to on my long commute to and from school. Although I dislike books that are repetitive (which this book surely was), I find this unfortunate characteristic acceptable in an audiobook. I can still drive conscientiously and not lose track of where the author is going.

Not too long ago, I applied for a job as a barista at Starbucks. My application did not go far, just as my application four years ago did not. I suspect age discrimination might have been a factor, so, for this reason, I was fascinated to read about a much older, 64-year-old former Madison Avenue advertising executive taking the plunge. His story revealed how his job changed his outlook, his personal life, and about Starbucks's whole gestalt; i.e. its modus operandi, if you will. Why it functions the way it does, from the very bottom to the top. In this memoir, the top was the manager of the store where Gill worked as well as her immediate management.

As an advertising exec who worked in a cut-throat, highly competitive and MEAN business (think AMC's television show Mad Men), it was revealing how his life as a barista was anything but that. Interesting.