Sunday Bulletin – October 26

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Autumn on Hampstead Heath

I think for the rest of the year I’ll return to my Sunday Bulletins if you don’t mind. It will guarantee that I post every week and helps me to focus. My mind is wandering these days and I am dreaming of new opportunities, goals and plans for my career and my life. Most of this year has been frustrating and disappointing for me, but England put sparkle and vibrancy back into my soul and I am straining to keep it there.

I’ll also post more pictures of my trip in between Sundays.

This week my book club held our October meeting and we discussed We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. We had a good talk about unreliable narrators, stifling small towns and belief in superstition. Next month we’ll discuss Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I recently finished reading a book I bought in London –  Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: the Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes. I loved these short glimpses (some just a few pages) into the lives of normal, middle-class people as they stumble along through their days while the shadow of war taints everything around them. The frank, realistic and honest tone of the stories felt so authentic and believable to me. Yet they’re not bleak; they are reassuringly human and often  quite funny. It is one of my favorite books of 2014.

It might be a bit early to start thinking about Christmas music, but I’m already pondering what albums to purchase this year. I think this one might make the list.

I hope you have a great Sunday!

Sunday Bulletin 4/6

Doily

We’ve had beautiful weather this week in central Arizona. I’ve been walking every evening and I’ve soaked in all the cool, blossom scented air and delighted in the feel of it on my skin. It might be the last nice weather of the season as temperatures are predicted to soar to the 90’s by the end of the week and it will be 100 F before we have time to get used to the idea of living in an oven again.

I’ve been very erratic in my reading lately. I haven’t been able to settle on any one story and stick with it for more than a few hours. There are so many exciting books in my stack and I want to read them all. Some of the books that have caught my eye are Sharon Bolton’s The Dark and Twisted Tide, The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys, Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes and The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams. They all sound so good.

The above photo is of a beautiful doily that was made by a library patron. She brought it to our Maker Morning yesterday. I started this new program to promote and support the needle arts and to provide a place where people can share ideas and show off their projects. We only had two people come yesterday, but I plan to do some marketing over the next month to bring in more people. I enjoyed myself and loved getting to know the two women who came and hearing their stories of how they started crocheting.

Do you have any big plans for this week? Are you reading anything you love?

Thanks for reading! Have a great Sunday.

Sunday Bulletin 3/30

yellow flower

Hello! I hope you’ve had a great week. Mine has been busy, interesting yet mostly routine, aside from a curious bout of stomach flu that overtook me on Friday and yesterday. Thankfully, I am feeling much better today.

My book group met on Tuesday evening and we discussed The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham. Our conclusion – it is a feminist novel and Charlie Townsend is awful. Personally, I enjoyed the book, but was a little thrown off because I was expecting it to be like the movie and it is not at all. The movie is much more sentimental and less frustrating.

I slumped into a reading funk at the beginning of the week and just couldn’t sustain interest in anything. It’s the most horrible feeling. On Thursday at work, in an effort to read something, anything, I decided to read a book that is completely out of my normal range of interests and checked out Picture Perfect: The Jodi Arias Story by Shanna Hogan. Of course, I’ve heard of Jodi Arias as she murdered Travis Alexander about 10 miles from where I live and was tried and convicted in Phoenix last year, but I didn’t pay much attention to the case aside from the basics. Picture Perfect fleshed out the entire story of their relationship and Arias’s obsession in a really quick, matter of fact tone. Utterly disturbing, sad and fascinating – and it worked! I recommend trying a true crime book to break you out of a reading funk.

And in other news, I am once again going to Italy in June. The friend who I’m going with gently reminded me that I am a pretty anxiety ridden person and it might be best for me to take my first trip to Europe with someone who is not anxiety ridden. And I had to agree. I was able to negotiate a couple of weeks off in June (which I can’t help feeling guilty about as it is the busiest month of the year in the public library business) and I will be heading to Italy in the middle of the month. I’d still like to visit London in September so if I can swing it financially I am going to plan on that too.

Are you reading anything amazing, fun, beautiful? Have a wonderful Sunday – I’ll be back later in the week with a round-up of my March reading.

Sunday Bulletin 3/23

tree fringe

Hello there! I missed a Sunday Bulletin last week as I worked the entire weekend and just didn’t find time to write up a post. I’ve been reading like a madwoman lately and many evenings I don’t even turn on my computer.  I feel that I’m not very effective at time management because so many of my friends seem to be able to do it all – well, at least, so much more than I find time to do. I really need to work harder on balancing my obligations and my pleasures, I suppose.

My heartbreak of the week was that no one showed up for my Bleak House discussion at the library yesterday. I was so excited to discuss the first 1/3 of the novel as I really enjoyed it and knew it would foster a great discussion, but I think the weather won out. This time of the year Phoenix is just absolutely beautiful and it was sunny, warm and breezy – I don’t think anyone wanted to sit inside and talk about the foggy, dark London of Bleak House. I suppose I’ll cancel the rest of the series and try again in the winter.

Speaking of London,  I’m formulating a new plan for my overseas trip. June is turning out to be an almost impossible month for me to travel because of work obligations, finances and other complications. So, I’ve decided that September will be my travel month and I’m going to go to London! As much as I would adore visiting Italy, London has always been my dream destination and my brain goes giddy just thinking about everything I want to see and do there. I’m sure you’ll hear much more from me about my plans in the coming months.

In reading news, I feel like I’ve read bunches this month, but am perplexed to see that I’ve only finished four books in March – and no classics. I think I am continuing the horrible of habit of not finishing books and flitting from novel to novel like an unsatisfied butterfly, so I really am reading a lot but have nothing to show for it. This flightiness is something I also need to work on (in addition to the poor time management thing). I don’t want to leave The Home-maker, The Leopard, and now The House in Paris, left unfinished. It would be a shame.

Have a fantastic Sunday!

Sunday Bulletin 3/9

bookspines

Hello! How has your week been? I can’t believe that it’s already the second Sunday of March, though I’m sure that most of you are joyful that we’re swiftly moving toward warmer weather.

This week has been a heck of a good one for reading for me. I finished Frog Music by Emma Donoghue, Rainbow Rowell’s Landline, made progress on The Leopard, and am deep into The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing. This book is beautiful and absorbing and I can’t wait to write about it further when I finish, though I don’t really want it to end.

Yesterday I realized that my first Big Book Discussion meeting at the library is quickly approaching and I have only read about 10 pages of Bleak House. So, next week my reading really must focus on reading the first third of this tome. I’ve had a few people express interest in attending the discussion – I hope they do actually read and show up at the end of March.

On Thursday, I was excited to see the longlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction announced. Of the twenty titles I have read two – The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I have a dream of one day reading all the titles on the longlist, but this year won’t be the one. A few of the books aren’t even available in the US or won’t even be published here until after the winner is chosen. I was glad to see that most of the titles that are available here are checked out at my library and are being read. Do you pay attention to this award at all?

I wish you all a wonderful Sunday!

Sunday Bulletin 3/2

Plant

Hello there! I hope you’ve all had a great week. Mine was another busy one and I didn’t get as much reading in as I had hoped. I am stalled with Frog Music, but I will pick it up again soon – it will probably be my lunch break book next week at work.

My book club met on Tuesday evening to talk about The Chosen and we had a good discussion about the two Jewish boys at the center of the novel, Reuven and Danny, and the different expectations their fathers set for their lives. I enjoyed the novel, but I have to admit that I did miss the lack of a strong female presence in the lives of these two boys. I suppose I read so many domestic, female-centered novels that reading a male focused book felt alien to me. Our March selection is The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham.

I have several books to write about, but I find myself not knowing what to say about them when I sit down at the computer. I think I let too much time pass between reading a book and writing down my thoughts about it – do you do that ? Or do you write about them soon after finishing?

March is going to be the month that I finally finish several books that I’ve had on the go for a while. The Homemaker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter… and I believe there are several others that I’m forgetting. I’ve got to break this terrible habit of abandoning books that I like for no other reason than that I am capricious.

Have a lovely Sunday!

Sunday Bulletin 2/23

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I’ve had a very productive week, have been busy every evening so there’s not been much time to read. I did finish The Chosen early in the week, but haven’t really clicked with anything else, though I started Frog Music by Emma Donoghue at lunch yesterday and I think it is going to be a good one. There is something about her writing that hypnotizes me and keeps me reading even if I’m not crazy about the setting or the plot (as with Room).

I’ve bought a few Viragos lately from awesomebooks.com. I like their very low prices, but sometimes the books are not in the best condition…oh well, I’m just glad to have them. Here are the green beauties I’ve received in February:

Viragos
The weird shininess on A Wreath for the Enemy is due to a plastic covering it came in.

A Wreath of Roses & The Sleeping Beauty by Elizabeth Taylor – I still intend to read all of Taylor’s novels, though I have not made much progress lately.

A Pin to See the Peepshow by F Tennyson Jesse – I don’t know much about this author or this book, but doesn’t it have a fantastic title?

A Wreath for the Enemy by Pamela Frankau – I bought this after reading Scott’s post on  “Possible Persephones” at Furrowed Middlebrow.

The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West – This book is on the list for the Librarything Great War Theme Read. I am behind on reading along with the group, but I hope to catch up.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – 2014 is the year I WILL read Mansfield Park and Emma, the two Austens I’ve never managed to finish.

I am working today so won’t be able to read until I get home in the evening, but that anticipation of arriving home and settling down with a book and a treat will get me through the afternoon of helping people print and finding books for desperate school children who have reports due on Monday (our typical Sunday crowd).

Enjoy your day!

Sunday Bulletin 2/16

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Wasn’t the moon pretty this week?

Hello all! How has your week been? Mine was one of those weird weeks where it seems the planets are really out of alignment, especially at the library. We were all running for the door at closing on Friday because we just couldn’t wait to escape the madness. Many of us had a lot of uncomfortable patron interactions throughout the week mostly concerning noise. My branch is fairly small and everything is in one big room. The only area that is somewhat separated from the main library is the children’s room. We have many people who want the atmosphere to be like a traditional library – very quiet with no talking or other noise. But we also have a large number of patrons who want to be able to study in groups, use their cell phones, and socialize. There is frequent conflict between these two groups and, of course, they want staff to mediate. It can get very heated and usually leads to someone getting upset and wanting justice. Exhausting. What do you think a library should be – sanctuary or gathering place?

I finished a couple of books this week and started reading my book group’s February selection, The Chosen by Chaim Potok. I really enjoyed the first chapter, which introduces the characters and themes of the novel during a baseball game, and am engrossed in the story of two Jewish boys in Brooklyn who come from very different backgrounds and become best friends.

I know that the news of author Sophie Hannah being commissioned to write a new Hercule Poirot novel is fairly old news, but it came across my radar again this week and I started to ponder whether I will read the new novel or not. My first reaction is ‘yes’ because I would love to read a new Poirot story and it will be interesting to see what Hannah (none of whose novels I’ve been able to get through) will do with the tale, but we’ll see how I feel when it’s actually released. Will you read it?

I hope you have a really lovely Sunday!

Sunday Bulletin 2/9

Blooming Sweet Acacia Tree
Blooming Sweet Acacia Tree

The best thing about this past week was that I finally picked up steam in my reading again and it’s all due to making a plan. Once again, I’ve learned that I read more and better by making a reading list and following it scrupulously. I finished Mrs.Tim Carries On (brilliant) and am almost finished with Guard Your Daughters. It feels so nice to be reading again.

At work I listened to an inspiring webinar on readers’ advisory that is going to guide my reading for the rest of the year. Classics are my favorite genre and I would read them exclusively if I didn’t feel a duty as a librarian (and it is something I do get paid for) to keep up with contemporary literature of all types. I will fit classics in, but you might see a bit more variety in the books that I feature here.  I was also approved to start the Big Book Discussion and I’m taking the opportunity to read a classic for work. The first book we’re going to discuss is Bleak House. I broke the reading up into fairly equal thirds and the discussions will run from March – May. Let’s hope I’m not the only person who shows up at the first discussion!

Have you watched any of the films nominated for the Academy Awards? Last week, despite the current controversy surrounding its director, I watched Blue Jasmine. Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins are nominated for Best Actress and Best Actress in a  Supporting Role for the film. I’m not much of a movie goer these days so I watched it at home on DVD and thought it was good – not a film that astonished me or significantly moved me, but it had a quiet sadness that lingered in my mind. Cate Blanchett plays a woman out of touch with reality with a subtle genius that completely absorbs you. The film has a flashback structure that really works well and helps to intensify Jasmine’s spiral into mental illness. I doubt I will watch any of the other nominated films before the ceremony, but at some point I’d like to see Gravity, Twelve Years a Slave and Nebraska.

Have a great Sunday and happy reading!