Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 1: Next On the List

In an attempt to mentally organize and motivate, I think I'm going to start taking a monthly mental pause to assess what I want to read, where I am with any reading goals, and what exciting things are on the horizon. It sounds silly because reading should be a relaxing, enjoyable activity, but it can sometimes get a little overwhelming to think of all I have and want to do!

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In January, I started my own personal Westward Ho! reading project, for which I read two books (but only blogged on one; I'll get there!). I don't have anything on the immediate agenda for this, only in the abstract future—the next couple of months. I am going to be reading Lions of the West with Aarti, but that's not going to start until at least March.

Yesterday I started the book for my February book club meeting, Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. I've been taking a bit of a break from book club for the past two months. It's not that I grew tired of it, it's just...well, the last two meetings went on for two and a half hours. I mean, I enjoy talking about books, but that is a long time to discuss one book. The discussion is great for about an hour and then it gets too detailed, like people are grasping for straws for something to discuss, and it's the same couple of people who just keep talking. It is possible to over-discuss a book. Anyway, I just needed a breather and now I've had one, so I'm excited for next week's meeting! The book, by the way, is "eh" so far (I'm 100 pages in). Like every book I've read for this book club, I probably won't love it but I will enjoy the discussion of it.

I started Jonathan Raban's essay collection, Driving Home, last week, and it is a chunkster. I took a break from it for a bit to start my book club book, but it's a library book so I plan on finishing it in the next two weeks. (The only time I'm able to start a new book in the middle of another one like this is if it's essays or short stories!) So far, some of the essays are interesting and some are boring. I thought it would be more of a travelogue, but a lot of his essays are just analyzing other authors' works and have little to do with American travel. It's not really what I expected from the book as a whole.

I got some fabulous books from ALA Midwinter, including:
  • Marzi, a new graphic novel that the girl at the Random House booth generously let me take
  • Maggie Now, a Betty Smith novel I'd never heard of, thanks to the HarpeCollins booth
  • Come In and Cover Me, the new Gin Phillips (I loved The Well and the Mine) thanks to Penguin's $5 all-you-can-hold sale
  • The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam (I have Old Filth but haven't read it yet!)
Conferences are fun, but when you're working at one and have to stand in your exhibition booth all day...well, you miss out on the fun of discovering new books! Luckily, the last day was pretty slow and I got to wander a bit.

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If you live in Brooklyn (or even just in NYC) and you don't know about WORD yet, you should. It's an independent bookstore in Greenpoint, and they have some fabulous events. It's where I've gone to readings with Emily St. John Mandel and Jon Michaud. In December, I missed Haley Tanner, who was coincidentally there as I was reading her book. But in February, they have some great things coming up, including an event with Jonathan Evison (of West of Here) which I will sadly have to miss because of class, one with Joe Wallace who I met there once and subsequently read his book, and one with Michael Showalter of comedic fame. 

Related: Wet Hot American Summer is one of my top 5 movies of all time, and in college, my friend Gretch and I once spent an entire three-hour studio painting class throwing Wet Hot quotes back and forth until, at the very end of class, a guy sitting next to us finally asked, "Are you guys quoting Wet Hot?" I asked Colin if I could tell Michael Showalter that story, and he said no, it would not impress him. I think it would. We quoted the movie longer than the movie itself.

Happy February!

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