Sisterly bonding over literature and the Dread Pirate Roberts

 

Today is my sister’s birthday!

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Here we are three years ago, laughing at the fact that we unintentionally wore twin outfits on a day when we were seeing each other for the first time in probably months. (We are not twins. I am on the right, if you need help with that. Some people do.)

We had a good chat on the phone today while she opened up the gifts that I mailed her.

(It’s the birthdays and other special occasions that making living far apart a little harder. We manage, though.)

I got to put my crafty itch to good use by making her a necklace and earring set with turquoise beads from the local stone and bead store. (Turquoise is one of the December birth stones.)

Homemade jewelry usually seems to be a hit with family members. (I haven’t tried it with my dad, though.) Anything homemade is typically well-received. Plus, those kinds of gifts are fun to make.

In honor of my big sis, I started reading a book she’s been recommending to me for a while.

Okay, I actually just wanted some easy reading this morning. I bought the book a couple of weeks ago (ish) because I needed a fifth paperback to get the 5-for-$1 deal at the thrift store, and my sister had been talking it up for long enough that I decided it was worth 20 cents.

That came out sounding wrong, but it’s the truth.

What I’m reading is The Lightning Thief, the first book of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan.

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cover image courtesy of goodreads.com

One of the many things my sister and I have in common (not that we aren’t really quite different in numerous ways) is a love of young adult fiction  – especially fantasy. We just never grew out of it.

And there’s not a gosh darn thing wrong with that. Books for teens and so-called tweens can be every bit as good as books for adults. Some of my favorite authors, who are excellent writers, write mostly or all books for folks younger than themselves.

I had a bit of a rushed morning, so I haven’t made a great deal of progress in the book, but so far I’m enjoying it and eager to read more.

I’m a bit disappointed that there’s apparently only one film, but then again, I may not even want to read the other books when I’m done with this one.

Sometimes I need to remind myself not to put the cart in front of the horse.

I gave my sister a book for her birthday in addition to the jewelry, one that corresponds to another shared love – The Princess Bride!

At our charming local bookstore, I found a copy of As You Wish, which is sort of a behind-the-scenes tale of the production of the film The Princess Bride.

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Let’s just get a closer look at Cary Elwes in that costume, shall we?

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image source: imdb.com

All righty. I’m good.

Anyway…

The book looked like a lot of fun for someone who has probably seen the film at least as many times as I have, which is firmly in the double digits. Firmly.

Also, this is the same sister (I only have the one) who once gave me a gorgeous copy of the 25th anniversary edition of the book.

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image source: 4shadowsbooks.com

 

Given the evidence, this year’s gift of As You Wish seemed appropriate. I hope it’s good.

Even if it’s only mediocre, there are still pictures of a young, swashbuckling Cary Elwes inside it, and honestly, that’s probably enough.

So, Happy Birthday to my sister, and happy reading to all (and to all a good night).

 

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Burying myself in books

I just learned about the Dakota Pipeline decision, and it feels awfully nice to see some good news right now. These days, I just can’t understand much about the world around me, and it feels like things are so much worse than I ever realized, and only getting worse.

So, the tabling of the pipeline is very welcome indeed. I can’t even imagine what it feels like to the residents of that area, those whose lives were the most intimately impacted by this saga.

All the societal upheaval right now is happening at a time when I’m experiencing personal upheaval, which is inconvenient, but there it is. Time and tide wait for no woman. The world doesn’t toe the line just because I’m in a rough patch.

Not that I haven’t been a rough patch for a while, it’s just a slightly different part of the patch, a more revelatory part, and hopefully that means I’m headed out of the rough patch.

It has simply been tough to navigate how much to pay attention to the outside world and how much to focus inward. There’s a delicate balance somewhere, and I’m hovering near it, but still having to make adjustments.

I’m doing a lot of reading lately, some online, but mainly an assortment of fiction and nonfiction books that I’m juggling. It’s helping me to cope with stress.

I try to alternate content to keep from getting to overwhelmed by information. I also have to switch it up based on where I’m reading; a large, heavy hardcover from the library – out of which I’m jotting down notes into a spiral notebook – is not the best choice for bathtub reading (another highly effective stress-reduction technique). I prefer paperbacks for that.

What I’m currently reading:

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cover image courtesy goodreads.com

Actually, I just finished The Magicians this evening. I was reading it out loud to my husband. (This is a lovely activity that I recommend over TV-watching, not that we don’t do our fair share of that.) We own the boxed set of Lev Grossman’s trilogy, and The Magician King is next.

I’m also reading Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery.

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This one was recommended to me. It’s quite good, but it’s an interlibrary loan, and not the only one I have, so I’m probably not going to finish this copy. I think I’m going to end up buying it.

The other interlibrary loan I’m currently reading, which is due back on the 10th of this month, is another PTSD-related book, also recommended to me (by the same person).

18693771Bessel van der Kolk is a colleague of Judith Herman, and their books are similar, though The Body Keeps the Score is more in depth and much more recent. It’s another one I think I’ll have to buy, since it’s full of very useful information and I likely won’t finish it by the time it’s due.

I finished another book today, this one by myself, by Margaret Atwood.

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I bought The Heart Goes Last at a thrift store recently, with four other books. I paid $1 for the bunch. I decided to reread The Handmaid’s Tale first, since that’s going to be a series on Hulu soon. (How exciting is that??!)

I much prefer that one to the more recent “speculative fiction” story. Margaret Atwood definitely does creepily plausible near-futuristic scenarios very well. The Heart Goes Last jumped around, in my opinion, and wasn’t quite as chilling as The Handmaid’s Tale, but it was still entertaining and unsettling.

I’m not sure what I’m going to choose as my next novel. I have A Tree Grows in Brooklyn off the bookshelf and on deck, but also Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, and Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend – none of which I have read yet, and all of which are my own personal copy.

I’ll just have to see where my mood takes me tomorrow when I get in the bath.


Recent reads and the company of literary-minded others

I’ve mostly been writing book reviews lately, so this blog has been a little neglected. If you’re interested in checking them out, here are my most recent ones:

“Magic or Madness” by Justine Larbalestier

“Half Bad” by Sally Green

“Sisters of Shiloh” by Kathy and Becky Hepinstall

“The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

I did also finish the newest one by Tracy Chevalier, “The Last Runaway,” which I haven’t reviewed yet, but about which I’m going to have some very good things to say.

You may notice a theme here. I’ve been on a spree of women authors. It started out innocently enough, but when I noticed it, I decided to make it a thing for a while. I’m currently in the middle of two other books (well, more than that, but two that are getting my attention on a daily basis). Both are also written by women.

I’m reading “The Fair Fight” by Anna Freeman for my own pleasure, and since my book group is finally meeting again this month, I’m also making my way through September’s pick, “We Took to the Woods” by Louise Dickinson Rich.

I’m not sure how I feel about that last one just yet. I’m enjoying it, but it’s also a little slow and lacking in plot–but I don’t think plot was what the author was necessarily going for. It isn’t a novel.

I also met up with a fledgling writers’ group recently. It seems to be following the same rules as my book group, even though it meets in the evening–mostly women; in fact, we only had one man. He’ll probably keep us from getting into too much trouble. We ladies can be formidable when we get together, but I think he can hold his own.

It seems likely to be a good experience. I think we have a good variety of experience and lack thereof, people from interesting walks of life and with different goals. I’m happy I overcame my hermit nature enough to show my face!

So, those are the straightforward things happening in my life right now. Everything else is complicated and stressful, so I’m glad to have the book group coming up and another writing group meeting next week. I’m also fortunate to have no shortage of good literature to bury my face in lately.

I actually think that might be next on my to-do list for today! I’d better get on it.

Photo on 9-11-15 at 5.15 PM #2