Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I *HATE* to give up on a book - any book!

Somewhere along the years I developed a policy that I've rarely (I can think of twice) broken -- I have to get half way through a book before I'll allow myself to give up on it. On time: true crimes, a book that have been given to me by someone well meaning, I couldn't get beyond the third chapter (maybe even the second). it was absolutely dreadful. could have been one of the few books in my life I threw away. though, probably, I gave it to someone who would turn it in at one of those exchanges for a worthwhile book; the other occasion is something I'll do from time to time: there was a Victorian Gothic novel that I kept getting stuck after the opening chapters. I'd put it away for a year or two, get a couple of chapters further and then get stuck again. I'm glad to report on the last try, earlier this year, I pushed all the way through and was thoroughly delighted with it.

So when I pick up any new book, I tend to mark the middle, now out of habit. More than once I have been glad I slogged through until things picked up, sometimes not until a quarter or a third of the way in. It's very difficult for me to admit defeat against any book.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, an Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig


Here's my GoodReads review in the various pieces it was written...

8/24 Final review at page 262

This book would have better been titled Motorcycles, Science, Math, and Traveling in the West. I liked the motorcycles, I liked the traveling and I didn't mind SOME of the math, science and philosophy. Maybe it's just dated. IDK. I didn't complete it, so I'm not going to rate it. It will go back into the to-read pile and maybe on another try I'll get through to the end.                  

page 262

68.0% "Eek, I made it to page 262! The decision was made a day or two ago I was either going to put it down to try again another time, or throw it across the room. I opted for door number one as the impact of the book hitting the wardrobe or the floor might have upset the cats - and we can't have that, can we?
page 190

50.0% "Can't believe I've made it this far! I've determined to finish. See you at the end."

Yeah. Just didn't make it after all.

I stopped reading it a couple of days ago at 68%; it will go back on the bookcase to pickup in a few more years. Maybe when my brain is a little healthier it will be a little more tolerant?

To cleanse the palate, before going back to the books on the nightstand that I'm already working on, I picked a novel off the vanity and managed to read it in 24 hours. At least I know my reading skill isn't a problem, it is the book.

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier

There are some potential spoilers; I tried to keep it intentionally vague.

Lovely, fast read - and that was it's problem for me; it was too fast. American couple moves to France for husbands work, check; wife meets possible soul-mate in the local library whilst researching her genealogy (back to the 16th century in coincidentally, that part of France); she was a midwife in the US but somehow can't quite connect with her calling in France; she makes friends with a single mother who works in the French achieves, who seems to know or get to know everyone; confused about her feelings the wife flees to Switzerland to stay with distant cousins her father once met, they coincidentally, live in the same village that the 16th century Huguenot ancestors fled to. The story is told in a back and forth style, first one chapter in the past and then one in the future, until the very end, when sometimes paragraph by paragraph the four centuries are spanned until they almost become one. It is very mystical and the ending is left open for interpretation.

So, my complaint; why this is four stars, instead of five? At 303 pages, it seems very lightweight. This could have been fleshed out into a far more substantial novel. As it is now, it's a nice light beach read. It could have been a great book, instead of just a good one.

Discovered this was Tracy Chevalier's first book, so for that congratulations. Now I understand the other reviews saying how disappointing this book is compared to her later writing.

Read it for itself. It's charm and mystery. Appreciate that she's an author with much more ahead of her.

So, for now, I think I'm going to try to whittle down some of this pile of non-fiction and short stories. If I get too bogged down I'll throw in a novel to lighten things up.

Until next time!

On to Varney the Vampire, the Mongol Queens, Handbook of English Grammar, Beadle and the Bard, and the rest of them sitting by my bed; I think the Handbook of English Grammar is the oldest. Yes, grammar is a work in progress...

(and I seem to have learned that the schedule to publish option on the page doesn't work.)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Time to share ...

At this time I'm a mostly house-bound (bed-ridden, though I am sitting up right now) semi-invalid. I've been out of work on medical disability since October 2009.

I don't say this for sympathy or any morose reason, just so that my "dear reader" can understand where I'm coming from (and sometimes my choice of books).

Actually, I'm seeing a new doctor on Wed, an immunologist, and I'm going to try to prepare a list of everything I've been diagnosed with thus far (this should be fun). Depending upon my mood; perhaps I'll post it here.

My point in coming on-line to the Book blog today was to share part of a Facebook post that I wrote to another sick friend. We're just getting to know each other, but it was one of those cases where we just clicked right away. FB can be really fun that way.

So here's my ramble, with maybe an edit or two...

Btw, writing a book, a dream of mine. You'll notice a lot of my posts are about books or writing. Let me know if/how I can support you. Or not, for now. Actually, the way I see it in my head is... once I'm well I am accepted into the Fordham University English Lit Grad Program and then go for my PhD. Once completed, I either work for or open my own bookstore and write something about Victorian literature. If it's my own bookstore it would specialize in Victoriana/Travel and Steampunk and how they overlap - as well as new and used and everything in between. (I've been thinking about this a lot, what else can I do all day? Other than read...). Ideally, if it's my own store, it would be somewhere in New England/New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania - in a sweeping Victorian house. The bookstore and anything to go along with it (managed by others) coffee/tea room, soaps/candles, paper/pens, etc., would be on the first floor. My living quarters would be in the rest of the house. The cats, currently four, would have full access.   

This is me last August 2012, while taking an on-line English Lit course from a local community college ...

Back to real time. Still plugging away at Zen Motorcycles, I think I got through a chapter last night. I wish I could just give it up, but I can't, it's just not in my nature (and it's part of my particular brand of OCD that I'm finding revolves exclusively around books).

Enjoy your Sunday.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

First Book Day for MsLeighM Books

Currently reading: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, by Pirsig, Robert M., on page 190.
Also reading: The Mary Frances Garden Book: Adventures Among the Garden People by Fryer, Jane E.; The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England by Mortimer, IanMysteries Of The Tower Of London by Abbott, GeoffreyMayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Philbrick, NathanielThe Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Weatherford, JackThe Tales of Beedle the Bard by Rowling, J.K.Living Vegan For Dummies by Jamieson, AlexandraStories by Boyle, T.C.The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: A Discussion, Volume 1 by Ikeda, DaisakuVarney the Vampire by Rymer, James Malcolm; and The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage by Lester, Mark.

Quite the eclectic mix. 
I'm here because I've discovered that book publishers are more willing to consider giving advance reading copies (ARC's) of books to librarians, booksellers and bloggers. And since I'm not ready to be a bookseller yet, the best I can do is publish my book reviews and write about what I'm reading, which right now, is too much and I'm trying to whittle it down. With this particular list it's a challenge, because non-fiction takes longer for me to get through, and I like to take a short story a day by any particular writer - so I can savoir it like a glass of fine wine. Then there's Varney, edited by a Professor of English Curt Herr, who I met at the 2012 Steampunk World's Fair. I'm almost done with his introduction - which is his PhD dissertation from Fordham University - and I want to comment on that separately before I begin Varney itself.

Tired now. Look for the next installment when I think of something intelligent to say, or I've completed Zen/Motorcycle Maint and I have a review to post...