Thursday, 19 February 2015

My Bookshelf - January

The Pokey Little Puppy - A classic
I am a reader, not a writer. As you sit and read my writing, that sentence will either be utterly perplexing or undeniable fact. The truth is, I like to write, but I'm not all that good at it. But I know good writing (and good writers), and I emulate and mirror, but the threads I weave don't usually create a fabric that could keep you warm at night. I am, however, a magnificent reader. I devour words, my brain sponges ideas, my eyes search out the next literary meal. I flip thoughts and concepts, devices and language over and over, likely imbuing each with far more meaning than what was intended. But that doesn't matter. These are worlds, character, experiences to explore, try on, absorb. They become a part of you, a moment of time, a fixed point to return to. Books are our histories, our treasures, our weapons, our time-machines. They have always been my fortress.

For the next while, I thought I'd give you a sense of what sits on my bookshelf each month, what I thought of them and what they each inspired. I'll also point you to an all time favourite that you may want to explore your self.

January was a lighter than average month for reading. Between a new puppy and absolutely no time in an aeroplane (a place that the fortress is incredibly important to my sanity), I found many other things to occupy my time. But I did manage to read the following:

The Paying Guest, by Sarah Waters

The Paying GuestsSome of my Halifax ladies and I have a very informal book club. Our guys like to get together and drink beer...we decided to put a little structure around getting together and drinking wine. We all have weirdly divergent schedules, so we probably only manage 5 or so gatherings each year where we can all be there. We've recently decided that the host of the evening also picks the book. At our last meet-up (I want to say early November), I chose our next book based on a rather stellar review in the Globe and Mail. We finally had a chance to sit down and discuss at the end of January. Two of our five didn't finish it (it's a long book), and the other 3 of us each gave it a 3/5 on Goodreads. However, as we started to discuss what we liked and didn't, I realised how much more I liked the book than the initial knee-jerk star rating system indicated.

The book is a great character study of women in post-WW1 England. It explores class and privilege, grief, sexuality, and the Victorian generation trying to cope with a world with no men. It is written in the quietly stuffy way the mind of such a woman dealing with these conflicts would experience them. Stiff upper lip, chin up, keep calm and all that, but acknowledging that the status quo led to the war, and left something scratching at the back of skull, something unbalanced. I loved her voice, her doubts, her neurosis. There was probably at least one too many twists than necessary, leaving me feeling like the author was trying just a titch too hard, but if you have any interest in WW1 era England, women's suffrage etc, I would strongly recommend.

Serenity Vol 2, by Joss Whedon

Serenity Volume 2: Better Days And Other Stories 2nd EditionI've never really been one for graphic novels. I didn't read comics as a kid (full disclosure, I hated Archie and his gang. Why two women were fawning over that jackass didn't make any sense to me. I've always had a bit of an attitude about these things). I do love the Marvel universe on film. I am also a huge fan of sci-fi - Star Trek, Doctor Who, Firefly, Buffy, Supernatural, yes, even Star Gate. Last Christmas, one of my BFs got me the most perfect thing I had ever seen - a graphic novel mash-up of the 11th Doctor fighting Cybermen-Borg hybrids with Captain Picard. Come on! It was amazing.

Every Christmas, Jeff and I binge watch a TV show or two on Netflix. This year, Jeff suggested we re-watch Firefly/Serenity on Netflix. I fell back in love with Malcolm Reynolds. I couldn't just leave Wash and the Shepherd dead. I required more of that universe. Happily, the story has been expanded. I'm looking forward to re-entering that world at carefully rationed times in the future.

Chatelaine Magazine, February 2015 

I've been a subscriber to this magazine for the last 6 years or so. Sadly, since Jane Francisco left as editor-in-chief, the magazine just hasn't been the same for me. However, because of Chatelaine, I have cue cards full of recipes. I was inspired by a couple of recipes this month 1) Turkey Chili with Chedder Cornbread and 2) Coq au vin blanc. I can report that with a few substitutions, both turned out well. The Coq au vin blac was maybe only okay, but the one pot comfort of the Chili was very welcome during the blast of winter the Maritimes has been having of late.  I substituted chickpeas for the bean medley, and made cheaters gluten-free cornbread (Bob's premix gluten-free) in order to really simplify the whole meal.   

I have an e-subscription to this magazine full of craftiness. There are interviews with crafty people, links to crafty sites, crafty tends and crafty projects to inspire your crafty juices. Beautiful photos and easy to follow instructions sit well on the pastel hued pages. I love it. A couple of crafty projects that I could see myself trying 1) the Jackalope Tote - I keep meaning to try my hand at embroidery, and 2) the Patchwork Needlecase - for Christmas, Jeff signed me up for a quilting class at Patch Halifax.  I now have the itch to quilt everything.

I also have an e-subscription to this one. Since learning to crochet, it has been my go to for fun projects and a supportive online community. Sister publication to Mollie Makes, magazine follows a similar format, except it is all crochet all the time. I was inspired to try 1) the Chunky Cowl - I knocked-off in a couple of hours, and is very cosy indeed, and 2) the Winging It blue cardigan - I love the retro vibe and the sparrow detail, though I am slightly intimidated by the commitment!

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