Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cold, Gold, and Wild

ice broke this lovely old pot of my grandmother's

Very cold and frosty here, like the deep recesses of my mind. I feel in a slump, maybe brought on by the wintry weather, maybe brought on by an unfulfilling job.

Also, I had a back spasm this last week - very painful for the first few days, and I didn't move around much. I was only comfortable lying on my side, so it was very difficult to sip my wine in a ladylike manner. A bendy straw had to be employed.


But I was able to do a lot of reading, thanks to my new Kindle and a beautiful cover (from dobeeubags on Etsy).

I propped up the cover and could read comfortably while reclining, only having to move to tap the screen and turn the page. And I was turning pages pretty quickly. I read two amazing books that I want to tell you about.

First, I finished reading The Goldfinch (all 784 pages) by Donna Tartt, which I had started in late October. If you haven't read Donna Tartt, get thee to a bookstore!
She's a snappy dresser, and she's written three books - all very dense and rich and offbeat and compelling and funny. It takes her about a decade to write each one. Within the first page or two (of any of them) you will realize that you've just boarded a dirigible and are suddenly leaving the ground. Eventually you look around and see how enormous this craft is. It moves at a steady and persuasive pace, moving high into the sky sometimes, and other times coming so close to the ground you're afraid of what will happen next. But the captain has full control of the ship, you can't stop now, and the journey is spellbinding. The Secret History has been my favorite so far, although I also loved The Little Friend - even the scenes that involved snakes, and I hate snakes! The Goldfinch is a little more uneven and hangs a bit precariously on a small painting that seems to be forgotten for whole sections of the book. However, the author has such an incredible talent for creating characters and locations, from Manhattan to Las Vegas to Amsterdam, and it all comes together in the end. The mood and the characters still haven't left me, even though I read another book, which was also compelling.

I read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. She writes a true account of her solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995. But the book is more than a trail guide. She talks about her mother's death, her divorce, her experiences with men and drugs, and weaves those into her account of hiking 1,000 miles alone. I would never be that brave, but I would love to experience that solitude and being totally enveloped in the natural world - for a few nights. She was on the trail for almost two months! It is a story of healing, but it's not sappy or predictable. It's honest, determined, and incredibly well-written. They're making a movie of it now with Reese Witherspoon playing the author, but read the book. You know it'll be better than the movie.

What are you reading lately? I can always use recommendations!



Madame Là-bas said...

I enjoyed The Hummingbird's Daughter and The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea. I just finished Elizabeth George's new book.

List Addict said...

Sorry to hear about your back - although it is great to be able to get some reading done in the face of adversity. Doesn't Donna Tart look like an interesting person. I get a good vibe. I have just been to the Georgia O'Keefe museum in Sante Fe and she has a similar demeanour. Makes them seem like extraordinarily interesting women. I must jump on that bandwagon soon. I wanted to do the PCT someday but unlike my current walk (Lands End to John O'Groats in stages) you have to carry everything and no nice B&B'S at the end of the day so it would take serous consideration . Thanks so much for the eprecommendations though and I hope you feel well soon xxx

pastcaring said...

Hope you come out of your slump and your back feels better soon, Val.
I liked The Secret History but didn't get on with The Little Friend so well.
I'm reading The Long Song by Andrea Levy at the moment, I also highly recommend her book Small Island. xxxx

ann wood said...

Sorry to hear about your back. A tender back does effect just about everything. Nice way to spend some down time, reading." Wild" sounds like a great book. I listen to audio books while I paint. Right now I'm listening to "Lincoln" by Doris Goodwin. I didn't know much about the civil war. It's interesting to learn more.

blue hue wonderland

sabine said...

I hope your back feels better very soon! Fortunately you could take out for reading. The kindle cover is amazing.

Aya in Couturgatory said...

Oh no, best wishes on feeling better! My brother had a back spasm a while back, I saw how painful and debilitating it was ):

I'm glad you figured out workarounds and are treating yourself with rest, wine, and books!

Dawn Elliott said...

Wintery weather has a way of making ailments even worse...but, hey! You got to read! Who wants to go out in the cold , anyways?
Loved your synopsis of the should look into being an editor! I've finally joined a book club and we just read Mink River, by Brian Doyle. His writing style defies labeling, and I found it really refreshing. Feel better!

Connie said...

Oh no! Not your back!! Yoiks! Love Donna Tarte. She is definitely a style inspiration. Now I just have to read one of her books. Hope hope hopety hope you get better soon. I loved Tina Fey's "Bossy Pants."

Anonymous said...

Sorry to read that you are in a funk! Thank goodness for bendy straws! I am afraid my reading list is a lot lighter than yours. I am currently reading 'Things We Never Say' ~ Sheila O'flanagan. Hope you recover quickly.

Helga! said...

Wine through a straw! Classy, darling. Vital to help with the pain!
Bummer about the pot.
I am gagging to read the new Donna Tarte, I loved her last two novels...mind you, I am still stressed that we never found out who did it in The Little Friend....XXX

Paula Ruta said...

You have to talk to Jill over at Evreything just so! She recommended the Goldfinch when it came out too. I just finished the Secret History and just wrote her a long email; I didn't like it at all! will I like her new one?
Next, I am going to read Paris in Love, and just finished Killing Lincoln for book club. (that was pretty good except for the civil war parts). xoxo Happy thanksgiving!

Jean at said...

You must have heard my brainwaves. I've been wanting to ask for book recommendations. Thank you so much!! I haven't read Donna Tarte, although I've heard of her. That's an easy thing to put on my Xmas list. :-)

Hope your back is better. I loved the image of the wineglass and straw.

Suzanne Carillo Style Files said...

Back pain is the worst. I hope you are feeling better now. I love that little Kindle holder.

I have The Happiness Project and Sex Tips For Straight Women from a Gay Man currently on my Kindle.

So far I can't finish either one and I want to download the newest Stephen King instead.

What does that say about me? Nevermind. I don't want to know! LOL


Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

Aw, Val...hope you feel better soon! Back pain is hard to ignore, and I hope the issue resolves soon. And the slump?...You've been brightening my days for almost a year with your humour and honesty. So, be it either the weather or pain or work, please treat yourself with care and love!

~julee~ said...

I hope your funk ends quickly, your back feels better, and you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family!

Tamera Wolfe said...

Ugh to the back issues... hope you're back in good form really soon!!

I'll have to check out those authors--they sound interesting!!
I've been reading the Miss Fisher Mysteries series by Kelly Greenwood--LOVE!!

Hollie "Jet" Black-Ramsey said...

Sorry to hear you haven't been doing well!! That sucks! Well I just finished up a comedy novel, The Financial Lives of the Poets. It's about an out of work ex-journalist who tries to get into the pot dealing business to support his family. It's pretty great.

Vix said...

Hope your back pain is easing.
I loved The Secret History but can't remember The Little Friend even though I know I've read it - I can recall the beach I was on and the bikini I was wearing but little else!
I'm reading City Of Shadows by Michael Russell, the rise of the Nazi party in pre-Second world war Ireland. I can hardly wait to get to bed and finish it. x