A panorama of the view from our hotel…
This week, Hubby and I are vacationing on the Oregon coast to celebrate my upcoming birthday. It’s been a nice trip although January weather on the coast has been gray, rainy and windy. That’s okay with us, though, because it is just so beautiful here!
But the best thing about this trip happened this morning when we visited my long-time blogging friend, Les (@Coastal Horizons) and her husband, Rod, and her mother, Andrea. It’s an amazing experience to finally meet in person someone you’ve gotten to know quite well online over a 10-year period of time! It was a very special visit for me!
A wonderful dream: I would just love to travel the world to meet all of my book blogging friends!
Today is my birthday, and this week is also marks the 8th anniversary of starting this reading blog. I’m celebrating becoming an official senior citizen (according to the Social Security office) quietly today because I’ve been fighting a mean cold all week. The day will definitely be filled with books, however!
And I celebrate my 8 years of blogging, quietly, too. I’ve been an off-and-on blogger for the last few years, disappearing for months at a time while I focus on life happenings. But I return and check in, and share what I’m reading more often now. And I so appreciate my friends in the blogging world (hugs to each of you!), and all of you who visit me and comment on my sporadic posts. Thank you so much for being part of my reading life!
I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading three books by a new-to-me author, D.E. Stevenson. I discovered her work through book blogging friends, and she’s quickly becoming a favorite. I read and wrote about Miss Buncle’s Book, then enjoyed Miss Buncle Married, and am almost finished with The Two Mrs. Abbotts. What a pleasure they all have been! (And a new book blogging friend just told me that there’s a 4th book in the series being published in June!)
In reading about D.E. Stevenson, I discovered that her father was a cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson, another author I really enjoy. What wonderful writing genes run in that family! During the winter months, I downloaded the audiobook of the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but hadn’t gotten around to listening to it yet. Realizing the Stevenson connection to all my recent reading, I decided to give it a listen.
Illustration by Charles Raymond Macauley
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a fascinating exploration of the duality of human nature. It is such a classic and so much a part of our cultural heritage, that I felt I knew all about it even though I had never read it. I did not. The storyline in one thing and makes for great horror films, but Stevenson’s writing is beautiful and the ideas so well presented, it deserves to be read. That’s the joy of reading something written by Robert Louis Stevenson — beautiful, intelligent writing and a compelling story!
So this month has really been my “Read Stevenson” month, although I didn’t plan it that way. I recommend them both: D.E. Stevenson and R.L. Stevenson!
Painting by Alan Lee…
The stories of King Arthur have long captured my imagination. I’ve read many different versions and enjoyed each one. Many years ago, (to be truthful, it’s been 41 years!), I read T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. I loved it! So for Carl V’s annual Once Upon a Time reading challenge this year, I decided to listen to the audiobook version of this wonderful classic, and revisit an old friend, so to speak.
It’s a very long book, divided into four parts which were written and published at different times. The Sword in the Stone tells of the boyhood of Arthur, called “Wart” by his family, and of his education by the wizard, Merlin. And what a wonderful education! –full of nature and folklore and imagination! It was a very enjoyable “listen,” and, if I were still teaching 6th grade, I would consider reading it aloud to my students as a stand-alone book.
The Sword in the Stone is very much about learning and about the relationship between this special student and his teacher. I retired last year after 27 years of teaching, and one reason I chose to become a teacher in the first place was because I love to learn, so this quote from the book speaks a particular truth for me about the joy of becoming a lifelong learner.
“The best thing for disturbances of the spirit is to learn. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love and lose your moneys to a monster, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then–to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the poor mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”
Other hidden pleasures in this section of the book were the many quotes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and also the inclusion of Robin Hood in the story. What fun! This part of The Once and Future King was written for the child in all of us.
Painting by N.C. Wyeth…
“For my part I know nothing with any certainty,
but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”
~Vincent Van Gogh
I love Carl V’s, (of Stainless Steel Droppings) reading challenges! My very first reading challenge as a book blogger was in 2007 — his first Once Upon a Time challenge! (I’m looking forward to this year’s OUaT starting in March.) It’s been a few years since I participated in his Sci Fi Experience Challenge, but I’ve been reading many classics recently and decided it would be fun to read a classic of science fiction. Since I am late starting this challenge, which is already underway from December 1st through January 31st, I will focus on just one book: The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. I have the audiobook version from the library, narrated by the author, which should be especially interesting. As always, this will be an enjoyable reading (and listening) experience!
Wishing all of you, dear blogging friends, a very happy holiday! May your day be filled with warmth and love…and good books!
Although I don’t sign up for many book challenges anymore (because I don’t seem to finish many of them!), I am going to participate in a fun January challenge hosted by my friends, Ana [Things Mean A Lot] and Iris [Iris on Books]. They call it the “Long-Awaited Reads Month,” and all you have to do is read a book or books that you have been intending to read for a long time. There is one book on my shelf that has been patiently awaiting “the right moment” for probably 35 years! (My list of excuses for not reading it before now is a history in itself!) I’m going to dust it off and read it for this challenge in January! The book? …Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude! Am I the last person on the planet to read it?
Favorite author, Gabriel García Márquez
This is the book that’s keeping me busy this week. I’d like to be able to finish it within the time frame of Anbolyn’s “Mary Stewart Reading Week,” but it’s taking me longer to read than I anticipated. Could be that our trip to the Portland Japanese Gardens, going out for lunch two days this week, plus starting a new knitting project have all interfered a bit with my reading time. My niece calls those things #retiredpeopleproblems !
How does one return to blogging after a silence of 18 months? I don’t know how it’s done, but I’d like to try because I miss reading, I miss writing about my reading, and I miss my blogging friends.
The last two years have been very difficult ones for my family, and our emotional struggles really impacted my reading and completely silenced my blog. All my energies went into dealing with our emotional turmoil, and finishing a book required a focus that just wasn’t there. But things are better, and I am slowly getting back to my books, have been shyly reaching out to blogging friends, and have also begun to think about and write posts…I’m trying to find my voice again after all this time.
We don’t fully understand how our blogs affect other people, but I want to tell you that continuing to read your blogs throughout this period of silence has been very important to me and very healing. So I thank you, dear friends, for your love of books and writing, and for the wonderful way you share that passion with the world. The book blogging community has always been very warm and welcoming, and I’ve missed it terribly.
I started this blog “shyly” in 2007, and now I quietly return to this ongoing record of my reading self. Thanks for stopping by, despite the long silence.
It must be my age, my time of life, but this is a time of reconnections. It used to be that when you lost contact with someone, there was very little you could do to find them again. Now, in the age of the internet, reconnecting is literally big business. But the actual happenstance of reconnecting with someone you cared about long ago is powerfully emotional, and it puts you back in touch with yourself — that person you used to be, and still are, but with changes. That’s an amazing process!
In the last few years, I have reconnected with some very important people from my life long ago. Last January, I wrote a post about some friends I hadn’t seen for 38 years, and what a joy it was to meet them again. I’ve mentioned my exchange student “sister” from Argentina, whom I’d lost contact with and haven’t seen since 1968! She found me a few years ago via the internet, and it’s been delightful having her back in my life. And I’ve been searching for another Argentine friend for many years, and through the miracle of internet connections, I was able to find her two weeks ago, living here in the U.S., and we are becoming reacquainted by phone for now…and how interesting that the voice and the sense of humor is still the same after all these years!
My return to the book blogging world after taking a 4-month break is another interesting reconnection for me, and I’m touched by the warm welcome-back messages I’ve received from blogging friends. This recent detour in my reading journey is due mostly to new duties at work which consume so much of my reading/writing time and energy. So I am trying to reconnect with my reading self, to make more time to get back to my books. And in terms of writing and blogging about books, I am not yet sure which new road this detour has put me on, or where I’m headed. But that’s okay, because for me, my reading journey has always been an adventure.