Sunday, July 31, 2011

21/365 The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter

Gah! Days missed!
I'm giving myself a break though - moving was INSANE.  Great, but chaos.  So.  I'm going to be doing some catch-up reading.  I barely squeezed this one in last night.  I'm hoping that things will mellow somewhat this week.  I want to get back on the project.

The Tale of Tom Kitten was wonderful.

CONCLUSION: I am going to read all of her little books.  Also, I suck.

Friday, July 29, 2011

the week in reading: 23-29

Not, um, the most successful of weeks.  Moving took over my life.  I still haven't quite wrestled control  back yet.  (Becoming homeowners has suddenly plunged us back into the world of yardwork and fence building and repairs. But I'm not complaining too much.  I have my own room.  I can bear with a lot for that.)  Doing better, but I'm still sort of wobbly.  I need a routine, and then everything will get better.

This week, I would like to do my catch-up reading and stay strong.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

20/365 Selected poems of Emily Dickinson

I PROMISE I read.  But we were at a new house with no internet.  So.  Very tired, but happy.

I liked the poems.  Didn't get them all, but I'm over my "Too many freaking dashes!" prejudice.

CONCLUSION:  will read more.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

19/365 Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers - BEWARE: LOTS OF HOT AIR

I re-read this for the zillionth time.  Don't judge me, I had a bruiser of a day.  Sometimes you just need something familiar and comfortable.  I will say in my defense that I began on a selected poems of Emily Dickinson as well, and am going very slowly and carefully. So.

Brace yourself for a lot of jawing.  I do love this book so. 

I read somewhere that it's reckoned the first feminist detective novel.  Well, I don't know anything about feminism, but the ideas in the book seem fairly logical and, well, obvious to me, so I wonder if I'm a feminist myself.  I certainly agree with the idea that men and women are equal - equal, but not the same.  I don't know that that qualifier is in the book, but I believe it.  I suppose that if we got rid of gender and all it's accompanying hormones and what not, then we could take it off.  I feel like I've heard people, or heard of people, getting offended by the whole "equal, but not the same" thing.  Frankly, it would offend me more to be told that we are equal and the same.  I like my differentness. In quite a basic sense, claiming sameness seems like nonsense to me.  But I haven't given it too much thought.  I always tend to say, "well, you can't generalize about anything," and then change the subject.  I don't know enough about it.  Plus, I dislike arguments.  And I've never talked to anybody besides my mum and the wise ladies of my church who could truly make it a discussion and not and argument.  Most guys are too afraid of offending to say what they honestly think. 
And I really do think it's silly to talk about men and women in general terms, particularly regarding vocations - you might obviously meet a man and a woman who are more similar than two women.  Humans are so different. 

I realized this evening that I have rather strong personal feelings about children - and it tends to screw with my judgement.  I know it is not something to be proud of, but I don't really like children. Particularly small children.  Sounds ridiculous, coming from a 21 year old, but I never really have.  However, I firmly believe that, if I ever had my own kids, it would be very different.  I see an odd, fierce part of my character come out when I hear women complaining about their children, how inconvenient they are, and about how much daycare costs.  I know, I am not a mom.  I know, kids can be trying - heck, I know I was trying!  But when I hear that sort of thing, I have to admit that my first thought is, "well why on earth did you have them then?"  I know - I know - that if I once had children, something inside me would snap, and I would want to be with them always.  I don't mean that I'd try to keep them babies forever, or never let them leave the house - at least, I hope I won't.  But I am going to want to be very present in their early lives.  It would kill me not to be.  And this very strong conviction screws with my ability to be impartial.  I will never be able to talk to people about this sort of thing, because my personal feelings make me incapable of understanding opposing viewpoints.  I guess it's good to know that, but it feels rather awful.  I would so like to be detached and logical about everything. 

But all this is just gas.  Blah blah blah. 

This book has become one of the most personally important I've read this year.  Vocation is addressed, and, as you've probably noticed, that's been an issue for me lately.  And all my friends seem to be galloping down the aisle right and left.  I never imagined I'd be thinking about marriage and its implications at quite this early an age.  I know I'm not ready to be married yet.  And not only because I'm not quite settled in who I am, or ready for the responsibility, or even remotely financially solid.  I just think I'm not mature enough.  It's like... moving back home after you're married.  It might be fine for some people, but I know I'd want to be treated differently, but wouldn't behave differently, and then would be upset when my treatment matched my behavior.  Did that make one iota of sense?  I think I would go into a marriage wanting, needing to be treated like an equal - head on, going in like a fighter.  But I think I would actually go in with childish desires.  I'm not talking about "wives submit to your husbands" at all - I mean that I would probably try to replace my mom with my husband - even while I would consciously want nothing of the sort.  There are things I need to grow out of before I could enter into marriage on the footing I'd like.  I want to actually be a helper to my spouse - not a dead weight. (This makes me think of a whole side line about "helping" my spouse, but I really must go to bed, and nobody wants to hear it.  So I won't torture you any further, my dear blog.)

This is, of course, assuming that somebody on this planet would actually want to marry me.  A long shot, I know.  And I don't blame them.  

CONCLUSION:  I don't know what all this had to do with Gaudy Night.   It really is much better than my blabber would make anyone believe.   Makes you just weep to be at Oxford.  Also, it makes me wonder how hard it is to punt.  I would love to go punting, but I'd much rather be punted than punt.  If you can only look either "graceful or ghastly" doing it, I'd rather not take the chance.  Vanity, vanity. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

18/365 A Presumption of Death

Gah! Almost forgot about this project - lucky I happened to read this in the bath this evening.  I have to go to bed, so I'll just say quickly that I will always be a quite absurdly prejudiced against novels finished by other people (Sandtion and the Charles Osbourne Agatha Christies made me howl), and they will never seem the same to me, and I am so hopelessly in love with L.P.W. and Harriet that I will read anything about them.   So, in a modest kind of way, I still enjoyed myself.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

17/365 Gossamer, by Lois Lowry

I wish I could find a better picture of the cover online, because both times I've read this book the cover is what initially attracted me.  It's not, like, my absolute ideal perfect favorite, but it is a pretty great cover.  I think I would change the multi-colored lettering, but I'm not sure to what.  I can imagine reasons why colored lettering might have been used - maybe a pop of color to draw the eye, as it's black and white, or to make it less spooky looking.  Usually when multi-colored letters are done, the yellow looks too pale, but they did a good job with that.  It drives me insane when people do primary colored lettering on things, and the words end up looking like they're missing letters.  Our local children's hospital has a sign that at a glance reads, "We ove ids" on the side of the building.

Okay, I'm done ranting.

Like I said, I've read this book before.  But it was so long ago that I'd honestly forgotten the story.  I don't know if it's just me, or one of the things that comes with old age, but I've forgotten so many stories.  The books I particularly love? No problem.  But I'd read almost all of the Newberry Award winners by the time I was 14, and I can't remember what happens in at least half of them.  Oh well.  I'm always getting to re-read books with first-time enjoyment, so it's not all that bad.

I can vaguely remember liking this book when I read it the first time, and I liked it on this go round as well.  It's sweet and short and airy.   Apparently it's been done as a play somewhere or other, because pics came up on my google search.   Interesting.
I must say, it's been a while since an image of a character on a cover has, like, worked for me.  I saw that kid in my head while I was reading. Whoever thought that up has my approval.  It actually added to my reading experience.

CONCLUSION:  I hope I always have Lois Lowry books about the house. I know I said I didn't remember this story, but many of her other books have left a big stamp on my early reading life.  Like I've said before, I've read The Giver at least 25 times.  A Summer to Die was one of the few books that have, if not actually made me cry, made me want to cry.  You've Got M@il is the sum of all wisdom: "When you read a book as a child it become part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does."  Amen.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

16.2/365 Max Deluxe - Maira Kalman

Among many other things, I bought Max Deluxe (all the three Max books in one volume) at the library book sale, and read it in the car in the afternoon.  Which shows how much I enjoyed it, because reading in the car makes me sick.  I never throw up, but I turn greenish and moan, "ughh, is the air conditioner on?  I need to roll the window down..."

I've been a Maira Kalman fan for a while now, thanks to a chance encounter with The Elements of Style at B&N.  I bought The Principles of Uncertainty a few months ago, and I haven't felt even a tinge of regret - which is what usually happens when I buy books new. (I bought it - also at B&N - during a tornado warning, incidentally.  All the lights went out and the sirens were blaring and we all were herded into the back of the store where, supposedly, it was safer.  People sat underneath the CD racks.   It was hugely entertaining. Frankly, I thought flying CD cases would be much more dangerous than flying paperbacks.  When you look at it from an everything-around-you-is-going-to-be-a-projectile perspective, magazines and romance novels would probably be the safest bet.  Though I would not want to die beneath a pile of romance novels.  I called my mum to tell her what was going on and she said, "Well, at least you'll die surrounded by things you love.")

But! Back to Max!

The books aren't my usual thing, but I liked 'em.  They're worth buying just for the details.  It's the only book I've ever seen where even the publication information was messed with.

And I loved the pictures, which sort of goes without saying. 

The stories are sort of topsy-turvy and are certainly not Dick and Jane-ish, or like, "Bobby went to the grocery store with his Mother."  You know what I mean?  They're just all over the place.  When I read them aloud, I enjoyed them more.  It's sort of duh, Kelsey of me, but while I was reading it I forgot that a major element in a picture book is the way the words actually sound aloud.  Like poetry, you know?  Goodnight Moon is just a regular old book when you read it without at least saying the words in your head.  But aloud it's magical. 

CONCLUSION: I am so glad that I'm planning to become an illustrator if only because I now have a fantastic, unbreakable excuse for buying kid's books.  It's research. Choosing to study illustration was, like, the smartest thing I've ever done.  Oh frabjous day! 

16/365 Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle

I love Madeleine L'Engle.  Have I said that already?
A Wrinkle in Time will always be my favorite, but I still liked this one an awful lot.

Apparently, I'm reverting to my childhood reading diet or something.  Pots of Lois Lowry and Madeline L'Engle.  And I'm feeling an urge to re-read all the Lemony Snicket books again.  I don't usually read this many kids' books.  Well, I don't usually read this many books period.  So whatever.

CONCLUSION: I must get my hands on the last book in this collection.  Heck, I must get my hands on all the rest of her books.  I'm very proud that I finished this book early in the day and am typing this before twelve.  I'm going to go read some Lois Lowry or Genesis now.

I got this book this morning at the big annual library sale.  It was lovely.  Well, the sale itself was crowded as heck, but the results were lovely.  I went in knowing I wanted L'Engle and Dorothy Sayers and Tristram Sandy, and I came out with them!  That doesn't often happen for me.  Usually at book sales I turn into a lathering tornado-monster thing and grab every book I can see.  I really restrained myself today.  Six Dorothy Sayers books, Many Waters, Tristram Shandy, The Pickwick Papers, The Song of Roland, selected poems of Emliy Dickinson, letters of E.B. White, Maira Kalman's Max books all in one delightful volume, Six Ibsen plays, five Shaw plays, and selected poems of Longfellow.  What is that? 16?  I doubt anyone on earth except me would like to read the list of books I got today, but I'm rather happy about it all.
I also bought a book bag:

It's quite nice.

There was a copy of A Wind in the Door too, but I couldn't bring myself to buy it.  It was too hideous.

Friday, July 22, 2011

15/365 The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Okay, I did not actually pull a "Squirrel Nutkin to the rescue" here.  I did read another book today, but I wanted to talk about this one.  So there.

Now boys and girls, today we're going to talk about the best picture book on earth.

Actually, we might not talk at all.  We might just look at these perfect pictures and weep.
Like I said, The Story of Ferdinand is the best picture book on earth.  Ever.  To infinity.  I will listen kindly to people who argue for Horton Hears a Who (even though they won't read it aloud to their kid because it takes too long), and I will just smile and pat them on the head.  Because those people are wrong.

This book is perfect.  The pictures are stunning and gorgeous and hilarious.  The story isn't episodic like a lot of picture books seem to be these days - it has a beginning, middle, and end.  For improving types, it has a message. It was written right before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil war, which I think it interesting.  It is short.  Kids can sit through it, adults can stomach it.  It is well-written, in a sparse kind of way.  The words and pictures are fitted together - and I do mean physically put together on the page - in a way that feels magical.  Look at that "O" in the top picture.  It's a bit tilted!  And it isn't a book that specifically messes with the words, the way others do.  It's just that one time.  The balance between empty expanses of white, and dense, detailed ink is just... just wonderful.

Boy, I'm getting sappy.

CONCLUSION: Well, it's probably pretty obvious, what I'm going to say.  YOU SHOULD READ FERDINAND.  If only because you, my dear imaginary reader, haven't seen some of the best pictures.  And because it is the best picture book on earth.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

the week in reading: 15-22 July

I can't believe it's already been two weeks.  I'm not even having difficulty remembering to read, which is a miracle.  I forget everything else.  I'm like a 21 year old, female version of your typical disheveled, gaga professor, minus the brilliance.  I put all my clothes on the wrong way.  I even have the hair.

 You just look me in my crazed, gleaming pupils and say it ain't so.  I won't ask you to imagine what it looks like when it's long, because you would have to poke out your mind's eye.

What a very pleasant week it has been.  I still have no idea why I'm doing this, but I'm also still glad I am.
I'm finding that, unless I start reading before eight, I can only manage around 300 pages.  When I try to push it past the 300-ish mark, my eyeballs shrivel and I have to bathe them with extremely expensive French spring water, and then keep them propped up in my head with two fingers.  So, I'm trying to stick to 300 pages right now.  In an ideal world, I would be disciplined enough to read a shorter book (Like, say, The Willoughbys), and make headway on a longer one on the same day. But, so far, I haven't exhibited any symptoms of discipline.  I never have, now I think about it.

For a day or two I was staying up way too late to read and thought I was going to die.  (Which would have made me an entertaining headstone in the cemetery, to say the least.) But I've been better about getting finished with books before two.

Yes, all in all it's been fun, these two weeks. I packed almost all my books up the other day (eight days to the move! Yes! Yes!), so I'm relying on the library to get me through the upcoming week.  I guess I should be good and get Steinbeck or something, but I really, really want more Madeline L'Engle kids books. Plus the big annual book sale is happening tomorrow and Saturday at the main library.  As a Friend of the Central Arkansas Library, I could have gone to the FOCAL preview party today, but I decided not to (read: forgot it was happening) and will instead cross elbows over the Agatha Christie paperbacks with the proles tomorrow.

If I intend to keep taking my own pictures of the books I read, they must be less cruddy.

Also, I must try to balance my reading between grown-up and kids' books.  The scales have been a bit, um, tipped lately.

I like books.

14/365 The Willoughbys

I didn't feel like reading anything today, but I'm glad I didn't just say, "Squirrel Nutkin to the Rescue" and go to bed feeling like a cheat. 

I grabbed this book at the library because of the cover, and because I love Lois Lowry.  I have read The Giver at least twenty times.  Seriously.  
But I have a confession.  When I read the back blurb, I must admit that I gave a fretful, "ooooo..."  Because when people write stories about orphans (or should-be orphans) and use adjectives like "nefarious" and "despicable" I think they're knocking off Lemony Snicket.  Yes, I lost faith in Lowry for a moment there.  
But it was only a moment.  I stopped and thought, "Wait, Lois Lowry doesn't need to knock-off Lemony Snicket.  She sells a zillion copies of The Giver every August when about three million kids scramble to finish their summer reading lists two and a half days before school starts."  Also, two chapters in, a flip switched and I saw what kind of book it actually is. 

A funny one.  A total spoof.  Definitely a book for book lovers.  I don't want to talk about it much, because I'd spoil it.  But it was good fun.  If you've read any of the classic children's stories - or at least seen the movies - you'll get it and like it.  And it wasn't Snicket-ish at all.  This book was not sad or serious.  Not even slightly. 

The glossary and bibliography were almost my favorite bits.  I wanted to type the best bits out, but then I liked all the bits.  Because I am pathologically afraid of being sued (it sounds so boring!), I also rejected the idea of scanning the pages, too.  Imaginary reader, you should just read the book.  If they had it at my pokey little library, they will likely have it at yours.  

This is a slight spoiler, but I must tell you, dear imaginary readers, that tomorrow I am going to buy a Baby Ruth and eat it in honor of all the winsome orphans who remain insufferably cheerful in the face of adversity and the prospect of loosing limbs, and continue tirelessly in the good work of persuading crippled children to walk. 

I use too many commas.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

13/365 Dear James

This book made me feel somewhat less terrified to start art classes in the fall.   So many worries I've got about a possible future career in illustration were addressed.  The advice was really quite fantastic.

Among other things, he talked about how:

  • You have to be relaxed to do good work (which is not rocket science, yet I still try to sit down and force myself to, "just draw something good, dang it!")
  • Judging whether you're meant to do something by saying "would I die if I couldn't do this?" is ridiculous, 
  • It's okay to be interested in lots things. 

Which are three of the major things I was worrying about.  He said going to a liberal arts college as opposed to art school (like I'm doing) can give you, "an enlarged frame of reference," which in turn, "gives breadth to an image. "  Which is a nice thing to hear, for sure, even if I don't know what it means.

So, I enjoyed this book.   If I do become an artist, I'm going to tack up some of his quotes on the wall.  It would have been perfectly nice as a straight essay, but the format he put it in (letters to an imagined young illustrator, just starting out) made it more engaging.   If it had been letters to a just-starting-out mathematician I wouldn't have read it.  But in my present, panicky state, I'd be happy to clutch at any applicable advice I can find - be it much duller reading than this.

CONCLUSION:  Good advice is a nice thing.   I need to go work on my signature.  Apparently a good signature is important.  Should I go for a pen name of some sort?  (Are they called pen names for artists?  It makes sense.)  My name isn't snappy and charming.  Chopped to first initial and last name for the mysterious touch?  I have no idea.  I don't even have a nickname I could write with a facetious slash of the pen.   I don't know why it would be facetious.  I'm proud that I can spell facetious.

P.S. What a good girl I am.  I began reading this at about six, and now (after some interruptions) I'm finishing the blog post at nine.  I will be in bed before one o'clock.  I am so proud.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

12/365 The Four Loves

"That our affections kill us not, nor dye." - Donne

I think I made up for Mrs. Tittlemouse.  By, George what a book.

I almost can't say anything because there is too much to say.  About 40 pages in I began tearing bits of newspaper to stick into the pages I just had to remember.    Yet:

And I was discriminating. 

I adore C.S. Lewis.  He can explain anything.  Just from a shallow enjoyment standpoint he is probably my favorite writer purely for his style or voice or whatever you call it.  A review on the back of this book declares that he, "writes with one of the most self-effacing and congenial pens in the language".  His writing makes me want to weep, it is so perfect.  

Anyways, I liked this book.  I accompanied every other page with a ghastly soundtrack of "Oh my gawsh that makes so much sense!" noises.  I really can't say much else, because if I try to just hit highlights we will be here all night.  (And I really made an effort to be diligent and was done reading by 11:00.  Be proud of me, imaginary readers.)  Much was explained to me.  Learned much, I did, Master Yoda.  I won't say it was a breeze to read - I had to go over a few sentences several times before I got them.  But then, my usual literary fare isn't particularly strenuous.  
His books always throw my balance off, or something like that.  They mess with the ideas I was standing on, make me really evaluate where I am.  Dash it all, they make me go wacko for at least a week.

For me, reading a C.S. Lewis book usually results in, among many other things:
1. Better living.  This is sort of to be expected. 
2. An increase in thoughtfulness.  Not, like, being nicer to people - I mean thinking more.  (Writing more coherently is, unfortunately, not a side effect.)
3. Exponential increase in my awareness of my own ignorance.  Just being confronted with how little I've actually read, thanks to his constant (though never obnoxious) literary references, makes me want to crawl off and hide under my blanket.  I was proud of vaguely recalling that I read Lovelace in British Lit a year or two ago  - and I couldn't tell you the name of the poem (yes, singular) we read to save my life.  By and large, I have no idea what he's talking about.  Most of the time I fancy that, for a slightly lower middle class kid, I had a jolly good education - but C.S. Lewis is very shattering.  Dorothy L. Sayers too.  Major ouch.
4. Lots of tweed-wearing.

Okay! I have to stop now or I never will.  

CONCLUSION:  HOW HAVE I NEVER READ THIS BEFORE?  It was rather good.  I love, love, love, C.S. Lewis.  Imaginary readers, if you haven't read it, I urge you to check this book out.  And everything else he's written too, while you're at it.  

Shakespeare Stories

My family is moving out of an apartment into a house in ten days (thank the Lord - four Fehlbergs is a lot of personality for 700 square feet), and I spent a good bit of the weekend packing books.  Good old Orhan Pamuk is right - while I was stacking and arranging the books into boxes, the covers did transport me back to the first time I read them. And it was great.  I came across The Random House Book of Shakespeare Stories, and wham-o! I was twelve again, lingering over the pages and planning the brain-implodingly expensive theatre versions I would put on.  (No fake flowers on the fairies, and immediate expulsion for any who could not manage to look graceful in flight and not, as I thought most actors did, like a bag of potatoes being heaved by a crane.  I would have been the director from hell.)  Being familiar with the re-written versions of the stories of Twelfth Night and Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream before I read the real plays was actually lovely.  To sound completely pompous, it made them feel like better versions of good memories when I actually dove into the real deals.

Monday, July 18, 2011

11/365 The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse

Yes, this was one of those teensy Beatrix Potter books.  I don't know if I'm going to read anything else today because I'm practically drooling I'm so tired.  "I am so tired I can barely type these worfs."  I was a mess at work.  Heck, I made a mess at work. Kept trying to shove things into the refrigerator that are not typically kept there, and then getting frustrated when the scale or a bottle of Windex wouldn't fit.  I can't keep staying up late to read.  I said this yesterday, but I MUST start longer books earlier in the afternoon.  My eyeballs feel like they're barely holding themselves into my skull.  ("Help! Help! We can't hold on much longer! We're weakening... weakening...")

Anyways, thought I'd post on this book, be it small, in case I fall asleep this afternoon (in case?) and can't squeeze in something more substantial.  I didn't make any rules about the size of the books I would read...

To be honest, I haven't read any Beatrix Potter before - and I enjoyed this one.  Cute pictures.  And I like that Mrs. Tittlemouse builds herself a smaller doorway to keep annoying, large acquaintances out.  Such a very practical solution.  I had a feeling I would like Beatrix Potter, if only because her name was Beatrix Potter.  A girl I did speech with in high school once told me that Apply Dapply was her absolute favorite book as a kid and she could still recite most of it.  I'd like to look that one up.  

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to collapse onto my bed and become an inert mass for the next century.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

10/365 Dragons in the Waters

A mystery! How nice.  Yes, I'm still doing a Madeleine L'Engle fest.

I'm going to make this quick, because I'm dropping to sleep as I type.  I need to start reading my daily books before eight at night.  I was up till three reading and writing this morning.  I can only take so much of that.

I love the devastatingly intelligent children L'Engle writes.  They make me feel like I need to get books about art and birds and biology.
Another thing I love is the way many of her characters refuse to make promises they can't keep or aren't sure about.  And when they make promises, they mean them.  (Katherine, of A Severed Wasp and The Small Rain has this quality too.)  I would like to be like that.  It's so easy to make easy promises - even about silly things - and never follow through.
It's funny how characters by decidedly Christian authors seem to all have the same merry yet sincere quality to them.  Perhaps I'm just being imaginative - but L'Engle's characters remind me so much of the Friends of Narnia sometimes.

I had something else to say but now I can't remember.  What a pity.  Yet another profound insight that probably would have changed the world has been lost in the dithery recesses of my brain.  Sigh, sigh.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

9/365 A Severed Wasp

Another knockout.  Gee whiz.

You know how I said the other day that I find so many contradictions within myself?  Well, I've got one going now.  I feel like reading these L'Engle books is working me through things I'm concerned about - but then I also scoff and tell myself I'm making mountains out of mole hills, letting my estimation of my own sensitiveness and needs and all that get overblown.

Wikipedia quotes somebody named Carol F. Chase as saying that "Forgiveness - and the question of who is qualified to forgive - is one of the main themes of A Severed Wasp." And, by gum, she's right.  If I was more worried about forgiveness, it might have been a big help to me.  Just recently every book I read seemed to talk about how when a person really sees how little they deserve forgiveness, it gets a lot easier to forgive others.
Gosh, there was just so much in this book.  Stuff about marriage, fidelity, guilt, religion, and how "Christ is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (I read that verse this morning - of course.  Life is very woven-up together, isn't it?)  One of the things that really struck me was the way Katherine's past is always invading the present.  I know "coming to terms with her memories" or whatever was a part of this particular story, but I noticed the same quality in The Small Rain.  Anyways, the past and present have always mixed themselves together like that for me, and it made Katherine feel more real.  Does everybody live like that, with the past always there?

What really interested me in the story (besides the story itself, which was riveting) was the stuff about vocation.   I'm kind of stuck on the subject right now.

Okay.  I read way too many books and see too many movies about people with artistic vocations.   About people who were meant to be pianists or actors and have to do so or be lost.  They know they're good at what they do. They're people with drive, and they passionately go after one thing.  I don't.  And, you know what?  This evening, I feel okay with that.  There was a character in the story, a bright young girl who has truly talented siblings, and she's beginning to be poisoned by jealousy. But at one point, a nun says that the girl is really normal - she just feels like the freak among her siblings because she doesn't have a thing.
I knew this already, yet felt like I was learning it for the first time - people with vocations like that are not normal.  I, a directionless youth, am normal.  I don't have to have some all-consuimg vocation.  I probably wouldn't even like it if I did - from what I've seen, life is much more dangerous when you do.  That makes me sound cowardly, but when I think of how terrible it would be to need to do something and not be able to do it, I'm a teensy bit relieved that I'm vocation-less.  I mean, in these L'Engle books alone, two people who were meant for piano are physically injured and can't play any more, and it nearly kills. them.   I don't think I would have enough guts to bear something like that.

Good heavens, I sound like such a solemn, pompous, conceited little fool.  Oh well.

For a bit I thought theatre or film might be my big thing.  It's one of the few things I'm interested in - though even then it's fairly superficial interest.  I think some of the happiest times in my life have been the bits where I was in plays or helping with them or making cruddy videos.  They may be insincere, but theatre people are some of the funnest kind you can find.  It's like summer camp - intense very quickly, and then you never write the promised letters.
But those are also some of the most painful times to look back on too.  I was so desperate to do well, so self-concious that it would almost make me sick.  My guts still lurch when I think about a show where - I was running the light board - I made a mistake and plunged the stage into darkness while a guy was saying the last line of the scene.   Gosh, I can still see the stage manager with her hands clapped over her mouth, just frozen with horror.  And all I did was jump the gun on a light cue during a crappy community college show!   I get too wired by it all.  I honestly think that if I tried to get into theatre now, I would do so for the wrong reasons.

Blah blah! Who cares about all these feelings!  I'm turning this poor blog into my psychiatrist.

And I was telling myself I would write something short and snappy.

CONCLUSION: I will keep reading Madeleine L'Engle.  I think she is helping me with things, and making me think.  And if I'm just being fanciful about that, she is at least entertaining me very well.

The week in reading: 8-14 July

Wowzer! I can't believe I did it.  Seven books in a week.  It doesn't sound like a lot, but when you're going from maybe one per seven-night, it is.

I feel terribly proud of myself.  I know It's only been one stupid week, but I'm still bursting with triumph.  It was a good week.  Four lovely kid's books, an exploration of guilt and shame, a novella about evil and a play about who knows what.  Yes, a very good week.

This whole project may be a waste of time, but it's certainly less of a waste than looking up this season's make-up trends on magazine websites, watching celebrity interviews and moping about my looks.  This is going to sound so pompous, but I honestly feel like my life has been richer.   I've had more to think about.

Golly, I hope I keep doing this.  What would it be like if I could tell people in a casual way, "Oh, when I was 21 I read a book every day for a year.  And they weren't all short books, let me tell you!" (I keep picturing the people I so suavely relate this fascinating anecdote to as being a pack of admiring little grandchildren all piled up around my chair and sitting on my lap, and I a sweet, fluffy old lady with hair all different shades of gray.  It's rather lovely.)  What a conceited fool I am.  But a happy fool!

GOALS: I'd like to read something really long this week.  I've been planning to alternate short books and long books, so that when I read short books I can also begin the long ones and finish them the next day.  I'd also like to check out some non-fiction.  Maybe about plants or birds or something.  Non-fiction tends to take me longer, but I'd like to read more of it.  Mostly, I just want to stick to the project. Even if it means reading a picture book while I'm brushing my teeth, I want to read something every day.

By George, I'm having a jolly time.

That's all.

Friday, July 15, 2011

8/365 The Small Rain

Blah, blah, I'm mad for Madeline L'Engle right now.

Liked this very much.  What a first novel! (Not that I know what first novels ought to be or are like, but I feel very grown-up and idiotic saying that.) Every day I am more and more convinced that I could not, would not want to be a writer.

This story, like all of her's, had a lot to it.  Tons about love.  And it also made me think a bit more about callings and doing what you're supposed to do.   It has also joined the handful of books I've read about artists (musician, in this case) that seemed genuine.  She talked enough about Katherine's playing, but not too much, and it made it believable to me.  I felt like I realized gradually how much it had consumed her - just the way she herself did in the story.  In my limited experience, people haven't realized important things with a bang and a big dramatic confrontation scene - they creep over slowly.
Katherine seemed like a very real person, and I don't often get that feeling.  I found her insight into her own character almost unbelievably perceptive, but more on that later.  I liked her.  Wish I had a good dollop of her forthrightness.

I was thinking about ME ME ME for a while after I was done with the book, about how contradictory I can be.  Believing and not believing at the same time.  I don't believe in mad love - yet I still sort of do.  I believe that thinking moving to a new place can save or fix you is nonsense - yet a part of me still wonders if it can help.  I mean, there has to be something in up and moving to the English countryside if people still do it and say good things about it.  It can't save you or make you whole, but it can still be good for you, right?

This is all very stupid and basic, but I never can take simple things as they are.  I have to get my knickers in a twist over something.  And as my life is quite remarkably happy and conflict-free, I have to fall back on these sorts of things to be angsty about.  Because if I don't have some angst in my formative years, I won't have any chance at being great at something.  I need some Personal Tragedy to fuel my Art.   Everybody really great has something scarring to talk about in interviews - you just look and see.

Anyways.  I also wondered, during my happy evening of narcissism, if people can really understand themselves or their abilities as perfectly as they do in books, without bias at all.  Or, I guess, I wonder if I can.  Sometimes I think I do.  For instance, I don't think I could be a good actress because I don't have enough self-control.  I feel very sure that it's true.  But then a tiny part of me wonders if I tell myself these sorts of things because I'm a coward or have low self-esteem.  I've never really tried acting, so how can I know?  But on the other hand, how could I not know?   How could I not know myself well enough to answer a question like that?

Ho-hum.  Enough ME ME ME talk for tonight.  I'm tired.  I wonder when deep insights about the books I'm reading will... um... show up.  I'm trying to wait patiently.

CONCLUSION:  Good.  I will read A Severed Wasp.  Oh, let's face it - I'll probably read everything of L'Engle's.  I will try not to worry that I don't have one particular thing that consumes me (like piano or acting or taking pictures), and be happy with being a jack of all trades and master of none.   I will tell myself once a day, "Kelsey, darling, you may not be brilliant but you are great to have at parties and know how to lay tile."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

7/365 A Wind in the Door

"Progo! Help me! How can I feel love for Mr. Jenkins?"
Immediately he opened a large number of eyes very wide. 
"What a strange idea.  Love isn't a feeling.  If it were, I wouldn't be able to love. Cherubim don't have feelings."
"Idiot," Proginoskes said, anxiously rather than crossly. "Love isn't how you feel. It's what you do..."
Darling mummy.  She got me the books.  And I don't care, I don't care - it's summer and I will read as many "kid's" books as I want to. So there.

Okay.  I didn't totally understand this book.  It is certainly less straightforward than A Wrinkle in Time.   I didn't like it as much, but I did like it.
The two things in it that really hit me were love and the naming.

WARNING: This post is about to get looooong.  And I was just telling myself that truly snappy blogs confine themselves to one witty paragraph.  Oh well.  (Dear me, that new Katy Perry song is going through my head... and I don't even listen to Katy Perry!  Totally does not go with this book either.)

I've been thinking about love a great deal lately.  Love between men and women, love for enemies, just love, love, love in general.  In the bodies of the elephants too.

For example:

Mum and I have been devouring the Up series lately, and in last night's installment (49), every other person seemed to have gotten divorced.  When the couples were interviewed pre-divorce, a really ridiculous number said things like, "And who knows how long we might be together." It felt like they weren't expecting to make it, giving themselves an out even before troubles came along.  "Well, I always knew it might not work out..."  I'm not condemning the people in the Up movies - it was just such a vivid example of an attitude I encounter every day.  Just thought a little outside example might make things a bit more crystal, what?
(Also, I've been dying to tell someone about the Up series.  It's fascinating.  I wish I could be all serious and moral and say "how pointless!" and refuse to watch because it's invading lives and all that.  But I can't.  56 up is coming out this year or early next.  I'm so glad for Bruce.)

Lately I've been wondering if we sometimes go into relationships with an idea that love is a feeling which ought last forever.  Particularly in romantic relationships.  The way I'm beginning to understand it (with help from C.S. Lewis) is that love is not a feeling that is going to stay all dithery and wild the way it does when you first meet someone.  Nor would you want it to, really.  Life would be so stressful. (I imagined that last sentence in a 7 Up John Brisby voice - "So crowded!")  L'Engle is totally right: love has to be something more than feelings that can change.  Jesus could never have said things like "Love those who hate you" if love were just a feeling over which you have no control.  There's a lot in C.S. Lewis about how you can learn to love people by behaving the way you would if you did love them.  You have to be able to do love, not just feel it.  Rather a practical thing to find in a kids' book.

The naming bit made me think about a Dorothy Sayers thing - if you're doing what you're truly good at, then you're doing the right thing, no matter how trivial it may seem.  It reminds me of how I worry about the way I don't feel like I am ever being my true self with people.  And then I remember that C.S. Lewis thing about how you can't be a social success until you stop worrying about being a social success. "Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."  Very convicting, that always is.  A lot of problems could be solved if I could just wrench my focus away from myself for one second.

I am now running on reserve battery power. Poo.  ("Thank God!" said the imaginary reader, wiping the blood from his ears. "Thank God!")  Must be off to bed.

CONCLUSION:  I'm very awed by people who can write books that are actually about something. Three more L'Engle books are sitting on the bookcase in a very tantalizing manner. Yay.

Nine Notes on Book Covers

Instead of writing a long, dithery, emphatic rant of my very strong views about book covers (which still might erupt here someday - bits of magma are plopping about in an ominous fashion as we speak), I will give you a bit out of Other Colors by Orhan Pamuk, because he probably knows a teensy bit more about books than I do.

If a novelist can finish a book without dreaming of its cover, he is wise, well-rounded and a fully formed adult, but he's also lost the innocence that made him a novelist in the first place.
We cannot recall the books we love most without also recalling their covers.
We would all like to see more readers buying books for their covers and more critics despising books written with those same readers in mind.
Detailed depictions of heroes on book covers insults not just the author's imagination but also his readers'. 
When designers decide that The Red and The Black deserves a red and black jacket, or when they decorate books entitled Blue House or Chateau with illustrations of blue houses or chateaux, they do not leave us thinking they've been faithful to the text but wondering if they've even read it. 
If, years after reading a book, we catch a glimpse of its cover, we are returned at once to that long-ago day when we curled up in a corner with that book to enter the hidden world inside.
Successful book covers serve as conduits, spiriting us away from the ordinary world in which we live, ushering us into the world of the book.
A bookshop owes its allure not to its books but to the variety of their covers.
Book titles are like people's names: They help us distinguish a book from the million other it resembles. But book covers are like people's faces: Either they remind us of a happiness we once knew or they promise a world we have yet to explore. That is why we gaze at book covers as passionately as we do at faces.
Can I get an amen?  I'm really getting worked up about four and five right now.  Like, I feel as if I want to sock somebody right in the eye or brandish a sign and yell very loudly.

If I end up designing book covers (which is the current career of my dreams) I hope I always remember what things are like from the other side, and stick to my convictions and never, ever pander or give the okay to things that aren't okay.  I'd rather work some hideous, soul-destroying job than put my name to bad book covers. If I don't have the guts to do good work, I hope I have enough not to do any work at all.
But I might go to cosmetology school or become an archaeologist.  So who knows.

Me vs. Orhan
He may be smarter, but I look cooler because cool people wear sunglasses indoors. 
(P.S. I'm a girl, in case you couldn't tell.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

6/365 A Wrinkle in Time

Good heavens, what a perfect book for a wet evening.  Truly splendid.  I sat in the bath and had an apple and a cup of extremely unhealthful chai tea, and pretended it was fall.   I've been taking piano lessons and learning "Simple Gifts," and it kept going through my head.  Sappy, sappy.

 I'd honestly forgotten how lovely this book is.  Such a delight.  I've asked my dear Mama, who works at one of the local libraries, to check out all of Madeleine L'Engle's other books for me.

 I said the other day that I was going to try to read all the books I own before getting any from the library books?  Well, I lied.

Gosh, what a good book.  This is a positively idiotic blog - I never do anything but say "Ooooh, I love it" or "not my thing" and never talk about any, you know, Deep Thoughts.  Or, better still, Themes or Symbols.  I am an absolute advocate of readerly pleasure. It is my pleasure not to think about Themes. And a very great pleasure this was.

I honestly can't think of much else to say.  This book has a something about it - I don't want to get all highfaluting (wonderful word) and silly, but it almost feels like a spark of eternity or life or something... vital .  All the kids' books I really love have the same sort of feel.  The Wind in the Willows, the Narnia books, The Hobbit.  They seem more real.  I don't know what I mean so don't ask, imaginary reader. 

Oh, let's just meander around for a while...  good, logical flow is so overrated.

I love characters who are just themselves.  The View From Saturday was similar in this regard, if I remember rightly.  People who treat life and others without flippancy.  These characters are not a bit flippant, which I think is what makes Charles Wallace's absorption into IT so terrifying.  Apart from the whole losing himself thing, his new cruel personality contrasts so starkly with the gentle chap he was before.
Ah! I could rhapsodize in this eloquent, poetic fashion for hours, but I must go to bed. 

To preserve some semblance of truth, I must admit that the copy I have has this cover:

And not the one above, which is nicer looking in my opinion.  A rant is brewing inside me (involving the appearances of the main characters), but I think I'm going to have to save it for another post on book covers.  I will say, however, that one of the less important reasons I dislike it is because it reminds me of The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Which itself has some very unpleasant associations.  I don't dislike Bosch, but I did have a rotten Art History course with a slightly wacko teacher who looked like a starved sheepdog and was possibly the most boring man on earth.
(Question: Do you put paintings in italics or quotes? I feel like it's italics, but I can't recall. Oh well.)

CONCLUSION: As I said, I am making mum get all L'Engle's other books for me.  I love this book.  It makes me want to be a better, more straightforward person.  So... yeah.

Goodnight, moon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

5/365 The Pearl

A short one tonight.  The Pearl, by John Steinbeck.  Told my mummy about this "project" and she thinks I won't be able to maintain it when school starts up.  Maybe she's right, but I hope not.  I'm taking mostly art courses, so I ought to have the time.  Going to have to really hop to it though.

Anyways.  I feel like I'm standing very precariously on a line with "love Steinbeck" on one side and "whatever" on the other.  I adored - adored - Of Mice and Men.  It stands out as one of the most important books I've read in the last few years.  Or at least one that was important to me.  I listened to a cruddy audiobook of The Grapes of Wrath in high school and loathed it. But then, I loathed everything I read in high school.  The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights has been good, but I'm only about eight chapters in.  So I really don't know where I stand with this guy.   I've recently tipped over to the Love Fitzgerald side, so there is hope.
Frankly, I did not enjoy The Pearl.  But it didn't seem like the sort of story you're supposed to enjoy, so I suppose it doesn't matter.  Very sad. I'm not good at seeing the meanings and metaphors and symbols in stories - I never have.   Evil was plainly, um, a theme in the story, but beyond that I don't really know.  I probably missed some powerful allegory or commentary on the State of Things, but it isn't worrying me too much.   Feeling left out like this used to bother me a good deal.  But now whenever I get a pang of remorse after reading a book and realizing I didn't understand it at all, I say, with my best Tom Hanks mannerisms, "I could never be with anyone who likes Joni Mitchell" and I feel fine.

Anyways, it was very sad and hopeless.  I really loathe stories with injustice, or where people fight and can't get ahead.  After reading the first chapter of Jane Eyre, I refused to read the rest because I thought she was going to be stuck in the same sort of unfair world the whole time.  When I finally did read the rest, I was so delightfully surprised.  I will confess, Father - the thought of getting stuck somewhere and being (this is going to sound silly, but it's the only word that works) sinned against and having no way of fighting for myself is nearly the worst thing I can think of.  (Getting sinned against and having a tick on me while an IV is being jabbed into my arm is the worst thing I can think of.)  The whole concept of people being crushed in an unjust machine just makes me wild.  So I guess that's why I didn't love this story.  And it's probably right and good that I didn't.

CONCLUSION:  Will read more Steinbeck.   Hating injustice could lead to good things, couldn't it?

Monday, July 11, 2011

4/365 The Witches

"It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you."

Good golly, I love this book.  LOVE IT.  I could scream, I love it so much.  Yes, it's scary. Yes, terrible things happen to the main characters.  But it is hilarious.  I snort with laughter at every re-read.  And I never snort.  I can't even half-express how much I love Roald Dahl without screaming at you, my imaginary readers, in all caps and bombarding you with exclamation points that don't actually make sense, so I won't try.  Simply be assured that it is a lot of love.

And Quentin Blake's illustrations. AH! What a combo, right?  The books and pictures have become so completely smashed together in my head that I can't help thinking of one in terms of the other.  Quentin Blake puts so much character into his drawings.  I feel like a rat saying this (not a nice brown mouse), but there are some great illustrators I adore who just don't put much character into their characters.  The pictures are beautiful or charming or whatever, but when you look at, I don't know, three different books side by side, the children on the covers all look the same.  Different hair, different eye color - but basically the same pretty types.   Blake gives people giant noses and fat bellies and enormous ears.  Even the nice characters aren't idealized.   And I like that because it feels more true to life.  Or maybe I'm just full of hot air.   Anyways, if I ever end up working as an illustrator (which would be nice as I'm paying quite atrocious amounts of money to a college to learn how to do so), I hope the drawings I make have lots of personality in the same way.   I'd like to have a sort of basic, funny style that will allow me to do scary, black-comedy Lemony Snicket kinds of stories and sweet picture books.  

Well.  Another long tangent.  
Anyways, I love this book.  I love all Roald Dahl's kids books.  I can't decide which is my favorite.  James and the Giant Peach if a definite contender.  Ooh! If you, imaginary reader, are an audio book lover like moi, you must check out Jeremy Irons' reading of James and the Giant Peach.  It's a good contender for best book on tape ever, too.

CONCLUSION:  I am very fond of Roald Dahl's slightly bloodthirsty sense of humor, and think Quentin Blake expresses it perfectly in his drawings.  I want to go find more Roald Dahl booksRIGHTNOW, but I will restrain myself and try to read To The Lighthouse again, even though three pages in I realized I was dribbling drool without knowing it.  Maybe I was in the wrong mood for it or too tired or something.  I kept finishing sentences and feeling very proud, and then realizing, with a slump of the shoulders, that I couldn't remember what the front part of the sentence had been about.  Kid's book are just funner.  Yes, I said funner. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

3/365 Long Day's Journey Into Night

Okay, I actually liked this.  As usual, I probably didn't get it.  But I've read a good handful of plays about broken families, and this is the first one that seemed genuine.  Believable dysfunction.   I liked the way they would accuse each other, feel guilty, and half-try to make amends.  I mean, I didn't like it - I just thought it seemed so true to life.

I'm wondering if I should make an effort to see the movie.  It might be too sad.  I can read sad or bloody books without turning a hair, but sometimes movies are a bit too much.

What's it called, that connection with audiences?  Something about loosing yourself for a while.  Intro to Theatre had a term or phrase for it.  I forget.  I am a tiny bit distracted right now, to be honest. Pride and Prejudice is playing in the background.  I accidentally wrote "Long Day's Journey Into Jane."

CONCLUSION: Liked it, will probably watch the movie someday. Would consider seeing it on a stage if the chance ever came along.  I'd be interested to see how actors interpret the roles.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

2/365 The Reader

Whoo.  Didn't I just say yesterday that I wanted either cheap thrills or Deep Thoughts on guilt? Well, wham-o! Deep thoughts on guilt.
I liked this book.  I probably didn't get it, or failed to discern the deep metaphor, but whatever. The reviewers were right - it does force you to wrestle with moral puzzles.  It's very complex, and there wasn't an answer, and I liked that about it.  Lately I've been going for books that acknowledge that nothing can ever be completely answered - love can't completely save you, that sort of thing.  It sounds terribly dismal, but I find absolute fairy tales - they get together and now everything is perfect! - more depressing.  So many people I talk to have come to believe that the fantasies we see on TV and in chick lit can happen in real life.  And then when they don't feel "in love" anymore, they think they've done something wrong or married the wrong person, and that a new person or job or town will finally make them complete.

Ah.  Sorry. Didn't mean to go on a huge tangent/rant there.  I'm rather wary of semi-supposed to be real love stories.  I'd rather have absolute truth or total fantasy right now.  It's a funny mood. 

So, I liked this book.  There were so many bits that I wanted to make copies of our type out and save for myself somewhere.  Really interesting stuff.  Looking back on happy times, how memories work, and, obviously, guilt.  I know it's not quite the same, but I sort of related to the whole guilt of the second generation thing when I thought about the civil war.  Much less immediate and, in a way, less my fault - but when I hear kids bashing the south, saying how terrible all the slave owners were, how they wouldn't have stood for it, I just wonder.  It's very easy to condemn people after the fact, but I feel like you can never know what you would have done.  As I said, not the same thing, but at least I did some semi-serious thinking for a change, what?  
 Granted, I will never be comfortable with s-e-x in books, but this was the first I've read that seemed... I don't know.  The story wouldn't have worked if the main character hadn't gotten involved with Hanna.  I can understand why the author put it all in.   I thought it was interesting, how badly it messed the main character up.  It seemed a much more real reaction - not cheap, like a lot of books I've read.  Do you get what I'm driving at?  I often think writers don't make affairs like this as devastating to characters as they would be in real life, I guess.  This was one of the first (if not the first) book I've read where (and this is going to sound ridiculous!) there was enough pain. There's a lot of very preachy "and it messed him up because..." stuff I could put in here, but I'll spare my imaginary readers. 

CONCLUSION: Very good.  I'd like to read more of his stuff.  I feel a little boost of confidence - I can read things besides Agatha Christie! Also, this book has piqued my interest in similar sorts of books.  I would like to read more Vergangenheitsbew√§ltigung novels.  Mostly for the pleasure of reading that marvelous looking word.  I do hope I used it in my sentence properly. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

1/365 Inkheart

It seems somewhat fitting, now I think about it, to begin this blog with a book so very much about books.  Really, when you come right down to it, that's what the book really was about.  I don't want to get into some big Meaning to Me fest (I can't talk symbolism or metaphors anyways), but I just kept thinking about how people live with books.  Escape into them, and all that, don't you know.  This book just sort of swopped things - instead of getting into the story, the story got out.  It's kind of an interesting idea, really - how would favorite book characters react and adapt to "our" world?  I've been giving that an idle thought now and then.

I liked Inkheart, mostly.  I certainly had a hard time putting it down, and that has to count for something. I plan to read the other books in the trilogy and The Thief Lord as well.  Last night, I just-one-more-chaptered until about two in the morning - and I've seen the movie. (And there were differences. Some which, I am sorry to say, I did not like.)  It felt very European, unsurprisingly enough.  Perhaps I'm being fanciful, but somehow I thought I could tell that it was a translation.

I said it seems right to start a blog about books with a book about books - I only wish I'd liked it more.  I feel guilty for not liking it more. I don't know why I didn't.  Well, I'm not 100% sure why.  I've managed to think up a few reasons.

1. I'm old.  I haven't read juvenile fiction in quite a while, and maybe I sort of wasn't with the rhythm.  I kind of doubt this one.

2. I don't think in comparisons.  In the book, people are always thinking things look like this or remind them of that.  She thought he looked like an empty oyster - that kind of thing.  I do not do that.  Like, ever.  It probably shows that my imagination is deficient or something, but there it is.

3. The ending was sort of sadder than the movie.  More realistic (if you can even say that about this book), but sadder. Usually I'm a fan of more real and therefore sadder endings, but not today.

4. I wasn't in the right mood.  I've been reading Lord Peter Wimsey almost exclusively lately, and I'm a bit obsessed.  I daresay it has done something to my brain.  I'm all mopey because I gorged myself on all LPW the books in like a week, and now there are none left to read.  Must learn to savor books.

So blah.  I guess the tone in general just didn't float my boat.  I don't know what it was or what I mean, but we didn't click.  I think I wanted either something very ordinary or very good.  Cheap thrills, an idiotically happy ending, love story, heroics, epic fights or Deep Thoughts and a very dismal theme like guilt.

CONCLUSION:  Good.  I will probably like it more if I read it again when I'm in a better mood.  Reading the rest of the trilogy might conceivably add the dash of closure I'm kind of wanting.

P.S.  I may have only liked the story - but I loved the little pen drawings at the end of the chapters. And they were done by the author herself!