Les Semaines

January 10, 2010

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal

 §

Starting Out

If I had superstitions about the year continuing as it started out, I would be sad now. We had a very quiet New Year's Eve, followed by a lovely dinner with Devin and Tamar, two of my favourite people on the planet, so that was good. But my back has been painful since last week when we went to a movie and the theatre had those seats that lean back. My back likes to sit up straight. I should have used my backpack or packed my coat behind me more effectively because the next day at work I was bending down to staple pages I'd just picked up from the printer when I felt my back go out. It went into spasm and has been annoying ever since.

I gently did exercises and moved often, but still...this was the worst it has been in years and years. It's almost better at last--nearly two weeks later.

I would say getting older sucks, but my back first went bad when I was 21 and tried to lift a table saw at work when I couldn't get anyone to help me and the customer who bought it was getting impatient. It's never been quite that bad since, and I'm SO grateful.

This has also been a complicated time for family and friends' physical and emotional health, and I have to say I hope the year doesn't hold too much more of this. I'm full up. It feels like ten months rather than ten days in. Am I allowed to be tired of 2010 already?

I hope things calm down and that my stressed reaction to them does, too. It's wearing me out, and the year is still an infant. Maybe that's it--infants are exhausting, right? And they can still grow up to be entertaining and fun and bring good things into people's lives? Right?

2010, grow up already.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

A ton of wonderful music came in at the end of the year, several of which are on my best of the year list.
  • The Miss Bennets, The Miss Bennets--delightful, quirky pop (think St. Vincent, but Meg Lunny has been doing this longer)

  • Katy Carr, Coquette--a brilliant contemporary evocation of past stories. Great stuff and her most powerful album yet.

  • Jesca Hoop, Hunting My Dress--another quirky album and so, so wonderful.

  • Felix, You Are The One I Pick--stripped-down contemporary, somehow a right-now version of New Wave/Art song. Or something.

  • Espers III--psychedelic pop goodness.
last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

A catch-up reading list:
  • Kristin Cashore's young adult fantasy novel Fire. A good one, and even better than the first.

  • A.M. Dellamonica's fantasy novel, Indigo Springs. This made my list of top books I read this year. A fascinating tale of relationships. apocalypse, and magic. So good.

  • Frances Hardinge's children's fantasy The Lost Conspiracy. A fun, inventive read.

  • Patrick Ness's young adult SF novel, The Ask and the Answer. Tough sequel to The Knife of Never Letting Go.

  • Richelle Mead's young adult fantasy novel from her Vampire Academy series, Blood Promise. Entertaining and emotional.

  • Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's Gothic young adult fantasy, Beautiful Creatures. I enjoyed this while reading it, but now I wonder why.

  • Marly Youman's young adult fantasy, The Curse of the Raven Mocker. Interesting slip-world fantasy without easy answers.

  • Scott Westerfeld's steampunk young adult novel Leviathan: fantastic machinery, weird engineered animals, two young feisty characters with a lot to lose. Great stuff.

  • Pam Bachorz's young adult SF novel, Candor. Interesting. But too black and white.

  • YA novel forgotten. Hmm. What book was this? Is this the only one I've forgotten to list? Doesn't seem likely.

  • Emily Arsenault's mystery The Broken Teaglass set in a bleak situation but with characters working on a dictionary but who find a mystery in the files. Could have had more zing.

  • Mary E. Pearson's young adult novel, A Room on Lorelei Street, about a girl struggling to break free of carrying the weight of her mother's grief and alcoholism. Well handled.

  • Nicholson Baker's novel The Anthologist. Entertaining and wearisome at the same time. Funny stuff about poetry and life. Good voice. But the narrator is such a schmuck. I detest reading about schmucks.

  • Gillian Summer's young adult fantasy The Tree Shepherd's Daughter. Withholding judgement, as this is the first a series, and could go either way. It has familiar scenes and themes, yet had promising moments.

  • Patrick Leigh Fermor's nonfictional account of his trip across 1930s Europe, A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube. Often-fascinating look at a lost world with some very haunting parts.

  • David Small's dark autobiographical graphic novel Stitches, a Memoir about his confused family and his childhood cancer.

  • L.K. Madigan's young adult novel, Flash Burnout. A photographer with two relationships pulling at him. Especially liked the main character and the various families portrayed here. Rich and realistic. One of the better realistic young adult novels I've read recently.

  • Sheila Weller's biographical Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--and the Journey of a Generation. Interesting to read about these three women and their journeys as feminism was taking hold. I felt like I recognized so much about the new shapes their lives took and my own expectations about life and being a woman in contemporary society.

  • Dana Reinhardt's young adult novel, How to Build a House. Good, but doesn't rise above other good YA novels I've read recently.

  • Kashmira Sheth's young adult novel, Keeping Corner, about a twelve-year-old Brahmin girl in India in the early 1940s, whose husband dies before she is old enough to move in in with his family. Now she is an unlucky woman, a widow, who must not leave the house for a year ("keeping corner") and will be considered bad luck for the rest of her life and be unable to marry again or have any other options in life. But her brother is a follower of the new leader, Gandhi. An evocative and interesting read.

  • Marjetta Geerling's young adult novel, Fancy White Trash about a young woman growing up amidst a family more mixed-up than those in the soap operas she follows. Enjoyable, but again, not exceptional.

  • David Almond's remarkable young adult novel, Raven Summer begins with two boys finding a baby out by a ruin. Liam is a little wild, more than the friend who found the baby with him, but less than the town bully. The baby introduces him to a larger world than his artist mother and writer father have so far--especially when he meets the baby's new foster family. A fascinating and wonderful novel. David Almond is a treasure. The thoughtful approach to violence was powerful and well-handled.

  • It was especially interesting to read Chris Crutcher's young adult novel Whale Talk right after Raven Summer. T.J. Jones is a multiracial adoptee and a natural athlete who knows himself well enough to know he couldn't stand joining in the sports idolized by his small-town school. People are angry with him for that. They're even angrier when he thwarts some of the town bullies and starts a swimming team for misfits. The novel has a lot to do with damaged people and violence, as did Raven Summer. A fine novel.

  • Neesha Meminger's young adult novel Shine Coconut Moon is the story of a young woman who starts to investigate her Sikh heritage just a few days after 9-11 when her turbaned uncle shows up on her doorstep--the first member of her mother's family she has ever met. Another fine novel.

  • David Almond's children's novel The Savage (illustrated by Dave McKean) is another wonderful story. Blue's father died recently and when his counselor tells him to write his emotions down instead he starts writing a tale about a wild boy living in the nearby woods. A delight.

  • Margaret McMullen's children's historical novel When I crossed No-Bob is set in backwoods Mississippi five years after the Civil War. The child of a family long considered trouble, Addy's parents abandon her and the newlywed town teacher reluctantly takes her in. Addy tries to overcome her family's reputation but times are more than tough, and when her father returns just as the KKK burns down the black church and one of her friends dies, she has to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. Well done.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Tinkering with things and toying around with various to decide which to pursue next. I also bought Scrivener and have been doing the tutorial. It looks like it will be wonderfully useful for some of my more research-heavy and structure-heavy upcoming projects. Just going through the tutorial has been giving me a bunch of ideas.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Need to get prepared to start being retrospective. Very soon.

last week's old journal § next week's old journal

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