Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

An occasional series.

Reading: Well, since my last Right Now post, I’ve been reading up a storm, reading over 20 books! And that’s including June which was a slow book month. My reading levels go up and down, but this year I’m on a roll, and enjoying good books keeps me reading new ones. So I’ll just pick out my favourites, all of which I gave five stars on Goodreads:

  • I loved After the Tampa by Abbas Nazari, so much that I actually blogged about it last week. You can read that here.
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who infiltrated Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather
  • The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
  • Letters from an Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

That’s an eclectic group of stories, fiction and non-fiction, fun and devastating and inspiring, sometimes all at once, and are e-books and audiobooks. There were some others I enjoyed and gave four stars, including Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You?, Richard Powers’ Bewilderment, Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle, and Sosuke Natsukawa’s charming young adult book in The Cat Who Saved Books.

I feel exhausted looking at that list of books. It’s no wonder in the last month I’ve reverted to very easy reading, some more satisfying than others, none of it really noteworthy.

Watching: In these days of binge-watching, it’s hard to remember what I watched last week, let alone three months ago. But there were one or two shows that were notable, mainly because I got a three-month free subscription to Apple+ and could discover the joys of The Morning Show (loved it), Ted Lasso (didn’t like it the first five or so shows, but then fell for it hard), Slow Horses (wonderful), Severance (weird but interesting), Tehran (great, exciting), and our favourite, For All Mankind, which shows an alternative world that might have eventuated had the Soviets won the race to the moon, is really well made, and is fascinating to contemplate.

We haven’t been to many movies, but really enjoyed Mincemeat. It is about a WWII operation, and stars the lovely Colin Firth.

Listening: With wintry weather, I’m not getting quite as much exposure to audiobooks because I’m not walking outside. Yesterday, though, I was reading and had a lovely afternoon listening to some classical music, the first time I had done that in ages. It was exquisite, and often interrupted my reading, just to listen, blissed out. An excellent way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Following: Tennis. The French Open and Wimbledon have kept me entertained, and have disrupted my sleep, as I like to watch the games live, rather than risk waiting till the morning, and accidentally discovering the results before I get to the replays on TV. Otherwise, I’m not following too much else, except the covid infection rates here and overseas of course, and I’m keeping an eye on the 6 January hearings in the US, but lately I’ve been less obsessive about reading the news (which has probably helped my reading).

Drinking: Lots of tea because it’s cold – Earl Grey, a berry-flavoured superfruit tea, green tea with lemon, and chamomile. And the occasional coffee when we go out, or my husband makes my day and brings one home.

Cooking and Eating: Bread, as I blogged about here, every couple of weeks. Cheese scones have become a regular thing, which is not good because of all the cheese in them, but they are soooo good! So a lot of carbs, though we are trying to cut down, and at least if we’re eating bread, we’re not eating sweet things! It’s winter, so I’m having soups for lunch more, which is lovely. And there’s nothing like a good curry on a cold winter’s night! Likewise, a good roast. I like to do one about once or twice a year, so we had a tiny lamb roast a few weeks ago, with yummy gravy and roast root vegetables, and stir-fried brussel sprouts. Winter is the time for comfort food!

Wearing: My winter uniform of black yoga pants or black jeans, black thermal top, and a black hoodie when necessary (usually necessary inside at this time of year). When I go out it is the same thing, but with a different top rather than the hoodie.

Hoping: I’m hoping that I didn’t make the wrong decision. I’ve put a hold on a domestic trip I had been planning due to the rise in covid cases, the cancellations of flights, etc. Not to mention the price of the trip. I regret having to do that, but if I got covid (and spread it to a more vulnerable person I would be visiting) I might regret it more. Sigh.

Appreciating: Our ACC system, that is giving me physiotherapy on an elbow injury that I sustained in October. I had a few sessions back then, and thought it was clearing up, but the last few months it has deteriorated again. Turns out it was accentuated by a pinched nerve, and so I’ve been getting weekly treatments. I am getting tired of my arm being painful, and of being unable to reach for or pick up items easily. And it means I haven’t been able to knit for ages. But the last few days there’s been a noticeable improvement. I hope that continues.

Experiencing: Crazy gale force winds at the moment. The house is shaking, the noise of the wind in the trees is loud, branches laden with pine cones are falling off our pine trees and crashing on the deck, and something on the roof is rattling, and I really don’t like that. The Husband just went on a walk, got blown off the footpath around by the park, and commented that the houses there must experience the wind even worse than we do. I guess that’s a consolation?

Contemplating: The place of a specific cause in my life. I’ve devoted 20 years to it, and although it is important to me, and I have met some wonderful people as a result, I am trying to decide if I’m ready to step back a little now. Though I know I would miss it. Decisions, decisions!

Anticipating: Getting to travel again. If the current worldwide rise in cases doesn’t get too out of control, we have a trip that’s not TOO far from home (only a four hour time difference) in mind, though we have yet to make any bookings. Deciding exactly when to make a commitment might be the hard part! And I have some ideas for next year too, if all goes well.

Loving: My workouts to Youtube videos inside, rather than braving the wind (as I mentioned, it is diabolical today) or the rain. I need low impact, knee-protecting, workouts, but there are plenty online. I mix it up, between those which are walking workouts, low impact with a dance twist, or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), depending how I’m feeling. I really like the fitness I am getting, and the convenience of the workouts.

Still unashamedly copying Loribeth’s regular series every few months here on A Separate Life.

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My nose in a book

I’ve written quite regularly about losing my reading mojo over the last seven years or so. About once a year or so I bemoan the fact that I’ve lost my mojo, and that I have been way behind my Goodreads target. Every so often there’s a post claiming that I got it back, where I’ve read a couple of good books. The general trend though has been down! I reached a high of 45 books back in 2012. Last year I reached my all-time low of only 16 books (including audiobooks), barely scraping past 50% of my target of 30 books. It’s perhaps not surprising given other things that were going on in my life last year, and the fact that I was also participating in a daily blogging project for the entire year. Still, I could tell that I was struggling to read, and so this year set an achievable target of only 20.

But this year, as I mentioned here, I seem to have rediscovered my reading mojo. I enjoy listening to audiobooks when I walk (for exercise), though it takes quite a few kilometres/hours to get through a single book, and that means I get through several hours of a book per week. And I’ve been reading. A lot. (My target this year was 20 books. I’m already at 30.) Many years ago now, when I first stopped working full-time, I decided that I couldn’t read during the day or I would never get anything done. So reading was only permitted post 5 pm. I gradually got into the habit of not reading until after dinner, and then that slipped, and I almost forgot how to read.

But this winter I’ve been indulgent. I’ve looked forward to the weekends, as there have been a couple of Saturdays or Sundays (rainy days, of course) when I have curled up on the couch and read a book in a day. Saturday’s book was Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, which I gobbled up. I’ve rediscovered the joy of a good book, of a story that captures me. I even read a paper book! I’ve stayed up late, reading. I’ve got out of bed late – I’ve been awake but reading. I’ve spent some days when I never even turned on my laptop. I need to sort and edit all my trip photos to make a new photobook (or two), but I’ve barely made a start. I wanted to review some parts of my photography course from 2018 and do the exercises that I missed in the second half of the year. As always, I need to spring clean my office, but it hasn’t been done or even started. My attention is elsewhere. My nose is in a book. Or more accurately, my iPad’s Overdrive (library) or Kindle app.

Reading, I am reminded, takes up a lot of time!

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I need to keep it short and sweet on today’s Microblog Monday, after my last post, which was not a microblog post, despite it being about Microblog Mondays.

I’ve broken away from my usual modern literature reading in the last month, to read some enjoyable and interesting non-fiction, including Hillary Clinton’s What Happened, Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B, and most recently, Sue Perkins’ Spectacles.

Some thoughts about aging, the first being the need to plan well in advance, and to make decisions before you think it is necessary, because by the time you need to have made some of these decisions, you’ll be much less capable of doing so.

Secondly, people often talk about maintaining dignity in old age, confusing it with pride, and implying that this is only possible when you are independent. However, I become more and more convinced that true dignity is being able to admit when you need help, and to accept that with grace.

The weather is warming nicely, and we’re all starting to be a bit hopeful that this year we might actually get a summer, after the disappointments of last year.

With spring well and truly here, with bright light earlier in the morning and later at night, the need for spring cleaning is becoming more and more obvious, and will need to be tackled soon.

I may not have cleaned, but I’m feeling quite smug that I only need to buy three more Christmas/birthday (thanks to my sister and a sister-in-law who both have birthdays on 20th December) presents before the end of the year.


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