Category Archives: on reading

Fractured Reading

fractured-ice

Do you ever feel as if your reading life is fractured?  I always have at least three books going at the same time…an audiobook to listen to while driving or knitting, a Kindle book, and a library book. Perhaps because of the bitter cold, dreary, and confining weather we are having, plus the dismal state of the union at the moment, I find that my reading life is definitely fractured!  I am reading 7 different, very diverse, books at the same time ! And I’m enjoying them all!

Currently reading

  • Kindle Books: I am in the middle of The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien, my re-read of his Lord of the Rings trilogy. I am also reading Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, for Roof Beam Reader’s Classics Book-a-Month Club. I started Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler, last month then set it aside to start Little Women…but I keep going back to it. And then I pre-ordered the book The Meaning of Michelle, by Veronica Chambers, and it came in last week, so I started it, too!

Definitely fractured reading, and It’s a little like a reading frenzy, too. Does this ever happen to you, or am I completely losing it in the middle of the very January January??

From the Archives: A Book on Reading and Knitting

snow-day-03We are “snowed in” for a few days with this last round of winter storms in Oregon. There are many closures again today, and Hubby and I are fortunate to be able to just stay put in the warm. I don’t mind it at all because I have my books and my knitting!

I am also spending time going through the archives of this blog, looking for posts to share with you once again. I found a post I wrote eight years ago about a pediatrician who shares two of my own passions: early literacy and knitting. The book review is still very relevant today and a book about reading and knitting fits well with my own activities on this snowed-in day.

From the Archives:  A post from January 11, 2009.  TWO SWEATERS FOR MY FATHER

“Knitting is a journey…”

 

As soon as the ice on the roads melted after the holidays, I headed for the library, and this book, Two Sweaters For My Father, was a treasure I found on the shelf with all the knitting books. Perri Klass is a pediatrician, the medical director of Reach Out and Read (“a national non-profit organization that promotes early literacy by giving new books to children, and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud, in pediatric exam rooms across the nation”), and a passionate knitter! This book of essays on knitting was a pleasure to read, not just because I’m a knitter, too, but because Perri Klass is a wonderful writer and a delightful human being. I felt like I’d found a new friend as I read this book.

Her essays, which have been published in various knitting magazines, are about all kinds of experiences she’s had related to knitting and life, and were fun to read. I chuckled all the way through her essay on teaching her daughter to knit. Her essay on knitting after 911, called Knitting in the Shadow, described how life changed even for knitters after that event. The title story, about knitting two sweaters for her father, was a lovely tribute to her father’s unconditional love. And I loved her stories about friendships and knitting, and about having surgery for a repetitive stress injury caused by non-stop knitting and her #13 circular knitting needle! Each story is full of humor and wisdom…and knitting.

I liked this description from her essay, “Y2K—The Year 2 Knit”:

“Knitting is here, knitting is now. When I am knitting, I am knitting—no message left, no tracking who owes whom an attempted communication. The yarn travels through my hands, the needles move, and I am creating a something that was not there before. Not a virtual something that can always be altered with a single click, but a real and tangible something, which can only be altered with a heartbreaking rip and then a multitude of clicks. I think about all the jobs nowadays in which there is no something you are making, and even no someone you are really seeing and talking to, and I understand how knitting fits and stretches to fill a need.”

And this explanation from her essay, “A Passion For Purls”:

“So what is it—what do I get from all this knitting, and what is missing when I take a hard look at myself and don’t see any yarn or needles?
What is missing, I think, is a special sense of portable everyday serenity. Knitting brings something into my life that I might also get—but generally don’t—from great music, religion, or the contemplation of majestic natural beauty. When I knit, my soul is calmed, and, sometimes, exalted. But it’s an every-day exaltation, a calm domestic serenity, easily transported from place to place in a cloth bag…”

Dr. Klass writes for those of us who find daily serenity and creative outlet in knitting or in some other kind of handwork. I’m delighted to have discovered this knitting doctor who champions early literacy!

More about Reach Out and Read“Doctors and nurses know that growing up healthy means growing up with books. The ROR program provides the tools to help promote children’s developmental skills and later school success.”

 

A Return to Middle Earth

In honor of J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday today, I’d like to share some memories of how his books, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, touched my life almost 50 years ago and are still today something that I turn to and love to reread.

1968 was an incredibly powerful year in my life. In late January of that year, I returned from living for a year in Argentina as an exchange student, a life-changing experience.  On my return, I immediately started college, another life-changing experience. The Vietnam War was raging and some of my high school friends were already gone. In April, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In June we also lost Bobby Kennedy. And later that year, three astronauts orbited the moon. I remember the despondency I felt after the two assassinations and the awe I felt at the moon orbit. I remember vividly the overwhelming sense of the world spinning and life taking off at exponential speed, as indeed it did.

In the middle of that year of upheaval, I read a great book review in the New Yorker about a series I’d never heard of: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I immediately went out and bought the books and immersed myself in that world…and that experience was also life-changing in a way. The world that Tolkien created was so complete and so beautifully written. The books are an epic story of courage and dignity, of the power of goodness and friendship, and of the regular “little guys” being able to make an incredible difference in a world filled with darkness. It was a great tale, but I loved it especially for those nuggets of truth that spoke so eloquently to me and which are so often quoted now on the internet:

‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

And I loved it, too, for the sense of nostalgia for times past and for home and the simple things in life. I’ve reread them numerous times now, and they capture me each time. So in early December, feeling overwhelmed by the state of the nation and the world, I realized that I wanted to read them again. I read The Fellowship of the Ring slowly, not wanting to miss a single word, song, or poem! And I am 1/2 way through The Two Towers now. Once again these books are helping me to put things in perspective, reminding me that “there is a seed of courage hidden (often deeply, it is true) in the heart of the fattest and most timid hobbit…” and giving me hope that each one of us can make a difference in the world today. There is always Hope.

That’s a pretty amazing experience/connection to have with a story, with any book! But, that is exactly why I love. to. read.

the-lord-of-the-rings

Reflections on Reading

R and B

A moment to reflect on what reading means to me as this new year, 2017, begins…

It’s hard for me to believe, but it’s been three-and-a-half years since my husband and I retired and moved to our beautiful old home in Oregon. Retirement, for us, continues to be an adventure. There are all kinds of things we are enjoying as “retired people” — shopping at Costco when it first opens on a weekday morning; traveling at non-peak times; getting discounts at local restaurants; immersing ourselves in a project without having to wait for the weekend!. Simply put, we love to get up every morning and “set our own agenda,” a phrase my mother shared with us.

I thought my retirement would be filled with lots of extra reading time, but I’m surprised to discover that I’m actually reading less than I did during my busy career years. There are many days now that I’ve been “too busy” doing other things to sit down and read. My time and attention are focused on many different things: gardening, going for long walks, spending time at the gym, knitting, playing Minecraft with the Grandboy.

Oh I still love my reading and it’s a major part of my life.  I’m just not concerned anymore about the numbers of books I read or that there might be books I should read. I read for the joy of it.

May 2017 be a year of joyful reading for all of us!

 

An Alternate Reality

alice-munro

The other day I wrote a post confessing that I’m an “escapist” and have turned to my books to get away from this awful election season. This morning I read a different view of that kind of “escape” from the brilliant writer, Alice Munro.

“She read modern fiction too. Always fiction. She hated to hear the word ‘escape’ used about fiction. She might have argued, not just playfully, that it was real life that was the escape. But this was too important to argue about.”

~ from Too Much Happiness, by Alice Munro
(I found this quote and a brief description of this new book on the Vintage Books & Anchor Books Facebook page.)

A slightly different view of the idea of “escape,” but I won’t argue with it and very much like the idea that my reading is my reality and that real life is the alternate reality!

Note to self: I must read more and more Alice Munro!

Currently Reading and Listening

reading

October just flew by this year and here it is November already. As the days grow shorter and darker, I spend more time reading and listening to audiobooks while doing winter knitting projects. Right now I am reading a number of different things. My current library book is Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler. This is my first time reading her work and I’ve found that I really like her writing. My current Audible listen is J.K. Rowling’s The Silkworm. My current Kindle book is Rules For a Successful Book Club (The Book Lovers, #2), by Victoria Connelly. And a friend loaned me another Kindle book to add to my annual holiday reading project. It’s called A Cornish Christmas, by Lily Graham. There’s no shortage of books to light up these shorter darkening days!

 

Reading Escapes

I must admit that I am an escapist. The national election scene in September and October has been an awful place to hang out. Yes, I watched all three presidential debates. Yes, I did my homework on local issues and candidates. And yes, I have voted. But it all left me feeling breathless, cold and shaken as if the Dementors have been hovering nearby!

So my reading list for September and October reflects my need to close out that crazy ugly world of politics and find more uplifting places in which to spend my time. I search for those kinds of books and appreciate so much the ones I find with kindness in them.

There. A kind word, a word of encouragement or admiration, could shift the heaviest, most recalcitrant baggage.
~from Precious and Grace, by Alexander McCall Smith

So, my September and October escapes…