The Amber Spyglass (Phillip Pullman)
Dear YA Fantasy, you are where my heart lies. Love, Lisa.
Backstory: I raided Becca’s attic a few weeks ago for her childhood favorites, dove into this one, and after about 100 pages realized that I was reading the third book in the series without ever having finished the second (which I picked up about three years ago, HATED, and actually took back to the store for a refund.) (Yeah they let you do that. But they look at you funny.)
So what happened in those three years? I guess I got off my high horse of knowing everything there was to know about God, the Church, and religion. (Long story.) Can’t wait to go back and re-read all of His Dark Materials in order, when I finish this one.
BOOKS TO READ:
The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan)
Cat’s Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut)
Winter’s Tale (Mark Helprin)
Summerland (Michael Chabon)
Life Is Elsewhere (Milan Kundera)
Also just borrowed Preludes and Noctures (the first Sandman volume, by Neil Gaiman) from Dave-down-the-street. And still haven’t finished The Shipping News (Annie Proulx) or For The Time Being (Annie Dillard), both of which I started last year and put down during finals or some similar silliness.
BOOKS RECENTLY FINISHED:
The Girl Who Trod On A Loaf (Kathryn Davis)
Totally an impulse buy at Borders–it was in the Buy One Get One Free box, for $2. And it’s a novel about an opera composer. I’m a sucker for fiction about classical musicians (three top favorites–An Equal Music by Vikram Seth; Bel Canto by Ann Patchett; Grace Notes by Bernard MacLaverty.) Having grown up in the world of classical musicians, and being somewhat disconnected from it now, I love reading about characters who believably inhabit that world. And this is also a plain-old fantastic story–it intertwines Norse mythology, Hans Christian Anderson, and even a little magical realism, with a tragic (operatically so!) love story. I couldn’t put it down, and wasn’t even tempted to read ahead–my worst bad habit as a reader whenever the story gets slow. The best parts were the descriptions of the fictional operas; Davis does a fantastic job detailing their plots, musical structure, and backstories, in a way that made me feel like I’d actually heard the music and seen the opening night premieres.
Storm Front (Jim Butcher)
My first foray into the genre of adult sci-fi/fantasy (thanks to Jon!) After growing up with Madeleine L’Engle, Edward Eager, C.S. Lewis, and L. Frank Baum (and Robin McKinley, Tamora Pierce, etc etc etc)…I thought it was about time to put some fairies and wizards back on my bookshelf.
This was a fun read–dry humor, quirky premise. Definitely a page-turner, although I’m not usually a big fan of the action-thriller-crime fiction stuff. But the magic drew me back in: all the potions and quasi-Latin phrases and naked men fighting off demons with their bare–wait, what?!
I guess I’ve moved beyond A Wrinkle In Time. If you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
Not as good as I’d expected…I thought the whole thing could’ve been 300 pages shorter, and was definitely not a fan of the political soapboxing tacked on at the end. (Stuff like “People have no more right to survive on this planet than viruses! You can think of every human AIDS death is a victory for a little virus!” and “Commercialized agriculture sucks. We should go back to living in villages where we only eat what we can grow.” Ok, point taken, industrialism does not equal progress, and Westernization carries lots of evils, but…but but but.)
That said, I loved the Adah character and her voice. The whole thing switches between five different voices, of the five main female characters, and those sections were all a pleasure to read.
The Bhagavad Gita (trans. Eknath Easwaran)
For my 200-hr yoga teacher training course. This is the first on our looong book list (I’ll post THAT list another time–it’s a smorgasbord that includes Autobiography of a Yogi by Pramahansa Yogananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, and Conscious Eating by Gabriel Cousins. Our main texbook is a photocopied-and-Kinkos-bound manual that includes homemade recipes by our teacher and poems by Mary Oliver!)
I love reading religious texts. Favorites include the Genesis and the Gospels, and parts of the Qu’ran. I could write lots about this experience, but I think I need to read another translation before I do…A lot of the language in this translation seems to imply the teaching that inner peace comes through indifference to the physical world of pleasure and pain, and that yoga is all about cultivating the ability to be unaffected by the world around you. My interpretation could be totally off, but I had major problems with this. The way I try to live my life centers around opening up to awareness and the physical senses, vulnerability to the emotions, an embracing of both pleasure and pain to their fullest extent…living every moment fully in the present, and letting it affect me fully. Otherwise, why bother being alive at all??
Like I said, though, could be a translation issue…Anyone have a good translation to recommend?
There’s a beautiful poem by Kazim Ali, “The Art Of Breathing”…oh I just hyperlinked. Oh oh oh.