Posts Tagged ‘NaBloPoMo’

Changing by choice

Monday, 31 January 2011

NaBloPoMo Jan2011So, it’s the end of January, and I’ve completed the month for NaBloPoMo, and am a month on track for PostADay2011. It’s been basically all books this month, but I have some ideas for getting crafts back in for February, and will make myself do some crochet stuff for March ItCroMo, although I still haven’t come up with a pattern or game for the blog as yet. Hopefully I still will…

Cover of Speech in the English Novel

Cover of Speech inthe English Novel

14. Speech in the English Novel (2nd ed.) by Norman Page

If someone had told me I had to read this book I’d probably have been very annoyed indeed, but when I chose to do so I found it very interesting, and a fairly quick read, for non-fiction. (I tend to read non-fiction a page or two at a time, whereas I devour fiction when I enjoy it.) I didn’t think I liked literary criticism in school, perhaps because it generally seemed to entail focussing on details to the detriment of the story, and without any explanation of how or why this analysis might enhance our understanding and enjoyment of the novel/play/poem/essay under discussion.

However, coming to this book for myself, and bringing my linguistic training to a developing interest (through this blog) in really thinking about what I’m reading beyond whether or not I enjoyed it, I found it both revealing and intriguing.

While the focus of the book is the place and use of dialogue in novels, the scope goes far beyond this, discussing types of speech and speech-like narrative; stylistics and realism within written speech; differentiation between different speakers and what this portrays to the reader, and more. There are plenty of snippets and sections quoted from novels published over approximately 250 years. The author suggests that the focus of this particular work is unusual, and that his purpose is to open up a discussion by setting out various features and definitions.

I’m not sure I’m ready to look into how much this topic has flourished over the past few decades, but I do appreciate that I may now occasionally notice more about the use of speech within all novels, not just English ones (or even ones in English, since Page only tangentially mentions world literature at all). I don’t think I’ll be doing so all the time, nor would I want to, since I still feel that focussing too much on the craft takes me out of the story being told, but I do think I want to follow up and read at least one of the books discussed in some level of detail here, Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens. I’m dithering about simply listening to one of the three different versions on LibriVox only because after learning about the techniques Dickens used I’m inclined to want to see them on the page this time. We’ll see. I could read it on Gutenburg too, seeing as we don’t currently have a physical copy, nor is there one available locally on BookMooch at the moment.

More ongoing inspiration

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

NaBloPoMo Jan2011I’m strongly considering trying for daily posting beyond January. NaBloPoMo is great for manageable monthly goals, but WordPress has now set up a year-long challenge, over at Daily Post, to either Post-A-Day or Post-A-Week. I’m pretty sure I won’t get to 365 posts (and I’d rather get to 365 books), but we can only try! (Let’s try, though, for more posting about actual topics other than whether or not I’m blogging and why I’m reading the same books over and over…

And now for something a bit more interesting…

So, what do people think about The Archers 60th Anniversary special? I amn’t as upset as some of the fans, but killing off Nigel was, in my opinion, gratuitous as well as clumsily done. Monday’s first reaction episode was far better, but that’s precisely because the actors and characters have been there a long time and have emotional depth; killing the characters off for pure sensation is simply annoying.

And yes, here I am blogging about something I’ve never discussed here before, and I will still be listening for now (via the podcast), so on some level this has worked to get me among so many others talking about it, but I’m still annoyed.

A good start

Saturday, 1 January 2011

NaBloPoMo Jan2011I just began the Reading 2011 booklist, as I finished a short book sometime after midnight this morning. As is pretty normal for us, we were up into the small hours this morning, talking, reading and playing boardgames. We weren’t ignoring its being the secular New Year’s Eve – we forgot alll about it! Anyhow, I’ll try to be efficient and write it up immediately.

1. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo


Because of Winn-Dixie cover

Because of Winn-Dixie cover

The theme for January on NaBloPoMo, which I’m considering trying again to get me back to regular blogging, is Friends, and that’s really what this sweet book is all about. India Opal, the first-person protagonist, is the lonely little new girl in town, who rescues a stray dog (the eponymous Winn-Dixie) about to be carted off to the pound, and then with his help makes friends with several more long-standing members of the community who also need to make new connections.

It feels weird, when my baby is only six weeks old, and not even paying attention when we read board books to her yet, but I’m already thinking about this and other children’s books in terms of when and how they’ll be suitable for her. I suspect it’ll be about seven years till she’s ready for this one, and there’ll be some cultural stuff we’ll have to explain, since we’re neither in the US nor Christian (India Opal’s father is a Baptist preacher, and while that comes up remarkably little, there are inevitably some references), but it’s a well-written nice story, that doesn’t shy too far away from some hard issues (abandonment and alcoholism, to mention two).

A good book, and one we’ll be keeping for now, at least. (I’m rereading several at the moment, to see which to keep and which to add to our Bookmooch Inventory to give away.)

What must be done

Friday, 27 August 2010

NaBloPoMo August logoI finished some more repairs last night (sewing ones), but they’re not really good enough to show off, I don’t think. I keep meaning to do a post on pad refurbishment, because it might actually be useful to somebody (there’s lots and lots of online info on how to make new cloth menstrual pads from scratch, but not so much on changing them after the fact), although it’s one of those things where if I can work this out then probably anybody can!

I have a few almost-finished books to add to the list, and several there still to write about. I might finish some of the reading over Shabbat, so there’ll be more on those to come.

Let’s see, it’s the 27th of August now, so I’m looking good to finish up the month having fulfilled the NaBloPoMo requirements for posting every day. I don’t realistically think I can even try to commit to that for September, October or November, certainly, (rather expecting first the Jewish festivals and then some major life changes to get in the wayalter my priorities) although I will try to keep posting regularly. (I might just stick with some of the more interesting posts, though…) I’ll try not to just disappear (again) anyhow!

Hm, to add to the randomness that is this post, I’m evidently confusing Zemanta with all the different topics. Shall I just see can I show you some of the variety of pictures it’s offering me?  Apparently not easily. (It seems it won’t let me drag the pictures where I want them on Opera, and thus it just wants to do one, right at the top, where I don’t want it.) Anyhow, there are a few of cloth pads, several related to Shabbat and its different services, as well as a few completely random ones I can’t work out at all.

Anyway, whatever you’re planning on doing for it, have a great weekend!

January, February, March

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Well, January’s blogging was practically non-existant, but seeing as I do have quite a bit to write about (last week’s flood and its aftermath, for one; the rest of last year’s books and the first of this years, and even a little crochet, I’m going to try NaBloPoMo again for February. I doubt I’ll make all that much effort to tie into the theme (TIES – sorry for the bad pun), but it’ll be good practice for March, which will be NatCroMo. I amn’t doing a freeform game this year, but I do have a mystery pattern written up. There’ll be more to say on that (I have to test the pattern myself this month, although I won’t be giving out much info on that), so do stay tuned!

Till tomorrow, then…

Out of NaBloPoMo

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Well, our phoneline’s been down since Sunday, so I haven’t been able to update the blog since then. (It was dodgy on Saturday night, but I did manage one then.) I’ll keep aiming to post daily as I can, now, but perhaps not quite as assiduously.


Sunday, 8 November 2009

And so to my first forays into my husband’s library (which is great, but I’m still looking forward to the rest of my books arriving)! He does have lots of classic science fiction I haven’t come across before, however…

53. Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper
54. Fuzzy Sapiens by H. Beam Piper
55. Fuzzies and Other People by H. Beam Piper

I’ve been dithering between writing about these individually or together, but seem to have chosen to do them together. Even just two months after reading them altogether it becomes difficult to necessarily be distinct about exactly what happens in each novel. (The whole series covers only a few months.)

Still, I really enjoyed the complete story. Yes, there are a lot of attitudes and practices that are decidedly dated and uncomfortable these days (let alone however many millennia into the future the series is supposed to be set), but it’s of the time it was written (the 1960s, although the third book was lost on Piper’s death, and not found and published until 1984, by which time other authors had written some versions of their own – William Tuning‘s Fuzzy Bones is coming up on the list shortly) and there is recognition that some of these attitudes could and/or should be challenged, even if it isn’t prioritised within the series.

By the end of the series several of the Fuzzies themselves have rounded characters, as do many of the humans who are stereotypes and ciphers in the first volume. The potential of all the people of Zarathrustra (the planet where these books are set) has been challenged to develop both technologically/educationally (the Fuzzies) and morally/socially (the humans). While all the women who marry give up the (often prestigious) jobs they held before they married, they do at least move into expert posts alongside their husbands (luckily the Fuzzy bureau and research divisions have plenty of openings). Certainly the treatment of the Fuzzies as children to be adopted and continuously looked after should be no model for any real human behaviour.

In a way, this is television morality. Huge issues are raised, and sometimes trite solutions are given, which if you give it too much thought are not satisfactory, but all that could be expected (perhaps) in an hour, or 150 pages. It is up to us to not only enjoy the story and its wrap up, but to consider the real issues as they apply to our world, and ensure that the best solutions are put into practice, despite their necessary complexity.

(Well, this should go out at 11:35pm, which is a little closer than I’d like for NaBloPoMo posting, but counts. I’ll go by the time of this initial posting however, rather than when I finish any later tinkering with links or typos!)

Stories overlapping and intertwining

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

I’ve just started reading Trinity: a novel of Ireland by Leon Uris, as I finished The Professor and the Madman this morning, and this was one my DH expressed an interest in my opinion of. I’ve seen novels by Uris before, but not read any of them. At the moment this is sharing the opening set-piece of Dubliners: the wake of an old man, respected in the community (if not by all), as viewed by a young boy connected to his family. I haven’t got far enough in it to say more than that as yet. Already, though, it’s got my DH and I discussing Irish history again, which is never a bad thing.

Still, if I’m to get to even having read a quarter of last year’s total books (320), I do need to get a move on, as I’m at precisely a fifth (64) today. Not that anyone besides me does or should care about that…

37. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling

I believe I was given one copy of this and offered two or three more. Not sure if this says more about me or the book (I was being offered once read copies, where the purchaser thought it unlikely they’d reread the book). It is perhaps more of a book of children’s fairy tales than might be expected from Hermione’s fascination with it in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but for those who enjoyed the Harry Potter series in its totality it’s certainly worth reading once, and for more than the sake of completeness.

38. Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon

After 2008’s reading of the original American version, this was me going back through the series as I knew it originally. As I pointed out then, they are only fractionally different. I still love the story and the writing in this series, but on this reread I was getting disturbed by the huge amount of violence (sexual and non) within the books, so it may be awhile till I go back to them, presuming I do. I haven’t even got hold of or read An Echo in the Bone (the newest book, which came out this September just gone) because of this.

39. What Diantha Did by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I listened to this back to back with Mr Hogarth’s Will, as described two days ago, and since they have some overlapping themes I thought I was going to get them thoroughly mixed up, but I think I have them more distinct now than I did at the time!

Unlike Mr Hogarth’s nieces, who are educated to provide for themselves, and then turfed out to do so, Diantha has to do a lot of persuading of her family that she be allowed to try so to do (so far so like Agnes Grey), especially since she has a young man desperate to marry and look after her (so not like any book I’ve come across before the current generation). This is a clever, practical, principled young woman with her own plan of action, to benefit many women young and old, who will not be deterred from her path, especially by those she loves.

40. Posing for Portrait Photography: a head-to-toe guide by Jeff Smith

One of those random books I read for work, but I like to think it has and will help in my snapping, even though it’s decidedly written for those in or going into professional portrait photography. (I did some ‘proper photography’ courses in school, after learning a lot from my father, but these day I use an automatic digital camera mostly to record my crochet here and on Ravelry, and otherwise to snap pics of friends, family, and touristy stuff.)

Oh, and while I’m discussing improving photography skills, I just came across a really interesting photography blog. It is aimed towards proper photography, but those of us trying to get beyond ‘just snaps’ (again) can learn and be inspired too.

Some more books

Monday, 2 November 2009

I should be crocheting, but I’ve actually designed something, and since I don’t have the yarn to make it, I’ve got temporarily disinterested in the rest. I’ll let you know more about it as and when I can…

So for now, a couple more books. I just finished Agnes Grey, and I’d like to write about that, but if I don’t catch up with the list in order I’m afraid some of the entries upon it will remain forever undescribed, and that would be terrible, of course!

31. A Tale of Seven Sheep by Gadi Pollock

This is a beautifully (and amusingly) illustrated modern Jewish fable. Do not let the illustrations make it seem like it should be for young children, as I suspect it would take adolescents (or their older friends) to get all of the subtle references.

32. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

I haven’t read the other three books in this series, but certainly wouldn’t object to doing so if I happened to find them. At the centre of this book is Tom Natsworthy, a young apprentice on the Traction City of London who by chance gets caught up in the personal disputes of Hester, Katherine, and the latter’s father Valentine, London’s hero, and must flee for his life. Tom lives in a world where people are expendable; villages, towns and cities must destroy each other or be destroyed for their resources; and where the very idea of actually settling in one place is taboo. It’s a complicated world, but a well thought out one, and an intriguing set of tales.

33. Mr Hogarth’s Will by Catherine Helen Spence

It’s been quite awhile, and the main thing I remember about listening to this book is the regular surprise at what was going to happen next. Certainly the romances did not go as expected. Which is not to say that the story is not memorable – just that it’s fairly complex, and keeps the reader guessing.

Mr Hogarth has brought up his two nieces, and educated them in a way generally considered suitable for boys who will have to make their own way in life, rather than for girls. On his death they discover he means them to do just that, leaving all of his money and property to a hitherto unknown son, who in turn would have preferred some contact with his father in life. After thinking through the opportunities both young women make their way to Australia, and the new society there, and slowly build themselves decent lives.

34. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Now I specifically read this at Pesach, (which shows just how far behind I am with this list, and why I amn’t recalling every detail) because I brought it as a gift for the family (good friends) I spent the first days with, and the three-year-old boy had me (and everyone else) read it to him countless times. [Note that I haven’t included on the list all the other kids’ books I read to them, but we went through this one enough for it to count, I think!] He was in fits of laughter every single time (the older kids liked it, but not as much as he did). I had great fun doing voices, and his exuberance and the book itself were a perfect match. It’s just good, and I highly recommend it for reading to young children (which I love doing).

Insomniac Book Recall

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Time to catch up on the Reading 2009 list a little…

29. A Victorian Childhood: At School by Ruth Thomson

This is an informative, well-illustrated series, with this a good example of it. It’s certainly aimed at a primary school audience, but is not to be scorned for older children.

30. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

This is one of my favourite novels, and I’m rather surprised I didn’t reread it in 2008 as well. It’s epistolary (told through letters exchanged between various of the characters), which is the perfect format to show the severe loss of letters in this independent island off North America. Funny, clever, literate (far more than I at 4am…) with characters to be cared about. What’s not to like?

ETA: I’ve had a verbal comment that my readers are going to know what ‘epistolary’ means, and to be honest, in the light of day I’m sure you all will, but as the title and text suggest, I wrote this post in the middle of the night, when I wasn’t so sure.