little sarah Big World

Category: Books

Reckoning

a thousand acres

“Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? Have you reckon’d the earth much?Have you practis’d so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

Stop this day and night with me, and you shall possess the origin of all poems;
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun — (there are millions of suns left;)

millions of suns

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My Whole Life

One of those pairs of glasses was stolen

“Tsundoku”

"Sexual Knowledge" courtesy of Sperry

積ん読

some finished, some not

Noun

~OR~ Way Unfinished Homework

“(informal) the act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other such unread books” (from Wikipedia)

mostly half-finished

I stumbled across this word the other day and read it aloud to Chad. He didn’t say anything, just looked around our apartment.

short stories, for short stays

If nothing else, it is comforting to know that I’m moving to a place where the language accommodates so specifically my exact mania.

 

Inward

 

Sometimes I heal myself through art, Friends. Well…art and a steady stream of To-Do lists. That is life. For me, at least.

This smattering of memorabilia counts as both–something I’ve been wanting to tackle for a long time and something that I thought would bring a better sense of self to my living space and my life.

I call it my “Anti-Anxiety Mural,” and–much like its predecessor–it works like a charm. Like some form of spiritual nesting.

In other news: my very favorite person went out of town, and I’ve spent the weekend at home, making crafts and drinking, or baking and catching up with old friends, or drinking cocoa and watching movies in bed.

Or, you know, reading myself bedtime stories. Because I can. Because I want to. Because this is what being good to myself and living the life I want to looks like right now.

Just don’t ask me what that may look like in the future. I have no idea, and the mural’s only good for so much.

The Sense of an Ending

by Julian Barnes

This was far and away the most English book I’ve ever read in my life. Just…I mean, there’s just no way this book was written by anyone other than a Brit. An American could not write in this way.

It reminded me of Eddie Izzard’s description of American versus English movies–how there’s not even enough action in an English movie to eat popcorn. This was like the book version of that, for me.

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Zines!

~OR~

The Part of My Job That I Like

I like the part of my job where I come up with ideas for zine-making workshops, write up the copy, plan out the details with my coworkers, gather supplies, set up shop, and then spend a quiet afternoon cutting, pasting, chatting, and listening to music in the sun-lit basement of a SugarHouse library.

Pretty much everything else about my job right now is driving me nuts, though. Except the part where I can work on my blog at work. Like right now.

More Zine/Graphic Novel/Alternative Press info a photos here.

The Namesake

~OR~

Remember When I Used to Do Book Quotes?

“Pet names are a persistent remnant of childhood, a reminder that life is not always so serious, so formal, so complicated. They are a reminder, too, that one is not all things to all people.”

“She has the gift of accepting her life; as he comes to know her, he realizes that she never wished she were anyone other than herself, raised in any other place, in any other way.”

“She was exactly the same person, looked and behaved the same way, and yet suddenly in that new city, she was transformed into the kind of girl she had once envied, had believed she would never become.”

“In retrospect she saw that her sudden lack of inhibition had intoxicated her more than any of the men had.”

*       *       *

Isn’t it funny, they way you filter even the books you read through your own actual experience, so that the parts that speak to you also speak to your current frame of mind.

Also the movie version of this isn’t that good, even though it has Kumar of Harold and Kumar in it. Just a heads up.

Making Time

Time to read:

“Why they came East I don’t know. They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together.”     –The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Time for friends, for gathering:

And festivities–time to celebrate, get messy, laugh, be creative:

Time for new friends, and new beginnings, for soul-satisfying discussions and long runs through tree-filled canyons. For the crisp air and crunchy, fire-colored leaves. Time for nourishment:

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had the familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”     (Also Gatsby)

[Just like that, but with Autumn]

Bluebird, Bluebird, Through My Window

I just typed “winder” instead of “window.” Twice.

More happiness homework:

Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, by Ariel Gore

Though this book didn’t hold many solutions and Gore poses many questions for which there are no easy answers, I liked it. Gore’s thesis can be summed up with this passage, from the introduction:

“…how many of us can hear the truths that keep insisting themselves to us? How many of us can listen? How many of us can act on our moments of clear vision? Our desires have been patronized and pathologized for so long it takes serious courage to acknowledge that they even exist.”

Or possibly with this conclusion, from the last chapter:

“In nature, with our friends or children, working or reading, we are happy when we are engaged with our lives. We are happy when we’re following threads of thought and activity we’re curious about–unconcerned with where those threads will lead.”

The writing was tighter and more journalistic in the beginning but more lyrical and personal towards the end. Gore writes beautifully, with terrific insight. Example:

“Parenting, the source of daily heartbreaks and annoyances, has for me become a body of memory and experience that provides a sense of purpose that seems to cradle my general contentment.”

In fact, many of my favorite passages (and much of the book) were related to mothering, though I am not a mother. Gore’s observations just seemed so spot-on, and a little radical. Like this:

“Motherhood is spiritual highs and deep lows, and the institution of motherhood is a locked cage.”

Or this:

“Motherhood has taught me that the opposite of happiness isn’t struggle. It isn’t even depression. The opposite of happiness is fear and obedience.”

Gore structures the book by interweaving her own personal story, as well as the stories of many other women–past and present, canonical and anonymous. She has a nice way of tidily wrapping up a personal narrative with a clever one-liner.

“When the desire…whispered in my ear, I tried to ignore it. I told myself the quiet voice was fear in disguise…I wanted to feel the way they dide, the way I understood I was supposed to feel…Maybe the only thing harder than facing an honest desire is denying it.”

“It’s funny the way the right decision only seems obvious once you’ve made it.”

(Ugh, story of my LIFE).

I really liked that she drew on so many diverse experiences and scientific studies. In fact, many of my favorite passages came from someone other than Gore. The book was largely inspired my Marion Milner’s A Life of One’s Own, and I especially liked this quote (from Milner):

“Often when I felt that certain that I had discovered the little mental act which produced the change, I walked on air, exulting that I had found the key to my garden of delight and could slip through the door whenever I wished. But most often, when I came again the place seemed different, the door overgrown with thorns and my key stuck in the lock. It was as if the first time I had said ‘abracadabra’ the door had opened, but the next time I must use a different word.”

Story of ALL our lives, eh? I also really liked this quote, by Brenda Ueland, from her book If You Want to Write:

“…you should feel while writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten–happy, absorbed, and quietly putting one bead on after another.”

And, of course, while I was reading, as with nearly everything I experience in my life, I tried to apply it to myself, to see where the parallels ran, see what I could learn and where I had room to grow. In an effort to define happiness, to have some sort of common ground as a starting point, Gore borrows a definition from Masan Emoto’s The Hidden Messages in Water, a proposition that really grabbed my attention:

“…but do you have a sense of peace in your heart, a feeling of security about your future, and a feeling of anticipation when you wake up in the morning? If we can call this happiness, then would you say that at this moment you are happy?”

I can’t honestly say that I have any of those things, overall. I do have a feeling of anticipation here in France, because I’m excited to get up and practice French and learn new things every day. And I have some vague ideas beginning to take shape in regards to my future, but nothing I could call secure. I have a mild contentment back home in Salt Lake, in my little apartment with all my little habits and possessions, but no real sense of peace. Not yet. It’s more of a burning desire, an insistent urge, for something else–I don’t know what yet–but something, something different and new. What I have is an itch, a tingle, a hunch. My story reads something more like this (from Gore):

“We ran away, went off to college, moved into the city to find work, to find love. But away from our families and communities we wept, isolated and lonely facing the world as it is. Wide-eyed, we took it all in.”

Enjoying Books, Despite College

I love to read, I work at a library, I am a member of two different book groups, and yet I really haven’t read that much in my life. There are two reasons for this:

1 – Although I read often, daily, I take longer than most to finish a book. I am a Slow Reader, meaning that I can’t read much faster than talking speed, or else it feels frantic. I didn’t even know this until late in college, when I was reading an article with my boyfriend, and he kept finishing each page twice as fast as I did. Adversity.

2 – Also, I was an English major in college, and They totally tried to suck all the fun out of reading and make me feel like an idiot for not automatically noticing major themes of oppression and sexuality (or whatever). All of a sudden, book talk was less “I really like this character, because she reminds me of my friend…” and more “Furthermore, by placing a comma–rather than a period–here, Famous Poet is imploring us to pause, but not to stop…” etc.

I would want to read, but then I’d think about how if I was going  to read, then it really ought to be something for school, but of course I didn’t want to read stuff for school, and then I wound up just not reading.

UNTIL!

Phase I: I started keeping a little paper log of all the books I read (even the ones for school–motivation!), and it was so, so pleasing to see my little literature list grow, so satisfying, and then to be able to look back and remember what I was reading, and when, and where I was sitting as I finished the book. A book club of one, and it was good.

Phase II: But I wanted to remember more about each book, so I started dog-earring pages with quotes or passages that I particularly enjoyed–insights, humor, metaphors, etc. (I’ve since switched to tearing off little pieces of paper to mark these pages, because maybe some people don’t appreciate me returning their books all dog-eared). Then, when I’m done with the book, I sit down and copy my favorite bits into my journal:

Phase III: Phase three is where I start a blog and decide that the minutiae of my daily life is interesting to anyone other than myself. So now I post my favorite quotes and hope that they’ll spark discussion, THOUGH THEY ALMOST NEVER DO.

from What is the What by Dave Eggers (a biography of Valentino Achak Deng)

“I lost someone very close to me and afterward I believed I could have saved him had I been a better friend to him. But everyone disappears, no matter who loves them.”

“This boy thinks I am not of his species, that I am some other kind of creature, one that can be crushed under the weight of a phone book…The pain is not great, but the symbolism is disagreeable.”

“But I loved when she wore [her glasses], and wanted her to wear them more often. She was less glamorous in those enormous frames, and when she had them on, it seemed more plausible that she was truly mine.”

“Without William K, I would have forgotten that I had not been born on this journey. That I had lived before this. Without William K, I could have imagined myself born here in the tall grasses, paths broken by the boys before me, that I had never had a family, had never had a home, had never slept under a roof, had never eaten enough warm food to fill my stomach, had never fallen asleep knowing what could and could not happen when the sun rose again.”

“It was me, Achak Deng. Successful with ladies.”

“One moment I could feel Jor’s breath on my neck, and the next I could smell the animal, its dark-smelling sweat. I turned and saw Jor limp, dead in its jaws. The lion was looking directly at me, emotionless, and we stared at each other for days and nights. Then he turned and left with Jor.”

“On the day of the visit, the camp had never looked so beautiful. I was proud. I can remember the feeling still; we were capable of this, the creation of a life from nothing.”

“We thought we were young and that there would be time to love well sometime in the future. This is a terrible way to think. It is no way to live, to wait to love.”

“Each exhalation was a falling tree and my mind went mad with the noise of it all, but I deserved the turmoil. I deserved nothing better. I wanted to be alone with my stupidity, which I cursed in three languages and with all my spleen.”

“Though I tried to disguise it, I slowed our pace as we walked. I wanted so badly to make the evening last. It was a lovely night, the air warm, the wind civilized.”

Also, I have an account with GoodReads, but I’m not sure that counts as a Phase, since it’s less something I sought out to make my reading experience more interactive and more something that my coworker suggested I do so that I can remember and easily call up all the books I’ve read when a library patron wants a recommend. Plus it allows me to spend that much more work-time sitting in front of a computer.

QUESTION: is it worth linking to my GoodReads from this blog? You know, in my blogroll.

Things I Cannot Hold On To

“Margaret felt sick and was racked with guilt. But after reading about Scott’s ex-girlfriends (and his difficulty in committing to them), what she felt was not exactly jealousy, fear, or suspicion: she felt love for Scott. Everything she adored about him was evident: the integrity he had toward his own instincts, his impatience with passivity, his boredom with shallow values, and his intollerance for cruelty.

This did not go far to alleviate her nausea, or slow the spool of images rushing through her head. But Scott’s past, before she met him, was blameless, and real.”

 

Yeah, that sounds about right.

(If only I could remember)

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