Mainly Me, Me, Me and Liebster

Such a surprise to hear from CricketMuse that she had nominated me for a Liebster Award. How very kind of her. Thank you Cricketmuse

My nominator had asked me the following questions –

1. It’s 2pm on a sunny Saturday–where are you and what are you doing?

Heading for a coffee shop with a book under my arm., somewhere with big windows and a pleasant view.

Looking out through the glass

2. Given the choice of reading a classic novel or the latest bestseller which do you prefer?

The bestseller – so much to read and so little time to read it.

3. Could you work in a job without a window?

Only if I had no alternative.

4. How do you celebrate the first day of vacation?

Doing as little as possible.

5. Who is your favorite poet?

Shakespeare – his Sonnets

6. Do you think technology is affecting they way we converse with one another?

Yes – I enjoy the messaging but I do miss the verbal contacts.

7. Here’s the magic wand–what’s your wish?

To disable the vocal cords of a certain politician for a few days ! But that’s a rather negative answer when I should be saying feeding the starving in all countries or giving other countries a  health systen based on the one in Australia where you are given the best of medical care even when you’re poor.

8. What country would you visit if you won the sweepstakes?

Britain

9. Which pet do you prefer–traditional (dog) or exotic (hedgehog)?

traditional – cat

10. How many blogs do you read during the week?

About a dozen.. Read too many and you don’t do them justice. I like to have time to think about the contents.

11. What do you think of blog awards?

It’s a bit like a chain letter, but in a nice way.. But it makes you a link in the chain. Hello fellow Liebsters.

And she asked for 11 Random Facts about myself.

My first cat was called Henry after Henry V.

I have blue eyes.

I love carbohydrates unfortunately

I usually prefer the winter – it energises me.

A regret -I never learnt to ice-skate

A guilty pleasure would be to learn how to be a hacker, in a nice sort of way, just so I could have a little peek !

Favourite musical – Les Miserables – on stage of course, not on film.

I think that’s enough. You know what they say about giving away too much about yourself on the internet and I think I have already said far too much. !

And now I have to devise 11 questions which hopefully will be answered by those I nominate for A Liebster Award but which can be ignored if they are too personal.

1 Favorite book ?

2. Favorite Movie ?

3. Favorite TV Show ?

4. Do you go to concerts, either classical or other ?

5. What things get under your skin and stir you up ?

6. What time do you go to bed / get out of bed ?

9. Do you watch TV in bed ?

10. Do you like wearing hats – what sort

11.When you sing in the shower, what song do you sing ?

Now I can really see you, wearing your favorite hat, with a book and a DVD under your arm and some theatre tickets sticking out of your pocket. and on your way to your favorite protest rally ! Looks like you’re having fun.

Trumpet Roll – here is my list of nominees for a Liebster Award , in no particular order –

1. Serendipities of Life

2. Booker Talk

3.The Matilda Project

4.Cookies and Crafts

5. A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff

7.Like the World

8. anspired

.9. EllisNelson

I don’t know about other people but I keep my reading list fairly short – a few regulars then a little time left to dabble with a random reading.f If someone has taken the time to write a blog entry then I need time to read and think about the entry, not just skim and discard.

The rules of the Liebster Award are as follows :

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.

2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees.

3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen. (No tag backs)

4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog

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The Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg A Sense of Sound

The other day I started reading   The Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg.  I had seen it on a library display shelf and while not  recognizing  the author’s name I did remember reading  Smilla’s Sense of Snow, which is also mentioned on the front cover- a subtle prompt to the memory to make us choose this book to read.

What a strange book this is turning out to be.  I’m having trouble grasping  the story-line but  Peter Hoeg’s  fantasy-cum-thriller really does make you think of the place of sound and music  in our more ordinary  lives.   So when it rained I closed my eyes and listened.  Usually it’s just heavy rain or light rain, but this time I found I could focus on the different components of the rain sound.  There was the tiled roof overhead which was a different sound to the noisier rain on the flat roof behind me and a quieter bounce on the flat roof in front of me . The back door was open and there were different sounds from the rain hitting a variety of textures, each to its own musical note,  all blending into something that experience told me was heavy rain sound

Then the next day I sat in a café with a book and a coffee but this time I didn’t open the book straight away.  I just listened, and I was listening to sounds that wouldn’t normally register with me.  I would be so absorbed in my book that I would be oblivious to any noise around me.

So what did I hear ?  Nearby four ladies talked in voices which had a strong contralto emphasis while from further away came a man’s voice, one with less variation and in a tenor tone. It was providing a fairly steady line, an X-axis  with the female voices forming  curves dashing up and down through it.  You could have written music to it.  Question.  Answer. Laugh. Anecdote.  Cup hitting saucer. Chair moving on floor. Little cough. Waitress voice. The beat came from the softened, amplified, background music ; the tympani from the soft  kitchen clatter and underneath it all the muffled rise and fall of traffic noises from behind the glass windows. These sounds weren’t intrusive, But  they WERE there. Perhaps we need some café music to fit them, a Cafe Coffee Suite, with different movements as the customers change,  Disney handled rain music beautifully with Drip, Drip, Drop Little April Shower in his film Bambi.

So apart from the music how much can I learn about Peter Hoeg the person from this book?  What sort of person is Peter Hoeg?  I would say completely different to my last read, David Mitchell,  who tells his tales with an imaginative use of language and sense of  fun. But I read David Mitchell in his native English whereas I rely on a translator to read a Peter Hoeg story. I wonder if this makes a difference.

Nevertheless I  thank you Peter Hoeg.  I’ll do my best to understand your story.

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Image

My attitude to life frequently depends on what I am reading. And this week it has been David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green.  I feel good.

As usual  I am way behind everyone else –  I should have read this book years ago. But now that I have finished I find it hard to write about it.   It was so…. good.

The book is full of potential quotes such as “the screws of grammar that hold the sentence together”.   And I was delighted to see Vyvyan Ayrs from Cloud Atlas and his now mature daughter Eva crop up again as Mrs Crommelynck.

I was also intrigued by the final two lines.

”It doesn’t feel  very all right”

“That’s because it’s not the end “

A book published in 2004 expressing the same sentiment as in a 2012 movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  That was a great film which I saw before reading Black Swan Green.    I was most impressed in the movie when an Indian came out with “Everything will be alright.  So if i’ts  not alright it’s not yet the end.“  Here was I thinking that this was an Indian proverb, and what a good attitude to have to life.

Now I’m wondering if there is a prior history to the idea ”not finished so not the end” compared to the idea which is more familiar to me,” it will be alright in the end”..  Not OK therefore not the end, compared to. Is the end therefore is OK

And yes, I did finish Casual Vacancy.  Enough said !Image

My Two Person Book Club, courtesy of Will Schwalbe

 

‘So the premise is a simple one: an informal book club emerges between the narrator, Will, and his mother, Mary,”

Quoted from   “The Art of Writing about Reading” by Lauren Rosewarne.  when she is talking about Will Schwalbe’s  book “The End of Your Life Book Club”.

I had never thought of it like that. Today I had coffee with a friend and we were a book club, just the two of us, talking books. “Seize  the Day. “ says Will Schwalbe.   Sieze the opportunity to talk books. And so we did. Our own private book club and library.  My friend went home with Cloud Atlas and I came home with Kate Grenville’s “The Idea of Perfection”, which I look forward to reading.

I am also looking forward to reading  Will Schwalbe’s book.

Will’s mother is dying of cancer but they shared their love of reading and

“Books provided Will and his mother a way to talk about things that would have been too confronting, too frightening, too close-to-the-bone to discuss frankly.”

“The End of Your Life Book Club is a beautiful combination of memoir, tribute to a parent, but even more so, it’s a lovely homage to that transformative exercise of reading.”

Those are Lauren Rosewarne’s views on the book but her article  is also very readworthy for her views on  reading patterns.

 

And so I post my thoughts in our Virtual WordPress Book Club, where I know nobody but where I know everybody as we share the love of reading.

f have been reading  “The Art of Writing about Reading” by Lauren Rosewarne.

Casual Vacancy by J.K.Rowling

Rowling among the tree tops

Usually I don’t hesitate to discard a book if I’m not enjoying it so why haven’t I discarded Casual Vacancy by J.K.Rowling.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t trust my own judgement.  After all, think of  the number of books she has sold and think of my lack of training in writing and the appreciation of  literature .

So why has it got to the point where I still HAVE to read fifty pages a day if I’m to get it back to the library in time, apart from the fact that I find her writing very dull. What instinct prevented me from buying it for myself in the first place? There’s nothing wrong with the storyline.  There is a vacancy.  That’s a common happening in the real world and leaves plenty of room for the imagination to work.  But it’s an adult vacancy.  So why all this pre-occupation with the children of the village? To me they are mostly irrelevant to the filling of the vacancy which I thought was the purpose of the story.

I’m half way through the book and I am still having trouble distinguishing the characters.  They are still shapeless, faceless people.  Probably the children are the easiest.   Krystal, Fats and Andrew, well I think I’d know them if I met them in the street !  But so far the adults blend together.  I would probably have to start again to try and sort them out but I shouldn’t have to do that to enjoy the book. Perhaps I’ll read this book again some time in the future and thoroughly enjoy it, but I have doubts about that.

At least I can pick nice places to sit and read it, this time in the tree-tops with their roots down on the river bank.

Looking out through the glass

Book Clubs, Libraries and Cloud Atlas

This is a dreary photo of the view from a coffee shop across a shopping centre car park to a brown box on the other side of a busy road.  But the uninspiring brown box is actually a branch of our local library system and was a place I visted this week.

I had read where tthe librarians  were having a “book chat” for an hour each month.  That sounded very appealing.  It’s some time since I’ve belonged to a book club and this way I didn’t have to take my turn as hostess, no cleaning of the house, no massive supper spread to prepare.

So I went along armed with my copy of my latest love, Cloud Atlas, prepared to gush about its many allures but also looking forward to finding out which books others were enjoying.

I was the only person who arrived.  Can you believe that.  The first month one arrived, the second no-one came and this month there was just me.  But it was a stand-out hour for me this week. Talking non-stop books with the librarian ( a complete stranger) and learning each other likes and dislikes.  Hopefully I’ve persuaded her that Henning Mankell is a crime author well worth reading and helped her understand Cloud Atlas so that she will now finish it.  And she has persuaded me to give Wolf Hall another try.  By the way, I call Cloud Atlas a circular novel because once I got to the end I had to go straight back to the beginning and start it again. I tend not to look up reviews etc while I’m in the middle of a book but once I was finished  I found the forums and blogs about this book most helpful. I was so gratified when they picked up on points which I had noticed and so pleased to be told about the references which I had missed.

I hope the librarian enjoyed the hour as much as I did.  For me it was then straight over to the coffee shop to sit and look back at that building with its bleak exterior hiding its magical books.

Customer Friendly Cafes – and the others !

A latte is a combination of the warmth of the glass in your hands, the taste and the aroma. There is a relaxation, a transporting to a more relaxed dreamy feeling, when suddenly WHOOSH , there she/he is with that dreaded bottle of cleaning fluid waving it around over a table and filling the air with that antiseptic enemy of coffee.  I have tried explaining how it spoils the enjoyment of my drink; I have explained how easy it would be to wring out their little cleaning cloth in a small basin of something out the back and how that would be sufficient for wiping down tables. I’ve agreed that I know all about health and safety regulations. I’ve even walked out and left a barely touched coffee behind.  Perhaps it’s just me. But I cannot enjoy a delicate latte if it has to compete with the smell of cleaning fluids or petrol fumes.  Ah, it’s spring, let’s throw open the windows to that T-intersection with its constant flow of cars and trucks.  And let’s smellywash the floor an hour before closing time.  The trouble is that it happens in the places which have skilled baristas and because of their convenient locations I keep going back and resign myself to the occasional bad day.

Fortunately there are plenty of cafes with impeccable records in my book.  One such is situated on the Barwon River and as you reach the door there is a series of three stepped fish ponds.  So soothing.

Barwon Edge