I started my new year with a book that had been sitting sadly unread on my bookshelf since last Christmas. (As in, 2012 not one week ago.) I had read one of Billy Collins’ collections and asked for more of them. I’m glad I did! I read this new collection in one day–actually, in one hour. I took it with me this morning to my friend’s cafe and read it on the couch with a latte and a slice of Peanut Butter Oreo Pie (a.k.a. “Heaven”) and all of this made for a delightful hour in my day.
Billy Collins does with words and moments what I can only try to do and hope that somebody picks up on it. He has made beautiful, clever poems out of chairs that no one sits in, meatballs, and the feeling of a hangover. And if you’re reading this thinking, “Yeah, but it’s poetry. I don’t understand any of that stuff,” you’re wrong. Go read them all.
I have discovered that Paul Torday is a fantastic storyteller. I watched his movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen without reading the book, and now I wish I had read it first. His book More Than You Can Say was intriguing and very different than Salmon Fishing, and the rest of his books, as far as I can tell from the blurbs on the back, are similarly varied in topic/subject.
I also finished off the last of John Green’s published books, The Fault in Our Stars, and enjoyed it very much. But my favourite of the three has to be 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith. I have seen many of the books in Smith’s series about the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, but have never read those out of disinterest. When I found 44 Scotland Street on the shelf at my local library, I read the back blurb and it sucked me in right away. This is the first in a series as well — all about the jumble of characters living in one apartment building — and I definitely am excited to read the rest. What is especially interesting about this book is that it was first published as a serialised novel in a newspaper, with daily installments. I think this gave it an unusual momentum that many books lack.
It was 11:30 AM. I was hungry. I had all the ingredients for a delicious-looking salad I found on Pinterest. The preparation time for the salad said “eight minutes.” Eight minutes! I can handle that!
It said eight minutes because it called for already-chopped onion and already-cut strawberries. Whatever, I can handle that. Only takes a couple minutes to chop those.
It said eight minutes because it called for canned black beans. All I had to do was open the can, drain the beans, and pour them into the bowl. I knew this, and I had planned ahead with my dry beans. I had them soaking in the refrigerator overnight.
What I didn’t plan was the cooking time. Who knew that even with pre-soaked beans, it takes roughly one and a half hours to cook?!?!?!?!??? Not me. It’s now 1:14 PM, and I’m still waiting for my lunch. Here’s what it looks like now:
Here’s what it will look like when it’s done:
I hope mine tastes as good as this one looks. At least now I know to cook my beans ahead of time…
Yet another two-day book, Paper Towns by John Green was a simple, straightforward read. I was curious to discover the motivations behind a certain character’s disappearance, but I felt like I should have read this book in middle school rather than as an adult. This isn’t due to the characters’ ages (high school seniors) but due to the style and level of writing as well as the content. That being said, I did appreciate the book’s theme of perceiving people as bigger or more idealistic (and less human) than they really are. Good book, John Green, but not your best. (In case you’re wondering, An Abundance of Katherines and Looking for Alaska were your best–but I haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars yet.)
This week–actually, over just two days–I read The Expats by Chris Pavone. I don’t read mysteries as often as I should, because I always love them. This novel might not technically be classified as a mystery–who classifies books anyway?–but it kept me trying to figure out what was going on, what the secrets were, and who was involved with what crime the entire time. I’m excited to find that his next book is coming out next March.
It was so comforting to bury myself in a book again. Since I have been back in Perth I haven’t felt settled, and am looking for some project or mission to work on while I am jobless. I like to have something to work towards, to focus on. Reading has given me a small focus, but I don’t want to spend all of my non-job-applying time reading. I want to work my brain more than that. I also started a jigsaw puzzle, which has helped. I’d like my next project to be creating something–should I give myself a photo assignment? Writing assignment? Should I try something new and make some paintings or drawings?
Both were good, but I have to rave about The Alphabet Sisters. I’ve read two other novels by Monica McInerney, and this was by far my favourite, for the detail and combination of its characters. Arranged was interesting, because it was about a modern arranged marriage, but I wasn’t as attached to the characters. It did keep me reading right through to the end, though! They both did.
Next up, two new picks from the library this afternoon. Stay tuned!