What adventures have I been up to in the past month?  I’m glad you asked.  I watched It’s a Wonderful Life with friends and kittens at the farm, enjoyed a lot of live music from the talented Langdon boys, saw The Hobbit on opening night with friends, trekked to Winston for yet another wedding for two of my friends, spent time with family over the holiday break, and had an eventful and entertaining New Year’s Eve (also at the farm—something cool always happens there).  That all sounds quite idyllic, I realize, but there were definite rough patches, too: work was horrible for about three weeks straight due to the busy season, and there was a fair bit of other drama as well.  In spite of reaching several points at which I was convinced I never wanted to speak to another human being again, however, overall things have been pretty great.  January has thus far been very quiet, which is a bit dull and anticlimactic after such an eventful December.  I’ll be turning 26 later this month, which boggles the mind a bit, or at least it does mine.  When people ask me my age, I never get it right anymore.

Know this:




Books: In spite of having half a dozen more important things to stress over at the end of the year, I was most worried about not meeting my Goodreads goal.  The counter glared at me accusingly every time I logged in.  “You are 6 books behind.”  Goodreads is shaking its head at me in grave disappointment.  “How could you, Stephanie?”

I did read an awful lot, though.

Waiting for Godot was, like the first week of this month, dull and anticlimactic.  I just can’t bring myself to appreciate Beckett; every play of his feels the same.  I admit there were some good lines, and maybe in a group discussion I could beat something worthwhile out of the play, but overall I was exceedingly unimpressed.

I went on a Narnia binge, re-reading The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Last Battle.  I hadn’t read most of them since I was 16, and I loved them far more this time around, actually, which is really saying something.  The Narnia books are kind of like old friends who live far away; you don’t get together often, but when you do, you’re reminded anew of how wonderful they are.

I saw a tiny little book called The Croquet Player by H.G. Wells at the library, so I snatched it up because I like Wells and had never heard of this one before.  The Croquet Player is astoundingly badly named (the story has little to do with the titular character and even less to do with croquet), and was a mildly entertaining  tale but certainly nowhere near as good as Wells’ novels or even as his other short stories that I’ve read.  It’s short enough that you won’t feel like you’ve wasted any time, at least.

Ursula K. LeGuin’s short stories, on the other hand, are always excellent.  I snagged A Fisherman of the Inland Sea at the library, and it was a joy to immerse myself in each of LeGuin’s worlds.  I’m pretty sure she creates a new universe every time she sneezes.  Her world-building is unparalleled.

While roaming the library, I browsed the Terry Pratchett shelf and picked up Making Money at random.  Turns out it’s the direct sequel to Going Postal, my favorite Pratchett novel to date, so I snatched that sucker up and ran.  I was pleased to see that most of my favorite characters from Going Postal were present and just as amusing as before, even as Pratchett introduced new characters.  The sequel didn’t have quite the breathless energy of the first novel’s wild ride, but it was still a blast.

To say I enjoy Cormac McCarthy would be inaccurate; anyone who says they enjoyed The Road probably shouldn’t be allowed around other people.  I do appreciate his work, however.  The Road was moving, insightful, brutal, and horrific, and I’d heard that was one of his lighter books.  All the Pretty Horses, which I read a couple weeks ago, however, wasn’t what I expected.  His spare prose was still there (partially devoid of punctuation, which practically makes reading an aerobic exercise: I breathe where there are periods, darn it, and if you don’t sprinkle at least one or two on a page, I’m liable to pass out).  Parts of it were indeed moving or insightful, and parts were still brutal, though it wasn’t horrific.  But it also wasn’t very good as a whole (forgive me, Cormac), at least not on the level I’d come to expect.  I definitely still want to read more of his books to get a better feel for his writing, but I confess All the Pretty Horses disappointed me.

A friend recommended the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer, and I’d read and thoroughly enjoyed the first book a few weeks ago.  The library had a slew of others, so I’ve been devouring The Curse of the Blue Tattoo, Under the Jolly Roger, and In the Belly of the Bloodhound in quick succession.  Blue Tattoo felt a little erratic, but the third and fourth books were thrilling in the “stay up all night reading to see what happens” way, though admittedly not in the “my, what a fine piece of classic literature” way.  I needed a little high-seas adventure fluff after McCarthy anyway.

Speaking of high-seas adventure, I’m currently rereading Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian.  I read it as a young teen and despised it, though I’m not sure why it inspired quite that degree of loathing.  I just recall being really disgusted and subsequently selling it at a garage sale for 25 cents—and I very rarely get rid of books.  I read it soon after reading the Horatio Hornblower books, hoping for more of the same.  There’s a boat involved in both series, true.  But the characters differ wildly; O’Brian’s are so unlikable, for one thing.  And while I like a detailed description of a ship’s rigging as much as the next girl (well, let’s be honest–far more than the next girl), even my eyes were starting to glaze over at several points.  I haven’t finished it yet, so maybe the wrath-inducing passages of my youth are yet to come, but so far I’m vacillating between modest enjoyment and mild irritation.