Simon’s Bookish Bits #33

I thought I would take the opportunity, as I am in a weird reading place at the moment, to catch up with you all as I realised I hadn’t for a while. So in the first ‘Bookish Bits’ of 2013 I thought we could catch up how all is going with Gran, a little very local library I have started, the joys and perils of letter writing and who knows I might throw in a cat picture or two along the way, maybe. Sound a plan?

This week has been a week that Gran-wise we have all been on tenterhooks about as we knew we would find out if the radiotherapy had worked. The news was good, if a little bittersweet, as it has worked (hooray) but the secret miracle we were hoping for, that it might make a terminal brain tumour vanish or become operable, hasn’t happened. The wonderful news is of course that we get to have her with us for longer and that it has kept her quality of life really good. So many more exciting times over the next few months with her still, you can see how exciting it is from the picture below (I will probably be disinherited for this, ha) of her and The Beard on one of our many trips…

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Reading wise I have to admit that I am in a bit of a funny old place. Reading by whim has been brilliant but occasionally I feel a little bit adrift, too many books to choose from –not that I am complaining – and so I have been picking up, starting and stopping quite a lot of books. At the same time though I have deadlines on books with Classically Challenged (I haven’t started Tess yet and keep nervously glancing at Middlemarch too) and the Persephone Project. I have noticed that when the deadline is near I automatically go off a book, but I have just started ‘Someone at a Distance’ by Dorothy Whipple, which is Persephone number three, and am hoping that sitting fixedly with a book will, once I have finished, will stick and this picking up then putting off in fickle favour of another book will stop. Any other tips for this?

I have to also admit I still haven’t finished clearing out the TBR and it is mounting up again. I did procrastinate productively though by building a local lending library… for all the apartments in our block. I thought it would be nice to have a place where people can pick up books on a whim (the books in the main are The Beard’s cast offs so please don’t judge me, judge him) and will not be another place I can pop books that I can’t decide if I do or don’t really want to read – honest!

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The other thing I have been doing lately is that almost forgotten art of… letter writing. Nicola Beauman, founder of the aforementioned Persephone books, sent me a really lovely postcard recently and so instead of emailing I sat and wrote back, it was quite relaxing – though when did letter writing become so painful on your wrists, or is that just a sign that I don’t do it enough. Anyway now I am limbering up for an extra special letter as I still, and we are talking almost a year later, have not written to Marieke Hardy, partly as I just think she is so funny and brilliant I am not sure a letter would live up, partly just because the last years been a bit mad. However, I have come up with a way of doing something special and I am planning on making the letter equivalent of Chris Ware’s ‘Building Stories’ which I have just popped on my birthday list. It’s going to be a letter with extras, post cards, book marks, photos, all sorts! For now though I am starting with the basics and getting the blinking letter written.

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I have actually just realised, having stopped to take a breath (and cook and eat a bacon and egg sandwich) that this whole post is rather like a letter. Maybe once a month I should so a kind of Newsletter on here, as I would not have a clue how to set one up online or do a mail out – nor do I think I am interesting enough to warrant one. But a monthly update might be nice maybe?

Oh and finally, before I whizz off to the library via the post office and taking Oscar for a walk (he still loves a lead) I guess it is time for a cat/kitten update. Well… after Millie suddenly went into heat, a rather bizarre and traumatic time for all four of us initially, they are now getting on like a house on fire. There is lots of play, and play fighting, lots of sleeping near each other and above all lots of ganging up with each other against their owners. Fun times! Isn’t Oscar huge now?

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Right, am off. Let me know how you are all doing and what you have been up to! Also let me know your thoughts on a monthly newsletter like post, how you are getting on with what you’re reading and any suggestions to help my weird reading phase. Thanks in advance.

38 Comments

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38 responses to “Simon’s Bookish Bits #33

  1. KateG

    Love the idea of a monthly newsletter on the blog to keep up with you, your Gran and the cats ( and the Beard and your books and…..). Right before I read this post, I was in my living toom trying to choose a book to read. I finshed The Art of FIelding a couple of days ago and am now reading an Agatha Raisin. Agatha is all youf fault as I had never heard of her prior to The Readers and she is a fun break between more “serious” books. I am trying not to buy new books and read from my TBR in the house, but nothing is calling to me. I am up to date for my 2 book groups and have read the last 2 for Clasically Challenged, although I am only 1/2 way througth The House of Mirth. Agatha and then Lily Bart….I am so glad this is my biggest problem for the day (and very glad your Gran is holding her own!).

    • I am happy to take any blame you would like to wing my way for Agatha Raisin, I take it admirably hahaha, I think maybe that a dose of her is what I need to sort my reading funk out. How did you get on with The Art of Fielding?

      How are you finding Lily Bart? I loved her, and indeed that book, very much.

  2. zeneedle

    It is difficult to admit we are procrastinators but I think it has something to do with perfectionism. If we cannot do it perfectly the first time, why bother? I have embarked on a project to write a letter a day this month. Do you mind if I send one to you? You don’t need to reply. I have also noticed writing uses muscles in my hands and wrist that are unused to working. I’m looking forward to your new project of your own podcast.

    • I have no difficulty with my procrastination issues to be honest as everyone I know knows I have an issue with it, ha. I do also think I am just better on a deadline, I think clearer and sharper and the panic makes me think faster. Well thats my excuse.

  3. I love the photo!
    I got a really nice letter from a friend today, we’ve kept up writing real letters as they’re so much nicer than emails.
    Last weekend I read Susan Hill’s Howard’s End is on the Landing and absolutely LOVED it. I found it really inspiring and have so many new book suggestions from it. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

  4. If someone were going to draw a picture of a boy cat and a girl cat, it would be just like Oscar and Millie. I love how they look similar but Millie’s got her girlie hair!

    • Hahahaha they are both very flattered by that comment. We are getting very nervous about Millies expected growth spurt in the next few months, she is due to quadruple inside due to her Maine Coone roots.

  5. what a pleasure to read this post! so glad gran is doing well. thank you for keeping us up to date on her. i’m very proud of you for doing the lending library. i started one at my office and have enjoyed stocking it with books. it’s also fun to see what others add/take away. i also love the idea of a monthly catch-up. though a newletter doesn’t really seem you. just keep blogging and posting videos and we’ll be happy happy happy! now to get back to my book . . .

  6. Ruthiella

    Glad to hear that the radiotherapy was successful and that Granny Savidge is doing as well as can be expected.

    I can’t give you any hints as to how to stop being fickle about books. I am the same way. If often lose my bookish momentum and become easily distracted by other shiny new (well, new to me) books. That is one thing that I like about Book Groups (The Readers and Cornflower’s), because I will read if I have a deadline.

    Your cats are just ADORABLE. I have both cats and dogs and never tire of posts about blogger’s cats and dogs…so keep ‘em comin’.

    • We are all very pleased about Gran, though its an odd sad pleased if you know what I mean?

      You are right about the positives of book groups, thank you very much for that Ruthiella, I need to bear that in mind more.

      The cats are looking very cute at the moment though I miss the kittenish part of them, that said they are lovely cats too though so I must not complain.

  7. Oh, I *so* identify with the habit of going off a book when you have a deadline! I have limited my “challenges” this year to a Barbara Pym a month and an Anthony Powell “Dance” book a month, and I am even struggling with that! I just can’t read a book if the whim/muse isn’t with me.

    Glad Gran is coping well and hope this carries on. Like the idea of a regular “newsy” post – you should definitely do this! And writing real letters – I still exchange the handwritten kind with my oldest friend and it’s definitely nicer than emails!

    • I said I wouldn’t do anymore challenges in 2013 and that is making Classically Challenged a real fly in my ointment. That said I am still doing it, though I am not sure what had happened to AJ, because so many people wanted to join in and also because I would have missed out on a gem like The House of Mirth had I not. Peaks and troughs.

      I will keep up the regular newsy posts I think😉

  8. Hi, just back from a few days at CERN. The LHC will shut down very shortly for nearly 1.5 years for major upgrade work to take us to nearly the maximum design energy. Look out for more news on the “Higgs-like” boson at the Easter conferences.

    Do you need to do anything about your “weird reading phase”? I’m not sure why it should concerny you (unless you are losing out on income from book reviewing for e.g.)

    Thank you for showing us the cats!

    • That first paragraph completely baffles me DP, yet as my step sister is an astro-physicist I shall ask her to explain lol.

      Well as I like reading I like to read and get on not flit, so I would quite like to do something about it. I am having a small break from books for work so that isnt an issue.

  9. Love your lending library idea! A very community minded thing to do. Also pleased to hear about the letter writing. I got a lovely letter this week from my mum. The best thing I’ve had in the post for a very long time!

    • I had forgotten how much fun writing a letter was, it seems my wrists had forgotten how to do it though, the pain after two sides of A4 was shameful. I dont think anyone has used the lending library yet, maybe they feel as I do about my other halves taste in books – snigger.

  10. Lovely, lovely kittens. And I really like your Bookish Bits, it’s good to get an update.
    What a great idea with the library in your building! I have here an English shop (well they call themselves an expat shop) and they have a bookcase there. You can take any book you want and you can bring books there too. I did not try it yet as I have lots of books waiting for me and no time whatsoever to read them, but I will some day for sure.
    Lots of love for Granny Savidge. It’s really good-sad news.

  11. I, too, am glad to hear the news about Granny Savidge. Not perfect at all, but much better than it might have been.

    I think you’re right about the wrists thing. When we were young (making you join in my old age here) we were handwriting all the time. Now, I hardly do it at all. I sat down to do some writing for a friend a while back as I was on holiday and didn’t have my laptop with me and I had such sore wrists by the end too. I guess they’ve got their share of muscles like everything else and if we don’t use them, they’ll get sore when we do.

    • I am seeing letter writing as exercise now, ha! I am trying to write one, or a few pages of each one, every day and seeing it as being good for me mentally and physically😉

      • Before we were married, my now-husband gave me a beautiful fountain pen. These days it sits there without ink in it because I never use it enough to justify filling it. Maybe I need to do some regular handwriting too, just to get to use it.

      • Awww that’s lovely. Me and my other half just text and tweet. Not the same.

  12. Rhian

    Really glad to hear the positive(ish) news about Granny Savidge.
    I do enjoy your Bookish Bits.
    I am so incapable of sticking to one book at a time. I am currently reading 3 – lightweight (in every sense) paperback for the train (which I might just bring myself to leave there when I finish), hardback at home, and big, heavy volume in bed. See how I rationalise reading 3 at once? None of which stopped me pulling more books off the shelves in the no-longer-scary room and beginning to dip into them.
    As for writing I don’t! Mostly because my handwriting is so bad nobody can read it. I suppose practise would improve it but…..

    • I dont mind multi-reading and juggling books at all, but when I am flckly flitting between books I just get really cross with myself. That said I have been sat with the latest Persephone book today and am completely in the zone now, so maybe those deadlines do help?

  13. Really enjoyed this catch-up post. I absolutely adore the idea for a lending library in your building and am almost tempted to steal it. Are you friendly with your neighbours? I don’t know any of mine, sadly, and would be afraid that they’d hate the idea or that some Scrooge would throw all the books away and scold me for cluttering the hallway or something ridiculous!

    • I do get on with my neighbours. Well apart from one who verbally and homophobically assaulted me once. But she doesn’t use the communal hall😉

      I think it might be a nice way to get to know your neighbours and be neighbourly. Good relations with neighbours is worth it’s weight in gold. And if they don’t like it you just bring the books back in. I imagine they will like the idea though.

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