Wednesday, January 13, 2016

the solace of reading good books

What's on my mind today is good books - I have them lined up like dominoes in my head, what I'm reading now, what I'm going to read next, what I read and want to read again, what books are out there that I haven't even discovered yet.

I just finished Gretel Ehrlich's book of essays about life working cattle and sheep in Wyoming. The Solace of Open Spaces is a gorgeous look at life and landscape and working with animals. It's a short book and a great read. (with thanks to my daughter for putting it in front of me!)

I lost no time in moving on to the next read because it's been staring me down ever since Christmas time. Oliver Sacks memoir On The Move: A Life is in front of me as I type this. A long time ago I picked up his work and fell in love with his books and recently, just before his death, began to see excerpts from essays he wrote as he neared the end of his life. His perspective on life and death, on aging and staying young at heart, resonated with me as much as his books do.

I read that shortly before his death he traveled to North Carolina to spend time with the lemurs at Duke University's primate center. Right up to the end he was pursuing his interests and making time to do the things he loved.

For anyone doing her own writing, I just completed a book on the craft of writing by Paula Munier called Writing With Quiet Hands: how to shape your writing to resonate with readers. I liked it a lot. The chapter on narrative thrust is essential reading.

I'm getting ready to start Ron Carlson's Ron Carlson Writes A Story. This little book addresses short story craft and I'm eager to dive in.

And finally, if you keep tabs on my "currently reading" list on the sidebar to the right, you may notice that Sean Carroll's book seems to sit there - and sit there - and sit there. No, I haven't given up on it. No, it isn't boring. But it's about physics and time and although written for a lay audience he doesn't shy away from difficult principles. I do this reading every morning, a few pages at a time, and try to really sink in and think about it. I'm often confused and sometimes my brain freezes up as I work through it but at least a few times a week I get a glimmer of understanding that is so exciting when it happens it keeps me hooked. (and fuels my new trilogy that is 2/3 done and still simmering)

As usual, I'd love to hear what you're reading, what you love, or, on a slightly different note, what landscape offers solace to you?


Grey Horse Matters said...

I don't know how you find the time to read and write and ride and take care of the horses and....

I'm still reading the Outlander series I get one or two chapters in a day, usually before bed. I'm almost done with the book 7 and then on to the last book. I don't know maybe I'm reading it slower because I don't want to finish them. Love the story and the way she writes.

I give you credit for reading the physics book. It would make my eyes cross and I'm afraid it would be too boring to keep my interest. That sort of thing has never been my cup of tea.

As for a landscape that offers solace to me, I'd have to say it's the ocean. Having grown up and lived on Long Island my whole life the ocean was always a big part of what we did. I'm sort of landlocked now but occasionally get back home.

billie said...

Arlene, mostly I never do all of those things on the same day - but I aim for that if at all possible!

I am with you as far as Outlander. A chapter or two a day because you don't want to race through it and then face the big black hole of NOTHING after the final book that's out there!

Some parts of physics are my cup of tea and others not - I love the ideas of quantum physics but can't grasp the math - not that one has to in order to read Sean Carroll. My downfall with math stuff was evidenced in this morning's read. There's a certain value he's talking about that, when squared, gives you another value. My question is, WHY? Why does squaring this particular value give you this other one? Why not cubed? I have the question in to my son but that's the kind of thing that sends me careening off the tracks. If I can understand why then math makes sense - but if I don't, it doesn't.

Anyway, it does stretch my mind and I enjoy that aspect of it. :)

I love the ocean too - though I have never lived in close proximity. The closest was when I lived about halfway between San Jose and Santa Cruz, CA and it was a novelty to drive not that far and be by the sea. I enjoy the sounds and the smells. Soothing and powerful!

Matthew said...

Sometimes a good book is what is needed to refresh and restore the mind and soul!

billie said...

I don't think I've ever been without a book in progress reading-wise since I learned to read. The idea that I wouldn't have one, and at least a few waiting, is so weird to me!