Betsy Whitt

I read. I write. I think. I live.

Category: Books (page 1 of 2)

2009 Book List Posted

I know I’ve been delinquent all year about figuring out how to give everyone access to the list of books I’ve been reading.  I’m always delinquent about something.  It’s a bit of a miracle that it’s been something so comparatively trivial this time around.

At any rate, I’ve finally remedied the situation–and none too soon, given the hour.  I can confidently say that I will not be reading any more books this year.  Also, I managed to put together some stats about how much I’ve read in various genres with, I must confess, a bit of a surprising result.

The new page can also incidentally be found as a permanent page under “Reading Lists” on my main webpage.  Click here for my 2009 book list.

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Thief?

I went to the library yesterday to return a few books and browse to see if there were any more worth checking out.  I found four, scanned them at the checkout, and came home, aware that Matt needed the car for work.

I just checked my library account online, and it doesn’t register that I have anything checked out.

I must have forgotten to click “finish” on the computer yesterday.

Does this mean I’ve stolen books from the library?  Should I call them and let them know?  I’ve already read two and a half of the books–would it really hurt if I read the other one and a half and took them all back tomorrow?

This has never happened to me before.

I feel sheepish.

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If I Only Had A Brain

I haven’t posted in quite a while. That is in part because work has been a bit strange lately; in part because Matt was home for a very brief period last weekend and most of the time was spent getting him and his stuff ready to turn around and leave again; and in part because my mom flew in on Tuesday morning to keep me company (and keep me sane) through the last bit of Matt’s Huge Month of Being Away.

So, what have I been up to? Not as much as I wish. I’ve taken Shiloh to the dog park regularly, spent time with some good friends, and am currently reading Jim Butcher’s FURIES OF CALDERON, which I like very much thus far.

My boss hasn’t been doing all that well lately. . . for a while it was just general fatigue, but recently that translated into a couple of falls when he was at home, and he is currently in the hospital for a little while as a result of that. I haven’t spoken with him directly, but the latest news I got was that the doctors are confident that he will recover fully, though he won’t be leaving his home for a week or possibly more. On the one hand, it’s nice to not have to work while Mom is visiting; on the other, I sincerely wish that condition were not a result of Vernon’s injuring himself.

So that’s what’s happening with me. Shiloh’s still cute; Bob2 is still alive out on the porch, as best I can tell. And Matt comes home tomorrow afternoon! Woohoo! I get my husband back!

Time to go and finish reading the book. It’s “due” back to the generous soul who lent it to me on Sunday. (He knows that without a deadline, things tend to languish on my To-Read Shelf. Smart boy.)

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Happy Tuesday!

I’m feeling almost alarmingly cheerful this morning. Maybe it’s because I think I’m finally catching up on my sleep deficit. Maybe it’s because I made lemon poppyseed muffins for breakfast this morning (YUM!). Maybe it’s because I’m caught up on all the pressing emails and online things I needed to catch up with. Maybe it’s because I fiddled with my GoodReads account so that it’s accurate and up-to-date, and I realized that I’ve read 27 books this year. Maybe it’s because, for the second day in a row, the temperature should rise about 70 today.

Maybe it’s because if my mood didn’t improve, I was going to shrivel up in my favorite fleece blanket and not come out for another two months.

Your guess is as good as mine. I’ve got a paper to edit for Matt, an article to read, and article to write for a newsletter, some critiques to work on, and maybe some crosswords to finish. Dinner tonight should be grand. One of my favorites: pan-fried polenta with veggies. Yum yum.

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Friday Friday

Things are looking up this morning, oddly enough. Aside from the fact that in the half-sleeping stage between when Matt’s alarm went off and when mine went off, I kept thinking today was Sunday, it’s gone darn well. It’s $1 breakfast burrito day at our favorite coffee shop, so we went out for breakfast. Crazy! We spent $4 total – 2 burritos and 2 cups of coffee.

I need to pay the bills this afternoon when I get home, but the library book sale is over, which means anything that’s still there is free. I’ll go over and look at the potential loot in a bit. And then I’ll be taking Dr. Grounds for a haircut and then home. I’ve got some non-manuscript writing that needs to get done, and I’ve decided that since we’re giving up TV for Lent, and since that’s a much bigger sacrifice for Matt than it is for me, I’m going to seriously cut back on my leisure reading so that we can spend more time doing things together.

This makes it especially ironic that I might have gone overboard a little bit at the library yesterday. You might ask, “How do you go overboard at the library?” And rightly so. It’s hard to go overboard when things are free, wouldn’t you say? But I came home with six big hardback fantasy epics and four paperbacks. . . and I already have about 30 books on my “to read soon” shelf, and that’s not counting the three or four that have come out recently but I haven’t gotten my hands on. It also doesn’t count the stack of four or five nonfiction books that I keep telling myself I’ll read, because darn it I need more nonfiction in my reading diet.

I think it’s also time that I admitted that my stack of books I got part of the way through and meant to come back to just aren’t going to grab my attention again and need to be either returned to their respective owners or replaced on my general fiction shelves. I’ll try them again sooner or later, probably, but for now I’ve lost interest.

And I’m thinking that even though I said I wasn’t going to keep track of the books I’ve read any more, I like doing that more than I realized, so I’ll keep it up in some form or another.

And just in case you have a baby who’s not earning its keep around the house, here’s today’s must-have item:

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Miscellany

So I’m in Houston; no problems with my flight. I was moderately concerned as we took off, which was very odd, since normally I’m very comfortable and happy when flying. But a few weeks ago, a plane crashed on takeoff at the Denver airport, and though I didn’t think of it until the moments right before liftoff, I breathed a sigh of relief when we were safely in the air.

The guy next to me tried to flirt with me, but didn’t do a very good job. I wasn’t rude or anything, he just never did anything other than make comments he thought were witty and ask why I was flying to Houston. Honest. Then, in his last real effort, he told me that if he fell asleep and started snoring, I could just elbow him and wake him up. That was just under halfway through the trip, as drinks were passed out, and since he’d already been asleep and showed absolutely no tendency toward snoring, I just thanked him and refrained from further comment.

Then he noticed my wedding and engagement rings (it’s not like I was hiding them, and he was even sitting on my left), and he said, “Oh, it looks like you’re already married.”

“Yep, I am.”

Silence.

He slept most of the rest of the flight. His sister was sitting on my other side, and I think she was mildly amused. When it comes down to it, I was a little more than mildly amused, but I managed not to show it.

So now I’m waiting at the gate where the rest of my immediately family will allegedly appear in four hours. And I have four hours to fritter away. There are no out-of-the-way seats that also have a power outlet nearby, so I’m camped out in the middle of everything with my feet propped on my new carry-on suitcase, and I’m starting to lose circulation in my legs. I have two books with me, but neither seems terribly, immediately appealing right now. But I could read them and maintain feeling in my legs. It’s possible that they don’t seem appealing because I’ve seen copies of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s new release, Glitter Baby, all over the place in the airport stores, and I’d really like to read it. So tempting to just go ahead and buy a copy. Luckily for my wallet, it’s a fair hike back to any of the booksellers’ from the gate area here. On the other hand, I do have four hours to fritter away.

Decisions, decisions.

Oh, I uploaded the final update of my 2008 reading list – follow the links at the top o’ the page to find the list of 167 books I finished this year.

Okay, putting away the laptop now to save my circulation. Toodles!

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Why Fantasy Heroes Rock

One of my favorite chunks of The Literature of Hope in the Middle Ages and Today: Connections in Medieval Romance, Modern Fantasy, and Science Fiction, by Flo Keyes:

Action, not introspection, dominates. The reader is not told how to act; he or she is shown. The hero is not proposing a plan for the future; he is carrying it out. If a science fiction writer had a man wake up to discover he had been turned into a giant cockroach, as Kafka has Gregor Samsa do, the story would not focus on the cockroach’s loss of humanity, his sense of alienation from his family, the resurgence of gumption in the previously passive family members, and a wasting away into death to get himself out of the way. Instead, the reader might expect to hear the human/cockroach thinking something like, “Wow! I’m a cockroach. No insecticide known to man can kill me, maybe not even nuclear radiation can kill me. I can get into all kinds of places humans don’t want me to be, and I can walk on ceilings.” Then the cockroach would tumble out of bed, squeeze through one of those impossibly small spaces no one can believe a cockroach can fit through, and set off to save humanity from itself (and maybe make the world a better place for cockroaches of all sizes, too).

I don’t think there’s anything else to say, really. But in the end, I think that’s a pretty succinct summary of why I didn’t like METAMORPHOSIS at all. Wimpy Gregor just laid down and died. What’s that about??

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Still Alive, I Promise

It’s been a pretty boring week, as long as you take out the mild panic building about all the things I’ve put off until the last minute before I leave for residency, and the moderate panic Matt’s been tossing around as he gets ready for his upcoming week of leading camp for the 5th and 6th graders at the church, followed by another week of helping with the camp for the 7th-12th graders. Mmm summer camp.

I was sick for a while (seem to be mostly better now, aside from still wanting to sleep extra) and the dog’s tummy got all upset at her and so we had a few days of finding gifts in various corners of the house instead of out in the grass where they belong, and of the dog not eating at all. But she’s finally back to normal, and we’re very glad.

I feel mildly bad that I don’t have much of anything interesting to say here – I should really be reading The Lies of Locke Lamora (Scott Lynch), which is the required text for this residency and which I have to have finished by Wednesday morning at the latest, and which is really stinkin’ long (but good, so far) – but I thought I should let you all know that we’re kicking here in Colorado, just doing it mostly away from the blogosphere.

And now, to make up for the decided lack of entertainment these past few weeks, I give you a lovely example of public service:

I’ll try to update more next week!

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Monday Monday

Day Two of the Crazy 4:30 Plan is going well so far. It’s still crazy, rather than just absurdly normal for me but not anyone else, but I’m getting work done, so I’m happy.

The quote of the day from Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist seems amazingly appropriate for me this week:

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.
– PABLO PICASSO

Also, John Scalzi has a very valid point about Obama’s amazing popularity. For what it’s worth, coming from someone who’s nearly as uninterested in politics as a person can get, I think he’s right in his assessment of how things are going/will go down.

Having sent pages to Gary at long last, I’m allowing myself to indulge in reading INK EXCHANGE (Melissa Marr). It’s everything I wanted it to be.

Back to the writing!

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Books!

I find myself becoming friends with more and more people who wait for book releases like “normal” people wait for movies to come out. It gives me a giggle every time I think about it, because I think it’s fabulous. Tho, on a side note, I’m definitely looking forward to May 2, when Made of Honor comes out. But that’s not the point. The point is books!

It’s been a while since I talked about books here, and since I have managed to amass a whole shelf’s worth of books I’m waiting to read, I thought it might be time to list them out and get on with the actual reading of a few of them.

I spent a large part of my day today at the University of Denver’s library and the Tattered Cover, so I’ll start with my most recent acquisitions. The first three are purchases (I’ve been saving my money for these) and the other four are library books:

  • Natural Born Charmer – I know, Aubrey, this isn’t one of your favorites, but it was my first Susan Elizabeth Phillips read, and I love it despite its flaws. A contemporary romance, for those of you who aren’t familiar with SEP.
  • One Foot In The Grave – Jeaniene Frost’s sequel to Halfway To The Grave; a vampire romance. I’m not allowed to read this until I’m done with all my school work for the term, because I will get nothing else done while I’m reading.
  • Ink Exchange – sequel to Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely, which was one of the best books I read all last year. Another that I can’t read until schoolwork is done.
  • Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt by Lionel Casson – less than 150 pages, and the bits I read at the library were easy to follow and read rather quickly, which is very nice. My novel doesn’t have Egyptian-types in it directly, but I’m particularly interested in the chapter on ancient methods of travel and I like Egypt stuff, so I grabbed it.
  • Other Worlds: The Fantasy Genre by John H Timmerman – I considered saving this for next term’s critical theory book, but it’s hardly 100 pages and extremely easy to read, so I thought I might as well go through it now. I’ve got another lined up for next term, anyway. Looks good, and will hopefully support my reading in From Homer to Harry Potter from a non-Christian scholar’s point of view, which would be great.
  • A Better Country: The Worlds of Religious Fantasy and Science Fiction by Martha C. Sammons – this one’s my required thoery text for this term, and I chose it particularly because of its focus on religious fiction and its portrayal of fantastic worlds as parallel to paradise/heaven. This one is more scholarly, and I have a feeling I should dedicate myself to reading a chapter every day or two to process it well enough to really get any good out of it. But I’m not regretting my choice now that it’s in my hands.
  • The Lebanon and Phoenicia by John Pairman Brown – I’ll admit that this choice is a bit out there when one takes into account all the other things I need and really want to read, but this has some great info about ancient Phoenicia, which is much closer to my novel’s setting, so I couldn’t resist pick it up, too. I very much doubt I’ll read all of it… in fact, I might not get to read much of it at all, but I just couldn’t pass it up.

So those are the latest acquisitions. I also have to read David Eddings’ Pawn of Prophecy and re-read (and pay attention to details of) Carol Berg’s Breath and Bone for school. In addition, I have the stack on my shelf that I have borrowed from the library and/or friends but haven’t read yet. Some highlights:

  • The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett – borrowed from friends, along with the second one, and I still haven’t read it. Argh.
  • Acacia by David Anthony Durham – part of the fantasy challenge Shara tossed out back in January, and no, I haven’t read a single one of them yet, drat it all.
  • Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb – I finally saw this on the shelf at the library (rather than having to request it) and snatched it up because I’ve been meaning to read it for years. We shall see.

There are also two historical romances, a trilogy of inspirational romance recommended by a friend, and Lies of Locke Lamora, which I need to read before the June residency.

And right now I’m reading Archangel by Sharon Shinn, and loving it – it’s the first of five, I believe, and I don’t know when I’ll get to the rest, but this one’s fascinating and extremely well-done. Not that I’m surprised, having been a fan of Ms. Shinn’s for several years now. It reads like a fantasy, though I strongly suspect that it’s a science fantasy, not unlike Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books, but dealing with different issues. Really amazing thus far, but I’m only a little more than halfway through.

So that’s what’s on my reading shelf at the moment, and now it’s time for me to get back to reading some of these. . . .

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