Books, Kindle

On Reading

Early last year I took up the challenge, from Alex at Beso Mami, of keeping track of the books I read in 2008. I agreed with her premise that people seem to be reading less. I know that between knitting and spending time on the Internet, my reading had declined. I started recording the books on my previous blog and moved the reviews over here in April.

I had hoped to get to 60 books this year, and only made it to 59, but compared to the statistics that most women in this country read 9, that feels pretty good. 21 I read on my Kindle, a birthday gift from Pure Luck last May when it became apparent that pain in my wrists and hands made it difficult to hold a book of any size for enough time to get anywhere. Thanks, honey!

Many people have asked along the way about my level of satisfaction with the Kindle. I continue to feel it is great as a piece of adaptive equipment, but if I could hold a book, I would rather do that. There are many books I cannot get on Kindle, and I will continue to read those of reasonable size the old-fashioned way. Really big books? I probably will not be able to read them unless I come up with a different scheme. But my usual style of reading is carrying a book everywhere I go around the house and the Kindle is good for that, as long as I don't take it to a bubble bath, which would pose an unnecessary risk to the Kindle (says Pure Luck, who replaced the one I broke when I fell a few months ago).

I've decided to do the same thing in 2009. How about you?

The last three books I read in 2008 were:

#57-"The First Christmas" by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan–I like their mindset, and they supplied historic details I did not know, but they didn't have to convince me of anything.

#58-"Dreams from My Father" by Barack Obama–This is a good book and what a fascinating thing to have a President write a memoir BEFORE becoming well-known!

#59-"No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith–I'm the last one to read this, right? Loved it. I started reading it immediately after finising the Obama book, so I went from his visit to Kenya directly to Botswana. I'm sure I'll be reading more of this series in 2009!

And, my first book of 2009~~~

#1-"The Magnificent Ambersons" by Booth Tarkington–This has been sitting on my Kindle for months after I saw a mention of it on KathyR's blog. I really enjoyed reading it. Tarkington's reflections on the way automobiles and coal changed the life of a city feel timely 100 years after the era he describes.

(P.S. I'm retiring the 2008 book list to my "About" page.)

Advent, Books, Christmas

Words That Help–Books 55 and 56

I like to pick up a new picture book at Christmas time, and this year I happened to see Room for a Little One (Book #55, by Martin Waddell) at a denominational office. It's charming and vivid and simple and short, a story about the cow inviting animals into the barn, and ultimately Mary and Joseph. I used it with the children last Sunday, after which we sang "Jesus, Our Brother, Strong and Good," an absolute favorite of mine. My friend, RevFun, wrote a verse about Molly two Christmases ago. She came to church last Sunday, and we added her verse to the carol.

"I," said the dog, brown, black and white,
I guarded his family all through the night.
I kept them safe till the morning light.
I," said the dog, brown, black and white.

Molly seemed to enjoy it. I know I did.

Throughout Advent, I've appreciated Run, Shepherds, Run: Poems for Advent and Christmas (Book #56, edited by L. WIlliam Countryman). Just tonight I read a poem that touched a tender place for me.

In Memoriam XVIII ~ Alfred Tennyson

The time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid; the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.

Four voices of four hamlets round,
From far and near, on mead and moor,
Swell out and fail, as if a door
Were shut between me and the sound:

Each voice four changes on the wind,
That now dilate, and now decrease,
Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,
Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.

This year I slept and woke with pain,
I almost wish’d no more to wake,
And that my hold on life would break
Before I heard those bells again:

But they my troubled spirit rule,
For they controll’d me when a boy;
They bring me sorrow touch’d with joy,
The merry merry bells of Yule.

I'm grateful to writers this year, writers who have amused me, made the time go by when I couldn't do much with my free time due to ill health, writers who shared their experiences, in fact and in fiction. Tennyson's pain may not be like mine, unless it is since I have been grieving for the life I believed I would have before the RA diagnosis. Now, many months later, I still don't really know what the new life will be like, but I am hearing the bells, too, and finding different joys in them.

Books, Kindle

Book #54–“Death in Holy Orders”

I seem to be slowing down on the reading front, and I can't imagine Advent and Christmas will improve things, but I did finish P.D. James' (NOT James's) Death in Holy Orders, which I read on the Kindle. I've been enjoying mysteries on the Kindle, as they are usually too heavy to hold and don't have nifty graphics you must see in the printed form.

To be sure, I prefer a book, the feel of the paper, the way the words look on the page. But I just can't hold them, not if they are of significant size. I'm grateful to Pure Luck, who gave me the Kindle for my birthday, and who gave it to me again after I fell and broke the first one. It's not that I wasn't careful before, the fall was unavoidable, but I am really, really, really careful now.

I find my goal of 60 books a dubious likelihood, but maybe I'll get there when I travel after Christmas. I have lots of good books on the Kindle, including another James, the first Alexander McCall Smith and the new Marilynne Robinson. And a few more I cannot remember just now.

How about you? Can you do any reading at this time of year? In college, I remember reading novels when I should have been studying for finals. I liked romance then, Jane Austen now for times of great stress, when I need to vanish into another world entirely. Do you do "avoidance" or "escape" reading?