vintagewitch: (Rory Reading)
I read a lot more in 2015 than I have in other years. Part of this was the long stretches on un- or under-employment. And I was thinking about it, and realized that it was actually kind of difficult to remember all that I've read. So I stared at my bookshelves a good long while, went back through my defunct book club's facebook group, and pulled together a list. Some of these will get a couple of short words in the post, behind cuts in case you just want a snapshot. 

Books I've Finished:
Kindred b. Octavia Butler
The Last Unicorn b. Peter Beagle
A Short History of Nearly Everything b. Bill Bryson
Neverwhere b. Neil Gaiman
The Haunting of Hill House b. Shirley Jackson
Love Medicine b. Louise Erdrich
The King in Yellow b. Robert W. Chambers
The Spiral Dance b. Starhawk
Wild Seed b. Octavia Butler
Sandman original arc vols 1-3 b. Neil Gaiman
Spiritual Cleansing b. Draja Mickaharic
Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories curated b. Roald Dahl
Brave New World b. Aldous Huxley
Bird By Bird b. Anne Lamott

Books I've Read Part Of:
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate b. Naomi Klein. NOTE: I really enjoyed this, but I started it right as grad school was beginning, so I had to drop it. Highly recommend, though.
The Hero Within: 6 Archetypes We Live By b. Carol Pearson
Rogues - collection of short stories by multiple authors all centered around a rogue character. DEFINITELY recommend - I only read some of the stories, but they were all fab.

The Goldfinch b. Donna Tartt 
Read more... )

Maddaddam b. Margaret Atwood
Read more... )
vintagewitch: (Default)
 The last couple of days have been sort of productive. I've been wrapping up things at my job - my last day on the payroll is tomorrow. I am both relieved and sad about that. I also have an interview at 9 am tomorrow morning for a temp gig, so here's hoping I can nab that one.

I have ideas for the next novel bubbling up inside of me. I've even been looking into the research. It will be set sometime in the 1910s or 1920s - and it will have to do with spiritualism, mysticism, and the early revival of ceremonial magick in America. I'm not sure exactly the plot, but I know where I want to do research, so that's a good thing! Of course, I need to finish the manuscript I'm working on at the moment before I can even begin to plot another novel out. I don't want to get ahead of myself.

I've been trying to make time for writing. I haven't been terribly successful. I feel like my work in progress right now has potential to be very good, but the structure has changed so much over the course of the writing of it that it's hard to see that potential. I know the Brain Demons don't really help much on that front. Camp Nano will be good for me this year - force me to write a bit every day, force me to finish this manuscript. 

I wish I'd known that particular, localized folklore would be such an important part of this novel I'm writing now. I could have done the research ahead of time. I feel like I just ... jumped in. I know that each project is a learning experience, and this one is a rather big one. 

I have also noticed it's difficult for me to be really open and creative when I'm doing the kind of work I've been doing. Calling people I don't know to try to get them to do things for hours on end? REALLY EXHAUSTING. And I'm not even as introverted as they come - I'm pretty smack dab in the middle. I am eager to get to a point where I'm doing more management, more long-term policy planning, rather than the constant, high-energy work that is organizing.

Social media? Another huge drain. Facebook more than Twitter - I feel like there's more on the line with Facebook. Like, the social consequences of facebook weirdness are worse. Actually, there's a whole post here waiting to be written, but I just haven't gotten to it yet. 

Add that to my list.

I've been getting to know a neighbor in the building. She's ... probably in her sixties? She's had a really interesting life.  But she's super secure in who she is, she's got a great perspective, and she helps me see things differently. She's also incredibly intellectual, which I've been missing lately.

Note to self: spend more time reading, analyzing, seeing things. It's way easier to turn on shitty tv at the end of organizing, but that doesn't feed my soul the way books and writing does.

I think I hang out with 20-somethings too much. When your friends are your job competition, that shit can get weird.

(folks reading this are excluded from the "I hang out with 20-somethings" thing. Even if we do hang out in person)
vintagewitch: (Default)
Please be gentle with me on this book review - my brain is still definitely in recovery mode from this weekend.

Basically since starting this journal, I've been meaning to write about the books I'm reading and the movies I'm watching, but just haven't really got around to it because work has been off the rails. But now there's a friending meme on, and I've been wanting to get to know more folks online, so it seems like the perfect time to write about more than just what's going on in my life (though of course, I will keep doing that. Journaling is important.)

So ... here's a (very casual) review of "Neverwhere!"

I picked this up again because my book club was reading it, but I unfortunately didn't finish it when that meeting rolled around, but I kept reading it. This was somewhat difficult for me to get through, first off because when I read it I the first time I was in an abusive relationship, so I definitely kept being reminded of things that happened at that time. The other reason I had trouble getting into it was this: I forgot how funny it is! I generally don't go in much for humor, and this is a very specific kind of humor. Of course, it starts to get more serious in tone as the book goes on and the plot unfolds, but that is definitely not something I remembered from the first time I read it.

"Neverwhere" is one of Neil Gaiman's earlier works, so it is a bit clunky in some areas. It is good to note that this is also an adaptation from the miniseries, which I remember liking quite a bit more. Gaiman's writing is always very visual, but this one is particularly visual. I want to curl up in the world of Neverwhere and, very carefully, drink my tea and people-watch. It's so very tangible.

The universe beneath London, beneath the major cities of the world, fascinates me still. There's also this interesting social justice aspect of it - though there doesn't seem to be a political point. It's more a challenge - Gaiman makes very real the fact that people who have fallen through the cracks of society become invisible. The horror of the book is the suggestion that maybe there is something greater at work. Richard's pain at being invisible, being taken for insane, being forgotten by his loved ones - it's something that many people think about, but swallow their feelings and shake it off. London Below is a beautiful place that many people enjoy, and spoiler )

What I appreciated most about this was the way the world was constructed. It is at once so dangerous, but so beautiful, and downright fun. The alternative that "Neverwhere" puts forward is very attractive - and Gaiman writes it as if it is so much closer to human experience than our society of safety, security, and office jobs.

All in all, I'm very glad I reread this book. Even though humor is not typically my cup of tea, it's worth it for the worldbuilding. 
vintagewitch: (literary kitty)

Oof. OOF. What to say about this one.

My book club chose this book because it was one of our members' favorite classics, and we all wanted to read more classics. And I have to say, this book was not at all what I thought it was, but it was also absolutely, out-of-the-blue fantastic! For some reason (probably because of this great Puppini Sisters cover), I thought it was a romance/satire, along the lines of Austrn. Not, in fact, true at all.

I think this is such a curious work of fiction because it's really hard to nail down a genre. I'm not sure if it's a romance, a tragedy, gothic, romantic ... I was engrossed, and blown away by the ending because I had no idea where Bronte was going. I can't think of one similar work. And I loved that.

It's amazing to me to read (relatively) early novels because the plot is so much more experimental. I can't imagine this book being written now. If it had been, I feel like it would have been either straight romance, or straight tragedy. Not this mix of both.

I think this resonated with me because I love stories where the characters aren't that like able. That's part of why I love Girls, and also part of why I can't watch it too faithfully.

Anyway, next up for book club is The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan. I've read it before, but I have a different impression every time.

vintagewitch: (blogging)
x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] 50bookchallenge

I DID IT! I am posting to triumphantly announce that I have FINISHED READING 1Q84.

I was absolutely taken in by the storytelling technique, the vision, and the voice of this work. I started reading it shortly after finishing nanowrimo, which was a mistake. It made me feel very ... small ... as someone working on their own writing. The atmosphere he was able to create, within the first page of the novel, made me feel like I was dreaming as I was reading.

This is book #4 finished of the year, and it has definitely taken a ton of my time. At 1,157 pages, it's an absolute behemoth. I'm very happy I read all the way to the end, but it was definitely difficult to get through. I'm very much a person that reads more than one book at once, and having one take me this long (six months) to finish definitely left me feeling antsy that I couldn't spend enough time with my other books.

However, I do think this should have been a much shorter book. It makes sense that it was three books originally, but it just felt like there was so much description and dense detail that was ... ultimately not necessary. Definitely made me feel like I was a part of the book, but it also really drew it out. Large portions of the book take place while the characters are waiting, or staying in one place, and ... it felt a little self-indulgent.

BUT I'm very glad I read it.

Now, on to more books!
vintagewitch: (Default)
There was a fascinating article over on Offbeat Home and Life that I read over my lunch break. It was about Hardcore Norming - a recent trend of people who are "radical" wearing "normal" clothing as a way to buck the trend of cultural consumerism.

I just wanted to make a quick note of all of this, because I think it's fascinating. I definitely remember the rise of Hot Topic as an "alternative" mall shop - very much encouraging the commodification of goth/punk/cyber fashion in the '00s. I know that I actually did participate in this for a while, and then when I realized how much of a mall rat I'd become, I started wearing very "normal" clothes that I found at thrift shops.

I find fashion fascinating because of the way that it declares an identity, but that identity is negotiated because of a broader culture of images that you are either challenging or buying into.

For future reference, here are some books:

Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture
Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are

And this extended blog post has other links to sources.

Aaaaaaanyway, back to work for me! Lunch is OVER.

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