Contentment: wisdom from around the world by Gillian Stokes
This book was given to me as a gift a while ago and it’s been sitting on my shelf since then. I read it this morning while waiting for the Vancouver part of the Olympics closing ceremony. I wanted to read something fast to up my book count for this year 😉 It took me about an hour to read with one eye on the TV. Which is funny, because a good part of the book is about concentrating on whatever you’re doing, not multi-tasking or having the TV on in the background. Haha!
So, the book itself is like a coffeetable book, except smaller. Thick paper, some nice art prints, attractive layout. The content consists of quotes mixed with the author’s musings. What makes her an expert, I don’t know. There’s no bio or anything. But the advice seems sound (if mostly common sense) and the quotes are pretty good.
There’s a Thomas Jefferson quote that made me laugh because Lawrence Lessig uses it in The Future of Ideas to bolster the Creative Commons concept. (Yes, I am a nerd.)
It did disturb me somewhat that someone gave me this book now when I’m probably more content than I’ve ever been (I think sometimes people read snarky/cynical as unhappy?). But no doubt I’m reading too much into what is, after all, just a gifty-book. What I thought about most while reading this: Hmm, how many words is this? How do you pitch a piece o’ fluff like this? Wonder what the profit on something like this is… 😉
The Two-Headed Calf by Sandra Birdsell
This was a collection of short stories. Some were loosely connected (same town, characters from one story mentioned in another, that sort of thing) while others weren’t connected except via geography (they were all set in the prairies, mostly Manitoba). I don’t know if I liked that. I think maybe I like it better when the stories in a collection are either all separate or all connected. I never really thought about that before, but it occurred to me here. I guess the mixture makes it seem kind of “well, this is what I had on hand…”
These stories were very readable, but they didn’t wow me. I’m not sure why (the back cover had kudos from writers who do wow me–Alice Munro and Michael Ondaatje and Jane Urquhart, which is probably why I picked it up in the first place). Maybe I’m just prairied out. Perhaps I shouldn’t have read two Manitoba-based books in a row. I thought it was a good segue. On second thought, I don’t think that’s it. I think I just didn’t connect with the characters. I’m sure others would find them appealing, I just wasn’t having those “yes!” moments that you do when writing really resonates.
A Bird in the House by Margaret Laurence
This is the 4th book in a five-book series that Margaret Laurence wrote about the fictional Manitoba town of Manawaka (based on her hometown of Neepawa). It’s not a “series” in the sense that one normally thinks of a series; the books are only loosely connected–each one has a different main character–and so they really stand alone. There’s no need to read them in order or together.
The 5th book, The Diviners, was given to me as a gift when I was 14. I’d hung onto it and re-read it a few times over the years, and somewhere along the line, I decided I’d like to read the others, so I started picking them up when I saw them in used bookstores (this adds an element of chance to it that I find exciting. YMMV). A Bird in the House was the last of the five that I had yet to read. I found it a few weeks ago.
This is a book that I think I could re-read over and over again. It’s actually not a novel, but eight interconnected short stories. Which is interesting to me, because I’m working on a book like that. The stories center on the childhoood of a girl who grows up to be a writer, essentially depicting the process of how a child becomes a writer. I smirked to (at?) myself in amusement numerous times.
The other books in the series are: The Stone Angel, A Jest of God, and The Fire-Dwellers.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I picked up this book because I recognized the author’s name. Back in the day, she posted at The Site Where the Snarkers Met (as Amanda Ngozi). I remembered her writing & that I liked it, so when I heard about this book that was enough to send me to the bookstore looking for it.
So. I liked it. It was an easy read, meaning the writing didn’t tax my brain, which is precisely what I needed. It was interesting, in that it was set in Nigeria, so I got some insight into another part of the world. Always good. And I think it was quite perceptive; I related a lot to what the story had to say about family. I’d read more by this author.