Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Current Reading

When we met for lunch in town a couple weeks ago, Scott's cousin Bev brought me four books to read. I started Girl on a Train and remembered, on the first page, that I’d read it not long ago. Actually I didn’t read it all. I read the first few chapters and then skipped to the end to see what happened. Some books are like that; you don’t enjoy the reading of them, you just want to know what happens. Some books seem to plod on and on, taking forever to get where they’re going. Bev said she often, lately, finds herself reading a bit of a book before remembering she’s already read it. I just did the exact same thing.

I got A Beauty, by Connie Gault, from the library. Read the first 120 pages and then skipped to the end, finding myself uninvolved with the characters, not wanting to accompany them on their journey from start to finish. Sometimes I just don't give a hoot. What're ya gonna do?

The stack Bev lent me contains the latest Flavia de Luce mystery by Alan Bradley. Thanks to Bev and her book collection, I’ve read the entire series till now. Little Miss Flavia is a quirky child sleuth and she's funny (without knowing it, poor kid), but instead of picking up this book first, I’m saving it till last. It's nice to have a good book — one that I know won't disappoint — to look forward to.

The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith, is on the bedside table right now and it's one I've just begun and know I'll finish. Some just are. What is it that makes some books can-hardly-put-downs and others set-asides? Is it the state of being of the reader at the time, or is it the quality or style of the writing, or the uniqueness of the story, or what?

On the weekend I started Benediction, by Kent Haruf. Instantly I was drawn in. The writing is plain and clear yet forcefully alive, and immediately I cared about the many characters. It was all I could do to stay out of bed and wait till the evenings to get back to reading it.

In the magazine rack in the bathroom is another book that just came from the library. It’s called Difficult Conversations, and is about communication, about how we all think we are right and that those who don't see it our way are wrong, and how we won't enjoy satisfactory results of communication till we understand that we aren't more right than others and learn to seek solutions that make sense to those on all sides of an issue. 


  1. my salon was next to the best used book store in the region, a dangerous thing for me! I thought I'd be smart one day and picked out 11 of Oprah's Picks. They had to be good, right? OMG...I was so depressed by the third one I traded them all back in :)

    1. No endorsement, no review, can tell you whether a book will speak to you or not. Eh? I too have opened up an Oprah pick with great anticipation and found it unreadable for one reason or another.

  2. Your comments on Difficult Conversations reminded me of an article I read recently, written by a university professor. As a teacher at the university, the professor was having to "teach" students that their opinions did not represent facts. I was aghast at this. Who in their right mind thinks that their own opinions represent facts! Apparently those with a privileged education are under this misapprehension.
    On a similar vein, I recently commented on Facebook, on a thread dealing with an specific article about the murdered bloggers in Bangladesh. To my astonishment, the responses to my comment fell into three categories (as I see it):
    1. those who understood what I wrote and either agreed or disagreed with the point I had made, and lucidly commented on it,
    2. those who had ABSOLUTELY NO UNDERSTANDING of the point I had made (I had to wonder if they had read the same article under discussion), and
    3. those who were so adamant about hating the police in Bangladesh that direct quotes from the article incited them to call me names.

    Only the first group were worthy of a response, but they soon gave up, overwhelmed by the emotionally indulgent tirades of those with closed minds. I ended up deleting my comment and bowing out. There seem to be a lot of intellectually-flaccid, emotionally-undisciplined humans shouting the odds these days.

    1. Critical thinking isn't taught in Canadian high schools, more's the pity. People DO seem to think that their opinions are facts, and that their prejudices are based on facts. Some of the self-righteous garbage people share on Facebook is a clear indicator that many of us don't think too deeply or take the trouble to find out what's true and what isn't, or to consider that there may be more to a story. You do wonder where the intelligent people are, sometimes. Probably not spending a lot of their time on FB?

    2. Kate, in my opinion Facebook facilitates the pitchfork yielding peasant mentality. The little pictures with words are not meant to elicit consideration, but emotional reaction. I haven't researched the art of brainwashing and rabble rousing, but I suspect someone on the Facebook payroll knows a lot about it.

      Facebook is not an environment that nurtures critical thought, quite the opposite. Shouting the odds, name calling, bullying, these are not forms of communication, they are forms of control.

  3. Hey, I read two of Kent Haruf's books lately. One was Benediction and the other one was, Our Souls At Night. Loved them both.

    1. Benediction is the first of his books that I've read and I intend to read more of his work.


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