Thursday, February 17, 2011

just call me lara

Inspired by a few puns bandied around on facebook by some friends.

From now on, I will only answer to my new epithet, if that's okay with you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

collecting books

The other day, I was watching TV with my flatmate and, as I am wont to do, started scoffing at the news stories or ads. The Rugby World Cup is coming up this year in New Zealand (sigh), and tickets are worth hundreds of dollars. I laughed in a derogatory way. "Ha! What a waste of money."

My flatmate sighed. "Yes, it is. I went through a phase of collecting perfumes, that was a huge waste of money. What do you collect?"

My first instinct was to say that I don't collect anything, a little stab of pride going through me at my sensible, planet-friendly, non-wasteful habits.

But then I realised that I collect books. Even if I often buy secondhand books, the amount of money that has gone into the stack of books lining a quarter of one of my bedroom walls must be staggering, if I actually thought about calculating it. As I think about the possibility of having to move to a different town if I get a job outside Christchurch, I'm not all that thrilled about the prospect of having to shift so many books, either.

I'm not saying that books are pointless, or that authors shouldn't be supported. I'm just starting to wonder if I have gone a little overboard. And to wonder if I'm a little hypocritical to scoff at people who have spent hundreds of dollars to see something they love in action.

I've had a little idea. I'm not sure if I can bear to go through with it. We'll have to see about that. Here is the idea, anyway:

What if I ruthlessly culled my books? Kept only about twenty or thirty of my most favourite books or the books that are most difficult to find or the books I managed to get an author to sign? Then what if I relied on libraries to supply me with the rest of them when I felt like reading them?

I could then have a booksale. Offer all my books up to my friends. Sell off every single book and give away those that don't sell, then give all the proceeds to a worthy charity. Possibly I could find other people who want to do the same thing and we could all sell our books together, for charity.

Again, I feel so sad at the thought of doing this that I'm not sure if it will happen. I will definitely be thinking about it though, and, if I can't bring myself to do it, I really should stop making fun of other people who spend money on things they enjoy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

playing with dolls of a fictional sort

I did something very silly yesterday.

I was bored. The essential prerequisite.

I went on facebook and nothing, absolutely nothing, was happening. Sometimes, in situations like this particular one, I feel like yelling, with virtual hands raised to the sky, "O facebook! ENTERTAIN ME!"

Here is what happened next. I created a new facebook account for Jane Austen.

Obviously, I am not the first person to have wasted time in precisely this way. But I still feel slightly embarrassed about the enjoyment I got out of listing her hometown, her final resting place, the languages she speaks, the school she went to (which, fantastically enough, still exists)...

Jane Austen (aka, Me) now "likes" Fanny Burney, Ann Radcliffe, and her own novels. She "likes" playing the piano. Burney, Radcliffe, Bram Stoker, William Makepeace Thackeray and so on have not yet accepted her friendship requests. I left out Charlotte Brontë on purpose, given her less than admiring comments about Miss Austen.

I don't know enough about her to know who/what else I should add. But doing some research on this should be fun!

Am still in two minds about posting this for all to see on the blog. It seems just a little too embarrassing...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

the swimmer

I have just finished reading Roma Tearne's new novel, The Swimmer. I am intending to write a full review for Halfway Down the Stairs, which I will link to at the start of March, so I will keep this brief, but I want to say something about it now.

That something is: This is a lovely, absorbing book. I came out of it feeling a little overwhelmed, and caught up in the lives of a few people who happen to be fictional but who could quite easily be real, I suspect.

It is the story of a man and a woman from very different backgrounds who meet in a small English village - one a refugee and illegal immigrant, one an acclaimed poet - and fall in love. It is also the story of a mother, dealing with loss, and later a daughter, dealing with unexplained history as well as her own loss. The three female narrators intertwine, but it is not for me to show you how. I can only recommend that you read this book. It's not a beach read, it is eye-opening, it engages with politics and difference and hate and resentment and distrust - but it isn't horrible. It is based around strong human relationships and sympathetic characters.

I give it three and a half stars.

I am excited that...

... Natasha Solomons has finished her second novel, The Novel in the Viola. Or so I hear, from her blog. Feast your eyes on the cover and then try to tell me that you don't want to read it.

I reviewed her last book, Mr Rosenblum's List, on Halfway Down the Stairs. Of the books I have reviewed, it has been a favourite, if not the favourite, and so I have been looking forward to her next novel for some time. So three cheers for The Novel in the Viola! Let's hope it's as wonderful as its cover suggests.