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A tiny change

9 Jan

After the excitement of yesterday, I just wanted to spend the day quietly. No…let me be honest. After the excitement yesterday I really had no choice but to spend the day very quietly in bed. All of this wasn’t good for my heart and I was tired enough to actually behave myself for a change and rest.

Because I’m not good at just resting, I also spent time reading. This has led to my getting into a great deal of mischief, mostly in the discover of Netgalley – a wonderful source of free books for professional readers.

I’ll admit, I rather liked that phrase “professional reader.” How many of us as children who devoured the library during summer vacation rather than do something…I don’t know…healthy…like play outside…with friends….fantasized about somehow reading books for a living?

In a sense working as a publisher certainly gives you that ability to a certain extent. But always there’s that pressure to do MORE with those manuscripts. Edit them into something better. Market them. Something.

A professional reader is one who reads and then reviews the books. They work in libraries or bookstores where they can influence the buying decisions. Or they might review in various publications.

Since one thing I DO have plenty of is time, I have started reviewing books for Netgalley. As of…today? So I added to my information bar over there on the right, what I’m reading for review right now.

It’s fun. I get to read books before they come out for the reset of the world to enjoy. I’ll be posting the reviews here and on Goodreads for the time being though I might branch out a bit beyond that as well.

And  yay…free books! Which always is the ultimate pick-me-up after a day spent in crises and emotional overload.

So out of curiosity, do any of you consider yourselves ‘professional readers’?

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Austen and autism

5 Jan

Ah, it’s been a wonderful week so far – not even that. The list on the side of the page, those books I’m currently reading, have just about all changed out. Sadly “Sink Reflections” will take a bit longer – I keep pausing to put into practice what I read. But hoping that I can press on shortly so the next book waiting in the wings can take its rightful place.

So, something old has moved on to “Daddy-long-legs” – a novel that flies by and will likely hit completion yet this weekend. I remember reading this book years ago – and loving it.

Something new..that’s where all of this gets interesting.

I’ve tried reading Jane Austen before. Years ago I made the attempt more than once, especially since I have a best friend who is near fanatical on her writings. But much as I tried I would stop, usually as the result of confusion. To be honest I started questioning WHY Austen proved so hard. The language is certainly a bit more unwieldy and the references are dated. But more than that, I failed to understand the action, to the point of questioning whether I was intelligent enough to even take on the classics.

But then realizing as well with an IQ somewhere past 140, that last wasn’t likely, there had to be a more reasonable explanation.

Was it the history? Not necessarily. I’ve spent a great deal of time in studying the past. I have a BA in history which must be worth something (to date, it’s getting the most workout with using Durant’s Story of Civilization to homeschool the kids). But I have a clear enough understanding of 18th and early 19th century life to understand what a barouche might be and enough French to muddle through the phrases thrown about “Daddy-long-legs” with confidence.

Even the language isn’t difficult if you take the time to read it. In fact the descriptions are quite well-done and the turn of phrase very nicely accomplished.

The answer I think lies in my autism.

I have Asperger’s Syndrome, something formally diagnosed a handful of years back that really helped me to understand a lot about myself that I never did previously. One of those things was the terrify muddle of social interaction – the inflection, the tone of conversation being my biggest downfall. I never ‘got’ the unwritten rules of things (apologies to everyone I offended so badly in my teen years and before) and quite often missed completely the undertones in a conversation completely.

But isn’t that what Austen is about?

After reading “Sense and Sensibility” I’ll admit to a fair amount of frustration that so much of what transpired in the book could have been avoided completely if people would just SAY WHAT THEY MEAN.

Oy.

Austen is rich in inflection. In undertone. And quite honestly, back when I first started to read her, I understood so LITTLE of that, I had really no hope at all in making any kind of sense of what was really going on in her books at all. Hence my frustration, and why I quit.

Over the years, especially since diagnosis, I’ve spent a lot of time in reading, in research, and yes even in therapy coming back to the same questions time and again. What are the people around me REALLY saying (or asking) when they initiate a dialogue with me. I am continually astonished at the things I’ve learned about how we communicate now.

And even more so when I pick up Austen and actually catch what she’s really saying in a complicated piece of dialogue. I am DELIGHTED by her skill with words.

And equally positive that about 2/3 of it is still flying right over my head.

With that thought in mind that means I can likely enjoy Austen again later. Moreso as I age, and grow and learn. Something to look forward to.

So I pick up “Pride and Prejudice” with anticipation and not dread this time around. I think I might actually ‘get it’ or at least enough of it to really enjoy the story. I can’t wait.

Though I can’t help but wonder…is this the reason why most people on the autism spectrum don’t enjoy fiction very much at all? It’s a mind-boggling thought. And certainly bears further analysis.

Something old…

1 Jan

One of the few things I can do while my heart recovers and the fibromyalgia settles down, is to read. Sadly, books with too much excitement make me ill, so I have to be a little bit careful there too. Hence my reading list that you’ll see on the side of this page.

It took me awhile to figure out what to do about the problem. Gone are my dystopic YA novels, and the sword and sorcery fantasy that I dearly love to read. Even romance must be curbed, at least the more passionate offerings. And don’t even suggest a mystery if you want to keep my heart intact!

So what is a girl to do?

The first answer came in the form of the BBC’s top 100 book list, which gave me a plethora of CLASSICS to read that I’d never touched before. Classics tend toward a little slower pacing, right? So therefore might be safe?

But classics require concentration and when the pain is high, something lighter is called for. Hence the digging into of my old favorites from my childhood – Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew…exciting but not TOO exciting, right? And of course The Black Stallion…oh you’ll see as time goes by.

But then my time might be better spent in educating myself…so a little non-fiction goes a long way. But what about all those books I wanted to read and review..if I take them slowly, surely they could work out.

So my list was formed. I started with:

Something Old – these are books that I’ve read before, that I’m enjoying again. Many are from my vintage children’s book collection. Some are just favorites for other reasons.

Something New – these are books I’ve never tried. Most of the classics from the BBC list will fall here, but so will some other odds and ends.

Something Borrowed: The library is where I go to try new authors, things recommended to me by others, or books that have been gaining attention. Winning awards.

Something True: Books from my non-fiction stack. Which includes everything from cookbooks to manga (classified as non-fiction at the library – go figure) and biographies.