In Watermelon Sugar but Richard Brautigan

In Watermelon SugarIn Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Definitely one of the strangest but most original books I have ever read. Strange that it is such an old story when it seems so contemporary. I can’t quite explain the absolute weirdness of it. It’s sort of a book about the writing of the book itself. Usually I find that kind of thing quite obnoxious but it just worked with this one. To the character Margaret: I loved you the most. To the unnamed narrator: you chose the wrong girl.

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Who is Richard Brautigan?

I’ve been low-key discussing fate on my personal blog over the last little while. Obviously my logical and intelligent side is reluctant to consider such things, but sometimes my romantic side wins out. And to be honest it feels kind of nice when I let it. Julia Cameron has this theory of synchronicity that she shares in her books. It’s something that I’ve always kind of loved. The cynic in me wins more frequently these days, but perhaps the lofty girl still exists. The girl who decided that sure, maybe art does float around in the atmosphere, looking for a vessel to land on. Let’s go with that. Then it’s totally not your fault when the air art lands on you and it’s a bit shit. It’s luck, not talent/ability at play, right?

As usual, I digress.

I was talking about fate though. In relation to Richard Brautigan. You see, it becomes a little hard not to believe in fate when I keep accidentally stumbling upon the right book for me, even though it makes no logical sense for me to know so. I found In Watermelon Sugar at one of the bookshops at the Garden Route Mall just outside of George. And I bought it just because.

I didn’t know who Richard Brautigan was and I still don’t. And yet this little book. Oh this book. How I love it so, even after multiple readings.

How is it that a book written in the sixties feels as if it so contemporarily speaks to my present self?

Fate? Luck?

I don’t know. I just know that I need to lay my hands on more of this man’s works. Because I find his mind to be quite remarkable.

Come and Get Us by James Patterson and Shan Serafin

Come and Get UsCome and Get Us by James Patterson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Again just another ok read, though I will admit that it was less formulaic than the last one I read. I liked that it wasn’t predictable in that there wasn’t really anything to predict. It was just an easy read that was gentle on a tired brain which is just what the tired brain needs sometimes. Like right now my brain needs someone else to type this review because I am so tired guys….

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Black & Blue by James Patterson with Candice Fox

Black & Blue (Detective Harriet Blue, #0.5)Black & Blue by James Patterson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m going to admit that my first experience with Bookshots was a little disappointing. I feel kind of bad when I don’t enjoy a book…like I’m being mean. It was kind of a little bit bland though. Kind of like the CSI of crime fiction. Like it’s cool and a little mindless so you don’t have to think too hard and it’s something to keep you busy, but it’s not the height of brilliant entertainment, you know? A bit on the formulaic side but not so terrible that I at all felt like I needed to put it down and give up. It was actually a pretty decent choice for while I was on vacation.

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James Patterson’s Bookshots

I’ve been curious about James Patterson’s Bookshots for a while now and I finally picked up a few of them to play with. Honestly I think the idea of these books is awesome and so needed! If you’re anything like me, you used to read SO MUCH and then you popped out a kid and inherited two more and suddenly your body just doesn’t have the energy required to do your favourite thing as much as it used to and it’s kind of depressing. You know?

Bookshots are an awesome idea! They’re like little mini books created just for me because I can read them in one sitting and I don’t have to be feeling brainy  to do it (because, let’s face it, James and his co-writers are easy reads) and it means that I can read more often because I’m not looking at a 500 page novel and thinking by the time I get to the end I’ll have already forgotten the beginning.

So yeah. They don’t make me feel like a well-read braniac or anything, but they have their place and probably they’re the kind of book that I can realistically aspire to writing so I’m keen to get my hands on a few more. That’s what we writers do while we’re not writing, isn’t it? We read and hope that it will one day lead to writing…

Review: The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry

The Library of Unrequited LoveThe Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This little book is a sweet soliloquy by a librarian woman as she converses with a man who accidentally spent the night in the library. If nothing else, the idea of the book intrigues me and I have to admit that I currently feel inspired to attempt something similar. I love the style of it. It’s so different. I made a couple of notes for how I would do mine and I do love my idea already. Let’s see if I actually complete it!

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A Long Night at Abu Simbel by Penelope Lively

A Long Night at Abu SimbelA Long Night at Abu Simbel by Penelope Lively
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Long Night at Abu Simbel is a sweetish collection of some stories that involve cats. Which I suppose is why there is a cat on the cover? This book is tiny which is kind of what drew me to it I will admit. Like “look how cute and tiny the book I’m reading is”. I might be a silly human. But I do love short stories. And this book had three of them in it so that was lovely.

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Is it ok to cheat on your own goal a little?

I set myself a goal of reading a hundred books this year and so far it isn’t going that great. Granted it is actually going better than I expected (I don’t expect to meet the goal to be honest) and it is most definitely already going better than it did last year. Because yeah: I kind of set this goal for myself every year.

Anyway, I’m seven books behind if I want to meet my goal. I’ve only read five so far. But, I’m going away for a LONG weekend this weekend. It’s my momma’s 60th birthday and we’re leaving town to celebrate.

So I have devised a cunning plan! I’ve gone through my library of over a thousand books (nine hundred-ish of which I haven’t read yet – don’t judge) and I’ve pulled out all the skinniest reads I could find. Those are all coming with me this weekend. One day when I’m big I’ll read a hundred books of three hundred plus pages in a year.

For now while life is a silly kind of hectic…is it ok that I manipulate the odds?

Bookswap Heaven

I don’t do the bookswap thing. You know when you pop into a secondhand place and then they tell you “oh you can bring them back and swap for something else” — no. I don’t do this, ever. Instead I have a carefully and lovingly curated library that consists of a large number of books, all packed away in their various spaces waiting to be lovingly read. I don’t get to reading as much as I would like, but I find comfort in knowing they’re there. All that potential. All those beautiful spines.

The other day a friend of mine, Yolandi, was looking for folks to swap books with. And immediately I sort of thought oh no I don’t swap books but then I remembered a rather silly habit that I have: I buy books that I already have. Sometimes it is by accident, but most times it is because the book is super cheap and I think I might give it to someone else, or it has a better/different cover to the one I already have.

So I decided to give her one of my own books as well as swapping out a couple that I had doubles of in exchange for whatever it was that she had on offer. While I do already have quite a diverse array of books I must admit it’s quite exciting to consider diversifying my library even further with books loved by others instead of only books picked by me. I’m looking forward to digging in to her offerings, and am already starting to collect up my other duplicates with the idea of swapping out some more.

So if you’re looking to do some swapping, let me know.

Happy reading, folks!

Review: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

The Girl in the Flammable SkirtThe Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have I mentioned that I love Aimee Bender yet? I wonder: If I start experimenting with drugs would I be able to come up with this sort of writing? That would be great. Pity I can’t afford drugs. Silly drugs, I mean, of course. Like mushrooms or whatever it is that makes things look a little brighter and sparklier. I’m giving this book a 5 because I think that being the type of person who writes these sort of weird and confusing-for-most-people stories is kind of important. Year ago when I read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake I did not love it as I expected to because I hadn’t been expecting magical realism (I knew little of the genre back then) and I was almost frightened by the darkness of it. I have kind of evolved since then, and am honestly kind of writing in that direction myself now. I have become more open to obscure voices sharing beautiful content. I am so grateful to be meeting these voices. They are growing me. Even when I don’t like them, they are growing me. I have learned to set aside expectations and receive what I am given instead of bemoaning what I have not. I cannot help now but envy Ms. Bender. How free she is in spirit. How unconventionally wise. How odd. How exquisite. How real. I should read Lemon Cake with my fresher eyes now. Soon.

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Willfull Creatures by Aimee Bender

Willful CreaturesWillful Creatures by Aimee Bender
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second time I’ve read this book and I think maybe this time I enjoyed it even more. I know when you have a library of 700+ unread books it’s silly to go back to something you’ve already experienced but The Colour Master kind of got me writing again and so it seemed only natural to turn  back and  revisit the other quirks of Aimee Bender. The richness of the bizarre in these books just soothes my soul. I feel massively influenced by Aimee’s writing, which I suppose is weird. If you read my stuff it’s probably nothing like her writing except for the occasional elements of magical realism. But she is divine. Otherwordly even. And she has certainly done an incredible job of sparking off my creativity for the year.

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Why I Chose to Read a Christian Book

I made an unorthodox choice last week: I accepted a Christian book to review from a friend of mine – JustEllaBella – who gets a lot of review books from Christian Art Media. She had some extra copies of some books that she got from them and was looking to bookclub-style share them with some friends. Normally I would have said no. I’m not much of a consumer of Christian media in general. I do like some Christian music, though, I suppose. But books? Yikes… Those seem quite a bit more serious, don’t they?

The thing is though: the description said something about the woman asking God to break both of her legs, and immediately I was like yeah chick I feel you. Weirdly, for someone who is feeling a little wobbly on the whole God thing these days, I kind of felt a little drawn to it (read into that what you will). And so I thought: let’s try. Because even if I’m not-so-much with the Jesus talk, I very much understand the mom-going-through-a-midlife-crisis talk. If you’ve been reading my personal blog at all you know that I am a bit of a disaster at the moment. Anyway, I am huge believer in the fact that we can all learn something from each other, even if our religious affiliations don’t necessarily match up.

And who knows? Maybe this lady (Chrystal Evans Hurst) will re-spark something in me. So far it’s working out. It’s one of those books that you can use in the morning to meditate a little. It asks questions that are probably good to answer and it feels like a sweet kind of self-care move.

I’ll let you know how it goes…