Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm exhausted

I'm hoping for an early bed night, maybe with a good book.

Along the good book lines, I'm reading Charlotte Mason's Home Education for the first time. I'm only as far as the preface, but am already finding food for thought. I'll try to post some bits I found interesting soon.

We got a dusting of snow and a freeze after several days of rain last night. Every other school at least got delayed, if not canceled outright. We had class all day. Oh well. At least seeing the ice crystals on the sidewalk while walking to class was neat.

I'm sorry I don't have deeper thoughts at the moment, but today was a very long day. I left the dorm at five till eight and got back at 12:40. Then I left again an hour later. So I'm a tad brain-dead.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Plugging for some friends

I know I've said something about this before, but I've actually listened to the whole "Well That's Never Dry" CD and it's spectacular. I was just amazed that people I actually know made this. Highly recommended.

Also, one of my friends has set up an Etsy shop where she sells the old-fashioned jewelry she makes. I haven't actually bought anything from her yet, but it's all beautiful. Also, I made the header for her shop, so I have a little side interest there.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bookish meme

Snagged from DebD.

1. What book have you read in the last six months that has really stayed with you? Why?

Probably The Book Thief for the writing and the story, although the "Thief" series has turned out to be ones I'm re-reading obsessively.

2. What is one of your favorite childhood books?

One???? Okay, picking randomly, Anne of Green Gables.

3. Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Do tell!

Psalms. Although I have this odd fondness for Joshua. It's so exciting!

4. What is one book you could read again and again?

Again, ONE????? I'm a compulsive re-reader. There are so few books I've only read once. I read The Blue Sword about ten times between 7th and 8th grade. The Lantern Bearers. The "Thief" series. Gaudy Night. The Lord of the Rings.

5. Is there a book you would suggest for Lenten reading? What is it and why?

Mmmm. This one's hard because there are so many good ones out there. I'd say Spiritual Counsels by St. John of Kronstadt is a great one because it addresses so many areas of the spiritual life.

And because we all love bonus questions, if you were going to publish a book what would it be? Who would you want to write the jacket cover blurb expounding on your talent?

Um. Something fictional. Probably a novel. I don't know who I'd want to write the author whose work I enjoy and respect.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Popping in to say

...anthropology reading will be the death of me. See you as soon as I get this lot done!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Back at school

It's always rather exciting to begin a new semester and wonder what awaits me there. We started right in on Monday and I haven't had much of a chance to sit down and write anything here until now. I'm expecting things to settle down a bit in the future as professors and students become more used to each other. In the meantime, bits and pieces from my life:

~On Mondays and Fridays I go from my smallest class (Russian, five people) to my largest (Biology, thirty-five). It's a bit of a shock.
~Going from the cafeteria to class on Monday I met seventeen people that I knew at least slightly. The joys of a small campus and student body.* Of course, if you happen not to like someone, you tend to bump into them more often than you otherwise might.
~Work at the library is never dull. That's a stereotype and it's not true. We get some interesting people coming in, especially on a college campus. Today we had the lady who leaned on the circ desk and told us that people in Denmark are supposedly the happiest in the world, but she doesn't believe it.
~My class schedule: 4th semester Russian, upper-level creative writing poetry, anthropology, and biology.
~Last semester I had two English classes and none of my classes were held in the humanities building. This semester I have one English class and two of my classes are held in the humanities building--neither of them the English class.
~My friends make me laugh, especially at dinner.
~I'm going swing dancing tomorrow night, since I don't have Russian on Thursday to get up for!

*I am being absolutely sincere here. I like this aspect of attending a small school a lot.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

2007 in books, part II

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander: I had read one or two of the books in the series before and enjoyed them, but I had never made it all the way through. This time I did and loved it! Parts reminded me of Lord of the Rings, but most of it was original and interesting.

The Quest of the Fair Unknown by Gerald Morris: The latest in the Squire’s Tale Series. Just like the earlier books, it is a mix of humor, good story, and interesting re-tellings of the Arthurian legends. Highly recommended.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: Wonderful story set in WWII. There’s a great deal of sadness in it, but also love and hope. Highly recommended for more mature readers.

The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien: The latest compiling by Christopher Tolkien of his father’s work. I found it very well done and different from The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. Recommended for all Tolkien fans.

A Schilling for Candles and other Josephine Tey: Josephine Tey is perhaps one of my favorite mystery authors of all time. She wrote introspective mysteries which are quite lovely in a certain way. I find myself falling in love with her characters.

The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner: Probably my biggest discovery of the year. I love these books! I can’t wait until the fourth comes out and I’m hoping desperately that a certain character does not die because I will be very sad if he does. At any rate, these are very highly recommended for slightly more mature readers. There are a few swear words in the second two books.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith: My mother and I are both reading these. Charming stories of Botswanan life. As you read through the series you find yourselves following the characters and their lives. Highly recommended for slightly more mature readers.

The Earthsea series by Ursula LeGuin: I enjoyed this series a lot, although I suspect that only fans of high fantasy would. The writing style is dramatically different from the sort that I normally enjoy, but I found myself becoming more and more used to it as the series went on. Highly recommended for fantasy fans.

The End and other Lemony Snicket: I finally finished up the Series of Unfortunate Events! The End is the best book in the whole series, but the last few before it are really wonderful as well. Snicket [Handler] steps out of the formula he’d been following earlier in the series to create some really great works.

Spiritual Counsels by St. John of Kronstadt: I had heard about St. John of Kronstadt all of my life and I’d read his biography but I never really understood why people loved him so much. He sounded like a holy man, certainly, but I knew so many people that just loved him and went on and on about him and I did not get it. Then I read Spiritual Counsels and went, OH. That’s why. Now I love St. John too!

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess: I think I posted about this one close to when I read it. Very different from any other book I’ve ever read and so interesting! I actually found it quite easy to read because I’m taking Russian. There are parts that are very violent but it’s a really interesting book. If you’re going to read it, make sure that there’s a 21st chapter since the original American edition doesn’t have it.

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith: I enjoyed this book in a campy sort of way. There were parts that were pretty stereotypical fantasy adventure, but I found Meliara to be a compelling narrator and enjoyed it. I’ve got the second one out to read right now.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale: I’d read The Princess Academy by the same author and went into this book thinking that it would be fairly similar. But this book was much better! Complex story and beautiful writing. I’m not saying The Princess Academy is bad, just that Goose Girl was better, in my opinion.

Part I here.

2007 in books, part I

As always, my goal was 365 books. The final tally is 228. So obviously nowhere near. However, this was a great year in terms of finding books that I’d never read that I liked! I’d been in a bit of a rut for awhile, reading all the same books over and over again, so I’m really glad that I have a few more to add to my list of re-reads.

The Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery: I had read this once years ago and then discovered that my father didn’t really want me reading it at the time. Decided to pick it up again and enjoyed it even though it’s remarkably different from the “normal” Montgomery. Recommended to slightly more mature readers.

Death in a White Tie and other Ngaio Marsh mysteries: Ngaio Marsh is one of my new favorite mystery writers, up there with Dorothy Sayers and Josephine Tey. Her Inspector Alleyn reminds me more of Lord Peter Wimsey than any other character, but he’s not simply a caricature or copy of Lord Peter. Highly recommended to more mature readers.

Way of a Pilgrim: This anonymous Russian book is probably one of the best-known Orthodox texts out there. I found it beneficial, but would probably take the Art of Prayer over it. Recommended to anyone interested in Orthodoxy or prayer.

The Orthodox Church by Timothy (Bishop Kallistos) Ware: Really wonderful explication of the Orthodox Church, simply enough that someone just beginning to look at it wouldn’t be lost but complexly enough that someone already part of the Church won’t be bored. Highly recommended to anyone interested in Orthodoxy.

Constance by Patricia Clapp: The fictional diary of a colonial girl. I remember being slightly shocked by one passage when I read it long ago. Then I lost my copy and forgot about it for years. Tried it again and enjoyed it. I didn’t find the passage as shocking anymore. Recommended for slightly more mature readers.

A History of England by Jane Austen: Hilarious mock-history of England done by Austen in her younger days. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the history of England or Jane Austen.

The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Vol. I: I really only liked Volume I. Montgomery in her adult years is either annoying or painful to read but Vol. I was quite charming. Recommended for anyone with an interest in L.M. Montgomery.

Theatre Shoes and Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield: Re-reads and wonderful as always. Simple stories which are sweet without being overly sentimental. Highly recommended for all ages.

Troubling a Star by Madeline L’Engle: This was perhaps the only one of L’Engle’s books I hadn’t read fairly recently. My grandmother had given me a copy of it years ago and I hated it. Considering that I was really too young and hadn’t read any of the other books in the series and therefore had no idea who Victoria Austin was, it’s not terribly surprising. I enjoyed it much more this time around. A worthy part of the Austin series.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: One of a few newer books I picked up this year having heard it recommended by several people. I didn’t regret it. Marvelous, atmospheric story telling and engaging characters. Highly recommended for mature readers (definitely violence and some sexual content, though not explicit.)

The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde: Another one of the newer books I picked up. Engaging series which blatantly panders to bookworms. The first and fourth books are, in my opinion, the best but all four are delightful. Highly recommended for more mature readers.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott: Wonderful book on writing. Highly recommended to anyone interested in writing. Some language.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Christ is born!

We've had a lovely Nativity so far and will have our family dinner soon. Ham, rolls, green beans, and cheesecake made by yours truly. It's chocolate cheesecake too. We had the midnight service last night, mostly presided over by a visiting priest who is probably one of my favorite people in the whole world. And Christ is born! Did I mention that?

I've always loved Pascha more than Nativity, but somehow this year they strike me as very much connected. Without one we can't have the other; without the Child in the manger, there is no Crucifixion and no Resurrection.

I also listened very carefully to all the commandments in the service (it's interesting to me that they're very clearly commands--we don't have any excuses to ignore them) to rejoice since Christ is born. I've been needing some joy recently since I've been facing some tough decisions about things in the future and I don't like thinking about the future much, especially when I don't have any answers. I tend to get panicky. There were other factors involved which didn't make it any easier. So, all in all, it's been hard around here recently and the reminders to have joy for Christ has conquered death came at just the right time.

And yes, I will put up the 2007 Books post soon, I promise. I have not forgotten about it. We've just been so busy with all the Nativity preparations that I haven't had a chance to sit down and type it up.

Hope you're having a wonderful Nativity if you celebrate it today, and a blessed day no matter what!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Taste of prayer

This is from the ninth ode of the canon to the Theotokos. I found it highly comforting earlier.

Turn not away from the torrent of my tears, O Virgin, thou who didst give birth to Christ, who dost wipe away all tears from every face.

O most holy Theotokos, save us.

Fill my heart with joy, O Virgin, thou who didst receive the fullness of joy, and didst banish the grief of sin.

O most holy Theotokos, save us.

Be the haven and protection, and a wall unshaken, a refuge and shelter, and the gladness, O Virgin, of those who flee unto thee.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Illumine with the rays of thy light, O Virgin, those who piously confess thee to be the Theotokos, and do thou banish away all darkness of ignorance.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

In a place of affliction and infirmity am I brought low; O Virgin, do thou heal me, transforming mine illness into healthfulness.

December Reading List

No commentary this time...if you want to know what I thought of a particular book, just ask!

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister—Gregory Maguire

I Was Born on a Blue Day—Daniel Temmet

The Mystery of the Blue Train—Agatha Christie

Death on the Nile—Agatha Christie

Murder in Mesopotamia—Agatha Christie

Take Three Tenses—Rumer Godden

The Illyrian Adventure—Lloyd Alexander

The Gypsy Game—Zilpa Keatly Snyder

A Caribbean Mystery—Agatha Christie

Crown Duel—Sherwood Smith

Pale Horse—Agatha Christie

Death in a White Tie—Ngaio Marsh

The Goose Girl—Shannon Hale

The Queen of Attolia—Megan Whalen Turner

The King of Attolia—Megan Whalen Turner

The Full Cupboard of Life—Alexander McCall Smith

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies—Alexander McCall Smith

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy new year

Well, all of a sudden it's 2008. I hope that it will be a good year. I don't have any very deep thoughts about the new year, but I hope that it will be one where I grow.

I've got December's reading list and 2007 in books to post soon. But my sister and I are going to play some games with a friend soon, so it will probably be tomorrow before they're up.