Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Books and The Beast

The Beast from the East arrived in the east of Ireland, where things are apparently a mess. Tomorrow afternoon, The Beast and Storm Emma are going to collide, according to the people who track these things and an even bigger mess will be the result. Again, the worst is supposed to be in the east, but the entire country could experience blizzard conditions. People seem to have an extraordinary need for a lot of bread in response to the weather warnings, because there have been photos of bare shelves in stores around the country. The Christmas station, which airs for a month or so at the end of the year, will be broadcasting tomorrow. And since there is a status red warning for part of the country, buses and other public transport will be disrupted, schools and businesses will close, and the government will not be working, except for essential personnel.

Up here, things have been fairly quiet. I finished the book I was reading last night while listening to the hail/freezing rain clatter against the window. This morning there were piles of hail in back, but road and footpath out front were dry. Later, the sun came out at the same time snow flurries began. For some reason, yellow leaves were blowing around in the wind--no idea where they came from!

While I was making supper, it started snowing/hailing
The pot that you see in the top right of the picture contains our little hydrangea, which used to look like this:
So things are not bad here. Cold and windy and probably icy out there, so glad we don't have to go anywhere. And, like every other day that ends in Y, it's a good day to stick my nose in a book. Having finished one last night, my only problem is choosing which one to read next.

Here's the first part of my February book list:
The Case of the Dotty Dowager by Cathy Ace
Sometimes I feel like reading a cosy mystery, but there has to be a draw of some kind. In the past, I used to read series involving knitting, crochet, a stitching shop, a tea shop, and a mystery bookshop. It got to the point where I was often more interested in the way things unfolded in the lives of the characters than in whatever storyline was the focus of that particular book. In fact, sometimes it seemed like the particular story was just an excuse to write more about the regular cast of characters. These kinds of books are usually fairly predictable--once I was on page 10 of one such book and a character was introduced. ‘She did it,’ I thought, and read on. She was the culprit. The libraries had all of the books in these series, most of which had new books come out about once a year. I’d keep an eye out and request the new ones. Those particular series are not available here, but there are different ones, so I have a look when I come across them. Some that I’ve come across don’t have any theme that grabs me, so I don’t bother with them. In the case of this series, in which this is the first book, what piqued my interest was the fact that the enquiry agency is made up of four women who come from different class backgrounds and locations. They are the WISE Enquiry Agency, so named because the women are Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and English. I found this whilst scrolling through the e-book section of the library website and it was available, so I borrowed it. I enjoyed it. It was not quite as predictable as I am used to, whether because of a cultural difference in the genre or because of the way the author thinks, I am not sure. It was funny in places. I laughed when I read about one character that she was someone who always sees the glass as less than half empty and has no interest in getting a refill, because that would mean she had less to complain about.

Handmade: Creative Focus in the Age of Distraction by Gary Rogowski
The author is a woodworker/furniture maker who also teaches in his studio and at universities and writes about his art and craft in woodworking publications. This book is part memoir and part philosophical musing on a life devoted to creativity and making things of quality with one’s hands. I wrote a longer blog post about this book, which can be found here.

Stupid Poems 13 by Ian Vannoey
This does exactly what it says on the tin--it’s a short collection of stupid poems, but underlying some of them are serious issues.

Our Street: East End Life in the Second World War by Gilda O’Neill
I came across this book in a charity shop. As the subtitle indicates, it’s about what life was like in London’s East End during WWII. The author collected personal stories from people who lived there then and much of the book is in their words. She does do some summaries of main points in between quotes from others. Because of the format, it’s slightly disjointed at times, because one paragraph is one person’s memory and the next is from another person. That said, it was a very interesting book and I’m glad I read it. In the chapter on mending and making do, someone commented on how nothing was wasted--in fact if people were caught wasting something, they could face hefty fines. I was struck by how quickly things moved from a culture where waste was a very bad thing to one in which waste is encouraged. Consumer capitalism requires people to be wasteful after all. Anyway, good book that went into the wee free library when I was done with it.

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