Although I love the concept of What’s on Your Nightstand, a monthly overview of one’s reading, I have only participated a few times. In a rare and wonderful synchronicity, I deep cleaned my nightstand area yesterday.
My husband had surgery two weeks ago (he’s fine, thank you) that allowed me seven hours of reading in the waiting room. There was a huge flat-screen TV that looped through Travels in Europe with Rick Steves for 4.5 hours. Eventually, a penguin documentary came on. Occasionally I glanced up, but it wasn’t bad background sound.
Keeping my mind occupied was A Pianist’s Landscape, a book of essays about playing, learning, performing and teaching the piano. This was a book sale find. The cover and title drew me in. Carol Montparker is a Steinway Artist; her essays have been in the New York Times. Delightful!
I’m working on consistently reading poetry. It’s one of those things that takes an effort, but offers rich rewards. I found Wis£awa Szymborska (w sounds like /v/, £ sounds like /w/; thus, Vees WAH vah shin BORE skuh) funny, dark, random, full of irony, beauty and profundity. Many poems didn’t strike a chord in me. But some did. When asked why she didn’t write more poems, her answer was “because I have a trash can at home.” I kept forgetting that these poems had been translated from Polish. The translations are magnificent!
“Disappointing” — two historical novels. Widow of the South centers on the Carnton Plantation near Franklin, TN. I didn’t like that a major part of the plot centered on a contrived and fictitious relationship between Carrie McGavock and one soldier/patient. It was a weird Jayber Crow-ish intimacy.
A Separate Country tells the story of defeated Confederate General John Bell Hood’s life after the war in New Orleans. He marries Anna Maria Hennen, a young society belle, and they have 11 children in 10 years, including three sets of twins. The author uses a scaffolding of facts but most of the story is fanciful. The tone and language is a bit salty for my taste.
I made small progress on my goal to read through Shakespeare’s canon with Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2. Before I read these, I had thought Falstaff was witty and clever. No, sirrah! His self-aggrandizing, manipulative, lying behavior erased any gladsome thoughts of this main Shakespearean character.
My Kindle read – did you know if you have Amazon Prime you can borrow a book a month on your Kindle? I’m a junkie for books on how to write. To say I have dozens would be only a minor stretch. I love to read them, to re-read them, and to promise myself that someday I will do what they say.
I was reminded to slash away at adverbs and adjectives. Yes. But I really enjoyed Rosenblatt’s comments on education: “Teaching takes a lot of wheedling and grappling but basically it is the art of seduction. Observing a teacher who is lost in the mystery of the material can be oddly seductive.”
Audiobook This long audio book was mostly tedious, but I was so glad I finished this life of Anna Leonowens. I was reminded how powerful a teacher can be. Prince Chulalongkorn attributed to Anna the decision he made to abolish slavery (without war!) in Siam (Thailand).
For Fun I love Jane Austen, but I don’t consider myself a Janeite. Among the Janeites was an entertaining read. What struck me was how many ways there are to read Austen. People see virtue, wisdom, feminism, eroticism, autism, therapy, and more in her books.
Reading in preparation for Easter: Silence, by Shushaku Endo and Nikki Grime’s At Jerusalem’s Gate, Poems of Easter.
Those occasions when the nightstand is clean are so wonderful (and, for me at least, rare.)
I’ve had Anna and the King of Siam on my to-be-read list for forever – was it tedious because of the audiobook format, do you think, or just because it’s a tedious book in general?
It probably had to do with listening to the audio book and not able to skip over the tedious parts. I think you should give it a try and see what you think. It didn’t drag until the middle. And, ahem, sometimes the problem is with the reader instead of the book!
Random thoughts: I learned more about Buddhism – of all the major world religions that is the one I know the least. But I was moved to tears at the end. I wish I had copied down some of the quotes. The story is concurrent with the American Civil War! Anna Leonowens sent her young daughter back to England to go to boarding school. I know so many MKs who are bitter about being shipped away from home. I cringed and said, “No, Anna, don’t do it!”
I’ve always loved to read about everyone else’s nightstands while rarely describing mine. 🙂
In the fall while we were replacing carpet and therefore moving Every. Single.Thing. upstairs, my daughter who was helping me said I desperately needed to clean up my bedside table. At her insistence, I moved off all my stacks and only kept what I was currently reading. That was a big switch! But a cleaner and neater one. So I currently just have my lamp, landline phone, box with lotions / pens / pad / electronic dictionary / tissues, and two books: Gone With the Wind and The Night Offices.
I love your simplicity and your corner shelf! For me at this point, I’ve had to corral all my books in our library so I can find what I’m looking for.
Thanks for doing a Nightstand edition! You’ve spurred my to do one soon, or at least write a blog entry. 🙂
I’ve had some tottering piles, fallen piles, ack!! It’s hard when the TBR pile grows faster than my reading speed. Whenever I deep clean I am amazed at how lovely it is to live in a clean house. Remember, remember, remember!!
I love my corner shelf, too! It’s supposed to be the closest a book can come to being read!
You are blessed to have a daughter who insists! Bless her!