Sunday, January 31, 2016

even less time, and the first library trip

So apparently Perdita now only takes thirty-minute naps when she's at home, which is delightful, as you can imagine. Daycare's reporting of her two-hour snoozes each day is starting to feel like a taunt. And she has initiated potty usage, which is awesome but means that leaving the house requires almost an hour of extra prep time built in, for visits to the bathroom. End result: I feel like I have even less time than I did before. But heavens, she is so much fun.  

Yesterday we were reading a book that features mice, and she decided that on every page she was going to point to each mouse and ask, "What's that?" "Mouse" was one of her first words, so she was clearly doing this for fun, but it started to drive me crazy, and around mouse #75 I said, "You tell me what that is," and she said "I don't know," with such sociopathic unconcern for the truth that I became hysterical with laughter. That story makes no sense, I know; even if you are a parent and know what it's like to say "mouse" 80 times in a row you might not understand why I couldn't stop laughing. Perhaps the moment simply epitomized the deranged nature of life with a toddler.

We also made a trip to our little local library yesterday, for the first time with Perdita. I know that seems super-late (she's almost two!), but she has historically been a bit destructive towards books in her enthusiasm for them, and I feared having to buy a new copy of every library book we brought home. But that has mostly passed, and it felt like the perfect winter twilight for a walk to our little town's library. It's in a steeply gabled stone building with narrow windows and the rooms inside are dark and cozy; as far a cry as possible from most modern libraries, with their metal shelves and fluorescent lighting. The children's room is awash in toys, so that was all Perdita paid attention to; I picked out the books we took home. We've read them over and over since then, though, so I think we can count this as a success. Likely it will be our new Saturday thing!

Read since last posting:

The Keeper of Lost Causes, by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Super-dark and disturbing, but Adler-Olsen's hero managed to be as messed-up and cynical as heroes of Scandinavian noir apparently have to be, while remaining interesting and even occasionally sympathetic. I figured out the reason for the crime long before we were shown it, but I still had a hard time putting this down.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession, by Alison Hoover Bartlett. Boring, sadly. Bartlett tries to get us to believe that she's stumbled across a fascinating criminal mind, but she's just found a petty thief who happens to have fixated on rare books.

Moonfleet, by J. Meade Faulkner. Nineteenth-century novel supposedly along the lines of Treasure Island, but not nearly as much fun. Young boy takes up with smugglers, behaves stupidly, keeps having older men sacrifice life and liberty for him because they love him so much and are so honorable. Has anyone done a study on nineteenth-century literature that is about a teenage boy and an older man, in which the boy keeps acting as stupid and inclined-to-faint as your average Dickens heroine and the man keeps vowing his eternal devotion, and how wish fulfillment for teenage boys in Victorian England was apparently the exact same genre as wish fulfillment for grown women in late-twentieth-century America? Or am I the only one who thinks about academic papers drawing parallels between Alan Stewart in Kidnapped and the much taller incarnations of Scottish manhood in your average romance novel (or Long John Silver and Fabio-portrayed pirates)? Hell, Daphne du Maurier did the romance-novel-with-smugglers, even! Suggestions for this paper's title will be eagerly accepted.

The Tilted World, by Tom Franklin. Excellently-written, evocative novel about moonshining during Prohibition. It does fall victim to the "a childless woman is an empty vessel" thing, a bit, but is nevertheless very good.

The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen. I went to college with Johansen, and was excited to hear that her first novel had come out and was doing really well, but it still took me a long time to get around to reading it. I don't generally like fantasy, and read it rarely. But I did enjoy  this a lot, although our heroine moved way too fast from "isolated orphan" to "brilliant infallible queen" for my tastes, even with magic genetics / destiny coming into play. And once it's become clear this is actually a futuristic dystopia, and set in a land to which people fled from America at some point, you can get tangled up in trying to figure out exactly where they are, which is distracting. But I'll read the sequels, and would recommend to those who do like fantasy.

Giving Up the Ghost: A Story About Friendship, 80s Rock, a Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means to Be Haunted, by Eric Nuzum. A decent if extremely forgettable memoir about mental illness.

Balm, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. I remember hating the story of Perkins-Valdez's Wench so much that I couldn't pay any attention to the writing, but I did like this book, about post-Civil-War Chicago and several different protagonists making new lives there. And I was able to notice that Perkins-Valdez has no small skill with language.

May all your library trips and winter twilights be charming.

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