December 2012

Books read this month:

  1. Among Others. Jo Walton.
  2. The Girl with Glass Feet. Ali Shaw.
  3. The Giver. Lois Lowry.
  4. Brave New World. Aldous Huxley.
  5. A Wrinkle in Time. Madeleine L’Engle.
  6. The Age of Innocence. Edith Wharton.

Best new read: Among Others.
Best reread: The Giver.
Best literary fiction: The Age of Innocence.

Finally, a month that had a decent amount of reading! Though I’m somewhat abashed that four of those six books were read in the span of a week and a half. The past few months have been incredibly busy and I am spending a much-needed holiday in the realms of fiction. Unfortunately, every other book I’ve read this month has had somewhat gloomy endings. I think I will need to read happier books to open the new year…

You will also find that I have added Books Read in 2012 to the Bibliophile menu. Last’s year’s prediction that I would reach 100 books this year fell dreadfully short. Alas. Nevertheless, though I know that next year will be no less busy than the last, I will always have books to read even if I do not read them as quickly.

A Wrinkle in Time

Opening line: “It was a dark and stormy night.”wrinkleintime

Meg, the daughter of two brilliant scientists, can’t seem to get anything right. Her twin brothers are normal and popular in school and her youngest brother, Charles Wallace, is a prodigy and a genius. Not only that, her father has been missing for months. But when a horrible storm blows in a most unexpected visitor, Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin, find themselves on a mission to save Meg’s father and maybe even the universe itself.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is a much-loved science-fiction novel for many people, myself included. When I was an adolescent I read pretty much any of L’Engle’s fiction I could get my hands on and A Wrinkle in Time was always one of my favourites. This time around, however, I was struck by how I was reminded of C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy: both feature a Judeo-Christian battle between the forces of Good and Evil on a cosmic scale — the very stars themselves are involved in the battle.

As an older reader this time, and more academic in my reading habits, I also noticed that the novel was published in 1967, which makes the novel’s message of individuality vs. “sameness” more poignant when one places the novel in the context of the Cold War. Could the dark planet of Comazotz be read as a planet “fallen” to Communism? A curious new way for me to consider a favourite book for many Americans, including myself!

But I much enjoyed rereading this novel, against experiencing the delights of the tesseract, Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Whatsit, and Aunt Beast. I’m only disappointed I didn’t pack A Wind in the Door to read next!

Merry Christmas!

Jewely the Cat says, ‘Merry Christmas!’

IMG_7357(It’s more like, ‘What are you doing to me?’)

IMG_7359(‘I’m so ashamed.’)

Jewely forgave me once I let her ‘kill’ the antlers and ribbon… Merry Christmas everyone! May it be filled with sunshine, fun times, and happiness abounding.

The Girl with Glass Feet

Opening line: ‘That winter there were reports in the newspaper of an iceberg the shape of a galleon floating in creaking majesty past St. Hauda’s Land’s cliffs, of a snuffling hog leading lost hill walkers out of the crags beneath Lomdendol Tor, of a dumbfounded ornithologist counting five albino cows in a flock of two hundred.’

thegirlwithglassfeetpicadorusapaperbackcover-thumbThe people of St. Hauda’s Land are isolated, living on small islands north of the mainland, and they are used to their legends. A creature whose glance turns all living things white. Tiny bulls with insects’ wings. Glass bodies floating in the bogs. Ida Maclaird has visited the islands once before, but now she’s come back to St. Hauda’s Land because the most troubling thing has started to happen: she has started to turn into glass. Looking for a cure, she becomes enmeshed in the tangled, isolated life of Ettinsford. The people she meets are as affected by her transformation as Ida herself.

The Girl with Glass Feet is Ali Smith’s first published novel. It is unassuming at first, but crafted with strong and lyrical prose. At times the descriptions played a little too heavy on metaphors; however, this did not diminish the overall narrative. I opened the book expecting more fantasy than I received — instead, The Girl with Glass Feet borders on magical realism, rather than fantasy. St. Hauda’s Land felt like it should exist somewhere beyond the Shetland Islands: a blend of Scandinavian and British cultures and names, but with forests. It made me want to visit the Orkneys or Shetland islands even more, even in winter. I’m not sure I’d read this novel again any time soon, but it was a pleasant read while I read it.

Notes and sundry

After four years of using OS Leopard, my computer has finally upgraded to Snow Leopard. (The Apple Store did it for free!) While everyone else is using Lion, I know, I’m behind the times. But Caspian is happy with his updated OS and new battery. Pretty much good as new — he might see me to the end of the PhD and beyond after all.

Last night was a mini-Fun Day Group reunion at Alamo Cafe. Good food and good friends. If it weren’t right at Christmastime, and if I were here longer, it would be great to see each other again.

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This afternoon, I talked my dad into cycling to the local nature reserve, Mud Creek park. We walked for about an hour and a half, enjoying the balmy 17 C / 63 F afternoon. The park was mostly deserted and we kept crossing paths with a herd of deer, and we saw a few hawks.

Favourite things

Wild sea, churning waves:


Last weekend there were large storms out at sea which sent unusually powerful waves crashing against the coast. Our harbour, as well as others, experienced some damage; but for those safe on land it was an incredible sight to see the waves roaring towards the shore, breaking and swept by the wind.

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Additional photos courtesy of F. Just look at those waves!

* Yes, I’m going to continue posting Favourite Things of my Town in Scotland even while I’m traveling in the U.S. for a month.

Library cull

After some 20-odd hours traveling and some 36+ hours of being awake, I arrived in San Antonio last night. To 27 C (82 F) degrees and sunlight until 6 PM. Incredible!

This morning I started to go through my books. This is among the first things I always do when visiting my parents’ house (as well as reacquainting myself with the cat). I have already reduced the library by a third. Five boxes sit ready to be taken to the used bookstore to sell. Living overseas has made me increasingly pragmatic about the logistics of books and packing. I’m feeling pretty ruthless, so we’ll see how many survive until the end of my visit…

It’s beginning to look

…a lot like Christmas!

IMG_7280Miguel the Armadillo says, ‘¡Felíz navidad!’

The house has been decorated for the last couple of weeks. Ebenezer the Tree has presided over our St Nicholas Party, hours of listening to Christmas music, and the giving and receiving of gifts.

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