Monday, January 5, 2015

The Year Ahead: A Book Journal

I started a book journal this morning, to try again to keep track of what I read in the year ahead, and I immediately realized why I've never do managed that: 
I rarely read one book at a time, start to finish. If I wait until I finish them, I might never record them. 

Maybe every once in a while I'll just photograph the piles of books lying around.

These are the books I'm reading right now--none but the novel An Arsonists's Guide are meant to be read straight through anyway. 

1. I try most things Julian Barnes writes because his Flaubert's Parrot is in my Top 100. (SPOILER: There's more than one parrot!) 
So far, Levels of Life is about ballooning & photography. Great opening:
 "You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed. People may not notice at the time, but that doesn't matter. The world has been changed nonetheless."

2. The Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England
I started this last week and didn't keep on, so I don't know if I'll finish it. Unlike J. Barnes's nice, dry style, it's full of the gratuitous glibness that is in style now but that bugs me--mentioning, for instance, that Emily Dickinson's empty house has a "dust problem." 
Just because you can write a clever comment doesn't mean you should, at least not on every page.

3. Diplomatic Baggage is meant to be glib--an amusing romp through the world by a woman married to a diplomat posted to inconvenient places.  When I'm feeling low, I read a bit anywhere in it before bed. 

4. You Say Goodbye and We Say Hello
I'm slowing down on researching dementia, so I may not finish this one on the Montessori method anytime soon, but I love it's positive, creative approach.
You wouldn't wish dementia on anyone, the authors say, but it needn't always be the full horror the popular press and the fundraisers paint it as. 

5. Sculptor's Daughter
Tove Jansson's short pieces about being a child. She really gets what weird & natural sociopaths children are, telling, for instance, about how she built a Golden Calf in the woods, hoping to bring down God's wrath.

6. Pauline Kael's movie reviews
Great in small doses.

7. And one I finished in 2015! 
(Plus some little elf who stuck her head in the photo.)
Dee Williams wrote The Big Tiny about how she built an 80-foot house (plus loft) in her 40s after she was diagnosed  with heart disease. 
Another book stamped with the relentless clever-cuteness that serves as the sell-by date of the 20-teens. (Hey! I can do it too! It doesn't have to make total sense.) 
Also a curiously large number of references to underwear...

But still a good story about choosing what kind of place [I almost wrote "space"--talk about a date marker] to live in.
Living as I do with another person in an apartment that is tiny by American standards, I related to what an ongoing adventure it is, the physical way we live, and how we can enter into that intentionally... or not.  


The Crow said...

I've been following the Tiny-House-movement started/made popular by Jay Shafer. I daydream about building one so I can carry my house with me as I travel around the world.

I'll have to read her book!

Frex said...

Hey, you should do it--build a Tiny House in your driveway!
I really enjoyed DW's book--even if I rolled my eyes at some of the cuteness, she's totally for real and not fluffy at heart.

Zhoen said...

I love the Tiny Houses, and wish I could have had them much earlier in my life. Just moved it around from place to place, never having to pack or unpack, living spare and simple.

I would struggle with that now, after so many bad tiny places, and three years of elbow room. Not impossible, but hard.

bink said...

I love the idea of a child building a golden calf in her backyard. That sounds like something I would have liked to do--or at least be friends with the kid who did it. Alas! I do remember finding the golden calf very intriguing...but it never occurred to me to build my own.

happify said...

#4 sounds interesting and agree about reframing dementia as something besides OMG DOOOOOOM! My experience of it include a lot of pleasant aspects reciprocating the loving care that was modeled for me. I've also talked to many people who have shared positives--dementia has removed a pain-causing layer of their parent's personality and provided a space for a feeling of acceptance or understanding or forgiveness. Not that it's all sunshine and roses or that there aren't much less pleasant experiences of it, but it's not universally a hellscape.

My siblings and I have used some Montessori-ish (I think, not super-familiar with the explicit theories) methods in our care--trying to encourage and provide a sense of independence and contribution, allowing for self-direction in activities, providing options, building in accomplishment, giving responsibility, being playful...

Fresca said...

ZHOEN: Tiny houses seem nice ... if you have some space AROUND them. The _Big Tiny_ author lives in a friends' backyard, which means she uses their plumbing and she has a porch...
Also, she lives in WA where it's not –3º like it is here this morning.
Still, she has to deal with damp cold--ick.

BINK: I will lend you the Tove Jansson book---she actually did remind me of you a bit---throwing your toy Barbies to the lions!

HAPPIFY! Thanks for your good comments!
And yes to dementia removing a pain-causing layer of history too! A weird benefit of memory loss, in some cases. (As long as it'd not replaced with the pain of hallucinations and other terrible things...)

I could lend you that Montessori book, but watching you with your father at the Thrift Store, I'd say you do it all already... and more! I love how independent your dad can be, because you all are there for him.

It's sad to me to see that a lot of the people I work with could live at home... but *only* if there were a family or community around them all the time, like your dad has.