Monday, December 24, 2007

New Yorker

I may not be a big fan of Xmas, but I do look forward to the New Yorker's fiction issue every December. This year I plan on keeping it close by to dip into during any spare solitary moments I manage to snatch between Xmas and New Year's.

I just finished reading Charming Billy by Alice McDermott and I have to say I was impressed. It was the first thing I've read by her and I'll be (hopefully) picking up more during the Boxing Week sales. (I may not like Xmas, but I do like Boxing Day for the sales!) I'd love to tell you all about Billy and the girl he loved and lost, but I have to get back into the kitchen. I've already baked two batches of cookies and a pie today but I'm not finished yet. I hope everyone has a great holiday and finds something wonderful to read!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another Book Sale!

For anyone in St. Catharines or within driving distance, just wanted you to know about Book Depot's fabulous Boxing Week sale. Book Depot is a huge warehouse selling remaindered books already deeply discounted, but for a few days after Xmas they slash their already amazing prices a further 50% off! Trust me it's worth the drive!

Book Depot
340 Welland Ave.,
St. Catharines, Ontario


Dec 26 9-9

Dec 27 9-6

Dec 28 9-6

Dec 29 9-5

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pages Sale

If you live here in Toronto Pages bookstore is having a sale!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Best Kind of Mail

The books I ordered from AbeBooks arrived today! Yeah! I love it when there are books in the mailbox. I ordered This Real Night and Cousin Rosamund by Rebecca West after finishing The Fountain Overflows. The only thing is they are both withdrawn library books which was not specified in their descriptions. I'm not sure I would have ordered them had I known, but they are both in good condition and since they were only a dollar each I really can't complain. After I strip them of their weird library plastic wrappings I'll feel more kindly towards them, I'm sure.

I was excited to read last week in the tv listings that a local station (TVO for anyone here in Ontario) was going to be playing three Jane Austen dramas over the holidays. They started off with Northanger Abbey last Sunday night which I dutifully taped. Except I didn't get the ending which kind of ruins a movie experience, I find. I don't know whether the times in the listing were wrong or what. I know I set up my VCR properly because I double checked it, so it wasn't my fault (this time). All I know is this doesn't bode well for TVO and me. I'm still mad at them for cancelling Imprint - a great book show that ran for years. Come on TVO make me love you again - replay Northanger Abbey.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Book vs Movie

I just read that the movie Atonement has received a pile of Golden Globe nominations. I'm always a bit leery of movie adaptations of books I love. I know Atonement (the movie) has been getting good reviews and I'll probably rent it on DVD at some point, although it might take awhile. I finally rented Possession a few weeks ago. I let it sit on the shelf at my local video store for years before finally taking it home simply because I loved A.S Byatt's novel so much. I think short stories make better sense for film adaptations than novels do. A short story can be lingered over whereas a novel always ends up feeling so whirlwind and rushed on the big screen. Two recent examples of short stories that made good films were Brokeback Mountain and Away From Her. Hopefully we'll see more of that. It would be wonderful for both short story writers and film makers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Quote of the Day

"To acquire the habit of reading is to constuct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life."

~ W. Somerset Maugham

Ain't that the truth.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Decisions, decisions

Well, I'm down to the last few pages of The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser. (Am I ever glad I didn't marry that man, find myself related to him or in any way know him - and I can't imagine how horrible his daughter must have been to get the moniker Bloody Mary after all he did.) I recommend the book if you are interested in any or all of Henry's six wives. But now I am faced with that tough but delightful decision - what to read next? I've been casting my eye over the shelves and piles but haven't made my selection yet. You'd think I'd have more important things to dwell on, wouldn't you? In my life with books this is one of my favourite moments - almost finished one good book and dreaming of starting the next.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Anne Boleyn

I'm still reading The Wives Of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser and I have to say, Anne Boleyn got screwed! She was no angel, but I think I may have liked knowing the feisty, sharp-tongued Anne. I'm really enjoying this book. I'm currently on page 290, Henry is looking for wife number four.

The final episode of The Tudors aired on Tuesday night here in Canada. I haven't watched it yet, I've got it on tape. I'm looking forward to watching it Saturday night. I read somewhere they are filming the second season of the Tudors now. Can't wait.

I've already mentioned my fondness for costume dramas, so I was excited to read on someone's blog the other day PBS is planning to air six Jane Austen mini series next year. WNED is the PBS station that broadcasts to this neck of the woods so I really, really hope they are planning on sending Jane to Canada. I'm already dreaming of Colin Firth as Mr Darcy. Wasn't he divine?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Suddenly it is December and I am scrambling to finish my Christmas shopping. Yes, finish - I started shopping weeks ago. I don't like shopping and I hate crowds so I always start early. Sometimes people think this makes life easier, but it is still the same amount of shopping, the same amount of worry (will Dad like this?!?) just without the lineups and out of stock disappointments.
I confess I buy people books as often as I can. I'm comfortable in bookstores, I know how to navigate them, unlike music stores. I must wander around HMV with a look of confused panic on my face judging by the way the hip salespeople descend on me, call me Ma'am, fetch everything on my list, then send me on my way as quickly as possible. Perhaps I scare all the young customers. I am, after all, the future.
Occasionally, when I am book buying for others, I wonder why it is that I am so seldom given books as gifts? I know other book lovers who have this same complaint. Do you get books as gifts? Or do you make a mad dash to your favourite bookstore on Boxing Day with the cash your mother gave you gripped firmly in hand and a maniacal grin on your face the same way I do?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Good Mail Day

It was a good mail day because the new issue of Brick magazine arrived! I've been subscribing to Brick for so many years I've lost count of them. Never, ever does an issue disappoint me. My back issues are tucked away in nooks and crannies all over the apartment because I can't bear to part with even a single one. So far I've only had a chance to glance through the new issue but this is what has piqued my interset so far:

- an interview with Mavis Gallant

- an interview with Barbara Gowdy

- an essay on Doestoevsky by Orphan Pamuk

- an essay by John Berger

- something by Leon Rooke (now there's a man who is never boring)

- and my favourite Brick feature, Eat or Die by Jim Harrison.

Hopefully I get some time this weekend to curl up on the sofa with Brick. Check out more about the magazine here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Recently I read Inspired Lives: The Best of Real Life Yoga from Ascent Magazine. Though I had never read Ascent magazine before I had seen it on news stands. I found my copy of Inspired Lives in a used bookstore and it was cheap, and I was in the mood, so I took it home. (Please note I only do this with books.) I was a bit surprised by how quickly I devoured it. Usually with anthologies I read a bit, put it down, pick it up again later. But this was so, well, inspiring, I read it from cover to cover in just a few days. I've been doing yoga for almost twenty years and recently have begun to get interested in the yoga behind the physical postures - the spirituality and history and ancient texts. This book gathered together a fabulous collection of essays and interviews with people who are putting the philosophy of yoga to work in their everyday lives.

The other day I was passing a bookstore and went in and bought the current issue of Ascent. I like their tag line : Yoga for an inspired life. I'm enjoying it as much as I did Inspired Lives. If you are the kind of person like me who would rather read about people who are making positive changes in the world, rather than negative ones, like you so often get in newspapers, then check it out. I also noticed they have a special "give 3 gifts for the price of 2" subscription offer going on for the holidays. Check it out here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Henry's Wives

I'm not much of a tv watcher, but lately I've gotten hooked on The Tudors. I like a good costume drama, although the actors in The Tudors often find themselves sans costume. But I thought this would be an appropriate time to take down The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser from the shelf and read it. To be truthful I pulled it from the bottom of a pile - my bookshelves are overflowing - but that just doesn't have as nice of a ring to it, does it? Anyway I bought it a couple of years ago at a used booksale and even though I've really wanted to read it, something else has always made it into my hands instead. I should make an effort to read more history.

Don't you love this rhyme to remember the fates of Henry's six wives:
Divorced, beheaded, died,
Divorced, beheaded, survived.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Wee Poem

On His Seventy-Fifth Birthday
I strove with none, for none was worth my strife.
Nature I loved and, next to Nature, Art:
I warmed both hands before the fire of life;
It sinks, and I am ready to depart.

~Waltor Savage Landor

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Rebecca West

Occasionally I read a book and get obsessed with the author (well, maybe not so occasionally) and suddenly I want to read everything they have written and plenty written about them. My latest obsession is Rebecca West. Recently I read The Fountain Overflows. God, I loved that novel! I kept trying to make myself read it slower so it wouldn't end so quickly, but finally I had to abandon that plan and promise myself to reread it. Then I discovered it is the first part of a trilogy. The other two books I just ordered from Abebooks (see my last post).

While I wait for those to arrive I've been pulling down books from my overflowing shelves and trying to learn more about Ms. West. The first thing everyone tells you is she had an affair with H.G. Wells, who is the father of her only child. More interesting, at least to me, was an essay she wrote on Virginia Woolf after Woolf's death in a book called Recollections of Virginia Woolf. I also found a Paris Review interview she did while digging around my shelves.

She had this to say about Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell: They always looked as if they had been drawn through a hedge backwards before they went out.

In her Paris Review interview she had this to say about Somerset Maugham: He couldn't write for toffee, bless his heart.

And this about W.B. Yeats: He wasn't a bit impressive and he wasn't my sort of person at all. He boomed at you like a foghorn.

And this about the Virgin Mary: You know, I don't really appreciate the Virgin Mary. She always looks so dull. I particularly hate Raphael, Raphael's Madonnas. They are awful, aren't they?

At least she didn't think the Madonna looked like she'd been pulled through a hedge backwards.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Yesterday I made my first order from Abebooks. Yes, that's right, until yesterday I had resisted the charms of Mr Abe. But I have succumbed - and I suspect it is going to be a very long and expensive relationship.

Oh, I ordered This Real Night and Cousin Rosamund by Rebecca West.