Monday, October 05, 2020

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (left to right):

  • Song of the Court by Katy Farina - from Sterling Children's Books for review
  • The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox - sent by my friend Susan (thanks, Suz!)
  • A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn and 
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-William - both purchased
  • All About Us by Tom Ellen - from HarperCollins for review

As usual, quite a hodge-podge, here. I ordered A People's History of the United States after hearing our current president say Zinn's approach to history is the wrong one. You'll see farther down that I also got a book with excerpts from A People's History called The People Speak and have already read it (not difficult; it's about 82 pages long). I knew nothing about Zinn but it appears that he has chosen to portray history from the viewpoint of the oppressed and, occasionally, the oppressor's own words using primary sources — for example, a horrifying letter from Christopher Columbus describing how easy it would be to "subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want," referring to the natives of Hispaniola, who were totally wiped out. Yikes. 

As to the others . . . Queenie has been on my wish list for a while and I decided to place a Book Depository order, which is slowly trickling in. I'm really looking forward to The Witch of Willow Hall for some spooky October reading, and the remaining two books are among those I mentioned accepting for review, 2 weeks ago. All About Us is an October release, and Song of the Court is out tomorrow, so I'll read that tonight. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Magic in Changing Your Stars by Leah Henderson
  • Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. S├ínchez
  • In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders
  • The People Speak: American Voices, Some Famous, Some Little Known - Ed. by Howard Zinn

All of these were good or great. I've had little patience for anything that doesn't grab me immediately, this year, and the payoff is that I'm really enjoying my reading. Nothing has gotten a below-average rating because if I think it's less than average, I abandon it. I highly recommend doing this, especially if you're having trouble with a reading slump. The Magic in Changing Your Stars and Running Out of Time are both middle grade books and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is YA. 

Currently reading: 

  • Writers and Lovers by Lily King
  • The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

I'm considering ditching The House of the Seven Gables, for now, because it's good but not the spooky read I was hoping for. I've set it aside for at least two days, now. I'll have to think about whether or not I want to continue hacking away at it. Writers and Lovers is one I had on-hand and I commented about how much I enjoyed Lily King's Euphoria to an Instagram friend. She asked me to hurry up and read Writers and Lovers so we could discuss. Why not? It's good, so far. And, I'm learning a good bit from The Great Influenza, which is not only about the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 but also the state of medicine in the United States from the mid-19th Century up to the time of the pandemic and how rapidly things changed, the people and institutions involved in that dramatic change in medicine, and the reason influenza is so dangerous and we have to get new flu shots yearly. It's a little bit of a slog, at times, but worth the time investment. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

Hmm, is there any other news? I guess a little. We went on a day trip on Saturday. Unlike most people, we really have pretty much stayed in lockdown mode or close to it. After our state's mask mandate began to work, though, we did at least feel comfortable shopping during regular hours instead of getting up to do the grocery shopping at 6 AM. The mask mandate unfortunately expired but I predict its return in about 3 weeks. It doesn't take long for the uptick after people fling the masks and other precautions aside. 

Anyway, our day trip was to Rocky Springs, a site off the Natchez Trace with camping, hiking, and some very interesting historical interest. Rocky Springs was the name of a town that was on that site in the 19th century. All that remains is a smattering of objects (a safe, a cistern), the church (still in use), and the cemetery, which is surprisingly well-tended. The campsite is in terrible shape, unfortunately. The bathrooms are closed, the trash cans and fire pits overflowing with trash, the amphitheater unmowed and the trail a bit overgrown with weeds that tickle and fling up little itchy-biting bugs. I got a lot of mosquito bites. But, we had a nice picnic and enjoyed our little hike. 

I started watching COBRA on PBS, last night, and so far I'm enjoying it. We've gotten to the point in life that we normally crash early (although neither of us are quick to fall asleep) so 9:00 feels late to watch TV, now. That cracks me up. Point being, the spousal unit went on to bed without me so I watched it on my own. I like disaster-type movies/shows, so I think I'm going to love it.

Art-wise, my last project was a bit of a failure. I used to sketch people all the time, but I haven't done so in years. So, I decided my next project should be an attempt to paint a portrait. But, then I decided maybe it would be best to start out by doing a collage and just painting over a photograph. I printed and cut out a lovely Edwardian woman, sprayed her with matte fixative, pasted her to some watercolor paper, and then painted over the photograph. Ugh, she looks like a cartoon character. I may work on her some more to see if I can give her some definition but at this point it's just a big disappointment. 

What's new in your world? 

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