About Me

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If who we are is what we do, then like most people, I am a mixed bag of personas. Writer, bookworm, friend, are what first come to mind. Equally apt would be potty mouth, dog walker, Guinness drinker, swimmer, storyteller, political animal, baker and proud Canadian. Mostly though, I consider myself simply insanely lucky to have a small posse of near and dear ones who put up with me and my curvy, creative, curly haired, opinionated self. I started this blog several years ago with the idea to challenge myself in a myriad of ways. Years in, despite the sporadic entries, I still like to muse about the absurdity of life, what inspires surprises and angers me, books and other entertainments, my menagerie, my travels and any other notion buzzing round in my head.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Book Quiz

Hi folks,
I am shamelessly stealing this quiz from another blog , which I read frequently. Thanks Amanda! It's an interesting view of how we look at books and what we like. Kind of a getting to know you sort of thing, from a bookish perspective.

Hardback, trade paperback or mass market paperback?
I prefer trade paperbacks. They are easy to tote around. I rarely buy mass market paperback (unless I pick them up from a used bookstore). Given my impatient nature, I will often buy a book in hardcover, if it’s something I just can’t wait to read.

Barnes & Noble or Borders?
For Canadians (or Torontonians) how about Chapters-Indigo, Coles, Pages, WBB or TYPE?

I’m utterly torn here because while I love the selection of Chapters-Indigo and WBB, I prefer to buy from independent booksellers. They are getting fewer and fewer and I find this very sad.

Bookmark or dog-ear?
I use a bookmark most of the time or just remember the page I am on. I have taken to flagging sections with post-its if I want to write about the book later.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
Random by size and shape, but grouped loosely by genre. I could never be an alphabetizing kind of girl. Too orderly.

Keep, throw away, or sell?
Keep keep keep. Lend and sometimes never get back but NEVER throw away. I have sold books before, but not my norm.

Keep dust jacket or toss it?
I love dust jackets.

Read with dust jacket or remove it?
I always read with the jacket on. It makes a good bookmark.

Short story or novel?
Novels for sure. I have only just started reading shorts. David Sedaris and Alice Munro have won me over.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
Sacrilege to say it I know, but I’m not a big fan of Harry Potter. Lemony Snicket? That was a movie right? Kidding. Not my thing.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
Stop at chapter breaks for sure. And I read well beyond tired most nights.

"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"?
The darker and stormier the better. Harbinger of all things eerie, spooking and unknown. At least it’s not a fairytale. Yawn.

Buy or borrow?
Both. But I like to buy books most of all. I can think of nothing better than a good browse in a bookshop and books are my one indulgence that I never ever censor.

New or used?
Again, books are books, so I buy both. I like the smell of old books and it’s like a treasure hunt when I find something I really wanted in a used book store.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendations, or browse?
I would say I buy books mostly on recommendation and by browsing. Reviews are taken into consideration. I keep a list of books and authors on my blackberry. The names come from all different places.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Both, but things don’t necessarily have to tie up neatly in a bow. I don’t mind open ended questions.

Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading?
Weekdays it is evening reading. After dinner til sometimes well into the night. Weekends are a free for all. I have been known to read all day long and into the night if I have a book I am enjoying. But I can read anytime, anywhere, and do.

Stand-alone or series?
Both. Equally.

Favorite series?
Heaven Tree Trilogy. I also enjoyed the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next series and Twilight books.

Favorite children's book?
Pickle Chiffon Pie

Favorite YA book?
Secret Garden and the Narnia series

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
The Marriage of Megotta, by Edith Pargeter

Favorite books read last year?
Julie and Julia, Eat Pray Love, Twilight, Shake Hands with the Devil

Favorite books of all time?
The Maytrees, Love in the Time of Cholera, Pride & Prejudice, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

What are you reading right now?
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Getting to Maybe

What are you reading next?
The Partisan’s Daughter by Louis de Bernieres

Favorite book to recommend to an eleven-year-old?
Harriet the Spy or Inkheart

Favorite book to reread?
Pillars of the Earth

Do you ever smell books?

Do you ever read Primary source documents?
Yes, when I am doing research for my own writing and most certainly when I was in school.

I am now happily off for a 4 day long Easter weekend. Very much looking forward to some downtime, reading, writing and catching up with my peeps.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Attack of the Killer Shoulds

There are few words in the English language I dislike more than the word should. Should is a get you in trouble kind of word. Should is loaded. It has expectation, judgment, opinion. I bristle at the idea of being told what to do. I like to live my life on my own terms. I fully expect to enjoy the bounty of my good decisions and know I own the consequences of the bad ones. I believe in karma, good and bad. I didn’t always feel this way. Yesterday was a reminder to me of how far I have yet to go. For despite what I just said, knowing all that I do, from time to time I get a case of the shoulds. I climb on my high horse and venture off into the righteous land of should. And to be frank, this is a fairytale that never ends well.

I have always been a person of strong opinions. I’m not shy and freely express myself, my feelings about things that come to pass, things that irritate me and inspire me, social and political comments. All good, I think. Its part of why I started blogging. My opinions about things I see, books I’ve read, and my own life at times quirky and other times mundane are all the subject of commentary with friends and family and frequently fodder here in blogdom. The thing is, feeling things strongly and communicating openly is one thing, not knowing when to shut up is quite another. Such can sometimes be the case with me, when I get a bee under my bonnet. I don’t like these types of clich├ęd expressions normally. But, in this instance, it seems so appropriate. For while I cannot recall ever wearing a bonnet, were I to do so, my latest case of shoulds felt quite like having something irritating and troublesome buzzing in and around my head. Unable to free myself of this irksome issue, I kept batting at it madly with phrases like should just grow up, should do this, should get real, should quit it, should give their head a shakeshould should should. Swatting away verbally with no resolution, it never occurred to me until much later, that rather than fussing as I did, had I just quieted down and relaxed, I might have found a better solution or perhaps even come to a peaceful compromise.

The thing about shoulds is that they are so one sided. One can never really understand how another person feels and what motivates their actions. Irritated and feeling self righteous last night I came home in quite a funk. Walking Murphy in the snow (yes… its back for a last gasp), I tried to calm myself. I felt bad about some of the things I had said and tried to figure myself out. I remembered a book someone gave me and sought it out when I returned home. I’ve given this book as a gift to a number of people over the years. Tucked into the pages of Ruiz’ The Four Agreements, are four simple ideas that would have saved me from myself earlier in the day. Four basic agreements to make with oneself. In a single conversation I blasted past all four of them, but nonetheless I’m glad to be reminded of them again. Here they are:
No. 1 – Be Impeccable With Your Word – In other words, don’t gossip or spread poison with what you say. Words have power. And with apologies for the Star Wars analogy, use your power for good.
No. 2 – Never Make Assumptions – The thing is you never really know what the other person is thinking. To assume you do is arrogant and most of the time, we get it wrong anyway.
No. 3 – Don’t Take Things Personally – Again it is arrogant to think that everything is about you. More importantly, when people do or say things hurtful to you, it is really more about them than you. Realize this and stop trying to control the outcome.
No. 4 – Always Do Your Best – Even when your best is not very good at present, try. Don’t give up. Make an effort. Show up and contribute.

I think I’ve overcome my case of the shoulds for the present. I realize now that the only shoulds that would have made any sense at all is to realize early on that I should just butt out. I should know by now that each of us has our own way and finds it in our own time. And that is perfectly OK.

One more wholly unrelated point - I finished Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds and remain unconvinced that it is anything more than a dated, dry, mildly amusing take on a young man with a vivid imagination. I didn't like it. Have moved on to lighter fare. I picked up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (Think Elizabeth Bennett as a Buffy the Vampire Slayerish, sword weilding zombie killer, distracted by expectations to marry well while trying to figure out the brooding and haughty Darcy - utterly hilarious and best of all, comes complete with illustrations!!!) More on this later.