September 2021 Wrap-Up

There ARE seasonal changes here!

Here in Southern California Fall has arrived. Seasonal changes are usually more subtle here than other regions of the country, but not so this year. We’ve already had a rain storm, an odd and eerie thunder (no lightening) event and the temps in the early morning are in the 50s. It is wonderful to walk now, bundled up as the sun peaks up over the horizon. I hope everyone is safe, healthy and enjoying the year as it changes to warmer or cooler temps, depending on where you live.

September was one of the best reading and blogging months I’ve had in a long time. I had my second cataract surgery at the beginning of the month and it healed speedily with the result I was hoping for: the new lens matches my other eye and I still don’t have to wear glasses to read. And, of course, everything is so much cleaner and clearer and has made a difference in the ease and pleasure of reading again. Thank God for modern medicine.

Books Read
Two on a Tower, Thomas Hardy
The Burning Girls, CJ Tudor
Period Piece, Gwen Raverat
The Wild Silence, Raynor Winn
The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently, Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler
The Night Lake, Liz Tichenor
Martha by the Day, Julie Mathilde Lippmann

Blog Posts
“A White Heron,” Sara Orne Jewett
The Fruit of the Tree, Edith Wharton
Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser

RIP
Well, I should know by now that what I say I am going to read for RIP and what I actually read are two different things. While I did start and will continue with HP Lovecraft’s, “The Call of Cthulhu” I got waylaid by other works. When The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton arrived, I had to dig in. And after I read Sarah Orne Jewett’s “A White Heron” I continued with the short story collection and found some spooky stories there. I’ll write up some next month.

October
For RIP, I’ll finish The Call of Cthulhu and I really do think I will reread The War of the Worlds, which I am really looking forward to…but who knows…!  

The “Club” is this month and Simon at Stuck in a Book has designated the year 1976 for October. My choice is Penelope Lively’s, A Stitch in Time.

I’ll be reading Shakespeare’s, The Tempest for Witch Week.

The Thomas Hardy year continues with the short story collection, Life’s Little Ironies

Hmm, that’s a pretty full dance card, but I’m sure there will be room for spontaneous reads.

Other Reading News
I have discovered a new podcast thanks to Juliana at The [Blank] Garden, who put up a post on The Lost Ladies of Lit. It is a wonderful podcast that showcases little known and forgotten women writers. I am learning so much and have already ordered a book from an episode and more are definitely to follow.

Lizzie Ross is doing daily posts for Banned Books Week that I have found fascinating. Check them out for some enlightening content.

That’s it for me. If you’ve done a September wrap-up let me know in the comments below. I wish you….

Happy Spooktober!

What lurks behind this old window?

Dear 2021, Send Books

I am not going to do a 2020 wrap up post or a projection post for 2021. 2020 was difficult for me in many ways and it affected my blogging. Call it ‘Covid Fatigue’ or the misery of a socially distanced life, but as it was for so many others, 2020 turned my life upside down and if the door hits it on the way out, so much the better….

When I took a blogging break last Fall I didn’t stop reading. I posted on Instagram and Goodreads, because I find these shorter thought posts, along with the reviews on this blog, help me feel less overwhelmed at the backlog of books I am not blogging about. Monthly wrap-up posts will show the books I read, including the progress on my ongoing personal projects and the 2021 challenges and readalongs I have signed up for.

As the pandemic rages on and a new, more contagious mutation spreads, as the US vaccine distribution infrastructure does not materialize and the politics of division, narcissism and blame continue to plague American citizens reading disengages me from the chaos for a time and saves my soul.

May we all find sanity, safety, health and maybe even a little bit of optimism in this New Year. And may the book blogosphere continue to hold us in the unity and comfort of this shared passion throughout the planet as we read and post and share our book treasures with each other.

From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On the day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived.
~A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith (and just imagine if Francie lived when she could book blog)!

PS, My top three favorite books of the year:

  1. Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell
  2. Emma, Jane Austen
  3. Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy




If these two can get over their differences, isn’t there hope for the rest of us?

#BloggingTheSpirit: Adventures in Spirituality on the Last Sunday of the Month

Books, Art, Photography, Music, Poetry and More

In a previous post, I talked about wanting to expand my blog to reflect the variety of books I read, instead of concentrating almost solely on books about the classics. A brief exchange in the comments regarding religion and spirituality has prompted me to reach out and create an informal event occurring on the last Sunday of the month.

A Little Background

I have been interested in religion from a very young age and while I don’t belong to a specific group or denomination religious biographies, memoir and even the ‘how we practice’ or ‘what we believe’ type of books have always drawn me. This curiosity is reflected on almost any path you can imagine from traditional religions to the New Age to all manner of pagan and wiccan paths.

If pressed I would admit to being in the “I find God in Nature” camp where I happily commune on a regular basis. However, if my friend, who sings in a magnificent Episcopal choir, is having a choral feast day at her church, you will find me there. Or if another friend tells me about a new book on Druidry that really helped him, I’ll pick it up.

Many bloggers easily incorporate these books or other creative arts into their regular blogging fare. But I have been hesitant. It feels too revealing and personal and maybe no one would be interested. Or maybe this clashes with the logical left brain persona I am more comfortable projecting. And while I don’t plan on posting about these books frequently, once a month feels right.

I do not think I am alone and I would love to share and discuss, to know what you are reading, hearing and looking at that inspires you!

I am proposing that we connect on the last Sunday of this month, September 24th with any kind of post you chose: on a book, a piece of art or music, a photograph, a poem that inspires you, a word or a relationship…anything that speaks to your connection to God/The Gods/Soul/The Big Cheese

The Mechanics

In a desire to ‘keep it simple,’ I created the hashtag #BloggingTheSpirit which we can use on Twitter and Instagram to find each other. I will also put up a general post on my blog at 12am (PDT) on the 24th where you can use the comment section to share the url to your post.

Please share this post on your blog, Instagram, Twitter, wherever you have social media, if you or someone you know is interested. I can’t wait to see what transpires on the 24th!

On September 24th:
~post to your blog and/or use the hashtag #BloggingTheSpirit on Twitter or Instagram
~Go to Relevant Obscurity and share the url to your blog post in the comments of the connecting post
~click on various urls and comment on the posts that interest you
See you on the 24th!

There is More to Me than the Classics: A Conundrum

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I am wrestling with the focus of my blog. I fear I have limited myself to writing almost solely about 19th and early 20th century classic literature (which does make up the bulk of fiction that I read) and wonder if there is room for the history, pop culture and religion I also read?

The phrase relevant obscurity has always been directed at me personally, because the emphasis on the above nonfiction for most of my life made me so suspicious of fiction (I would like to write a post on that) that I am discovering classic literature for the first time. The relevance of these books and how they help me see the past and a period of history I love has added so much to my life.

IMG_4775And yet, I have been reading books on religion and spirituality since I was 12 when I was given a book on Hanukkah; that brought God into my heretofore agnostic worldview and set me on a seeker’s path of which I still walk. And the Medieval history I majored in and the American studies courses I took later still figure strongly in what I read now, though I don’t share any of that here.

 

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So, I am going to try some new kinds of posts throughout the next few months to see how comfortable I am about sharing more of my life through the various books I read, the thoughts they provoke and even some non-book-related musings, because while I have thought hard about starting another blog in addition to this one, oh man, that seems like a lot of work! But also, like many other bloggers and readers, I am multifaceted offline, so why pretend otherwise online?

 

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I would love to know if anyone else feels their blog, either by its title or focus, is too restrictive to the broader range of what they want to share?

What did you decide to do about it or are you still wrestling with it?