Sunday, July 8, 2018

Gardening Books

Early last month, I jumped in and started redesigning my back garden... with great success. I pulled out plants I didn't need, plants which were dying and plants which were taking over the whole yard - and there were pots which needed plants, plants which needed new pots and a big space where I put in a greenhouse to house my more delicate plants.

Then, I  got stuck!

I wanted to grow a rose. This was to remember my friend who had committed suicide in May in the UK... but then I have been hesitating so much over that type of plant that the more I read about it the harder is seemed to grow where I lived. 

I needed help with my choice of plant to grow. I sat down and pulled out my entire library of gardening books and search through them last Friday night and found I kept coming back to one type of plant which put up with a lot of different types of weather and didn't have to be pampered - it was the Camelia. I had combed through five books and found it in every book but they ranged from differing colourings, heights and styles. 

Don't you love it when gardening books just can't agree on what the same plant is all about? I find it hilarious! Anyway, I went and closed up the books, wrote down on my shopping list for this week to buy myself an extra large pot and look at the Camelias - which one? Well, I think I'll see what colours are available - not hesitate. 

Gardening books are great to a point, aren't they? They can tell you only so much, though. But if we have too much information, it becomes overwhelming. This is the downfall of the internet and Google; and why I like to read the gardening books from the past - and why I collect them. Well, until my next post, happy reading. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Keeping Notes

It's the middle of Winter here in Australia and we're going through the wonderful and typical Winter of chilly nights and lovely cool days with some showers here and there.

It also means nice hot, stodgy meals with hot chocolate just before bed while reading a few pages of my favourite book - or a new one I have yet to read. 

Right now, I'm reading 'The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society' by Mary Ann Shaffer; and it's a great book of letters which isn't stressful, and has a great pull on me every time I pick it up - it reminds me a lot of '84 Charing Cross Road' by Helene Hanff; but less modern, and more wonderfully written. However, from the start, it has more than two people writing to each other... which took a little getting used to.

And that's a great thing with this book, it's a society within a society... a society of letters within a society of people who love books writing to each other during World War II in the UK. 

While I'm reading this book, I'm also putting my little back garden into order... this is what I do when I mourn the loss of somebody in my life: I get out into the garden and really involve myself in Mother Nature. It's my way of hiding. And while I've been doing that I've been taking notes of what I've been doing out in the little garden - and my Gardening Journal is being filled up with every single thing I've bought, potted up, back-filled and cared for and built in the tiny backyard I call my garden. 

It's been only a month - and almost 2 months since my dear friend committed suicide - and I've spent more money on my garden than I do on books in a year. Yes I miss my sweet, dear, and troubled friend, Hannah, and this is my way of dealing with my loss. I guess everyone deals with loss in different ways, right? I read and get into my garden - taking notes along the way. 

But I have tried keeping a reading journal on what I've read; and it didn't really work out - except online. How weird is that? Well, until my next post, happy reading! 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Winter/Summer Reading Lists!

Well! I'm in Australia and we're going through our first week of a cold snap this year - and I love the brisk chill of Winter here! 

This means I can snuggled into the warmth of my bed and get in and read some good, wonderful books during the chilly months!

Now, I've been writing more than reading lately, but I'm also jotting down notes during my art classes - which is always fun! But reading is always a great way to pass the time while drinking a nice hot cup of tea or coffee. 

So, I must ask: what's your list at this time of year? I'll share mine if you share yours.

'The Writing Class' by Jincy Willett
'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society' by Mary Ann Shaffer
'The Portable Dorothy Parker'

I'll start off with these three and see how far I get... of course I'll take Dorothy with me everywhere to read her work as much as I can; and I've heard great things about the Potato Peel Society. So, I think I'm in for a couple of good reads there. But I've never heard of The Writer Class before - so that'll be a new one for me. Until my next post, happy reading!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Organising Mt To Be Read

I'm getting into the big organising kick right now; and the biggest area of my house which is being looked into is my home office - where all the books live. 

The Mt TBR is a major thing I've been eying off and it's actually looking pretty good - but it's not getting any smaller; as I have read any of the books on it lately, and this is a worry. 

Now, I'm still buying books, but I've been reading articles on The Huffington Post and other online sites which say you have to cut the mountain of books down then build it back up again. But that seems an awful lot of stuffing around to do with one 'little' pile of books - or is it? 

Have you gone in and done this to your Mt TBR? Has it worked out for you? And if it has, what about the secondary pile - you know, the 'Mt I'll Read That In My Life' pile? Does that get any smaller or even get a look into? 

Yeah, this is starting to look like it's going to be a bigger job than it will start out to be. But if I don't do it, I'll end up staring at the Mt TBR again tonight wondering why I didn't do it today. 

So, how about it? Why don't we get into this together and reorganise our Mt TBR's and see how we go? We might be very surprised at what is hiding in that teetering mountain of promised reading which we may not even want to read, or even worse, we've lost interest in. Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Reading and Writing More

I've had problems with my eye sight lately; and so I was off to the optometrist to get it looked into. He took a look and said my lenses needed upgrading; so after 2 weeks, I've got new lenses in my Ginsberg frames and a whole new set for my computer... and I'm reading so much better and have jumped right in and started writing so much more too.

I've been knocking over about 10 pages of 'Born to Run' by Bruce Springsteen over the past few days each time I've sat down to read... and it feels great to get in and do that.

And it's not only the reading I'm getting back into. My writing of books and Flash Fiction is getting back up there as well. I've been flying through almost 2,000 words with each writing session; and my goal is 1,000 words a session... soon I'll be reaching 3,000 words a session instead; which is great! 

If only my typing could keep up with my brain - now that'd be a new one!

I've also been cleaning out the bookshelves and making them look like a library by standing the books on their ends instead of laying them on their sides - which is bad for them. They look so much better and the home office is really looking so much more like a library than ever before. There's still a fair bit more to go, but I can find my sections better and am having a few teething problems with it still. But it'll get there in a few months once it's figured out. Until my next post, happy reading. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

New Glasses!

In recent months, my eyes have been giving me problems. I've found they're tired all the time, watering and in the past month, I've had a really annoying lower-lid eye twitch! That last one, I thought was from stress, but I went to my optometrist and he told me it was from not having the right lenses for reading and computer work.

He had a good look at my eyes and nodded, yep, I needed new reading glasses. I told him that I love the frames I've got, and to keep them, but the lenses were to be upgraded. He said it's good I love the frames of my Ginsberg ones.

He asked me what I've been reading and I told him 'Born To Run' by Bruce Springsteen, and he said that it must be a great read, I agreed, and said it'll be a better read once I get my glasses sorted. 

The best thing is that I don't need driving glasses - yet - and he filled out my medical certificate for me while I was there. I told him that I bought myself some Cancer Council polarised sunglasses for Christmas, and he said that they're the best ones - and asked if I bought black ones or brown ones; and I said brown. He told me it takes time to get accustomed to the brown lenses, but they're the better ones for us as they're less strain on our eye sight. 

So, in about a week or so, I'll have new lenses in my glasses, a new pair of computer glasses, still have my Ginsberg cats eye glasses and have a lens upgrade on both... great! I can't wait to get back into 'Born To Run'; I'll be reading that book a lot faster than before. 

Do you wear glasses? Until my next post, happy reading!

Monday, May 14, 2018

I'm Writing Again!

I'm writing another book!

Woah, it's been years since I started writing an actual book at a time when it's not NaNoWriMo and really wanted to keep on going with it.

Currently, I'm up to chapter four and am getting into it properly... and the best thing is that I'm not doing any violence, vampire or horror. Nope, it's going to be a book about the travels and life of a person with great descriptions and beautiful scenes captured within the pages. 

This it the type of book I've wanted to write for some time now; and it's been a long time coming. But the main problem I had was that I didn't know what the book was going to be about - not until I found myself grieving over a close friends' suicide over the past week and I was in front of my computer late one night and I opened a new folder on a thumb drive and started at 'Chapter One', where my character was in grieving.

It's going to be a great book, but as with all my books, I'm not sure where it's going to take me. It's a path untaken as well; with me not scaring people or myself. Now, to write something about the deep feelings and thoughts of the Human mind... wouldn't that be a wonderful book to get into and succeed at writing? I hope it will be.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

'Uncommon Type' by Tom Hanks

We all know some actors and singers dabble in the publishing arena just to say that they got themselves published and out onto the shelves of a bookstore at least once in their lives. Some make it big as they step from being in the limelight to being in the gently-glowing screen of their computers at home - which is less public and more introspective.

The fame which comes to a write is much different than the fame of being an actor or singer. Until you step from one to the other, you can't tell the difference... and until you've made a successful switch from one to the other, you won't know it either.

Tom Hanks has been a household name for over twenty years - and is one of my all-time favourite actors. From 'Big' to 'Sleepless In Seattle' to 'Forrest Gump', 'Castaway' and 'The Terminal' as well as 'Toy Story' (all of them), he has been a constant in my life as I grew up. I actually remember when I turned 18, one of my friends gave me the book 'Big' with Tom Hanks on the cover and I read that book; even though I'd seen the film already - and yet, I enjoyed the film better. 

However, when I watched a documentary about Tom Hanks and his amazing life - and his wonderful collection of typewriters - a few years ago, he mentioned he was working on writing a book. He didn't mention what his book was about, but he did say it was something he had always wanted to do in his life. The interviewer probed more, but Tom didn't let on anything more about his book - like any good writer, you keep all the goodies to yourself. 

Anyway, that was a few years go, and it was in March this year, that I found this wonderful book in QBD at Garden City for a good price. My Mum thought I was crazy to buy it as it was... but I knew it had been in the pipeline at some point, but didn't know when it was coming out.

And I'm here to tell you that the wait was well worth it! Tom can write a great story! He can jump genres too! I'm so happy to say that this book was well worth the wait from when he mentioned it during an interview a few years ago, until now (and let's face it, the best things are usually worth the wait, aren't they?). 
He can write some wonderful word pictures, scenes where you go back and re-read them and they are just as beautiful, delicious and sweet and fresh as the paper they're written on... and the photographs of typewriters! Oh, yes, he's combined two pleasures of his within his book:  his love of storytelling and his love of typewriters. 

This book,'Uncommon Type' is well worth the purchase as it's brilliantly written, proofread well and I totally enjoyed it! I do look forward to the next book he puts out - if he's working on another one that is. Until my next post, happy reading.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Book Collections of Old

It's amazing when you go through life that you don't think about what will happen to your things when you get old; when you have to sell your house and move into a small place.

My family has a Dutch Grandmother - an Oma - by marriage and she recently turned 99 years young and had to be placed into a nursing home. This meant her house has to be put on the market to pay for her placement there.

Well, her belongings are being split amongst the family. And just last Saturday, I was offered to look through her art books and studio. Yes, Oma was an artist and she collected books, not only for reading and escapism, but also for her artistic pursuits. 

And what a collection of books she has! Just look at this lot; and these ones here too!

I jumped right in and looked at her paintings first. You see, I've often not been able to look at them on my own without family standing by - causing me to feel as though I had a time limit to look at the artwork.

But on Saturday, I could wander around and just enjoy looking and becoming a part of the work and looking through all of Oma's books - art books or not - and know I didn't have somebody watching me the whole time. 

The sad part was that as I looked through the books, I realised this was the remains of somebody's life. It kinda made me feel awful that a lovely elderly lady was in a nursing home while her home for so many years where so many family dinners, so many years of love and enjoyment had happened, so many times she had sat and read so many of these books by the fire or by the afternoon sunlight in the Autumn was going to be sold. 

Her books were going to be either given away to family - like her art books to me - or given to a charity. Anything the family didn't want wasn't going to be kept. But the books of her collection really interested me; what she read wasn't organised; it was piled up in a chair in the art studio and not looked after. But the art books were organised in a bookcase, well-looked after and, I could tell, used on a regular basis.

So, have you come across books like this in your travels? Books from an older person who you've known in your life or from a bookstore where you know it had a prior life as an active part of somebody else's life; and now it was handed off or sent off like it didn't matter? Until my next post, happy reading.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Short Reads or Long?

As much as I love to collect books, I also enjoy reading them - I mean, why collect them if you're not gonna read them, right?

Well, I haven't read that many books this year, and that's due to me looking into editing some of my written work and organising them into book form - which takes time. Also, I'm at art school too; and that's taking up a lot of time as well.

So, in between painting and editing and decluttering my home, I'm reading as much as I can before bed - the only time I get to get my nose into a book. And I've noticed that the only genre I get to read is short stories or novellas. They're great and don't need me to get too involved - as yet. 

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy delving into the huge series of books like 'The Dark Tower' (which I'm up to book 4 of still) and I love to read the odd biography or autobiography. Then there's the classics which are just wonderfully worded to take me into another time and place so far away from this awfully modern world of Kindle, Kobo and computers. 

However, the short stories are just light enough to entertain me, relax me for a good nights' sleep and keep me interested in the right way. Besides, right now, I'm writing Flash Fictions and they're going really well for me. I've found that Chuck Wendig's blog of 'Terrible Minds' is a great place to get wonderful prompts and his books are brilliantly written. Chuck tells it as it is, pulls no punches and takes no hostages - speaking like a writer thinks; which is a rarity.

I've been getting my nose into 'Uncommon Type' by Tom Hanks (yep the actor - what a great guy! I don't know anyone who doesn't like him); and I gotta say, this book is fantastic. He should have been writing before this because of his clean cut way of expressing himself. 
Then, there's 'Dandelion Wine' by Ray Bradbury - which I've been trying to get my nose into for a few years and last year put down somewhere in my house couldn't find it; only to rummage through my books last night and pick it up, blow the dust off it and start it again. I read the first chapter slowly, deliberately, until midnight and then turned out the light... then couldn't sleep because of how Bradbury described the dawning of the first day of Summer. Isn't that always the way?

Well, how is your reading going? I'm going okay with it. I still have books to give away within Australia and books to sort through here in my home office. Otherwise, the book collection is still not dented by my reading listings of what's been read and what's not been read - but then, I'm not worried about keeping count as much as I used to be anymore. To me, a book being read is just a book being read. There's no goals this year. So long I get in and read books that I enjoy that's the main thing isn't it?  Until my next post, happy reading.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Big Book Clean-Out!

I'm currently in the throws of a big book cull... and loving it! A few weeks ago, I told you guys I went to a friend's place to help her out and scored a great many books to read and add to my collection - well, this made me sort through my books and sent off some of my own unwanted - not to mention unread - books to another place across the country.

So far, I've already sent off two 5kg bags across Australia. One has arrived in Melbourne and one in the Northern Territory... and now another is going to the Northern Territory again; this time filled with a certain author's books. 

There's going to be one more book bag to be sent off before I approach a prison or an retirement village and see if they'd like the books I can't send away. I might try out the former and see if the inmates of one of Queensland's prisons would like to have some leftover books to add to their library. After all, everyone reads no matter where they are.

Anyway, I'm getting through these books and will be looking at the new lot of books to read soon as I'm working on new artworks as the year progresses.

So, do you do book culls - much like I do? You know, to get rid of books you're no longer interested in or want to read? Or are you a keep-them-all-no-matter-what kinda person? Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Designer's Eye on Books

There's a craze going around people's private libraries at the moment, and I'm not liking it one little bit!

Well, okay, there's two crazes - but I'm not counting.

One of them is pulling the books in your library together in all the colours of the spines and making your library look like a crazy colour wheel. It doesn't matter if the books are sorted into fiction or non-fiction, romance or action... so long it looks pretty - right?

Um, no, I don't think so. I have to have my horror with horror. Romance with romance, non-fiction with non-fiction... otherwise there's just no point to having a library if there's no real order.

That's how I've seen some people sort out their library.

Then, there's the other end of the scale completely... the people who don't like looking at the titles of the books and would much prefer to look at the disgusting, whites and sand colour stylings of the pages instead. Yep, these idiots face their books with the pages outward and think it looks 'fashionable' and 'stylish'. 

One little question: how do you know what the title is if you can't see it? 

Yeah didn't think this one through did ya?

I like my crazy-coloured library with everything in its place and a place for everything. I like my Stephen King where his work's supposed to be, my non-fiction over there near the window, and my biographies all sandwiched there in the shelf... which really does need to be cleaned out, moved around and, yes, I need more room here.

And to think, I just did out the collection yesterday. Well, until my next post, happy reading!