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burrowing owls

I hope you enjoy this basic representation of my wordy nest and find much creative inspiration with which to quietly feather your own wordy nest!

Books read 2014

I was bad at meeting my challenges, but I did have a wonderful year of reading.

Books read 2014


Aim: 144 books
Challenges to diversify my reading:
a play by Shakespeare per month [S]
a favourite reread per month [F]
finish a book begun a previous year
a Dutch book per month [D]
a classic per month [C]
an Australian novel per month [A]
a volume of literary non-fiction per month [L]

January
Ursuala K LeGuin, The Waters Rising
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall [begun in 2011]
Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies
Bill Willingham, Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days) [I love this series]
Bill Willingham, Fables: Wolves

Bill Willingham, Fables: Sons of Empire
Eva Sallis, Fire Fire [A]
Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin [C]
Shakespeare, Macbeth [F, S]

February
Bill Willingham, Fables: The Good Prince

Bill Willingham, Fables: War and Pieces
John Fletcher and John Spurling, Beckett: A study of his plays [L]
Joanne Horniman, Secret Scribbled Notebooks [F, A]
Neil Gaiman, Marvel 1602
Kurt Busiek, Marvels

George RR Martin, A Storm of Swords part one: Steel and Snow

March
Shakespeare, King Lear [S]
Bill Willingham, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life [F]
Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea [C]

April
Marga Minco, Het Bittere Kruid [D]
Italo Calvino, The Literature Machine [L]
Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes
Richard Harland, World Shaker
Carson McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Café [and short stories]

Shakespeare, Richard II [S]
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban [F]
Brad Meltzer, Identity Crisis

May
Joss Whedon and Zack Whedon, Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

Ellie Phillips, Dads, Geeks & Blue Haired Freaks
Melody Carlson, Just Ask
Katy Regan, How We Met
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire [F]
Bill Willingham, Fables: The Dark Ages

Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are not the Only Fruit
Andrew Beasley, The Battles of Ben Kingdom: The Claws of Evil
Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl
Maureen Johnson, John Green and Lauren Myracle, Let it Snow

June
Bill Willingham, Jack of Fables: The (Nearly) Great Escape

Jennifer E Smith, This is What Happy Looks Like
Wendy Harmer, I Made Lattes for a Love God [A]
Virginia Woolf, The Waves (difficult to read but fantastic) [C, begun in 2012]
Elisabeth Murray, The Loud Earth [A]
Gail Carriger, Ettiquette & Espionage

Christie Hodgen, Elegies for the Brokenhearted
Natasha Solomons, Mr Rosenblum's List
Bill Willingham, Jack of Fables: Jack of Hearts
Bill Willingham, Jack of Fables: The Bad Prince
Bill Willingham, Jack of Fables: Americana

Emma Cameron, Cinnamon Rain [A]
Gayle Forman, Just One Year
Clare and Michael Morpurgo, Where My Wellies Take Me
Noel Streatfeild, When the Siren Wailed

July
Bill Willingham, Jack of Fables: Turning Pages

JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix [F]

[did a lot of reading for PhD proposal this month]

August
Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Bill Willingham, Jack of Fables: The Big Book of War
Laura Lippman, The Girl in the Green Raincoat (A Tess Monaghan Novel)
Andrew Beasley, The Battles of Ben Kingdom: The Feast of Ravens

Patrick White, Happy Valley [A] [in which nobody is happy]
Rachael Herron, A Life in Stitches
David Sedaris, Chipmunk Seeks Squirrel
Steven Amsterdam, Things We Didn't See Coming
Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin [C]

Marjorie Perloff, Wittgenstein's Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary [L] [a bit of a mindbender]
Cathy Brett, Everything is Fine (and Other Lies I Tell Myself)
Rene Belletto, Dying

September
Gail Carriger, Curtsies & Conspiracies
John Green, Paper Towns

Robin McKinley, The Hero and the Crown [a brilliant story]
Terry Pratchett, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents [funny, of course]
Enrique Vila-Matas, Dublinesque [A literary meander on the bridge spanning the print and digital ages]
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms [I'm not sure that bleak ending was called for] [C]
Kelly Gardiner, Act of Faith [YA novel about the daring publishers of 17th C Europe]

Isabelle Allende, City of the Beasts
Rosie Borella, The One and Only Jack Chant [A]

October
Yvette Holt, Anonymous Premonition [a book of verse by an Indigenous Australian] [A]
Bill Willingham, Fables: The Great Fables Crossover
Bill Willingham, Jack of Fables: The New Adventures of Jack and Jack

Bill Willingham, Jack of Fables: The Fulminate Blade
Jonathan Rogers, The Charlatan’s Boy
Bill Willingham, Jack of Fables: The End
Jandy Nelson, The Sky is Everywhere [a nice one to read] [A]

November
Bill Willingham, Fables: Witches

Bill Willingham, Fables: Rose Red
Carole Wilkinson, Stagefright
Bill Willingham, Fables: Super Team
Roy Jacobsen, The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles
Hilary Mantel, Fludd

Bill Willingham, Fairest: Wide Awake
Bill Willingham, Fables: Inherit the Wind
Bill Willingham, Fairest: The Hidden City
Sean E Williams, Fairest: The Return of the Maharaja
Various authors, War Girls

Sarah Crossan, Apple and Rain
Shaun Tan, Tales from Outer Suburbia [A] [lovely to read and lovely illustrations]
Matt Sturges, Doctor Who: A Fairytale Life
Bill Willingham, Fables: Cubs in Toyland
Bill Willingham, Fables: Snow White

Bill Willingham, Fables: Camelot
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince [F]
Melissa Kiel, The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl [A]
Juliet Marillier, Dreamer's Pool [fantastic]
Ira Levin, The Stepford Wives

December
Enid Blyton, The Early Years at Malory Towers
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [F]
Billey Coffey, Snow Day
Rainbow Rowell, Attachments
TS Easton, Boys Don't Knit

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares [F]
Elisabeth Holdsworth, Those Who Come After [A] [Not sure the dismal ending was necessary]
107 books

This year I am again aiming to read 144 books, and have challenges categorised according to months in which to read the books, rather than one of various types of books per month, though other books are allowed as well.

January - February: books currently borrowed from libraries and friends (which I feel I should finally read and return)
March: books received for Christmas 2014 and 2013 (lest they languish unread on my shelves for years and people think I don't like receiving books for Christmas and give me other things instead)
April: Classics Month
May: Fun Month
June: Dutch Month
July - August: Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge (I suspect this one will need to be continued in following years)
September: Isobelle Carmody Month
October: reread Harry Potter
November: books owned for seven years or more and still not read
December: Australian fiction and Christmas stories

It will be amazing if I can read all of those books, and do oodles of reading for my PhD and not have my eyes fall out of my head. I think I must endeavour to always read in a well lit place and to get plenty of sleep each night.

Oooh, pretty stuff!

Are you shocked that I'm updating? I am! I was going on tumblr prior to working on my thesis proposal, and I had the fleeting thought that I should update my livejournal. And then I actually opened a new tab and went to livejournal. Very weird.

My thesis proposal: I want to write on Wordsworth's later verse, and the progression in that from iconcolastic and liberal thought to more conservative and religious thought. Much has been written on this, and I will be reading several major critics and biographers, but a lot of the criticism focuses on The Prelude, or how everything else fits in with The Prelude, largely treating it as Wordsworth's only important work. Yes, he wrote it when he was 29, but there was another 50 years of thinking that he did after he wrote it. (Don't worry, I am writing this all smart-sounding in my proposal!)

I suppose I resent the impression that these critics dismiss his later poetry because it is religious, whereas I am not bothered by the religious question in my criticism, except in so far as, can we make sense of what this person is saying in the scope of all their own work. Having to defend or attack the presence of religious belief is not what literary criticism is meant to do. If literature seeks to help us understand the human psyche, and religion is part of that psyche (major philosophers, from Rousseau to Alain de Botton, have said that religious values are important for social cohesion, and that much can be gained from religious traditions by secular or atheist parties), then, for literary critics, it is the approach to religion within the text that is important, not the critic's view of the religion. If a critic dismisses a text because it is sympathetic to religion, then she is not being as objective as she can in interpreting the text.

Well, that is enough theorising about criticism for now. I must away to my proposal. [Exeunt]

Books read 2013

Books read 2013

So, my excuse for not getting anywhere near my yearly reading goal [144 books] is that I finished a masters by coursework thesis which was 24000words, which required a lot of reading itself (a lot of it journal articles and chapters that are not included in the list); that I had a lot of migraines which made it difficult to read; and that I watched a lot of DVDs: Firefly; The Marvel films; Battlestar Gallactica and its associated films and spin off tv show, Caprica; Buffy; How I Met Your Mother; Doctor Who (the new series 1 - 7); and a lot of other stuff, much of it watched with my boyfriend.

I have put an asterisk or comment after the ones I particularly liked [unless the comment obviously indicates that I didn't like it].

Books First Time Read [or finally finished even though I started them years ago]:

Maeve Binchy, Quentins
Julian Barnes, Pulse [first part quite funny, second part fascinating]
Ethel Talbot, The Girls of the Big House
Charles Williams, He Came Down From Heaven
RA MacAvoy, Tea with the Black Dragon

TS Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral *
Pearl Cleage, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day [fantastic]
Zoe Thurner, Dress Rehearsal
David Levithan, Every Day [really love his writing!]
Chaim Potok, Davita’s Harp [moving and very well written]

Frank Beddor, Seeing Redd [not quite sure why I kept on reading this one]
Bruce Chatwin, Utz [amusing and cleverly written]
Janni Lee Simner, Faerie Winter
Charles Williams, All Hallows’ Eve *
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites *

Emily Gale, Steal My Sunshine
Simmone Howell, Girl Defective *
Terry Pratchett, Pyramids [godly assassins and camels that do maths]
George RR Martin, A Game of Thrones *
George RR Martin, A Clash of Kings *

Barry Johnson, My Life as an Alphabet *
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life *
Cassandra Clare, City of Bones
Tara Eglington, How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You
Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere *

Sherri S Tepper, Beauty *
Michelle Holman, Hand Me Down
Lauren DeStefano, Wither
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Gayle Forman, Just One Day

Susan Heyboer O’Keefe, Frankenstein’s Monster *
Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood *
Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park
David Levithan, The Lover’s Dictionary *
Jana Oliver, Briar Rose

Julian Barnes, Arthur & George *
Mary Kay Andrews, Christmas Bliss
John Flanagan, Ranger's Apprentice: The Kings of Clonmel
Patricia A McKillip, The Bards of Bone Plain *
Bill Willingham, Fables: Legends in Exile [this is a fantastic series of comic books, which my boyfriend recommended, given my love of retold fairy tales]

Bill Willingham, Fables: Animal Farm
Bill Willingham, Fables: Storybook Love
Bill Willingham, Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers
Phillipa Gregory, Stormbringers
Holly Black, White Cat

Bill Willingham, Fables: The Mean Seasons
Raymond E Feist, Faerie Tale
Bernhard Schlink, The Reader *
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein [finally finished reading vol. 3, though I had started the novel 4 years ago]
Bill Willingham, Fables: Homelands

John Flanagan, Ranger's Apprentice: Halt's Peril
James Franco, Actors Anonymous [I like the style, though the content can be very confronting]
52


Books Re-read:

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix [clip clop, clip clop]
Penny Tangey, Loving Richard Feynman
Caitlín R Kiernan, The Red Tree [the right amount of scary]
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Michelle Cooper, A Brief History of Montmaray
Michelle Cooper, The FitzOsbornes in Exile
Michelle Cooper, The FitzOsbornes at War
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
William Shakespeare, The Tempest

JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Rachel Cohn & David Levithan, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
16

In 2014, I shall again try to read 144 books. It is always my New Year's Resolution - this year I am adding "Start my doctoral thesis" (in literature, of course), and "Eat more chocolate" - yes, you read that correctly. I may even update my lj more often, though I already have lots of fun on tumblr when I am not reading or napping.

Now, if you don't mind, I have to hang out washing before I scoff bangers and mash and then join my boyfriend for a movie marathon that will see the old year out and the new year in. And by movie marathon, we mean the Blu-Ray extended editions of The Lord of the Rings, which is roughly 12 hours of running time. It is going to be a lot of fun.

Books read 2012

Books first time read:

Bill Condon, A Straight Line to My Heart
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader – amusing and wonderful!
Catherine Belsey, John Milton: Language, Gender, Power
Michael Meehan, Below the Styx

Jeanette Winterson, Weight
Karen Armstrong, The Bible: a Biography
David Nicholls, One Day – really good reading
Erin Bow, Wood Angel
Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife – so lovely!

Christine Stinson, It Takes a Village
Doris Lessing, Particularly Cats … and Rufus
Nicholas the Cat with Annabel Carothers, Four Ducks on a Pond
Brian Sibley, Three Cheers for Pooh
The First Noel – three trashy Christmas romances

Charles Williams, The Place of the Lion
Daphne Grab, Alive and Well in Prague, New York
John Flanagan, Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan
Rachel Seiffert, Field Study
John Flanagan, Ranger's Apprentice: The Burning Bridge

Margaret Atwood, The Tent
John Flanagan, Ranger's Apprentice: The Icebound Land
Michelle Cooper, The FitzOsbornes at War
Janette Oke, Too Long a Stranger – an atrociously light way to spend four hours!
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

Marcel Proust, Swann's Way
Alain de Botton, How Proust Can Change Your Life
John Flanagan, Ranger's Apprentice: Oakleaf Bearers
PG Wodehouse, How Right You Are, Jeeves
Julian Barnes, The Lemon Table – poignant and wonderful and excellently written

Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader: First Series
Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow, Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight
John Milton, Paradise Regained & Samson Agonistes - complete with F's masquerading as S's!
Patrick White, The Hanging Garden
Katie Fforde, Highland Fling

Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic
Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
Colette, Julie de Carneilhan & Chance Acquaintances – sublime
Thomas Hardy, Wessex Tales
John Flanagan, Ranger’s Apprentice: The Sorcerer in the North

John Flanagan, Ranger’s Apprentice: The Siege of MacIndaw
Sharon Owens, The Tea House on Mulberry Street – lovely
Trenton Lee Stewart, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey
Jamie Ford, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet – beautiful and sad
Katie Fforde, Wild Designs – my favourite of hers!

Sherryl Clarke, One Perfect Pirouette
Katie Fforde, Thyme Out
Kate de Goldi, The 10PM Question
Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
Charles Williams, War in Heaven

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
John Flanagan, Ranger’s Apprentice: Erak’s Ransom
Jane England, Wild Thorn
Hayley S Kirk, Divine Clementine
Alain de Botton, Essays in Love

Charles Williams, Many Dimensions
Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party and Other Stories
Deb Fitzpatrick, Have You Seen Ally Queen?
Jenny Valentine, Broken Soup – loved this
Susan Hill, The Woman in Black – more sad than scary!

Rosanne Hawke, The Messenger Bird
Charles Williams, The Greater Trumps
Fergus Hume, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab – amusing, and lovely to read about Melbourne that was
Sue Lawson, Finding Darcy
Jon McGregor, Even the Dogs – the ‘problem’ of the poor, and well written

Kathryn Lomer, What Now, Tilda B?
Jean Estoril, Drina Dances in Exile – set in a ballet boarding school in England!
JK Rowling, The Casual Vacancy – so well written! And very grown up!
Libby Hathorn, Thunderwith
Amy Silver, All I Want for Christmas

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
Shirley Marr, Fury
Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – fantastic!
Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
Sharon Owens, The Tavern on Maple Street

Deb Gliori, Witch Baby and Me in the Dark – was very funny!
Elizabeth Fensham, The Invisible Hero
Charlotte Wood, The Submerged Cathedral
Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants
Susan Arnott, The Astrolabe

Kate Atkinson, Started Early Took My Dog
Maggie Stiefvater, Shiver
Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text
Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces - I think I would like to make this my bible...
Charles Williams, Descent into Hell

Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie
Jasper Fforde, The Last Dragonslayer
Elyne Mitchell, Kingfisher Feather
Janet Chapman, A Highlander Christmas
Heather Graham, Home in Time for Christmas

Karen Mahoney, The Wood Queen
Charles Williams, Shadows of Ecstasy
Jodi Picoult, Keeping Faith
[93 first time read]

Books re-read:

Colette, Gigi & The Cat
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Michelle Cooper, A Brief History of Montmaray
Michelle Cooper, The FitzOsbornes in Exile

JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares
Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (and other stories)
Lisa Shanahan, My Big Birkett
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (yes, twice in one year!)
Patricia A. McKillip, Ombria in Shadow
[12 re-read]
[105 in total]

update

It has been a long time since I've updated my livejournal blog. so here I am!

I have been working on my masters thesis with alternating eagerness and disinclination. I edited my eldest sister's doctoral thesis on Bonhoeffer and found that enjoyable if tiring, so I am finding out about doing more such work. I am fed up with applying for jobs I don't want, esp in cafes, supermarkets and the like. I have a Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Writing for heaven's sake - I should use it!

I am moving back to Geelong next weekend. So yesterday I had a garage sale and manged to weed out about a fifteenth of my books for it - most of them did not sell, however, so I will send them to the op shop. I still have an overwhelming amount of books left! So never fear, I will not run out of reading material for a decade! Especially the way I go borrowing more from libraries and buying them from op shops!

I am rather glad I am making another change. I don't like things to be always the same. Though, I must say, I find it hard to make changes to my personality. I think there isn't much point to that anymore. I don't want a full time job because I simply can't work that hard, I can't be sitting down all day or standing up all day. I would like to do editing at home because then at least I can stop for breaks when I need to and not feel like I have to obedient to somebody else. What I've really liked about volunteering at the op shop is that we get a nice long tea break and we're free to work at our own pace - sometimes I am quick, especially when there are a lot of books to clean and price, but other times I don't have much energy and I can just take my time. And I can leave early if I'm finished early. In paid jobs you have to stay there being bored which is just ridiculous if you ask me.

So yes, I will soon be in Geelong, editing doctoral theses from my bedroom and reading novels and trying to do more work on my masters thesis until I finish that and start a doctoral thesis of my own! Probably the best plan I've had in a long time! Because it doesn't involve doing too much at once!

feathers:

the REAL method of a thesis...

While doing a paper on my research so far, there was a part that involved stating the method of our research. Well, for all the blather I wrote there here is the real, daily, method:

* get up
* coffee
* procrastinate: play on internet
* coffee
* read
* procrastinate: solitaire (have to get my win percentage up!)
* coffee
* read
* write a bit
* have a nap
* coffee
* write a bit more
* go for a walk to clear my head
* get distracted by something pretty on tv
* go to bed

on Freud...

This quote is from Terry Eagleton, Literary theory: an introduction, p. 161.

'The ego is a pitiable, precarious entity, battered by the external world, scourged by the cruel upbraidings of the superego, plagued by the greedy, insatiable demands of the id. Freud's compassion for the ego is a compassion for the human race, labouring under the almost intolerable demands placed upon it by a civilization built upon the repression of desire and the deferment of gratification. ... He was deeply convinced that modern society had become tyrannical in its repressiveness.'

Nabokov and butterflies...

In his poem “On Discovering a Butterfly,” Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov wrote of “the secluded stronghold” where specimens are kept “safe from creeping relatives and rust.” When Nabokov caught a frosty-blue butterfly in France in 1938, he brought it to the stronghold of the American Museum of Natural History, where it still sits with a bright red label, crowning it the first and official representative, or holotype, of Lysandra cormion.

While Nabokov is most famous for his fancy prose style, he was also devoted to lepidopterology, the study of moths and butterflies. After fleeing Russia in 1940, Nabokov started his American life volunteering in the Museum’s entomology collections. He once told an interviewer, “It is not improbable that had there been no revolution in Russia, I would have devoted myself entirely to lepidopterology and never written any novels at all.”
(from here)

I now long to see that old old butterfly! To gaze upon it and wonder what it was like for Nabokov to catch it, to carry it across the Atlantic, and did he ever think that in 2012 it would be still be displayed in the museum? The thought would boggle anyone's mind! 70 years!

If the revolution hadn't happened, instead of 'Literature is love' he might have written 'Butterflies are love'.

oh I can't wait!

Gosh, I just got over the excitement of waiting for The FitzOsbornes in Exile to come out, and of waiting to meet the Weasley twins and get their autographs (which was very exciting!), and now there is more excitement to come!

JKR's new book!

It has a title and a release date!

The Casual Vacancy, which will have plenty of suspense and lashings of black comedy - can't go past the English for the best in black comedy!

Review in the Age here.
Press release from the publisher here.

I must start squirreling away my spare sickles and knuts...

And I best use the word of the day again - exciting!

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all owls should ponder

Milton
Shakespeare
Kierkegaard
Emily Dickinson
Isobelle Carmody
Simone Weil
Betty Smith
Sartre
Camus
Seamus Heaney
Dostoyevsky
Kerouac
Isobelle Carmody
Ursula le Guin
Alice Walker
David Malouf
Tolstoy
Michelle Cooper
Dorothy L Sayers
Charles Williams
JK Rowling
CS Lewis
Simone de Beauvoir
Dorothy Parker
Pearl S Buck
Maya Angelou
Henry Lawson
Mikhail Bulgakov
Edna St Vincent-Millay
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