A few recent acquisitions.

So far this month, I have finished nine books:

The Children (Lucy Kirkwood; 2016. Drama.)
Vox (Christina Dalcher; 2018. Fiction.)
The Water Cure (Sophie Mackintosh; 2018. Fiction.)
Dept. H, Vol. 1: Murder Six Miles Deep (Matt Kindt; 2017. Graphic fiction.)
The Walking Dead, Volume 30: New World Order (Robert Kirkman; 2018. Graphic fiction.)
His Favorites (Kate Walbert; 2018. Fiction.)
The Incendiaries (R.O. Kwon; 2018. Fiction.)
Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wreath (Sigrid Undset; 1920. (Trans. Tiina Nunnally; 1997.) Fiction.)
The Devoted (Blair Hurley; 2018. Fiction.)

This puts me at 103 for a year-to-date total.

My Banned Books Weeks selection is The Awakening (Kate Chopin), a novel I first read more than three decades ago. I wonder how it will hold up. I am thisclose to finishing The Third Hotel (Laura van den Berg), and Fear (Bob Woodward), among other titles, is on my nightstand.

The following passage from R.O. Kwon’s recent novel, The Incendiaries, is for my commonplace book:

p. 58
No loss occurs in isolation, and a side profit of the faith that I missed at times like this was how easily, while Christ shone in each face, I loved. If hatred cuts both ways, to forgive can be a balm, and I often missed, as I would a friend, the more tranquil person I now had no reason to be.

New books

47319F94-9BDD-40CE-8603-754152C9698AFlute practice and lessons. A music theory MOOC. An ASL course. The lawn. (It keeps on growing! That’s the rain and Milorganite.) A long weekend with my daughter. Reading. And work. That’s where I’ve been. But look! Another photo of new books. *wink*

“And, as they say, the incident is closed.”

Past one o’clock. You must have gone to bed.
The Milky Way streams silver through the night.
I’m in no hurry; with lightning telegrams
I have no cause to wake or trouble you.
And, as they say, the incident is closed.
Love’s boat has smashed against the daily grind.
Now you and I are quits. Why bother then
To balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts.
Behold what quiet settles on the world.
Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars.
In hours like these, one rises to address
The ages, history, and all creation.

This poem was found among Vladimir Mayakovsky’s papers after his suicide on April 14, 1930. The middle section, with modest revisions, served as an epilogue to his suicide note. Yes, plagued by critics and disappointed in his personal relationships, the poet who had criticized poet Serge Yesenin for committing suicide took his own life: You and I, we are quits, and there is no point in listing mutual pains, sorrows, and hurts.

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, maintains the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). But we don’t talk about it much, do we?

According to the AFSP:

Although there is no single cause of suicide, one of the risks for suicide is social isolation, and there’s scientific evidence for reducing suicide risk by making sure we connect with one another. We can all play a role through the power of connection by having real conversations about mental health with people in everyday moments – whether it’s with those closest to us, or the coffee barista, parking lot attendant, or the grocery store clerk.

It’s also about the connection we each have to the cause, whether you’re a teacher, a physician, a mother, a neighbor, a veteran, or a suicide loss survivor or attempt survivor. We don’t always know who is struggling, but we do know that one conversation could save a life.

Know the suicide warning signs and if you or someone you know is struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Take care of yourselves.

Out walking

DED1AC6F-FB16-4766-9EC1-32879FEAAD60986E6E01-EB29-4BBD-8214-CAA342E1DB88C8DB745F-4D88-4577-91EA-A13906B13BA895ABBE3A-55EE-4D6E-A895-27C68A80FEA2From Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study:

In my belief, there are two and only two occupations for Saturday [or Sunday] afternoon or forenoon for a teacher. One is to be out-of-doors and the other is to lie in bed, and the first is best. Out in this, God’s beautiful world, there is everything waiting to heal lacerated nerves, to strengthen tired muscles, to please and content the soul that is torn to shreds with duty and care.

Continue reading

“Karma is choice.”

From Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus:

p. 190
In casual Western conversation, karma is used interchangeably with destiny, kismet, luck, and fate. Bill had chosen the name while still in the grip of what felt to us all like a star-crossed tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. During the Elizabethan era, most Europeans believed each person’s fate was predetermined, hardwired by the positions of the planets and the stars. Some people still do. But the idea of karma has a deeper, more promising, meaning than that of fate. Karma can help us develop wisdom and compassion. In Hinduism, karma is a path to reaching the state of Brahman, the highest god, the Universal Self, the World Soul. Our karma is something over which, unlike fate, we do have control. “Volition is karma,” the Buddha is reported to have said. Karma is not fate, but, in fact, its opposite: Karma is choice.

I was hooked by page six, when Montgomery reminds readers of the octopus in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Synchronicity, serendipity, synthesis.

My last entry for August, The Soul of an Octopus was the ninety-fourth book I finished reading so far this year and the twenty-third title in my quest to read at least thirty non-fiction titles in 2018. Last month, I also (finally!) finished The Aeneid, and during the drive down to visit my youngest yesterday, I listened to the remaining lectures in Elizabeth Vandiver’s The Aeneid of Virgil.

Other reading highlights from the past month:

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century (Jessica Bruder; 2017. Non-fiction.)
As I mentioned here, Janesville, Squeezed, and Nomadland (related entry here) formed a sobering trilogy.

Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery (Andrew Shaffer; 2018. Fiction.)
What silly fun this was! My older daughter and I listened to this while walking and running errands.

Things We Lost in the Fire (Mariana Enriquez; 2017. Fiction.)
Wow. Just… wow. From the Amazon blurb: “Written in hypnotic prose that gives grace to the grotesque, Things We Lost in the Fire is a powerful exploration of what happens when our darkest desires are left to roam unchecked, and signals the arrival of an astonishing and necessary voice in contemporary fiction.”

When You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead; 2009. Fiction.)
This beautiful Newbery Award winner reminded why I love to read.

The Kristin Lavransdatter readalong began today, and I have nearly finished this week’s objective: Part 1 of The Wreath (seven chapters). It was easy to become absorbed in this old-fashioned but well-told story.

I will likely finish The Children, a play by Lucy Kirkwood, this holiday weekend and The Third Hotel, a new novel by Laura van den Berg, a little later this week. Another new release, Vox (Christina Dalcher), is also on my nightstand. Derivative, flawed, and strictly plot-driven, it may be done sooner than the atmospheric and disturbing Hotel, which I find I must set aside periodically — not unlike my experience with the brilliant Things We Lost in the Fire. Perhaps I need time to think about the images and ideas the writers have presented; or maybe, more accurately, I need to look away for a bit.

More soon.