A Latter-day Bluestocking

For the love of reading

Category: Miscellaneous

My Bookish Year in Review: 2013

Marilyn Monroe, 1954, by Eve Arnold (reading series)I keep track of my reading on Goodreads, a social-cataloging website for readers. I can scan my books; the books I am reading, want to read, and have read. I can keep track of my reading progress [currently I am at page 74 of 199 (37%) of The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith]. I rate and review the books. I share with my friends, via social media, what I am reading because there is nothing better to make feel super-smart.  At the end of the year one can appraise the year’s reading.  I admit this makes feel somewhat smug.

This year, so far, I have finished 89 books, a total of 29,566 pages. Back in January I set the goal of reading 90 books in 2013. I will most likely surpass that number by midnight on December 31. The longest book I read this year was the tome-like The Bröntes: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of Three Sisters by Juliet Barker at a whopping 1,159 pages. Only 12 books were rated with 5 stars. I highly recommend these books. They are:

1776 by David McCullough
Any Human Heart by William Boyd
Shakespeare by Michael Wood
Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England by Juliet Barker
Crispin’s Day: The Glory of Agincourt by Rosemary Hawley Jarman
John Adams by David McCullough
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (illustrated by Dave McKean)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
11/22/63 by Stephen King
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era by Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis

In 2012 I read 84 books (a total of 31,456 pages). I hope to read 100 books in 2014. If Santa brings me the books on my list I could make a very good start.

I wonder if I could start a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for my reading. Hmmm?  If only I wasn’t so busy reading.

My Christmas Wish List 2013

fezziwig-all-night-raveDear Santa,

I’ve been very good this year. Especially when it comes to reading, I’ve been reading voraciously all year. And I’ve been especially good because I have tried very hard to save my pennies by borrowing from the library as well as from family and friends rather than buying the books.

So all I want for Christmas this year are the following titles:

Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang

The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince by Jane Ridley

Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion by Anne Somerset

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times by Lucy Lethbridge

A History of Britain in Thirty-six Postage Stamps by Chris West

Reprobates: The Cavaliers of the English Civil War by John Stubbs

Thanks for considering my list.


A Latter-day Bluestocking

PS. Cookies and milk will be left on the table as always. As well as carrots for the reindeer.


Hello, my name is Marilynn… and I am a Bookaholic.

bookaholicsbannernew2012I have come to the realization that I have a problem.  It’s one I’ve lived with my entire reading life. From the moment I could read those silly Dick and Jane and Spot books I was addicted. The Oxford English Dictionary defines addiction as follows: The state or condition of being dedicated or devoted to a thing, esp. an activity or occupation; adherence or attachment, esp. of an immoderate or compulsive kind. I cannot stop reading. I cannot stop myself from buying or borrowing books.  I cannot stop thinking of books.  I have two shelves full of books that I have not yet read and yet the compulsion to acquire more is constant.  Like an alcoholic at a bar I cannot safely enter a bookstore or library; I do not leave empty-handed.  The urge is a strong one and I always convince myself that it’s just one book and I can stop at any time.  The Urban Dictionary defines a bookaholic as someone who keeps buying books to add to a stack of unread books or someone who has a strong passion for and desire to read all the time, or someone who has a strange fetish for books.  The diagnosis?  I am a bookaholic.

If there is any possibility of gaining a book I will jump at the chance.  I live in Brooklyn and occasionally people put out books they have eradicated from their shelves, deposited in a box with a note saying “Free.  Please Take”.  I cannot pass these up and have gained many books this way.  One time I actually saw the person put the box out on their front step and I practically ran, dragging my young son half a block, to make sure I had first dibs.  In this instance, I hit the jackpot:  about ten almost new hardback copies of Terry Pratchett Discworld books! I stuffed as many as I could in my bag and carried the rest under my arms. Those books are still under my desk at work! [I’ve read some of them but I insist on reading them in order of publication.]

I constantly buy books, borrow books, sniff books (yeah, I know, it’s weird), I like to feel the texture of the paper, I always have a book and a spare in my bag (because you never know). If I do not have reading material I suffer from excruciating withdrawal, call it biblio-DTs. I take a book with me when I am on a date or out with friends, to lunch, to coffee break, to meetings, to a bar, and to the movies. People who know me well know that this is not a reflection upon them. They are my enablers. Anyone who isn’t just doesn’t understand me.

My sister says, “At least it’s a harmless addiction” but is it really? I would rather go without food than not buy yet another edition of Pride and Prejudice!  Earlier today I stepped into a bookstore (I know I shouldn’t have but I had a gift card [see enabled; thanks Eva]) and purchased six new books.  Six!!  The cashier (hi Eric!) told me I always buy interesting books so you know I buy A LOT.  And you know what?  I’m not in the least remorseful.  Nope, not at all.  After all, it’s an innate biological need and I don’t really want a cure.

My name is Marilynn and I am a totally un-penitent bookaholic.  It’s nice to meet you.

That Which Interrupts Our Reading Makes Us Grumpy

Recently I watched an episode of The Middle that really spoke to me.  Well, actually the youngest son in the family, Brick, spoke to me.  Brick is my favorite character and the one I find most endearing.  He is advanced beyond his years, easily distracted, somewhat awkward, and a big reader.  In this particular episode, Brick is disquieted by the prospect of having to partake of the public school ritual of watching the required sex-ed film amusingly entitled, “What’s Going on Down There.”  Long story short, his not very helpful big brother Axl decides to explain the facts of life to his brother and analogizes Brick’s love of books to the feelings he will one day come to possess for the opposite sex.  I thought that was a promising correlation to make.  But the moment of sincere and clear enlightenment, the moment when I laughed myself silly because the question Brick asks of the school nurse after viewing the film hit, in a way, too close to home.  His question?  “When chicks want it, do they want it right away, or can I finish my book first?”  Ah, something to really think about.  After all, can’t things just wait till I finish my book?

The Middle: episode 5 The Hose

Ask Me About My Book. Part 1

I wore my “Ask me about my book.” t-shirt to run errands the other day and much to my gratification a few folks did ask me about my book.  At first I was bemused wondering if they were seriously asking.  I felt some trepidation in answering as I can really go on and on and I didn’t want to scare people off.  Of course, I was taking their question to mean the book I was “reading”.  I am currently reading two books, The Queen Mother and The Secret History of Georgian London.  I chose to proclaim on the former since it’s pretty much a biography of a person most have heard of, the mother of the present Queen of England.  I felt most would not really be interested in the 18th century English sex trade.

Those who asked me about my book fell into two categories:  those who really wanted to know and those who did not.  The latter’s eyes would instantly glaze over and take on the look of polite attentiveness.  I would quickly wrap up my chattering and instead make a comment on the beauty of the apples we were mulling over.  It was actually really fun to talk to those who did share an interest in reading.  I have been recommended many books like this, some I would never consider picking up on my own.

This t-shirt expressing such a straightforward demand has had the tendency of opening up new worlds of reading for me.  I should wear it more often!

Five-Fold Happiness

恭喜发财!  Gong Xi Fa Cai! Wishing You Prosperity in the New Year!

It is the Chinese Lunar New Year and I would like to share with you two books that have proved very helpful to me in understanding the Chinese part of my culture and will help celebrate this most auspicious of holidays.

Five-Fold Happiness: Chinese Concepts of Luck, Prosperity, Longevity, Happiness, and Wealth by Vivien Sung and Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz, & The Children’s Museum, Boston

The celebration of the Chinese New year is marked by parades, firecrackers, and dragon and lion dances but the underlying traditions and rituals have a far more profound meaning. The holiday takes place in the first lunar month, generally falling between January 19 and February 23. It begins on the new moon and ends 15 days later with the full moon. Traditionally known as the Spring Festival, it is celebrated annually by billions of Chinese.

It is a time of throwing out the old and welcoming the new and the days leading up to the holiday are busy.

Wishing you Luck, Prosperity, Longevity, Happiness, and Wealth!

One Cannot Live By Books Alone!

Alas, this is the sad truth!  As much as I would like to be able to sit around and read the day away, it’s not possible.  There is work, childcare, and simply, LIFE.  And unfortunately, even bluestockings age and need to take certain steps at maintaining health and fitness.  So today I began acting upon one of my new year’s resolutions:  to exercise and eat better.  I went to yoga and interval trained (walk/run) for 5K.  I am tired and my muscles ache but I feel good.

In an attempt to eat better I purchased The Big Book of Low-Carb.  It is chock-full of wonderful recipes that are low in carb and high in protein; absolutely perfect for weight loss and not so over the top healthy that my son won’t eat any of it.

I am determined to meet my goal of a lean, mean, and strong body.  But because I refuse to give up the things that make me happy, once I reach my goal, I will treat myself to the purchase of Eat, Drink, and be Gorgeous: A Nutritionist’s Guide to Living Well While Living It Up because I want my cake and to eat it too!  And I will.

I’ll let you know when I can fit back in my skinny jeans and am not afraid to put a bikini back on.

Regency reading
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