A Slightly New Direction

Bookcase

As you know I’ve struggled to keep Gudrun’s Tights going over the past year. And I’m struggling now. I love blogging and I love the friendships I’ve made through blogging, but I am feeling completely uninspired and cold about it all right now. Sometimes I think that anything I have to say has already been said or doesn’t need to be said. Yet I love sharing my thoughts on the books I’ve read and the things I’ve learned as well as posting photos. So, what can I do? As I thought about it over the weekend I mulled over some ideas and decided that one thing I am passionate about at the moment is reading American women authors and bringing some of their forgotten work to light. I wrote a post about this back in March 2012 and everything I said there has been carried in my heart from that day. As a committed Anglophile, however, I tend to gravitate toward British authors and to neglect the literature of my own countrywomen. There’s nothing wrong with that – we enjoy what we enjoy, but I do think now is the time to read more American women authors.

Also – I’ve been unsatisfied with many of the books I’ve read this year. My soul, heart and brain long for nourishment, beauty, meaning, wisdom, folly, humor, truth and universality. I want to read books that make me think and make my heart spring. I want to indulge my curiosity and follow unexpected paths of delight. I’ve chosen to read books out of duty to my job rather than out of duty to myself. Can I be a good librarian if I don’t read all of the ‘hot’ authors and bestsellers? Most of my colleagues say no. This is a dilemma I’ll have to figure out for myself…

Yes, friends, you’ll see more American women authors here and I’m going to celebrate the heck out of them!  You’ll see more classics and more books that I’ve chosen to read because I want to read them not because I must read them.

Thanks, as always, for listening. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.

Everyday Inspiration

dream desk

My dream work space. Click photo for source.

You might find this hard to believe, but working in a library is not the most glamorous affair. Our public area is quite colorful and attractive, but our staff room is, despite our best efforts, a bit dull, grey and cluttered with harsh lighting pouring down and casting shadows over everything. My desk faces a wall and there are dark metal cabinets surrounding me. It is hard to feel inspired in this setting so I like to add colorful and beautiful images to my work space to pull me out of the industrial, government issued feel of my day.

For several years I have bought the Metropolitan Museum of Art desk calendar. Every day there is a different work of art to admire as I sit at my desk. My heart has lifted and soared many times over the day’s art selection. This calendar is a must buy at the beginning of every year.

calendar1

calendar2

I save past issues of the calendar and hang up images of paintings I adore throughout the year on a metal cabinet bordering my desk. I usually switch them out every two weeks or so. Right now I have two Italian paintings on display to get me excited for my trip in June. I also have portraits of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf and a favorite photograph of James Baldwin.

desk images

And I’ll occasionally buy clearance flowers from the market close to my library to brighten my day. This week it’s golden daffodils (a little wilted, but still glorious).

Daffs

Do you work in an office? What do you do to make your work space a bit more inspiring?

*I’ve decided to stop writing the Sunday Bulletins as I was feeling flustered trying to think of something to write every Sunday.*

Have a gorgeous week!

Cover Collection: Possession

Possession

All covers from Vintage

Possession by A.S. Byatt is one of my favorite books and one of the only novels that I’ve read more than once over the years. I last read it two years ago and, though it didn’t have the same hold over me as it did when I was 20, it was still an engaging and powerful reading experience.

I own a copy of no. 1, but I really do think all of the covers here are gorgeous and perfect for this book. What do you think? Have you read Possession?

Sunday Bulletin 4/6

Doily

We’ve had beautiful weather this week in central Arizona. I’ve been walking every evening and I’ve soaked in all the cool, blossom scented air and delighted in the feel of it on my skin. It might be the last nice weather of the season as temperatures are predicted to soar to the 90′s by the end of the week and it will be 100 F before we have time to get used to the idea of living in an oven again.

I’ve been very erratic in my reading lately. I haven’t been able to settle on any one story and stick with it for more than a few hours. There are so many exciting books in my stack and I want to read them all. Some of the books that have caught my eye are Sharon Bolton’s The Dark and Twisted Tide, The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys, Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes and The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams. They all sound so good.

The above photo is of a beautiful doily that was made by a library patron. She brought it to our Maker Morning yesterday. I started this new program to promote and support the needle arts and to provide a place where people can share ideas and show off their projects. We only had two people come yesterday, but I plan to do some marketing over the next month to bring in more people. I enjoyed myself and loved getting to know the two women who came and hearing their stories of how they started crocheting.

Do you have any big plans for this week? Are you reading anything you love?

Thanks for reading! Have a great Sunday.

What I Read In March

little purple flowers

March was a hugely productive reading month for me. I finished nine books (one of them an audiobook) and mostly enjoyed the things I read, though there really wasn’t that ‘killer’ book that knocked my reading socks off. A bunch of decent reads is much better than a run of stinkers, though, so I’m not complaining. Here is a quick roundup of my reading life in March:

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue is her first novel since the highly popular Room. In 1876 San Francisco we follow a French prostitute, her dandified boyfriend and the woman who comes between them. This historical mystery features great female characters and a richly drawn setting.

The Receptionist by Janet Groth. You can read more about my thoughts here.

The Shelf by Phyllis Rose. This nonfiction title is an account of Rose’s year of reading almost exclusively from one shelf in her local library and is a perfect book for readers of all stripes. Her humor, curiosity and thoughtfulness make her a lovely and feisty companion through the books of Gaston Leroux, Rhoda Lerman and John Lescroart, among others.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell is another funny romance from this author filled with pop culture references that I adore. This is an adult title about a failing marriage and what happens when an old telephone gives the wife, Georgie, access to her husband of the past. Intelligent chick-lit at its best.

The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia LaingI started out really loving this book about five writers and how drinking affected their lives and work. I was fascinated by the story of Tennessee Williams, who I didn’t know anything about before reading this, and how addiction both focused and destroyed him. The ending was a bit of a letdown as the author speedily related the stories of John Berryman and Raymond Carver. I would have liked to learn more about them and less about Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

The Vacationers by Emma Straub. This book is a gem of a family tale. The Post family (dad, mom, brother and sister) rent a house in Mallorca for two weeks with a couple who are good friends of the mom and the brother’s girlfriend. Being cooped up in close quarters forces conflicts to be resolved, choices to be made and truths revealed. All of this takes place in a beautiful setting by the beach with Spanish food and culture surrounding them. Her writing reminds me a little of Cathleen Schine.

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset MaughamA silly wife in 1920′s Hong Kong cheats on her stoic husband so he forces her to accompany him to a cholera ridden area in China. I thought every single character was incredibly frustrating and they all made me want to throttle them, but I did love the portrayal of Kitty’s growth and maturing as she overcomes her many challenges.

After I’m Gone by Laura LippmanI listened to this over the month in my car and it was quite good. When a small-time but good-hearted criminal intentionally disappears to avoid prison time, his wife, three daughters and mistress all pay a price. When a cold case detective starts dredging up the past we learn just how high that price was. This has truly believable characters and a surprising twist that made me gasp out loud. I loved the narrator, Linda Emond, and want to listen to more books she’s worked on.

Picture Perfect by Shanna Hogan. A true crime novel about Jodi Arias that broke me out of a reading slump.

Now on to April – I can’t wait to see what I end up reading this month.