It had to happen. It's winter in the midwest, so it was pretty much a given we would get snow eventually, but I have to say I had been thoroughly enjoying the mild temperatures before this wake up call came. This is the scene that greeted me when I woke up yesterday morning. Lots of wet, sloppy snow. I am at least comforted by the thought that now it's February and it won't hang around too long. It meant I had to stay at home rather than doing my normal weekend errands (actually it meant I had to rush and do them Friday night), so I was looking forward to a nice, quiet afternoon at home when I could accomplish something or just be lazy and read all afternoon, but it's amazing how I can waste time. I should know better than to sit in front of the computer. I often think it's the biggest time-suck invention that was ever created. And I didn't manage to catch up on a single email or visit a single blog. Guess what I'm going to try and do this afternoon?
Of course it does have its upsides. For example, I was prompted by Val and Buried in Print to finally download a few podcasts onto my MP3 player. I used to listen to them all the time, but I would get impatient with iTunes for having to load them onto my computer (at the time I had a slower internet connection), which seemed to take forever. So I gave them up. Now I can load them directly from the BBC and then drag them onto my MP3 player and it is a fairly quick and seamless process.
I am now looking forward to listening to a podcast about Vera Brittain, which aired on the BBC's Great Lives show. I've also loaded several shows from the World Book Club about a few different authors including Penelope Lively (excellent timing), Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo, and Boris Akunin. I really love listening to the BBC and wish I had more time to stream from my computer. It might be dangerous to investigate more shows and discover what I am missing. For example on BBC4 there is a dramatization of Samuel Pepys diary running at the moment. How fun would that be to listen to?
I am racking up credits on my Audible account, so I need to start listening more to the audio books (now podcasts and audio books will be vying for my attention) I've downloaded. I decided I needed something really gripping, so I've been listening to Vincent Bugliosi's Helter Skelter. I usually listen to my MP3 player on my walk home from the bus stop (it's still too cold in the morning and I need my ear muffs). It's an unabridged audio that is just over 26 hours long! I'm only about two hours into the book, but I find myself not wanting to stop listening when I arrive home. Although the days are getting longer, it's still often dark by the time I make my way home, so this is probably not the best listening material for walking at night, but now I find I can't stop. I like Bugliosi's writing style, which is very matter of fact and reportorial yet still draws the reader (or in this case listener) into the book. It's read by Curt Gentry, and he has the perfect voice for this book.
Readingwise I have several interesting books on the go at the moment. I finished reading The Girls from Riyadh (post to follow in a couple of days), which meant I got to choose a new book to take its place. I'm ready to start In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story by Ghada Karmi. It's one of the books the Middle East/North African Lit group at Goodreads is reading at the moment. It looks interesting, though is chunkier than I anticipated. It's a memoir about the ejection of the author's family from her home in Palestine in 1948 and her search for identity in the years that follow. She and her family settled in England. It seems to have gotten very favorable reviews.
I generally don't read YA literature, but a couple of books nominated for the Edgar Award caught my eye. I've been reading The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson about a copycat murderer who uses as his model Jack the Ripper. A young American girl is a new student at a boarding school in London and is the only person to see the murderer. There's a bit of the paranormal to the story, which isn't always my thing, but it works here. It's a nice, easy sort of read, which is always nice to have on hand. I'm hoping to read a few other books on the Edgar list as well. I've been in the mood for a good cozy mystery (maybe to balance the rather violent Bugliosi book), but I'm hoping this continues to satisfy as I've been trying not to just randomly start reading books but stick to my ongoing reads. I give in far too often to temptation.
And a few quickie mentions. As planned I have started reading The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I'm trying to read at least one chapter a day to keep moving on it. Already this year I've not done well with picking up a Classic regularly. I'm really enjoying Dumas, though. More about him later. I've pulled out my copy of Sebastian Barry's A Long Long Way in anticipation for discussing it later this month (even with the extra day the month is going to fly by). I'll be starting it very soon. And I'm giving Rebecca West's The Fountain Overflows another go. I started to read it several years ago but set it aside. I fully expect to like it, but it is a story that requires a little more attention and is better read in chunks than in fits and starts, which is often how my reading goes these days. I'm determined to stick it out until I really get into the story (my copy has small print and lots of pages). I know others have read this. Please tell me how wonderful it is and how I absolutely must keep going because it is going to be worth the time spent on it. I have a feeling that's the case, but sometimes it's good to be reminded.