These are the books that are on my coffee table right now.


I am not actually reading all of them at once. The only one I’m actively reading is What Did Miss Darrington See?

Both The Dark Monk and Nature Wars I have read the first chapters of, but I haven’t developed a committed reading relationship with either one yet.

And the rest are to be read eventually, probably.

Coffee Table Books!


Currently Reading Snapshot

Books I am in the middle of:

Mockingbird by Julie Trimingham

The Mammoth Book of Victorian and Edwardian Ghost Stories edited by Richard Dalby

The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor

Flickering Shadows by Kwadwo Agymah Kamau

Also, Sallie has been reading this one out loud to me, one story at a time:

Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins by Emma Donoghue

Other Books:

I recently finished In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Alice Walker. I may write down some more thoughts on this later, if I feel inspired.

I recently abandoned Grange House by Sarah Blake because it felt over-written and because I had zero interest in the love-story parts of it. Give me a straight ghost story any day! But if you start adding anything hinting at a love triangle, it had better be really really well written or I’ll drop it quick.

Finally, Red doc> by Anne Carson is currently hibernating. It’s a book that I want to give 100% heart and attention to, and I just don’t have enough freedom from distraction right now. I mostly have to snatch my reading in small moments–that’s why I always keep a book on the back of the toilet!–and that’s very much not how I want to read this particular book. So it is waiting in the wings for a time when I feel able to set aside the 500 other things pulling at my attention and really sit down for a solid chunk of reading.

I think that’s everything! I hope to do one of these snapshot posts on a semi-regular basis because it will be useful and interesting to me to have a little summary I can look back on to see what I was reading “back then.”


I am going to add this: to my bookmooch wishlist.  The ones on there that I haven’t read before, that is.  And one that I have read before, The Worm Ouroboros, because I’d like to re-read it and I have no idea what happened to the old paperback that I read back in high school.  I hardly remember the story, even.  Just that I really liked it.  Which made me happy to see it included on this list, because then I was reminded of the book’s existence, and I can seek it out.

The California Poem (and The Vermont Poem?)

covered bridge

I’ve put this photo I took of a covered bridge here because I’m posting (after the jump) an annotation I wrote about Eleni Sikelianos’s book, The California Poem, and since I’ve never been to California, I did some thinking about what her book would be like translated into Vermont language. Vermont is my home state. And Vermont is very proud of its covered bridges.

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Getting rid of books

lamp and curtain

S and I found out recently that our landlady is selling the house we live in, so now we’re getting ready for yet another move.  I never thought that I would be as nomadic as I’ve ended up so far in my adult life.  We’ve moved about once a year since college.  I’m resigned to this next move, but there are parts of it that are rather difficult.  Getting rid of books, for instance.  I just love to own piles and piles of them, even ones that I know I’ll never read, or ones that I have read but likely won’t read again.  And I’ve been acquiring them like crazy over the past year because I thought we would be here longer and because I can’t help browsing the free book cart in the lobby of the library every time I go there.  Not to mention the book sale at the library, and the book sections at my two favorite thrift stores.  At least I’ve been spared the danger of having a decent used book store in town!

So, S and I are planning to have a yard sale next weekend.  Our criteria for removing books from our collection is that we’re either unlikely to read them or else if we did want to read that title, it wouldn’t be difficult to get from a library.  That means goodbye to some classics, goodbye to some random ones that could be great, goodbye to random ones I only picked up because I thought the title was funny (see below), goodbye to some that have been on the shelves for a long time, and goodbye to some we just got last week.  I promised myself before starting to sort them that I would be brutal.  There’s a good chance that we’ll be moving into a smaller apartment than this one.  Also, books are very heavy to carry.  And we’re paring down our clothing, art supplies, cds, furniture, and everything else we own with the same brutality.  I just feel saddest about the books.

So, Goodbye to this: Sometimes I feel like a Blob

And Goodbye to this: Your First Romance


dressing and describing a character

Sometimes the character descriptions are my favorite parts of novels.  They often seem more vibrant to me than other parts of the same book.  Is this because the author puts in extra effort when describing a character?  To me they just seem great fun to write.

Here are a couple recent ones that I enjoyed.  They amused me.  Both are from The Dancing Druids by Gladys Mitchell.  It’s my current bathroom-reading mystery novel, obtained from the free discards rack at the library.

“Laura was as bold as a lion, but was as superstitious as a warlock.  She was full of dark fancies drowned in primordial deeps.  She also believed, with healthy, female instinct, that dangerous and delicate missions were less unpleasant in the daylight than in the dark.  With respect to the house itself, she was torn between a frantic desire to visit it and an equally strong determination not to go anywhere near its boundaries.  She was, in fact, like a child who both dreads and longs for a ghost-story just at bedtime.  The thrill would be worth it, the aftermath definitely not.  In other words, although Laura was both practical and hard-headed, and although she was brisk, jimp, and daring in all that she undertook, she was also the prey of an inherited belief in the legends, spectres and bogies of a Highland ancestry.  It was one of the many reasons for her adherence to Mrs. Bradley, who was legend, spectre, and bogie all in one, for she felt, without realizing it, that the greater demon kept the lesser demons at bay.”

I had to look up “jimp.”  It’s apparently a Scottish term that means slender or scant or neat or elegant.  Perhaps also archaic usage, since the novel was published in 1948.

And then there’s this description a little later in the book of Mrs. Bradley herself:

“Mrs. Bradley cordially agreed.  She herself looked very far from appetizing in a sage-green costume and a bright red blouse, an heirloom brooch of vast proportions whose only virtue was that it did at least conceal some of the blouse, stout shoes with crepe rubber soles, knitted stockings, and a rakish diamond clip on the side of her shining black hair.”

Doesn’t that seem a bit of fun to have written?  If I ever write a novel myself….

I will someday be an old woman

strange carrot

This photo is of an oddly-shaped carrot that I bought at the farmer’s market.  Not only was it interesting to look at, it was also very crisp and tasty!  But I’m not posting it here right now because of its flavor.  I decided to use this photo for this blog post because a lot of people told me the carrot looks like a hand.  A witch hand, perhaps.  And the following annotation on a poem by Rilke is also somewhat focused on strange hands.

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