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Friday, April 21, 2006


"Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man."
Francis Bacon 1561-1626 "Of Studies"

I always seem to be so busy when I'm at home, usually working on my own writing or research, that I have little time for pleasure reading. Consequently, I'm embarassingly behind in my TBR list. For one thing, I am fairly selective about what I read because of the shortage of time to do it. Usually I read historical fiction, because that's the genre I write, but occasionally if a really good book comes along that grabs my interest, I'll read other literature. (I have rarely ever read romances, never sci-fi, occasionally I like true-life crime stories -- used to love reading Mickey Spillane once-upon-a-time, almost never read mysteries or anything with too much violence, though I did enjoy Silence of the Lambs. I should read more travel journals and memoirs because I write and teach those subjects.)

The other week I went out and bought two books, one to use in my classes titled The Playful Way to Serious Writing by Roberta Allen, which has some useful ideas to use in my "Prompting the Muse" class.

The other, a historical novel that caught my eye because I'm interested in the subject: Rasputin's Daughter by Robert Alexander. I was going to start reading it as soon as I finished Scott Oden's
Men of Bronze which I had nearly finished before I got interrupted by my Malaysian trip. (Sorry it's taken me so long, Scott!) But then I had a meeting with a former writing student and she presented me with another book that had great appeal. A couple of years ago this same student had turned me on to the writing of a Czech author named Josef Skvorecky who happens to live in Canada now. The first book she loaned me was titled A Swell Season and was an amusing and often poignent collection of stories of the writer's life as a young college student in his small Czech town. I loved this book and always intended to look for more of Mr Skvorecky's work. So I was delighted then my friend loaned me another of his collection of memoirs titled When Eve Was Naked.

I am totally entranced by Mr. Skvorecky's work. Once I begin to read I can't stop. I carry the book with me wherever I go so that if there is one spare moment I can go back to it.
And this week, since I've been working at the daycare by day and bussing it to night school by night I have been reading on the buses, which seems always for me to be the best place to get any serious reading done. I can totally absorb myself in the stories and obliterate all the worldly nonsense going on around me. (I must add here that some of the bus lines I must take to get to my destinations are often the buses that fill up with less-desirable types of passengers). Thus, all week long I have been devouring Mr. Skvorecky's wonderful stories, and I don't want them to end. So I will immediately go hunting down some of his other titles when this one is finished.

Josef Skvorecky was born in the Czech Republic in 1924. He lived through both the German /Nazi and the Russian/Communist occupations of his country and eventually came to live in Canada. He has won many awards for his literature both in his own country and in Canada including the Governor General's Award in 1984 and a Nobel Prize nomination in 1982.
I think at this moment he has become my most favorite writer!

Meanwhile, in this busy life of mine, I have been attempting to write something every day. I did get some work done on my novel and have begun putting together details for one of my Malaysia travel stories. I learned when I returned from my trip that one of my travel articles on the famous O'Keefe Ranch near Vernon B.C. has been published and today I got a response from another newspaper who is intersted in my "Coalpits of Wales" story. (I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one! It's a tribute to my Welsh coal-mining kinfolk).

So good things are happening in my literary world. Classes are dynamic and inspiring. And I've even had some shifts at the daycare this week and next. After all those months of drought it's great to have a bank account again!

I just wish I had more time when I'm at home to read more often. I'm not one to read in bed. Once I get there, which is generally very late, I am ready for sleep. And during my waking hours if I'm home, I'm at the keyboard writing or at the kitchen table making notes. So this week of bus travel has got me off to a good start with my reading program again.
I wonder when other writers make time for their pleasure reading?

"There is craetive reading as well as creative writing."
Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882 "The American Scholar" 1837


Sam said...

I usually read in bed, while my hubby is watching his soccer game. I'm not a television person, except for a couple shows I love - I prefer to read.
I'm reading some fun mysteries set in the Middle ages, and also at the same time re-reading Barbara Tuchman's 'In a Distant Mirror', which is a wonderful book.
And thanks for the heads' up for the Czech's books - sound wonderful.

Wynn Bexton said...

The majority of people I've talked to seem to read in bed. I used to and when I was a kid I nearly ruined my eyesight reading by the dim hall light when I was supposed to be sleeping. Perhaps I quit reading in bed when I was married but now I never do (unless I'm sick which is rarely). I prefer to read while in transit or, I read lots when I'm traveling - sitting around parks and beaches. Lately the weather is warming up so yesterday I enjoyed sitting on my balcony reading and sipping a glass of wine. By bedtime I'm ready for sleep after a long day of writing and teaching.