Water Wings

So I’ve taken up swimming.
And by taken up, I mean I’ve gone twice in one week.
I know what you’re thinking. You’ve heard it all before. Didn’t you used to go running? Didn’t you promise to go for a walk every day this year?
Well I did and I did, but that is all by the by now.
And now it’s all about swimming.

I like swimming because you can do it at your own pace.
At least you can when you get your own lane. I haven’t really found that sweet spot for the right time to go to the pool. So far I have been Sunday afternoon and this evening. Sunday was good. No classes, not a lot of families because it was later in the day. Today, not so good. I didn’t realise how many kids are learning to swim at any one time. As one class finished another started.

My plan is to do seem classes myself. Not learning how to swim, though some people may say I don’t really know how to begin with. I call my own style ‘drowned cat’. I move just enough to keep my head above water. The class I want to take is Aqua Trainer. I’ve picked it because it’s at a time that works for me. I think it’s something like a weightless boot camp style thing. I think I need to see a class before I sign up though, to make sure I won’t drown.

Check back in with me next week to see if I have actually taken up swimming.

Coming up on my next blog: I want to write about something but am self censoring. I think that goes against what blogging is about.

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Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

It seems fitting that this was my quasi-Valentine’s Day present.

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Everything that occurs has this surreal, other worldly quality, most especially the relationships that are formed. And the ending just leaves you with the impression of

what is the point of all that feeling?

As you know, I have been wanting to read Patchett for ages now, ever since I came across one of her essays last year. My friend said this is the one I should start with and I can certainly understand why.
Her writing style is so measured. The pace purposefully set to languorous. Which fits the concept entirely. Hostage life, full of repetition and boredom. But it is not a boring book. Time passes without you really realising it.
I am grateful that she hints towards the end right at the beginning. I don’t know if I could have kept reading if I didn’t know where it was going. And yet, even though I did know, I was hoping it would miraculously change somehow,like Patchett would forget what she had written at the beginning.
Life, and therefore literature, is not like that, however. All anyone can do is remember.

Coming up on my next blog: I’ll try to write about something other than books.

How they met and other stories by David Levithan

I can never really decide if I like David Levithan’s writing style or not.
At times I feel he is too brief and leaves too much unsaid. However, that may be a sign that he is a good writer, always leaving his readership wanting more.
I must admit I have never read either of the books he is most famous for (famous in the YA world anyway (being Two Boys Kissing and Boy meets Boy)) though I have read the two mentioned on the cover of this latest offering.

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Levithan has compiled a series of stories about love he has written since he began writing when he was in College (??). He is very clear that they are stories about love and not love stories in his introduction. That may be one of the reasons I feel a little disappointed. Not all of the, are happy ever after, not all of them are requited.
I am also not sure if I like reading short stories. This is also something Levithan tackles in the author’s note.

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I guess I like them because they are easy to get through and there is great variety. But I don’t like them because I don’t always feel that they are resolved. It probably comes back to a genres exposure thing.
When I was younger fantasy was my favourite genre. Epic tales of love and adventure that took place over three or four volumes were my favourite kind. Think Eddings and Harding, and of course Rowling. As I got older I time warped back into YA, especially speculative YA which is characterised by trilogies. So I don’t mind if a story takes a long time to tell. As long as it is worth it at the end. That’s why I’m not sure if I like short stories.
There is nothing wrong with this collection though.
It is incredibly varied and offers a wide range of ideas about love which are very compelling. It is also interesting to track Levithan’s development as a writer, though I don’t know if they have been included in chronological order.
You won’t be disappointed if you read it.
You might just be left wondering what happened after they met.

Coming up on my next blog: All the recycled glory of a hipster wedding expo.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

I have been waiting a while to read this book. I read a little bit about it before the new year (I think), I’m pretty sure it was on a book riot list of YA releases to look out for in 2014. I wasn’t sure if I was going to buy it, but then I was lucky enough to stumble upon it in the library on Monday. So I snapped it up and started reading.

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It’s not the type of book I normally read. Or maybe it is. I don’t really know what genre I like anymore. I will pretty much read anything classified as Young Adult fiction, though I am sick of vampires and I unashamedly judge all books by their covers.

So this is the story of a girl, 18 (so it might even be classified New Adult) who has to deal with her father’s PTSD. She also has to deal with all those things teenagers do; school, relationships, figuring out who you are.

And, as with most things I read, I loved it.

What I think I like most about this book is that nothing is sugar coated. Her friends’ families have problems. There is divorce and dysfunction, things that are real. I find in so much YA every family is perfect and that is just not true in real life (the opposite problem to this is that sometimes things are so overwrought and dramatic, but this book doesn’t do that either). I don’t normally like realistic fiction but when it is done well it is just so fantastic. I have to admit that I cried at the end. A lot. This book reminds me a lot of The First Third because it deals with real things in a genuine way.

Read it.

Coming up on my next blog: More reading.

Water, water, everywhere

Honestly I should be reading right now. Reading books that is. Instead I’m browsing through trashy mags and now blogging (obviously).
I feel a bit like the Ancient Mariner.

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I have bought too many books lately and now I don’t know what to read. I don’t feel in the mood for the ones I bought, and the book I do want to read I left on my desk at work.
I feel a bit accomplished because I did read two things over the weekend, and have read 15 books during the first month of 2014, which is a good amount if I can keep it up for the rest of the year.
1. Cat book
2. Murder in Mississippi by John Safran
3. Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield
4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
5. Taste of Darkness by Maria V Snyder
6. A Symphony of Echoes: Volume 2 The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor
7. Taronga by Victor Kelleher
8. A Child is Born by Jodi Taylor
9. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
10. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
11. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
12. The Last Thirteen: 13 by James Phelan
13. The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer
14. The Club by David Williamson
15. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I don’t really have a favourite out of the ones I have read so far, Burial Riteswas pretty good, but there is nothing on the list that I feel I need to read again.

The Intern is probably the most exciting book I read all month, not least be a use I was so so lucky to find one with the elusive red cover. But I’ve already banged on about this so I won’t do it again.

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I did enjoy this book. It was an easy and interesting read, and as some of the praise suggests, is a bit more (and different from) than a teenage Devil Wears Prada. I liked the main character, Josie, and she is comparable to that other Josie I have read lately of Alibrandi fame. I am interested in her family and story and do want to know what happens next. Luckily for me, as with all young adult fiction, this too is going to be a series, and it is a series I will definitely keep reading. What I liked best I think is how it was age appropriate. A lot of characters in Young Adult seem to be doing things too mature for their age, and many in New Adult also seem mature beyond their years. Tozer has hit the age just right and made her character likeable, relatable and appropriate.

I also reread The Club last month (and then watched the film the same day).

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I had forgotten how much I like Williamson’s style. His words are so precise. He captures his setting perfectly. It also reminded me that Travelling North is playing at the STC at the moment so I’m off to see that next month too, and I will try to read it before I go (if I can find a copy at the library).

The last thing I read for the month was The Giver.

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I had been meaning to read it ever since I had heard it was going to be turned into a movie. It is one of those books where I wish children’s writers had realised they could make heaps of money off sequels. I just want to read more. More about what happened before and definitely more about what happened after. It is just classic children’s sci fi. And perfect in only the way children’s science fiction can be. Really, I should be calling it speculative fiction, but lets not get pedantic. I just can’t believe nobody had ever told me to read it before. It is such an excellent book. So I’m telling you all – read it if you haven’t already. It’s the perfect book to give on Give a Kid a Book Day (feb 14).

Coming up on my next blog: I won’t leave it seven days in between writing again.