bees in the meadow

the babblings of a bookish bee :)

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On Deviating from the TBR

So I have these books. These wonderful books lined up on the top of my dresser—books I chose purposefully, consciously, when I was thinking about what I wanted to read this Autumn. I’d still like to read them this Autumn. But then I watched Nora Ephron’s film Julie and Julia, and became thereby re-obsessed with Nora Ephron, so I had to buy I Remember Nothing, which is one of her essay collections. And then reading Nora Ephron made me realize that in order to write the screenplay for Julie and Julia, she would have had to read the book Julie and Julia. I attempted to read the book Julie and Julia several years ago and stopped. It wasn’t right for me, at the time. But recently, I was at my local used bookshop, looking for a biography of Nora Ephron, and what did I find instead? Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. It called out to me. It was–it is–the right time. So I bought it. And started reading it. I’m enjoying it so far.

I’m also still in the midst of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, which I read before bed at night. Unless I’m reading How to Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman, which I found at the library. I also briefly acquired The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry from the library, which I took out in a fit of overjoyed frenzy, having heard all the hype. I’ve accepted that I can’t go on with it just now, having too many other books on the go.

While all this has been going on, there my Autumn TBR books have sat, patiently waiting. The only thing that could make me feel anxious about them is, of course, me. The books do not mind when they are read. Indeed, they’d probably prefer to call to me in their own way, rather than to have me shuffle them around and line them up according to my own notions of order. I don’t set much store by TBRs in general for that very reason. I enjoy the process of creating them when the fancy takes me, but I accept that I am a mood reader and will follow my nose regardless…

And that’s the wonderful thing about reading. So much else in life depends on order and organization, swiftness and efficiency…but whatever we do, however we do it, the books are there. Unhurried. Waiting to be read, then put down and picked up and dipped into and out of, to soothe and guide and instruct as needed: the best medicine. The best friends.

I guess this is all just to say that the TBR, while helpful, enjoyable, etc., is not precious: but reading is. It is a precious gift, to be cherished and embraced. Better to read with joy and abandon than to spend one minute niggling over arbitrary set-ups and should-haves.

Long live spontaneity.

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Review :: My Cousin Rachel

~Here Lies That Which Verges Slightly on Spoilers, So Beware~

 

Well, I am writing this fresh from the last page, still reeling from the stunning deftness of Daphne Du Maurier’s writing. The woman was a master. If her writing were not the atmospheric luxury that it is, I probably would have thrown this book out the window. If you want to experience the luscious beauty and intensity of her prose, without feeling as tortured-of-mind as the main character in My Cousin Rachel, read Rebecca. If, however, you have read Rebecca already and are eager for more Du Maurier, then go forth with My Cousin Rachel with the understanding that it will very nearly drive you mad, and you will be alright with it, because Daphne. Because. Daphne.

Unfortunately, this book did little to convince me that I should read more novels in which the main characters are male. I know it’s terrible of me, but I just cannot seem to be drawn to books that do not feature a female lead, and I find that time and time again, when I venture on a book with a male main character, I spend most of it being annoyed with him in one way or a dozen, and it distracts from the story.

The greatest exception to this I can think of at the moment is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I could write a separate post on all the ways Kvothe (male lead) does not annoy me in that wondrous novel—so much so that I fully intend to read the sequel. But I digress. I hated the main character of this book. His name is Philip Ashley and oh, how he perturbed me. I don’t think I could ever regret reading anything by Daphne Du Maurier, but this one came at a price. While reading, I repeatedly half-shouted to no one in particular: “YOU DUMB”. Obviously, this was directed at Philip, object of my constant scorn and disbelief. I do not regret this. Admittedly, I didn’t choose the most eloquent language to express my annoyance, but these are the luxuries we allow ourselves when we read alone…

I will not enumerate to you the specifics of my annoyance at Philip, nor my many fascinations with the mysterious Rachel. The plot and the characters were complicated and deftly woven, and I will leave them to you to explore. As for the prose, it was magnificent, as always. I will never tire of the rain-swept, moody, almost fantastical world of Du Maurier’s Cornwall. The hills, the manor houses, the villages, the sunrises, the gardens, the sea…bliss.

Rachel herself was fascinating. I regret having been forced to see her only through the *pointed cough* very limited perspective of Philip. While that warped view certainly added to her mystery, I would have loved to see the fullness of her character—her thoughts, her motivations, her life from her own perspective. Alas.

The ending dissatisfied me. On a purely selfish, non-analytical level, I am irritated by it, and that is all.

My annoyance with Philip Ashley and with the ending is all that prevents me from giving it five stars. When I read anything by Daphne Du Maurier, I am truly under her command and must continue to read until she has the last word. Writing that powerful is surely to be respected.

I’m free to watch the film now. Having endured all the agony and suspense, all the rage and the emotional turmoil, I will happily kick back with my snacks and my smug knowledge, watching my family undergo the torture I have already withstood…

Happy reading! x

Rae

Changes & Spines

Hi, readers~

How is everyone? I hope the past months have been good to you. October is soon to be here and I welcome it with enthusiasm verging on the hysterical. LEAVES AND COZY THINGS. I’M READY.

I am making some changes to my little blog, which I hope will be agreeable to you. When I first began it, I intended it to be a place to share my writing, but desires for traditional publication in the future have changed my mind. Thank you for reading and commenting on my previous posts: it meant a lot! I will not share much of my personal writing here anymore, but I will be sharing my adventures with something equally dear to my heart: reading! (ah, joy.)

This little blog will be moving in the direction of book tags, reviews, TBR’s, and Wrap-Ups. There will hopefully be some fun & spontaneous posts along the way, and once in a moon, posts from-my-journal or random musings on creativity, beauty, life, coziness, spirituality, who knows…?

I am so looking forward to babbling about books with you. If you have any thoughts, recommendations, or questions, leave a comment! I’d love to chat. 😊

My September Wrap-Up & Current Reads post is up! Hurrah!

Happy reading, happy Autumn, and I’ll see you between the pages~

Rae

September Wrap-Up & Current Reads

September was a good reading month, propelled by the thrill of anticipating Autumn. All the BookTube (Victober!). Used-book-shopping. Gazing longingly, lovingly at my Autumn TBR, thinking “soon, you” and “soon, you”.

September did mark the second book I’ve read this year in which the main character was male and annoyed the life out of me. This does not bode well for my struggle to read male main characters in general (no offense, lads, men are lovely). I cling only to my love for Kvothe and Bast from The Name of the Wind this year. (How I adore them. How I adore that glorious book. Ugh.)

The character in question featured in My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier, about which I’ll be posting a full review. The other book I read was The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale…

I enjoyed this Y.A. fantasy, recommended by my best friend Kelsey. It was much darker, actually, than I expected, but the themes of radical religious oppression and ideas of “good” vs. “evil” were very interesting. The writing was tinged with magic and shadow. There was a romance, but it bloomed late and didn’t overtake the narrative (very important). A good read for Autumn or Winter nights when the cold is bitter and you’ve a nice mug of warm, comforting cider in hand.

Now for my current reads. I’m making my way slowly through two books: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin. The latter is the slowest of the two, and I’m glad of it. It’s cozy. It’s fascinating. It’s perfectly soothing for bedtime when the mind still needs something to chew on, but nothing too exciting. It’s about Jane Austen, so obviously it’s delightful for that reason too. I have no doubt that I will literally be reading it in pieces for the next year. Gladly. 😊

Inkheart is wonderful. I started it by reading it aloud with my brother, but we abandoned that ship and I press on alone, equally happily. It is cozy, bookish glory, perfect fantasy. No need to rush. I’m also sneakily reading Keats, from time to time, a hangover from having recently watched the film Bright Star. Love.

My other reads at the moment, the ones I’m plugging nicely along with and reading more regularly, are:

Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You by Stasi Eldredge

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

and How to Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman

 

Those last two were obtained (with hysterical excitement) at a recent adventure to my local library with my friend Jennifer. We found many wonderful things there and are most excited to take ourselves virtuously to the library every other week or so from now on. 😊 #wemuststopbuyingallthebooks  #wemust

(yes, I do frequently use hashtags in the wrong setting. a vulgar habit? perhaps. but I accept it.)

What are you currently reading? Are you watching/participating in Victober? Is it Autumn where you are?

I hope all is well for you and that you’re staying cozy~

Till next time!

Rae

booktalk: History of the Rain by Niall Williams

earlier this year, I read History of the Rain by Niall Williams. It whispered to me from the shelves of Barnes & Noble (a place I guiltily and frequently haunt), with its cover of dark sea-tones and its aesthetic of cozy introverted bliss.

obviously, I have fully embraced the practice of judging books by their covers, and I don’t apologize.

but this is all beside the point. it’s a wonderful book. I knew instantly it would be one of my favorites of the year. I think about it all the time, guys. all the time.

this is a slow, gentle narrative that deals with heavy, sometimes epic themes in a quiet, introverted way, so that it’s all extremely pleasurable to read, even when it’s heartbreaking. does this make sense? I don’t know. BELIEVE IT.

reading it was like falling into a world of cozy houses, rain-sodden hills, villages and attics, a great twisting river, and the scent of books.

this is a story about Ireland. a story about people. a story about sorrow and the feeling of never being good enough. a story about stories. a story about BOOKS. a story about the love in a family. a story of a young woman searching for her father and herself.

I cried. and I was so thrilled to be crying. I can’t remember the last time a book did this to me. praise the Lord.

for me, the most important thing in any novel, more than the plot, the characters, etc., is the writing. now, I want to make an important distinction here: there is a difference between “good writing” and writing that I enjoy. when I read novels for pleasure, I look for the latter. I don’t want to tell you that the writing was “good”, because there are so many kinds of good writing. I will say instead that this book was chock-full of the kind of writing I love.

I can’t even describe it. it’s narrated first-person, but it’s so lyrical and playful in the language. somehow it was both lyrical and simple. it was absolutely addictive, and the way the words were so beautifully strung together made the stories within the story so delightful to read. if this kind of writing seems appealing to you, you will adore this book.

so: if you’re into themes of Ireland, water, family and family history, sorrow met with humor, and if you are into books that celebrate stories, please go now and read History of the Rain.

I’ve since bought another book by Niall Williams, which I’m very excited to eventually read (in ten years, after I get through a few zillion of the endless armies of books I own), and I fear I shall be loyal to him forever now.

ah, the perils of books…

happy reading, friends~~

 

rae

 

 

Here you may find History of the Rain on Amazon.

GO GET IT.

 

 

between pages: current reads

hello, lovely people (she whispered timidly.)

I’m planning to do semi-regular (all ye scatter-brained nymphs out there, sympathize) Tiny Book Reviews in the upcoming months, but for now, just a little list and brief thoughts on what I’m currently reading, should any of the titles call your name.

~The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: lyrical, cozy-dark fantasy. yes, thank you.

~Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I’ve read it once before, but now I’m reading it at night before I go to sleep. I have deluded myself that this will mean I’m sent off to slumber with dreams of the English countryside, but so far there is no evidence of such. alas.)

~Sense and Sensibility: Shooting Script: The Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson: loved the book. obsessed with the 1995 film. Emma Thompson is a goddess. the diaries are a fascinating insight into the writing and film-making process. endearing, funny, and for those of us obsessed with British actors, full of glorious side-mentions of people like Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman (*YES*). (there is a particularly satisfying moment in which Alan Rickman encounters a cat. read the book to learn more.) this is also a nighttime read, and I’ve been neglecting P&P because all I want to do is curl up with this for days. YEARS. I’ll be done with it soon. determined to drag it out.

I’ve got several random non-fiction books on the go as well, which I’m dipping in and out of:

Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies by Deborah Halverson

The Art of Being a Woman by Veronique Vienne (God help me, I’ve put it down and NEED to pick it up again. it’s very good. I am ashamed.)

Bullfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bullfinch (monstrous Barnes & Noble Classics edition. deeply intimidating but lush and enticing as well. have accepted that this will be in my currently reading literally forever. yep.)

 

what are you currently reading? leave a comment, I’d love to know!

hope you’re all well,

~ rae

 

what keeps your heart awake?

 

I recently spent a luminous weekend with one of my very dearest friends. a soul-sister, travel buddy, fellow music enthusiast, lover of weird British men and pine trees. she’s rooted and strong, brave and true, and together we saw U2 at Soldier Field in Chicago, on a breezy summer evening, while the fireworks flashed over Lake Michigan.

there are things that make you feel alive. there are things that fill your chest with light, warm light spreading through you, like liquid gold, purifying the dust and debris of the everyday, reminding you with inescapable surety: THERE IS GOODNESS AND MAJESTY IN THIS WORLD. IT’S ALL THERE FOR YOU. TAKE IT. TAKE IT, AND BE GRATEFUL.

that night, we felt it. we cried. we screamed. we were wide awake. we believed in the kingdom come, when all the colors will bleed into one, bleed into one. in a world so full of weariness, terrible violence, and pain, we felt that One Love that binds us all together, reminding us that home is a place within. our hearts grew bigger. what a feeling.

it was hard to come down from that high. how to go back to the ordinary? the everyday? when all you want is those brilliant lights, those soul-stirring words, to carry you to heights beyond your obligations, your failures, your endless tasks that are yet undone?

you hold it. you take time to look at that doorway that has opened in your heart, and you leave it unlocked. it will let the air in. let the memories of that brilliant spirit you felt flood in at just the right moment, inspiring you anew, reminding you of the goodness, of the majesty.

the point is this: we have influence over our energetic landscape. we do not have to take our circumstances lying down. of course, there will be great highs and deep lows. but in the ordinary, in the everyday, we can make the choice to rise up into Love. that’s what eases pain. that’s what sheds light on our souls.

God has given us all the seeds of deep joy. I was shaken awake by light and sound, by words that swim to the bottom of my heart and touch what’s sleeping there. in the days that come, I’m going to ask myself these questions, every now and again…because it’s so easy just to sleep, and we all need a little help on the road….to get to that place where deep joy is waiting, where “adventure” isn’t just a word…

what sleeps in you?

what feels dead, disappointed, unmotivated, stale?

what actions would help to heal those feelings?

what fills your spirit with light and makes you want to dance, sing, shout for joy?

what keeps your heart awake?

 

There’s a song: an anthem, fierce with hope, called Bad. Before he began to sing it, Bono said to the thousands:

“Whatever it is we don’t need…we let it go. Let it go.”

And we held up our hands, and we screamed with the music, and I swear you could feel the lightening of  thousands of hearts. A little bit of all our pain, fear, resentment, anger, floated up with song and faded into the summer night. There was a great feeling of celebration. Of freedom. We had been released.

Let’s ask the hard questions. Let’s look for liberation. Let’s release ourselves. Let’s stay awake together.

 

what lightens your heart?

 

what brings you back to Love?

 

what makes you free?

 

 

 

italicized lyrics taken from Bad, One Love and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2

from my journal

sometimes I journal. in little breaths, in small, stolen moments, misty-heart-whispers. today, there was this…

 

today I saw that Love is a balm. it is gentleness when anger wants to rise. patience when irritation reigns. it’s the lens of Truth. it’s the clouds parting to a clear heart. letting Love come forth, letting it lead, is a sweet releasing of tension. a lessening of pain. 

how can I make Love present in more of what I do? when I’m looking in the mirror. when I’m facing a task. when I make a mistake. when someone else does. when the world wearies me. when I’m all topsy-turvy, crooked and cynical. when the view is gray. when there is overwhelm. when I feel hungry. lonely. tired. in the flow. out of flow. when I can’t find God (oh, but G o d   i s  L o v e). used up. spent. energized and brimming. when there is too much. when all I can think is “not enough”. how can I stop, let my heart open, gently now, just a crack?

Love: this is how we let the Light in. 

this is how we see the lessons, the treasure in the now. 

this is how we see the gifts. 

they were there all along, but Love is the light that illuminates. 

Love is awakening.