Aug 7, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Life & Reading News

The Sunday Salon.com

Good morning, Sunday Saloners. As you might have noticed, things remain very slow on the blogging front around these parts1. In truth this isn’t as much a result of lack of time (taking an hour off from my thesis to blog is probably a health and safety measure at this point) as it is a result of my prolonged reading slump. I tried several of your recommendations from a few weeks ago, but while some (such as Hugo Cabret) where a complete success, others I ended up putting down. It’s not that they were bad books – quite the contrary. It’s that I could tell they were good books and still I couldn’t get into them, which made me decide I had better save them for a more appropriate time.

Another thing that’s been happening lately is this: I’ll read something, wait a few days before I attempt to write about it, and then realise that I can’t because nothing whatsoever about the book has stayed with me. Gifted by Nikita Lalwani, Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki, the Once/Then/Now trilogy by Morris Gleitzman… it’s not that they were shallow or failed to be enjoyable, but at this particular moment in time they were, to use Jenny’s analogy, skipping stones that disappeared under the waters remarkably fast.

I know this is only natural considering how exhausted and overwhelmed I am, and that it happens to us all every now and then. But the reason why it worries me is because I often notice that it’s the process of writing about a book that really makes it stick with me. So if I give up before I start, where will that leave me? Blogging forces me to dig deeper, to give what I read more thought, to consider new angles, to transform vague impressions into intelligible thoughts. Whenever I have those pesky maybe-there-is-no-room-in-my-life-for-blogging-anymore thoughts, I remember this: all the other things I’d miss about blogging aside, I know I’ll stick around because it makes me a better reader.

To end this post on a more cheerful note, I thought I’d share some photos of the highlights of my life for the past month or so. Apologies to my tumblr friends, who will have seen many of these pictures before. I’ll start with photos of my trip to Buxton last Friday to see The Globe’s touring production of Hamlet. I had an absolutely wonderful time: despite a cloudy morning, the sun shone in the afternoon, so I got to wander around the Pavilion Gardens, sit in the sunshine, and appreciate the town’s stunning late Victorian/Edwardian architecture. Buxton would be the perfect setting for a steampunk festival of some sort: the lovely Edwardian tearooms, the market arcades, the gorgeous Opera house, the pavilion that gives the gardens their name, the turn of the century hotels and spa buildings… it’s all so right that I desperately wish someone would make it happen.

As for the play itself, it was my first time seeing Hamlet on stage, so naturally I was very excited. I’d seen the Kenneth Branagh film before, but it wouldn’t be right to compare the two. Possibly because it’s an outdoors summer production, this Hamlet was considerable less solemn, and it highlighted the dark humour and the less pleasant aspects of the prince’s character more than his noble tragic hero streak. To call it a moody teenage Hamlet may sound dismissive to some, but that’s absolutely not how I mean it. I found this interpretation of Hamlet moving exactly because of how the prince comes across as young, earnest, and at times unreasonable and stubborn.

Here are the promised pictures:

Buxton

Buxton
I love this place

Buxton
Mmm, cream tea.

Buxton

Buxton
Sunshine, a picnic and Shakespeare: this is what summer is all about.

Buxton
The play about to start

The Globe
A visit to the real Globe in early July, where I saw Much Ado About Nothing with Jodie, Meghan and Ana.

Manchester Comic Con
At Manchester Comic Con last weekend. My first ever convention!

Manchester Comic Con
...and where my childhood dream of meeting the Ghostbusters was fulfilled.

Manchester Comic Con


Manchester Comic Con
A walk along the canals.

Have a great Sunday everyone. Things might remain a little quiet around these parts for a little longer, but in the meantime, thank you so much for sticking around.

1 And on the commenting front, unfortunately. I’m still here reading and I really miss interacting with everyone more regularly. But after entire days working at the computer, I’m left with sore wrists and little energy for anything at all.

28 comments:

  1. Hang in there, and do what you can and feel like doing. None of us can do everything.

    I know exactly what you mean about the writing being the thing that makes a book sink in. I feel kind of sad sometimes for the books I read and liked before I started blogging because they did sink from my memory remarkably quickly, even if I liked them quite a lot. I think of that a lot when I see someone has read one of those books, and I want to comment, but realize that my memory of it is so vague that I have nothing to say.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I completely agree that writing makes a book sink in—it's part of the reason why I blog, too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think you're just overwhelmed with school. Just find some books that give you pleasure and take the pressure of blogging off of yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Those pictures are the most wonderful ever, next to being there! But I really got a taste of it (so to speak) from the excellent views. I am with you and Jenny on the need to write immediately or the book gets lost. And that happens no matter how good it is. It's very tragic. And then reading a lot brings confusion too. I was reading a long family saga the other day (Jennifer Donnelly's The Wild Rose) and a character named Stephen re-entered the scene, and in my mind I found myself thinking, "wait, isn't he the vampire? No, wait, this is Donnelly! That was Meg Cabot!" And then there is one's personal life: viz, Jill, this is Stephen. "Wait, I think, isn't that the vampire?" It's all very overwhelming!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Possibly because it’s an outdoors summer production, this Hamlet was considerable less solemn.

    The only time I've seen Hamlet on stage was also an outdoors performance. The set had these double-sided curtains on swinging brackets, that could be flipped to one side or the other to indicate outdoor vs. indoor scenes. It was a neat idea, but the set designers hadn't planned for windy nights, so the brackets didn't have anything to secure them to one side or the other... and right in the middle of a scene, the wind picked up, caught the fabric like a sail, and clocked poor Ophelia in the face. The actors all did a good job carrying on, but yeah, noticeably less solemn. :)

    And I think everyone totally understands that thesis-writing can be a major time and energy-suck. Keep doin' what you're doin' and we'll be here on the other side.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm sorry to hear about your continuing reading slump. Slumps are the worst. I was lucky, I'm pretty sure I was about to fall into one and a book landed on my doorstep that rescued me from it! It was a close one, though. ;-)

    I can totally relate, though, about the waiting a few days before writing about a book thing. I've definitely been waiting a few too many days before writing my reviews, and as a result, have definitely been struggling with my review-writing to varying degrees all year long. It *does* suck, because writing critically about a book really does help me solidify my impressions about a book before it gets away from me, too.

    Hope things even out for you soon!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I sometimes wait too long to write my reviews but those reviews are the better for it because it forces me to really think about. Or that could be me trying to make myself feel better about procrastinating...

    Don't worry too much about the reading. Once the thesis is done, things will probably get better.

    Thanks for the photos.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I find that when I wait a few days to write the review, if it's a skipping stone book, I forget a LOT and have to refresh my memory by reading the summary on goodreads.

    Also, those pictures are awesome. I'm so jealous you live in an area that does Shakespeare in the park. SO SO JEALOUS.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My summer has been so non-bloggy I definitely feel your pain. I've read many books, but I only reviewed one. I just didn't have a darn thing to say about them. I'm glad you'll be sticking around. Just do as much or as little as you'd like. It's the only way to stay sane. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think we all go through this stuff. I almost never write my reviews as soon as I finish, and then I begin to dread figuring out what I am going to say. I do find that if I force myself to sit down and just throw my thoughts on the page, it all comes back. Sometimes my fingers know how I feel more than my brain, if that makes any sense. I think distractions are the biggest issue with slumps but that is life. Just pop in and let us know you are alive, and eventually it will come back.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I hope you get over your reading slump soon! I had one in June, but seem to be doing a bit better lately. Hopefully I can keep it up...

    ReplyDelete
  12. It looks like you've been very busy. I loved the photos, especially the one with the stone arch and the tables outside. The Shakespeare must have been fun too!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Well, at least you enjoyed the Hugo Cabret book. That's something. I just read it recently too and loved it. We all have reading slumps and blogging slumps. In fact, I was just on another blog this morning where the blogger was talking about it as well. It happens. All we can do is keep going...even if it's not every day or every week. Just keep going, because your voice would be sorely missed if it weren't here.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm working my way back into the blogging world myself, so I understand how you feel. Don't worry too much about it. Just go with the flow. You'll be back when you're ready :)

    Love the pictures! I once saw The Merry Wives of Windsor performed outdoors (at Lake Tahoe; beautiful location!) and had a great time. That's what summer is all about - not fretting about your blog! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Do I ever know how that whole 'ooops, forgot what happened' thing goes. Once I sit down to try and think about things feelings and points I want to make tend to come back, but names, plot developments, fantasy terms pshew out my head. Good job I've got the books sitting around to help me refresh. And yes to this:

    'But the reason why it worries me is because I often notice that it’s the process of writing about a book that really makes it stick with me.'

    Sometimes I think it's easiest not to worry about those skipping stone books and just let them go. We're not book promoters, we're bloggers and we (you especially) come out so well when we can get ripping into something meatier (um, vegetarian alternative of quornier for you?). More time and energy can be diverted to writing about the ones you know you want to stick with you, because they meant a lot when you were reading through them.

    PS YAY for pictures!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Love the pictures!

    Maybe what you need for now are books you don't have to think more deeply about. You're stressed out and need something you can just enjoy at face value.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I can totally relate to feeling that you need to write about a book to fully digest it. That is the main reason I started my blog a few years ago. I think it's natural to go through stages, and perhaps this is the stage when you just need to focus on the most demanding things and leave the rest to the wind as much as you can. I can relate to being in a slump as well, and really need something to snap me out of it!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I can totally relate to feeling that you need to write about a book to fully digest it. That is the main reason I started my blog a few years ago. I think it's natural to go through stages, and perhaps this is the stage when you just need to focus on the most demanding things and leave the rest to the wind as much as you can. I can relate to being in a slump as well, and really need something to snap me out of it!

    ReplyDelete
  19. The second and last photo make me want to get on a plane and get there fast. So pretty!

    I was doing so well on writing book reviews at the beginning of the year but I've fizzled out. For me, I've just been so busy this year with a new job that it's really taken a lot out of me and my blogging has fallen a bit to the wayside. I still post but I feel like I can never keep up with blog friends and much do book reviews. I'll get my blogging mojo back but it's taken some time. Hope you find the right balance for yourself too!

    ReplyDelete
  20. mmm, cream tea. We tried to have that every afternoon while in England, and nearly succeeded!
    Often everything else in your life just about comes to a halt when you're in graduate school. I think that's the way it has to be, so it's remarkable to me how much time you do manage to make for reading and blogging!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I haven't been reading a lot lately, since I've been spending too much of my reading time on FB games (my bad!!) but I do read, though the progress is slow.

    And I enjoyed viewing your photos; I don't care if I've seen them on Tumblr as nice photos always worth a second look, or more! :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm just glad you are still with us even if just occasionally. I've been reading but finding it a struggle to write about what I read. Love your photos and am glad you got to see Hamlet on stage. It can be a wonderful experience!

    ReplyDelete
  23. You got to see Hamlet in a park! So jealous. Don't worry about reviews, whenever they pile up it can get a bit stressful, but it always works out. I love the photos!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I understand about the reading slump. I am reading a book I really enjoy right now but reading more than 20 pages a day seems an insurmountable task. It's ridiculous because time is not a problem. I seem to only want to watch movies lately. It's like what little attention span I had has turned to mush! lol

    ReplyDelete
  25. I forgot everything about Gifted two seconds after I read it, and I now can barely remember what the premise was. If that makes you feel any better. :p

    I love your pictures! They make me miss England terribly, particularly the canals. I have a daydream of taking a vacation and going in a canal boat up and down the canals. Wouldn't that be fun? As long as none of my books got spoiled by water.

    ReplyDelete
  26. You could go for another type of reviews, like "I remember it was good. There was a dog." ;)

    Hang in there1

    ReplyDelete
  27. Beautiful pictures, Ana! Glad to know that you are having fun! I can only dream of how an outdoor summer production of 'Hamlet' will be - so interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  28. O man! Seeing Much Ado About Nothing AT the Globe AND Comic Con? Very jealous. Very jealous.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.