So we are 10 days into February, but I never did write this month’s “what I’m into” post, so here we go.
I just finally started using Instagram. I am lvanderkam if you want to join me over there. In other social media news, I did a FB Live chat yesterday (I am Facebook.com/lauravanderkamauthor over there).
I am reading The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George. I have this one in paperback, not on the Kindle app. In the course of reading it, I have picked up a few things that make a novel readable. First, short chapters. You always feel like you can do just one more. Progress is motivational! Lots of dialogue and short paragraphs will make a book feel like it’s moving along too. The book is not perfect by any means. Some of the attempts at recounting erotic moments are cringe inducing. Having the main character be a lost soul named Jean Perdu is a bit heavy handed, but the characters are quirky enough and the world vivid enough that I am now 215 pages in and assume I will make it to p. 370 (the end).
It seems to be a thing to put recipes at the end of novels that deal in any way with food.
Paperbacks notwithstanding, the Kindle app has seriously upped my reading game. I finished reading My Antonia a week ago on it. Willa Cather has a particular genius for making a place — in this case, the Nebraska prairie — a character unto itself. The prose is also piercing in parts. I had to pull out notebooks to write down some quotes:
“I begrudged the room that Jake and Otto and Russian Peter took up in my memory, which I wanted to crowd with other things. But whenever my consciousness was quickened, all those early friends were quickened within it, and in some strange way they accompanied me through all my new experiences. They were so much alive in me that I scarcely stopped to wonder whether they were alive anywhere else, or how.”
On hearing an old friend: “She laughed her mellow, easy laugh, that was either very artless or very comprehending, one never quite knew which.”
On the appeal of the country girls from narrator Jim’s childhood: “It came over me, as it had never done before, the relation between girls like those and the poetry of Virgil. If there were no girls like them in the world, there would be no poetry.”
Or this note, on coming out of a show into the spring night, and the spring and the show blending in memory: “The lilacs were all blooming in the yards, and the smell of them after the rain, of the new leaves and the blossoms together, blew into my face with a sort of bitter sweetness… Wherever and whenever that piece is put on, it is April.”
Building my reading habit is requiring me to maintain a better “To Be Read” list. When I do read magazines or newspapers with book suggestions, I make a note. Also, I am a big fan of Modern Mrs. Darcy, who has plenty of suggestions on what to read next.
I have run at least a mile every day since Christmas Eve. I did not really set out to create a streak, and I do not want to make too much of the streak, as I can already identify some days when it won’t happen in the future and I don’t want to feel like a failure because of those. However, I find that this challenge to myself has been helpful. It changes the question of “if” I will run to “when” I will run, and my life is such that I can usually fit it in. Lowering the expectation to a mere mile is key. A mile isn’t much. I have no resistance to that, but usually I go much more once I am a mile in. (I even managed to do my mile during the stomach bug incident. I had run my mile before I got sick on Thursday evening, and on Friday evening I ran slow laps around the first floor of the house with the non-sick children chasing me.)
The TED talk from Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger, that I found the most memorable from TEDWomen in 2016, has now been posted online. Given the subject matter (sexual assault) it is not surprising that it is already garnering some strong reactions. The speakers did a Q&A on the TED blog of why they decided to go public with their story.
I am planning a trip to NYC with my 9-year-old. He created a list of suggestions, many of which are the tourist-y things I never did while living there. I have to admit that buying tickets to go to the top of the Empire State Building was hard to do (NYC has a lot of tall buildings…we could just go visit somebody!) but I am sure he will like it. I read somewhere that the Empire State Building makes more off observatory tickets than it does from commercial rents.
Wrestling season ends this weekend. I’ve genuinely enjoyed learning about the sport and watching my 7-year-old enjoy it so much too. Now we have a lull before Little League starts with spring (though swimming and karate are eternal).
Over at Time.com I’m writing about Here’s How To Become A Morning Person.
Photo: sitting area, snowy scene.