Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Life After Deadline

I've got a pile of books on the table next to my bed, waiting patiently for me. Every now and then I pick one up and glance at the cover and then the back, then put it down. I know I'll never get my work done if I open it. Have to make my book deadline first. Ah, deadlines.

Working at home isn't all it's cracked up to be. I must constantly strive to be organized, focused and self-disciplined in order to get things done. Not that everybody else with a job doesn't have to be organized too, I guess. But I can't leave my work at the office--it's always there, night and day, a constant reminder of everything I still need to do. And very often distractions rule the day some days so then I'm up late. I DO get to work in my jammies if I choose, so that's a perk.

Setting goals for myself is something I need to do on a very regular basis. Then I break them down and set goals within THOSE goals to be able to really accomplish things. And the goals need to be constantly reevaluated. Even the little ones.

But first thing, when I'm finished with the book in February, I resolve to read more. I used to be a great reader but now I find that I get so busy with quilts that I don't make the time for reading the way I used to. And I miss it. I know that if I get involved in a book I won't want to put it down though so I guess I'm just preserving my attention for the quilt work that requires all of my attention right now. Then I'll be able to spend time at one of my favorite places:

When I was a child, sometimes all I wanted to do was read--especially during the summers off. My mom would point to the sunny sky and say--"Go play outside, it's too nice to be sitting inside." But it was nice to get inside a book too and so I ignored her for as long as I could, then compromised by sitting out on the back porch with my book. Reading was like a vacation. I remember being about 10 and begging my mom for the independence to take my first outing all alone with a friend and her little sister--we walked 6 blocks to the library all by ourselves, no grownups.

Going to the library was a weekly treat back in the day when my kids were young. Sometimes more than weekly if one of them had a question I couldn't answer or explain--Are birds really dinosaurs? Where does the sun go at night? Do dogs dream? Let's go to the library and find some books about it. Now we just look it up on the internet--not as much fun, but quicker. (Do I sound old or what??)

So here are a few of the books on my reading list for this year:

I've been waiting a while for this one--just released so I couldn't put it on my Christmas list. I'll probably spend my Christmas Barnes & Noble gift card on it tomorrow even though I won't read it for another month:

Gail Godwin is one of my favorite authors and one of her books is high on a list of my top 5 favorite books of all time. According to Publishers Weekly, in Unfinished Desires, "Bestselling author Godwin brings readers back in time to the early 1950s in this endearing story of Catholic school girls and the nuns who oversee them. Godwin captures brilliantly the subtleties of friendships between teenage girls, their ambivalence toward religion and their momentous struggle to define people—especially themselves. Poignant and transporting . . ." As a true sentimentalist (yes! It's a real word!), you can see why this is right up my alley.

The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg
Not a quilting fiction book, but a contemporary novel where the main character happens to be a professional quilter. Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorite authors and I thought I had read all of her books except for the latest one, Home Safe, but I somehow missed this one from 2006, so it will be a nice treat to read it. "Bestselling novelist Berg explores memory, love and forgiveness in her flawed but moving 12th novel. At her annual family reunion, Laura Bartone, a 50-something 'quilt artist,' is forced to confront the secrets that have long haunted her family. Her emotionally unstable sister . . ."

I've never read How to Make An American Quilt and have not seen the movie. Time to catch up.

Other books on the list for my soon-to-come reading reverie:

Inside of a Dog offers "a thoughtful take on the interior life of the dog, a topic often left to poets and philosophers." The author "ponders more basic questions about the pet dogs of the American living room: What's with the sniffing? Why do they bark? Oh, and do they actually like us?" This was a great Christmas gift from someone who oviously knows me well . . .

A Three Dog Life-- Booklist:  "In these exquisitely written essays Thomas reflects on how her marriage had to be reinvented after the night her husband, Richard, took their dog, Harry, out for a walk, and Harry came home alone. Richard had been hit by a car and was lying bleeding in the street. The traumatic head injury he suffered didn't kill him, as attending police had predicted it would, but it rendered him susceptible to large-scale memory loss, hallucinations, and such wild rages that Thomas was forced to commit him to an institution. Lesser events have destroyed relationships, so it would not be surprising to learn that Thomas abandoned Richard. She didn't. Instead, she sold their New York apartment, moved upstate to be near him, and acquired two more dogs to keep her company. What's more, she can't imagine life without her husband."
I'll probably cry when I read it. (Maybe I shouldn't say this . . . but my husband sometimes forgets things at the grocery store . . . )

Not to worry, puppy . . .

I usually read anything by Anita Shreve or Alice Hoffman. I picked these up at the library's used book sale for fifty cents last summer and put them on the pile. The title Blue Diary intrigued me. Nice cover, although you really shouldn't judge the book by it I'm told. But for fifty cents . . .

Oprah LOVED The Pillars of the Earth and so did my sister-in-law, so I asked for it for Christmas LAST year but haven't read it yet. This is going to be the year. Some have called it a medieval Gone With The Wind (Wait, it's about monks?)

I got The Devil in the White City for my birthday last September. It's about the incredible, actual events (murders) surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, not long after Jack the Ripper haunted the ill-lit streets of London in 1888. "The magical appeal and horrifying dark side of 19th-century Chicago are both revealed through Larson's skillful writing." I saw a PBS special not long ago on the Chicago World's Fair and it sparked my interest. Non-fiction, who knew.

My husband said perhaps I'd get more reading done  if I didn't spend so much time on this blog thing . . .


Sandra's Sewing Room said...

Your books are some of what are on other peoples book reads wish list....Thanks for being there for those of us who look to you for good reading!

Leigh said...

Kevin Follet's Pillars of the Earth is incredible, good choice. The sequel, World Without End, is equally enthralling.

Milah said...

I received a book in the mail yesterday, it's called Remembering Adelia, and I love it!

Kathleen Tracy said...

Yes, another great read for sure!

Hardin County Keepsakes said...

Hi Kathleen.I used to read all the time.
No time to read to much to do.Now I listen to books on tape,from our local library, while I sew, while I cook,while I paint.You get the idea.The best of both crafting and reading.
judy j


I love Elizabeth Berg and Gail Godwin too in fact I have two of Berg's books from the library right now. I never went to a public library until I was almost 30 years old. We didn't have one where I lived in a suburb of Indianapolis. Pretty sad but I have made up for it in the last 35 years LOL.

Julie-Ann said...

I've read most of the books on your list and enjoyed all of them. Pillars of the Earth took me a while!

I listen to books on CD in my car all of the time. And since I have started quilting, I turn them on instead of the TV. It is so lovely to hand bind my quilts while listening to a good book. Can't think of too many other sweet pleasures.

I, too, had to be reminded to go out and play instead of sitting in the house reading. One of my dear friends and I would trade books all of the time. Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belton - we had so much fun. I belonged to the library's Billy Book Worm Club every summer.

There is nothing like a good book!

Kathleen Tracy said...

Are any of you old enough to remember the Maud Hart Lovelace series--Betsy-Tacy?? My all time favorites when I was growing up. Actually read them up to high school. Should put those on the list to reread . . .

Ingrid said...

Makes me want to work just part-time or retire and just read, read, read!!! I'm always looking for recommendations for good books, and there are quite a few on your list that sound great.

Shasta said...

These do look like good reads. Please do let us know what you think of them after you've read them. The library is my second favorite place to be, after my own home.

Arti said...

I'm new to your blog and was reading older posts. I came across this one from Jan 2010. I was thrilled to see the memoir from Abigail Thomas--a book I had read some years ago whose title I had forgotten the title, though not the emotional story.
Recently, a friend's husband was critically injured in a boating accident, and she has become his 24/7 caregiver. She is so courageous that I knew that she would relate to Thomas's story. I wanted to get the book for her, but after extensive searches I couldn't find the title of that book. Thanks to your blog, I recognized the story and was able to order the book from Amazon. I am so very grateful for this serendipitous detour from my favorite topic, quilting. Your blog is a delightful place to visit--full of quilty inspiration and thought-provoking as well. I have to recommend my favorite dog story, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. It's wonderful!


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