Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Sunday Salon: Bookish Chatter

Welcome to The Sunday Salon. I first came across this community through Wendy at Caribousmom and thought it was a fun idea. What better way to spend a Sunday than looking over my week in reading, whether I review the week before, share my thoughts on what I am reading now, note great finds, or predict the future (in my reading, anyway).

Today is a perfect day for reading. I can hear the rain falling outside, the sky is gray and the air clean. I am warm and toasty inside and will soon be settling in again with my book for a bit of quality reading time, something that I can never get enough of.

It never fails that by the end of the week, I feel a little disappointed that I did not get in as much reading time as I like. This past week was no different. I should not feel that way though since I actually found myself cracking open Murzban F. Shroff's Breathless in Bombay at work on Wednesday and Thursday as the mornings and afternoons dragged on. Business was exceptionally slow. Not that I am complaining, or at least not much. I never begrudge the opportunity to read, but I do find myself feeling guilty that I am being paid for doing something other than work. Friday the office was back to normal, not even time for a lunch break much less peeking inside my book. I was relieved when the work day ended, looking forward to an evening of reading, which as it turned out, was not to be.

I am a one book at a time woman. Once I begin a book, I tend to be carried away with what I am reading and have no interest in stepping into another book until the first is finished. It is just the way I am. Every once in awhile, when I tackle a longer book or certain nonfiction books, I break out of my usual habit and will attempt multiple books at once. Never more more two. Since I decided to embark on a Russian literature adventure the beginning of this year, reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, I decided to break my usual routine and juggle three books at once. Why three, I am not sure. It just seemed like the thing to do in the moment. War and Peace and Richard Montanari's The Skin Gods, both hardbound books, seem better left at home, while the slim trade paperback copy of short stories by Murzban F. Shroff was more fitting for traveling to work and back.

It has worked out well. Sort of. Reading a short story here at the office has proven to be perfect. It was not quite as distracting as trying to read a full length novel,with all the interruptions that were bound to take place. It was also nice to be able to finish a full story in the span of half an hour, my lunch break, rather than worry about going over time because I had to find a good stopping place. It helped too that I am quite enjoying Murzban F. Shroff's stories. He is a good writer, painting Bombay in all sorts of colors, capturing the mood and tone of the diverse city and its people.

I have always found I sleep better if I can read a little before dozing off. Because my eyelids were already beginning to struggle to stay open by the time I was heading off to bed the past few days, I decided War and Peace might be a little too ambitious. And so I settled in with The Skin Gods, a crime novel about a movie loving serial killer. That proved to be the best choice as it immediately woke me up enough to fit in a couple or more chapters before I would finally be ready to call it a night. Richard Montanari does a great job at setting the stage for a thrilling and intriguing novel. It's easy to lose myself in his writing and grow attached to his protagonists.

War and Peace, my big winter project, sat on the table next to the cat bed (which the dog is curled up in) by my home computer all week. I did not want to lug it to work with me and it did not seem appropriate to try and read it when I was half asleep at night. It was not until this weekend that I finally was able to open to the first page. Its moment had finally come. I am not too far along in it, but already I have been swept up in Tolstoy's tale.

The weekends are the most difficult for reading multiple books at once, I must say. Which do I pick up? This morning, I am dying to get back to Byrne and Balzano to see how their investigation is coming along and if the killer will strike again, and yet a short story might be just the thing before Anjin, who had a late night raiding with his guild, wakes up. I would not mind spending a little time in Bombay to start the day. Oh, but War and Peace, is calling to me as well. Anna Pavlovna is saying goodbye to her guests. All sound good, I wish I had three heads, so that I could read all three at once. That might actually come in handy at work too . . .

I had hoped to be finished with one or two books by now. Normally I would be. Reading multiple books, I guess, will draw out my reading in the long run. I am not sure I will make a habit of reading so many at once. I am always amazed when I see people are reading five or more all at one time.

On the movie front, Atonement finally opened up here in town, and I dragged Anjin to the theater to see it. The theater was packed, mostly an older crowd. It was a beautiful movie and reminded me of what it was about the book I loved so much, and also of what I did not like (which was not much, fortunately).

Recent additions to my TBR Collection:
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson - All this talk about the movie and the story, I finally caved in and decided I might want to read the book.
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon - Okay, so not really my book. It is my husband's recent addition to our house and one I would like to read. Therefore, it counts as part of my TBR collection.
Matrimony by Joshua Henkin - Much to my glee, this arrived in Friday's mail and what should I find inside, but a note from the author himself! I won a copy of this book through a contest run by Dewey at The Hidden Side of a Leaf. Many thanks to both Dewey and Josh!

Mention of David Simon reminded me. Tonight is the first episode of the final season of The Wire on HBO, only the best police drama ever written. This will be the first time Anjin and I watch the show live, having watched all four of the previous seasons on DVD.

I hope you all have a wonderful week and happy reading!

28 comments:

  1. Great Sunday Salon!

    I'll be putting up a post on I Am Legend the movie probably next Wed or Thursday. I wasn't that impressed by it though.

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  2. I look forward to reading your post, Jen. I will probably catch the movie when it's out on DVD. Maybe after I've had a chance to read the story it's based on. I've heard mixed reviews about the movie--some great, some not so great. Most people really liked the book though. :-)

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  3. I normally read better with one book at a time, too. But lately finding myself reading two books at same time. Could be for books discussion or reading together. And I also find myself sleep better if I read before dozing too. Without any reading, it'll be hard for me to fall asleep :)

    I hope you have a good weekend :)

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  4. I am a one book at a time woman as well. Except for those rare occasions when I sometimes have a non-fic and fic book going at the same time.

    I did my first Sunday Salon post today as well!

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  5. I really enjoyed reading this post :)

    I am a book at a time person as well, but sometimes I do manage to handle two or three. I find that it works better if one's a novel and the other a short story collection too.

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  6. I'm like you, Wendy - one book at a time for me (which is why I still haven't started reading War and Peace!). Sounds like you found a good mix though - I'm looking forward to your review on the Serial Killer book ... sounds like something I might like to read sometime.

    Glad to see you joined the Sunday Salon - I find myself really looking forward to this day of the week...to just simply read and share what I'm thinking about books; and reading other's posts which are always so good :)

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  7. Julia - I think reading before bed clears the mind of real life thoughts and allows us to relax more. That's what I tell myself anyway. :-)

    Alisia - Exactly! One nonfiction book and a fiction book seem to be a good combination if you are doubling up on books.

    I am glad you decided to join in on the Sunday Salon too!

    Nymeth - Thank you! I had never really thought about juggling a full length novel and a short story book at the same time, but it's working out really well.

    Wendy - I am glad to hear that you haven't yet started War and Peace! I was afraid I was the last one to start on it.

    I think the Sunday Salon posts will be fun. I usually devote my Sundays to reading as it is, and this sounded perfect. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I was reading some of the other blogger's posts and was very impressed.

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  8. The problem w/ reading just War & Peace is that it's not exactly portable read-in-line book.

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  9. I like your Sunday Salon! I don't like to read more than one book at a time either, it's like watching two movies at the same time. Hope War and Peace is going well for you!

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  10. I enjoyed reading this post, Wendy! I'm definitely looking forward to more of your 'Sunday Salon'. ;)

    I don't really mind reading more than one book at a time, but no more than two though. It helps a little to catch up on my reading...

    Mentioning of War and Peace, I just bought a copy over the weekend. It is such a thick volume that my husband raised his eyebrows when he saw me paying at the counter, haha!

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  11. Welcome to the Sunday Salon, it's nice to see you here! I am also a one-book-at-a-time person. I admire you for trying something new, and for taking on War and Peace. It was getting lots of buzz on blogs and Yahoo groups, but I just couldn't bring myself to tackle it ...

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  12. It's a perfect day for long, cozy reading session here, too! Rain and snow mixed, blah.

    Sunday Salon is one of my favorite things, but since I do my Sunday Book Coveting, it's sort of too much blogging in one day for me, normally. Especially since I'm a procrastinator who usually has a week's worth of laundry to do on Sundays!

    Sometimes I think I should make my blog into just daily chattiness about anything book related, and give up on the actual reviews. I put them off so much that I must not really like doing them. And I love writing the chatting Sunday Salon posts about just any old bookish thinng. But I think reviews are mostly what people like to read.

    So happy your book arrived! It's a really good book, too. I was so hoping it'd make the top 10 New York Times Notables list, but it only made the top 100 list.

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  13. And I meant to add there, I don't know the author or anything. He just contacted me after my review of his book and said hey, how would you like to give away some of my books? I think that's very generous, and it's smart to reach out to your readers that way.

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  14. Carrie - Very true! And since mine's the new hardback translation, it is especially not lug-around friendly.

    Jaimie - I can't imagine watching two movies at once. And yet, we kind of do that with TV shows. At least I do. Heroes and Lost for example. I had never thought of it that way before . . .

    Melody - War and Peace is a rather thick book. :-) I hope you will like it, Melody! My husband got me my copy for Christmas.

    Laura - I'll try this multiple book thing for a little while and see how it goes. At least until I finish War and Peace. :-)

    Dewey - I love the rain, although I do hope it dries out fast so we can get the plumber out here. He will have to go up on the roof, which means it has to be dry. I'm not sure how much longer I want to go without getting our plumbing problems taken care of. Ugh. I'm sure you really wanted to know all that. Haha

    I love book chatter, but I'm afraid I'd run out of things to say. :-S

    I think it's wonderful when authors reach out to readers, and very generous of Josh to offer his books as prizes. You write such good reviews that it's no wonder you drew his attention. :-)

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  15. I admire the ability to read more than one book at a time. I have tried to juggle several, but it has been an abject failure. I remain a literary serial monogamist.

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  16. Hi Wendy! Love reading this post. I'm also a one book person but unless I'm joint-reading with friends like Melody and Julia, I'll stick to one. Just so I have something to read while in 'transition'. LOL.

    War and Peace has been sitting around for some time in my TBR. I'm tackling Anna Karenina first. ;)

    Happy reading!

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  17. I've never been good at reading more then 1 book at a time. Sometimes if I finish one & then start another similar book I will get those all combined together as well. I usually read one book & carry in my purse plus I will read a magazine. That way I get through my pile of books & mags :)

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  18. Wendy, I enjoyed this post a lot. I've never been able to juggle books either, until I discovered audio books. Now I can "read" a book while I "audio read" another. Yet, this week I found myself listening to and reading two books that were way too similar, and I had to change one of them for a different genre, because I was confusing characters.

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  19. What a great idea! I signed up as well. I'm not a multi-book person either, although sometimes this accidentally happens. I have never read War and Peace but always wanted to just to see what it's like. I envy you the rain while reading, it's not rainy season here in Florida for months now.

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  20. I'm a multiple-book reader, but want to cut that back to 2-3 books at a time, instead of 6-7. Often it's a non-fiction, YA/children's book, big fiction boook, plus a book for the bathroom, the car, my handbag, you get the picture. Hard to keep track of!
    I've heard good things about the Matrimony book, lucky you.

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  21. Frumiousb - Thank you so much for stopping by! I admire people that are able to do that so easily too. I try, but I tend to fall back into my old habits in the end.

    Alice - That's pretty much what I'm doing with War and Peace. It's become a joint effort, hence why I'm taking it slowly. That and because it isn't the fastest book to read--at least not for me. LOL

    I wanted to start with Anna Karenina first too--it's a good place to start, I think!

    Ginny - Thank you for visiting! You have a great idea there-reading a book and a magazine. I get so behind in my magazine reading . . . That might be a good solution for me as well. Thanks for the tip!

    Karina - Thanks! If I listened to audio books, I probably would have a paper book going along side the audio. It makes sense, especially considering what limited situations would be conducive for listening to audio books in my case.

    Erin - Oh, I'm glad you are joining in! It'll be fun to see familiar bloggers as well as meet new ones. :-)

    Did you get any of the snow flurries that I heard about on the news the other day?

    Lazy Cow - My hats off to you for being able to read multiple books at once. I can see how too many going at once could be overwhelming though. Good luck with cutting back!

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  22. Reading three books does help the brain pan. One for travel, one before bed and one for the reading chair. Each requires a certain state of mind and context. There are certain books (fantasy) that will read straight on its own but rarely...

    That being said, I still purchase purses based on how many novels I can fit in it... so...

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  23. What a beautiful post you've written. I never used to read more than 1 book at a time, but in the last year it's become a habit of mine. Particularly combining a NF read with one or multiple fiction reads. I went to see Atonement yesterday and enjoyed it very, very much, though was very sad knowing what was to come.

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  24. What a fun idea with the Sunday Salon! I loved reading what you wrote. I am the same way with reading before bed. It helps me to relax and sleep better. If I have a day that I don't get a chance to fit at least a bit of reading in, I am much crankier than if I get to read, lol.
    War and Peace! Wow - I have not even glanced through that one. Perhaps I shall check into it though. I know it is one of those literary materpieces, just have never looked into it much.
    I do so much better reading one book at a time. I love to be able to sink into the storyline and the characters. I am not really a fan of short stories and I think the reason for that is because I don't feel as though I have enough time to get to know the characters and get a true feel for the story. I haven't tried to read one for quite a while, so maybe I can make that one of my goals for the new year.

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  25. I enjoyed your Sunday Salon Wendy. I'm doing the same thing with War and Peace. I can't lug it to work so I read it at home in the evenings and take another book to work.

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  26. Nessie - It's so good to see you back! I tend to drag my one book wherever I go (hence having a big purse to hold a hardback if it's not War and Peace), I admit. I really do prefer sticking to one book. Until I finish War and Peace though, I imagine I'll be juggling at least two. :-)

    Tara - Thank you! I think I'm going to enjoy these Sunday Salon's although I can't promise they will always be quite so interesting.

    April - It was fun to write. I'm really looking forward to making this a habit.

    I'm the same way--cranky if I don't read before bedtime. Reading before bed definitely helps me relax and sleep better.

    I hadn't really planned on reading War and Peace. Ever. I loved Anna Karenina but figured that was enough Tolstoy for me. But then I saw this particular translation in the store and started reconsidering. When I found the book under the Christmas tree, I figured it was meant to be. :-)

    I'm right there with you when it comes to short stories. I'm trying to stretch myself a little this year by being a part of the short story challenge. I've been lucky so far with the anthology I'm reading. The short stories are really good. In the past I've too often been left wanting when it comes to reading short stories. I want more story and more of the characters. Maybe I'm growing used to them . . . :-)

    Susan - Thank you. I can just imagine lugging War and Peace to work, pulling it out and reading it. My coworkers already raise eyebrows at some of what I read. I wonder what they'd think of War and Peace. :-)

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  27. Whew, I certainly wouldn't feel bad about tackling War and Peace while reading another book on the side. Over the summer I started reading more than one book at a time(I learned how to juggle in grad school), and I found it nice to be able to give myself a little break if I needed one--particularly if I was reading a slower non-fiction book or such. Since starting the new job, I struggle to find time for just one book, but sometimes I miss having another option open.

    I read during my lunch break as well--I've never thought about using that time for short stories! Great idea.

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  28. Trish - I think War and Peace calls for multiple book reading. Haha My only problem is that I'm reading the other books and not picking up War and Peace as often as I should be. I hope to change that this weekend.

    I imagine working full-time like I do plays a part in my preference for one book at a time. I have no problem multitasking, but like I've said, when I'm reading, I tend to get so involved with whatever book I'm reading that I don't have any interest in picking up another one. If I did, I would probably, but I rarely want to.

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