Book Tube Spin- Part 1

I was reading Simon’s post today from Stuck in a Book and he introduced Rick McDonnell who presents on You Tube as Book Tube Spin. I went and had a look and it is a very easy challenge. You pick 20 books from your TBR shelf, list them and on 31 January Rick will announce a number and you have two months to read your book. Two months is quite a while so I thought I’d join. I am already devoting time to my TBR shelf so I thought I would put up four posts this week of five books each that I am choosing for my spin.

It is a way to share some of the lovely books on my shelf and remind myself they are there. I have had a good look and many of the books are Australian authors which I really want to read. Then a threw in a few others that are of interest but I don’t know much about. They were gifts or recommendations from other people or I simply loved the cover and it drew me in. So Part 1- Here we go.

Australian Fiction
  • 1. Flames by Robbie Arnott. This Tasmanian author has received quite a bit of publicity about his first book. From the blurb: A young man named Levi McAllister decides to build a coffin for his sister, Charlotte- who promptly runs for her life. A water rat swims upriver in quest of the cloud god. A fisherman hunts for tuna in partnership with a seal. a father takes form from fire.

I put off getting this book because the premise sounded so weird frankly but reviews have been positive and fun and I do need to read outside of what I normally pick. I’ll give this a try.

Russian Fiction

2. Alina Bronsky writer of The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine. When Rosa discovers that her 17 yr old daughter “stupid Sulfia” is pregnant by an unknown man she does everything to thwart the pregnance, employing a variety of folkloric home rememdies. Despite her best efforts the baby, Aminat, is born later at the Soviet Birthing Center.

This is a Russian tale of an “uproariously dysfunctional family that bind mother, daughter and grandmother into the fray.” It sounds fun and interesting and I love the cover.

Spanish

3. Nada by Carmen Laforet. I don’t remember how I came by this book. Eighteen year old Andrea moves to Barcelona to stay with relatives she has not seen in years while she pursues her dream of studying at university. Arriving in the dead of night she discovers not the independence she craves, bt a crumbling apartment and an eccentric collection of misfits whose psychological ruin and violent behaviour echoes that of the recent civil war.

Sounds an interesting Spanish tale.

Australian Indigenous

Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko. This Australian novel has been listed for many awards here and I have read quite a few reviews in posts online. The blurb states: Wise cracking Kerry Salter has spent a lifetime avoiding two things- her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying and she’s an inch away from the lockup so she heads south on a stolen Harley.

She plans to spend 24 hours, tops, over the border. She quickly discovers though, that Bundjalung country has a funny way of grabbing on to people. Old family wounds open as the Salters fight to stop the development of their beloved river. The unexpected arrival on the scene of a good looking dugai fella intent on loving her up only adds to more trouble- but then trouble is Kerry’s middle name.

Australian Fiction

Number 5 is Robbie Arnott’s second book The Rain Heron. I attended the launch of this book last year as one of Fuller’s book store events. Ren lives alone on the remote frontier of a country devastated by a coup. High on the forested slopes, she survives by hunting and trading- and forgetting. But when a young soldier comes to the mountains in search of a local myth, Ren is inexorably drawn into her impossible mission. This is their story. Bits of fantasy and imagination drew me into this plus the enthusiasm of the people attending the book launch.

Happy Times

Grandma Schavey’s Prune Cake

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my grandmother’s cook book I have. You can see that post here. It actually belonged to my maternal great grandmother whom I’ve never met. She passed it on to her daughter in law, my maternal grandmother. Somehow my paternal grandmother ended up writing a recipe or two in it and then my father’s sister (my Aunt Bea) gave the book to me. I have no idea of how it transferred between all of these women on both sides of the family but I am happy to have it.

In the back was a hand written recipe from my mother’s mother, my Grandma Schavey. (Schavey is a German name. She had Scandinavian blood in her as she was a Petersen but her husband was German.)

I have been curious about this recipe for some time. So I decided it is just too windy and rainy to go outdoors this week and I am tired of sitting still reading. Not in the mood for much else so I decided to make the prune cake.

I am not a baker (from scratch). Growing up in America most people just use mixes in a box. Also this recipe only has the ingredients listed and no directions. However I have watched a zillion episodes of the Great British Bake Off which I love and I thought I could figure out a cake. No temperatures are given for anything either so I guess I had my own Great Tasmanian Bake Off.

Note: should read baking SODA.

I cooked the prunes on the stove top in a little bit of water until they were really soft and falling apart. Use pitted prunes as you don’t want to be messing around with pits.

I put all the wet ingredients in one bowl and stirred them up well. Then I put all the dry ingredients in another bowl. I then got the mixer out and slowly added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients while mixing them all together. I greased the pans with Crisco which I get from USA Foods.com as I will never get used to baking paper but you can decide how you do that.

I baked it for 20 minutes in a fan forced oven at 170. I should probably have lowered the temperature a bit, maybe to 160 and taken longer but it did come out pretty good. One side of it was slightly darker on top than the other but I’m sure that is my fan oven. I will never get used to a fan forced oven but not much I can do about it.

The Final Product

I had Mr. Penguin taste it with his afternoon cup of coffee and he thought it was really good. However I could give him slop and he would tell me it was very good so I tasted it myself. I LOVED it. It has a. nice taste of prune and if you enjoy prunes you will like it. However I have no idea how I am going to go tomorrow after eating all of those prunes so I think I shall start out slowly with a smaller piece.

It would be lovely with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream with it, neither of which I have. So it will be a plain old prune cake for today.

Let me know if you try this but I would certainly recommend it and it really was easy as.

READY – SET – BAKE

A Cool Summer’s Day Christmas

Photo: Shutter Stock

Having grown up in the state of Michigan in the USA, I will never get used to Christmas in summer. We have lived here more than 30 years now and it still seems strange to not have a myriad of lights everywhere (as our summer days are long) and snow covered trees and bushes. However I cannot complain about our weather although summer heat has still not kicked off. 18 degrees C today (64F or thereabouts).

We have some lovely food in the fridge for a later dinner, a new kitchen instead of gifts and many books waiting to be read. Our cats have been chasing each other through the house. Ollie is running around the backyard looking through his fence crack for the neighbour’s cat, Stanley and old Molly is waiting for her heart and arthritis medication before her doggie breakfast.

Photo Source: tdls.com

I finished the Ann Cleeves book I mentioned previously and the Gifts of Reading also. I will now pass those on as they won’t need to live here anymore so they will be released into the wild.

I will start a new novel in the next day or two and I have a new book of essays I began today. I will mention that today. It is called In the Kitchen: Essays on food and life. Published 2020 by Daunt books it consists of 13 essays by a variety of authors. Here is the inside cover’s blurb:

Food can embody our personal histories as well as wider cultural histories. But what are the stories we tell ourselves about the kitchen, and how do we first come to it? How do the cookbooks we read influence us? Can cooking be a tool for connection in the kitchen and outside it?

I love this brightly coloured cover.

In these thirteen original essays, writers consider the subjects of cooking and eating and how they shape our lives, and the possibilities and limitations the kitchen poses. Rachel Roddy traces her life through the cookers she has known; Rebecca May Johnson considers the radical potential of finger food; Ruby Tandoh discovers other definitions of sweetness; Yemisi Aribisala remembers a love affair in which food failed as a language; and Julia Turshen considers food’s ties to a community.

In the Kitchen brings together thirteen contemporary writers who brilliantly capture their experiences in the kitchen and beyond.

I have read the first essay by the food writer Rachel Roddy who lives in Rome. She recalls the 20 cookers she has known throughout her life, where she was living, what she was doing and their idiosyncrasies. They varied in use from disconcerting gas leaks, collectible old Agas, bum warmers and overheated kitchens. It was a fun read of how life can be measured by our appliances in a kitchen, which I have never really thought of much. I have not lived with 20 cookers in my lifetime and I doubt I could remember many of the ones I did live with except to say they were all electric.

I am sure I will enjoy the rest of this book through my daily reading of these little gems of wisdom and history.

I can’t believe I have traded in my motorbike for a new stove. You just never know the direction life may take.

I will now leave you to enjoy the rest of your day and happy thoughts to each of you whether you have a large Christmas (I hope not too large) or a quiet, more melancholy one of which I think might be quite prevalent this year

As our relatives are all spread out between the USA and Canada, ours will be quiet but it will be contented with what is going on today and I must say I am really looking forward to January when I hope to be seeing Trump being dragged out of the white house on 20th. Put him on a horse and slap it on the rump and watch it run off (like in the cowboy movies of the 1950s I grew up on.) It is good to have things to look forward to.

May we all do things in 2021 that keep us healthy, make us happy and move us forward as humanity and keep our earth, flora and fauna happy too.

Hope you all get a book for Christmas.

Rainy day in Hobart

103063454_3290430977658015_7916167972300339911_o
7 Mile Beach- Hobart, Tasmania on a very grey day.

This will be short as I need to go get some groceries but when I went to start the car the battery was dead. I’ve most likely left the overhead light on again as the garage is so dark during the dark days and forgotten to turn it off. The RAC-T (Royal Auto Club of Tasmania) is on the way with the cables so I thought I’d write while I wait.

It’s been grey and rainy here for the past couple of days, today and will be again tomorrow.  So much rain and all the rivulets are running wild down Mt Wellington.  Two days ago I took Ollie out to Seven Mile Beach. It is about a 25 minute drive just east of Hobart out past the airport. It channels into the Derwent River that eventually goes out to the Tasman Sea.  It is a nice beach and very few people on it when it is very grey and dark. Our photo club was challenged to do solstice sunrise or sunset shots but with the heavy cloud cover and fog I decided on an afternoon photo shoot. Besides I had to get Ollie out as he was full of beans and we needed to get rid of a few of them. I have told our vet she is not allowed to ever operate on him as all his beans may fall out.  A bit of a run on this beautiful beach sorted out a few of them.

104100683_3290431214324658_9117398797912613855_o

Bookwise- I finally finished the 37th hour of selections of The Diary of Samuel Pepys. What a long haul it was but overall I enjoyed it very much but by the end I was truly tired of him. The way he treated women as if everyone of them was manufactured from Mattel and always thinking about his own work, his own days, his own pleasures. But I did enjoy the stories of London and hearing about the September fires in 1666 and the plague year the year before. People’s lives were so difficult and desperate and it made me happy I was here in Tassie during our own pandemic.

41057294._UY2115_SS2115_I have a couple of new books on the go but not sure I’ll stick with them. My mood changes from day to day. I’ve started Normal People by Sally Rooney. I’ve been hearing a lot of good about that book. My other book is called A Time of Birds by Helen Moat. This book is newly published also and is a tale of Irish woman, Helen and her older teenage son’s bike ride from England to Istanbul. She is a school teacher who suffers from the same depression her father had and she thinks this bike ride might give her a new perspective on life. She has an old clunky bike that some lycra clad bicyclists in the Netherlands had a real go at making fun of but her son is more modern. Her father spent his later years studying birds and she wants to continue that tradition on her trip across Europe. However she hasn’t mentioned any of them yet.

9781912235704
I do like this cover.

So far she talks a lot about her dad to the point of dwelling I’d say. Have you ever been around that person, maybe at work, who does nothing but talk about their friends you don’t know and that friend’s relatives or experiences and you still have no idea who they’re talking about but they just never stop?  We all talk about family members to our friends which is fine but there are some people who are more acquaintance who continually go on and on and on as it begins to wear a bit. I’m hoping as she gets into this trip she focuses on the present and not so much of the past but we’ll see.

I’ll let you know how I go with the books. In the meantime I’ve posted some photos of our day at the beach. Remember it is winter here.103551374_3290431614324618_4941826444125954385_o

Until next time.

Screenshot 5

Sharing Something Fun

I am part of a Facebook sketch group and something has cropped up that I really love and wanted to share with you.  I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler but I do admire people who do sketch out various things going on in their lives.

However what I came across a couple of days ago is something I could probably do. It’s Book Mapping. I have seen others who do this but these examples are just so much fun I thought I’d share. Julie Hawkins is the artist and reader and she has kindly given me permission to share her drawings here.  So thank you Julie.

Do any of you do anything like this?  If so I’d love to know.  Are there any blogs or fb pages or Instagram pages that reflect this mapping of books? If so and you know of them, please share as I’d love to follow.

2020-05-13 12.47.32

 

2020-05-13 12.48.03

 

2020-05-13 12.48.39

I’ll keep this post short and sweet for today. I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did. Ideas abound.

Dapper Penguin
What book would you love to map?

A New Idea for a Blog Post

_N3A8594

This social isolation gets to you once in awhile. Trying to think of things to entertain myself. Today I took Ollie out for a photo walk in the bush. As we walked through the trees I decided I needed some themes in my photography to keep my interest. I needed to look for things.  I saw a lot of old dead tree stumps with various degrees of deterioration and lots of insects so I thought I’d focus on those a bit. Then I thought I’d go home and discover what books relating to the word “tree” I had on my shelf.

There are several blog posts where people share what is on their shelf with others and I really enjoy those posts. Some of those books are read and some of them aren’t. So I had this big brainwave of combining my photography with my books.

Today is the first effort and I’m happy to share it here. Now I need to think of other themes I can combine all while social isolating. That should be more of a challenge than the trees have been. So…..

Here we go- five books and five photos

BOOKS:

Eucalyptus

  1.  Eucalyptus by Murray Bail as most of the trees around our house are that variety. The description from Good Reads states:

The gruff widower Holland has two possessions he cherishes above all others:
his sprawling property of eucalyptus trees and his ravishingly beautiful daughter, Ellen.
When Ellen turns nineteen Holland makes an announcement: she may marry only the man who can correctly name the species of each of the hundreds of gum trees on his property.

_N3A8690
The remains of a very old moth hang on this stump. Only the shredded wings remain

2.  Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Tree by Saki.  This is a little black Penguin from the 80 th birthday boxed set of the Little Black Classics.

Sake Cherry TreeIt is a most wonderful comfort to sit alone beneath a lamp, book spread before you, and commune with someone from the past whom you have never met…’

Moonlight, sake, spring blossom, idle moments, a woman’s hair – these exquisite reflections on life’s fleeting pleasures by a thirteenth-century Japanese monk are delicately attuned to nature and the senses.

_N3A8682
No social isolation for these ants. I have visited this tree before and it was just as busy. 

3.  Climbing The Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India by Madhur Jeffrey.

Mango TreeToday’s most highly regarded writer on Indian food gives us an enchanting memoir of her childhood in Delhi in an age and a society that has since disappeared.
Madhur (meaning “sweet as honey”) Jaffrey grew up in a large family compound where her grandfather often presided over dinners at which forty or more members of his extended family would savor together the wonderfully flavorful dishes that were forever imprinted on Madhur’s palate.

_N3A8649
I thought this tree looks like an American bison lying on it’s side. His head is on the right with horns on top and his nose into the ground. Do you see it? Or have I been socially isolated too long!

4. Tree- A Life Story by David Suzuki.

Tree SuzukiOnly God can make a tree,” wrote Joyce Kilmer in one of the most celebrated of poems. In Tree: A Life Story, authors David Suzuki and Wayne Grady extend that celebration in a “biography” of this extraordinary—and extraordinarily important—organism. A story that spans a millennium and includes a cast of millions but focuses on a single tree, a Douglas fir, Tree describes in poetic detail the organism’s modest origins that begin with a dramatic burst of millions of microscopic grains of pollen.

_N3A8637
A bit of minimalism.

5. My Sweet Orange Tree by José Mauro de Vasconcelos.

my-sweet-orange-tree

Five-year-old Zezé lives in Rio de Janeiro, in a forgotten slump in great poverty. But Zezé is not alone. In this world of scolding and beating, he has discovered a magical universe where he spends most of his time: the realm of imagination. There rules a sweet orange tree called Minguinho, and he is a tree like no other: he can talk.

_N3A8597
Little Mr OlliePants. Are we done with this yet?

 

Photo Penguin1
Stay safe everyone.

 

A Bit of a Catch Up

victory-in-the-kitchenI’m finding the current situation in the world very weird. I’m not going to say anything more about this virus thing as I am well and truly tired of hearing about it. We are doing everything right though. Like everyone else we are trying to find things to do around the house and that isn’t too hard. For a start I have a lot of books I can read. I also have a 7 month old puppy to spend time with. So each day I ask myself- “will it be a quiet book and a cup of coffee?” or “will it be a crazy , high energy puppy to occupy my time?”

 

I have been reading a lot of photography magazines and watching you tube videos on the subject. So not reading a lot of novels. However I did start this one which I am enjoying so far at a fairly slow pace. It’s called Victory in the Kitchen: The Life of  Churchill’s Cook by Annie Gray. The blurb on the cover states, ” This is a book about Georgina Landmark. It’s about her life, her times and some of her employers, including Winston and Clementine Churchill. It’s about working class life, and women’s work and expectations, and it’s about domestic service at the highest level. It’s about British food and French influence, and the impact of war on the way we ate. Above all else, though, it’s the story of a woman who loved, loved and cooked her way through much of 20th century Britain, and, while her life is made more resonant by her relationship to her last employers, it remains Georgina’s story.

I might also add I love the cover of this book.

Other activities: 

90419399_3070627949638320_5357850227199967232_oWe have three cats and for entertainment they are quite hard on their cat tree. We replace the one in the house every few years by moving the old one outside to their enclosure and adding a new one to the living room. I ordered one online and it arrived in a flat pack package and I had to put it together. Once I sorted all the pieces and made sure everything was there I got it together this morning.  I had to spray vinegar water around it to keep little Ollie from grabbing pieces and running through the house with them. I often spray a bit of vinegar water on things I don’t want him to chew, such as the edges of furniture or power cords.  It works well as he hates the smell.

 

Our cats took one look at this tree, backed up and went, “Whoa! Check this out!!”  So far, we are getting gentle sniffing at it but not daring yet to venture onto it. I’m sure it won’t be long before they explore it properly,

Photography and bush walks with Ollie:

89828882_3055537494480699_5550781738684252160_oWe have a reserve behind our house that has trails that eventually lead to the pinnacle of Mt, Wellington.  Ollie and I took the camera out one beautiful autumn day and took some photos.  He sniffs out wallaby poo and I look for things to photograph. I thought I’d do a bit of macro work. These are the photos.

Well that pretty much sums up the week. I won’t go on too much about the cancellation of all of my activities I generally participate in. The Book group and Shakespeare group at Fuller’s book store have stopped though a Shakespeare activities is coming up soon online dealing with the sonnets. That should be fun.

The Play reading, Motorbike group rides and social events, the sketch groups at the 90047539_3055537341147381_6826748498633818112_omuseum and all photography events have been cancelled as well. Though the sketch group has a fb page and our photo club currently has a bingo game going on with our fb page.

In summary, it really is a strange time and I’m finding it quite interesting to see the progression of the government rules coming out daily. Tasmania is currently locked now. You can leave but you can’t enter without going into 2 weeks isolation though they are still working on how they monitor the caravans coming in on the ferries from interstate and driving around everywhere.  Governments are great at issuing orders before they work out how they are to be implemented and monitored.

90094922_3055537697814012_1509713474496757760_oAnd if I do get really bored there is Netflix though I don’t want to dive too deep into that entertaining activity.  Remember, I have all these books

I hope all of you out there are doing well and coping and staying well.  It is distressing to see what is happening with people losing jobs, getting sick and dying in large numbers around the world. But it is careful we balance these things out in our mind to prevent getting too depressed about it all. I appreciate all my blogger friends at this time and sometimes I don’t have time to comment on all the blogs I read, I do read most of them, most of the time. I appreciate seeing what others are doing during these weird times.

 

 

90327695_3055537661147349_5516522863328231424_n
He was so exhausted after his bush walk. Check out the spots on the belly. I love puppy bellies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

masked penguin
Stay Well.

A Bit of Fluff on a Rainy Day

Life According to Literature Tag Meme

First off I’d like to thank the weather gods for sending us rain overnight. It’s not all we rainneed but it sure sounded lovely on the roof this morning. I hear it’s raining over the fires as well but that’s a mixed bag. Lightning can start more fires, but cooler conditions and rain can help extinguish the fires that are still going.

It’s been a silly old day today.  I took Ollie for a walk today and of course he got into the burrs. Burrs and a rough coated Jack Russell are not at all compatible. Especially when one has very short legs and the burrs get on the puppy tummy as well. Trying to comb anything out of a five month old puppy is a challenge but we finally got through it.

outbackThen I thought, “Now what can I do to entertain myself when Claire’s meme came through from her blog. Several of my blogger friends have participated in this little exercise so I thought I’d have a go. However, one is supposed to use the names of books read in 2019. I didn’t keep track of what I read in 2019. As I am focusing this year on the books currently unread on my shelves I decided to use those TBR books instead. So here goes. I revised the rules for my page.

THE RULES: Using only books you have not read on your shelves, answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. Let me know below, if you’ve joined in too

Describe yourself:

How do you feel?    Happy Returns by CS Forester

Describe where you currently live:    In Tasmania by Nicholas Shakespeare

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:    Outback and Beyond by Cynthia Nolan

Your favourite form of transportation:    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by   Rob Pirsig

dogYour best friend is:    The Literary Dog by William E. Maloney

You and your friends are:    Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

What’s the weather like:    Rain-Four Walks in English Weather by Melissa Harrison

You fear:    The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

What is the best advice you have to give?    Get an:   Accommodating Spouse by Elizabeth Jolley

Thought for the day:    Browse The World in Bookshops by Henry Hitchings

spouseHow would I like to die?    Central Mischief by Elizabeth Jolley

My soul’s present condition:    Autumnal Tints by Henry David Thoreau

 

So there we have it… Until next time.

Yellow Casual Penguin
I’m finally getting some wear out of this rain coat.

 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

For people who read a lot they will probably know this was an important short story in

Screenshot 3
From Wikipedia

American Literature.  It’s first inception was not a film though two films have been made of this story, neither kept to the plot.

It was written by the wonderful author James Thurber.  I love his tales. I have read him off and on for years and he had such a creative, humorous imagination. He was born in 1894, the same year my maternal grandparents were born though they were a few months older than him. He was a cartoonist, humorist, journalist, playwright, children’s book author and wit. He was best known for short stories and cartoons published in the New Yorker. (Wikipedia).

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was first published in The New Yorker magazine March 18, 1939. It is a story about a man who day dreamed his life away.  How often do we do that? I was a great day dreamer especially as I sat in school classes and it never really disappeared much into adulthood.

The story begins in Connecticut with Walter driving his wife into the city to do the shopping and have her hair done. Walter doesn’t pay much attention to the real world, but instead lives in a dreamlike state of heroic antics.

As they drive into town his wife tells him to quit driving so quickly. He goes into his imagination and sees himself as a pilot of a US Navy flying boat in a storm. There is a brief description of this episode of heroism. As they drive past a hospital he suddenly turns into a wonderful surgeon performing the trickiest of operations to save the life of his patient.

Screenshot 2Once past the hospital something else catches his imagination and he becomes a deadly assassin testifying in a courtroom. Soon afterwards he is a Royal Air Force pilot volunteering for a secret suicide mission to bomb an ammunition dumb.

Once the trip into town is complete he sees him self standing against a wall facing a firing squad. Each imaginative event is inspired by some detail of his hum drum life.

James Thurber’s stories and cartoons often displayed meek mannered men dominated by overweight, domineering wives. It seems to be a joke repeated often over time, especially in cartoons.

I remember the discussions of the story as far back as high school as his short stories, this one as well as The Catbird Seat were often taught in high school English classes. I wonder if they still are. I loved him and his stories. Screenshot 4

This story begins the exploration of the book, Funny Ha Ha, I talked about in a previous post.

 

 

Screenshot 1

Looking Forward to 2020- Part 2

ScreenshotIt’s to be 40 degrees C (104 F) in Hobart today. The firefighters are on high alert as a large storm is expected to come through tonight and they are worried about lightning strikes starting fires. The last time Hobart hit 40 degrees C on this date was 1897. Needless to say we are sequestered in the house for the day.

It gives me a chance to finalise my challenges for next year. I am adding two other types of reading in order to diversify the books a bit. I got a book voucher for my November birthday and with it I purchased a very thick book of comical short stories by well known authors. It is called Funny Ha Ha. Authors include the likes of James Thurber, Saki, Spike Milligan, Mark Twain, Joyce Carol Oates and Dorothy Parker to name a few. There are 80 stories in all, of a few pages each.  I decided I will randomly pick one story each Monday morning and have programmed that into my phone calendar so I will get a reminder each week.

As New Year’s Day is this Wednesday, I decided to randomly pick a story today and was pleased when my random generator app chose The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber. I have read this story before, once assigned in high school and once later on. I also saw the film but didn’t get as much out of that as I did the story. I look Screenshot 5forward to reading it again.

The description of Funny Ha Ha states:

“Funny Ha Ha is the definitive collection of comic short stories. From Anton Chekhov to Ali Smith from P.G. Woodhouse to Nora Ephron, the greatest writers are those who know how to laugh. Here, award winning comedian and broadcaster Paul Merton brings together his favourite funny stories of all time. Whether it’s the silly, surreal, slapstick or satirical that makes you smile there’s a story here to tickle every funny bone. From prize-winners and literary giants, to stand up comedians and the rising stars of funny literature, this brilliant anthology is guaranteed to cheer your day. “

My second challenge is to continue with more of the books from 1001 Children’s Books You Should Read Before You Die. I started it before but it got waylaid. I’m hoping to rejuvenate that project. The only conditions I am assigning this project are I will use the Random Generator app to pick from the 900+ pages of the book and the books must come from the library.  I had a quick library search and they do have many of them. However some books are not available. There are quite a few copies that are eBooks I can download and others I need to put a hold on them.  I am choosing three books at a time and locating them in the library. I will read them once they become available or I get into town to pick them up.  Most won’t take very long to read.  I’ve not read children’s books much since I stopped working in the Education department. I like to keep up on children’s books and some young adult books.  It keeps me in the loop of what goes on with the younger generations though many of these books were classics when I was young.

Screenshot 3I also have some diaries I will try to keep up. They begin on 1 January and I will try to start my day off with the passage of the day. They are books I’ve wanted to read for awhile and if I take a year to read them I might be able to keep up. No promises on this one.

They are:

  1. The Diary of Samuel Pepys (those entries are a bit longer) Everyman’s Library, introduced by Kate Loveman
  2. A Traveller’s Year: 365 Days of Travel Writing in Diaries, Journals and Letters, compiled by Travis Elborough & Nick Rennison
  3. New York Diaries:  1609 to 2009, Edited by TeresaScreenshot 4 Carpenter.
  4. Dear Los Angeles: The City in diaries and Letters 1542 – 2018, Edited by David Kipen

Books three and four are really interesting. The editors have compiled all the diaries and letters they could find over time, in these locations, and organised the entries from centuries ago;  to current day by day of the year beginning with 1 January. So an entry might read: 1 January 1723 and the next paragraph could be 1 January 1802, and so forth. It sounds disjointed but I’ve had a read of these books here and there and they are really quite fun. Of course big events in these two cities are covered but there are also very minor characters who kept diaries and one gets a sense of what daily life’s like at the particular date.

Now I know, come 1 January, I love to take a big bite out of the book world and I am quite enthused now. But I have decided that 2020 is the year I drop way back on social media, except for my photography work and instead of wasting time looking at FB, Instagram and You Tube, I’m going to immerse myself in the books I have been collecting for decades and then moving them on.  Wish me luck.  (I know, I have an inflated sense of self and a very good sense of humour.) Screenshot 8