Saturday, May 09, 2015

I Am Sale-ing, I Am Sale-ing

Ah, library sales! I have missed them, but I had quite forgotten that strange mix of feelings when I see a library book that has been discontinued:

Why, there's ___________! Oh, I've been looking for it for such a long time! Why are they throwing it out of their collection? How DARE they? But wait. That means that I can take ____________ home not just for two weeks, but forever!

Here are some of my recent finds:

1. The Life of Irene Nemirovsky - Olivier Philipponnat and Patrick Lienhardt.  Nemirovsky was the author of Suite Francaise, who died at the hands of the Nazis. Her daughters smuggled that manuscript and others out of occupied France. One dollar.

2. Drama - John Lithgow. Lithgow got my attention more than 30 years ago when he played Roberta Muldoon in The World According to Garp. I also loved him in Terms of Endearment as Debra Winger's shy Iowan lover. I'm really looking forward to his memoir. One dollar.

3. The Reader's Encyclopedia c. 1970. - Stephen Benet. I love The Reader's Encyclopedia, Especially the older editions. Not only do they define all things literary, there are capsule descriptions of novels and novelists who were popular at the time but have now fallen into obscurity. These delectable tidbits swell my wish lists. One dollar is not too much to pay for a book that contains so much treasure and is also sturdy enough to serve as a doorstop or prop open a window in an emergency.

4. The Late George Apley - John Marquand.  BIG SCORE, as this is the Pulitzer fiction (then called Pulitzer novel) winner from 1938. Even better, it's a hardcover copy! One dollar!!!

5. Alice Adams - Booth Tarkington. Another big score, Pulitzer nocvel winner in 1921 or '22.  I've been looking for Alice for years. Fifty cents!

Sunday, May 03, 2015

A Game of Thrones: Finished!

I did it. I finally finished A Game of Thrones. Wow finish.

Now I have to decide whether to go on with the other books in the saga. I think I'll have to largely because of Daenerys Targaryen.

The decision to go on doesn't have to be made today, but winter is coming.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Bookworm Transitions

One month home, and it's gone by in a blur. Shortly after my last post, Mom and I went to Tulsa to visit The Spawn, and she fell ill. Scary stuff. Somehow, we got her into the car and back here. Her doctor took one look at her and said, "Hospital." One week in the hospital has now turned into 2 or 3 weeks of physical and occupational therapy in a nursing home. Looks like I showed up in the U.S. at just the right time.

The second biggest event in this first month back is that I got a job. Next fall, I'll be teaching three ESL classes at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, about thirty miles away. I'm stunned and relieved that this part of transitioning has been sorted so quickly and easily. In fact, I was so stunned that it didn't even occur to me until this morning that a new job on a college campus equals a new library for Bybee to explore. I also got a small job tutoring a woman who used to be a junior high teacher in Mexico. We meet at Boonslick, the county library.

Speaking of libraries, I have finally gotten the Bybeeary unpacked and organized:

Nonfiction on the left, fiction on the right

Pulitzer fiction winners

As you can imagine, reading has taken a back seat. No, that's not right. Reading isn't even in the car. If anything, it's clinging to the back bumper.

This seems like a running joke, but I'm still reading A Game of Thrones.  I'm also reading Without You, There is No Us by Suki Kim and Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty by Diane Keaton.

Book buying: I picked up a copy of the newest Pultizer fiction winner, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and I couldn't resist a hardcover copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Dewey's Readathon: I missed it, as I suspected I might, but it never dawned on me that I would MISS IT miss it as in not even being aware that it was going on until I saw some posts on social media. I hope that part of my life isn't truly gone. Let's see what October brings.

Read Life and Real Life seem poles apart, but I'm slowly finding my way back. Today, I have errands to run and a meeting with my new boss, but first, I want to stop in here for my library fix.

My beautiful hometown library in Sedalia

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Finding My Feet

I have been in the United States for two weeks and fourteen hours. There's still a bit of an unreal quality to being here. I feel happy, but unsettled. The days pass in a whirl. My watch is still set on Korean time. Last night, as I went to sleep, I mentally walked from my old apartment to the Beomnaegol subway stop then back the other way. I tested myself to see if I had forgotten any landmarks. So far, so good. This morning at breakfast, I was talking to my mother and referred to Busan as "home". Ooops.

Read Life has definitely taken a back seat to Real Life. At the present, I'm still bashing my way through A Game of Thrones. My inner Bonnethead and Nerd Girl are both enthralled with Pioneer Girl.  All those footnotes! Squeeeeee! I'm also reading a memoir by Ingeborg Day called Ghost Waltz in which she explores the elephant in the room as she was growing up: Her father was a Nazi police officer. It's well-written, haunting, disturbing. I've only finished one book since I arrived back: Unworthy by Anneli Rufus. It's part memoir, part self-help about the self-loathing that lurks in so many of us. What led me to read it was research. I'm working on my next novel and that is my main character's chief characteristic, so I needed to understand that more clearly.

And what of the Bybeeary? It's sitting in several boxes in the living room, half-unpacked. All the boxes arrived safely.

My mom is telling everyone we meet that I wrote a book. Last night, she was strong-arming a relative into buying a copy of Even if the Sky Falls Down:

Mom: Have you got Susan's book on your Kindle yet?

Relative: Book?

Mom: Yeah, she wrote a book. You can read it on your Kindle or on the computer.

Relative: What kind of book is it?

Mom: It's about Korea.

Relative: Is it about your experiences there?

Me: Uh, it's a novel. Mom, quit pressuring Carol!

Mom: Tell her the title.

Me: Even if the Sky Falls Down. I can't believe you're strong-arming people.

Relative: What, are there copies piled up in your garage, Judy?

Mom: It's not a real book. It's on the computer. [A close friend] read the whole thing, and she said it's good enough to be a movie.

Me: I don't....she's really nice.

Relative:  Yes, she is. Even if the Sky Falls Down?  Okay, I'll look for it.

I don't know whether to laugh, cry, cringe or hire my mom as my publicist.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Books In the Cloud(s)

I'm flying away from Korea in about 20 minutes. Here are the books that are in my bag to enjoy on the plane:

1. Kindle (lots of books to choose from)

2. Brooklyn Follies - Paul Auster. Thanks to Paul Cunningham for this going-away gift!

3. Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin. I'm still on page 500. Maybe I'll finish it during the flight.

That's it. Time to fly.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Even If the Sky Falls Down Book Giveaway WINNER

Sorry I'm late posting this. The winner of my e-book giveaway is Kayla Stratton.

Congratulations, Kayla! A copy of Even If the Sky Falls Down will be sent to you soon.

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway or left a nice comment about having already purchased the book. That means so much to me; you can't imagine.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Jude the Obscure

I'm SO glad that I read this novel! It's not Middlemarch, but it's right up there in my affections. But why? Why did Thomas Hardy stop writing novels after Jude? He'd finally hit his stride. He lived another 30 years. I mourn to think of all the great novels stoppered up inside him. Sadly, I know why he quit and went to poetry. Couldn't he have just blown cigar smoke in his critics' faces and told them to shove it?

I'm trying to pull myself together enough to write about this novel. Sue Bridehead was hard work. My friend Mike commented that she was the original Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I understood her impulse to question everything and go with her gut, but after a while I wanted to shake her. It was a relief when she was out of the novel for a bit and Arabella would come clomping back in.

 And poor Jude! It's interesting that Hardy made him a stonemason, for he was always butting his head against stone walls, especially the academic ones that he longed to pass through. Even though he couldn't have what he wanted, he was continually willing to make the necessary adjustments to go on. Jude the Obscure reminded me of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, with doors endlessly slamming shut. Heartbreaking. Depressing. I was a wreck; I love this book so much. Why did I think I didn't like Hardy? Now I have to go back and read all his novels. Where should I begin?

I started out reading Jude on my Kindle, but switched to listening sometime after Sue ran away from the teachers' college. The audiobook is on YouTube and it's wonderful. It's even better than Hugh Laurie's brilliant reading of Great Expectations. I wish I knew who the reader is; his voice is gorgeous. I'd listen to him read the Kansas City phone book while washing out his sweaty socks by hand.