Thursday, September 11, 2008

Booklife, It's A Good Life, And It's My Life

My abbreviated stump of a vacation/staycation finished on September 1st, and I went back to peddling English grammar, vocabulary and the joys of conversation. This semester, I'm teaching a class that meets Monday-Thursday, a class that meets every evening right around suppertime, and seven other classes that meet once a week. That kind of schedule will tear your bloghouse down room by room.

Happily, I jerked myself away from work long enough for the September 7th BOOKLEAVES meeting. We picked up a new member, Rebecca, who expresses herself clearly and succinctly and is a delight to talk to about all things bookish. While lunching at the Indian restaurant near Mitzi's apartment, we had an agreeable and extremely lively discussion about Persuasion, then the 8 of us headed back to Mitzi's to watch The Jane Austen Book Club. During the movie, we munched on freshly-baked cookies that Amber had brought, and Mitzi showed off her baking mojo, bringing forth peanut butter cookies and pumpkin empanadas at delicious intervals. After the movie, we chose A Spectacle Of Corruption by David Liss and The Road by Cormac McCarthy for our next two reads.

With a habitually heavy heart, I tore myself away from Seoul, but returning to work turned out to be a good thing for this bookworm. After 3-and-a-half years of working with me, my co-workers finally seem to be surrendering to my unwavering bibliomania. Martin and Zak both have copies of The Omnivore's Dilemma and are rigorously wading through it with promises that I'm next.

Saskatchewan Mike suddenly asked me one day if I'd read Ishmael.

"No, what's it about?" I asked.

"It's fuckin' brilliant; I'll bring it in," Mike told me, with an expression that suggested I was nuts for wanting an actual summary.

Willie from New Zealand is reading my copy of The God Delusion, and has reciprocated generously by loaning me what amounts to a Kiwi book explosion: The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera, My Name Was Judas by C.K. Stead and Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones. Cheers, Willie!

My new Aussie pal Belinda and I met up a couple of weeks ago when she came to Gumi, and she pulled The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett out of her bag, telling me that she was reading and absolutely loving it. I had a bookish flashback to 2006, when I went to a book swap in Daegu and some guy came up and pressed this same novel in my hands and insisted that this was a wonderful novel, I must take this book home, I must read it. After seeing Belinda, I grabbed TPOTE off of the TBR shelf in my office, and began reading it. Wow. That book swap guy was right. Belinda was right. Let me add my voice to the chorus by echoing Saskatchewan Mike's abovementioned sentiment. Even better, my co-worker Evan saw me reading TPOTE in the lounge and asked if he might borrow it when I was finished. Wow again.

Even though my Welsh book buddy Pablo and I are no longer co-workers, we're also still exchanging books. He's really getting into Philip Roth's novels; he read Everyman earlier this year and borrowed my copy of American Pastoral. He also asked to borrow Beloved by Toni Morrison. He pressed his copy of Cloud Atlas at me. A few days later, I had a dream in which I decided I would call up Pablo and ask if he had any Evelyn Waugh I could borrow. Upon waking, I sent him an email instead, telling him about the dream, asking him if he had any Waugh, and how did he pronounce Waugh's first name?

Pablo replied: Don't know what's going on in your subconscious with that dream, and how I get into the mix with Waugh (Evelinn, I think) who I only know by repute is beyond me...saw some of the TV series Brideshead Revisted years ago and that was enough to deter me from sampling Waugh. Anybody who creates characters named Sebastian Flyte with an unhealthy preoccupation with teddy bears may encapsulate a certain type of Englishness but it does NOT resonate with us Celts.

So, anyway -- in spite of work, or because of it, my booklife seems to be thriving. The weekend coming up is a 3-day one because of Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving). I'll use the opportunity to resume regular blogging.

10 comments:

Heather J. said...

Woohoo! What an explosion of books! It will be wonderful to have more people to discuss bookish things with. :)

Oh, and I just added Cloud Atlas to my TBR list this week ... if you read it before I do (which is VERY likely) I'll enjoy hearing what you think of it.

raych said...

I read TPOTE years and years ago, and alls I remember is being thoroughly and deeply sucked in and marinated in the story.

Also, I second Heather J above: Cloud Atlas is the shit.

raidergirl3 said...

What fun! I work with a bunch of readers, teachers, so we do book suggestions too.

TPOTE - brilliant
Ishmael - meh
Cloud Atlas - been on my TBR next pile for quite a while

GFS3 said...

"The God Delusion" is fantastic and if you're an atheist it feels like justification.

I loved "The Road" -- although it is very depressing. But I think it is one of Cormac's best.

Bookfool said...

It is pronounced EVElinn, like your buddy said, according to my Oxford tour guide. I loved Brideshead Revisited. Congrats on a bookishly exciting time.

Eva said...

Welcome back! Do you have a recipe for pumpkin empanadas? They sound awesome!

Carrie K said...

Wow, that is a book explosion. Fab!

Cloud Atlas is still sitting on my TBR shelves. Darn all these new books and my gainful employment situation.

Bybee said...

Heather,
Usually when Pablo insists I read a book, it's a winner, so I'm looking forward to it.

Raych,
TPOTE is a lot of fun. I'm annoyed when I have to pull up out of the book and do mundane things like work, eat, sleep, shower...
OK, I'm moving Cloud Atlas up farther.

raidergirl3,
I've noticed that Korea makes a lot of people bookish that wouldn't be otherwise.

gfs3,
I'd like to read more Richard Dawkins, but don't know what to try next after The God Delusion.

Bookfool,
I won A Handful Of Dust from Chartroose, so I guess that'll be my intro to Waugh. EVElinn.

Eva,
I wasn't watching Mitzi, but I know she did them with refrigerated biscuit dough and canned pumpkin pie filling. Oh, delicious...

Carrie K,
Because of work, I'm having to fight to get reading and blogging into my day. It makes me grumpy, but I know from experience that unemployment would make me far, far grumpier.

Susan said...

You are the second person to mention Cloud Atlas, Rhinoa just gave a great review of it. It has moved up on my list to near the top (if I can find it). And I love your description of how you are spreading seeds of reading all around you! 'Susan spreads books like seeds'! lol

I still think that for those of us who read more than a book a week should get a salary just for using our brains, and then we would have more time to read and could forego work!!!

Bybee said...

Susan,
It IS funny how all of a sudden everyone's reading! When I brought The Pillars Of The Earth to work after I finished it, Evan immediately trotted it out to his car so he wouldn't leave it behind at the end of the day.

I wish there was some way to have a book group where my students and I could read and discuss, but reading fluency's not that high at this school, alas.