Once again we mark the beginning of a new month with a bright shiny new issue of Open Letters! And once again it shows off the range of readers and writers involved with the site.
We lead off this time with our annual Year in Reading feature (Part I, Part II). My contribution won’t surprise any regular readers of this blog, but there’s lots else to interest you: Colleen of Jam and Idleness (and now of Open Letters! hooray!) reports on reading time happily spent in 19th-century France; Steve Donoghue reminds us that for sheer physical pleasure, print books still beat out digital; John Cotter has been reading short stories that blew his socks off; Lisa Peet has been in a Jane Gardam phase; and that’s only for starters. Other pieces address Chagall’s Christian iconography, Doris Kearns Godwin’s The Bully Pulpit (that’s Steve again!), Michael Johnson’s extraordinary search for Solzhenitsyn, John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore (that’s Colleen again!), Helen Fielding’s new Bridget Jones novel (me again!), the life and writings of Giacomo Leopardi, and more that you’ll have to click on over to find for yourself.
I was proud of myself for getting a review done during this fairly busy month. It became conspicous to me towards the end of the month that the real casualty is actually this blog: if I’m working on a review, it takes up a lot of the time I have for non-work-related reading and writing. So on the one hand, it’s a good thing to be turning out more polished pieces more often and building up experience writing more ‘on demand’ and less on my whim — but on the other hand, especially since it has been a while since I reviewed a book I was really enthusiastic about, it makes me feel a bit stifled.
In unrelated news, when I’m not reading, writing, or working (or reading and writing for work!) I’ve been trying my hand at crochet. I got it into my head to learn crochet a couple of months ago, on the theory that it might be something I could do better than I knit (I like knitting but have no head for patterns or fancy stitches, and after a while ribbed scarves aren’t that fun to make). I like doing cross-stitch but it’s fussy and hard to do when I’m very tired (which is when I stop reading / writing / working) or while watching old episodes of ER* (which is how I currently recuperate from too much reading / writing / working). I think I was right that crochet will suit! I had a rocky — or perhaps I should say a tangled — start, but I have more or less got the knack of the basic stitches now, and a couple of weeks ago I successfully completed a basic “granny square.” It probably says something about the ways in which other aspects of my life are fraught with intangible frustrations and deferred outcomes that I am so very pleased with learning how to make something I can quite literally hold on to – even if by serious crochet standards my technique probably has a long way to go. I’ve gotten very ambitious and started stockpiling coordinated squares for an afghan, to give my father as a Christmas present. I’ve warned him, however, that at my current rate of production it may be just a little late.
*Speaking of ER, I’m realizing all over again what a good show it was — much better than Gray’s Anatomy. Are there other ER fans out there?
(Flickr photo of the Brattle Bookshop courtyard.)