Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Coffee

Coastal South Carolina is having some gorgeous weather right now. This morning I walked the dogs and saw my first Eastern Bluebird of 2011. These little dazzlers are instantly recognizable for their brilliant blue body and wings.

A week or two ago I saw an unusual number of robins, and now it seems to be the season for the bluebird.

So for the rest of the world, and for my students, tomorrow is a holiday. For teachers in my district, it is that peculiar institution called the teacher work day, or professional development day. Sigh. At least we are meeting in my own school building. It is discomforting to be in some other building. Where is the rest room? What room do we go to? Where's the sign-in? In my own building I can sneak in some copying, have a quick planning session with my colleague, put my lunch in a familiar fridge. (Hide out in my classroom? I would never do that.).

It is almost time for Persephone Reading Weekend, sponsored by Claire and Verity.  You can find out more here at Claire's blog Paperback Reader. Last year I participated in Persephone Week; I still have a book left over from last year, so I'll be reading The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I may have a second Persephone book by then--despite my self-imposed buying anything ban.  When I was visiting my daughter in Columbia, SC a couple of months ago I saw a whole set of Persephone books in a used bookstore, but thought they were a bit pricey.

It was a particularly grueling week at school. We're all feeling it, but teachers especially.  I see my colleagues just dragging themselves along, and I know I feel that way. Where are the reserves of energy I need right now? I'll keep hanging on for that last week of March. This year I've had to deal with several thorny discipline problems, and that always saps my energy. When one student affects the ability of the other twenty-six to function or focus, it's time to do something. Just what that magic something is is the conundrum.

In my reading life, I have finished reading The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. I'm looking forward to discussing it with my student, and I'm hoping she finds the time to finish this very long and very interesting book. The sophomores are reading To Kill A Mockingbird, so I'm rereading that for the umpteenth time (there's always some new pleasure to find in this classic). The students have an assignment to interview two people about their school experiences--can't wait to hear the results.  And I am reading Robin Black's If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This with great pleasure.  I'd really love to go on a short-story reading binge. There are several collections of short stories on my TBR pile.

Yesterday I went into Barnes and Noble and walked out with two purchases. Rats! Self-imposed moratorium on buying stuff is not going well.  I picked up Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry because Robyn at You Think Too Much has brainwashed convinced me to read it. And pretty much the entire book blogging blogosphere has brainwashed convinced me that I must read Murakami, so I picked up Norwegian Wood.

Recent acquisitions for the blog:  31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan (for TLC Book Tours), and House of Prayer No. 2:  A Writer's Journey Home, a memoir by Mark Richard. A pre-ordered copy of Townie, a much-anticipated (by me) memoir by Andre Dubus III arrived.  And then, I swear, no more new books.  I have a shameful backlog of books for review.

Gentle readers, what are you reading now?  Any Murakami fanatics out there?  What other Murakami must I read?  Teachers, are you also in the doldrums? How do we hang on until Spring Break? Any and all suggestions welcome. Anyone else embarrassingly overextended in the review department? How do we get over the shame? Has anyone else read If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This? So far I am loving it--did you?


Mayowa said...

I'm seriously jealous of the weather in SC right now. It's been raining for six straight days here in California (move west, they said. The weather's gorgeous). Glad you're making good use of it.

I am somewhat familiar with the teacher day phenomenon (lots of teacher friends). Only response i've ever been able to give to that is to cherish a day without the little monsters. I'm also going in to work even though its a holiday.

Finished And Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris around 1:30 this morning. I absolutely loved it. There's a chapter in there (Lynn Mason's) that is probably the
,best chapter I have ever read in any book ever. Can't believe how he sustained that tone and level of writing for a whole chapter. Okay i'm gushing...

Let us know how Murakami goes, I haven't read any of his work and I'm interested to hear what you think.

bibliophiliac said...

@Mayowa- *now* you miss us! ;). Yes, the exhaustion of a teacher work day is not quite the same exhaustion as a day with the kiddies! I read And Then We Came to the End not expecting to like it. In fact, I began with a big chip on my shoulder, thinking a book about cubicle life was going to be boring. Like you, I was gobsmacked. Maybe I should give it another read. Still have it here somewhere. Hope Cali dries up a bit!

Anonymous said...

Could you please send some heat and spring birds towards Chicago? Thanks!
I LOVE Murakami. I read After Dark and Blind Willows, Sleeping Woman, that I enjoyed very much. Unfortunately, that was when I was not blogging, so I have no post on these. I can't wait for IQ84 to be available in my public library.
Right now I'm listening to The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, and reading Strong As Death, a medieval mystery by Sharan Newman, as well as a great book on Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, and a few religious books. see on http://www.wordsandpeace.wordpress.com.
Emma @ Words And Peace

Ana S. said...

I'll be reading The Making of a Marchioness as well! Looking forward to comparing notes with you :)

My favourite Murakami is probably Norwegian Wood, even though in many ways it's a pretty atypical Murakami. But it's one of the most moving books I've ever read.

Mayowa said...


Ha! I've always missed the people, never the weather.

Glad to know you enjoyed And Then We Came To An End too. I had a rough time with J.S. Foer so i've always been skeptical of the "new young phenoms" (who I pray to join one day lol). This was wonderful though.

bibliophiliac said...

@words and peace--Murakami has so many fans, I decided I had to see what it was all about...
@Nymeth--I'm looking forward to another Persephone readalong. I wish I could squeeze in two. I'm really looking forward to Norwegian Wood.

bibliophiliac said...

@Mayowa--tell the truth, you're going to miss SC politics, too, aren't you?

Lisa said...

I was outside this afternoon and discovered that our cardinal is back already. It's certainly been spring-like here but I'm not sure it's quite time for the birds to come back.
I've decided that the only books I'll let myself buy are the ones I pick up at Half-Price Books I get when I sell books to them. That's working pretty well for me. That and avoiding real bookstores altogether!

Ashley said...

I was in Bluffton this weekend and I went to Barnes and Noble on Saturday, too! In the evening, though. I told myself I wouldn't buy anything in there, but then I told myself that I was going to disobey anyway. I bought "Oryx and Crake" to re-read and own, and "The Year of the Flood" because I really liked Oryx and Crake.

Ashley said...

Also, I don't know why it changed to 'Ashley Marie,' but this is still the same Ashley. :P

Anonymous said...

A teacher work day on a holiday?? That's just wrong.
There's a new Murakami coming out later this year. Rumor has it it's over 1000 pages.

ImageNations said...

currently reading The Clothes of Nakedness by Benjamin Kwakye. Haven't read any. Hope to do so.

bibliophiliac said...

@Lisa-we don't have a Half Price Books-wish we did!
@Ashley Marie-are you home for Spring Break, or just for the weekend?

Robyn Ryle said...

Oh, I hope you like Jayber Crow. I don't think it's quite as warm here in Southern Indiana, but on my morning walk I did notice several daffodils looking just weeks away from blooming. I love your Sunday Coffee posts...it's good sometimes just to hear about the contours of people's lives in addition to what books they might be reading.

I am not burned out on my students right now, as I'm on sabbatical, that beautiful thing that makes being a college professor worthwhile (and why I'm able to read and write on my blog so much right now). But my husband and all my friends who are in the classroom are really feeling the grind right now, and don't have today off at all.

Anonymous said...

Hello there,

I have yet to try any Murakami.I will at some point, but my tbr read list is large enough.

I'm trying my 2nd Marquez right now. Not going as well as I'd hoped.

bibliophiliac said...

@Robyn--*sabbatical* - what a beautiful word!

bibliophiliac said...

@inknchai--Marquez is on my list too. Don't tell anyone, but I never finished 100 Years of Solitude. And Love in the Time of Cholera is on my list.

Marie Cloutier said...

I'll bet SC is beautiful now. I had the privilege of spending a week there over the summer and just adored the area. Lucky you!

Ashley M. said...

I was just home for the weekend. My spring break is March 11-20th, though, so I can definitely visit the school or something if you miss me. ;)