July 27, 2008
Good morning! Last week I did not post a Salon entry because I was out of town doing something quite bookish. Over the last year, I have met several women on Library Thing who I have grown to respect and adore. We decided to meet in person at the amazing Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon. The hotel was originally built in 1912 and has been renovated beautifully. Each room is themed after an author. There are books everywhere and a fabulous library which looks out on the ocean. I will definitely be going back there someday!
After weeks of smoke, heat and general anxiety…I was looking forward to getting to the coast. The meet-up was a resounding success! We talked and talked, laughed a lot, shared meals and visited tons of bookstores (yes, I bought a lot of books, too!). On Sunday, we checked out of the hotel and drove to Portland where we got completely lost and overwhelmed in the book stacks of Powells Bookstore. Below are some of my favorite photos from the weekend:
**Click on thumbnails to view the entire photo in a larger size
- Photo #1: The view from our room.
- Photo #2: The Sylvia Beach Hotel.
- Photo#3: The “gang” who met up at the hotel.
- Photo#4: My LT friends and me at Powell’s Bookstore.
To read more about our fabulous and bookish weekend, visit Terri’s post!
So, you are probably wondering what I bought, aren’t you? My new acquisitions are:
- Walking in Circles Before Lying Down, by Merrill Markoe
- The Courage Consort, by Michael Faber
- The White Earth, by Andrew McGahan
- Writing With Intent, by Margaret Atwood
- The Post-Birthday World, by Lionel Shriver
- The Passion of Artemisia, by Susan Vreeland
- Close Range, by Annie Proulx
- The Optimist’s Daughter, by Eudora Welty
- Crossing the River, by Caryl Phillips
- Where or When, by Anita Shreve
- Hardcover edition of one of my favorite John Irving books: Hotel New Hampshire
I also acquired two more books due to the kindness and generosity of my book friends (thank you Terri and Paola!):
- Music and Silence, by Rose Tremain
- Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn
And lastly, I made my first Bookcrossing “catch” when I found The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz in the Sylvia Beach library. This one has been getting mixed reviews, and some of my trusted lit-bloggers have not liked it…but, it won the Pulitzer so I am going to at least try it.
Whew! Lots of books, great prices…and the joy of sharing book-buying with good friends. Who could ask for a better weekend?
I’ve read a few books since the last time I joined you. I finished The White Mary (read my review) which was graphic, but fairly well written. It made me want to read Kira Salak’s non fiction one of these days. Then I tried reading an Advance Reader’s Edition of The Island of Eternal Love, by Daina Chaviano (read my thoughts). Oh, how I wanted to like this book – but it was not to be. The translation was horrible – stilted and distant. I gave up on the book at page 110 (much longer than I usually read a book I’m not enjoying).
My next read was fabulous. Hotel Du Lac, by Anita Brookner (read my review) won the Booker Prize in 1984 and in my opinion was well-deserving of that award. This was my first Brookner novel, but won’t be my last. I love her “voice” and style – rather old-fashioned and eloquent.
I’ve now immersed myself in The 19th Wife, by David Ebershoff which is due to be released in August. This is a book I got through the Library Thing’s Early Reviewer Program. It’s taken me a while to start the book (it is nearly 600 pages), but I am flying through it. So far I’m finding it to be a well-written historical fiction about pologamy, a murder, and the Latter Day Saints (the “Firsts”). Stay tuned for a review of this book in a few days.
My final thoughts today have to do with a very interesting article which appeared in The Guardian this week pertaining to Reader’s Block. According to Stuart Jefferies, the idea of reader’s block is less about being truly ‘blocked’ and more about ‘the great is-ought dilemma. You know you should, but you probably won’t.‘ Stuart notes that despite the rise in expenditure on books, the number of hours spent reading books is declining. He adds:
According to Teletext’s 2007 study of 4,000 Britons’ reading habits, the top reasons for not reading are: too tired (48%); watch TV instead (46%); play computer games (26%); work late (21%). A lot of respondents say that they do not have time to read books except when they go on holiday and then, because they are so unfamiliar with the literary world, many of them find it not just difficult to know what to read but (there is no nice way to say this) also how to turn the pages.
According to the Office for National Statistics, a third of Britons read “challenging literature” in order to seem well-read even though they could not follow what the book was about.
The article goes on to give pointers as to how to avoid reader’s block.
I buy a ton of books and have a towering TBR mountain in my bedroom; but I also read between 90 and 100 books a year (which I believe is far above the national average). I have yet to really experience a reader’s block of any sort. And yes, I read challenging literature…sometimes because I think I should…but I usually finish the books and am glad I read them.
So, do you experience reader’s block? Do you spend more time buying books than actually reading them? Do you attempt “challenging literature” because you want to seem well-read, not because the book really interests you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!