Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Catherine Austen in my mailbox

The mailbox, just one more thing around here that makes me feel guilty.

Why I think I have time for reading is beyond me. One of my bloggy friends, Kathy, was complaining recently that she had only read "less than" two dozen books since September. Seriously? ONLY a couple of dozen? The only book I have read in its entirety since my holidays last summer, is The War of Art, which is a very, very slim book and easily digested. (Kathy, you should read this – I guarantee it will help you shake writer's block).

Granted, I've been writing, which to me is better, karmic-wise, than reading. But still – reading has somehow deserted me and I'm not sure how to get it back. I have this vague notion that I will miraculously find time to read, sometime soon, but no concrete plans on how to bring this about. As a result I have books piling up that deserve to be read. They sit there, in various spots around the house, screaming at me every time I walk by. They're like Jewish grandmothers, sans the chicken soup, making me feel guilty at every turn.

Icy Sedgwick's delicious looking western pulp fiction, The Guns of Retribution, sits on the desktop of my computer. Every time I turn on the laptop, the e-book glares at me. It is such a cool looking book, too. The cover is amazing. It sits there, waiting non too patiently, while I write my own book. I am torn by indecision. Should I write? Should I read? I choose writing, because the book can wait but my own muse can not. But I feel guilty and sure that Icy is gonna pull out her own guns of retribution some day.

Beside my bed is the half-finished award-winning novel by Terry Fallis, The Best Laid Plans. It is such a good book. So funny. It always makes me laugh. It's sitting gathering dust with my half-finished copy of The Help, which is also a wonderful book. Unfortunately I went to see the movie before I was finished reading and no longer feel the need to finish it. I hear CBC is making a movie about Best Laid Plans. God help me, I hope I get the book done before the movie comes out.

Dave has practically adopted my Kindle, which is chock full of books I haven't read yet. He has been reading it every night. First he fell in love with Aaron Polson's book, Loathsome, Dark and Deep. Then he downloaded a bunch of Louis L'Amour westerns. Dave loves his westerns. I think I'm going to have him read Icy's book. Two birds with one stone, kind of thing.

As if I don't have enough to feel guilty about, my mailbox recently filled up with two books by Catherine Austen. I won them during a blog book tour. Which is fabulous, right? All I have to do now is read them!

The first book is 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6, a book seemingly made for my youngest son, Sam, who currently is in Grade 5 and is no doubt worried about Grade 6. I suspect this book is more for girls than boys (due to the magenta coloured cover) but Sam was looking for something to read on the weekend so I gave him this and he was on to page 31 in half an hour, a clear sign that the book is good.

The other book is All Good Children, a young adult story whose back blurb says, "Living with hope is like rubbing up against a cheese grater. It keeps taking slices off you until there's so little left you just crumble." Oh dear. It sounds deep. And sad. And yet funny, all at the same time. Life is like a cheese grater? Perfect! It is, isn't it? It gets the job done but you always wind up with fingernail in your lasagna. Way to be real, Catherine.

Catherine Austen, by the way, sounds really interesting. Here's the bit she posted about herself on her blog:
"I live in Quebec with my husband, Geoff, and our children, Sawyer and Daimon. We live with our old dog, Charlie, and our young cats, Isis and Playdoh. We have a little house with a big yard full of rodents, rabbits, and the occasional fox and falcon. It is inspiring.
"I write reports for corporate clients to help pay the bills. I enjoy all kinds of writing, but I get irritable if I don't take the time to write fiction regularly. I think up stories while walking my dog, exercising, and staring out of windows.
I like to write funny things and sad things. I'm not much good at any other kind of thing. I don't always understand what I write until I've written it and read it back a few times. When I write something well, I feel more like its witness than its creator.
"I like yoga, drums, and swimming with flippers on my feet. I quilt by hand in front of the television while watching So You Think You Can Dance. I make good cookies and great salads. I take awesome photographs of mushrooms.
"I love wildlife, music and museums. I don't care about houses, clothes, or celebrity gossip. I hate fashion magazines, but I sometimes read them in waiting rooms and find them hard to put down. I love to read aloud (books, that is, not fashion mags)."
Doesn't she sound cool? I think so. I'll let you know more when I read her books. And finish Terry's. And read Icy's. And every book I've got enthusiastically languishing around my person.

P.S. to Shannon Esposito - my mom just finished reading Strange New Feet and she LOVED it. Thought you should know!


  1. That is some beautiful scenery at the top of your blog.
    It's funny. I thought when I retired there would be lots of time for reading but life intrudes and it takes me so much longer to do the physical work around here and I have a husband to keep entertained and and and..... ah of these days.

  2. I could look at snowy pictures like that one all day! As long as I don't have to feel the cold, I love it. And hearing your mom enjoyed my book is like an early Christmas present, thank you!

    I many books, so little time. If I ever get a tattoo, this will be what it says! :-)

  3. Delores, it did look pretty! That was a few days ago. Today it's all melted and rainy and blah. Oh well. Snow in the forecast! Woo HOO!

    I need that tattoo too, Shannon. And yes, my mom LOVED your book. Seriously!

  4. I read during breaks in writing. It lets my mind rest before it explodes. :) That way I get a little reading in each day, even if it's only 20 minutes.

  5. That's a good idea, Laura, but I find when I read during writing, that my 'voice' begins to sound like the voice in the book I'm reading. While I was reading The Help, for example, my very-northern characters suddenly sounded like they were from Mississippi!

  6. I have that problem too. It helped to read completely out of the genre I was writing in.

  7. Eff yeah, Louis L'Amour! I should pick up some of those old paperbacks.

  8. I love that wintery photo at the top of your blog. I am the same, I buy so many books, I have stacks of them just sitting there... waiting. We'll get there!

  9. We will, Rebecca, we will... hopefully before our eyes give out!!!

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