On Being a (Book) Polygamist 

I like to read a bunch of books at the same time!

The main benefits have to do with my idiosyncrasies. 

One, I’m a mood reader. So I like to pick a bunch of different kinds of books to be in my currently reading pile. There are days when I’m not in the mood for the contemporary young adult romance so I may turn to something else in the stack, maybe this nonfiction book on Vesuvius. There are also days when I don’t know what I’m in the mood to read. So I just read a chapter from each book. 

Two, I have the irrational fear that I will run out of books to read (even though I regularly have four piles of library books waiting to be added to my currently reading piles). Seeing a double-digit number next to my Goodreads currently reading shelf comforts me. And looking over at the two piles on my bookshelf also comforts me.

But this does mean that packing for trips is a struggle. I can’t bring all the books I’m currently reading. So I end up taking all the ones that will fit, sometimes with comical results.

Then I have multiple people asking me if I can really keep track of all those storylines in a tone that implies that I’m not capable of that. (For the record, I am.)

Ultimately, it isn’t something that matters that much in the grand scheme of things. But I do find it amusing to apply monogamy or polygamy to reading. 

So tell me… are you a book polygamist? 

Source for picture: Pinterest 

A Breath of Life by Clarice Lispector

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This was my pick for the Read Harder task “set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.” I chose Lispector because I’d never heard of her, wanted to know more, and to my knowledge I haven’t read a book set in Brazil or by a Brazilian author.

It is hard to explain my reaction to this book. It is about an author who creates a character and then watches this character live and die. I found it moving and disturbing.

It also reminded me of Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami in style (clipped yet profound) as well as subject matter (different types of writers) but A Breath of Life does not go further than the relationship between this author and his creation, Angela. Yet it is all so complex and strange.

Put simply, I adored it but it isn’t for everyone.

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

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This might be changing it up a little bit but The Tale of Genji is an important book in Japanese literature study.

I read excerpts of it in college but this year I decided to read the whole thing. I started it in January and I finally finished it this week.

Another title for this book could be “The Life of a Philandering, Rich, Royal Dude.” It does get a little repetitive and most of the sections of this book are about Genji having issues with his wife and his courtship with other women.

There came a point where I wasn’t really reading this for the plot or characters. I enjoyed reading the culture notes, appendices, and looking at the pictures. That’s what gives this book its longevity and importance. There is a lot to be learned about Heian culture even though this is a work of fiction. Historians and literary critics both find something to value here.

If Heian period culture and history is something you are passionate about and you’ve read other books on the subject, I definitely recommend reading the fancy Penguin edition of this book. If you are interested in the Heian period but don’t know where to start I would recommend The World of the Shining Prince by Ivan Morris which talks about the cultural and historical background of The Tale of Genji and uses excerpts from the book to illustrate points. If you want to know what all the fuss is about but are intimidated by this giant book, you can probably find an anthology with excerpts and you would get the gist. You can also read excerpts from Murasaki Shikibu’s diary if that is more your style, although I will say that her personality is not my favorite. She comes off a little whiny and stuffy at times.

Thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

Top Ten Tuesday: Romance?!

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the theme is romance types and tropes.

I do read romances but I need them a particular way and I can’t define it. I just know from the first page whether or not we’ll work as a couple. If I’m cringing or grimacing at the first sentence then that romance is not for me. If it makes me laugh or intrigues me then, yes, I want a second date and possibly a long-term commitment after that.

One. “I’m looking for a mind at work.”

I normally don’t reference Hamilton when blogging but this quote seems so relevant in this moment. I want to know the writer put some thought (and heart!) into what they’re writing. I’m definitely not looking for a paint by numbers or mad lib to pass the time. I want my mind and heart to engage with the material. If the author didn’t put in the effort, it shows.

Two. I like historical romance, heavy on the historical.

Three. No Jane Austen knock-offs. They can be inspired by her, I have no problem with that. (Gail Carriger is clearly inspired by Jane Austen but she decidedly has her own unique style and voice.) If a writer doesn’t have their own style it’s obvious, like a bad cover of a great song. Jane Austen knock-offs are guaranteed to make me cringe.

Four. I like romantic comedies because they’ve got comedy.

Five. I like the cuter side of yaoi. That super-explicit stuff is not my jam and bread.

Six. I really like making fun of the romantic wackiness that is Fushigi Yugi.

Seven. My favorite fantasy series have romances I actively root for.

Eight.  I tend to ignore descriptions of the leading men. In my head they look how I want them to look. (For instance, Lucivar is blonde in my head even though Anne Bishop keeps telling me he has long black hair.)

Nine. I don’t pick actors to represent the characters in the books I’m reading (but when I’m writing I will think of actors who should play my characters).

Ten. I’m not automatically turned-off by insta-love in books.

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