The joy of knitting

When I started this blog, I considered posting about not just books but also about knitting, which I love. I even had a naff name all ready for it: “Scribbles and yarns”. But I soon gave up the knitting side, intimidated by the high quality of the many knitting blogs I have seen. So I thought any old idiot could write about the books they have read with the hope that it might interest other like-minded bookish idiots…

As far as I can see, the only good that has come out of the fairly recent resurgence of knitting as a cool rather than a grandma-ish activity is that there are now even more wonderful yarns and  some great patterns to buy. Otherwise, do you really need daft titles like Stitch ‘n’ Bitch to sell knitting books? (Actually that particular  book by Debbie Stoller is rather good).
Deciding what to knit, how to adapt that perfect jumper that you want with no hood and a different stripe pattern for one of the girls, wondering whether that little scarf pattern might be a good way of using up left-over yarn (the answer always being no, it’s perfect to knit up three quarters of the scarf, which ends up being so sweet you just have to hunt for the missing yarn, which is no longer produced in the right colour, and so it goes on), is almost as fun as knitting. So I spend money and time on knitting books, a prelude to spending larger amounts of money on yarn and eons of time on actually knitting. But of course, spending too much time and money is a pre-requisite for any hobby.

What I read in January and February 2010

Special topics in calamity physics by Marisha Pessl, lent to me by a bookclub friend. I really enjoyed this, even if the general craziness, heavy use of capitalised expressions and in-your-face kultshur left me a bit gasping for air sometimes. However, it really had something. A Good Read.
Her life in crime by Joanne Drayton, a biography of Ngaio Marsh (see one of the top left pages for a mention of this great crime author).

Well, this certainly filled certain gaps left in Marsh’s Black beech and honeydew autobiography for me. I was particularly interested in the much more detailed information on her crafting of the detective stories she is most famous famous for (outside New Zeland). It was also pretty fascinating to get an insight into her financial affairs , with her tussle with tax issues, and to get a feel for what what must have often been a punishing travel schedule and constant upheavals and house moves between the UK and New Zealand. The description of the theatrical ventures doesn’t disappoint either.

Her private life remains pretty much private, and her sexual orientation, although I think probably lesbian, remains uncertain. She doesn’t have very sympathetic portrayals of gay men in her books, whatever that means. At the same time, the Alleyn-Troy story love story in her detective novels, although interesting and involving two very engaging characters, never struck me as being altogether a thing of joy. Tellingly, Agatha Troy admits to being “scared of …. the physical side” during the courtship.

I always take myself to task for reading biographies (“it’s the work that counts, not the life”) but mostly enjoyed that one.

Le Petit Nicolas de Sempé et Goscinny, que j’ai lu suite à la recommandation chaleureuse de ma fille aînée (huit ans). C’est vrai que c’est mignon… J’ai cru comprendre que le film récent n’a pas fait l’unanimité, mais les enfants que je connais et qui l’ont vu ont beaucoup aimé. Je ne devrais vraiment pas tenir compte du Masque et de la Plume (que j’aime bien par ailleurs, tant que je ne me fie pas à leurs recommandations. Depuis qu’ils ont descendu en flêche Malavita de Tonino Benacquista, je mesure précisément l’écart qui sépare leur critique de la mienne…)

Mon chapitre préféré? Celui qui met en scène le papa qui bousille le vélo tout neuf de Nicolas …

Something that can’t be found in any bookshop or on Amazon… the Malcolm Saville Society (more on this children’s author also in one of the pages top left) short story competition entries (c. 5000 word short stories and c. 500 word “micro stories” to be precise). I was part of the judging panel, and although “the results are in”, they are not official yet, so hush…

Richard III by William Shakespeare – I picked it up, prompted by listening to it on BBC7 first. I loved listening to the women screeching and cursing, Richard being devious, and most of the other blokes being feeble, as far as I could tell. I enjoyed reading the play too. I’ve bought a hard copy, because my Kindle edition has no notes, which I do find useful for proper Shakespeare appreciation. (The English language having evolved much more since his time, than say the French language since Molière’s). I’m not complaining though: at 3.44$, I reckon the complete works of the Bard is still very good value, even with Société Générales “zone hors euro” ridiculous surtax!

So having read the actual play on my Kindle, I read the introduction in the New Penguin Shakespeare edition, which calls Richard III “an apprentice-piece compared with Shakespeare’s best tragedies”. This has prompted me to have a further go at the man from Avon, as I have only read a few plays and that was a fairly long time ago. My Mum has given me some tips, so I’ll try her suggestions.



In praise of my Kindle

I do love my new toy (thank you again, Richard). Main plusses of my brand new e-book reader is that it’s easy to hold and read, a good size (I have the 6″ one) and illustrations are nice and sharp. Bypassing wifi with the wireless reading device is also very helpful (says she who comes from a household where the network used to play up, much to the despair of very IT-savvy hubbie… And before you ask, yes we’ve had all the wires changed from the nearest exchange right into our house after a variety of France Telecom engineers scratched their heads and ended up replacing the lot, unplugged everything and plugged it all back again in varying orders, we’re onto third Livebox. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, the new all-singing all-dancing router seems to work.) It’s also very easy to start using, and, as with all things Amazon, far too easy to start buying…

Minor gripes in case anyone from Amazon is out there (and guys, you need to watch out, iSlate is coming), or indeed anyone considering purchasing one:

When is the colour version coming out? (colour for illustrations only is fine – I’m thinking of knitting patterns especially here…)
When is there going to be loads more content in lots of languages, not just in English?
When can I start buying ebooks via not .com, and therefore pay in euros and avoid “out of euro zone” charges?
Any chance of backlighting, to avoid using one of those naff clip-on lamps when you want to read in bed without keeping your beloved awake?

And it looks like the modern disease of poor proofreading is as prevalent on Kindle content as on printed material, but then I guess that’s not really a Kindle issue…

Ce blog cause surtout de livres, en français parfois.