Friday, 23 January 2015

Seven Quick Takes, Vol. 2

1. I meant to post every other week, and I'm already behind. In my defense, my husband is away and I'm running the show solo. My elder daughter did come home from boarding school last weekend, but helpfully had her wisdom teeth out, so she lay around on the sofa and almost cried when we ran out of macchiato caramel yogurt (I don't even know what a macchiato is, and neither, apparently, does my spellchecker).

So, here's a look at my reading week, to show you how eclectic (mixed up) it is.

2. For my early American literature class, I'm reading William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation and John Smith's account of the Virginia colony. They're interesting to me, because both men led their communities with similar principles and along similar lines, but their outlooks led to vastly different accounts of their experiences. To Smith, it's a big adventure, starring Smith; to Bradford, it's a long struggle in the wilderness against the wiles of the devil.

3.  To lighten up, we also began Ann Bradstreet's poetry. She was lucky enough to be supported by her family in her writing; not so other women of her time.  In 1650, one Rev. Thomas Parker wrote to his sister, "Your printing of a book, beyond the custom of your sex, doth rankly smell." Bet that was a good sibling relationship.

4. As part of a critique group, I may read a chapter from a Victorian cosy mystery, an eighteenth century cornish whodunnit, a 1930s soft-boiled American crime novel, or a story of London gypsies or Scottish pirates.

5. With my daughter, I'm reading The Canterbury Tales, currently the General Prologue, which is relatively uncontroversial.  Choosing tales to study with an eleven year old is harder - I'm opting for ones with lots of farting over lots of sex.

6. To relax (really!), I'm delving into Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth. She's the godmother of modern American midwifery. For those not in the States or Canada, be very grateful that midwifery is still the norm for prenatal care! She began as an English Literature graduate but fell by chance into the role of midwife at the Tennessee community where she has lived since the 70s. The book is as much story as women's health. For a taste, here's a Ted Talk she gave.

7. Inspiration of a different sort came this week from Elaine St.James's Living the Simple Life - I was familiar with all her ideas, but I needed some inspiration to give our bedroom a more drastic clear out. It's written in very small chunks - nice to peruse over coffee or when you're winding down at night.

For more Seven Quick Takes, hope over to This Ain't the Lyceum.

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