The Book(s) of Love No. 5: The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

TheLakeBananaYoshimoto“Why were we so far apart, even when we were together? It was a nice loneliness, like the sensation of washing your face in cold water.” 

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I love the cover art on this one.  “Melancholy” is a nice word to start from, when talking about this novel.  Both main characters are operating from a place of grief and loss, but nevertheless try to work out ways to be together.  As you can tell from the quote, it doesn’t always work.  It was also inspired by the  Aum Shinrikyo cult, which initially drew me in, but it’s a subtle story and a quiet one.  More about the after-effects of tragedy than what it was like to actually live through the tragic event itself.

The Book(s) of Love No. 4: The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

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“In the taxi I let my hand lie on her leg like a promise, but I had no intention of keeping my promise.”

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If any book in this series will make you hate love and never want to ever be in a relationship again, it’s this one.  Don’t let that happy, colorful picture up there fool you, Graham Greene makes 1950’s London feel like a Siberian work camp.  Or, should I say, Maurice Bendrix makes it feel that way for himself?  As you may have guessed from the title, this novel’s about adultery, but it’s also about religion, depression, betrayal, duty (how English!), and how we can shape our world via emotions.  You’ll hate Maurice Bendrix and you’ll hate Sarah Miles, but you’ll also feel sympathy for them, especially if you’ve ever been in love and had it turn sour.

The Book(s) of Love No. 3: Troilus & Cressida by William Shakespeare

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“All lovers swear more performance than they are able, and yet reserve an ability that they never perform; vowing more than the perfection of ten, and discharging less than the tenth part of one.”

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Ok, so it’s a play – get mad at me why don’t ya!  Nah, you wouldn’t do that.  This is, in my opinion, one of Shakespeare’s more interesting plays, but it is rarely taught and not performed as often as many of the other plays.  Like Romeo & Juliet, it’s a comedy… until it turns into a tragedy.  It’s incredibly funny, until it’s incredibly sad.  Cressida is in love with Troilus, until she’s not.  A lot of people have problems with this play because, unlike R&J, it’s not as tight, and it’s often difficult to determine the characters’ motives.  In my mind, that’s what makes it all the more interesting and all the more life-like.  Sometimes people make odd decisions that seem counter to their feelings and needs.  Under duress, people have been known to act illogically, and if the Trojan War doesn’t count as “duress” in your book, then I’m not sure what does.

The Book(s) of Love No. 2: The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

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“Funny how you can live your whole life waiting and not know it… Waiting for your real life to begin. Maybe the most real thing the end. To realize when it’s too late. I know now that I loved him more than anything on earth or off of it.”

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How and what and who do you love when most of the earth’s population has been wiped out by a pandemic?  Does love figure into such an existence at all? This book owes a lot to The Road, but the land is far less desolate.  Hig, a survivor, is as in love with the plains of Colorado – where trout still leap in the rivers and the occasional deer wanders down out of the mountain forests – as he is with anything or anyone else.  Heller’s voice is extremely poetic; this is how a poet writes a novel, and how he or she writes it well.  The plot is gripping, and the exploration of the all the different ways people can connect with each other is uplifting and tragic, sometimes simultaneously.

The Book(s) of Love No. 1: The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt

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“Love destroys. Thought creates.” 

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Nikola Tesla is in love with a pigeon.  And his experiments.  And maybe with a woman he shouldn’t be in love with.  Louisa doesn’t want to be in love at all, but she might be.  Her father is in love with his wife, but she happens to be dead.  There’s not much more I can say about this book without giving away crucial plot points, but I can say that the entirety of the novel explores that quote, above – it’s up to the reader to determine whether this hypothesis is true, or not.  I highly recommend checking out the book’s website as well.

Love Me, Love My Book Recommendations

“Love is a fire, but whether it’s going to warm your hearth or burn down the house you can never tell.”

– Joan Crawford

Yeah, I’m not going to be doing a whole lot of long rambling or frequent posting on this site for the next – well, forever maybe?  But, I do seem to come up with ideas every month or so that seem more like something you’d post on a longer-form blog than a Tumblr or Twitter.  So, maybe I’ll actually be able to keep up with this site going forward?  I think so.

Anyway, for this month, I’m taking St. Valentine’s Day as an excuse to go ahead and post some book recommendations – one of my favorite things to do!

It’s been said that all stories are love stories, and I want to build off that to explore the different types of love stories out there and the different types of love they explore.  Many of these books are much more than just a love story (depictions of class relations, religion, history, popular culture, loneliness, crime, the apocalypse, art, and horror).  However, they all incorporate one – tragic or not.  We’ll start tomorrow, and because I had too many ideas, I’ll probably go until after Valentine’s Day itself.  Good books have no expiration date, so indulge me!

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ALSO: I do promise I will sit down some time this week and experiment with scanning/posting the few (4!) handwritten poems I’ve managed to sit down and do.  We have a scanner at work, but I can’t promise it won’t put out terrible-looking results.  If it ends up looking janky, I may not end up posting them at all… but hopefully before the end of the year I can find a good solution.

Resolutions on the Fly

I feel like I’m neck-deep in 2013, like I’m awash with it, like it’s raining 2013 and there are holes in the roof and holes in the bucket I’m trying to bail out with.

A lot of the traditional goals people usually talk about going into the new year are already a part of my life.  Just by deciding to be more participant in my own life, things started falling into place mid-2012.  I started writing again, I work out 4 times a week, my abs are feeling awesome, I eat healthily, I cut down on excess expenses, I got my mental health on track, I moved into a great apartment with great people, and I met a huge amount of goals at work and got promoted twice.

So, other than to keep doing those things and being awesome, what’s left?  Some stuff that kind of feels superficial to me, actually… but for quite awhile I’ve been lamenting the fact that I’m not “interesting” enough.  The problem is I pour a great deal of money into feeding myself well (i.e. buying fresh, good food and not eating crap) and into my student loans (let’s not talk about this further, I’m gonna cry).  So, I can’t do a lot of the things that people say you “should” be doing if you’re young and in a city.  I can’t go out drinking (not anywhere posh, anyway. Dive bars? Sure, every couple of months, and I stop at 2 drinks), I can’t take classes ($$$), and I can’t go see shows (unless people buy me tickets for my birthday, which they have done in the past).  I can’t travel very often (my travel home for Christmas was a gift from my father, wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise), I can’t buy new clothes very often, and I tend to save going out for dinner for special occasions.  I can walk around, sit in coffee shops nursing free refills, and go to my super-cheap gym to run, and I do!  I don’t want to say I’m unhappy with my life at all, because I’m not.  But my routine doesn’t make me feel cool or like I’m challenging myself.  It feels like… a routine.  A rather hermit-like one at that.  Writing has made me feel better in this regard, and I will be setting some concrete goals for myself in that realm.  I want to do more, however, so I came up with the below 2 goals.

Make More Things

1. I’m a writer, so “write more stuff” is not a yearly resolution for me.  It’s integrated into my state of being.  Looking forward to picking up my pens and paper and laptop again this weekend.

2. My mother was an artist.  She worked in pencil and paint and fabric.  I was always amazed at how effortless she was when we would sit and color together.  I’m receiving a couple of pieces of hers from my grandparents’ house, courtesy of my aunt, in the mail, and it made me feel a bit like I want to try channeling her through some visual art.

3. I’ve been wanting to improve my handwriting for a long time, a few years anyway.  Everyone used to say I have beautiful handwriting, but I think it’s fallen off in the last few years.  More computers, more achey-hands, and a focus more on the ideas that I’m putting down than how they look.

So, I want to create a project to do some hand-lettering.  This is heavily inspired by Lisa Congdon’s 2012 project. Instead of quotes, though, I want to do 52 short poems.  I already have a bunch in mind – old favorites – but I think it will be just as exciting to try to find shorty poems to work with!  Plus, I can’t resist good pens and markers and all that stuff.  I don’t want to blow a ton of money on supplies, but do want to get a few different types of media to practice with.  I’ll definitely be putting these experiments up on this site, assuming I can find a suitable scanner to get things from paper to screen.  I’m thinking I will do 50, since it seems to be a standard-length for sketchbooks, and will give me a couple of weeks early-on to get settled in.

4. I’ve also been wanting to teach myself embroidery.  I have a ton of thread already, as well as a hoop, so now all I need is some fabric.  I’m thinking of using thrift store stuff or any cheap, funky fabrics I can find.  I’ve been sewing a costume for PAX East (which I also have to finish, gah) and find that I actually love the little fiddly finishing parts.  No concrete goal here, keeping this one open-ended!  It will also be a good activity to do during my second umbrella resolution.

5. Ok, one last concrete one.  I want to make a stuffed animal.  I have never done this before, and think it would be fun.  If it works out/is not a pain, maybe I’ll even make more!  This was inspired by a friend of mine, who made an adorable teal kitty cat recently.  (Essentially my goals are a covert attempt to be more like this friend, in general.  She is my friend-idol).

Watch Movies

I have already started on this one, and you can follow my progress over on my tumblr.  Will I get to 365 films? PROBABLY NOT. Am I OK with that? DEFINITELY.  I do think I will get up to at least 200, possibly even 250.  My main problem is that I can’t find that many movies I actively want to see… I’ve already gotten some advice from others and had movies shown to me by friends, so hopefully I can get up there!  I’ve been a movie buff since high school, but there are a lot of gaps in my viewing history, so I’m primarily looking to fill a lot of those in.  I’m set to put up the next “to watch” batch on my list (which I expanded a lot) on the site I’m maintaining.  I also want to see more movies in theaters, even if it means going by myself sometimes.  I think that’s an expense I can afford to work in if I save for it, and if I ask for movie vouchers for my birthday!

Feeling good about this, about getting started on some new stuff.  I only want to give myself one last reminder, and that is this: to not get frustrated if my arty things are not perfect on the first (maybe the many many first) go-rounds.  The goal is to improve, not to be perfect from the start.  Like writing, you can let go of the mistakes and start again, or edit and make better.  Don’t get discouraged by early, shitty, attempts and failures!