Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bookends, bedside tables, and Gypsy's

This picture was going around Facebook. I thought I'd share; it made me laugh aloud.

If I need a bookend, I'll pile up a bunch of books...
Barely hanging onto my bedside table are nine books, in two piles. Most of them are thick books so they're at old angles with bedside table thingy's shoved in on and around them. Camera, fun; I can take a picture and post it! (I just learned how to do something new here on my Blog...) 

The books on my bedside table
I don't mean to brag about the size of the books I happen to be reading now; I do have a lot of small books too (particularly the plays, unless it's an anthology, the acting version of a play tends to be much, much smaller than a regular book). So these are the reasons I may miss my reading goal of 104 books for the year; they're just too big/long/non-fiction/etc. for me to get through quickly. Though, in another pile, on another table (not shown), are three more books I'm working through, one of which, I'm almost finished. Who knows. I shouldn't worry about the numbers.

My own known, (to myself anyway) OCD compulsions have to do with books. It can manifest in many ways, but I've noticed always around books.

The homes I grew up in and even those of my extended family on my mother's side, were cluttered with books. At my father's parents, we all sat around reading books (until the day when pretty much everyone had a laptop, even then I had at least one book). Both my parents have walls of bookshelves. Books - clutter - they're part of my heritage; practically part of my DNA. You'd figure I'd take to ereaders/whatever, I just can't do it. I like books. Big, heavy, hold in my hands (even if my arthritis is acting up, then I'll find a way to prop it up), BOOKS. I have "broken down" and gotten an app for my smartphone so that if I'm stuck somewhere I can read a public domain book, I have a few downloaded for an emergency. And, as you may have read a couple of blogs back, I read my first ebook on the computer - but then went ahead and ordered a copy for my personal library, because I was compelled to. It's an addiction; I'll be the first to admit it.

We moved around a lot when I was young and after I graduated college (two colleges in two cities; seven different apartments), I continued the trend of moving often. Now I can tell you (and so can my parents) having a book fetish and moving often is difficult when you have two tons of books to carry around. TOUGH.
The book of the day…
I started this book as a change from non-fiction, and I had a cold coming on. The sicker I am, the more I want “comfort books”: well-written fiction with a strong, and hopefully, quickly moving story line (preferably, a fast 800+ pages), leaving me wanting more. Some authors, I know I can trust for this; some are quirky, and I have to be in the correct frame of mind (I read A Tale of Two Cities in as close to one sitting as I could possibly get; whereas, as much as I wanted to read it, Oliver Twist bogged me down); then there are the certain authors that even when they write fiction, I want to have all (or, in my peculiar condition, as many as possible) of my faculties at my sharpest. With a new author, or even a new book by an old friend (the Dickens example, above), I roam into the unknown—have to go by instinct and the dust/back cover. So for this, I picked a new author of the pile “W-Z”, and dove in. **One thing about my shelving/piles, they are sorted by titles of books, not by author. Otherwise, I’d be reading Dickens entire collection before moving on to Dickinson… It would be crazy. Or maybe I am. But yes, the fiction books tend to be kept separately from the non-fiction and sorted by title so I can get a nice diverse cross section, I don’t like to read the same subject, genre, author, in a row (unless it’s a series that’s been completed and I can’t put it down until I get to the end). Though right now, I’ve been mixing more non-fiction titles in, because I want to read more of them, instead of having them sitting by themselves being ignored.
My random pick was:
I didn’t realize “who” Colum McCann “was” until after I finished the book and realized his newest book is on the Man Booker Long List for 2013 (TransAtlantic is already on my to-read list, I felt like quite an intellectual for wanting to read it before it was nominated—even though it didn’t make the short list).
Zoli is a book I would have gotten more out of if I hadn’t had a raging head & chest cold.
I much prefer linear books to “fancy” books that jump around the timeline of the story. This one starts in 2003, then jumps back to “1930s-1949”, then jumps forwards and backwards at the same time (that will make sense if you read the book). Not so good for someone who prefers linear books and has a bad cold. It took a *lot* of concentration and checking the dates at the beginning of sections—oh, and each section is written by an entirely different point of view—to try to figure out what was going on where and with whom. That was almost enough to cause a headache.
My mom gave me this book once she had read it, so there had to be some value in it; plus there’s my “have to read at least 50%” rule. One option I had was to put it down and start something easier, but once I got into the rhythm of the 2nd section, I was hooked, and determined to get through it. One section, with the change of POV, almost stopped me; I was confused about the new voice, and both where and when the story was picking up. I slugged through it.
Now, I’m fairly well read, and self-educated on many topics I may have missed in school. However, I learned so much from this book on the 20th Century from the Slovakian/Czechoslovakian perspective, and the Gypsies throughout Europe. (There is a wonderful interview of Mr. McCann by Frank McCourt that speaks to this.)
Zoli is a Czechoslovakian (or whatever they were calling the soil she was standing on at that moment) Gypsy also called Roma. Her character is loosely based on a real 20th century Polish Gypsy Poet (from the Author’s Note p.332). After her family is killed, she is raised by her Grandfather, who upon scrutiny may not be her biological Grandfather; however, he does right by her, and raises her well. This includes, teaching her to read and write, and eventually allowing her to go to school with non-Roma children, which is pretty close to Taboo for the Gypsies (there are many taboos). She is a singer, and as she becomes political, she starts to make up her own songs, and writing them down—this is the first time Roma poetry has ever been written down, and at just the right moment the Gypsies are in favor with the people, and the Government; readings are done of her poems, she becomes famous. More of her poems are gathered and a book is planned; again the Government shifts and now the Gypsies are to be forcefully relocated, from their wagons and life on the road, into apartment buildings.
The story continues, however I don’t want to give away spoilers. I’ll say this—Zoli is very resourceful.
Each section talks about her from a different point of view, many sections include the back-story of the narrator's life and how that person came to be involved in Zoli’s life.
I appreciate how much I learned from this book, and I hope I will have the opportunity to read it again to get even more out of it.
Thanks for reading.



  1. Great !!! Fabulous! i think this is incredible! End Tables is gorgeous and the makeover is totally amazing. I love it. You really did a super job with the Bedside Tables! I use to do buy online Bedside Tables as its time saving.

  2. Thank you so much for your comment; your link to the bedside tables is wonderful, so many choices! Please, keep reading! xo