Balance and Book Collections

img_2593I have been struggling some with balance lately– particularly the balance between life, work, and leisure. I suppose it is the season where everyone feels like there is not enough time in the day to get everything done. I have definitely been feeling that, but I also partially blame the two large trees in my yard… who knew raking could take so much time from the day??

While I am not beating myself up for it, the need to focus on other things has cut into my reading time. I have still been trying to read a bit every day, but I have not been finishing books at my normal pace. I am definitely behind on my goal for books read this year, and am not quite finished with the book that I was planning to post about today! I had hoped the collection of Halloween themed books I had shared throughout October would help me to catch up, but alas here I am, behind again. Rather than skip this week, I thought I would share something a little different.

Last spring when I was traveling, I posted about a small collection of books I’ve collected from the different countries I’ve visited. (You can read about that here, if you’d like.) Similar to that collection, I have also slowly been accumulating books from the US states that I have been to. I cannot quite pinpoint when this collection truly began. The first book I remember seeking out was The Art Forger, when I was in Boston in June of 2018. However, I had at least 2 of these books prior to that, although not exactly intentionally. My intention with this collection is to gather books from each state that also related to that state, whether that is because of a local author or setting/content of the book itself.

Since this is a fairly recent collection that I have started, it does not reflect the number of states that I have actually visited; that number is between 24 and 30, depending on how you count (24 truly visited, 4 borders crossed but not explored, 2 only in airports). I have been making an effort to add on books as I have revisited the states around me, and hope that I can start to catch up to reflect the places that I have been! Anyone else reading a collector of books? How do you differentiate a collection versus other books you have accumulated?

For anyone interested, here is the list of those I have so far:

  • Alaska: Travels in Alaska by John Muir
  • Indiana: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Kentucky: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
  • Louisiana: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
  • Massachusetts: The Art Forger by Barbara Shapiro
  • Michigan: Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
  • Wisconsin: A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O’Nan

Around the World in 80 Days

img_0515Dates Read: June 2 to 9, 2019

Rating: 3 (of 5) stars

This was my choice for the June prompt for The Unread Shelf Project: a book about travel, or set in a country that you’ve never been. When considering the books I had that fit this description, it was an easy choice. Not only does this seem the quintessential choice for a book on travel, it is primarily set in countries that I have never been.

I actually had some high hopes for this book, being a classic that has been recreated in many forms, and frequently referenced in popular culture. Despite many renditions of the story being available, I knew relatively little about the actual story going into the book. It is an adventure story about a man who travels around the world. Well, yes, but not exactly. The premise of the book is straightforward, and similar to my expectations: Phileas Fogg has entered into a wager that he cannot travel around the world in 80 days, and so he sets out to do so.

Fogg is initially presented to us as a precise and practical man. He is particular about his routine, and does not vary. It is a bit surprising at first that we would agree to such a wager, but after he does, it should not surprise anyone that he goes about it in the most practical and routine way possible. Phileas Fogg is not interested in travel, adventure, or seeing the world—simply in traversing it. The style of the writing matches this, as it is fairly straightforward and matter of fact. While I can agree that it is fitting with the character, I did find it a little dull. We do get some glimpses of the sights through Fogg’s manservant, Passepartout, and I did enjoy some of the facts and information about locations that were included. The inclusion of the detective chasing Fogg around the globe was interesting addition as well.

It does make sense to me why this became a classic, but I feel like it is, unfortunately, one that did not age particularly well. There is definitely comedy and adventure here, but it does not really meet the same criteria that we use to define those things today. It’s not quite a laughing type of funny, but more of a “oh, ha, that was clever” type of comedy. Similarly, when taken in the context of when it was published, I imagine that many of the locales and descriptions made by Verne were strange and exotic. Much of the information included was not common knowledge, and not accessible to the general population. However, it just did not hold the “wow” that I was hoping for. I definitely appreciate it for what it is, but overall it just did not excite me.

Boris’s thoughts: “I think this Fogg guy has the right idea about life: it’s all about routine. I would have never taken that bet though; it would interfere with my napping schedule. 3 paws.”

Travel Break and Update

img_0184I am a bit behind in my writing, as I just returned from a 10 day trip exploring Mexico! I had the forethought to set up an auto-post while I was gone, but had not yet completed one for this week. It has been a whirlwind since I got home, and I was not able to complete anything new for this week.

BUT

I still wanted to share something for the small number of you that are following this blog (thanks, by the way!).

I have always been interested in travel and seeing new places, which I have always thought matches well with my love of books and exploring new worlds through reading. Up until last summer, most of my travels and exploring had been limited to areas within a reasonable drive from home– while I had not been as many places far from home, I definitely thoroughly explored what there is to see nearby! When I expanded my horizons a bit with some further destinations, I started a new collection: books, of course!

Since Boris is still a bit peeved with me for leaving him with a babysitter, I thought I would share my modest collection of books from the countries that I have visited. The first book in this collection came from Iceland, the Sagas of Icelanders. I also added a short book of Icelandic Fairy Tales from that trip. This fall when I visited Ireland, I added James Joyce’s Dubliners, which I picked up from Books Upstairs in Dublin.

My trip to Mexico added a bit of a challenge– while I would prefer to have purchased a book from a local author, I had some difficulty locating one that was written in English! I opted to go for something a little different this time around– “Matar A Un Ruiseñor,” the Spanish translation of one of my favorites, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I am looking forward to perusing this one, despite my lack of skills in the Spanish language. Maybe this will help me expand my vocabulary a bit?