"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to the TBR List

I've been swamped with school with little time for blogging lately, but I'm back today to link up again with The Broke and the Bookish. Today's topic is books that we've recently added to our to-read list. Here are some that I've added in the last few months or so.

Graphic Novels: I recently did a project for which I had to interview a guy who owns a children's comic shop. I've never been hugely into graphic novels except for the Tintin books that I grew up on, but this has made me more interested in reading them. Here are a couple on my list:

1. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: This is credited with being one of the books that brought graphic novels into the mainstream.

2. Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman: Not sure how I've never read this given my History background, but I'm hoping to do so this year.

Random Kindle finds: I get these daily emails of Kindle deals, and though I almost never buy from them, occasionally there are gems. Here are a couple that I purchased and added to the list:

3. The Diviners by Libba Bray: I've heard good and bad things about this book, but it piqued my interest.

4. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han: Looks like a light, fun summer read.

And all the others....

5. Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden: I'm on a Boyden kick lately.

6. Swords and Crowns and Rings by Ruth Park: Recommendation from a friend in Australia which I just took out of the library.

7. Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein: More infertility reads.

8. The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King: I heard him interviewed on CBC Radio and was sold.

9. Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw by Norman Davies: I read this in the bibliography of The Zookeeper's Wife and it sounded fascinating.

10. The Jews of Poland and Russia: A Short History by Antony Polonsky: I saw this book lying on a cart at the reserved reading section of the library. Obviously I couldn't take it out because it was on reserve, but I added it to the list. This is one of those times when I shake my head at myself for being so incredibly nerdy.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR List

This week at The Broke and the Bookish, book bloggers are posting their spring to-read list. I am not sure how it's possible that spring is already upon us, but I'm thrilled. I've managed to read through all of my winter list, except for We, which I've moved onto the spring roster as I've got a hold at the library that still hasn't come in. Here's what I hope to read between now and June:

1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: Despite his popularity, I've never read anything by Gaiman, but this is for a book club, so I'm really looking forward to checking him out.

2. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster: I've been meaning to read Forster for a while now.

3.  We by Yevgeny Zamyatin: This was on my winter list, but it's on hold at the library and I'm moving very slowly down the list. Hopefully I'll get my copy before summer starts! For those who've never heard at it, We is a dystopian Russian classic and inspired Orwell's 1984.

4. Swords and Crowns and Rings by Ruth Park: After reading A Town Like Alice, I was on an Australia kick and asked a few Aussie friends for recommendations of what constitutes classical Australian authors. Thankfully we have this book at the university library, so I'll be checking it when classes end.

5. Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden: A logical pick because I loved The Orenda so much.

6. Russia by Martin Sixsmith: I said I'd read more non-fiction this year, and I've had this history of Russia book for a while, so I'll be picking it up, probably in the few weeks before the spring/summer term begins so I won't have to lug it on the subway every day.

7. Breaking the Tongue by Vyvyane Loh: Because I've been interested in literature taking place in Malaysia lately.

8. Us Conductors by Sean Michaels: I bought this in December and have been excited to pick it up.

9. Four Queens by Nancy Goldstone: A biography of four sisters in thirteenth century Europe.

10. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han: This is a light pick for whenever summer classes start driving me nuts. :)

Monday, 9 March 2015

Advocating for the Infertile: When Church Hurts

I don't know about others, but I have a hard time talking about my infertility, and I suspect I'm not alone. It's personal. It's painful. It's somehow an invitation for unsolicited advice and pat answers. Yet.... if no one talks about infertility, it remains taboo. If no one talks about it, how can I expect others to become comfortable with the subject. I'm torn at how to respect my own privacy and yet open the doors to conversation, but I'm hoping to write a few posts on the topic and see where it goes.

I had an awful time at church yesterday. For the past few months, crying at church has become the new normal. I get in there and start singing, and the waterworks just flow. "Because He Lives" is the absolute worst. When the second verse starts up with, "How sweet to hold a newborn baby," there is just no stopping the tears. Up until now, however, I've managed to hold myself together, at least a little. I've never had to physically leave. Yesterday was a turning point, and the worst part of it was, it did not have to be this way.

We've been going through this prayer guide for Lent, and every Sunday a few members of the staff go up and lead prayer on that day's topic. Yesterday's topic was children. There were three men on the platform and they invited a friend of mine, a staff member and the mother of a toddler, to come up and join them. The last words I heard was, "Because there's something so special about the heart of a mother," and then, without thinking, I stood up, left Gil sitting on the pew, and hightailed it to the washroom. I wept in the stall for a few minutes, thought I was done, went out to the lobby and just couldn't hold it together. Both my boss and our custodian saw me wailing. Not my finest moment.

The thing is, I don't expect everyone to constantly watch their words because there may be an infertile person among us. I really don't. This is church, however. It's supposed to be the refuge for the heavy-hearted, the place I go to for comfort, not a place that drives me towards needing comfort. Why is it necessary to talk about the "heart of a mother", as though only mothers have compassionate hearts?

Eventually, I went back in, sat through the sermon, and went home to grumble to my husband. Typically, I would have stopped there, but I didn't want to. Why? Because people need to know that their word choice hurts. People have to understand that glorification of motherhood in the church is deeply painful for childless women and men... not to mention those who are longing to marry, those with difficult relationships with their parents, those who have given up a child to adoption, etc., etc. It's not okay to just brush past it. So I did what I could: I wrote a firmly-worded comment to the church, letting them know that this kind of word choice is hurtful and alienating. We'll see where it goes, but I'm glad I took a moment to stand up for the infertile among us. Someone needs to speak for us. Maybe that person is me.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: All-Time Favourites from Recent Years

Today's topic for Top Ten Tuesday (as always, over at The Broke and the Bookish), is listing books we would classify as all-time favourites from the past three years. I'm honestly not sure if this is talking about books we've read in the past three years, or books that came out in the past three years, so I'm just doing books I've read, since I don't read a lot of new releases.

1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King: I'd moved away from King after being obsessed with him in high school, but this brought me back. I think about it all the time.

2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: I adore this book. Margaret Hale has the spunk and smarts of Elizabeth Bennet, but is much less known.

3. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: Made me think, made me laugh, made me scratch my head.

4. Graceling by Kristin Cashore: I actually like her whole series, but Graceling stood out as my favourite of the bunch. Kick-ass heroine, evil people, supernatural talents. I love it.

5. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis: To add to my time-travel obsession.

6. The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng: I put this on too many of my lists, but it's such a beautiful and thoughtful novel.

7. The Secret History by Donna Tartt: A head-scratching and creepy novel that I couldn't put down.

8. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens: I love Dickens, and this is him at his finest: Villainy, poverty, ridiculous people, bizarre coincidences, virtue rewarded, and wacky names.

9. The Chosen by Chaim Potok: Beautiful look into a community that I knew little about.

10. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden: This is a must-read, especially if you are Canadian. It takes you right into the origins of our history, the difficult relationships between colonists and native people, and makes it come alive.