Pryday #16

Movies are not my thing. Really, not my thing so I think I’ve seen the standard Christmas movies such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and A Christmas Story maybe once or twice in my lifetime. I am not a huge fan of the mush or the overly sentimental either unless it is done just right and I am, like Simon over at Savidge Reads, a bit of a scrooge, especially when it comes to movies and spending pots of money on ridiculous gifts. However, there are two Christmas films that have entered my heart and become a much-looked-forward to treat at this time of the year. One is a classic, black and white, old Hollywood production. The other is a contemporary multi-storyline blockbuster. Both are fantastic!

The Bishop’s Wife (1947). Magical, heartwarming, charming, old-fashioned and beautiful. Cary Grant and Loretta Young are irresistible as the angel Dudley and the neglected bishop’s wife, Julia. David Niven is perfection as the distracted bishop. This is a lovely favorite that I watch every year on Christmas Eve.

Love Actually (2003). Funny, touching, romantic. Many stars appear in this interconnected set of stories. Liam Neeson! Emma Thompson! Hugh Grant! Keira Knightley! Alan Rickman! Colin Firth! So many marvelous actors, yet Bill Nighy steals the show as the aging rock star Billy Mack. I think it is a perfect companion to The Bishop’s Wife – something nice and something naughty.

How about you? Do you have a favorite Christmas film?

Pryday #15

One of the joys of this season for me is the music. I absolutely love to sing and Christmas songs are so wonderful to sing to. And because we’ve heard them a million times throughout our lives we know the words to them! Here are some of my favorite Christmas albums – what are yours?

My favorite Christmas music.

Old loves

Johnny Mathis ~ Merry Christmas. How wonderful is this man? His voice is so smooth and velvety and it is at its best singing these standard holiday tunes.

Mariah Carey ~ Merry Christmas. Yes, yes, I know Mariah is kind of a joke now, but this Christmas CD is fantastic. Who doesn’t like ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’?

Vince Guaraldi Trio ~ A Charlie Brown Christmas. This takes me right back to childhood when I used to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special on tv every year. It makes me feel very nostalgic.

CSSR State Philharmonic Orchestra ~ Christmas Goes Baroque. I love the nice, peaceful tone of this lovely CD. There are some surprising arrangements of familiar songs here that make them interesting again.

New favorites

The Lower Lights ~ Come Let Us Adore Him. This mainly Utah based group of musicians have produced a marvelous folksy take on traditional hymns and holiday favorites.

She & Him ~ A Very She & Him Christmas. Mellow, sixties-flavored tunes from actress Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward.

Do you have any favorite Christmas albums? 

Pryday #14

It’s Black Friday here in the States, but I have no interest in entering the fray. Shopping frustrates me under normal circumstances so I blissfully stay home while everyone else is out fighting for that amazing deal. I’d rather use the time to read as I am back at work tomorrow, although I might venture out later to use a Barnes and Noble coupon that is facing expiration.

I love the discounts that can be had on books this time of year. I usually end up purchasing several books for myself for Christmas because I can’t pass up the special offers of 20, 30 or 40 % off. And I urge my family to buy me books, as well, though many of them see it as a waste of their money.

What books are you hoping to get as gifts this year, either from others or from yourself?

Here are my choices:

The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt was recently awarded the National Book Award for non-fiction. The fascinating tale of the discovery of Lucretius’s poem On the Nature of Things and how his philosophy influenced the major figures of the Renaissance has received mixed reviews, but I think it sounds riveting.

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie has become a major hit in my library system. I love reading biographies of women rulers (last year at this time I read Cleopatra by Stacey Schiff) and I know next to nothing about Catherine and would like to know more.

A Jury of Her Peers by Elaine Showalter is a wonderful tome that I have taken out of the library many times. I’ve finally realized that I need my own copy as I think I will refer to this book throughout my reading life.

How about you? What books are you hoping Santa brings your way?

Pryday #13

I missed Pryday last week, but am back this week with a question about commenting. Does anyone else ever feel nervous or ambivalent about commenting on blogs? Or am I just a weirdo? I sometimes get a huge complex about my comments not being good enough, smart enough or articulate enough when I want to comment on blog posts and then I end up not commenting and wish I had. There are a few blogs that I have read for years (I won’t name them) that are so intelligently written, funny and sophisticated yet they completely intimidate me and so I  have never, ever commented on even one post.

Does anyone else experience commenting anxiety or worry about how you come across in your comments? Tell me.

Pryday #12

The library I work for is entering phase one of a major remodeling project to be completed, hopefully, by February. The library is nearly 12 years old and is in dire need of new carpeting (heavily trafficked areas are currently held together with duct tape), paint and a better configuration of the furniture and computers. I’m really excited about the changes that are coming and will happily sacrifice comfort during the construction phase. I am the kind of person who is affected by the environment I’m in and have been known to avoid certain stores if I don’t like the “feel” of them. For instance, there is a well known bookstore in my area that has great used books and reasonable prices, but I refuse to shop there because it is smelly, dirty and not pleasing to the eye. But I’ve discovered that not everyone cares about the atmosphere of the library or stores they use. My cousin mentioned that she doesn’t care one bit about what her library looks like or how it is arranged – she’s just there to gather her books and go. This observation has made me curious:

Do you care about the atmosphere or feel of your library or bookstore? Are you affected by how it looks or smells?

Hoover, Alabama Public Library

Pryday #11

Hi, all, I hope you’ve had a lovely week of reading. This week for Pryday, let’s talk scary. I haven’t done much this year to get in the Halloween spirit, but I have been watching the World Series which has been scarily good 🙂 I did decide a few days ago to read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. When I was a child I loved the Disney animated version of the story, narrated by Bing Crosby. It always fascinated me. More recently I sort of enjoyed the Sleepy Hollow film with Johnny Depp. I thought it was okay, not great, but decent. This year I wanted to go straight to the original source. I’ve been slowly savoring Irving’s famous short story and am very glad I decided to read it. I’ll write about it soon!

How about you? Have you read or watched anything to get you in the Halloween spirit?

Pryday #10

Hello everyone! I had a few ideas for this week’s Pryday question and even wrote an entire post using one of my ideas, but it didn’t feel like the right question for today. So after thinking about my week in reading I realized that what I really want to know is:

What books that are being published this fall and winter are you looking forward to the most?

I got very excited this week when I found out that Ian Rankin has a new Malcolm Fox mystery coming out next month. I loved the first one in the series and was hoping that he’d continue on with this new character and I’m pleased to see that he has!

I also sat up with interest at the announcement of P.D. James’s Pride and Prejudice mystery spin-off,  Death Comes to Pemberley. I love James’s writing and am really looking forward to reading this which is supposed to be published in December.

Coming in January is a new book from one of my favorite writers on religion and spirituality, Lauren Winner. Her book Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis continues her direct and honest probing of modern religious life.

How about you? What forthcoming books are you most excited about?

Pryday #9

I’ve been thinking about families this week. I just finished an excellent book called This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman that tells the story of one family’s struggles after their teenage son makes a huge mistake (I’ll write more about the book later). I started thinking about how much I love reading about family dynamics and about how fascinating and unique each family is, not only real-life families, but fictional families as well. Some of my most memorable and thought-provoking reads have been novels about families. This week’s Pryday question is:

What are your favorite family sagas?

My most recent favorite novels that center on families are Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, a novel that explores the relationship between two Chinese immigrant sisters,  Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, a tale of twin brothers growing up in Ethiopia and Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson about two sisters and their shifting family loyalties.

How about you? What are your favorite family sagas?

Pryday #8

Oh, hello! Yes, it’s been a week since I’ve been here. I’ve seemed to have run into a little reading slump, well, more like a malaise. I don’t have the inclination to read right now, but I try to out of habit and end up abandoning every book I pick up. This week I’ve tossed aside Howard’s End, the new Michael Ondaatje novel, The Hare with Amber Eyes, and a few other books. I’m not sure when I will recover from this lethargy and it always scares me when I enter these phases. Will I ever want to read again? So I ask you as this week’s Pryday question:

Do you ever lose interest in reading? And, if so, what secures your ticket back into the land of literature?

Frederick Carl Frieseke, 'Blue Girl Reading"

Pryday #7

Hello, everyone! It’s the end of another work week and the end of another month. As we plunge into fall it’s hard not to start thinking about the ending of another year. We’re through nine months of reading so far in 2011 and at the risk of getting ahead of myself I started to review the books I’ve read through this year and couldn’t help but rank them. Have you done the same?  If so, I’d like to know:

What books are candidates for being your favorite read of 2011?

Here are mine:

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Emotionally wrenching and beautifully written, this Pulitzer Prize winner is most definitely in the running for my favorites list.

Edith Wharton

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. I was very strangely under the impression that I didn’t like this novel, but it has stayed with me through the year and I will never forget its brave and honest storytelling.

Michael Ondaatje

Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence. The frustrating characters and relationships in this novel made me want to throttle Lawrence, but I was entirely engaged with the story and appreciate the ideas he was trying to propound. Also, I have this book to thank for the title of my blog.

D.H. Lawrence

How about you? What books are candidates for being your favorite read of 2011?