“No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters” by Ursula Le Guin

No Time to Spare is Le Guin’s book of essays, the majority of which appeared as posts on her blog between 2010 and 2012. Despite the informality of being a blog post, the essays all carry much significance as Le Guin weighs in on a variety of topics – her cat, old age, economics, social issues, etc. There isn’t much on writing or the creative process, so if that’s what you’re looking for, this book isn’t for you.

I had difficulty writing about this one. For some books, it would be better if I did a shorter review post, like some of those posts I see where folks bunch together reviews of books. I do that sometimes, at the end of the month, but I don’t count them as my actually reviews because they don’t include all that I thought of what I read. (Not that my reviews always include all my thoughts on the books, but they come close.)

I had difficulty with this one because though I was engaged in Le Guin’s essays as I read, they didn’t affect me much; so when done, it was easy to forget much of what was said. So basically, not much stuck with me after completing the book and now when I think on it, I draw a blank. The only thing that pops up is that I recall admiring the way Le Guin writes and wishing I could write half as well as her. Also, the essays about Pard, her cat, made me want a pet feline too.

Overall: ★★★☆☆ 1/2

Interesting and great while I read it, but not memorable in retrospect.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

I think it is worth a read, especially if you are a fan of Le Guin’s.

P.S.: I’ll have to reread this one someday. I just can’t believe that I’m blanking on it.

A Legend Has Passed: Terry Pratchett (and other bookish news)

Terry Pratchett (April 1948 - March 2015)
Terry Pratchett (April 1948 – March 2015)

Terry Pratchett is an author I’ve often heard of but never got around to reading. His books are always recommended but for some unknown reason, I’ve never placed them on my TBR list until a few months ago. Though I’m unfamiliar with his work, I was still shocked when I read he had died.

Pratchett, a British author of comic fantasy novels, died on Thursday, March 12. He was 66. Along with his zany stories such as the Discworld series, which is set on a disc-shaped world that is balanced on the backs of four elephants that stand on a giant turtle’s shell, Pratchett is also noted for his satire, which is compassionate rather than biting. In 2008, it was revealed to the public that Pratchett suffered from a rare form of Alzheimer’s. Due to his diagnosis, Pratchett advocated for assisted suicide and began the formal process for it in 2011. His publisher claims that his death was not due to suicide.

May his soul rest in peace.

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Wishes for My TBR Pile: 5 Books for Thoughts and Motivation

I began getting antsy about my Barnes & Noble coupons a few days ago since I hadn’t gotten any since the year began. But last Thursday I came home to a wonderful surprise—coupons for books! I was elated though my joy quickly soured some when I recalled that part of my Lent commitment is to not purchase any books (or shoes).

This might be an easy feat for some but for those like me who LOVE to purchase books (and shoes), it’s torture. I’ve been tempted many times since the beginning of Lent to purchase a book and barely resisted doing so. Especially since this is my birthday month, which makes it easy for me to punch loopholes into my commitment: “Obviously I should be able to purchase presents for myself despite Lent,” I’ve often thought followed by, “Why am I even doing this? I’m not even Catholic.” Luckily the coupons will expire after the Lent period so I’ll have ample time to purchase a few books. So in April when Lent is over, I’ll treat myself to one of these as a birthday gift:

Comma Queen

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris (April 6, 2015)

Mary Norris has spent more than three decades in the New Yorker’s copy department, maintaining its celebrated high standards. Now she brings her vast experience, good cheer, and finely sharpened pencils to help the rest of us in a boisterous language book as full of life as it is of practical advice.

Between You & Me features Norris’s laugh-out-loud descriptions of some of the most common and vexing problems in spelling, punctuation, and usage….and her clear explanations of how to handle them. Down-to-earth and always open-minded, she draws on examples from Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, and the Lord’s Prayer, as well as from The Honeymooners, The Simpsons, David Foster Wallace, and Gillian Flynn. 

I can’t recall where I first read about this book—it must have been in a Shelf Awareness newsletter—but I immediately added it to my TBR list. I enjoy reading books on writing and Norris’ book promises to be a thrill. Also, it comes out just in time for the end of Lent and my coupon’s expiration date.

Another reason why I’m getting this book is because I would like to work as a copy editor. I just began training as one and it has improved my writing, though I still make mistakes. I’ve found that it’s easier to edit the works of others than my own, though it helps if I return to what I’ve written after some time has passed to edit. But I’m usually too impatient to wait.

Related articles:

A short feature on Shelf Awareness

And an entertaining article by Norris in the New Yorker (If the book is like this, I will definitely enjoy it.)

Speaking of books on writing and grammar that aren’t a bore, see Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams.

Continue reading “Wishes for My TBR Pile: 5 Books for Thoughts and Motivation”

“A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula Le Guin

Available on Amazon and at your local book store.
Available on Amazon and at your local book store.

Just finished Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea novel and I am in awe. I decided to buy and read this book because throughout my college years, I kept being reminded of an image from a book I read while in high school: a wizard sailing to the edge of the world. I could not recall what story I imagined that image from but I searched to find it.

I kept hearing of Ursula Le Guin (especially after reading about J.K. Rowling) and decided to look her up. Her named sounded familiar. When I came across A Wizard of Earthsea, it seemed familiar as well. A part of me kept pushing to check it out because it was probably that book that the image that haunted me was from. Still, another part of me doubted it since I could not recall a story by Le Guin.

As I began reading, I got swept up in Le Guin’s storytelling. She is a master storyteller and weaves such a strong spell in her narration that you’re unable to put the book down until you’ve reached its end. It’s not all action and cliff-hangers as the majority of young adult books are today. But still it moves you along. You get caught up in the life of Ged, the protagonist who is destined to become a great wizard, and you become as curious as he is about his destiny and his shadow.

Quick summary:

Ged, a boy who was once called Duny is from a poor village in the mountains of Gont, one of the islands in the archipelago that makes up Earthsea. He bumps into his powers by accident when he overhears his aunt, a local witch, speak a word and he repeats it calling the goats he looks after to him. They come to him but would not leave and his aunt has to unbind him from them. At that moment, his aunt realizes that her nephew has some power and begins to teach him some of what she knows. Soon, he can call animals to him and later gains the nickname Sparrowhawk in his village since he is usually seen with a bird of prey.

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