For a chunk of July and into the first week of August, I've been somewhat...or rather outright... bedridden. It sucks. Oh well.
So. While I've not been very productive, I've been really trying to keep up with my reading. I haven't been writing in a disciplined manner this summer, so at least by keeping up with reading it feels like I can keep learning about story or poetry or something, even when I'm not writing.
Also, books are just wonderful. They don't really need a reason to be cherished. Reading books is in itself a good enough reason to do it.
Before we dive into the books, this evening I'm drinking a Japanese white tea called Hirumasan no shirocha 2016, from Saitama, Japan. This tea has a delicate, subtle flavour that changes with every steep, and its low caffeine content mean I can drink as much of it as I want ;) Before finding this one, I didn't even know the Japanese made their own variety of white tea. As Kanamaru-san explained to me, the Japanese tea growing season is so short and packed, most tea cultivators don't have time to produce a white tea. So this was a true treasure unearthed at Cha Do Raku.
Here's what I #amreading at the moment (and yes, I'm always reading 6+ things at once, why do you ask?) :
- Ragnar Jónasson, Sótt — A mystery set in Iceland, involving a mysterious plague, and sordid family histories... I actually bought this book for my father for Christmas, because years ago my father told me he didn't find reading fiction was very useful, so now I make it a point to gift him fiction whenever I can. Historical fiction is one of his favourite genres (it's also one of mine), but he also likes mysteries. He ended up lending me the novel after he finished it, because he told me it was very good and he found the twists very suspenseful. I'm almost half done with this one, and I do like it so far, so I'll be reading to the end!
- Claire Legrand, Sawkill Girls — I wish I could remember who recommended this one to me. But what a wonderful little book! I'm really happy I found it in the anglophone section of the BANQ. It's Queer YA Horror, and it's awesome. One of the central themes is about turning fear into power, but another really important theme is grief and forgiveness. Serious forgiveness. It is YA so it's a pretty quick and easy read. I was nonetheless moved by the ending in particular, and there are some beautiful descriptions in the book that didn't feel "YA" to me.
- Hannah Kent, Burial Rites — Oh wow. My friend Vee gaves this one to Leif for Christmas, and I finally sat down to read it a couple weeks ago. This book was gripping. I could not put it down. This one is also set in Iceland, and is loosely based on the story of the historical Agnes Magnúsdottir, the last person to be executed in Iceland, convicted for her role in the murders of Natan Ketilsson and Pétur Jónsson in March 1828. The historical setting provides an incredible backdrop of hardship and survival, making every moment of human connection described feel even more precious for its ephemeral, fleeting nature. The book is exquisitely written, too. What a ride.
- Carolyn Forché, What You Have Heard Is True — I'm reading this one slowly. I finally got my hands on a copy because turns out my francophone library didn't have a waitlist for the ebook, so I'm reading it on my phone, which is less than ideal for poetry but it's okay, I've been waiting to read this one for so long. But it does mean I'm reading slowly. Those who read my biweekly assortments back in the spring know that I've been looking forward to this one for a while. I'll probably report back here when I finally finish it.
- Rachel Jansen, In The Burn (Maisonneuve Magazine, Issue 72: The Climate Issue) — This is the article featured in the splash photo above this blog post! It's about the hunt for morels in the great west coast forests that have burned down. I am really fascinated by forest fires and their regenerative cycles. I'm also obsessed with mushrooms! In short, Rachel Jansen's article on mushroom-hunting was the first page I turned to after I received the magazine!
Before I wrap up, I just want to give a shout-out to this fundraiser you should support if you can, the Back 2 The Land: 2Land 2Furious Métis in Space fundraiser. To quote from their GoFundMe:
Métis in Space are landless Métis, who want to build a feminist Indigenous compound, on the land, to ensure that our Indigenous LGBTQ and Two-Spirit kin are centred, and have access to land, teachings, ceremony, and community.
Please share — and especially donate if you can! If I understand correctly, the donations are being matched by a handful of folks up to a pretty high amount, so every little bit helps. I've been to a handful of Métis in Space live shows, and have seen both Chelsea Vowel and Molly Swain speak on issues related to colonization, feminism, labour organizing, and mental health. I think they've got what it takes to turn this into a reality.