Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunshine Returns!

And how glad everyone here is to see it!

We've had a wind/rainstorm the last few days equal to a small tropical storm! Cable & power winked on and off ....and on....and off...and (after some hours/repair) back on...
So I spent my weekend doing some reading. Sailing right through the "Cat Who''" series now. I thought I had read one before, when given a stack of names to try years ago. Now I know that I must never have gotten to it, as I didn't enjoy the first few books I tried and simply returned the whole lot to my friend's shelf. I didn't remember the first story when I got to it this winter (my memory is rather good). Whats more, "The Cat Who Read Backwards" is exactly the kind of cozy mystery I enjoy most. I'm reading on of Braun's short story collections at the moment, waiting for the next installment (Cat Who Went Underground) to come in to the local bookstore. Thankfully, I have most of the series on loan (or waiting - found in the thrifts or 2ndhand shops) so my newest fascination doesn't cost too much. I could go on now, but I prefer to read series in order.
Now that I've found other 'cozy mystery' fans, I'm getting plenty more recommendations! Glad of that, because I've just about caught up with Donna Andrew's works to date. Trying Dead Canaries Don't Sing this weekend. Its pretty good thus far. Already have a few of the later books lined up for later. :-)

Serious books I finish more slowly, because I spend some time thinking about them - and when I get short of sleep or much in demand, it can be difficult for me to concentrate the way I'd like.

Been debating adding some of the books I finished back when I was going through 'other phases' to my Shelfari list, but I'm still leaning against it. Seems like no matter how people rate them, its hard for folks not to think all books listed as a recommendation and a reflection of what you like right now. I did decide to add Modesitt. His books weren't that naughty, after all. He's a bit new age-y but he writes reasonably well. I enjoyed the Recluce series well enough to read several in a row before losing track/interest.
I used to read Anne Rice's Lestat stories too, but I haven't added her. I'm not that big into vampires, I just appreciated Rice's skill with the written word & got stuck a few times where there was nothing better to read. Her novels were incredibly memorable, and probably inspired the whole genre. But - while I admire Anne Rice- I can't honestly recommend her to the usual people I talk to now, so there's not much point in mentioning which of her books I read. There are other authors too, that didn't seem 'that bad' to me once upon a time, but I probably wouldn't pick up now. I've been meaning to recheck Rice & Lovecraft, sometime - but I've never been that big on horror anyway, so its not high on my list. I did read this stuff way back when, and liked it, but that was 20+ years ago? Anyway, that's the kind of thing that's staying off 'my shelf' for now, though an honest list of all I've ever read would certainly include quite a bit more than I've got up.
There was a watershed moment over ten years ago when I agreed with my hubby that we should purge all the 'doubtful' influences from our lives. This included - not just cable, but many books, cds, movies, and games that I had once enjoyed very much, but wasn't sure rated highly on the 'if there be any good, think of these things' list. Some we gave away, some we agreed to pack for the time being, and some we simply didn't try to replace. Our 'library' at the time was a hand-built office in an old garage which, oddly enough, was severely damaged about a week or so after we made that pact by a tropical system. Comparatively few things were left afterward, and as we continued to have financial strains, I couldn't look for that many Christian 'alternatives.' I still had my mother's library of classics, of course. I was & am very glad of that! Definitely went through an Auld Lang Syne 'withdrawal' phase that was probably the cause of my misremembering the aforementioned games. (& I got Very Annoyed with hubby for continuing to watch new 'action' films & play darker games at other people's houses & on 'traveling' jobs. He'd come back and tell me how awful it all still was. Cheat! Cheat! LOL).
But I don't regret now that we chose to live through that deliberate period of purification. It has changed me for life for the better. I spent much more time in reflection and prayer than I would have done otherwise, and we're much closer as a family with the changes we've made. It has had a lingering effect, of course. We still have this debate over every book, game, artist, and general influence that comes into our lives. What good is 'good enough' to be listed? Where do we draw those lines?
And -while we've felt released to reclaim many old favorites - which ones would it be better to leave in the past forever?

Found out how much my tastes had changed over time when I blindly offered/recommended old adventure games I'd once enjoyed to somebody (stuck with an old compy) without replaying them first. What I remembered was funny. I'd mentally edited the naughty bits and was rather mortified when I replayed one or two of them later. Dear, oh dear. Its quite easy, when you include 'old favs' you haven't checked in years (and barely remember) to present yourself - as you are now - in the wrong light. At best, newer acquaintances & friends may rate your current comfort level with bad language etc as higher or lower than it currently is. This is why I've gotten a bit shy of listing books I'm no longer sure I'd read now.
We found ourselves uncomfortable even with what now passes for 'mild' bad language in the chat rooms and web boards when we came online. Regular discussion in church and homeschool circles tends toward dictionary English - KWIM? (The exception being my hubby who was exposed on the job as often as ever, and simply appreciated the respite at home from 'worldliness' he found at work.) The rest of the family here had been re-sensitized by our time away from popular culture, and we're not really wanting to be 'dull' again. I like how I am now, so I try to be a bit careful what I watch/read/hear. Cable doesn't tempt me like it used to years ago. I mostly watch news, documentaries, & old films on cable - when I have it on at all. I've found this viewpoint can't even be understood by many of those who revel in flirtation, graphic violence et al - let alone respected. They usually believe that you just haven't been tempted enough, teased enough with popular culture (or gotten enough spam). How wrong they are. Its like assuming someone raised on quality bakery bread, farm-fresh food and cider would give it up for tic-tacs, dehydrated cracker packs, and Koolaid 'if they only had the chance.' Not hardly! Clean living is like a bracing walk in the beautiful sunshine. It may not seem exciting at first, but there's a wholesome, healing, refreshment in it that the gaudiest 'night' district will never match.


Rebehm said...

Neat blog, Mom!

Donna Andrews is a lot of fun. My favorite book of hers is "We'll Always Have Parrots". It was humorously and refreshingly unusual.

I am also glad for the time away from pop culture, Mom. It allowed me to learn to think for myself and learn to appreciate both my family and quiet more easily than before.

Anonymous said...

I like the Cat books too