Thursday, April 06, 2006

Where I eventually get around to making my point

Reptile Recap: We have not seen the lizard since we took him to the neighbor's jungle of a backyard (away from our cats) and placed him in a tree. For the record, that band-aid was placed so loosely on him, that I doubt it stayed on for more than a few minutes. We haven't seen him or any "parts" of him (regurgitated thoughtfully on the mat outside the kitchen door), so that's probably a good thing. Thanks to all who offered alternative medical advice, except for Nilbo who should definitely be worried about his karma. I'm just sayin'.
Please note that my blogroll's former title--"What I'm Reading"has been changed to "Spongeworthy". Seinfeld enthusiasts will need no explanation.


Please participate in a brief poll wherein I ask one simple question: Should I change my template to the plain white version of this one? I'm tiring of this one (Minima Ochre) and, lacking the skills to change it to one of the more dynamic templates that involve cutting & pasting and saving text files, my choice seems to be limited to using one of the ugly Blogger templates provided. I like the white one just fine, but I will have to copy and retype my entire Holy Roman Empire-sized blogroll into my template because changing to another design will cause me to lose every thing here except for the posts themselves.

I still don't know how to make a photographic header for the background, and I can't even figure out how to change the color of the wording on my blogroll so that it's not quite so faint. I found another template that Blogger will accept, but it involves the saving/cutting/pasting thing and I'm afraid I'll lose text if I do something wrong. The plain white template is my second choice for change and I'm just wondering if it's worth the trouble of retyping the links. So...change...yes or no?


My reading habits of late have become of great concern to me. And when I say "reading habits" I mean that I'm not really reading all that much. Maybe a book a month...if that. Reading has always been one of the greatest pleasures of my life. A joy. An escape. An education. A passion. My whole life has been about libraries and bookstores. About books you could order in school or from my editor's publishing house catalogs. New books could literally make me salivate. I loved to talk about them and feel the weight of them in my hands and sniff the pages and study the font. The opening lines of every first chapter brought the promise of new worlds to me. As a kid I was never without a book. School, family reunions, church. I read in the car and at the pool and under the covers with a flashlight. I still carry a book with me every where I go...just in case.

But my attitude about reading now know...Feh! **big sigh**

I have no idea why I have come to this crossroads. I go to the bookstore to browse and I want to weep for all the crap that's being published. None of it interests me...even the stuff that probably isn't crap, and it's probably quite revealing that I see almost everything on the shelves in that light. I open a book up to the first page and I can no longer find the "hook" that will draw me in and take me to someplace so far away that I almost forget to pick up the youngest kid from school. Even the books I HAVE read that sent me over the moon fail to elicit any enthusiasm from me anymore. Yeah, sure....Harper Lee...greatest writer ev----**snore**. I AM SCARING MYSELF!

I just got up to count the books on my bedside table...only one of which I actually finished (Garrison Keillor's "Homegrown Democrat"...but I read it before the last election and before my ennui set in). There are 37 assorted unfinished books on my bedside table. No, I'm not kidding. There's a lamp...and 37 books. Everything from Charles Dickens' "Bleak House" to Paul Auster's "Oracle Night" to Julie Powell's "Julie & Julia" .

My sons gave me the book "Gilead" for my birthday, which is supposed to be good and it won the Pulitzer and all. It's a slow-moving book. Thoughtful. Deliberate. I start reading and I can feel the words sliding off of my brain like bare feet on a wet floor. I need to finish it because they gave it to me, but it's going to be a struggle. I can already tell.

The last book that held my attention was a book I bought for my 6th grader called, "Al Capone Does My Shirts". It's a "young reader" book, but I gobbled it down like the the last doughnut at a Weight Watcher's Christmas party.

I know, I know. It's not the books. It's me. But what part of me is responsible for this turn of events? Right up until November I was reading all the time. Maybe I've damaged myself in some way. Is it all that helium I inhaled by working at the Six Flags balloon shed? The many drunken nights in college? Staying home with small kids and...oh wait...could it be their brief infatuation with "Barney" and all those videos I had to watch? Oh...the agony!'s something else. There seems to be this perpetual fog that I can't seem to wave away. And I really do want it to go. I'm swimming underwater and the water is blurry and blue. I can only hear bubbles and the faint sounds of other people talking, but I can't hear what they're saying.

In the meantime...send me some ideas for something good to read. The pile on my beside table doesn't quite reach the ceiling. And...oh yeah...let me know about the template.


Blogger Rude Cactus said...

I know zippy about blogspot but I do know HTML and graphic design. If you want help, let me know.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

It seems like you're ready for a change, so I'm all for that. I think you should take RC up on the offer of help. Arabella's new design by Chelle is awesome - you could hit her up to. And calling us all 'sponge-worthy' makes me snicker.

Books I suggest that aren't hard to get into: anything by Anne Tyler, Rose by the guy wrote Gorky Park (it's a good mystery), Three Junes by Julia Glass and Life Among Savages Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson. These are all books I've read before I got into the same funk you're in. Got any suggestions for me?

10:11 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Why don't you set up test sites on different free blog sites like Blog City or LIve Journal. A friend changes her Live Journal blog every few days.

Or Script in Blogger has a nice look.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Ben Dolan said...

I was reading Hemingway's "Through The River and Into the Trees" or is it into the river and through the trees? I don't even remember. I have it sitting on my desk, accumulating Library Courtesy Notice after Library Courtesy notice; I've renewed it like 4 times. I'm tricking myself. I like to call it reading by diffusion. You know, by its aura.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

If you are not happy with the template, than yes change.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

Spongeworthy! YES. That's just great.

I would leave your template alone. OR beg someone creative to tweak it for you. Maybe for a book trade or something?

I haven't been reading as much lately either. And I DEVOUR books like food. I've been picking through "Eldest" the teen sequel to "Eragon." They're actually pretty good. I was doubtful.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

There are some nice templates at that might suit you. Pretty flowers and stuff.

I read Gilead last year, and yes, it's tough at first. Veeeerrryyy sloooooow. But it *is* worth it, in the end. Might I suggest you start with Housekeeping by the same author? I read that a few months back and it was wonderful, and it might be a nicer entree into her work (which I think is just those 2 books!).

Whenever I get in a reading funk, I try a palate cleanser - something light and silly, like chick lit, or a goofy mystery. I can read those fast, and it makes me feel like I'm back in the groove.

12:52 PM  
Blogger monica said...

Definitely change your look, if it's bugging you! One of the best things about Blogger that you can do pretty much whatever you want with your template. I've been tweaking (and outright molesting) Blogger templates for a while. I'm also a graphic designer / HTML-er, and would be happy to help...

As for the Spongeworthy list (hee!), you could try something like BlogRolling. It's free, all you have to add is a little piece of code to your template, then you do any updating at their site (super easy). Pretty good deal, as long as you don't mind their "Powered by Blogrolling" link at the end...

Jeebus, I sound like a sales drone for Blogger + BlogRolling. Sorry.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I have tried mucking with the basic ho-hum blogger template with little success. Unfortunately my stunning lack of HTML skills is what's holding me back. After the last time I mucked with it, unless you use firefox my whole sidebar is somewhere at the bottom.

I say take anyone who's willing up on the offer for blog help. I'll continue mucking with mine in the hope of improving it. :)

2:11 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

We are allowed to go through changes and it can be difficult to find a good book especially if you have just read a couple great ones, but I would try Paperback Row at The New York Times to look for books.

So far I have been satisfied four out of eighht times with my selections which isn't bad.

Here is the link.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Lucky Lum said...

I know squat about templates. I did change mine, but for fear of losing everything I copied and pasted it to a word doc on my computer. It really wasn't too hard.
Personally I like this color better than boring white.

Now as for the reading thing...I hear ya.
I've always been a reader like you, but find from time to time I go through similar not-picking-up-a-book phases.
I'm sure it will pass and it seems you've already discovered you're in some sort of foggy state right now...
Read light material that you don't have to think about too much- that's my advice.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Annie, The Evil Queen said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who doesn't know how to spice up a template. I'm just excited I can change my sidebar information now. If you want a change, I vote for accepting all of the goodwill help that has been offered.

I'm a big, big reader. You might want to try something that isn't a whole novel. Like the David Sedaris books or a travelogue. Each chapter is sort of self contained so you don't get mired down. A great travelogue I read recently was The Sex Lives of Cannibals. Gilead is wonderful, but slow. I always read the first page of a book at the store. If it doesn't catch me then, I put it back.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Jane said...

What kind of books do you like? We share a birthday. Maybe we share similar tastes in books? You think?

Recently read:
Everything is Illuminated
Mapping the Edge - Sarah Dunant
Saturday - Ian McEwan
The Memory of Running
I Am Charlotte Simmons - Tom Wolfe
The Line of Beauty

In the process of reading:
The Birth of Venus - Sarah Dunant

In my reading queue:
Motherless Brooklyn
Never Let Me Go

Tom Wolfe can be tiresome and this book is no exception. I really loved Saturday; I think it is beautifully written. Sorry I cannot recall all the authors' names.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Nilbo said...

You consider me spongeworthy? Yoiks. My karma really IS in the dumper (smirk).

I'd be all over the offer of help, and yeah, time to change.

I'm no help on the book list. I cannot remember how long it's been since I read anything that wasn't about the process of writing. I'm well-rounded that way.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

I'm a little late here--I was going to say that I used to have white and changed it to minima ochre because I got tired of it, and perhaps the opposite would be true for you. However, I really like that sunny new color you're trying out.

As far as the books go, maybe try a biography of someone you admire? Every once in a while, I go on a nonfiction bender, and it gets me back in the game.

6:40 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

The white background might work, but you would need to add some color elsewhere. I'm sorry I don't know much about Blogger to be able to help with a photo header.
Arabella had Shell design one for her and it turned out great. Perhaps you can check with her.

As for reading, I'm kind of in the same quandry. I just can't get excited about anything that I've been reading of late, although I just started Isabel Allende's Portrait in Sepia and the narrative and descriptions of the characters is awesome so far.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

How can someone who loves to write find it so difficult to read books? That's the same quandray I've been facing for quite a long time now. I keep buying books, checking them out of the library, happily receving them as gifts--but not READING them.

I can't tell you how often I start and dump a book because I lose interest in the stories, the characters, or the writing or all three.

Ater years of loving ficition, I've discovered I'm much more likely to be engrossed by nonfiction. Thus, I can spend an hour reading blogs. I linger with magazines. I like to read essays and collections of essays, I've discovered I like biographies and autobiographies, and books on topics related to marketing and PR, which, incidentally, I never had time to read when I was actually working in marketing and PR!

I also like to read poetry. It's so condensed and so rich, it grabs a moment and an image and gives a big literary experience in a small package. Love that.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Lisa Ann said...

Recently read & loved:
Prep-Curtis Sittenfeld
Tender Bar-J.R. Moehringer
Pilots Wife-Anita Schreve

Reading right now:
Bitter is the New Black-Jen Lancaster

Happy reading!

12:33 PM  
Blogger jess said...

I've been on a big Dorothy Sayers kick myself - mysteries but very literate and amusing. In my opinion you can never go wrong with children's lit - like Al Capone. Have you read any Megan Whalen Turner? She's got a series that just keeps getting better, first one is The Thief.

I get into phases where I want The Perfect Book - well written, delicious characters, homey but adventurous, a little romance, some tears, that makes you heave a big sigh at the end with contentment. It's so hard to pick anything up in that mood.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I am totally intimidated by the whole template changing thing. I did a couple of things, but not without much blood, sweat, and cursing. As for reading, read the Harry Potter books. I'm not kidding. Also, Freakonomics and Blink.

7:43 PM  

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