Happy New YearHappy New Year! I’m just about 22 days behind schedule, but that’s only because I’ve been reading so much! Honestly!

This might just be a fairly random posting as there’s so much going on.

First, my heart is just going out to all the people of Haiti. I sit and read the news every day, at least 3 times a day, and just am astounded by the tremendous hardships in Haiti and Port-au-Prince. I am also amazed by organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Partners in Health and the United Nations World Food Programme. It is both humbling and inspiring to see so many people come together to help so many in need. I am also grateful for the news coverage by NPR, which has been my primary news source for the past couple of months. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in and connected with Haiti.

On the local front, I am saddened by the news story in Southern Colorado of the individual who neglected over 40 macaws, over 100 pigeons, and dogs and cats. The macaws have been rescued by The Gabriel Foundation and you can read about the rescue and related articles on their website. If you’ve followed my blog for the past 2 years, you know how much I care about birds, animals, wildlife, and nature. We are hearing way too often about animal hoarders and the neglect inflicted upon so many animals. For other animal protection and shelters, I look to Best Friends Animal Society based in Utah where they have beautiful facilities to care for animals. A few years ago, I visited the shelters for cats and dogs and was truly impressed by the caring work they are doing.

image of books

On a personal note, I just returned from the American Library Association MidWinter conference held in Boston and had the pleasure to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak at the Sunrise Series event. It was a real treat to hear her talk about her writing experience, Eat, Pray, Love and her newest book Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. A summary of her talk is available through the online edition of Cognotes (see page 1 and 8). I am really looking forward to reading Committed now. What I especially enjoyed hearing her say is that she’s a normal person, like everyone else. She was put on a pedestal after the great success of Eat, Pray, Love and she looks at her success in a very organic and zen-like way. She also talked about keeping with her principles and when the first draft of Committed really did not sit well with her, she was honest with her editor and publisher, took some time off, gardened, and then was literally struck by the new first sentence of  the book. The sentence came to her, she wrote it down, and wrote a little more each day, and now we have the version of Committed on the shelves now. And, she is proud of her work. The beauty of Elizabeth Gilbert is that she can be proud but also humble. It’s a wonderful characteristic and perhaps that’s why she has so many readers. The moral of the story: be true to yourself, listen to your internal messages, be honest, and allow time for introspection. I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to hear her speak live. There are some great videos of her talks available through Elephant Journal, based in Boulder, CO.

I am continuing to Read a Book a week and plan to do this for all of 2010. Here’s a summary of the titles I’ve read over the past couple of weeks:

  • The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel (book 1) by Jasper Fforde
  • Lost in a Good Book: A Thursday Next Novel (book 2) by, you guessed it, Jasper Fforde
    By the way, Jasper Fforde is a brilliant writer and his website is about one of the most whimsical I’ve seen in a while. He makes reading truly entertaining and educational. Thursday Next is one of my favorite lead female characters and reminds me of a female 007.
  • Coming up next in the series:  The Well of Lost Plots (book 3). In fact, I have to go pick this book up at the Library! (Thanks to librarian friend and consultant Melissa for suggesting the series. I’m hooked!)
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I also saw the movie over the holidays. I read the book first and made sure I was mentally prepared. I knew this would be psychologically challenging. Reading this brought on a swath of emotions including grief, mourning, shock, despair, and finally hope. While the movie was not an exact representation of the book, I still thought it was excellent. One difference was that I fully needed to have a release of emotions through crying after reading the book and for some reason did not have that release. The movie was a different story and I’m glad I had a wad of tissues because I needed them!Highly recommend for personal introspection, but be sure you have a good support group around you.
  • All My Rivers Are Gone: A Journey of Discovery Through Glen Canyon by the fantastic Katie Lee, author, musicologist, folk singer, storyteller, actress, songwriter, filmmaker, photographer, activist, poet, and river runner. This is a wonderful book for anyone who wants to reconnect with the Glen Canyon before Lake Powell and the dam(n).
  • Sightings: Extraordinary Encounters with Ordinary Birds by Sam Keen. I’m about 1/2 through reading this wonderful birding book and is meant to be read slowly, savoring the poetry, the artwork, and the sheer magnificence of birds in nature.
  • Mysterious Life of the Heart:  Writing from The Sun about Passion, Longing, and Love by the Sun Magazine – I love reading the essays in the Sun every month. This book, with some of the best of their essays, helps me understand life and people, and allows a good deal of introspection and thoughtfulness.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. I’ve had this on my list to read for a long time and I’m finally getting around to it after receiving the book as a gift. As always, I enjoy Kinsolver’s writing, and with this title, I’m steeping myself in locavorism (locavores rock!) and the art of eating locally, growing your own food, and seeking out all local food stuffs. I now have a fierce desire to garden and hope to act on that in 2010 (living at 8400 feet where winter sticks around for 9 months is the hitch).
  • I’m also reading 3 books about Iceland: Lonely Planet Iceland, Frommer’s Iceland and  Iceland: Land of the Sagas by Jon Krakauer and David Roberts.

What’s on my immediate to-read list? Well, my reading wish list is virtually endless. I’ll be reading books the rest of my life. But for the next couple of weeks and months, here’s what I hope to read:

I’m also very keen on viewing and reading some of these wonderful old bird books, but for now, I have to be satisfied viewing them on the web, as highlighted on AbeBooks Rare Book Room. Maybe I’ll start collecting antiquarian books. It’s been reported that investing in rare books is as good or better than investing in the stock market (isn’t that the truth!). I do plan to read field books and guides about birds throughout 2010 to strengthen my identification skills and have a good stack of bird books to learn from.

What are you reading? I’d love to hear from you – Post a comment here or send me an email at greycatblog[at]gmail.com.  Happy Bookishness!

ps. I’m an indexer (among other things like researcher,  librarian, and library consultant) and I just noticed the Index on Jasper Fforde’s website, a perfect example of his witty style, and also a really good web index!)