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Monday, 21 January 2013

A Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon

Yes, it's read-a-thon time again!  I LOVE the sheer prevalence of them at this time of the year - and the fact that this particular one also coincides with a hearty downfall of snow (and thus opens with an impromptu day off work) seems deliciously appropriate...  :) 
A Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon is hosted by Michelle over at Seasons of Reading, and is very laid-back and very low-key - in other words, perfect for the January come-down.  It runs from today through to the end of Sunday, and the only requirements are that you sign up on the linky, sign in at the starting line, wrap up at the end, and READ!  My daily updates will all be here in one post, and I'll also be chatting on Twitter using the read-a-thon hashtag, #WintersRespite.
I don't have any particular goals - mostly because the weather (and thus my working hours) is so unpredictable at the moment.  I have a few jobs to get done too, like finishing up my visits and number-crunching for the MIU2012 challenge, which I STILL haven't finished, and making the move proper to my new laptop.  I would, however, like to finish reading Jane Eyre if I possibly can, watch the rest of the BBC adaptation, and FINALLY see the new movie!  If I could squeeze the rest of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in by the end of the week, then so much the better.  We'll just have to wait and see... :)
What I've been reading this week
I've been reading:  A Book Addict's Treasury by Julie Rugg and Lynda Murphy, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Pages read today:  37
Running total:  0 books; 37 pages
Okay, so today started out really well.  It snowed beautifully overnight so instead of trekking into town AGAIN just to sit and stare at the ceiling for four hours before coming home, we decided to sit tight, stay warm, and have an extra day off.  I started out reading A Book Addict's Treasury over breakfast.  It was the section called 'What to Read, and How', and I really loved this particular piece, particularly given how many snobs we get in the shop who are disgusted because I read modern fiction, or because I didn't like a particular classic, or because I'm not thoroughly versed in their particular field of interest:
"... how woefully mistaken are those who believe that certain books, because universally acknowledged as 'masterpieces', are the books which alone have power to inspire and nourish us.  Every lover of books can name dozens of titles which, because they unlock his soul, because they open his eyes to reality, are for him the golden books.  It matters not what evaluation is made of these by scholars and critics, by pundits and authorities: for the man who is touched to the quick by them they are supreme." - Henry Miller
Well said indeed.  After that I went back to Jane Eyre, thrilling in Jane's return to Thornfield and finally, FINALLY, the big proposal scene.  I must say, I'm getting an awful lot from the notes at the back of this edition - little things like the way Jane and Rochester's blissful moment in the midsummer walled orchard has echoes of the Garden of Eden, and how it is an omen of the Fall to come.  Maybe I'm just a geek but I LOVE stuff like that, little details I might not have noticed before.
Aaaand then my reading went to hell in a handbasket.  I had to go out and shovel snow, and then I had dinner and watched an episode of Campus (mostly for Matt Beer, it must be said - you all know how much I love a dishevelled, quick-witted and promisingly filthy literary man), and then I started to get a cracking headache and ended up sitting in bed watching Gilmore Girls and drinking Ovaltine.  I'll try to do better tomorrow!
I've been reading:  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Pages read today:  38
Running total:  0 books; 75 pages
Another rubbish reading day!  Actually it started off very promisingly.  I read a chunk of Harry Potter (the journey on the Hogwarts Express) over breakfast, read Jane Eyre throughout the morning (some post-proposal chatter and Mrs Fairfax's cryptic warnings) and then returned to Hogwarts for the Sorting Ceremony while I ate lunch.  It was after that that it all went to hell in a snow-covered handbasket!
After lunch Mum and I spent a good two hours helping our neighbour clear not only our drive, but also the entire steep hill down into the village.  This meant snow shovelling as usual, but also chipping away painfully at the ice underneath the snow, right along the two 'wheel zones' down the hill.  We literally had to use proper metal spades to crack the stuff an inch at a time, like the world's most hellish creme brulee, before scraping it off the tarmac as thoroughly as possible.  Not fun.  Aaaand then I had about an hour to take a quick shower and have a quiet 'sitting down with a cuppa' moment before we headed out grocery shopping because our online delivery wouldn't have made it.

I caught up on My Mad Fat Diary while I had tea; it is definitely one of my favourite things on telly!  So honest and funny and bittersweet and heartbreaking and lovely, all at the same time.  And it features Ian Hart, which fits with my Philosopher's Stone theme quite nicely (Professor Quirrell you guys, keep up!).  Click here to catch up via 4oD.  And THEN I got caught up live-tweeting through the second half of the Comic Relief Great British Bake Off with Laura, which rapidly descended from a serious discussion of the difference between a Bakewell pudding and a Bakewell tart into a less serious but very earnest discussion of Simon Reeve's hotness and Warwick Davis's immense gateau-making skill.  SO MUCH FUN.  And THEN I was going to go and fetch cake of my own and read some more, but I was suddenly very, very tired and went to bed instead.  EPIC READING FAIL.
I've been reading:  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Pages read today:  45
Running total:  0 books; 120 pages
I woke up with a headache, and it pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day, to be honest!  I didn't go near Jane Eyre at all; instead I spent the day sitting on my bedroom floor (back to the radiator people, best place to be!) watching YouTube videos and reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  I've now made it beyond this moment:
And also past the "What the hell is Harry doing with that broomstick?  Let's set fire to Snape!" part.  Good going, Ellie.  I'm having so many Pottery thoughts, it's brilliant.  Stuff like how I really wish the movie had shown the Weasley twins trying to pull Harry to safety during the Quidditch match, then circling underneath him to try to catch him if he fell.  Because, seriously, they are so loyal and awesome. *sobs inside*  And, like, Snape was trying to SAVE Harry and Hermione's all ingenious and Neville's such a sweet dude and all I can think is "I am going to have so many feels later on, I should enjoy this frippery while it lasts."
I'm actually writing this on Thursday, so I'm completely justified in saying that the annoying tinnitus and the "wow, the snow is bright today" moments I had yesterday afternoon SHOULD have been fair warning of the hell to follow overnight, but I didn't really notice at the time.  So I had a shower, and had dinner, and watched a little telly, and went to bed early, and that was that.  Ohhhh, tomorrow's/today's (sssssh, belated writing) update is going to be so devoid of reading, it's not even funny.  :(
I've been reading:  Migraine websites
Pages read today:  Not a single measly one
Running total:  0 books; 120 pages
Yeah, so basically, I didn't really register Wednesday's 'THE LIGHT!  IT BURNS!' moments, and the ringing in my ears and general blood pressure feeling, and paid for it when I woke up at 3am with the migraine from hell.  I had to sit very very still downstairs for twenty minutes with a hot beanie round my neck, before decamping back up to bed with a cup of chai tea, where I sat rocking in the semi-darkness, clutching my skull, curling into a ball, and wondering if this was going to be the first ever migraine to make me physically sick.  FINALLY the painkillers started to kick in and I watched an episode of Gilmore Girls very quietly to distract myself until I was pain-free enough to lie back down and go to sleep.  So far so crap, but then all day today I've had the post-migraine hangover, so I've sat at the desk at work staring blankly at the ceiling, nearly drifting off to sleep, and with my brain feeling decidedly foggy.
All of which has meant that as I suspected, I have read NOT A SINGLE PAGE today.  I've read some migraine-related websites, to find out whether the sleepy, weepy, hit-by-a-train feeling was par for the course (resounding conclusion: yes), but other than that I've just been floating around on the internet and watching stuff.  Two episodes of Gilmore Girls when I got home, and now I'm going to try to stay awake to a decent time by watching Elementary before I go to bed.  I'm so excited that I've found a channel to watch it online, rather than waiting for the DVD!  I'm sure I'll feel better tomorrow and I can go back to my reading at last!  :)
I've been reading:  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Pages read today:  15
Running total:  0 books; 135 pages
I only read one chapter today - 'The Mirror of Erised' - because I spent quite a lot of time watching trashy Friday night telly and staring out the window at the whirling snow - but ohhhh, I had forgotten how great it was!  First, can we just take a moment to appreciate this little gem, from right at the beginning of said chapter:
"One morning in mid-December, Hogwarts woke to find itself covered in several feet of snow.  The lake froze solid and the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban."
The key words here being "bouncing off the back of his turban".  I now have this completely unshakeable but utterly glorious image in my mind of the spooky Voldy-face, already suffering the indignity of being smushed under a load of turban-wrapping, being repeatedly bopped on the not-quite-nose by a bunch of snowballs.  I wonder if Quirrell had to talk a lot to cover the "Ooomph" noises coming from the back of his head?  Brilliant.
Aaaand then there's Christmas at Hogwarts, which I was going to write about before ACTUAL Christmas last year, just because it's so frickin' awesome.  The old-skool Christmas presents.  The Great Hall.  The Christmas trees laced in icicles and golden baubles and miniature candles.  THE FOOD!  The descriptions of food in this book are about the most mouthwatering thing I've read since my childhood Enid Blyton obsession.
"Harry had never in all his life had such a Christmas dinner.  A hundred fat, roast turkeys, mountains of roast and boiled potatoes, platters of fat chipolatas, tureens of buttered peas, silver boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce - and stacks of wizard crackers every few feet along the table."
 If that doesn't have you running for the fridge, nothing will!
And THEN there's the little night-time trips around Hogwarts in Harry's invisibility cloak.  My inner nerd wants to heartily applaud Harry for thinking "Where shall I go?  What shall I do?  Shall I pilfer delicious food from the kitchens?  Shall I explore the far reaches of the castle?  NO!  I SHALL GO TO THE LIBRARY!"  I have to admit, this is the first time I've cried reading this first book - but cry I did.  Maybe it was the fact that in the book there's a whole raft of Potters in the mirror, not just Lily and James.  Maybe it was the fact that their expressions change - that Lily cries, and the next time Harry 'visits' they beam as soon as they see him.  Maybe it was that one line, "Harry was looking at his family, for the first time in his life."  Yeah, it was probably that, since I'm welling up again just typing it.
So much enjoyment from one little chapter!  I'm hoping to read more again tomorrow, because the way this snow's coming down I'm anticipating getting one last snow day before the thaw arrives over the weekend.  Maybe I'll even finish Philosopher's Stone by the end of the read-a-thon!
I've been reading:  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Pages read today:  66
Running total:  1 book; 201 pages
Yup, I was right!  A good six inches of sticky snow fell overnight, with a thaw given for tonight, so we did indeed get one last snow day out of the current run of cold weather.  And I've had a really good day of it!  I've done my share of flitting around online, of course - mostly responding to comments on the blog - but I've also FINALLY finished my first book of 2013!
Once I'd made it past Norbert and Hagrid's sad parting to "I'm going through that trapdoor tonight," there was no stopping me!  I always find the final scene with Quirrell (yeah yeah, spoilers, but if you've not read the books by now... well, tough) more dramatic in the novel than I do on the screen, so I enjoyed reliving it all over again!  And then there was the declaration of those final points before the House Cup is awarded, which always gives me goosebumps.  YAY NEVILLE!
By this point it was dinner time, so rather than ruin my Potter experience by immediately leaping back into Jane Eyre - or forward into The Chamber of Secrets - I decided to watch the movie instead.  Can I just say, that as someone who has watched it fairly regularly over the last few years, it is MUCH better watching it right after you're done reading.  I noticed the parts that were super-faithful to the book and the bits that were contracted or changed; I had all the nuances of the book already in my mind so I appreciated the characters and drama more, and I noticed more of the little details that the book picked out directly.  In fact, I found myself making notes, which means a kind of double book/film post is probably on the horizon at some point.  Lovely.  Also, I think last time I watched the movie I was probably watching Snape most - but can I just say that Professor Quirrell is one luscious young man when you actually stop and look.  Shame about the whole face-on-the-back-of-his-head thing, really.
And now I'm kind of ready to go to bed, but it's pouring it down, the beams are creaking in the wind, there's thunder and lightning rolling around the valley... maybe I'll just give it another ten minutes.  The snow's already melting fast under the rain and milder air, so we'll be back at work tomorrow, no problems.  I'll try and read plenty again to round off our read-a-thon on a high point!
I've been reading:  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Pages read today:  59
Running total:  1 book; 260 pages
Oh yes, we woke up this morning to find the ground sodden and the snow almost entirely gone.  From nearly a foot deep to a few odd patches, and no ice anywhere - not bad for one night!  I was actually up pretty early, so I got in plenty of hearty reading time with tea and coffee and the obligatory chocolate chip muffin before work.  Once again I neglected Jane Eyre first thing in favour of the Boy Wizard, who was right in the middle of dealing with Dobby, getting stuck in Dursley Jail, and being rescued by a flying carful of Weasleys.  Fantastic. 
And then, of course, there's The Burrow.  There are so many extra details in the book that kind of get skipped over in the movie version of the house I have in my head - particularly in Ron's room, which I don't think you really see in the second film??  It gives Ron (and the house, and the wizarding world in general) an extra boost of life - the Chudley Cannons posters, the Self-Shuffling playing cards, and this wonderful image:
"Ron's school spellbooks were stacked untidily in a corner, next to a pile of comics which all seemed to feature The Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle.  Ron's magic wand was lying on top of a fish tank full of frogspawn on the window-sill, next to his fat grey rat, Scabbers, who was snoozing in a patch of sun."
I still have trouble thinking of Scabbers as anything more than a cute lazy rat at this point, by the way.  I don't know, that one paragraph just says so much about teen life in a wizarding family, and it feels so warm and homely - I love it! 
Anyway, I read a decent chunk of HP throughout the day - up to Arthur Weasley jumping on Lucius Malfoy in the bookshop (now THERE'S a moment I'd forgotten from the books) - and I also read a few token pages from Jane Eyre, just so I wouldn't drift away from it completely.  I might have to spend some quality time with her this week, push on a bit, or I risk completely leaving her behind in my utter enchantment with my Pottery rereading!
Okay, I think that's me done for the week!  Time to get this baby wrapped up...
Well, I KIND of did everything I planned this week, only with slightly different books.  I DID finish a book and watch the movie, only it was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, not Jane Eyre!  I feel a bit guilty for neglecting poor Jane - right before her not-quite-wedding, as well - but it's definitely been more of a Harry Potter week.  Lots of snow and laziness and headaches and generally wanting to dive headfirst into life at Hogwarts rather than get into wordy philosophical debates at Thornfield...
In the end I dropped by a handful of blogs, Tweeted occasionally (though not as much as I intended to - I might have to read through some of the tweets I missed retrospectively!), read from 4 different books, and read a total of 260 pages.  Not a massive amount, but over 100 pages more than I read the previous week, so it's an improvement, which is all that matters.  :)
How did my fellow Winter's Respite Read-a-Thonners get on?  Everyone have a good week of reading?


  1. Keep it up, girl. You're doing fine! We all get tired and have distractions from television. *raises hand* We still have several more days so all hope is not lost. LOL!

    That is one of the most gorgeous snow pics I've ever seen! Reminds me of winters in my home state of Michigan. I miss it!

    1. Thank you! We live on a hillside in the Derbyshire Dales, England, and with a decent camera zoom you can get some really good shots right down the valley to Riber Castle. :)


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