Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday Intros No. 8: Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin

Welcome to First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros,
hosted by Diane @

Every Tuesday, each participant
shares the first paragraph 
(sometimes two) from a book
they're reading,
or thinking about reading.

The book I've picked this week is...

 Winter's Tale
Mark Helprin
Hardcover, 673 pages 
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
September 20, 1983
Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction,
Magic Realism, Romance


About the Book
New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white lights, its life unfolds, for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built, and nothing exists that can check its vitality. One night in winter, Peter Lake, orphan and master-mechanic, attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side.

Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love between Peter Lake, a middle-aged Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn, a young girl, who is dying.

Peter Lake, a simple, uneducated man, because of a love that, at first he does not fully understand, is driven to stop time and bring back the dead. His great struggle, in a city ever alight with its own energy and besieged by unprecedented winters, is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literature.

A White Horse Escapes

There was a white horse on a quiet winter morning when snow covered the streets gently and was not deep, and the sky was swept with vibrant stars, except in the east, where dawn was beginning in a light blue flood. The air was motionless, but would soon start to move as the sun came up and winds from Canada came charging down the Hudson.

The horse had escaped from his master's small clapboard stable in Brooklyn. He trotted alone over the carriage road of the Williamsburg Bridge, before the light, while the toll keeper was sleeping by his stove and many stars were still blazing above the city. Fresh snow on the bridge muffled his hoof beats, and he sometimes turned his head and looked behind him to see if he was being followed. He was warm from his own effort and he breathed steadily, having loped four or five miles through the dead of Brooklyn past silent churches and shuttered stores. Far to the south, in the black, ice-choked waters of the Narrows, a sparkling light marked the ferry on its way to Manhattan, where only market men were up, waiting for the fishing boats to glide down through Hell Gate and the night.   

This is yet another novel
I've owned for years, and have
yet to read! And with such 
a GORGEOUS cover, too!
I ADORE horses, and the color blue!!
I love the vivid, poetic prose,
so I think I'll be picking
this one up very soon!
(After I mentally kick myself
    for not doing so, all this time.)   
From what I've posted above, 
would you say that
I should keep reading? 

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Cozy Book Corner No. 5: Balancing Fiction and Nonfiction

Welcome to my Monday feature!

I have moved this feature
from Friday to Monday.

In each weekly post, I explore 
my thoughts on several 
book-related topics.

This post might sound a bit 
like the one from last week.
Please bear with me. I think my 
subconscious mind simply decided to
expand upon the topic presented in 
the previous post.   

Book blogging is such a delightful venture! All of us who blog about books do so because we love to write book reviews, post other kinds of book articles, and, of course, also love to meet other passionate bookworms. 

Most book bloggers, I've noticed, blog about fiction, and prefer specific fiction genres, as well. However, there's a number of book bloggers who also, or even exclusively, blog about nonfiction. The first example that comes to mind is that of Brian Joseph, whose blog, Babbling Books, contains fascinating posts about both fiction and nonfiction books. I'm not sure whether he consciously strives to keep a balance between these two broad categories, but I do see a nice mix of the two on his blog.

In the years since I began to blog about books (2010), I have often resisted specializing in one specific genre or category, preferring to have an eclectic blog, instead. However, I have also noticed that, whenever I have posted a review about a nonfiction book, I usually got very few or no comments. This was very discouraging, as I wanted -- and still want -- to be able to read and review all the genres I love, and these definitely include nonfiction books. 

One day, I decided to start a blog specifically for classics, literary fiction, adult fantasy, science fiction, and nonfiction. I also wanted to include Christian fiction. Thus, MindSpirit Journeys was born, in 2012. Meanwhile, I decided to dedicate my first blog, A Night's Dream of Books, exclusively to the Young Adult Fiction genre, with perhaps an occasional adult title (historical romance, for instance) every so often.

I soon began to feel the pressure of having two blogs, so I abandoned MindSpirit Book Journeys for quite some time. I didn't think I'd ever return to it, but eventually, I did, for the simple reason that I wanted to review books I knew my YA audience wouldn't be interested in. Most of these were nonfiction books.

Then the tug-of-war began.....it took me a long time to actually acknowledge it, but now I am doing so. Both fiction and nonfiction are interesting to me; both draw me in, and there are times I prefer to read one more than the other. So it's quite impossible for me to attempt to make sure I read an equal number of books in each category, much as I would love to! I simply "go with the flow", at least most of the time.

Even when I begin reading a novel that keeps me turning pages, there are times when I fall into certain moods, or some topic catches my interest. At such times, I frequently will abandon or "leave for later" whatever novel I happen to be reading, and reach for a nonfiction book.

A case in point: for several days now, I've had the novel Water For Elephants in my sidebar, posted as the next book I'll read. Well, sure enough, a nonfiction book has caught my attention, and this is the book I'm actually reading.... I'm not sure why I got into it, except that the topic involved -- the Kaballah -- has been an interest of mine for quite some time, even though I haven't read about it consistently, or extensively. The reason for this, ironically, is that I've been pulled away by either other nonfiction books, or some very compelling novels! Now I'm feeling a pull in the opposite direction, and so I have started (I'm currently in the middle) Kaballah: Key to Your Inner Power, by Elizabeth Clare Prophet.

I have already changed the picture in the sidebar to reflect my real current read. So now I'm feeling somewhat "guilty" for not reading the other book at this time, when I was "supposed to". I almost feel as if I have to make it up to this book, as if its feelings had been hurt.... Kinda funny, right?

I do want to read Water For Elephants. I will probably do so after I finish the Kaballah book. Well, that will happen unless another nonfiction book happens to catch my eye.... Could there possibly be such a thing as "fickleness" and "unfaithfulness" in reading?

I wonder if other book bloggers also experience this tension between reading fiction and nonfiction. I wonder if any of my fellow bookworms agonize over their decisions to read one or the other of these two categories...

Compounding the problem, in my particular case, is the fact that I do have two blogs, AND, on top of that, am a pretty slow reader, usually managing to finish 2 or 3 books a month. This means that, if I read a book that I know I will review on one of my two blogs, that's time I cannot spend reading a book that I will review on the other blog, because of the different target audiences.

What to do?! I'm seriously thinking of flipping a coin the next time I get ready to start reading something!  I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. I should be asle to decide, in a logical, non-emotional manner, which book -- as well as genre -- I should read next. Well, perhaps Mr. Spock would calmly be able to do so, but I have emotions, and it's frequently my emotions that influence my choice of fiction vs. nonfiction. On the other hand, intellectual interests do influence my decision to read nonfiction (although these interests are tinged with emotion, as well, albeit one of intellectual fascination). There are many topics that utterly fascinate me. Most of them have to do with psychology, art, literary criticism, theology, and even some philosophy and science. History is another topic I want to read more about, as well.

The thing is, when I am caught by the pull of a particular interest, I am unable to ignore it, and stick with the book I had previously chosen to read. Whether the pull is an emotional or intellectual one (or a mixture of the two), actually doesn't matter at all. I feel compelled to abandon my previous reading plan, and go with the one that has unexpectedly presented itself....

Meanwhile, my mind and emotions are usually torn; I want to go on with my original intent. But there are other times in which I feel no regrets whatsoever, and happily go on with my revised reading plan.

So the struggle continues.... As I look over my bookshelves, here in our living room, my eyes lovingly caress all those fascinating book spines, and I sigh with a mixture of love nd despair.....I love all of these books, and want to read them all, but don't know if I'll EVER be able to, especially when there are times I can't decide between reading fiction or nonfiction, and, even when I make a choice, I still look longingly at the book I have "left behind" for later, wondering if perhaps I never will get back to it....               

What are your thoughts 
on this subject?
How do you balance fiction and nonfiction in 
your reading life?