Reading My Way Around the World

Sunday 31 January 2016

Reading challenges

Booking tours, doing arrangements and planning and sending out publicity materials can be very intense - usually I end up stressed to the nines.   But with renewed determination to not get stressed by day to day stuff this year, I've buried my nose in a book instead - 4 of them this month so far ... details at the bottom.

Several people had been writing about reading challenges so I had a wee look around and spotted this post from the  Storyteller Matters blog... with a link to several challenges.  This one from Modern Mrs Darcy looks do-able.

  • There's several on this list that I have been meaning to get around to ... a book that I own and have never read - phew - that's probably half of those on my shelves.
  • A book I previously abandandoned - see above.  Someone pointed out to me once that if you read a book a month that's only around 500 books for a lifetime -Good point - So why finish something that you don't like when you could be really enjoying some new author.   A case in point is J.K. Rowling's A Casual Vacancy - I could not get into that at all.   One to be relegated to the book Corner.  But there are more that might be worth another visit.  

Apart from the book you can finish in a day which will be a challenge, the others look great.   Have you got any suggestions for that?

So far this year I've read A Man Called Ove which is simply wonderful - funny, uplifting and a real page turner - easily 5*

And Paris Letters which I wrote about here ... another 5* from me

And still continuing my binge of John Grisham novels, just finished The Testament - brilliant.

And lastly The Savage Garden by Mark Mills which was not a bad read - a good thriller.

Goodness knows when I'll have another month of binge reading like that but it was great to escape for a while.

What now!!  Maybe a book I abandoned.

What are you reading at the minute?
Any recommendations?

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Home concerts

What a shock to hear that David Bowie passed away 
and what a wonderful way to go, 
releasing an album just days before he left.  
In all the interviews I heard with him over the years 
I never once heard him doubting himself.
It was always about what he wanted to give to others.  
When I first came across him and bought the Hunky Dory album,
I was sure that he was an alien from another planet sent to earth to teach us.  

Good luck David, wherever your next stop is. 

There's already a little stretch in the evenings here in Co Down - it was lovely seeing the crescent moon last night (holding up the rain, my mother always says) and there's a fresh energy around to get things moving for the New Year.  
Before Tom and I head to Australia towards the end of February (boy, am I looking forward to the sunshine) we have two lovely concerts at home - at both homes - Belleek and Rostrevor.

Friday 12th February, 9pm

The Jolly Farmer, Clyhore, Belleek, Co. Fermanagh
(The Jolly Farmer is actually across the bridge in Belleek in Co. Donegal - so it's a cross border gig, literally).
This concert is in aid of our friend Peter McMahon's charity trip to Africa later this year with Niall Mellon Educate, where he and more than 200 other volunteers will be building a new school in the Townships in South Africa.

Saturday 13th February, 8pm
An Cuan, Rostrevor, Co. Down
This concert is to raise funds for the Southern Area Hospice where our friend Bronagh from my singer's group passed away last Spring.  

Have a great rest of week.   

Thursday 7 January 2016

Who really likes practising?

... an instrument I mean?

Or should I ask, who really likes the thought of having to sit down to go over the same stuff day in day out!   I for one have always hated it.  Once I'm sitting down, guitar on knee or voice exercises on the stereo then I'm usually ok.   But the way to getting there is dreadful.   It's all worth it in the end but ....

I read lots of blogs about the practice of art, or the practice of daily writing.   And the one practice I can manage, is to do my morning pages most days.   In fact at the moment I'm considering taking up the challenge laid down several years ago by Janice McLeod (she of the wonderful book Paris Letters
which I'm currently devouring) of doing morning pages every day for a year.   When I did them before for an extended period of time, writing songs came very easily to me, as did the basics of settling down to practice, or do publicity or whatever the task at hand was.  I managed to write more or less every day for 10 months and have picked up the practice over and over again in the intervening years.

For those of you who don't know, 'morning pages' is a practice promoted by Julia Cameron in her wonderful book "The Artist's Way".  In it, she suggests that the mainstay of any art, or indeed of a creative life,  is to learn how to bypass the critic.  And her practice of writing 3 pages long-hand every morning is wonderful.  It's cathartic, a great place for moaning, and a great place for working out problems.

Now, many years after first completing The Artist's Way and writing my first morning pages, I don't stick with having to write first thing in the morning.  Writing at any time during the day works for me.   Just showing up at that journal is what's important.   And writing by hand    And while most days I manage the 3 A4 pages, or 6 A5, there are some days when I only have time for one, or for a list or a note.   And that counts too.  It gives me a place to settle in to myself again.

Will it get me to a place where I willingly sit down to practice?   Probably not :)   But it might make something else come around.