Before I begin this post, I’d like to thank everyone who has left one of the many kind and supportive comments on my last post. It means a lot. I was very touched. Thank you so much.
What a long absence. Initially, I thought I’d be absent for a couple of weeks, maybe a month, but it has quickly turned into over two months. I don’t want to go into too many details but for those who are interested, I’ll explain a few things. Part of my absence was due to my eyes, even though I was allowed to read again after a few weeks. I know, some of you thought I was absent because of eye strain but that wasn’t the reason. One evening, while I was about to go to bed, I suddenly saw very bright flashing lights. Since I had had other eye problems for a while, I knew that seeing flashes is something you need to take very seriously and so I rushed to the ER of the eye clinic. As they explained, I had some ruptured blood vessels in my retina, due to the detachment of the vitreous body in one eye. Usually, this isn’t dangerous. Only 2% of the people who experience a vitreous body detachment are in danger of retinal bleeding and/or rupture . . . I was lucky that it didn’t get worse and since the vitreous body seems fully detached now, I should be OK. Why did this happen, you wonder? I’m very short sighted in one eye and that’s one of the main reasons why this happened so early (usually people get this at a much older age, not at 40+, rather at 60+) and with these consequences. While there is no more danger, I still suffer from floaters, one of which is called “white ring” and rather annoying. It means my eyesight is still 100%, but I feel like looking through a snow globe and moving my eyes too quickly makes the floaters swirl. Reading books is actually OK, but reading on the laptop/computer or scrolling on the iPad is awful.
This brings me to the title of my blog post. As you probably know, cats purr for many reasons. Of course, they purr when they are content but they also purr to calm or placate themselves when they are in pain or scared. I noticed that reading serves pretty much the same purpose for me. I read when I’m happy, but I also turn to reading when I’m anxious and stressed. It calms me. Not being able to read while I wasn’t sure whether the bleeding would turn into something more serious like retinal detachment and I would need eye surgery, was a freaking nightmare. So much so, in fact, that I had to think about reading at a more profound level than someone else might have in my situation. I don’t think it’s good to be this dependent on something. So, that’s another reason I was absent for so long.
Now, finally, here are some of the things I’ve done instead of reading:
- Audiobooks – Within a week of my predicament I got an audible subscription but I’ve unsubscribed again. Audiobooks don’t work for me. I’m not sure why but I think it’s because of the voices. I find many readers are too intrusive and almost seem to interpret the books they are reading. I only managed to finish one of the few I started and that wasn’t even from my subscription but it was a CD I’d purchased a while ago. Arthur Schnitzler’s Late Fame (or rather Später Ruhm – I listened to it in German). It was absolutely terrific. The narrator’s an actor and you can hear that. And he’s never overdoing it. The story as such is great as well.
- Podcasts – Another thing I’ve been listening to, were Podcasts and I’m happy to say that it was an amazing experience. I discovered that I love Podcasts and have tried out most of those that were recommended to me. And I’ve also discovered a few that weren’t as they are not only about books. The book/literature Podcast I enjoyed the most was Simon and Rachel’s Tea or Books. (Here’s the iTunes page). Another one I liked was CBC’s “Writers and Company” and the BBC’s World Book Club. The not fiction related Podcast that won me over is The Emma Gunns show. She talks a lot about beauty and interviews people from the beauty industry (Pixiwoo, Daniel Sandler, . . .), but there are also Podcasts about other topics that I found super interesting like her conversations with Jen Sincero (about being a badass at making money) or Chloe Brotheridge (about her book on anxiety). Emma seems like such a lovely person. Here’s the link to her site.
- Music – I discovered the music of Agnes Obel and absolutely love it.
- Coffee table books – In my case, not being able to read, didn’t mean I couldn’t look at books. (I had to avoid the rapid eye movements that reading demands). I discovered that I had a huge amount of art and great coffee table books and have started to peruse those. I’ll probably introduce you to some of them in the coming months.
- Movies – Guy’s suggested a few French movies and I watched all of them. I especially liked the two starring Isabelle Huppert, Elle, a psychological thriller, and L’avenir – Things to Come, a quiet, reflective movie. What an amazing actress.
- TV – The series I enjoyed the most was season one of Versailles. I could watch the Intro endlessly.
- BookTube – Of course, I knew that some bloggers have YouTube channels, but I’d never explored them. During the last weeks, I sampled a few and finally started following one of them – Jen Campbell. You may have heard of her. She’s the author of the hilarious collections Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops and More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops (I reviewed the first one here). She’s also written a book about Bookshops, which looks terrific, a poetry collection, a children’s book and her first short story collection is due this autumn. I love her channel. She’s so enthusiastic and knowledgable, it’s refreshing. And she knows something about light and choosing an appealing background. It’s unbelievable how many book bloggers seem to think that talking to a camera in a half-dark, stuffy room, with unflattering light could be appealing to anyone. I get it, they aren’t beauty/fashion YouTubers but still, they could make a minimal effort. Anyway, check out Jen’s channel. It’s worth it. Here’s her YouTube channel.
And, finally, once I was better
- Fiction – I’ve read one novel in the first month – Martha Grimes’ Hotel Paradise, a very engaging coming of age story with a terrific, original narrator. It’s about a crime, but that’s more in the background. The book is far more character than plot-driven. Once I felt better I rushed through three crime and one fantasy novel and a short story collection. Shari Lapena’s thriller The Couple Next Door is one of those super twisty thrillers. There are so many twists and I didn’t see them coming. I think I’m not that much into this kind of thriller anymore but if you are – read it. It’s definitely one of the better ones. Clare Mackintosch’s I See You was a disappointment for me. I liked her first novel I Let You Go so much, my expectations were quite high. It’s also quite twisty, and I didn’t see the ending coming. Unfortunately though, not because of the twist but because it seemed so farfetched and implausible. The next novel was the second book of Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway series The Janus Stone. I didn’t like it as much as the first but still enough to pick up the third soon. The fantasy novel I read was the third in Kristin Cashore’s Graceling Realm series Bitterblue. It had a very slow start but after two hundred pages I loved it so much, I was sad when it ended. Talk about a book hangover. The short story collection I’ve almost finished is Cees Nooteboom’s The Foxes Come at Night. Nooteboom has written some of my favourite books but I didn’t/don’t get along with this collection. I find it forced.
- Nonfiction – I’ve tried to downsize and rearrange my closet and have gotten a few books about reorganising/style . . . Currently I’m working my way through Anushka Ree’s The Curated Closet. It’s very enjoyable.
Overall, after the worst was over, I had a good time. I discovered a new way of reading. I don’t read as quickly as before, nor as rushed or obsessive. I stick to one book and savour it.
And how are you? What have you been reading, listening to, and watching these past months?