19 February 2015

Reading in under an Hour 1

Reading in under an Hour @ www.BethFishReads.comLunchtime is reading time for many of us. I used to spend my midday break with my current print/eBook or my audiobook, but lately I've gotten more pleasure out of shorter pieces.

Each day I pick a story or an article that I can start and finish before I turn back to my computer for an afternoon of editing. I've been sampling many kinds of short pieces, such as short stories, essays, magazine articles, and poems.

Here's a look at some of the shorts I've read lately.

Man V. Nature by Diane CookFrom Diane Cook's Man v. Nature (Harper, 2014, 9780062333100): "Moving On" is about a very young woman whose husband died from a unnamed disease. In this future world, widows and widowers are not allowed to live alone; instead, they are taken to shelters, where they are taught to forget the dead while they wait for someone to choose to marry them (kind of like adoption). It's a strange reality, and the story makes you think about freedom, love, loneliness, and grief. My understanding is that most of the stories in Man v. Nature are equally dark, but I'm intrigued enough to read more.

In bed I imagine my husband lying beside me. . . . I have to picture him dissolving into the air like in a science-fiction movie, vaporized to another planet, grainy muted, then gone. The sheet holds his shape for a moment before deflating to the bed. I practice not feeling a thing.
The February 23, 2015 issue of The New Yorker had a great personal history piece by Mary Norris, comma queen and copyeditor extraordinaire. In "Holy Writ" Norris talks about how she came to work for the magazine, ending up in the editing department. I love her description of the job that has also been my own career (though I've never edited for a magazine). Perhaps it's an essay only an editor can love, but I can relate to Norris's zigzagging path that led her to become the wielder of a red pencil. She also talks about her interactions with some well-known authors. Read it for yourself by following the link.
One of the things I like about my job is that it draws on the entire person: not just your knowledge of grammar and punctuation and usage and foreign languages and literature but also your experience of travel, gardening, shipping, singing, plumbing, Catholicism, Midwesternism, mozzarella, the A train, New Jersey. And in turn it feeds you more experience.
Small Plates by Katherine Hall PageAlthough Katherine Hall Page has written a popular and award-winning mystery series (more than twenty books long), I have never read any of her Faith Fairchild novels. Her 2014 collection Small Plates (William Morrow, 9780062310798) contains short mystery stories, and the one I read featured Faith helping a woman who was a member of her husband's congregation. "The Ghost of Winthrop" was a light read that was as much about the characters as it was about the mystery. Despite the word ghost in the title, this is not a scary story, though it does involve a death and an inheritance. I'm looking forward to more lunchtime Faith Fairchild stories.
There was another reason for [Prudence Winthrop's] ashen color and the way the woman's hands were gripping the edge of the pew--so hard her knuckles were deathly white. It wasn't grief. It was fear. . . . And Faith intended to find out why.
Finally, I am on a never-ending quest to declutter my house and found an article at Becoming Minimalist with some good advice. There were several methods outlined in "10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home" that I might be able to adopt. While I don't think I'll use any of these ideas exactly as they are described, I can see how some of them could be adapted to my needs. For example, I like the Four-Box Method, which entails categorizing each item as trash, give away, keep, or relocate. There are a couple of suggestions for clearing out your closet, if that's one of your goals. Click on the link to see if any of the decluttering tricks speak to you.

I'm considering making Reading in under an Hour a sporadic feature. Let me know what you think.


TP 2/19/15, 6:49 AM  

This is an awesome feature and what a great idea about how to spend tour lunch break. I've been neglecting short stories so I'm going to try this too.

Tanya Patrice

TP 2/19/15, 6:57 AM  

This is an awesome feature and what a great idea about how to spend tour lunch break. I've been neglecting short stories so I'm going to try this too.

Tanya Patrice

rhapsodyinbooks 2/19/15, 7:30 AM  

I usually have a book or two going that is a collection of essays or vignettes for short periods of reading. There are so many good ones around!

celticjulia 2/19/15, 8:27 AM  

This is a great idea. I can't wait to read the New Yorker article.

Karen White 2/19/15, 8:28 AM  

Yes! Love this feature. Though I like short pieces at bedtime - it's nice to know I can finish something without having to stay up all night.

JoAnn 2/19/15, 8:44 AM  

Love this idea!! There are so many great short stories, essays, articles, etc. out there. I'm already looking forward to the next installment.

Molly 2/19/15, 8:45 AM  

I LOVE this idea! I have wanted to read shorter works for quite some time. I think the short story is a wonderful writing form, not only for enjoyment but also as a writing tool for learning to "write tight"

I think magazine articles offer the kind of non-fiction advice and information that I am drawn to reading, but for some reason I only read books on those subjects.

You have inspired me to break outside my reading comfort zone and engage of many other forms of literature. In fact, I want to find a copy of The New Yorker just read that article!

I say... keep this a regular feature, PLEASE :)

(Diane) bookchickdi 2/19/15, 9:08 AM  

I like the new feature too. I read Small Plates and enjoyed most of the stories, and thanks for the de-cluttering link; I pinned it.

Jen Forbus 2/19/15, 12:39 PM  

Fun idea! I like it. I read that 4-box idea before, too...only I think it was 3 in the version I read. But I'm pretty engrossed right now in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It recommends decluttering by type of item so you don't end up with a million places for the same item.

Bree 2/19/15, 1:57 PM  

A Shorts Feature is a grand idea. Shorts are not something I read and I like reading what others think of them, then reading recommended stories. Definitely a keeper.

My best decluttering method was setting a timer for 15 minutes. Then doing one specific area in the keep, goodwill, garbage method.

Daryl 2/19/15, 2:50 PM  

occasionally i will read or play words/scrabble while eating lunch at my desk .. but lately i have been using the time to catch up with blog reading and commenting ... :)

Katherine P 2/19/15, 3:49 PM  

I love looking at shorter pieces. I'm especially interesting in the Katherine Hall Page collection. I love her Faith Fairchild books and that sounds very interesting. For the most part I really enjoy short stories but I so often overlook them in because I'm trying to get a larger novel read.

Kailana 2/19/15, 7:48 PM  

Fun idea! Last week I started a comic book in the morning and finished it on my lunch. It turned into a good system. I am going to try and keep it up because, well, I have a bunch to read!

Blogger10 2/19/15, 8:01 PM  

Great feature idea! When I worked, I treasured my hour-long lunch break so much. And it is soooo hard to put down a novel after reading only an hour of it. Shorter pieces would have been better!

Man V Nature is absolutely fantastic. One of the best short story collections I've read in a very long time.

Debbie 2/20/15, 12:07 AM  

I think you should. Also the decluttering 4 box thing is something I need to try.

Belle Wong 2/20/15, 12:37 AM  

I think this would make a great feature! I need to get back to my short story reading. Short reads can be so satisfying.

Unknown 2/22/15, 2:06 AM  

I used to subscribe to Daily Lit which sends me short stories so you can read one short story a day. Not sure if the service is still available but maybe you'd enjoy it. BTW, Man Vs Nature sounds good. Gonna check that out.

Nan 2/22/15, 8:49 PM  

This issue of the New Yorker has SO much in it. Thought you might like this radio piece:

Tif Sweeney 2/24/15, 12:34 PM  

What a great idea!! I sometimes finding myself not wanting to return to my work because I'm at the good part and I have to find out what happens next. Maybe I just need to keep a book of shorts close by instead!

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