War and Peace Challenge

My book clubbers inspired me to participate in a two-fer of challenges. The War and Peace Covid Challenge asks – can you read War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy, from start to finish prior to the end of the quarantine? The War and Peace in a Year Challenge asks: Can you finish War in Peace in a year by reading one chapter a day? I’m doing War and Peace in a year, but occasionally reading multiple chapters in a day so hopefully I’ll finish a bit ahead.

I’m finding the book to be surprisingly easy reading, and very gripping! The biggest challenge is keeping the characters straight and keeping momentum since every time the point of view character changes I have to shift interest to a new plot line and set of characters.

As of this writing (and I write these posts a couple of weeks ahead of time) I’m on chapter 87! If you want to join me, here are some resources:

Brian E. Denton’s meditations on each chapter

There’s No Better Time to Read War and Peace

Tolstoy Together

War and Peace: The Ten Things You Need to Know

The Guardian says that War and Peace has the worst first line of any novel. The line is “Well, Prince, Genoa and Lucca are now no more than private estates of the Bonaparte family.”

What do you think of this line – and are you inspired to tackle the novel?

Between the Lines Book Club: From Protest to Resistance

Dear Book Clubbers, we have been discussing the book From Protest to Resistance by Lilli Segal. Tomorrow (August 22, 2020) at 10:30 AM we will be meeting via zoom to talk about the book and hear from Margo Kaufman, the book’s translator and Lilli Segal’s niece. 

Here is the zoom info for Between the Lines Book Club. Please join us!

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86962766383

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Meeting ID: 869 6276 6383

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbsawOZKmv

In other news, the Sacramento Public Library is also hosting the Quarantainment Adult Book Club. Here’s the information!

Quarantainment Adult Book Group

Date: Saturday, September 5 

Time:  11am-12pm

Book: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adeji-Brenyah

The Adult Book Group invites you to escape your home through the pages of a good book. The September selection is Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adeji-Brenyah. At first glance, this powerful debut collection of short stories might register as speculative fiction, but current headlines umasking racism, injustice, consumerism, and senseless violence prove to be clear inspirations. This is invigorating writing in the tradition of Colson Whitehead or Marlon James that will grab you and haunt you long after you close the book.

Join Zoom Meeting

https://zoom.us/j/91503402657?pwd=amxTRTByblBsZVpEZ0NlSjJTbXFSUT09

Meeting ID: 915 0340 2657
Passcode: 776318

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A Quick Tarot Thought for a Busy Month

The Eight of Wands signifies that an abundance of opportunities are coming your way. Here it is – see how exciting!

It’s a sign of my lack of confidence and my lack of energy due to chronic health problems that my response this card is almost never “Hooray!” Instead, I always feel a need to duck. to me, this card looks like too much. I just want to take a nap on the chairs in the audience while this card says, “Get out there and BE A STAR!”

This card suggests that I need to grab my chances while I have them and nap later. On the other hand, the ten of wands says that we can’t really seize the opportunities we most want if our mental and physical lives are full of clutter. Here’s the ten of wands:

This card says that you are holding on to so much that you are about to drop everything. To switch metaphors, this card says that you have “too many balls in the air.” What can you put down?

The end of summer tends to bring a lot of new opportunities at work, with school, with politics, with family…even with Covid throwing everyone off rhythm I think this will continue to be true albeit in some different ways in 2020.

Planning 101 suggests that we start by thinking about priorities. What opportunities matter the most to us? What goals and tasks can we drop? For people with chronic illness, every day has to have a tier. For me, pre-Covid, my top priorities were to get my daughter to and from school safely and to make sure everyone in my house was fed, even if not by me (I’m blessed to have a teen who likes to cook). Now? I’m not sure. So I’ll be trying to put some thought into that and into what wands I can put down during a time period when everyone, especially parents, has a lot of pressure to pick more wands (emotional, physical, and logistical) up. What are you setting down?

From Protest to Resistance: Discussion Questions

Hello Book Clubbers! We will be meeting over zoom at 10:30AM on August 22. Our Book is From Protest to Resistance, by Lilli Segal.

Here are some discussion questions:

  1. How does Lilli’s personality as a child foreshadow her decisions as an adult?
  2. Why is Lilli’s family so slow to realize the danger they are in? Why does her father kill himself?
  3. What is Lilli’s motivation for working for the Resistance? Were you surprised that she kept her Resistance work going even after having a child?
  4. How does Lilli keep her spirits up in Fresnel Prison? What character traits do she and other prisoners display that help them stay resilient?
  5. Lilli is enraged at a guard who says that he only beats her because of orders. Why is that “the worst part of the whole business?” (157)
  6. How are Lilli’s coping skills in Auschwitz similar and different from the ones in Fresnel? How do personal relationships affect morale and survival throughout the story?
  7. The Germans pit different groups against one another in the camp to keep them from allying against their captors. Where has this tactic been used in other books we’ve read? How have you seen it play out during your own lifetime?
  8. Some people meet Anni and Lilli with kindness, some with rejection, some with hostility. Why do they react in the ways they do? What do you think you would do?
  9. Were you surprised that Lilli and Jascha ended up (at the end of the book) happily in East Germany? Why or why not?
  10. What lessons, if any, did you learn from the book?
  11. Why are memoirs like this important?

Here is an interview our book club member and book translator, Margo, gave to Insight on NPR!

August, by Dorothy Parker

Our August poem comes to us from Dorothy Parker, courtesy of Poemhunter.com:

When my eyes are weeds,
And my lips are petals, spinning
Down the wind that has beginning
Where the crumpled beeches start
In a fringe of salty reeds;
When my arms are elder-bushes,
And the rangy lilac pushes
Upward, upward through my heart;

Summer, do your worst!
Light your tinsel moon, and call on
Your performing stars to fall on
Headlong through your paper sky;
Nevermore shall I be cursed
By a flushed and amorous slattern,
With her dusty laces’ pattern
Trailing, as she straggles by. 

Between the Lines Book Club: Our Book for August

Welcome to the August edition of Between the Lines Book Club! Our next meeting will be held via zoom at 10:30AM on August 22. We will be reading the fascinating memoir, From Protest to Resistance by Lilli Segal.

From Protest to Resistance tells the story of a young woman who grew up in Germany, married a Lithuanian, became a citizen of the Soviet Union, and worked for the Resistance in Paris in World War II. She was captured and survived Auschwitz. Lilli describes her experiences with humor, conviction, and an eye for detail.

We will be joined by Lilli’s niece, Margo Kaufman. It is sure to be a fascinating discussion. Please join us!

A couple quick announcements

I guess for August my special project should be figuring out the new WordPress. Change is bad! Why must they baffle me? Why are there all these new buttons and still no spell check?

I’m happy to say there will be two book clubs this month:

On Saturday, August 8, Librarian Brendle Wells and I will be hosting Between the Covers Romance Book Club with the Sacramento Public Library via zoom. Our book is The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon. This book was incredibly popular and yet I felt nothing – join our zoom chat and explain what I missed! Click on the link above for info.

On Saturday, August 22, at 10:30AM Between the Lines Book Club meets via zoom. Our book is From Protest to Resistance, by Lilli Segal. We are very excited about this! Check out Friday posts for more about this amazing book!

Remember when we thought we had all this extra time because of quarantine? I feel pretty busy, don’t you? I hope everyone made it through July and is having a happy August, getting out in nature as much as you safely can and reading to your heart’s content! Love you guys!

Answer July, by Emily Dickinson

Emily always comes through for us – here’s a poem for this month!

Answer July—
Where is the Bee—
Where is the Blush—
Where is the Hay?

Ah, said July—
Where is the Seed—
Where is the Bud—
Where is the May—
Answer Thee—Me—

Nay—said the May—
Show me the Snow—
Show me the Bells—
Show me the Jay!

Quibbled the Jay—
Where be the Maize—
Where be the Haze—
Where be the Bur?
Here—said the Year— 

I hope you are all finding safe ways to get outdoors especially in our cooler mornings and evenings. We are missing our regular trip to San Diego so I guess I’ll have to spend more time exploring our own river here in Sacramento. Stay well, Readers!

Between the Lines Book Club: Persuasion Discussion Questions

Between the Lines Book Club is back, and we are reading Persuasion by Jane Austen! We will be meeting via Zoom on July 25, 2020 at 10:30AM.

Here are some discussion questions. These questions are from jansa.org, and I may add some more prior to our meeting. Consider these as you read!

Persuasion is often described as “autumnal.” Why? How does “autumnal” describe Anne Elliot’s situation? Jane Austen’s?

  1. Consider the opening of the novel. What does it tell the reader about both the characters in the novel and the condition of Britain in 1815, the year Persuasion is set?
  2. What values do Sir Walter Elliot and Elizabeth represent? Captain Wentworth, the Crofts,the Harvilles and Benwick?
  3. How are Sir Walter’s values displayed through his words and actions? Consider his relationship with his tenants, those who work for him, and each of his daughters.
  4. What do Sir Walter’s fiscal problems suggest about the condition of the upper class and aristocracy in Britain? Does Sir Walter recognize his failures?
  5. How are Elizabeth and Mary like their father? How are Mary Musgrove’s values displayed through her words and actions?
  6. What is Austen’s own view of the two, and how is it conveyed?
  7. Jane Austen described her heroine in a letter to her niece Fanny Knight (23-25 March 1817), “You may perhaps like the Heroine, as she is almost too good for me.” Do you agree?
  8. What arguments are there for Anne’s having listened to Lady Russell eight years earlier? How does Anne view this persuasion by the end of the novel?
  9. What does the navy represent in the novel? Compare and contrast the two worlds of the novel: the aristocracy and upper class on one hand and the British navy on the other.
  10. The characters are subject to different types of persuasion. Who is persuaded by rank/class/family connections? Who is persuaded by self-interest? Who is persuaded by self-importance?
  11. Does the novel embody a feminist viewpoint? Consider Anne’s conversation with Harville. Consider Mrs. Croft’s character and actions.

July Tarot: Tarot and Poetry

I don’t know about you guys, but July is kicking my butt and as of writing this it’s only July 10. With that in mind, this month I have links for you! By the way, WordPress just changed…everything, so until I take the time to figure out the new system I’m not doing much with images over here. Curses, new system. Curses.

OK, first off, here’s a wonderful article by Benebell Wen on Poets and the Tarot. I highly recommend Wen’s book Holistic Tarot which is comprehensive and amazing!

Here is a link to Classic Tarot Poems You Can Read Online, from a blog by the editors of Arcana: The Tarot Poem Anthology

Want to go shopping? Check out The Poet Tarot and Guidebook. I have this as an app but I think it works better as an actual, physical deck. It uses poets and writers for creative inspiration!

Message me if you would like a reading!

Between the Lines Book Club is Back!

Hello everyone! We will be meeting via zoom for the foreseeable future. Our upcoming book is Persuasion, by Jane Austen. We will meet to discuss it on July 25, 2020, at 10:30AM. If you haven’t gotten the zoom invite, let me know in the comments.

Persuasion is a complicated book. Here is a list of the characters in Persuasion and their relationships to each other. In reading Austen, pay attention to who is related to whom, and how they address one another! Also, note ages – this book is unusual among Austen’s novels for having a romance between a couple in middle age, and everyone’s ages take on great importance as the book progresses!

Persuasion – Characters

Ages Given Where Known

Anne’s Family

Sir Walter Elliot, Bt: (Age: mid fifties) Anne’s dad, a widow. Likes Mrs. Clay, a widow. 

Elizabeth Elliot: (Age 29): Anne’s older sister.

Anne Elliot:  (Age 27) Our heroine. In love with Wentworth.

Mary Musgrove: Anne’s younger sister. Married to Charles, who proposed to Anne, was shot down, and then proposed to Mary, who accepted. Is a hypochondriac with several children.

Charles Musgrove: Mary’s husband.

Little Charles: Son of Charles and Mary. Breaks his collarbone, causing Anne and Wentworth to finally reunite.

Louisa Musgrove (Age 19): Charles Musgrove’s sister. Likes Wentworth but ends up engaged to Benwick.

Henrietta Musgrove (Age 20): Louisa’s sister. Likes Charles Hayter (her cousin), then likes Wentworth, then likes Charles again.

Lady Russell: A family friend who is Anne’s surrogate mother.

The Renters and Their Friends

Sophia Croft: (Age 38) Captain Wentworth’s sister and Admiral Croft’s wife. Has happy marriage.

Admiral Croft: adores his wife, admires Wentworth, his brother-in-law

Captain Wentworth: (Age: 31): proposed to Anne many years ago and was rejected. Likes Louisa, then likes Anne again. Ends up with Anne. Is Sophia Croft’s brother.

People in Bath and Lyme

Mrs. Clay: (Age: in her 30s): widow who charms Elizabeth and Sir Walter but might end up with William Elliot.

Captain Benwick: was engaged to Captain Harville’s sister, who recently died. He was devastated, but then seemed to like Anne, and promptly ended up with Louisa. Is a friend of Wentworth and Harville.

Captain Harville: Friend of Wentworth and Benwick.

William Elliot: distant relation and heir presumptive of Sir Elliot. Originally it was hoped he would marry Elizabeth, then he married a rich woman who died, now he likes Anne and also wants to distract Mrs. Clay from Sir Walter. Might end up with Mrs. Clay. 

Mrs. Smith: (Age 30): childhood friend of Anne’s. Widow of friend of William Elliot’s, who will not help her. Gets help from Anne and Wentworth.

Review of Jane Austen Tarot, and news!

Hi guys! For this month’s tarot post I’m linking you to Smart Bitches Trashy Books where I reviewed A Jane Austen Tarot Deck by Jacqui Oakley. As you’ll see, I loved the art, but this deck tried to be too many things at one time. I’ve enjoyed it as a single draw oracle deck since and will continue to use it that way.

Also some news: I’m in June’s issue of Clarkesworld Magazine talking about isolation in science fiction and in reality. Enjoy!

Between the Lines on Zoom

Those of you who attend the book club at Arden Dimick Library should have gotten a zoom invite from me by now – and if not, or if you connect here but would like to be added to my mailing list, drop me a comment and I’ll add you. We will have an informal zoom meeting on Sat, June 27, 10:30AM. No assigned book, just check in and tell us what you’ve been reading! I can’t wait to see your faces!

Sacramento Residents, please get tested!

photo of full moon

Hello everyone, these are busy and interesting times. I want to share with you that Sacramento County is asking EVERYONE, even people without symptoms, to get tested for Covid-19. It is usually covered by insurance with no copay and only takes a few minutes. I have been assured by Sacramento County that getting this test does not mean that one is taking a testing opportunity from a sick person.

This is NOT the test that determines whether you have antibodies. It only tests whether the virus is in your system. It’s important for the county to get as many people tested as possible so that they can map the location and progression of the virus. You get results back in 2-5 days. These results are used to determine things like who the State can re-open, and when, and where.

I was nervous because I heard that the test is uncomfortable but actually it was very easy. You put a cotton swab about an inch up your nose on both sides. It’s very easy to get an appointment and while the test wasn’t something I’d do for fun it wasn’t painful either. The test I had is being offered at Cal Expo – other sites still use a longer swab.

For more info and to make an appointment,

https://www.capradio.org/articles/2020/06/02/sacramento-county-everyone-should-get-a-coronavirus-test-symptoms-or-not/

Here’s info about this less invasive test for the faint of heart (seriously it was so easy):

https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article243244396.html

And here’s a link to the form you fill out to make an appointment.

https://www.projectbaseline.com/study/covid-19/eligibility/

Covid-19 is a worldwide and national issue but it’s also a social and racial justice issue. The disproportionate number of Black and Latino people who have contracted and died of the disease is yet another manifestation of systemic, institutionalized racism. Any of us who have the privilege to get tested owe it to ourselves and to everyone our communities to do so.

On a personal note, this will be a very quiet blog month! Don’t worry, I’m just rebooting for the summer. Love to you all!