Tonight I'm feeling at once exhausted and refreshed. Exhausted because I am a night owl by nature and yet I've been awake since 7:15am. Refreshed, because I spent a very pleasant weekend at a friend's house watching her three dogs. It was nice to have a change of scenery and take care of dogs -- When I was growing up we always had several dogs at a time, but for my entire adult life I've only had cats.
Because my friend only has dialed up and I'm spoiled by cable, I decided to spend the weekend without the internet. No e-mail, no web browsing. I did have my laptop with me, which I used to write the first ten pages of my next book. But mostly I read. About a month ago I finally picked up a copy of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I'd had my eye on the book since it first came out, due to the fact that at the time, I was also working on a story about magic in England in the early 1800s (but it was just a roleplaying character background story and of no consequence), and I just procrastinated on buying it. It's a pretty thick book, so when I did buy it I decided to save it for house-sitting. After all, when I read a book I tend to get hooked, and I didn't want to ignore Chris for three days straight while I read.
It did take me essentially three straight days of reading (with breaks for dancing, writing, beading, and of course, caring for the dogs and sleeping) to get through the book, and what a wonderful three days it was! now, i will fully admit that I am quiet biased towards the book for one very specific reason: while it in fact is very little like the story I was working on when it was published, it is very much in the same mindset as one of the main characters in the series I've been working on for the past year and a half. He is a magician, and while he is neither English nor living in the 19th century, he very much wishes that he was. The rampant bibliomania that runs throughout the story is very much in key with my character as well.
The story itself is a bit slow to build up. Those who are used to the usual epic fantasy may find themselves a bit bored -- it's more in the line of literary fiction than adventurous genre fiction. However, it is not the boring, depressing literary fiction that I was made to read in writing class. Oh no. There's magic throughout the story, there is a plot that goes somewhere, and while large chunks of the story are character-driven, they're quite interesting characters. Best of all, it achieved that perfect balance that I always strive for in my writing, of being a serious story but having moments of whimsy and lines of dialog that bring a smile or even a laugh.
Reading a great book always leaves me with this special feeling that goes somewhat beyond having been entertained. It doesn't change my life, so to speak, but it certainly brightens my day. It puts me in the mood to tell everyone I know just how good the book was (hence the blog post), and either recommend it to them or even loan it to them if I'm so inclined. That's why my copy of The Prestige is currently making the rounds of my friends, and why I tell everyone that they should read American Gods. Some books are so good that they just need to be shared.
As I briefly mentioned above, I also did some beadwork this weekend. I am working on a really scrumptious necklace in black and quite a few shades of purple. There should finally be an update with new jewelry this coming weekend, and I hope to have it in there. I haven't quite figured out yet how I'll put it together, but I have a few ideas floating around in my head. I'm also still working on Flaming Teeth, but I'm kind of stalled on it. Hopefully more progress this week.
Today's Cool Thing is a Dragon Hatchling sculpture by Adam Homan. He had another awesome sculpture when I looked a few days ago, but it's so great that it already sold. Nonetheless, I really like this dragon. It's the sort of thing I would display in my house, if I were wealthy and had a house.