Sunday, March 13, 2011

Two Loves: Books & Music. Recent reading & listening And Our Chipmunk was Hibernating!

Since as early as I can remember books and music have been not just important, but necessities of life for me.

A book sale sign is an instant attraction, guaranteeing I’ll be occupied for an hour or more and emerge with at least one box filled to overflowing.

Yesterday was a good book day. First at Riverview Library, my nearest and favourite, on the book sale shelves I found ‘Mistresses’ – surely a title hard to resist.  Spanning three centuries of love and lechery, power and wealth, it’s biographical accounts of such seductresses as Lady Hamilton, George Sand, Lola Montez and Eva Braun. All that for just one dollar.

From the Library I also took out Gabriel García Márquez’s ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’. I enjoyed his’ Love in the Time of Cholera’ until near the end, when I found it rather drawn out, but  am interested to read what is regarded as his best work. ’What the Body Remembers’ by Sauna Singh Baldwin, is the story of a young Sikh girl in Northern India in the years before partition. This I’m already well into.

 Then at the Habitat for Humanity Restore with some donations, I found a Robertson Davies I haven’t got on the shelves at home – ‘World of Wonders and a new-to-us Anne Perry, which both my husband and I will enjoy. These two in paperback for another dollar.

Currently I’m also reading ‘Nothing Left Over’, Toinette Lippe’s book about discovering what is essential, and letting go of the rest. In my present focus on de-cluttering, physically and mentally, it resonates. ‘World of the Buddha’ has been bedside for a month or two. It’s not a ‘read through’, rather a study to dip into, make notes, reflect and re-read portions.

Recent good reads included ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’; Anita Rau Badami’s second book, ‘The Hero’s Walk’ about an orphaned Indian-Canadian girl’s adaptation to her Indian grandparents and their country and ‘The Birth of Venus’ , a novel of Medici Florence and a young girl’s desire to use her talent as an artist, which she finally achieves, in a convent.

Another lovely book was ‘An Equal Music’ by Vikram Seth (A Suitable Boy) set mainly in London about a chamber music quartet and the ill-fated love of one of the musicians.

When I listen to music I find I focus on periods. Currently I am totally in love with the music of Arvo Pärt, a contemporary Estonian composer.  I first heard his Te Deum some years ago on the car radio and parked on a side street to hear it to its conclusion. A Christmas gift was his ‘Alina’, spare, almost single note music for piano violin and cello that is mystically haunting and meditative. I’ve also been playing John Taverner; ‘The Protecting Veil’ and ’Thrinos’, both for cello my favourite instrument, never fail to move me.

Before that it was weeks of early music; Byrd, Hildegard of Bingen Gregorian chant and masses. I suspect soon I’ll be searching for Bach, Mozart and Haydn. Though chamber music is my best-loved form, last night during during dinner we played Pavarotti’s Rogoletto with Renata Scotto, reminding me what a divine instrument the human voice is.

All this and the joy this morning opening the curtains to see ‘our’ chipmunk scurrying across the snow. I had feared the worst because previous winters he had always been around. He must have known this one was going to be tough and hibernated, bringing me a moment of joy as once again he’s here nibbling the seeds with the doves.

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