Wednesday, January 4, 2012

{Update} Time/Resolutions/Proust

I typically don't make New Year's resolutions. I suppose I tend to not pay attention to calendars too much when given the chance, and instead I divide up the different periods in my life by experiences and feelings. So while my son's birth and the different stages of his growth mark major emotional milestones in my life, the start of a new calendar year does not hold any particular meaning. I suppose in a way I have Proust to thank for how I view time. A few years ago clocks and calendars stressed me out because they constantly made me aware of the seconds ticking and days flying by. How are there ever enough seconds or days? Then I took an amazing literature class from the amazing Dr. Teller, and he introduced me to Proust, who minutely examines the passage and nature of time in his epic work In Search of Lost Time. Now, I have not read the entire work, though I would love to if I'm ever able to get my hands on my own set (it's not the kind of thing I borrow from the library since they only let you borrow books for a miserly two weeks at a time and Proust requires a bit more time than that, at least for me :) So, even though I haven't read the entire work, Dr. Teller had us read many excerpts representative of larger portions. Everything I read is exquisite, filled with an almost painful beauty that frequently accompanies the acts of remembering and reflection. I was completely absorbed and Marcel seems to so entirely understand the range and progression and intensity of emotions that accompany memory, it is overwhelming. However magnificent the literary and aesthetic aspects of the work are, though, it also served a practical function in my life for which I will be forever grateful. By reading Proust I understood that my internal and personal lives are independent of clocks and calendars, which are essentially social constructions. I can interpret time, to a certain extent, in any way I wish to. If I want to think of right now, this exact time in my life, as happily married with a small son and two kitties while living in Pittsburg, Kansas, instead of January 2012, I can do so. For some reason this gives me peace; Proust's way of thinking and interpretations give me peace. So, as I said at the very beginning of this rather rambling post, I usually don't make New Year's resolutions. However, now that I am reviewing and blogging I have realized that I need some sort of tangible goal for things like how many books to read and reviews to write. I have also been playing around with the idea of creating a specific list of works I have been wanting for several years but have never gotten around to purchasing, and then working my way down it throughout the year. I tend to buy books in stops and starts, and I'd like to instead consistently expand my personal library while not resorting to a credit card to do so *ahem*. I think that if I plan out my book purchases a little better I'll actually be able to buy more books for less (yippee!). Anyway, books are extremely important to me, and along with personal events they help define the different periods of my life. For example, I read Willa Cather's My Antonia this past summer and will forever associate it with bright, hot days, sitting on the back steps, and watching a happy two-year-old little boy play with his trucks. Maybe this year I can read more books, expand my book collection further, and create even more wonderful memories by planning ahead just a bit. How do you feel about New Year's resolutions? Did you make any for this year? Feel free to share your feelings below! I'm always curious about other people's opinions.
Mary Beth


  1. I posted this response a couple of days ago, but it looks like it didn't post. I'll try again:

    I haven't bought a book for full price in years. If you don't mind books that have a little wear already, you might consider shopping at used book stores (or at online retailers like ebay and The stories are just as good, and you can get 'em for half the cost. This book review gig is good for free books, too. :)

  2. I always buy used too! Unfortunately I don't have a traditional, privately-owned used book store available, but there is a regional chain store (Vintage Stock) 30 miles away that buys and trades used books. Their used book prices are a little more expensive, perhaps, but still significantly cheaper than buying brand new. We are looking into moving, though, and there is a great little bookshop where we're trying to move to (yay!). Haha! Yes, it is. Do you know how to get ARCs? I'm still a little confused about this. For example, from Penguin or HarperCollins?

  3. is probably the easiest way to get ARCs from the big publishers. Unfortunately, those are mostly in electronic format. For instance, I'm working on a review right now from an ARC I got from Penguin. The Kindle editions are OK, but sometimes the formatting comes out all messed up because the site takes a PDF of the ARC and the transmits it as a .PRC file. PDF is a totally different formatting language, so it gums it up big time. Still readable, though, so I don't mind.

    If you don't have a kindle, you can get them and read them on your PC using a product called Adobe Digital Editions; however, the ARCs often have a time limit in this format (45 to 60 days usually) and if time runs out you have to go back and download it again. Netgalley is your typical "book for review" arrangement, so the more books you review the more books you get.

    I also get ARCs from the Librarything Early Reviewers program. It's a program for librarything members where every month they post the books that are up for review, and you request a copy of each one that they want. At the end of the month the run an algorithm that looks at your library, your reviews, and more stuff like that, and then selects the requested book (if any--sometimes you don't get selected for anything) you're most suited for. This is the way that I've received most of my physical ARCs.

  4. love to read your posts in your blog
    - what elegant and 'smooth' style
    greets from far away Europe



I'd love to hear your thoughts!