My different binge reading habit

Binge reading

My binge reading habit started a long time ago. More accurately, it began when I first fell in love with the Canadian author, L.M. Montgomery. The habit resurfaced recently when I discovered the amazing author, Elizabeth Strout.

Definitions of binge reading include ‘the act of reading large amounts of text in a short amount of time‘. People whose reading fits this definition skim-read, read all night, read instead of doing all (or any) things they should do.

But my sort of binge reading doesn’t fit that definition. 

Read more

My definition of binge reading

The reading that I describe as bingeing involves discovering a new-to-me author and reading everything they’ve written that I can get my hands on. Except when reading for information (work, study, research) I read slowly and savour words, images and ideas. Literature demands that I honour the art and craft of the author.

Learning to read

My parents set a reading example to their children from an early age. I heard my father’s voice in utero. He read to my mother while she knitted as they sat by the fire. They told me he read Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell, 1936) while she knitted a whole layette for me, their new baby born at the end of 1937.

Dad binge read to me. He read every word that AA Milne wrote for children. Poetry, stories, series. He read it all and could recite much of what he read without the benefit of books. That handy skill stood him in good stead as the driver of the family car when he entertained us on country holidays. .

My mother read to her children more selectively. But she also binge read single authors such as Agatha Christie, who wrote at least 70 books, and Erle Stanley Gardner, who wrote 84 stories featuring Perry Mason alone. I’m not sure how many Mum read but she always had a book at hand.

With role models like that, its no wonder I learned to read early.

My binge reading history

I fell in love with some authors when very young. I still fall in love with writers (or their writing) regularly.

My first serious foray into binge reading came about when I was 12. My paternal grandmother gave me a copy of Anne of Green Gables by Canadian L.M. Montgomery (published 1908) for Christmas. I think I have read all 20 of the novels by this author, who wrote series about young women who were role models.

I can’t remember how I discovered most of the writers. Probably not through school! My formal education finished when I turned 15, because, they said, ‘Girls don’t need an education. They get married and education is such a waste.

Sad day

It was a sad day when I moved after we married into the house John lived in. He had an extensive library. So did I. We decided to let many of our books go. Letting the books I loved, especially when I had large collections of writing by single authors felt like cutting part of my brain away.

When we moved into our much smaller apartment, it was easier to let books go.

I discovered there are books that I cannot live without, and over the years, I’ve replaced some of those.

A random list

Here’s a list of some of the writers that have attracted my prolonged interest

  • Australian Patrick White. I fell head over heals in love with White’s writing when I read Voss (1957). Voss wasWhite’s fifth novel, and I read backwards and forwards across the whole list.
  • South African Doris Lessing. Her feminism took my breath away. I loved her earlier books, but felt disappointed when she wrote science fiction.
  • British Faye Weldon. A prolific writer of feminist novels that were fun, frivolous and feisty.
  • French Simone de Beauvoir. A philosopher and writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her book, The Second Sex, was among the first feminist writing I encountered. The open relationship she shared with Jean Paul Sartre, also a French philosopher, intrigued me.
  • Australian Alex Miller. The bookclub members with whom I went to Perth Writers Festivals accused me of being a Miller ‘groupie’. I’m delighted he has published a new book, still to read.
  • Australian Helen Garner. Writer of fiction and later non-fiction, my favourite writer.
  • Australian Tim Winton. A Western Australian and four times winner of the Miles Franklin Award, Winton has also been twice short listed for the Booker Prize. I wrote a blog about our Cloudstreet River Christmas.
  • Australian Tony Birch. A much awarded Victorian writer and First Nations man, Tony Birch has written three novels, and five collections of short stories as well as mny articles. I’ve reviewed several of Tony Birch’s books including Common People. The Promise and Ghost River

There are more. Looking over the list, it’s difficult to believe that it is so top-heavy with men.

If asked, I always tell people that by preference I read books by Australian women writers. Perhaps my list of authors I’ve binge read is top heavy with men writers because, on the whole, women writers are less prolific than men for a number of reasons. Binge-reading requires a large body of work.

I’d love to hear if my readers also binge-read and who are their favourite writers. Please share your favourites in a comment. (Like all bloggers, I really love reading comments from readers.)

Copyright, Maureen Helen 2022
Photo, Maureen-Helen

Christmas traditions 2022 at beginning of Advent

Christmas traditions

Our Christmas traditions are tumbling into place and today we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas. Although we seem to be sticklers for tradition, it often amazes me that my family gets everything done.

An outsider might say we’re not very organised. Someone kinder, like a doting mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, might smile benignly. She’d say, ‘But everyone’s so busy’.

Read more

Three new babies, travel adventures after COVID-19 lockdowns and visitors from overseas created turbulance, although most of it good. This end of the year brings extra rehearsals for children doing ballet and singing, concerts and performances, end of year celebrations.

Elizabeth tells me the orientation to her new high school was ‘so fun’. I can’t believe I have a great-grandchild graduating from primary school in a couple of weeks. Louisa will be home for Christmas from Canberra on Wednesday. I hope Alex will be here for Christmas.

My husband’s recent hospitalisation caused more waves, as did my falling over on a busy street and being out of sorts for weeks.

Christmas traditions on track

If it hadn’t been for the insistence of my granddaughter, Claire, we might not have made the puddings yesterday. Sometimes, they’ve been made with proper pomp and ceremony, by the end of September. Other time’s we’ve left it until ‘Stir-Up Sunday‘ (last Sunday).

No year ever seems the same. Our Christmas traditions maintain their ‘shape’ but the details change, it seems, every time.

Often many more family members gather for breakfast before we measure and stir and cook. Yesterday, a smaller-than-usual crowd appeared. Our venue changed from my house. Here are a couple of blogs about other Christmases ‘Advent preparations for a tough Christmas,’ and ‘Advent – time of preparation for Christmas.’

Photos I love

Some of my favourite images from yesterday and our pudding making adventures. Thanks to Jane for the photos.

More Christmas traditions

Puddings cooked, at home again, John and I set up the Christmas crib that I’ve used for over forty years. Sometimes I think a new, modern set would be nice. St. Joseph loses his head quite often, having never recovered completely from a fall. One of the Wise Men has gone AWOL. But then I remember all those other Christmasses…

And the Advent wreath this year has a new twist. I couldn’t find traditional purple or blue candles locally. I settled for pink. Different! But OK.

Christmas traditions
Untraditional Christmas wreath
Christmas traditions include a crib.
Oh so traditional crib

I’ve asked everyone to put the first Saturday of the September school holidays in their diaries for next year. Claire and I will buy the fruit in an orderly manner before that. On the day, we will have our usual breakfast before starting on the puddings. Well, that’s my plan for now!

Copyright, Maureen Helen 2022
Van gogh newsletter

A Parainfluenza Virus knocked us sideways

human parainfluenza virus

A human parainfluenza virus (HPIV) illness recently caused havoc in our house. One of My husband’s relatives called it a ‘power virus’ and indeed so it seemed. Not Covid-19 or any of its variants. Not the dreaded influenza virus. But a nasty little bug that, for most people, causes the symptoms of a common cold invited itself to use our bodies as its hosts.

The HPIV is not an influenza virus, but related to measles and mumps, or so I read on Dr Google. There are four main types, each causing its own brand of related misery. No vaccine exists against it and no treatment exists, other than care of the symptoms.

Continue reading “A Parainfluenza Virus knocked us sideways”

How to achieve goals by writing them down

How to achieve your goals by writing them down

Science suggests we’re 42% percent more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down in long-hand, share them with someone, and review them regularly. Forty-two percent seems an amazing figure, so it may well be worth trying these tips if you’re not in the habit of writing down what you hope to be, do or have within a certain timeframe.

Goals can be as varied as you like. But they usually fall into four major areas:

  • Health
  • Relationships and love
  • Vocation
  • Time, money and freedom.

Continue reading “How to achieve goals by writing them down”

Birthday thoughts half-way through nineth decade

Birthday thoughts swirl on the eve of my eighty-fifth, the centre of my nineth decade. First, being eighty-five is much better than the alternative, as my dear Dad used to say in his later years. Second, it happened very quickly. My childhood sometimes seems like yesterday. And it’s only a few years ago that I reached a half-century. Then it felt as if my life opened up to new adventures. Third, I’m aware how few years may be left and how much ground there is yet to cover.

Continue reading “Birthday thoughts half-way through nineth decade”

Kitchen gadgets and minimalisation

kitchen gadgets and minimalisation

Kitchen gadgets, on the whole, don’t excite me. As someone trying to live peacefully as a minimalist, I find gadgets complicate my life. Sometimes, Luddite might best describe me and my life-style. My relationship with phone, laptop and earphones tests my patience.

But every now and then a hankering after something that other people have owned for years gets me. Occasionally I submit to whim. Then become the proud owner of a gadget I hadn’t previously known I wanted.

Continue reading “Kitchen gadgets and minimalisation”

Ten-year guarantees saga and reservations

Ten-year guarantees saga and reservations

Ten-year guarantees no longer interest me. Or at least nowhere as much as they once might have. My interests are different now. But twice in the past few days, goods have been offered with a TYG. That got me thinking about life as an octogentarian.

In ten years, I may no longer be interested in claiming new-for-old. It’s daunting to think that something with a guarantee that long may outlast me. I feel as if I need to proclaim my intention of living to 100, although I don’t care about a letter from King Charles III. That prospect isn’t highly motivating.

Continue reading “Ten-year guarantees saga and reservations”

Nature’s profusion of purple flowers

Nature's profusion of purple flowers

Nature’s profusion, in all its manifestations, should continue to surprise us. But if you’re like me, it’s all too easy to take such abundance for granted. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, talks about the abundance of ideas available to each of us. This applies especially when we are open and engaged on a project. She says,

Looking at God’s creation, it is pretty clear that the creator itself did not know when to stop. There is not one pink flower, or even fifty pink flowers, but hundreds... no two alike.

Continue reading “Nature’s profusion of purple flowers”

Spring blossom excels at Dwellingup

Spring blossom, Dwellingup

Spring blossom was the pick-me-up I needed. A broken tooth-crown and consequent gappy grin (still under repair). Falling on a busy street. A head wound and concussion. They’d taken their toll and left me grumpy and out-of-sorts.

A drive on Sunday morning to Dwellingup, about 100 kilometres from Perth, and I found myself in what felt like heaven. You can read more about the little town in my blog, ‘Dwellingup, an old timber town with new life’.

Continue reading “Spring blossom excels at Dwellingup”

Scary hours in the emergency department

Scary hours in ambulance

Scary hours spent in public hospital emergency departments seem to be the norm in Perth. We’ve been proud of our ‘world class hospital system’, but that description no longer holds.

People with experience in other states assure me this condition is widespread across Australia. Several people, including a child, have died recently while waiting for an ambulance or hospital treatment.

I’m one of the lucky people. My injury, in the scheme of things, was not devastating and I had good support and care.

Continue reading “Scary hours in the emergency department”

%d bloggers like this: