December 2022

Blog Archive - January 2023

1 January 2023

Happy New Year!

I woke up at 6am this morning (because I’m a sensible boy and was in bed before midnight and the fireworks starting last night) and decided to archive last month’s blog posts and begin a fresh year on the Reading Project while everyone was still asleep. It occurred to me as I did that, that the end of last year marked a full four and a half years since we began writing a blog for this website. I had never intended the website to have one. We never even had an About page until someone visiting the website made a comment about it. Back in January 2017 when we started we just had this idea we’d do a few book reviews. The website has expanded beyond that, somewhat.

As the New Year starts I’ve again changed the website banner. I thought the previous one was too small, so now it’s large and ostentatious. I’ve also tweaked a few features of our front page which no one but us is likely to notice. But I think it looks better and I think our panel for books currently being read now works better.

I’ve also been busying myself with a design of pages for Special Reading Projects, for both now and in the future. Currently, I’ve been putting pages together for a reading of Homer’s The Iliad and Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. I’ve added information about this to our front page even though we aren’t quite started with these projects yet. The pages for them exist and links can be found in the menu bar above, and on our front page if you’re interested to see their look.

Other than that, my reading goals for this year are quite shambolic at the moment. I’m currently reading George Saunders’s Liberation Day. As always, the problem is having too much to read and do, both for the website and in life. Hopefully this year I’ll find my direction, while in the world at large there will be more joy for everyone. Happy New Year!

In other news . . .

Lucy, the reading project dog, who sometimes features in parts of the website (for example, see here) turns four today. Happy birthday Lucy!

- bikerbuddy

3 January 2023

The Reading Project Reading Challenge 2023

When we first started this site in 2017 we decided to brand it as a ‘project’ rather than a ‘challenge’, as it says in our About information. My perception was that challenges made reading primarily competitive on social media, and the rewards of reading could suffer for that.

But in conversations I’ve recently had I’ve been made aware of the positive role reading challenges can play in the motivation to read. Toriaz has been discovering new books to read through crime novel challenges, for instance. But I’ve seen some challenges that focus on colour and cover details of books and other criteria I wasn’t interested in as part of a reading experience. So, in the spirit of trying different things for this site, we made a list and created our own reading challenge more in keeping with the style of this website.

At the moment, we have a large banner on our main page and our About/Blog page to allow you to view or download the challenge, or you can click here to download it.

I’ve suggested at the end of the challenge list that you could contact us later in the year with a list of books you used to complete the challenge. I don’t expect that anyone will really do this, but I’ve been surprised in the past. We really will post your list and give you everlasting glory if you do it!

- bikerbuddy

9 January 2023

Reading Challenges 2023

I've decided to continue with several reading challenges this year, the Read Christie 2023 Challenge and Reading the Detective’s Scenes of Classic Crimes Challenge. Both have a list of twelve books, one for each month, and each with a theme.

This year the Read Christie theme is methods and motives within Christie’s books. Each chosen title represents one of these methods or motives. I already had seven of the listed books, so I only needed three more, including the January book. (Note, there are two titles still to be revealed for the challenge.) I threw bikerbuddy into the car and headed into Sydney in search of those three titles. We visited the three major bookstores in the CBD and I found one book at each of them.

Here’s the Read Christie challenge:

  • January - Sad Cypress (Jealousy)
  • February - Partners in Crime (blunt object)
  • March - The Moving Finger (anger)
  • April - Sparkling Cyanide (poison)
  • May - to be revealed (betrayal)
  • June - They Do It With Mirrors (gunshot)
  • July - Evil Under the Sun (love and lust)
  • August - Death Comes as the End (fall from a height)
  • September - Appointment With Death (hatred)
  • October - to be revealed (stabbing)
  • November - Endless Night (greed)
  • December - Sleeping Murder (strangulation)

The Scenes of Classic Crimes challenge is from a Goodreads group I’m a member of, so I can’t provide a link for it. This one focusses on the traditional settings for murders in Golden Age mysteries. Like last year’s challenge for this group, this one has a fair few writers I’ve never even heard of, let alone read before, but at least I already have four of them. I wasn’t expecting to find any additional books on yesterday’s bookshop jaunt, but I was happy to find two of them for this challenge.

The books for this challenge are:

  • January - Body in the Library by Agatha Christie (library)
  • February - An Oxford Tragedy by JC Masterman (campus)
  • March - Inquest: A Goldern Age Mystery by Henrietta Clandon (country house party)
  • April - Surfeit of Suspects by George Bellairs (office/workplace)
  • May - The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers (church)
  • June - Crime in Kensington by Christopher St John Sprigg (hotel)
  • July - And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (island)
  • August - Death on the Riviera by John Bude (holiday abroad)
  • September - The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo (locked room)
  • October - Shroud of Darkness by ECR Lorac (plane, train, boat)
  • November - The Roman Hat Mystery by Ellery Queen (theatre)
  • December - Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLead (christmas celebrations)

I've already reviewed a few of these, listed in red, so I may make some substitutes, rather than reread them. I'm considering The Tattoo Murder by Akimitsu Takagi instead of The Honjin Murders, as it is described as a classic Japanese locked room mystery, and one of Ngaio Marsh’s theatre-based murders. I’m not sure what to substitute for And Then There Were None, so if you have any suggestions for a Golden Age Mystery set on an island, let me know.

And of course, I'll also be doing the new Reading Project Reading Challenge 2023.

- Toriaz

23 January 2023

Sport for Jove and Tove Jansson

After the pandemic became a part of everyone’s life it felt like things had changed. We reflected upon this on Saturday night. We have an excellent local theatre company in the Blue Mountains, Sport for Jove, which regularly staged performances of Shakespeare and other plays before the pandemic. On Saturday night we went to see their first production for this year of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Looking back, I see I wrote about a production of Measure for Measure in my review of that play in January 2018, and included pictures of a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by another company at the pop-up Globe in Sydney in a blog post in November 2018. We saw other productions after that, but once the pandemic hit we stayed home.

Saturday night was the first Sport for Jove production we’ve seen in a few years. It was performed in Everglades Gardens which has an outdoor garden theatre with an art deco arch as its backdrop, and hedges for its stage wings. We saw an evening performance, and it was as good as any production the company has produced. It began raining a little while before the interval but it wasn’t too heavy. I had a raincoat and Toriaz had a jacket and we remained dry. Unfortunately for the actors performing the roles of the lovers in the forest, they were down to underwear, but they never flinched. During the interval I wandered down to the residence to remain dry while I added an extra layer of warmth under my rain jacket, and saw one of the actors enter with a friend, looking a little cold. Meanwhile, back at the performance area, this was the scene during interval:

Thankfully, the rain stopped shortly into the second half of the play.

I also took another panorama shot of Toriaz sitting on the edge of the stage area before the performance for the panorama shots we have cycling at the bottom of our main page. You can see it there. If you miss it, refresh your page when the panorama shots are on your screen and that will bring it back to the beginning of the shots, which is the Everglades stage at the moment.

We also went to Megalong Books in Leura earlier, before the show. Toriaz had Susan Cooper’s third book in The Dark is Rising Sequence set aside for her there in the edition that matches the rest of her set. I also took a look around without any intention of buying anything and discovered a beautiful edition of a book about Tove Jansson and her art. Tove Jansson wrote and illustrated the Moomin books which are reviewed on this website. I couldn’t resist, naturally!

- bikerbuddy

February 2023