Thursday, January 15, 2009

The tome: a consideration, and other items.

1.  I am reading a big fat novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I bought it, I think, at Powell's, hardback, for a good price, and I am enjoying it quite a bit.  It is nearly eight hundred pages, and frankly, this presents some challenges.  These challenges have caused me to weigh (literally) the pluses and minuses of the very large book:  
  • on the one hand, a long book that's a good book has more goodness to love; 
  • on the other hand, my wrists sometimes hurt after I've read twenty-five pages.
  • On the one hand, who does not relish her appointment to spend an hour or two in the company of a splendid work of literature?
  • On the other hand, why is said work of literature so unwieldy?
  • On the one hand, reading a wonderful book for a little moment before falling asleep is one of the great pleasures of the reading life, but 
  • on the other hand, fitting this book in bed with myself, my pillow, and my husband (not to mention my dog for awhile before we usher him out and turn out the lights) is a feat that might require technical drawings and perhaps the services of a time-motion expert to perform properly.  
I don't wish this book were shorter--it is wonderful, and here Gregory Maguire says some of the reasons why--but I do wish I had more efficacious large-book-wrangling powers.  

2.  I recycled about a zillion magazines of all sorts today.  This has given me some new shelf space to work with, and that's a good thing.  If I can give away ten percent of my books, that would be even better.

I tried not to look at the magazines as I whisked them from my shelves.  I have done this before, and looking at the magazines typically extends the duration of the organizing project from a brisk "let's take an armload or ten out to the recycling bin" Clean Sweep, to a leisurely consideration of why people thought Obama was unelectable in 2007, and what color of lipstick the authorities were recommending for the spring of 2005. 

I was mostly successful in applying this broad, "if it's a magazine, it's trash" policy, but some quick judgment calls got made (save the Times Magazine with Joseph Gordon Leavitt on the cover; toss the Times Magazine with the article about the conservative powerhouse 4th Circuit Court of Appeals).  I filled the recycling bin halfway with periodical literature.  My triumph over the magazines may give me courage to tackle some closets.

3.  I roasted the giant spaghetti squash I had hanging around from the last day of the Pioneer Park farmer's market.  I was reluctant to buy it because it was literally bigger than my head, but it's good to have some hard squash around, and the historian likes spaghetti squash, and I don't know, it was the end of the market! I was contemplating months and months on end of straitened vegetable access!  

So we bought it and it has been sitting on my counter, a giant yellow squash of reproach, until today, when, giddy with my new organizational powers, I thought, let's just cook that sucker up and see what we can do with it.  Here's what:  
  • mix some roasted tomatoes, which you have tucked away in your freezer, in with the squash.  
  • Then give a couple of good glugs of olive oil.  
  • Rip some fresh mozzarella up into the mix, about a pound; 
  • crumble some ricotta salata in there too.  
  • Stir till it's all well acquainted.  
  • Crumble a little more ricotta salata on the top and 
  • bake for awhile at 350 degrees.  
  • Take  your dog for a walk.  
  • Come home and eat a delicious and wholesome dinner which will make you feel like a homemaking genius.


  1. I want you to know if you still need to get rid of some books, I'd really love to take them off your hands! If you bring them on Friday, I could take them off your hands right away!

  2. Big books and big squash are delicious. I have one more spaghetti squash. I think I will follow your lead!

  3. Did I ever tell you you're my hero? And everything I would like to be? Including a magazine recycling genius and squash cooking genius? Meanwhile, I eats the take out and the boxed cracker. But I can read a thick book. (but also, my wrists hurt...and right now...I'm reading nothing...)

  4. Sounds delicious. I made eggplant and mushroom risotto that made me feel like a genius.

  5. 1. Big fat novel reading time? If I could post in green font, this would definitely be in a nice shade of reading time envy.
    2. You tossed the Times Magazine with the article about the conservative powerhouse 4th Circuit Court of Appeals? Yikes! It sounds fascinating to me...
    3. There you go again with your superhero powers--able to convert a giant spaghetti squash into a yummy nutritious meal. You are truly a superhero in my big fat book.

  6. And a big book also takes up more shelf space.

    For me one more on the other hand: what if half into the long book it stops working for me but I can't stop reading because, well, I've already invested so much time?

    The ethical dilemmas of a big book are endless.

  7. I live in fear of the moment you describe, counterintuitive: so far, no. So far, it's still working.



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