Happy Naw Ruz (Baha’i new year) from the friends and children gathered at our celebration last night! Dinner, music, art, dancing, and uplifting, sacred words – lovely evening!
Happy Naw Ruz (Baha’i new year) from the friends and children gathered at our celebration last night! Dinner, music, art, dancing, and uplifting, sacred words – lovely evening!
Folks, you may or may not know that I have been struggling with tendonitis & carpal-tunnel problems for more than a year. This has kept me away from computer-centric leisure activities – including blogging – and has thrust me into a regimen of physiotherapy. But I have still been reading. I never stop reading.
A little while ago I learned of the #95books project, and idly wondered how many books I had read this year – and whether or not that number would come at all close to 95. Despite the fact that it is late in the year and I have probably forgotten much, I gave it a shot: I enumerated all the books I could recall having read since last year’s winter holiday, in half-remembered chronological order.
Notes on criteria:
Turns out I got to 61. Not bad for an inadvertent effort. 39 works of fiction, 18 works of non-fiction, and 4 collections of poetry. I’ll say this: I read more non-fiction than I thought; I expected fiction from floor to ceiling.
It feels a little strange to me to publicize a personal reading list; what an intimate relationship we have with what we read, after all. Still, here they are, for my records and perhaps your mild interest:
|#||Title||Author||Publisher, Year||Subject Category||How I Found It|
|1||The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories
||Susanna Clarke||Bloomsbury, 2006||Fiction (Short Stories)||VPL second-hand book sale; had enjoyed author’s previous book|
|2||Honky||Dalton Conley||Vintage, 2001||Non-Fiction (Memoir)||recommended by a friend (YR)|
|3||The Salish People vol. 2||Charles Hill-Tout||Talonbooks, [year unknown]||Non-Fiction (Ethnography)||work-related|
|4||The Salish People vol. 3||Charles Hill-Tout||Talonbooks, [year unknown]||Non-Fiction (Ethnography)||work-related|
|5||The Salish People vol. 4||Charles Hill-Tout||Talonbooks, [year unknown]||Non-Fiction (Ethnography)||work-related|
|6||Folies Past: A Prequel to Pride & Prejudice||Melanie Kerr||self-published, 2013||Fiction (Novel)||gift from a friend (CS)|
|7||Pride and Prejudice||Jane Austen||public domain (Kobo edition), 2011||Fiction (Novel)||classic [reread]|
|8||The World Afloat||M.A.C. Farrant||Talonbooks, 2014||Fiction (Short Stories)||work-related|
|9||bpNichol: What History Teaches||Stephen Scobie||Talonbooks, [year unknown]||Non-Fiction (Literary Criticism)||work-related|
|10||The Valley||Joan MacLeod||Talonbooks, 2014||Drama||work-related|
|11||The Stone Diaries||Carol Shields||Vintage, 1993||Fiction (Novel)||VPL second-hand book sale|
|12||Lasagna: The Man Behind the Mask||Ronald Cross with Helene Sevigny||Talonbooks, 1991(?)||Non-Fiction (Autobiography)||work-related|
|13||Seasons: Sixth||BeshterAngelus||FanFiction.net, 2013||Fan-Fiction||novel-length fanfiction, The X-Files|
|14||Seasons: Seventh||BeshterAngelus||FanFiction.net, 2013||Fan-Fiction||novel-length fanfiction, The X-Files|
|15||Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line||Rob Thomas||Knopf Doubleday, 2014||Fiction (Mystery)||already a fan of the franchise|
|16||A Wizard of Earthsea||Ursula K. LeGuin||[unknown]||Fiction (YA Fantasy)||intended to read since Children’s Lit course in 2004|
|17||Girl in the Goldfish Bowl||Morris Panych||Talonbooks, 1999(?)||Drama||work-related|
|18||The Berlin Blues||Drew Hayden Taylor||Talonbooks, 1996(?)||Drama||via work|
|19||DOWNVERSE||Nikki Reimer||Talonbooks, 2014||Poetry||via work|
|20||Back to the Good Fortune Diner||Vicki Essex||Harlequin, 2013||Romance||recommended by a friend (SD)|
|21||Fangirl||Rainbow Rowell||St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013||Fiction (YA Novel)||recommended by a friend (SD)|
|22||The Obese Christ||Larry Tremblay||Talonbooks, 2014||Fiction (Psychological Thriller)||work-related|
|23||Releasing the Powers of Junior Youth (Book 5)||Ruhi Institute||Ruhi Institute, 2014||Non-Fiction (Religious)||study circle resulting from Vancouver Youth Conference 2013 (Baha’i Community) [reread]|
|24||Cockroach||Rawi Hage||Anansi, 2008||Fiction (Novel)||CBC Canada Reads 2014|
|25||Annabel||Kathleen Winter||Anansi, 2010||Fiction (Novel)||CBC Canada Reads 2014|
|26||Hollow City||Ransom Riggs||Quirk Books, 2014||Fiction (YA Fantasy)||bookstore browsing|
|27||Walking Together on a Path of Service (Book 7)||Ruhi Institute||Ruhi Institute, 2000s(?)||Non-Fiction (Religious)||invited to study circle by the tutor [reread]|
|28||The Orenda||Joseph Boyden||Hamish-Hamilton, 2013||Fiction (Novel)||CBC Canada Reads 2014|
|29||The Porcupine Hunter and Other Stories||Henry Tate (ed. Ralph Maud)||Talonbooks, 1993(?)||Non-Fiction (Ethnography)||work-related|
|30||A Slight Case of Fatigue||Stèphane Bourguignon||Talonbooks, 1999(?)||Fiction (Novel)||work-related|
|31||Motherhouse||David Fennario||Talonbooks, 2014||Drama||work-related|
|32||meanwhile: The Critical Writings of bpNichol||Roy Miki (editor)||Talonbooks, [year unknown]||Non-Fiction (Literary Criticism)||work-relatedhA`|
|33||Minor Expectations||Garry Thomas Morse||Talonbooks, 2014||Fiction (Novel – Speculative)||work-related|
|34||Christina, The Girl King||Michel-Marc Bouchard||Talonbooks, 2014||Drama||work-related|
|35||Year of the Flood||Margaret Atwood||Vintage, 2010||Fiction (SF/“cli-fi”)||CBC Canada Reads 2014|
|36||Austenland||Shannon Hale||Bloomsbury, 2008||Fiction (Chick Lit)||had seen the movie|
|37||Guide to BC Indian Myth & Legend||Ralph Maud||Talonbooks, [year unknown]||Non-Fiction (Ethnography)||work-related|
|38||Maleficium||Martine Desjardins||Talonbooks, 2012||Fiction (Novel)||via work|
|39||Wild Child: Girlhoods in the Counter-Culture||Chelsea Cain (editor)||Seal Press, 1999||Non-Fiction (Essays)||gift from a friend (HS) [reread]|
|40||Longbourn||Jo Baker||Knopf, 2013||Fiction (Novel)||bookstore browsing|
|41||Crossing the City||Michel Tremblay||Talonbooks, 2014||Fiction (Novel)||work-related|
|42||Michel & Ti-Jean||George Rideout||Talonbooks, 2014||Drama||via work|
|43||Peacock Blue: The Collected Poems||Phyllis Webb||Talonbooks, 2014||Poetry||via work|
|44||Odd Ducks [manuscript]||Bryden MacDonald||Talonbooks, 2015 (forthcoming)||Drama||via work|
|45||An Error in Judgement: Medical Care in an Indian-White Community||Dara Culhane Speck||Talonbooks, 2001(?)||Non-Fiction (Sociology/Politics)||work-related|
|46||The West Wing: Fantasy 8||various||National-Library.net, [year unknown]||Fan-Fiction||novel-length fanfiction, The West Wing|
|47||Eleanor & Park||Rainbow Rowell||St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013||Fiction (YA Novel)||word of mouth; recommendation (SD & JL)|
|48||Prisoner of Heaven||Carlos Ruiz Zafon||Harper Perennial Canada, 2013||Fiction (Novel)||lent by a friend (VW)|
|49||Hosanna (3rd ed.)||Michel Tremblay||Talonbooks, 2013||Drama||work-related|
|50||Bordertown Café||Kelly Rebar||Talonbooks, [year unknown]||Drama||via work|
|51||Loki is Buried at Stony Creek||Fred Wah||Talonbooks, 1970s(?)||Poetry||work-related|
|52||Pictograms From the Interior of B.C.||Fred Wah||Talonbooks, 1970s(?)||Poetry||work-related|
|53||The Book of Life||Deborah Harkness||Viking, 2014||Fiction (Novel)||bookstore browsing|
|54||Finding Rose [manuscript]||Jean-François Caron||Talonbooks, 2015 (forthcoming)||Fiction (Novel)||work-related|
|55||Half-Blood Blues||Esi Edugyan||HarperCollins, 2011||Fiction (Novel)||CBC Canada Reads 2014|
|56||The Fasting Girl: A True Victorian Medical Mystery||Michelle Stacey||Tarcher-Putnam, 2002||Non-Fiction (History)||VPL second-hand book sale|
|57||In Plain Sight: Reflections on Life in Downtown Eastside Vancouver||Leslie A. Robertson & Dara Culhane (editors)||Talonbooks, 2003||Non-Fiction (Essays)||work-related|
|58||The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America||Thomas King||Doubleday Canada, 2012||Non-Fiction (History)||various forms of publicity; borrowed from coworker (VW)|
|59||My Turquoise Years
||M.A.C. Tarrant||Greystone, 2004||Non-Fiction (Memoir)||recommended by coworkers & VW & AM)|
|60||It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens||Danah Boyd||Yale University Press, 2014||Non-Fiction (Sociology)||recommended by a conference speaker (BB at TechForum 2014)|
|61||The Black Notebook||Michel Tremblay||Talonbooks, 2006||Fiction (novel)||work-related|
I consider it a good year. And the desire to read (as well as available free time for reading) does tend to ebb and flow to some degree from year to year. I may not get to 60 in 2015 – but I will endeavour to keep a more accurate list as I go.
I wish I had time to write reviews or commentary about these books, many of which were excellent, but I don’t. I’ll share just a bit of the cream:
The rest was gravy, essentially.
(Gravy, too, is important. Check out this news, published in 2013, which found that readers of literary fiction make good empathizers.)
If you’re interested in tracking your own reading habits, check out the 50 Book Pledge, which I found out about while writing this post. If you’re curious about how and why people choose to buy the books they buy, you might peruse BookNet Canada’s latest report, “The Canadian Book Consumer 2013 – Coast to Coast: Book Buyers Across Canada” (PDF). Last but not least, if you’ve read any of the books above and would like to chat about them, leave a comment!
You may not hear (read) from me for a while, owing to the above-outlined circumstances, but I trust you’ll be doing your share of reading excellent things.
Happy reading in 2015, everyone!
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I have a year-end post brewing that explains my absence in more detail, but for now here’s a quick photo of a mobile my husband and I built as a gift for friends of ours who are expecting their first baby in early 2015. He whittled a long branch into three sticks, then we both folded a number of paper cranes out of large sheets of scrapbooking paper, and finally I rigged it all up with some bakers’ twine. With lovely results!
In a most excellent denouement, the mother-to-be tells me the cranes match the new baby’s new room perfectly.
I recently received the below sneak preview of the baby’s room. This baby is going to be one classy lady!
Readers of this blog have been inundated recently with post about England’s Regency, Jane Austen, and Regency-era dancing. The Regency Ball we held was a grand success, and I hope to be involved in another one in the future—despite all the very hard work. As a final note, please accept these very simple instructions for making tiered serving plates.
Go to your local thrift store, and find a few charming old ceramic plates that look nice together, in a variety of sizes. Also find a few candlesticks that have a decent amount of surface area on the bottoms as well as the tops. These will become the pillars holding up the plates.
Buy some heavyweight craft glue—we used E6000 from Michaels arts and crafts store, although we nearly went for Gorilla Glue.
Then, simply follow the instructions in this video!
And here are the final products:
We auctioned them off during a silent auction held at the Regency Ball. All of them went quickly! Nice to see that the time we put into picking out pretty plates didn’t go to waste—now I will have to make another one to keep for myself!
This post is contributed by Celeste Sargent as part of the 1817 Regency Ball Blog Series.
Music and dance play an important role in Jane Austen’s novels. Consider the Netherfield, Mansfield, and Mr. Weston’s balls; Mary Crawford’s harp and Jane Fairfax’s pianoforte; Anne Elliot and Mary Bennet playing country dances and reels; and Catherine Morland at the Upper Rooms in Bath. However, Austen provides few cultural details regarding specific songs, composers or dances so it is hard to imagine what they may have really been like. Fortunately, we can fill in the blanks from her personal collection of music and other historical sources. Since the purpose of my research was to organize a Regency ball, this article gives the briefest introduction to Regency music and focuses on Regency dance. Unfortunately, I am not a scholar in either field so I beg the forgiveness of those who are knowledgeable and encourage those who are not to follow the links to my sources.
The English Regency Era (1790-1820) was situated at the peak of the Classical period and the cusp of the Romantic period in music (which are different from the Literary periods). Then, as now, people enjoyed a variety of music. Popular, new music came from the stage and theatre. Haydn, Mozart and J.C. Bach were writing operas, oratorios, symphonies, and sonatas that exemplified the famous “classical style” but there were also pop artists, like Charles Dibdin and Stephen Storace, who wrote popular songs and then faded into obscurity. People continued to appreciate the old masters like J.S. Bach and Handel from the Baroque period, while some, like Vivaldi, fell out of favour. In Britain the people celebrated their cultural roots with Scottish and Irish Airs from the Renaissance and earlier. Around Europe, Classical composers wrote variations on (read: re-mix) of their various folk songs. In the late Regency, Beethoven, who started in the Classical style, was developing a new style of music, which would come to be known as “Romantic” and would define music for over 100 years. If you’re wondering about Strauss, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, or Saint-Saens … they were all to come later in the Romantic Period.
“Jane’s musical preferences tended towards the songs and dances that were popular at the time. That some of yesteryear’s tunes have become today’s classical music (Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven) happened purely by chance, for many of the composers whose music and songs Jane Austen preferred have faded into obscurity. Jane favored Ignaz Pleyel over Haydn… She played folk songs, Scotch and Irish airs (many arranged by Haydn and Beethoven), and songs from the popular stage by such composers as Dibdin, Arne and Shiled. She also collected works from Piccinni, Sterkel, and J.C. Bach, and owned Steibelt’s ‘Grand Concerto, Haydn’s English Conzonets, glees music of John Wall Callcott, and Che Faro from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice.” 
“Yes, yes, we will have a pianoforte, as good a one as can be got for 30 guineas, and I will practice country dances, that we may have some amusement for our nephews and nieces, when we have the pleasure of their company.” –Jane Austen, 1808 
It is often easy to recognize Baroque music from the distinctive sound of the harpsichord and the transition to the Classical period was strongly influenced by the invention of the pianoforte. The harpsichord generated it’s sound by plucking strings with a metal hook. The sound, while piercing, was usually considered too quiet to carry the melody in an ensemble. The pianoforte was a revolutionarily superior instrument. The pianoforte had a different method of producing sound. It struck the strings with a padded mallet. As its name suggests, the ability to control the force of the strike, gave the player control over the volume of each note (loud and soft). It was loud enough to carry the melody in a concerto, had a more pleasing sound and could be played with “expression”, a quality which made it an appealing solo instrument and which would be even more fully explored in the Romantic period.
“it was the Bach sons Philipp Emanuel and Christian; as well as Mozart and Clementi who learned to exploit and appreciate the advantages of the piano, contributed to its successful introduction around the world.”
The pianoforte could also be made relatively small, portable, and affordable. It became a common feature in middle-class homes and brought music and dancing into everyday life. Young people would keep collections of their favourite music, often copying it out from their friends for free (the illegal download of the day). As we see in Austen’s novels, it also made it easy to have a house concert or impromptu dance.
“Mary, at the end of a long concerto, was glad to purchase praise and gratitude by Scotch and Irish airs, at the request of her younger sisters, who with some of the Lucases and two or three officers joined eagerly in dancing at one end of the room.” – Pride and Prejudice
The dancing style of the Regency ballroom might surprise you with its liveliness. Dancers hopped and span, clapped, laughed and talked (often encouraged by drinking). Though regulated by social conventions, it was not stately and formalized as we imagine. That would come in the Victorian Era and would contribute to the decline in the popularity of social dancing.
It turns out the Regency ballroom contained a wide variety of dance and music styles as well. During Austen’s life she might have danced jigs and reels like “the Virginia Reel” from the Renaissance Period; English country dances like “Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot” from the Baroque Period; and cotillions and quadrilles from the Classical Period. The unifying factor was the social nature of the dance. They were all group dances in which many dance couples interact in a larger pattern. Changing partners throughout the evening, and even during the dance itself, was integral. It was considered rude for any couple, whether courting or married, to dance more than two dances together in one evening. However, they were all on the verge of being swept away by the emerging Romantic Period and the waltz which was just beginning to permeate the music and dance scene in 1815.
Typically, Regency dances and balls included Irish and Scottish jigs and reels, which originate in the Renaissance period or earlier and continue to be popular today. Much of the liveliness in Regency music and dance come from this heritage. It is fast passed and involves a lot of bouncing, turning and clapping. The Virgina Reel is one example.
“It stems from the ‘rinnce fadha’, a pre-Christian Irish dance that evolved into the English dance called the Sir Roger de Coverley. Brought to Virginia by English colonists, the Sir Roger de Coverley in time became the Virginia Reel”
“A country dance is a social dance form in which two or more couples dance together in a set … The main forms of country dancing are: longways sets, square sets and circle dances.”
While it is clear that reels were an integral part of the Regency Ballroom, there is some debate about whether the Playford dances continued to be enjoyed or were considered passe. However, in Austen’s Novel Persuasion, Anne Elliot plays “country dances” for the Musgrove girls to dance to, which may indicate their continued popularity in the country, if not in the cities.
One example of a typical English country dance is Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot. This dance is famous as the dance that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy dance together in the BBC mini-series “Pride & Prejudice,” 1995 (enjoy the clip below). As with most dances of this era, the name belongs to both the dance and the accompanying song. The term “Maggot,” pronounced the same as the wriggly white larvae, was commonly used to describe dances that were unique and particularly fanciful.
“The middle english word maggot meant a whim, fancy or silly idea. It is believed this came from the belief that the brain was full of maggots (probably from observations of cadavers) and the bite of one of these maggots would give rise to an unusual thought or idea. … There was an expression “when the maggot bites” that meant `when the fancy takes me.’ (Dictionary of Phrase and Fable 1884).”
The cotillion was the primary dance of Austen’s youth. Started in France in the 1700s, it came to England in 1766, and consisted of four couples in a square formation with a caller who called out the steps. The spontaneous and indeterminate nature of the cotillion is the reason why specific dances were not often mentioned in Austen’s novels.
“Its name, from French cotillon, “petticoat”, reflected the flash of petticoats as the changing partners turned.”
The quadrille was introduced in England around 1803 and almost completely supplanted the cotillion. The quadrille was very similar but simpler. Like the cotillion, four couples dance in a square but the steps were pre-set into short “Figures” to avoid the need for a caller. Each dance consisted of performing several Figures (usually 5).
When Austen was sent quadrilles by her niece Fanny she replied “Much obliged for the quadrilles, which I am grown to think pretty enough, though of course they are very inferior to the cotillions of my own day.” from a letter of February 20, 1816 
There are several modern dances that derive from this heritage. In America, the cotillion went back to it’s folk roots and became square dancing (combining the called patterns with folk/country music) . Conversely in America, Europe and the Phililpines, the term “cotillion” has come to mean specifically a debutant ball even though the waltz is actually the main form of dance. Quadrilles have gone on to become popular in former French colonies, like Guadeloupe, where they are now called Kwadrils.
La boulanger was a simple round-dance performed at the end of the evening when everyone was tired. This is the one country dance mentioned by name in Austen’s Novels.
“The boulanger, meaning ‘baker,’ was the finishing dance at a ball. It took place in a circle formation and alternated between turning the other dancers in the circle and their partner. Once everyone had done those movements in one direction, the dance was repeated going the other way to finish the dance.”
One of the biggest revolutions in dance history happened at the end of the Regency period: The invention of the waltz. Up to this point, dancing was a group, social activity. While people danced in pairs, they interacted constantly with the other dancers in the set and even with the spectators in the room (as we see portrayed in Austen’s Novels). The waltz was radical because of the closed hand-hold, which brought partners into close embrace and excluded everyone else in the room. Therefore it was considered both inappropriate and anti-social.
The waltz originated in Austria, and was an adaptation of the German Folk dance, the Landler. The original Viennese waltz is often called a “rotary” waltz, since the couple rotates on each step, in addition to traveling in a circle around the ballroom. The Viennese waltz was first introduced to the English Court in 1815 but took time to filter down to the general population. It is unlikely that Austen, who died in 1817, ever danced a waltz. A faster version of the waltz, like the polka, became popular first, since it was livelier and less ‘intimate’, and brief waltzing steps began to be incorporated into group dances like the quadrille. But, eventually, everyone fell in love with both the new Romantic music and romantic dancing. Waltzing and other forms of partner dancing eventually became the dominant form of dance, so much so that it has become implicit in the term ‘Ballrooom dance’ , while “country dancing” and “contra-dancing” have become relegated to historical dance.
VIDEO: Viennese Waltz
VIDEO: Polka at 8min, 20sec
“Oh! My dear Mr. Bennet,…we have had a most delightful evening, a most excellent ball. I wish you had been there…First of all [Mr. Bingley], asked Miss Lucas…and asked [Jane] for the two next. Then, the two third he danced with Miss King, and the two fourth with Maria Lucas, and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and the Boulanger.”
“If he had had any compassion for me,” cried her husband impatiently, “he would not have danced half so much! For God’s sake, say no more of his partners. Oh! That he had sprained his ancle in the first dance!” – Pride and Prejudice 
So we see that a ball was no stately walk in the park. If a dance took approximately half an hour, we see that at Netherfield they danced (and the musicians played) for at least 3 hours straight, not including the boulanger. Phew, no wonder the corset fell out of style! A ball also typically included a late supper (served between 11-midnight). Though Mrs. Bennet talks about their “evening,” it seems likely that the ball went into the morning hours. It was the night-club of the 1800s. Now it becomes easy to see where the expression comes from, when someone asks whether you had a good time, and you say “I had a ball!”. You probably mean it was as much fun as a Regency ball.
1. What did Jane Austen dance? http://www.kickery.com/2009/11/what-did-jane-austen-dance.html#more
2. Dancing at the Netherfield Ball: Pride and Prejudice. http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/dancing-at-the-netherfield-ball-pride-and-prejudice/
3. Research#9: Regency Music and Composers. http://afoemma.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/research-9-regency-music-and-composers/
4. Jane Austen and Music. http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/jane-austen-and-music/
5.The History and Development of the modern Piano. http://www.rennerusa.com/rennerhistory.asp
6. Regency Dancers don’t turn single. http://www.kickery.com/2008/03/regency-dancers.html
7. The Works of Jane Austen. http://www.austen.com/novels.htm
8.The Dancing Master – Playford’s Dance Manual. http://www.shipbrook.net/jeff/playford/
9. World Wide Words: Investigating the English Language Around the World, “Maggot”. http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-mag3.htm
10. The York Regency Dancers. http://www.yorkregencydancers.com/regency-dance.html
11. The Quadrille Arrives. http://www.colonialdance.com.au/the-quadrille-arrives-1097.html
12. History of Square Dance. http://www.cdss.org/sd-history.html
13. History of the Viennese Waltz. http://www.austria.info/us/the-big-waltz-at-lincoln-center/history-of-the-viennese-waltz-1345134.html
14. Almack’s Assembly Room. http://www.regencyhistory.net/2011/10/almacks-assemby-rooms.html