Being Peeved

I’m having one of those days when everything but everything is irritating. I had intended to blog today in order to write another review, as I seem hugely behind and I’d like to get a record of this year’s reading in order before the end of year lists and so on. But when I saw that the literary blog hop had taken as its subject ‘your top literary peeves’, I wondered whether it wouldn’t be a good idea to get some grumpiness off my chest. But of course, I could think of loads of things that were annoying me, but very few of them had anything to do with reading. There’s very little that I dislike stylistically per se, although I suppose if pressed, I could say:

The use of the present tense
I read lots of books written in the present tense, far more than there were a decade ago, and it seems to be the inevitable choice for certain kinds of genre writing. I believe the idea is that the present tense makes the story more immediate and, therefore, thrilling. But to my mind it only emphasizes the madness at the basis of narrative. The story that you are reading from the book held in your hands cannot possibly be happening simultaneously in the present moment. That’s the only timeframe it really cannot be happening in.

Unmotivated happy endings
Again, it seems to be fashionable to slap a happy ending on a story, regardless of what terrible scrapes the characters have got themselves into, and what intransigent personality flaws they have so far displayed. I believe the idea is that this is uplifting, and offers hope, but all it seems to do to my mind is to emphasise the gap between narrative and reality, and that’s wide enough as it is. A happy ending is uplifting if it’s plausible, but when you can feel the strings being pulled, then it’s a contrived marketing device.

Characters lacking self-awareness
I can’t abide characters who crash through the plot, swerving about in their motivation, acting irrationally and never questioning themselves or being challenged by the other protagonists. We’ve all met those sorts of people in real life and gone out of our way to avoid them. Don’t make them the main character and then have their problems unfold neatly; it doesn’t work that way.

So those were the only things I could think of that I do not much care for, although of course, when used in the right way, with intelligence and sensitivity or humour and insight, then I expect I wouldn’t mind them. Perhaps one of the things I really don’t like is the obligation to be prescriptive about narrative. Do I sound really grumpy to you? Like I said, it’s been a frustrating day and winter, and Christmas in particular, is starting to get to me. It’s been a day full of people on wobbly bikes (twice with children strapped into seats on the back) veering all over the road in front of my car when the visibility’s poor, and shoppers literally zigzagging across the aisles at a snail’s pace while they contemplate Christmas purchases, so I can’t get past. I’m sick of the queues in the shops and the terrible weather outside them. I’m fed up of Christmas songs on the radio and relentless advertising on the television. This is one of those times of year when my restricted diet really gets to me – I manage fine mostly, not being able to eat sugar or yeast or booze (or dairy fats but that’s out of choice because I’m not keen on them). But all I see at present are endless adverts for rich, fancy food. I may know for sure that eating mince pies dripping with cream and Christmas cake with marzipan and icing and mulled wine would make me feel horrifically ill, but that doesn’t stop my head from wanting them. So one of the things that’s really annoying me is

I would happily live without it. I used to love the season as a child, but then my poor mother did all the work. Now I have to buy Christmas and cook it and queue in the post office to send it and no single day of the year is worth such mountains of preparation. Given my choice, I’d do something far, far more low key, but I don’t have the choice. Whenever I suggest cutting back, my menfolk look all sorrowful and hardly done by and like I’ve just delivered a brutal jail sentence. Do my menfolk wish to help with the preparations, though? You bet your life they don’t. Or that’s not entirely fair: if I give Mister Litlove the coordinate point location of an item in a shop on a day when nothing else distracts his attention, he will try and get it. But if I assign general tasks to them they practice the kind of brinkmanship I cannot compete with, and happily reach Christmas Eve with nothing done, somehow expecting a miracle equivalent to the virgin birth to occur. So, knowing that this is the case, and knowing that Christmas is not a pleasure for me I thought I would try to do something this year to buck myself up a bit.

Best laid plans backfiring
And I decided I would sort myself out with a special reading list for the festive season. I put on it some readings from the founders of Christianity – Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. And I added to it a collected volume of fairy stories by Hans Christian Anderson, a couple of rewrites of the King Arthur legends and some fantastical, magical sorts of stories. I wanted to steep myself in numinous writing, to feel the sense of wonder and awe and possibility that Christmas ought to stand for, not this tiresome and tiring battle with a million chores. Most of the things I wanted to read, I didn’t possess, and so I put together a little amazon list and made a pre-Christmas treat for myself, a sort of payment for my trouble. And of course, those books are now somewhere lost in transit. Whether it’s the bad snowy weather to blame (and goodness knows everything stops in this country when it snows) or the strain of Christmas deliveries on our rubbishy postal service, but presents I’ve ordered both before and after have turned up, just not my books.  Where are my books? Where is my palliative reading to sustain me through the bleakest of bleak seasons? Who is playing this cruel trick on me?

Being Irritated By Myself
But most of all, I’m just annoyed with myself. I know I shouldn’t let all these little things get to me. I ought to want to give my family the Christmas that gives them pleasure, and not mind the time it takes to prepare it because I’m doing it for them. And I do have other books to read, and if these ones are lost then perhaps it means I ought to read what I already possess. Being irritated by winter is a hiding to nothing, because it isn’t about to turn into spring any time soon. I ought to make the best of it. But today I just can’t talk myself out of my black mood. And I really hate it when that happens. Sorry for the whine, blogging friends. I will try to reconcile myself with the season and return a cheerier soul towards the end of the weekend!


34 thoughts on “Being Peeved

  1. Your cases against the literary peeves are so well-stated that they don’t seem so peevish any more, but rather like entirely legitimate criticisms.

    As for your seasonal peeves, ah, my deepest sympathies about those lost books! Some sort of cosmic joke, with, I hope, a well-motivated happy ending, coming soon in the mail.

  2. Amen to this: ‘no single day of the year is worth such mountains of preparation.’ I come to the end of every Christmas Day, now that I, like you, am the chief organiser exhausted, overfed and wondering where the fun went. Perhaps I should take it a bit lighter: ham sandwiches for Christmas lunch?

  3. I have to admit that Christmas had gotten quite stressful for me to until a few years ago my family decided that it was a totally arbitrary holiday for us to celebrate (since we weren’t really observant Christians) and we would stop doing any aspect of it that didn’t bring us pleasure. So…. we no longer feel compelled to give gifts on the holiday (which cuts out all that stressful and wasteful buying of meaningless gifts just so you can have something to give when people expect it). Instead we give gifts whenever we find something that we think the other person would want. It’s always a surprise. And when we can we throw a huge Solstice party which contains all the wintry trappings we like (a Solstice tree! a Yule log! poetry readings about winter by our friends! nog of various types! Decorations have to be natural in their basis, since it is a seasonal party, and the one rule of Solstice is that you have to wear the one thing in your closet that you love but never get a chance to wear. We see a lot of cloaks and woad-painting and old formal-wear at this party. As well as the occasional person dressed as Tom Bombadil.), but isn’t all tied up in religion and guilt and stress (and thus can include all of our friends, not just the Christian ones).

    I do miss the carols, though. And every season I sneak in a listen to Handel’s Messiah. It’s the rebel in me.

    But some years the Solstice party is too stressful (like this one), and then we don’t feel bad about putting it off ’til the next year. Life’s too short to be made frantic about the things that should be sources of pleasure, right?

    So, long story short: I am filled with sympathy for your holiday stresses.

  4. My husband is in the hospital right now, so I’m not feeling the Christmas spirit either, it sort of seems to be rubbing itself in my face, actually! The stress of illness and probable surgery vs. the cheer I’m supposed to be filled with. So I enjoyed your rant. 🙂 My husband is at least perfectly fine having a small Christmas, I just want him home! And wish I had some more family around too. I hope you can find some good books somewhere, I know how much that can help.

  5. I”m always keen on a low-stress holiday. I must admit that sometimes I love being far far away from the rest of the family so we aren’t traveling in scary weather just to make dinner time. People always look sad when they ask what we are doing for Christmas and I say ‘nothing’ but I love not having to rush anywhere and can just be home in my jammies. (ps It’s not like we avoid our families! we just visit in nicer weather and at times with no expectations.)

  6. So sorry you’re having such a rough day.

    The literary criticisms, I think, are totally warranted and very well stated. Present tense annoys me, worst still first person present tense REALLY grates. I’ve read samples of works like that and I didn’t even bother finish reading them. I couldn’t. It seems as though much that is written in this context (and I’ve read several in the last year alone that do this) wind up having some kind of edit fail; too much inconsequential information.

    The HEA without the fear of it not happening? Such a no-go for me. As much as I adore romance I’ve stopped reading it over the last couple years because of this very issue. There’s one historical romance author who is relatively new that always delivers complex characters and disbelief as to whether or not that ending is going to happen. She’s a rarity, though.

    I don’t mind the lacking self-awareness as long as it’s clear that’s what the character is missing. Admittedly this can make the character flat, but it doesn’t have to.

    Totally with you on the holiday, too. Could you suggest that x,y, and z won’t happen this year if either man in your life doesn’t help? In the mean time I hope you take lots of deep, cleansing breaths and get to enjoy whatever you have around to read.

  7. Poor Litlove! I find Xmas a complete and total chore as well. As a non Christian living in the Southern hemisphere it’s not like the mid winter/heavy food aspects are remotely relevant. The only things I enjoy about it are having time off work and buying presents for my daughter and little niece and nephew. At the moment I feel obliged to keep going through with the circus for their sake so that (one hopes!) they have happy childhood memories but as soon as they hit 12 I’m checking myself into a spartan Buddhist retreat/going on a cruise far, far, far away from it all for the duration.

    I feel for you with regard to your books not arriving. My own little ritual Xmas pick me up, which I’m already looking forward to, is that once I’ve survived the day, cleaned up, un-gritted my teeth, and hopefully managed not to get into any fights with the dear extended family I sit and watch Casablanca

  8. I’ve not even put up a tree yet or otherwise decorated and until someone mentions it, I think I’m not going to do it! 🙂 I agree that Christmas as we know it is a highly overrated holiday–far too stressful for actual day which goes by so quickly. So I can totally sympathize with you. And holiday shopping truly brings out the worst in most people–they forget there are about a million other people in the store also trying to accomplish something (do please move your cart, madame…). Sorry to hear about the missing package–it Would have to be the one that has your books–that would make me the crankiest I think, because inside it is some sort of relief from the other stresses. I hope it appears soon and will keep my fingers crossed for you. Hoping for sunny days this weekend and empty stores next time you shop (may take more than wishful thinking to deliver on that last one sadly). Take care and feel free to vent away–there’s much to be said for getting stress out of the system!

  9. I am sending air-kisses your way for your (totally justified) moan about the present tense – dear God, how I detest this conceit, and it seems to be everywhere.

    But despite the fact that I continue to make Christmas for my husband and kids, the folks who have voluntarily joined the family over the years, the biological in-laws, my husband’s acquired family, and my own massive family-of-origin, I continue to love Christmas with all my heart. Put me in front of shiny wrappings and colored ribbons and my mind blows with delight.

  10. Interesting to know some of your thoughts. I’d just like to comment on several points. First, you must stay clear of screenplays since all are written in the present tense for exactly the reason you’ve mentioned, bringing out the actions in real time. I mean they are to be written in the PT only, not even the present continuous. That’s one convention I have to consciously adopt when I learn to write my first screenplay. (yes you notice, present tense here in my sentence since I am still working at it.)

    And for characters who lack self-awareness, maybe we should give kudos to the authors for getting us annoyed and irritated about them so effectively.

    And lastly, every year around this time, I strive for some quiet mulling on the meaning of Christmas… and call my attempt ‘Reading the Season’. It’s towards books that I seek some authenticity of the Season. And this year I rested on the poetry of Luci Shaw and Madeleine L’Engle. I must say they have provided me with a haven of rest and sanity amidst chaos and consumerism.

  11. I share your literary peeves. And you have every right to gripe when you feel like griping. It’s the human condition. We can’t come down here to an earth with colds and queues and major disasters and float about all happy and smiley all the time. There’s a name for someone who does that and it’s Stepford. It’s too bad that what should be a lovey and peaceful time is instead stressful for so many people. I am just focusing on the 2 weeks where I don’t have to nag my kids to get ready for school.

  12. Oh, how annoying all around! I hope your books arrive very soon. I’m trying to think of books I’ve read in the present tense, but none are coming to mind, although I don’t read all that much contemporary fiction, so maybe I haven’t come across any. They would probably irritate me, though 🙂

  13. Aw, Litlove, I’m sorry you have such a hard time with Christmas. I hereby resolve to help my mumsy (a total Christmas goddess) with absolutely everything I can possibly help her with, when I am home for Christmas. I wish that I could send you some of our delicious Christmas cookies to cheer you up.

  14. Your rant was delightful. I hope it made you feel a bit better. It certainly made me smile. I strongly agree with your dislike of the spurious happy ending. The worst one I ever came across was in a (otherwise) wonderful book by Debra Magpie Earling called Perma Red. The story was based on Debra’s great grandmother (or maybe great great grandmother, not sure). It’s a story of reservation life, of a woman’s reality there. The actual woman (called Louise in the story) dies of the violence and alcohol endemic to the Rez. This is the natural outcome of the story as told but the publisher wanted a happy ending so Debra had to write one to publish it. That was a terrible thing to do to the truth of the story. As for Christmas, the best thing I ever did was refuse to participate except in watching others and learning from it, so I am truly sorry for the tension yet to come despite the fact that it resulted in a delightful post.

  15. Amateur Reader – your comment put the biggest smile on my face. I love the thought of a happy ending with my books. Hugs to you.

    Charlotte – lol! And bless you for the solidarity. You just need to train your potential work force up to take on some tasks – only if you find out how that’s done, please let me know! 🙂

    Ariel – thank you for your lovely comment. It’s so nice when you find a way of celebrating that really suits you and offers just what you need. I do like the fact you can opt in or out depending on how you feel. Life is too short to be stressed out over things that are supposed to be fun.

    Carolyn – there now, here’s me having a spoilt brat moment while you really do have something to complain about. I’m so very sorry to hear about your husband and have my fingers crossed that he’s out of hospital very soon and ready to enjoy a gentle convalescence with you over the holidays. Take care.

    Care – doing nothing in jammies is one of life’s greatest pleasures, I think! And that’s just it – not at all about avoiding loved ones, more about enjoying them more when the pressure is off. I completely agree.

    Kimberley – thank you! and nice that you dislike those same narrative traits, too. What is it with the present tense? I don’t know how that’s got fashionable. And yes, if the character is designed to be unself-aware and that’s used as part of the story, I’d happily go along with it. I must try harder to involve my menfolk in preparations – I’m sure things would improve (for me at least!) if I did.

    Amanda – bless you. That Buddhist retreat sounds absolutely delightful. But I feel just the same and want my son to have happy memories, too! I love the Casablanca ritual. Reminds me that I could always watch Rear Window for the thousandth time. I find it a strangely calming and satisfying film (something about invalids getting their own back, I think!).

    Danielle – that comment about ‘until someone mentions it’ just cracked me up. I love that. Perhaps I shouldn’t do anything until it gets mentioned, either. I could probably cross a lot off the list that way! But you know, it is those lost books that really gets to me. No sign of them today either. I could burst into tears over it, if I didn’t feel that would be an overreaction I shouldn’t allow myself! Thank you for your kind, kind words.

    Mumsy – how nice to have you visit! And delighted to find a fellow protester against the present tense. As for Xmas, I think some people are just gifted with their organisational skills, and somehow manage to get pleasure out of them. I can organise quite efficiently, but it always has the whiff of boot camp about it and ends up a bit grim. I hope you have yourself the loveliest festive season with all the sparkly stuff.

    Arti – oh I think I’d be okay with a screenplay because it’s all dialogue, so the whole premise is different. Not that I think I’ve ever read one – but good luck with yours. And glad to know that reading helps, when you’ve got it on hand.

    Lilian – ‘Stepford’! Oh that did make me laugh! I am most certainly not channelling the Stepford wives right now. But I do agree, the prospect of not having to get up in the dark for a few weeks to make lunch boxes sounds lovely, and something I can really get behind.

    Dorothy – thank you for the sympathy! It is much appreciated, and let me know when you next come across the present tense. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Jenny – thank you! And I’ll bet you will be a stupendous helper for mumsy. The thought is definitely as valuable as the gift, so I do appreciate the urge to send cookies. 🙂

    Mary – oh my goodness! What a travesty to stick a happy ending on that particular story. What were the publishers thinking???? I will store that one away as the perfect anecdote to illustrate just why it is so wrong…

  16. I hear you on the Christmas thing. Living alone and at some distance from my family and not having children enables me to escape from a lot of it (and I have told both my mother and step-mother for years that they prepare too much food at Christmas). I do enjoy the music (as long as it’s not constant) and the decorations and the spiritual elements of the season, as well as the time off and the chance to get together with my family. I’m very excited that my schedule has worked out that I’ll be able to go to midnight mass at my own church this year, instead of to a service at my parents’ church or not at all.

    What gets me down is the pressure to spend, spend, spend and the obligatory nature of so much of the gift buying. For some reason, my family has established the precedent of every adult getting something for each of the children. With 10 nieces and nephews, that can run into a lot of money, and I don’t know the children well enough to know what they’d really like. And they end up with so much stuff at the end of the extravaganza that I’m not sure they take notice of many of the individual items, unless it’s really splashy. I’d like to call a moratorium on it, but it’s hard to be the first auntie to not bring a gift (although maybe I’d be a hero and everyone would follow my lead–I doubt it, given past history of people reneging on “no gift” promises). I do love Ariel’s idea of just buying and giving gifts when you happen upon something you think a person would like. That takes so much pressure off the giver and enhances the pleasure for the recipient because it’s a surprise.

  17. I agree on your first and your second point. Constant present tense is dull and forced happy endings even more so. The Christmas thing doesn’t bother me. I never follow rules. I am surprised how people treat each othe thoughr. The rudeness of the shoppers is appaling. Hans Christian Andersen is practically synonymous with Christmas for me. I am thinking of The Matchstick Girl and the Snow Queen in particular. Do you have a favorite tale or would it be the first time you read him? There is a movie of The Matchstick girl that is very heartbreaking. Hope your books will arrive in time.

  18. Sweetheart, this will probably only shit you further, but you are SO cute when you’re cross!!! I can’t help giggling – in total agreement, I should hasten to add – and you’ve somehow improved MY mood for ranting about your own… I’m sure this says something frightfully unflattering about me as a friend, but it’s not MY fault you’re so winning when you feel like you’re losing.

  19. I don’t blame you one bit for feeling grumpy! I enjoy Christmas, or at least some aspects of it (and I’m especially happy about it this year because I get to go home), but every year I see the stress of the season really getting to friends (always female) who are in charge of running the show in their families.

    I’m now wishing I could convince my family to celebrate the way Ariel’s does…

  20. I agree with so many of your peeves. I recently read the Booker short list and my heart sank when I flicked through all the books and saw how many of them were in the present tense.

    I also dislike books that go for the happy ending. I think it is why I like Paul Auster’s books. He is someone who doesn’t go for the easy way out. If you have never read The Music of Chance, that is a good example.

    I am sorry your Christmassy reading hasn’t turned up. A perfect winter read is The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson. A really great book to read at this time of year, although not a Christmassy book as such.

  21. There is still time before Christmas for those books to arrive…
    Christmas is just too much these days. Some years I’m in the mood, others I’m not. I have been invited twice for Christmas dinner this year (and I don’t need to give an answer in advance, which is great), but I can feel that I’m going to sit in front of the fire with some books and my cats and ignore the whole thing.

  22. Oh, litlove, I’m sorry that this winter is proving so peevish for you–but you are such a clever and–dare I add–funny grump! But I sympathize, truly, as I’ve yet to commit to any holiday spirit whatsoever. Every year i vow that I will no longer host the Dinner of a Thousand Relatives, and every year my family gives me the Baleful Look. Sigh…

    As for your literary peeves, I think mine boil down to insincerity on the part of the author, which I cannot define, but know when I read it and then am furious.
    Hang on; I hope your palliative books arrive soon!

  23. ((hugs)) to Litlove. I have years where I have more Christmas spirit than others – I have an exceptional amount this year and have not minded at all the decorating and shopping, etc. that I have had to do but perhaps that is because S. is in equally a cheerful mood, and accompanying me on all of it? We change up our Christmases (last year, for instance, we traveled to New Orleans and didn’t do any baking or decorating) and I think that helps me embrace it when we do it “properly” at home. Christmas can be unduly stressful and make one very grouchy and depressed – I think it’s highly important to find ways to combat that if possible. I advocate for much more participation from your husband and son, if it’s so important to them!

    I have always struggled with reading books in the present tense…I find it very off-putting unless exceptionally well-done. And unexplainable happy endings are so unsatisfying – they can ruin an entire book!

  24. Your literary peeves are right on the mark, and fall into the category of sensible and legitimate criticism.

    As for Christmas, pah. I decided years ago that I had just as much right to enjoy it as everyone else, and if that meant not actually doing Christmas, that was fine. This year I am torn. I think I might get a tree and all the trappings on Christmas Eve, but then again, I might prefer just to drink champagne and not bother. The wonderful thing about being on one’s own for Christmas is therefore having only oneself to please! In the meantime, I am entirely ignoring all the build up: not having TV or listening to the radio helps there.

    And I really think that, if your menfolk want Christmas, then they should contribute to it!

  25. I hope your outlook has improved. Though I must say I can’t blame you for being down on Christmas. Since husband and I ceased celebrating it opting for a low-key Solstice instead and since we began about 8 years ago making a donation to charity in lieu of gifts for family members, the season passes by nearly stress-free. There are still holiday cards and letters to write. I do hope your books turn up soon. There is nothing like new books to help a girl feel better 🙂

  26. Dear blogging friends – just to let you know that most of my books have now arrived. Late on Saturday afternoon, when I had long given up hope of any sort of delivery, a box arrived with three books in it. Two came this morning (Monday) so only one remains out still on its lonesome journey towards me. I began to cheer up just as soon as that first box came into my hands…. Mister Litlove was impressed by the swiftness and completeness of the cure…

    Jeff – and there, there. Thank you! That was like a very nice verbal hug.

    Teresa – TEN nephews and nieces?? That is a lot to buy for, and children are not as easy as one may think, being at different stages, liking different things, often having distinctive, but rapidly changing tastes. Yes, I can see that is not easy to deal with. But I’m glad that mostly, the holidays work out for you and I hope the mass at your church is a wonderful experience this year.

    Caroline – I know the famous tales, like The Snow Queen (which I love), but there turn out to be dozens and dozens I don’t know at all. I’m really hoping there’ll be some gems emerge. I agree that Christmas can bring out the worst in shoppers – particularly in the last few days before the holidays! But it’s good to know you have your own way of dealing with the season; it helps to be sure of what you like, and not to have too many other people requiring you to compromise.

    Lilian – thank you! The thing about being annoyed with oneself is that it leaves you no place to go – far more satisfying to be able to blame others! 🙂 But I’m feeling better now, thankfully.

    Doctordi – oh I love your comment. I had a good friend, who sadly died a while back, and he used to think I was hilarious when I was peeved. He’d just sit and chuckle indulgently at me and it was the most soothing thing. I was really comforted to think you’d found the post funny!

    Nymeth – I’ll bet you’re looking forward to Christmas this year! I remember when I went to live in France for a year, I’d been okay settling in, but when Christmas came I was just longing to get home. Not that I hadn’t enjoyed France, or made friends out there, just that it was one of those traditions that made me feel homesick! Hope you have a wonderful time.

    Random Reflections – I’ve heard good things about that Tove Jansson book before and I can see I really must read it. And Paul Auster has been on my really-must-read-soon list for a while. I really MUST read him in 2011. Thank you for reminding me of those authors!

    Em – ohhhhh, books, cats, fire… that sounds wonderful! I hope one of those dinners really appeals on the day, and that you can enjoy it with books and cats sandwiched either side. And you’re quite right – the urge for Christmas waxes and wanes.

    ds – bless you for that lovely solidarity, and thank you for finding me funny! It is such a comfort to me that you would do that. And I laughed and laughed at the dinner for a thousand relatives AND the baleful looks! Insincerity sounds like an extremely good peeve to have – I agree that it would be really offputting!

    Courtney – thank you for the hugs – much appreciated! I’m glad to know that you are having a good run-up to the festive season and lovely that S is feeling engaged and helpful, too. I remember the first year I was married to Mister Litlove and took him Christmas shopping with me, thinking it would be fun. I was soon disabused of that! It was a good way to get acquainted with the whites of his eyes, as overcrowded shops bother him more than just about anything. But I’m happy to shop if he can be persuaded to do anything else – I need to work on it! And delighted you also find the present tense and the unmotivated happy ending tiresome. 🙂

    Eva – or as I have been known to say it: oh MEN!!! Lol – your comment made me laugh. If you don’t like the present tense either then really, it should be banned. Actually I’m surprised there are so many books in it lately when a quick straw poll here indicates that it is not at all popular.

    Stefanie – I always think your solstice celebrations sound lovely, and I often want to try some myself. Only I have always been too busy preparing for Christmas. But thank you, my books did come and my mood improved enormously at that point. They are such therapeutic aids! 🙂

  27. I hope you are feeling better by now. I always feel a bit like this leading up to the holidays. Sometimes I resent everything I have to do for Christmas and I always joke that I am going to cancel the holiday! I still don’t have a tree up or hardly any presents bought but I am slowly and surely getting into the spirit of things.

  28. I have two books with Andersen’s complete fairytales… I think there are far over a 100. They contain a lot of wonderful and enchanting ones. Some that we all know but tend to forget they are by him and loads of others.

  29. Regarding characters lacking self-awareness: I know many real people (hmm, what a strange-sounding phrase…) who are like this. It’s not necessarily my favorite character trait (far from it), but I can understand why a character might be able to go through a whole book without a single moment of self-awareness. Then again, it doesn’t make for very good storytelling, so… hm.

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