The weather has definitely turned autumnal now, and the leaves are brown and crunchy under our feet. I do miss our Halloween celebrations – in Switzerland it’s a half-hearted sort of import. There are candy and some costumes in the shops, and I saw some dressed-up kids wandering around on Saturday night (which is all wrong — trick or treating has to be ON Halloween!), but they save their real enthusiasm for Fastnacht (Carnival) in the early spring. I still have never been to one of these celebrations, which were cancelled last year – maybe this year I’ll get to experience this regional tradition.
In October I was happy to join in The 1976 Club with not just one but TWO books by Ursula K. Le Guin: Orsinian Tales and Very Far Away from Anywhere Else. It was an interesting combo, and as always so fascinating to see what everybody else chose to read and review for this “club year.” (I also ended up rereading Power of Three, as well as A String in the Harp, but I did not review these on the blog.)
Very exciting news was the first-ever Folio Society edition of a novel by Georgette Heyer, Venetia. This was a great satisfaction to me, as the best of her books really do deserve to be dressed up with some lovely book design.
Overall, I read a lot of books this month, including the two you recommended most in my last Make Me Read It post. (Reviews coming soon!) This was due to the fact that I had two weeks off work and did not do much other than reading and hiking — see “Life” below for more about that.
I decided to start sharing some posts from my former blog, The Emerald City Book Review. In honor of approaching Halloween, I linked to my post about Blackstock College from the novel Tam Lin — a fictional counterpart to my real-life alma mater, Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.
And on Halloween itself, I was honored to provide the kick-off post for Witch Week 2021. The theme was “Treason and Plot,” and I decided to review one of my favorite series about political plotting in an imaginary land, the Queen’s Thief books by Megan Whalen Turner. I was surprised to find out how many avid readers had not yet encountered this stellar series, and glad that I inspired at least a few of them to take it up.
Other books I read this month:
- Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper
- Juniper by Monica Furlong
- Die Abenteuer von Hergé by José-Louis Bosquet
- True Grit by Charles Portis
- Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hahn
- The Library Book by Susan Orlean
- The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
- In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim
- Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
- A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This month, I made a push and finished the online course Nico’s Weg, which I’ve been doing off and on for the last two years. This is a free interactive online course from the Deutsche Welle media service in Germany, which includes videos, transcripts, grammar exercises, level tests for levels A1 to B1, and even a little bit of speaking practice. I found it quite excellent and really wish there were an equivalent offered in English that I could recommend to my students.
Have you used any online language learning resources that you can recommend? I’m planning to do a series of posts about this.
As mentioned above, we had a couple of weeks off work and school for autumn vacation this month, a custom I find very civilized. It’s “shoulder season,” so travel is cheaper and less crowded, but the weather is still good if you head south, and not too hot. I also like having a break in the middle of the fall — our American season from September to December was always so crowded with events and hectic activity, that by the Christmas break I would just collapse in exhaustion.
This year, we used the time to travel to Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland. It’s a single canton that can only be reached by going over or through the Alps, and that linguistically and culturally is very much linked to Italy, though now inhabited by lots of German-speaking Swiss. I’ll post more about our adventures in the near future, but here’s one photo as a preview of coming attractions.
How was your October? What have you been reading, doing, or thinking?