My allergies are doing a number on me. Spring and fall are always the worst. It makes me look forward to cold and snow because then no more allergies for six months. And of course Mondays always make everything worse. Have I provided sufficient excuse for a chatty mix-and-match kitchen sink sort of post?

I am now entering the third week — or is it the fourth? Can’t remember and my ability to count seems to be broken — of the self-paced T.S. Eliot course. I am loving it! It makes a difference to have three other people to discuss it all with too. It keeps me motivated and makes it generally more fun. So far we’ve learned a bit about Eliot’s biography, about naturalism and modernism. We’ve read and discussed “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and “Sweeny Among the Nightingales.” This week is “Portrait of a Lady.” The lecturer, Victor Strandberg, is very good. The lectures usually clock in from 15-30 minutes, short and to the point. Strandberg knows his stuff and I find him to be a congenial sort of fellow. It would definitely be a pleasure to take an in-person class from him but since that will never happen, this is the second best thing. So thus far, T.S. Eliot is a success.

In fourteen days the Coursera class Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction begins. A few have signed up for it and I sent out emails to those I remembered mentioning they were taking it. If you are signed up and I missed you or if you decide now to sign up, send me an email (email link to the left in the sidebar) and let me know. We’ve got a wiki we are going to use for discussion and information sharing and I’ll send you an invite. It is not a public wiki so no one gets to lurk! I’m really looking forward to the class especially since I have Bring Up the Bodies asking me for attention. Who knows, the class might provide a whole new perspective and dimension to reading historical fiction.

Now some goodies I have accumulated from library newsletters.

  • The 20 Stages of Reading.
  • Ultimate Literary Calendar. It’s got a bookish event for every day of the year. Of course I had to look up my birthday and find that it is the day Winston in 1984 begins his diary. Somehow I had forgotten about that. Bookman’s birthday is the same day that paperback books were originally introduced.
  • Have some laughs over 25 Jokes Only Book Nerds Will Understand. For some reason numbers 4 and 5 crack me up. As does 10 and 16, 21, 23 and you get the picture.
  • Some good news from the National Endowment for the Arts. Their latest survey finds that more than half of American adults read a book for pleasure in 2012 (via Library Stuff). The percentage of adults who read what the NEA defines as literature — novels, short stories, poetry and plays — is down from 2008 numbers (the last time they did the survey). This is being reported as “bad news.” I don’t think it is. What I think is bad is that the NEA persists in such a narrow definition of what “counts” as literature. Other findings in the survey: More women (64%) read than men (45%). The largest group of readers are those between 65 – 74. And, very sadly, the number of people who read poetry for pleasure is less than 7%. Clearly National Poetry Month has not been effective in getting people interested in reading poetry. Sigh.

My brain tells me it is time to cease thinking for awhile. I will try to get it charged up in time to think of something to write about tomorrow!