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The Padded Cell: Bookmarque Reads without Rules (Part 1)

This is a continuation of the topic Bookmarque’s Padded Cell 2018 - Shared Delusions 2.

The Green Dragon

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Jan 2, 11:05am Top

Welcome to the Undisciplined Reading room!

More reading.
Fewer rules.

I have a very relaxed approach to reading.

No little tracking tickers.
No boxes to check.
No teetering stacks to climb.

Just books. Monthly reading wrap-ups. Weird book covers.

My photos. Travel (Louisiana, California & Portugal are on the docket already).



And whatever else I want to throw into the mix.

If you’re new to The Padded Cell I mostly read -

  • Mysteries and thrillers
  • History and books about science and nature
  • Contemporary non-genre fiction
  • A smattering of old books like Victorian Sensation novels and Alexandre Dumas

Don’t you love the word smattering?

Join me on a yearly list - 2019 List

My previous Annual Lists
Books read 2018
Books read 2017
Books read 2016
Books read 2015
Books read 2014

You can find my old reading threads here -

You can find my photography blog here
My book blog is here
My jewelry store is The WireSmith

Some fun stats and charts will be coming soon. I can’t believe I’ve gotten this all done so early! Crazy.

To tide you over, here are some lovely swans -

They are still around even at this time of year. The other day about a dozen or so roosted overnight in the backyard on the river ice. I guess they stay until there’s no more open water. Two more just flew by a few minutes ago.

Jan 2, 11:18am Top

By a curious coincidence I'd just been introduced to this when I read your post. The cello-sounding instrument (viewer's left) is a theremin, and she plays it by waving her arm around in the air in front of it.

Jan 2, 11:19am Top

Fabulous picture, as usual!

Happy new year, with happy new travels and experiences!

Jan 2, 1:27pm Top

Happy new year! I'm looking forward to following your reading and your photography adventures this year.

Jan 2, 3:54pm Top

looking forward to see what else you turn up for 'weird' book covers - that's always fun!

Jan 2, 8:10pm Top

Happy New Year and happy reading!

Jan 3, 9:04am Top

Thanks peeps. As I'm going to be in North Dakota this weekend (long story), I'll put a couple stats up now. I read fewer books last year than in 2017, but I don't care. It's not a contest and no one gets a prize.

And here's how they fell month to month -

The Argentina trip and the Vegas weekend in April as you can tell. I forget what I was doing in June, but I did take a couple of days to go to Washington and Rock islands in Door county.

Jan 3, 9:10am Top

Oh and theremins are weird hugh. Weirder still that it was The Swans. I have some Saint-Saëns around and will have to see if I have that piece done without a theremin.

Jan 3, 9:12am Top

Nice swans! I didn't realize they would stay so late. They stop in the field behind our house sometimes when they're returning in the spring.

Jan 3, 1:40pm Top

>8 Bookmarque: Your wish is my command! Here it is, as written. Inspired by your comment I looked to see what Wikipedia had to say about a theremin, and was delighted by the quoted critic who described it as sounding like "a cello, lost in the fog, crying because it couldn't find the way home".

Jan 3, 5:26pm Top

Wishing you a happy new year, with plenty of time to spend with some good books

Jan 3, 5:29pm Top

>1 Bookmarque: The swans are beautiful. :)

Edited: Jan 3, 7:23pm Top

Thanks folks.

I was surprised at the swans' presence here now, too. I don't remember them being here so late in other years. But I guess they do stay for as long as is tolerable. And after reading that book about the evolution of feathers, I'm not surprised anymore. Warm as toast I'm sure.

One more chart before I break for dinner and then head for North Dakota.

Jan 4, 9:17am Top

Have a good trip, looking forward to your return, love the swans. :)

Jan 7, 9:44am Top

Thanks MrsL. I'm back and I have to say I liked North Dakota. Probably that makes me weird, but hey, I did move to Wisconsin.

The terrain is really different from anywhere else I've ever been and I lucked out with the weather and the light. A few minutes from where I dropped my hubby off for the carry licensing deal was this recreated Mandan camp. It's right on a high bluff on the Missouri river and the light was AMAZING.

Lewis & Clark met the Mandan on their way back from the coast. By that time they'd already abandoned this site and it was in ruins. In the 1930s it was saved by archaeologists and the mound houses recreated. You can go in them and they are wonderful even though they aren't original. More pics as I work them through my process.

Edited: Jan 8, 9:00am Top

Here is a shot of the larger ceremonial building at the Mandan camp. It's called Slant Village because the ground it's on slopes down to the Missouri. I went inside and it's really amazing even if native people didn't build them. It is very near to the family lodges, I think I was standing by the doorway of the second one above to take the shot below.

Jan 8, 9:35am Top

Gorgeous pics, Bookmarque.

Jan 8, 11:33pm Top

Wow! What a cool place! I'm glad they were preserved. The sky is so blue there!

Jan 9, 4:19am Top

I love those photos, the contrast between earth and sky is striking. Those dwellings must have been pretty warm in winter with the thick earth walls.

Jan 9, 9:11am Top

Thanks peeps. I don't know how warm they were, but probably better than standing in the ND wind which is fierce. The sky was amazing that day. Well for a while. Later it looked like this -

I've written most of a blog post about the village, the Mandan and their culture. Not much is known because mostly they're all dead and they had no written language, but there is a little. It will go up on the blog in early February.

Jan 9, 10:11am Top

The pictures are great.

In terms of warmth, natural caves hover around 10C throughout the year. I would suggest these units would be much warmer than 10C if they were inhabited.

Edited: Jan 9, 10:28am Top

Thanks Pete. I'm sure they were fairly warm, especially with fires and folks inside them. Not to mention dogs. When the village was in its hey-day it had 86 family lodges and had a population approaching 1000 people. It was one of 9 settlements of similar size and formed part of a much larger trading area. The Mandan were primarily farmers, growing crops of beans, squash, tobacco and corn. Here's another shot of the large ceremonial building (all of which were owned and constructed by the women).

Jan 10, 5:03pm Top

More charts for last year's reading. I know you've been holding your breaths. 😉

As usual, I bought a lot of books.

And here's the split between new, used and freebies -

Last for today are the formats -

And how they compare with other years -

ebooks are down again, but physical copies are up (it's all those used & library books) and audio holds steady.

Jan 10, 8:11pm Top

Glorious photos, as usual!
Happy reading in 2019, Bookmarque!

Jan 11, 9:59am Top

>23 Bookmarque: Well, maybe it's just my mind, but is your Yearly Format Comparison giving us the finger?

Jan 11, 11:16am Top

An accidental finger.

Edited: Jan 13, 3:00pm Top

OMG. I am a glutton for punishment. Just finished a really horrible audio book, What You Don't Know by JoAnn Chaney. Truly dreadful. Horrible characters, story, events, writing and narrator. I skipped a lot of it toward the end, just waiting to get it finished. Then I returned it to Audible immediately. I knew I would. Normally I put audio books I've heard into rotation for when I wake up in the night, but this one is so repugnant that I knew pretty much right away that I'd never listen to it again. If you click the title you can see my notes/review. NOT recommended.

So now to get that gunk out of my pysche I'm listening to the delightful Michael Caine read his latest memoir Blowing the Bloody Doors Off. I watched The Italian Job fairly recently so I can picture the scene from that line, and hear him say it in my head.

Jan 13, 3:17pm Top

Oh and while I'm talking about bad books. These are the worst from last year -

The Forbidden Place - Susanne Jansson
Everyone is so ominous and fey. Making cryptic remarks and having halting interactions as if everyone is covered in shards of glass. Nobody can give a straight answer, they all have mysterious and pointless agendas. The prose is dreamy and opaque and has lots of navel gazing from the characters. The plot, what little of it there is, is a slow moving mass of nearly dried out paint.

Waking the Moon - Elizabeth Hand
Way overblown, histrionic, hyperbolic and festooned with just too much language. It felt choked; as if it were strangling on itself and struggling to tell the story. Way to hit me over the head with the feminist message, too. Patriarchy=bad, ok already.

Grist Mill Road - Christopher J. Yates
Overall it’s a tight and reasonably original piece of storytelling. So why the two stars? Because the whole way through Yates keeps beating us over the head about what Hannah did to bring this on herself. Yes friends it’s blame the victim time! We are led to understand that once again, the actions of a female are too much for a male to overcome and he’s swept away in his emotions and just can’t help being violent. Bleah.

The Bookman’s Tale - Charlie Lovett
There’s a fine line between write what you know and write a wish-fulfillment vehicle that encapsulates your every fantasy and Lovett doesn’t know where it is. The mystery brought every tired, shopworn cliche and trope into harness, right down to the gloating and monologuing villain. So eye-rolling I just had to laugh.

Wrack - James Bradley
Suffered by being bogged down with info dump after info dump; the science of map making, geometry, opera and every other damn thing that tangentially connected to the ship, the search and the documents hinting that the Portuguese “discovered” Australia. I think the author didn’t have a story so much as a bunch of cool stuff he read about and tried to string it together with weak cement to cobble together a novel.

Jan 13, 3:46pm Top

>27 Bookmarque: My sympathy for you with your experience of What You Don't Know.

How are you enjoying Blowing the Bloody Doors Off? Yes, I too hear him saying it. I think we are not alone. "Not a lot of people know that."

Jan 13, 3:58pm Top

Oh I wish Peter Sellers was still around. He was brilliant.

and I like the book so far. he's got an easy style that matches how he writes.

Jan 13, 4:11pm Top

>30 Bookmarque: Peter Sellers was wonderful.

Today, 11:14am Top

My morning visitor. Sorry for the slightly bad quality...I was shooting through my living room window and there were some small tree branches in between.

Today, 11:16am Top

>32 Bookmarque: That is super.

He looks quite cunning. Is that a Paddington Bear stern look he is giving you?

Today, 1:31pm Top

How cool is that visitor!

Today, 5:42pm Top

Thanks guys. It was a wonderful experience and it totally made my day. I was shooting out my window so somewhat constrained and so I apologize for the bad compositions. Here's what else happened -

The lure -

The stalk -

The catch -

I did watch it kill and make sure the squirrel was dead, but it did that behind some trees and my deck railing was also in the way. Quick can't even describe it. The fox went from resting, waking up to hunting in about a minute. It was a privilege to watch nature working and I know one reason my local squirrel population stays so stable.

Group: The Green Dragon

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