Sunday Salon for 17th July 2011 (#54)

Today marks a milestone of sorts, the one-year point in my current reading streak. I’ve read at least one page in a book every single day for an entire year, most days much more than just a single page. The last day I didn’t read anything at all was 16th July 2010 (nor did I read anything on the 15th); before that, I hadn’t read from a book on 1st July 2010. In the past year, I’ve read a total of 21,823 book pages (some larger than others) and completed 109 books. I do hope this streak continues — I was inspired to start it after reading an article about a father and daughter who’d read together for something like nine years without missing a day!

Now that I’m working again, somewhat ironically, I’m reading much more than I had the last couple of months. Perhaps I can concentrate more on the written word rather than worrying about my lack of job or money. At any rate, a week ago I finished The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz by L. Frank Baum and began reading Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. I’m back to my tradition of reading several books at the same time so I always have something to pick up whatever my mood. In the middle of the week I finished Peter D. James’ fascinating Seafaring Lore & Legend and also read through Kindle samples of Bone Rattler: A Mystery Of Colonial America by Eliot Pattison, Lost In Shangri La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff, and Carte Blanche: The New James Bond Novel by Jeffrey Deaver. Friday afternoon I read the prologue to Clive Cussler’s The Wrecker but will probably finish The Kite Runner before picking it up again.

All of the preceding have been eBooks. I recently downloaded the Kindle Reader for PC software which I like to use more than Adobe Digital Editions for reading on the laptop. It uses less resources than the Adobe software which tends to freeze-up or crash quite often. In fact, lately when I’ve read books in the ePub format I usually just use the reader that’s bundled with calibre.

But I miss having a nice library of “tree” books to select from. Most afternoons find me standing next to one of the two shelves of English-language books to be found at Seng Ho, just a five-minute walk from my apartment. There’s a very small selection of over-priced imported paperback novels sheathed in heavy-duty plastic, a large section of what I call the “sexpat adventures” which feature lurid cover photographs of young Thai girls in heavy make-up, plenty of Thai to English (and other languages) phrase books and dictionaries, a fair amount of local and regional guidebooks, and a vast number of works on Buddhism and enlightenment a few of which I’ve found myself perusing lately. The Books, on Phuket Road perhaps a further ten-minute walk, has a much better gathering of English-language books about Thailand including a number of the famous (and wildly expensive) publications of the White Lotus Press. A fair number of these are nineteenth-century travelogues or reprints of regional anthropological studies (one volume about The Shan who live along the border with Myanmar looks quite interesting). I spent some time yesterday studying two large-format White Lotus volumes detailing the railway history of Thailand and surrounding countries. The one book I found at this shop that I’m considering purchasing within the next few weeks is a compilation of regional folktales at a reasonable price of 250 baht.

In fact, I braved the ominous skies yesterday (it had rained nonstop the day before and I never got out of the apartment) to venture down to Phang Nga Road and the “new” used books shop in search for something to buy. I will need something to read for my upcoming visa run (hopefully, the next-to-last for a while) and went in search of the “perfect” novel. I finally solved the mystery as to whether this venture is connected to Southwind Books up the street when I discovered an entire stack of books I’d sold to the latter a few months ago. The books in this “branch” seem to be priced a bit lower (and I noticed some that had been reduced in price two or three times). The selection isn’t as great as the original but it isn’t nearly as dark and dusty either (I didn’t have anything biting my legs after browsing for a short while). As the stock here is better organized, I somewhat missed the “not knowing what I’ll find” aspect you get in the main Southwind Books. At any rate, I noticed a few that I would be willing to part with some hard-earned cash for including another Jason Schoonover novel; I’d read his debut, Thai Gold, on my last visa run so I’m tempted to purchase this one although it isn’t set in Thailand (I’m trying to find more Thai-themed novels now). I ended up not buying anything on this day — I’ll return when it’s closer to the visa run so I don’t read it before I depart!

Much of the week was fairly uneventful as I get back into some sort of a routine of work and after-work. Monday was my first “big day” at school with six classes in a row, grade six followed by the fifth graders. The P3 lessons were on Tuesday, I had Wednesday off, and taught grade four on Thursday. Friday was another holiday (Asarnha Buja Day) and it rained all day keeping me inside. Yesterday was the first day of Buddhist Lent during which the monks begin their three-month rains retreat and are forbidden to leave their home temples. Because of this, alcohol hasn’t been allowed to be sold since Thursday night thus closing all of the bars and nightclubs. Businesses (including school) will also be closed this coming Monday. I already wrote of the adventure I had Thursday afternoon riding the pink bus to Central Festival. While there I spent some time using the internet at the office of the teaching agency that contracts me out to my school, did a bit of window-shopping, and checked out a fancy car exhibit on the ground floor (I was more interested in the models being photographed alongside than the cars themselves). When my friend arrived to drive me home he first took me to a few mini-marts so I could buy some inexpensive groceries for the weekend. It was on that venture that I discovered Tops Market in the Robinson’s Shopping Center plus a ton of cool local markets in the streets just to the south — a future destination for one of my walkabouts.

I did have some local news as well as some online articles and blogs I wanted to share in this edition of Sunday Salon but it’s now almost eleven in the morning and the sun appears to be (finally!) breaking through the clouds. I believe I’ll save the links’ discussion for another time and get out of this apartment while the weather is good. For today’s walk I’d like to go east (most of my walks have been southward and one towards the west but that was in the midst of a heavy squall) — there’s a wat a few minutes away as well as a number of schools and government buildings (some of which have been featured in movies such as “The Killing Fields”). It’s going to be another photo safari!


Daily Writing Totals:
This Article – 1261 words
Total Today — 1261 words

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