Saturday, October 17, 2015

Divergences, detours, derailments?

 Which is it? A divergence, a detour, or a derailment?

Lots of d-words here, and they are all synonyms, words that mean the same thing overall, yet have hints of difference. So, why do all these d-words seem to have a connection with this picture of books? The connection is simply that these books have caused a detour or diversion in my Autumn Reading Challenge (ARC) plan, but not a derailment.

When I decided the books I was going to attempt for this year's ARC, I failed to take into account our big Canadian trip in late September. My original ARC plan was going to be a tough one anyway, and now, I'll amend it. That's okay; no one's counting, but me. Yet, detours from whatever plan I make can easily lead me to a derailment. That's just me. But, no siree, I will try my best to be flexible (it's all a mind game with me), and follow the detour. Or divergence. Enjoying words and their differences, I will choose divergence since it can be defined as "branching out" rather than "an indirect course." Again, it's a mind game with me. :)

So, here's the how and why of my divergence, my branching out. 

While on our trip, I first heard of the man David Thompson from our tour director. The more she talked (and talk she did; she knew David Thompson backwards and forwards), the more interested I became. I asked her one evening while we were both in a hotel bookstore for a book suggestion about Thompson. Her no less than thirty-minute reply directed me to his personal journal writings now compiled in two volumes and to a bona fide, in her view, recent biography, all of which was much more than the short-and-sweet version I wanted. I found one, probably a juvenile biography, but all the toe-dipping I desired. I don't believe this one is very well written, but it's all I want. For years, our tour director has researched David Thompson's writings with his maps to find his exact exploration paths. I admire her own explorations!

Then, while in Jasper, Alberta, we were to hike Maligne Canyon. Unfortunately, our excursion was cancelled because the canyon was closed suddenly due to an accident. Instead, we went to Mt. Edith Cavell. During the beautiful, beautiful short hike, our guide told us that Edith Cavell, a British nurse working in Belgium during WWI, helped both allied and enemy soldiers escape to neutral Holland. She was arrested by the Germans and summarily executed. The story intrigued me -- a nurse, a woman, WWI. I banked her name which, five months after her execution, was given to this mountain in Jasper National Park. Interestingly, this mountain hosts a glacier which was named Angel Glacier in the 19th century, well before the mountain was attributed to Cavell. So named because visually from the ground, it appears as an angel with wings spread. Edith Cavell was, I'm sure, seen as an angel to many. I wonder if that is why this particular mountain was chosen to bear her name. The day we visited, it was snowy on top so my photo (on the left) does not show the mountain, but in the glacier, you can see the lower "body" and beginning wing spread of the wings.The second picture is a postcard from the '30s showing not only the "angel" but also the deglaciation over the past seventy-five years.

Back to the books....I was unable to find any books about Edith Cavell in the bookshops on the trip but continued my search after getting home. It turns out that I had purchased the juvenile book  A Cup of Cold Water (Farenhorst) for my classroom library during my first year in the classroom, yet never got around to reading it. I remember one of my sixth graders exclaiming that it was the best book she'd ever read; I always meant to read it, but no time. When I left teaching, I also left that book for the next teacher. Now, I've repurchased it. That one, plus Silent in an Evil Time (Batten) are bumped up to the top of my to-read list. 

Can I say divergence or branching out again? Off the main course for a while, then swinging back, just like a glacier river looks from above.


While in Banff browsing shops one evening, I wandered into a small bookstore, part of Canadian chain, Indigo. The shop was small and cozy, and the staff was helpful but curious about our accents. I asked the sweet staffer for some guidance in choosing a book or two by a Albertan. She was at a loss, but suggested the recently published At the Back of the Turtle (King), a fictional environmental science story. I decided I'd try it but looked around myself for another one. Seeing Born to the Wild (Kaye), I immediately wanted it almost purely based on the cover. Then reading that it was written (and just published weeks earlier) by recently retired Albertan Rob Kaye about his adventures as a Jasper National Park warden, Bingo! I guess the young bookstore clerk was thinking fiction rather than nonfiction. This book is a winner! I'm overjoyed to have found it because many places we went are discussed in the book, and many more have enticed me to return one day to Jasper National Park. 

So, my unplanned divergences from my ARC reading list have definitely branched out in some positive ways. They have not been detours for me, a turn aside as the derivation goes, but they have been divergences, to incline or bend (again, the derivation), though either word technically works. 

Those ARC books are still sitting on my shelf unaware that I will return shortly to them. This little branching-out time has broadened my knowledge and given me unanticipated appreciation. 

Oh, and one more thing! Did you notice that cute little reading marker?

My sister made this for me during our last beach trip. Just some colorful fabric washi tape affixed to a large plastic-coated paperclip. Perfect as a reading marker!


Carol in Oregon said...

I love this! Every sentence, every paragraph! The reading life is an ever-expanding vista of books to read.

Janie said...

Thanks, Carol! Ever-expanding is right! But I have to say that I have reigned it in these last couple of years. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for introducing me to Thomas King's "Back of the Turtle". I couldn't put it down, and now have requested another of his novels. Fascinating. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and the books you encounter. I'm the richer for it.

Honey Bee