Books Read in 2011 [en]

[fr] La liste des livres que j'ai lus en 2011 (entre crochets... pas encore finis!)

Last year, I stumbled upon a blog which had a list of a books the blogger had read over the last year. I cannot for the life of me remember who it is. I do remember, though, that I asked him how he did it. He told me he kept a running list in which he added each new book he started, between brackets — and removed the brackets when he’d finished reading the book. Or so I remember, and so I did.

Some books have comments after them, in brackets too. Almost all the “started” books are still “ongoing” — as you can see, I’m somebody who has many many books going at once. It can take me over a year to get through certain books. But I rarely abandon them mid-way forever, though I’m starting to do that now with certain books I find disappointing. This list is somewhat chronological.

  • Apprendre à vivre, Luc Ferry [life-changing]
  • Illium, Dan Simmons
  • Olympos, Dan Simmons
  • Elephants on Acid, Alex Boese
  • Les Miscellanées du chat (*partial)
  • Does Anything Eat Wasps?, ed. Mick O’Hare
  • Madhouse, ed. Urmilla Deshpande, Bakul Desai
  • Je croyais qu’il suffisait de t’aimer, Jacques Salomé
  • Tales From Firozsha Baag, Rohinton Mistry
  • Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
  • What You Can Change… and What You Can’t, Martin Seligman
  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom
  • Simon’s Cat, Simon Tofield
  • Zima Blue, Alastair Reynolds
  • [Mediocre But Arrogant, Abhijit Bhadhuri]
  • The Dip, Seth Godin [disappointing]
  • Eat That Frog!, Brian Tracy [disappointing]
  • Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman [life-changing]
  • The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch
  • [The Power of Slow] [disappointing]
  • Indian Take-Away, Hardeep Singh Kohli [funny]
  • [The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson]
  • [Simon’s Cat beyond the fence, Simon Tofield]
  • L’intimité au travail, Stefana Broadbent
  • How We Decide, Jonah Lehrer
  • [Confessions of a Public Speaker, Scott Berkun]
  • [Influence (the psychology of persuasion), Robert B. Cialdini]
  • Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
  • Three-Legged Friends (and other animals in a vet’s life), Caitlin Barber
  • The Wild Life of the Domestic Cat, Roger Tabor
  • [The Moral Animal, Robert Wright]
  • [La société émergente du XXIe siècle, Michel Cartier & Jon Husband]
  • [Facebook, Twitter et les autres…, Christine Balagué & David Fayon] [disappointing, too basic]
  • Argleton, Suw Charman
  • Simon’s Cat in Kitten Chaos, Simon Tofield
  • Rama II, Arthur C. Clarke
  • Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts [epic]
  • Clicker Training for Cats, Karen Pryor
  • Terminal World, Alastair Reynolds
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
  • [The Long Tail, Chris Anderson]
  • Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
  • The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky [even more life-changing]
  • Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • [L’Esprit de Solitude, Jacqueline Kelen]
  • Coraline, Neil Gaiman
  • American Gods, Neil Gaiman

2011 was the year of grieving, for me, and some of my readings reflect this. “Apprendre à vivre”, which was an important stepping-stone in helping me start figuring out how to make sense of life and death, as a person who does not have the consolation or support of believing in any kind of afterlife or higher power.

“Learned Optimism”, and even more importantly, “The How of Happiness”, have prodded me to question some of my beliefs about what to do and not to do to keep oneself happy. The very practical nature of these two books has actually resulted in my doing things quite differently now than I did a year ago, and I believe this is lasting change in the way I approach my life. You’ll find blog posts about this if you search a bit.

I love SF, and as you can see I’m an Alastair Reynolds fan. I pre-order his books now, and I’ve read everything he’s written that I could lay my hands on. Dan Simmons is great too. During the autumn I finally read my first Neil Gaiman book (after years of following him idly on Twitter) and I’m hooked. I have a pile of books with his name on it waiting to be read.

I loved pretty much all the books I read during this year. I usually like the books I read, funny, eh? Maybe by now I’m a pretty good judge of the kind of stuff that interests me.

If you want to ask me anything about any of the books on the list, peruse the comments, I’ll be happy to oblige!

Sorry for the absence of links in this post, the sheer number I could have added managed to discourage me. I might add them later *hope hope* 😉

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The Trap of Happiness: Big Things and Small Things, Outside and In [en]

[fr] La clé, pour être heureux, n'est pas dans les événements ou circonstances extérieurs, mais dans nos activités. En nous, et non au dehors de nous. Ce n'est pas très intuitif, d'où le piège. ("Quand ceci ou cela arrivera, alors je serai enfin heureuse.")

I realized today that many of the things I agonize over, the big things of life, are probably not worth spending so much energy on.

These big things of life — work, relationships, where to live — are just the measly circumstantial 10% component of our happiness (50% is due to our happiness “set point”, and the remaining 40% depends on certain intentional activities).

If I’m agonizing over whether to pursue a relationship or not, whether to keep my current line of work or change it, stay put or move to another continent, I’m doing so because at some level, I believe those decisions hold the fate of my happiness. But they don’t.

This is not to say that major life changes have no impact on how we feel. Of course they do. And of course bad decisions can lead to pain and anguish. But if things are going reasonably well and the drive is to be happier, the research presented in The How of Happiness (which I’ve already blogged about) tells us that these major changes will probably have way less long-term effect on how happy we are than certain more modest-looking intentional activities that have been show to reliably increase happiness.

Major events give us a “happiness high”, which is maybe one of the reasons we keep on looking to them as the solution to our lasting happiness. Hence the trap of happiness:

We think that big important things like being in a relationship, having a great job, having kids or living in our dream city are going to make us happy, when in fact it is small day-to-day activities that make use happy.

So when we’re unhappy, we yearn for big changes and stay stuck on “if onlys” rather than doing something that will actually make us feel happier.

For me, there is an important corollary to this:

The key to our happiness is inside of us, and not in exterior events.

This is nothing new under the sun, but I think that today I have really understood it.

You see, in addition to agonizing over “big decisions”, I spend a lot of energy hoping or waiting for things to happen which I expect will make me feel happier. Things that are outside my control or depend on other people. Without getting into details, this energy sometimes pushes me down alleys where I do things which I know are doomed to failure, which I know are a bad idea (and I can even explain why), but I have a very hard time stopping myself from doing them.

And I have understood today that the way to fight these “dysfunctional” urges is to remember where they come from: they come from feelings of unhappiness that I’m trying to address in the wrong way. I’m trying to make big things happen outside of me, rather than certain small things that involve only me — the “happiness activities” or “intentional activities” Sonja Lyubomirsky describes in her book.

Not surprisingly, some of them are already part of my “toolkit” for making myself feel better. Before reading The How of Happiness, however, I think I just hadn’t measured how important they were. And now I have extra stuff to add to my happiness toolkit. Yay!

So I’m making a note: to fight my gosh-I-wish-I-wasn’t-heading-for-that-wall-again urges, pick an activity out of my happiness toolkit. And I’m putting “working on being happier through daily activities” above my big “existential issues” on the priority list.

I find it ironic, in a way, that something as important as how happy we are (I mean, a huge amount of what we do, we do because in some way we’re trying to be happy) can be influenced by so small and seemingly trivial things.

It does explain, though, how we can tumble from “happy” to “not happy” in just a few clicks, and climb back to “happy” by answering two e-mails and cleaning the bathroom sink.

It’s not rocket science.

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Variety is the Spice of Life [en]

[fr] De l'importance de varier les choses que l'on fait pour être heureux, les façons dont on s'organise, et le type d'article qu'on publie sur son blog. La routine ne tue pas seulement le couple. Vous avez d'autres exemples?

I’m in India. I’m reading “The How of Happiness“. The two are completely unrelated aside from the fact they come together to give me the title of this article.

Spice
Photo credit: Sunil Keezhangattu/Flickr

Don’t let the slightly corny title put you off as it did me, The How of Happiness is an excellent, solid, well-researched and practical book.

I don’t want to delve into the details of the book, but just share with you something that has fallen into place for me during the last week. It has to do with variety.

You see, in her book, Sonja Lyubomirsky doesn’t only go through the various things you can do to make yourself happier, or help you pick those that seem the best fit for you: she also insists on the necessity of varying the way you put them into practice.

The example that really made this point hit home for me was the one on “counting your blessings” (yes, corniness warning, directly from the author herself, but don’t let that stop you).

First, the test groups who were asked to write down the things they were thankful for 3 times a week ended up seeing less improvement in their happiness than those that were asked to do it only once a week. Doing it only once a week makes it more of an event and keeps boredom/immunisation at bay.

Second, even then, Sonja Lyubomirsky invites the reader to not do it in the same way every week. By writing, by conversation with a friend, upon certain occasions, about certain areas of your life, or in yet a different manner, so that it remains a meaningful practice. (Page 97, if you want to look it up directly.)

This immediately reminded me of a flash of insight I had one day walking in the mountains around my chalet. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but I can see the road I was on and I remember the insight quite clearly.

Update: I found the article I wrote at the time, it was in 2009!

I was thinking of the different ways in which I had got organized, and how I seemed to become “immune” to a given method after some time had passed. The flash of insight was this: “maybe I just need to keep on finding new ways of getting organized.” I brushed off the idea, because it wasn’t comfortable, and wrote it down to the need to have different techniques for different contexts. For example, there are times when I’m more stressed than others. Times when I have more work than others. Times when I feel productive, and times when I need to kick myself down the two floors from the flat to the coworking space to get to work. Even my recent musings on freeform versus structured work go in that direction.

But in fact, I was right. Just like it’s important to vary “happiness activities/techniques” to prevent habituation (or worse, boredom), I think it’s important to vary one’s organization methods. Or at least, for me, it is. And it could well be because there is a “happiness” component for me in the act of getting organized. I like the feeling of being on top of things, of finding solutions to be productive despite my built-in procrastination engine, of learning how I function, of coming up with strategies to prioritize and get things done. And maybe — maybe — for me, trying to find one method that I can just stick to is a big mistake.

Another area I’ve recently connected “variety is the space of life” to is blogging. I’ve been hanging out with the communication team at Wildlife SOS these last days, volunteering a bit of my time and expertise to help them make better use of social media.

As I was inviting them to vary the type of article they publish on their blog (at the moment, almost all the stories are animal rescue stories), I realized that this was another example of this theme at work: “variety is the spice… of reader engagement?”

Even if as a reader, animal rescue stories are my favourites, I will actually enjoy them more if they stand out against other types of articles. And for another reader, the favourites might very well be “behind the scenes” articles or “get to know the team” ones.

By publishing only one type of “top post”, one turns it into the “average post”. Add a sprinkle of intermittent reward to the mix, and you’ll probably positively influence the way readers perceive your content. Isn’t it more exciting to head over to a blog which might or might not reward you with a new article, which might or might not be the type that moves you most?

Now think about relationships: don’t we say that routine is the biggest love-killer? Oh, some habits are nice — but you also want new stuff, changes from the habitual, different way of being together and relating to one another. Surprises. The unexpected. This is nothing new.

So, let me summarize. Variety is the spice of life. Not only should you flee excessive routine in your marriage or relationship, but also in the following areas:

  • activities that make you happy
  • how you get organized (work, and probably life too)
  • the kind of content you publish on your blog

Can you think of other areas where it’s a little counter-intuitive, but it actually turns out to be really important to add variety to the way you do things?

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L'intimité au travail (Stefana Broadbent) — à lire absolument [fr]

[en] A great read, if you understand French: "L'intimité au travail" by Stefana Broadbent. If you wan't read her book, at least watch her TED talk.

IMG_1749.jpgJe viens de finir de lire “L’intimité au travail”. Stefana Broadbent fait une lecture fine et pertinente des enjeux liés aux nouvelles technologies à la place de travail, et met le doigt sur ce que je “sens” et tente d’exprimer maladroitement depuis des années. Les problèmes ne sont pas ces technologies en elles-mêmes: elles dérangent (comme le téléphone mobile et facebook à la place de travail) en tant qu’elles rendent visible des transgressions du contrat social à la place de travail, par exemple.

A lire absolument pour tous ceux qui s’intéressent:

  • aux médias sociaux et aux nouvelles technologies à la place de travail
  • à l’intégration des TIC en milieu scolaire (un splendide exemple vers la fin du bouquin)
  • à la question de la frontière entre vie privée et vie professionnelle, et son effilochement
  • à contrer l’argument-massue-bidon de la “perte de productivité” si on donne accès aux médias sociaux dans l’entreprise
  • aux réels facteurs de danger et de risque dans les incidents impliquant l’usage abusif de la technologie
  • à l’évolution de la notion de “travail” et des mesures de contrôle variables en fonction de sa nature
  • je pourrais continuer…

Ce sera en tous cas une lecture chaudement recommandée aux étudiants de la formation de Spécialiste en médias sociaux et communautés en ligne!

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Eat, Pray, Love: Damn You, Elizabeth Gilbert [en]

[fr] J'ai aimé Eat, Pray, Love plus que ce à quoi je m'attendais. Le trip "spiritualité indienne sauce occidentale", je m'en passerais, mais il y a plein de bonnes choses -- outre l'écriture, que j'aime beaucoup. Pour plus de détails... lire l'article complet en anglais!

Damn you, Liz Gilbert. I didn’t want to like your book, but I did. I even like you (well, the narrator you). Yeah, of course I can relate: 30-something heartbroken woman finds peace and love. Which single woman in her mid-thirties wouldn’t?

It annoys me, though, that you found them through faith, because I can’t do that.

I don’t doubt that you had a life-changing experience. I’m not either against religious or spiritual paths journeys per se, as long as they actually serve to grow us as human beings. But like the friends you mention near the end of your India book, I *cannot* believe anymore — believing there is a God or some other power, personal or not, is too incompatible with my worldview. A part of me would *like* to believe, so that I could find the peace you found. But I’d be faking it, right? Because another part of me is *certain* that there is nothing up there — or in there, aside from ourselves.

Bangalore 016 Gandhi Bazaar.jpgTo your credit, you do not proselytize, nor try to tell us that your way is The Only Way, and that we should all be doing it too. You bear witness of your own personal path, which involved a spiritual adventure in an ashram in India. I can appreciate that. But I have trouble relating to that aspect of your journey. (There is the Siddha Yoga issue too, which bothers me, but that I won’t delve into here.)

Also, whether you want it or not, your spiritual journey is coloured by a very specific — and modern — Indian school of thought (and by that, I don’t just mean Siddha Yoga). You acknowledge that, but in some respects you are blind to it, for example when you serve us truths about Indian spirituality or religions in general — you are talking from the inside of a specific religious tradition, not giving us access some kind of general truth. It’s a mistake many make, and I guess I can forgive you for it.

I personally believe that our conversations with God are conversations with ourselves. I believe we are much bigger than we think, and probably much bigger than we can ever know. And I say this not in a “mystical” or “magical” or “supernatural” sense, but in a psychological one. So for me, any religious or spiritual path is no more than a path within and with ourselves, using an exterior force or entity (“God”, “energy”) as a metaphorical proxy for parts or aspects of ourselves which are not readily available to our consciousness. Yes, it’s sometimes a bit complicated to follow for me too.

So what I can relate to, clearly, are your conversations with yourself in your notebook. I know I am a good friend. I’m loyal. I can love to bits. If I open the floodgates, I can love more than is possibly imaginable — just like you say of yourself. But I do not let myself be the beneficiary of so much love and care. “To love oneself,” not in a narcissistic way, but as a good friend or a good parent would. I know this is something I need to work on, I knew it before reading Eat, Pray, Love, but your journey serves as a reminder to me. It’s also reminding me that meditation (even when it’s not a search for God or done as religious practice) has benefits — and that I could use them.

So, thank you, Liz Gilbert. We may differ in our spiritual and life aspirations, but your journey has touched me, and inspired me. I didn’t expect it to. Thank you for the nice surprise. And damn you, because now I can’t look down quite so smugly anymore on those who rave about your book.

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Shit, I'm Reading "Eat, Pray, Love" [en]

[fr] Malgré moult réticenses, en train de lire Eat, Pray, Love d'Elizabeth Gilbert, si ce n'est pour pouvoir critiquer en connaissance de cause. Misère: j'ai bien du plaisir à le lire, ce livre. Elle écrit très bien, pour commencer -- un genre de style que j'adore, et qui me fait penser à celui d'Anne Lamott. Je me reconnais dans certaines de ses facettes. Par contre, j'appréhende l'épisode indien, comme vous pouvez imaginer, et la dimension "quête spirituelle" me fatigue franchement. Encore 248 pages à lire!

I’ve just turned page 100 of Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, and I’m afraid to say I’m enjoying it.

I’d managed to stay away from it so far. Just like Harry Potter many years ago, the amount of hype surrounding the book put me off. But there was more: I have a big problem (and still do) with the whole “spiritual quest to India” trip. Warning: I haven’t reached the “India” part of Gilbert’s book yet, so I may still end up cringing uncomfortably at that point.

Two things made me cave in and buy the book. The first, which had been nagging at me for a while, is that in order to be properly critical of it when facing the masses of fans, I need to know what I’m talking about, and hence, read it. All to easy to criticize a book you haven’t read. The second reason is that I heard Elizabeth Gilbert in Radiolab’s episode “Help!”. I didn’t know it was her at first, but I thought she had a lovely voice, and I liked what she said. Shit.

So, I bought the book at Heathrow Airport, and started reading it yesterday. One thing is certain: Gilbert writes really well. I love her writing like I love Anne Lamott‘s. She does things with her words that make me envious — she lets them run off and play on wild forest paths as I sometimes try to let mine, but with infinitely more grace.

As for the story, well, the jury is still out. I love life stories. Some aspects of Elizabeth’s story hit very close to home — close enough that I actually started crying a couple of times while I was reading. For me, not for her. I recognize myself in her, just like I imagine many readers do, and I guess that’s part of her success. Eat, Pray, Love is more than just her story — it’s ours, us women in their 30s, not quite where they imagined they’d be in life. (God, I can’t believe I just wrote this.)

In other ways, though, her story is not my cup of tea: I’ll skip lightly over the whole Indian guru thing (another day, maybe, but remember: a degree in Indian religions and culture, and a year in the country, and being pretty much as atheist as can be). And the predictions of the Indonesian medicine-man. And the spiritual journey thing (knowing, though, that I have yet to see where it will lead — I may be pleasantly surprised, who knows). And have we not already read too many stories of women who figure out they maybe do not want the whole “house, husband, kids” thing and struggle with walking away from it all and living “free”? (I’m waiting for the books about the women who want it all but are failing at getting anywhere near it.)

In the details have lain some treasures, though. Elizabeth Gilbert’s comments on the kind of traveller she is resonate with my own self-interrogations on the question these last few days. And her written conversations with God-who-might-be-herself have helped remind me that I need to spend more energy using on myself those qualities that make me a good friend. I think I am a good friend, or at least, I try my best to be. And I try to be the kind of friend I would want to have… I think. No reason I cannot be friends with myself.

And with that, I’m off to read the next 248 pages of Eat, Pray, Love — in hope that I make it through the Indian episode safe and sound.

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Quelques recommandations de lecture [fr]

[en] A bunch of books I recommend reading. Descriptions are in French, but titles are in English!

A l’occasion du premier module du cours MCMS au SAWI, j’ai brièvement présenté quelques livres qui me semblaient intéressants/pertinents aux participants. Je vous redonne la liste ici — un jour je ferai une page correcte avec mes recommandations de lecture, mais c’est un début!

Les liens sont vers Amazon.de parce que c’est par là qu’il faut passer en Suisse pour avoir les frais de port gratuits.

Naked Conversations: un livre qui commence à dater un peu mais qui reste néanmoins une splendide collection d’exemples d’utilisation des blogs (et des conversations en ligne) par des entreprises/organisation. Inspiration, exemples concrets, modèles à suivre (ou pas). [amazon.de]

The Long Tail: la longue traîne de Chris Anderson. Je ne l’ai personnellement pas encore lu (shhh, motus!) mais c’est une référence pour ce qui est de la diversification des marchés à l’heure d’internet. [amazon.de]

Drive: pas encore lu non plus (je l’ai commandé il y a peu), Drive est un livre sur ce qui motive les gens. J’ai parlé de Dan Pink dans Carotte et créativité ne font pas bon ménage et vous pouvez déjà regarder sa conférence TED en vidéo pour vous faire une idée. [amazon.de]

Predictably Irrational: ce livre, qui n’a de prime abord pas de lien direct avec les médias sociaux, fait partie de la catégorie « a changé ma façon de comprendre le monde ». On est fondamentalement manipulables, nos réactions sont irrationnelles même quand on les comprend. Qu’en faire? A lire absolument pour comprendre tout un tas de phénomènes qui sont en jeu dans le milieu « organique » en ligne. [amazon.de]

Everything is Miscellaneous: David Weinberger, co-auteur du Cluetrain Manifesto, explique comment s’organisent tous ces « objets numériques », dans un ordre qui va parfois à l’encontre de notre conception de ce qu’est l’organisation. Ils peuvent être à plusieurs endroits à la fois, comportent des méta-données sur lesquelles on peut effectuer des recherches, etc. Un ouvrage important pour comprendre les caractéristiques physiques du monde numérique. [amazon.de]

The Culture of Fear: un regard (un poil polémique et qui date un peu) sur le rôle des peurs collectives dans notre société. Il y a toujours quelque chose qui fait peur. A mon sens, ce livre est pertinent pour remettre en contexte toutes les peurs qui circulent autour des nouvelles technologies, internet, les médias sociaux, etc. [amazon.de]

The Myths of Innovation: huit idées préconçues sur l’innovation, exposés de manière claire avec plein d’anectodes à l’appui. (En résumé, Gutenberg ne s’est pas réveillé un matin en se disant « hmm, qu’est-ce que je vais faire aujourd’hui… Eurêka, je vais inventer l’imprimerie! ») [amazon.de]

L’âge de peer: un livre (en français!) sur la co-création et l’économie du monde du peer-to-peer (P2P). Le chapitre « nouveaux modèles économiques » et « nouveaux modèles de création »… [amazon.de]

We Are Smarter Than Me: utiliser en business le pouvoir de l’intelligence collective. Livre co-écrit en ligne avec une myriade de contributeurs. [amazon.de]

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Tulalu avec Paule Mangeat [fr]

[en] A literary meetup with a local author, and some considerations on what language I write in as a bilingual person (answer: way more English than French).

Mon “petit homonyme” Stéphanie, comme je l’appelais affectueusement il y a une quinzaine d’années déjà, co-organise depuis plusieurs mois les rencontres littéraires Tulalu ?!. (Oui, ça fait beaucoup de signes de ponctuation à la suite. J’ai un peu de mal, mais j’essaie.)

Cet après-midi, au détour d’une conversation branchée “écriture” (je suis en train de lire “On Writing” de Stephen King, après avoir dévoré “Bird by Bird” de Anne Lamott, à l’origine de ma révélation du mois de février), elle me propose de venir une fois à ces rencontres. Ou deux, peut-être. Et bien justement, il y a en a une ce soir.

Après moult tergiversations internes (et externes) dont je vous passe les détails, j’ai foncé en bas l’avenue de France pour aller m’asseoir autour d’une table au Zinéma, en compagnie d’une bonne douzaine d’autres amateurs de littérature du coin et de Paule Mangeat. Paule, je ne la connais ni d’Eve ni d’Adam, et son nom ne me disait même rien. Mais il aurait pu, Michelle ayant parlé d’elle en termes fort élogieux il y a quelques années.

Je suis à présent en mesure de vous confirmer qu’elle écrit de fort jolies nouvelles (elle nous en a lues (lu?) trois), en plus d’être une personne tout à fait sympathique. Je suis repartie avec une copie de son ouvrage dans mon sac, que je me réjouis de finir prochainement, entre un chapitre de Stephen King et un autre d’Anne Lamott (oui oui, j’ai entamé son roman “Rosie“, qui me donne envie de me mettre à écrire de toute urgence à chaque fois que j’en lis une page).

Parenthèse: clairement, j’abuse autant des parenthèses en français qu’en anglais, mais un peu moins des tirets, on dirait.

J’ai appris avec intérêt que quasi toutes les nouvelles de son recueil, “Côté Rue“, ont été écrite d’un jet. Moi qui suis une horrible écriveuse du premier jet, j’ai trouvé ça très réconfortant. Je ne prétends pas écrire aussi bien que Paule, et celle-ci avoue d’ailleurs avoir maintenant évolué au-delà de la tryrannie de ce premier jet dans son processus d’écriture (c’est moi qui formule ça comme ça, hein, n’allez pas la citer avec ces mots). Mais je peux vous dire qu’à force d’entendre (et de lire!) tant de personnes écrivaillantes autour de moi sur les bienfaits et les affres de la réécriture et du travail d’édition, je commençais à me demander si je n’avais pas des branchements qui manquaient. Eh bien, ça me rassure de savoir qu’il y en a d’autres que moi avec le même genre de branchements (ou leur absence).

Une de mes motivations pour ce soir, c’était de me reconnecter un peu avec la littérature francophone. De ce côté-là, mission accomplie. Etre bilingue ce n’est pas si simple, quand on aime écrire. Je me rends compte qu’au cours des dernières années, l’anglais est très clairement devenu ma langue numéro un à l’écrit. J’ai toujours lu surtout en anglais, même s’il y a des livres en français que j’adore — j’ai d’ailleurs un point faible pour la littérature romande.

Et ici, même s’il y a des phases assez francophones, je me rends bien compte que j’écris surtout en anglais. Avec les chroniques du monde connecté, j’ai une excuse pour écrire au moins une fois par semaine en français, mais bon… ça ne fait pas le poids face au reste. Pour vous dire à quel point l’anglais est devenu ma première langue à l’écrit, quand je prends des notes à usage personnel lors d’une conversation en français… oui, vous devinez juste. J’ai tendance à prendre des notes en anglais.

Ce genre de réflexion, sur fond des nettoyages de printemps que j’ai faits aujourd’hui sur Climb to the Stars, ça me donne aussi une furieuse envie de rendre un peu plus facile le tri des langues pour les 10 ans d’écriture passés qui sont plantés sur ce site. Si j’avais une journée ou deux à disposition…

Enfin bref, assez radoté. Il est temps que je réinvestisse un peu mon côté francophone quand j’écris.

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SF Reading Recommendation: Alastair Reynolds [en]

[fr] Si vous aimez la science-fiction, je vous recommande vivement de vous intéresser de près à ce qu'écrit Alastair Reynolds.

If you like science fiction, specially the space opera techie kind, you should try reading something by Alastair Reynolds (he has a blog, too).

I actually first encountered his writing in one of the SF short story collections that I own, but really noted his name down after reading Pushing Ice, which was given to me by a friend. I was, honestly, completely blown away by the story.

Some time later, another friend sent me Chasm City off my wishlist. Again, I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth a human being can come up with such incredible worlds and stories.

When I was in Leeds a few weeks ago, I went on a shopping spree (clothes, DVDs, books) and bought both Revelation Space and Redemption Ark, the two first volumes of the Revelation Space trilogy.

I finished them at the chalet, and as soon as I got back online, made an order from Amazon. It’s just arrived, have a look:

Amazon Order Arrived!

Just in time to keep me busy for the rainy week-end that’s about to start!

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Chalet, lecture, écriture [fr]

[en] A couple of days at the chalet, reading and writing.

Le chalet en novembre se traduit en volets fermés pour emprisonner la chaleur, en feux de cheminée et tas de feuilles mortes et d’aiguilles de mélèze dans le jardin. Moins d’excursions (il fait froid et gris et la carte “libre accès” n’est plus valable) et plus de lecture — et d’écriture.

J’ai fini “Sepulchre” (Kate Mosse). C’était peut-être l’heure tardive, mais le dernier quart de ce livre m’a fait pleurer toutes les larmes de mon corps. J’ai entamé “Voyage en Acratie” de Bernard Krummenacher, une surprise agréable. Très vite, je me suis laissée prendre par ce récit un peu décalé d’exploration de notre futur.

Hier soir, j’ai également pondu un certain nombre de ces fameuses histoires en cinquante mots. Quelques-unes en français. Je me rends compte en faisant l’exercice que si peindre une situation de départ ou une complication ne me pose que très peu de problème, c’est toujours la fameuse fin qui me résiste. Le dénouement. La destination. Où va l’histoire? Où va la vie? Quel est le but?

Reflet pour moi de ma difficulté à trouver du sens, une finalité, dans le monde autour de moi.

J’y travaille.

Lire le roman de Bernard (que je connais) renforce encore mon envie et ma détermination de moi aussi, un jour, écrire un livre de fiction. Construire une histoire. Habiller des personnages. Inventer des situations. Faire la scénariste, et aussi la peintre.

Alors je continue avec mes histoires de cinquante mots. C’est peu, mais c’est ça le but: l’exercice est court, on peut le répéter à l’envi.

Et bientôt, une kyrielle de fins débarquera dans ma tête. J’en saisirai une et je passerai à l’étape suivante. Plus ambitieuse.

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