Weekly Wrap-up | May 24, 2020

Happy Sunday everyone! This week has been unexpectedly full for me, so I’m behind on reading, reviewing, and blog-hopping—sorry for that! I didn’t want to miss a week without posting, though, and the very minimum I can do is a weekly wrap-up, so this will be just another short post.

I’ve started studying in earnest this week for my comprehensive exams, which is in early August, and I spent a lot of time earlier this week just getting used to the idea that I have to study again. Luckily, my fellow graduate students created an online review group, and the accountability (or peer pressure) helped me get started. I’m currently about 30% finished with my first subject out of eight subjects, which is… not ideal, but since I’m just getting used to studying again, I’m cutting myself some slack.

On to some bookish updates!


Books I Finished This Week

The Heart's Invisible Furies

  • Emily and I have finished reading Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies, and I’m relieved we’re mostly on the same page about this one. We’re posting our reviews next week.

Books I’m Currently Reading

  • I’m hoping to finish all these books next week. Little Fires Everywhere is a book for my API-inspired reading, and Far from the Madding Crowd is my attempt to read more classics this year, starting with Hardy.
  • Bel Canto is the second book I’m reading for the #ReadingWomen challenge. I’m not sure what to feel about this one. The plot is weird (hostage situation, but with orchestra), and Patchett’s rendering of Latin American politics didn’t sit well with me. Still, I was entranced by the writing and the characters, and there was something undeniably mystical and compelling about the novel. Mixed feelings about this one so far.

A Non-Bookish Update

I’ve also started playing the piano again, mostly because my brother asked me to teach him play. (It’s a nice coincidence that I picked up Bel Canto, a book about music, on the week that my interest for it rekindled.) I haven’t touched the piano in two years, though, so I’ve been brushing up again on music theory so that I can teach him the basics. I’ve actually never gotten beyond beginner level myself, but I’m his only option now during quarantine, and besides, I’ve always been meaning to revisit the piano.

This week, I’ve been spending most of my free time watching visualized piano performances, like the one below. Paganini/Liszt’s La Campanella is one of my favourite pieces to watch, and it’s what inspired me to take up piano in the first place. Not that I think I’ll ever be proficient enough to play it—I’d probably need an extra set of hands just to attempt it. It looks very pretty, though.


How was your week? Do you play an instrument, or have hobbies aside from reading? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

35 thoughts on “Weekly Wrap-up | May 24, 2020

  1. Good luck on your exams, Gil!! I got behind on posts/reviews this week too, although I have no exams that were taking up my time 😅😅 How are you liking Little Fires Everywhere so far?! Also, how awesome that you started playing the piano again!! 😀

    1. Thank you!! 💙 Ahaha it’s fine, you don’t need an excuse! I might’ve made something up if I’m not behind and I don’t have exams just to try to justify myself. 🤣 Tbh I’ve tried to start it a few times but it’s not really sticking! I’ll try again in a few days. Have you read it??

      1. Haha good luck on exams regardless!! I read Little Fires Everywhere in November and had trouble getting into it at first, but after a certain point it really sucked me in! BUT I also understand that sometimes it’s not worth it to struggle through a book to find out if it gets good later on!

  2. so impressed that you can read so much and still study for ur exams!! when i have exams reading is basically out of the question lol

    also jealous that u can play piano, so many of my fav pieces of music ever are on piano. the pride and prejudice 2005 movie score is the first thing i would learn to play if i ever played piano – its just so beautiful 😭 i taught myself how to play the ukulele this year and thats about as far as my musical talent goes haha 😎

    1. I so agree. Wasn’t the music of Dario Marianelli in Pride and Prejudice (2005) absolutely gorgeous? Somehow I particularly like the “Georgiana” theme there, I don’t even know – it is so bright – but I love the way the soundtrack incorporates the music of Henry Purcell too – Marianelli did a fantastic job there.

      1. omg the Georgiana song is SO GOOD its like sunshine in music form 💖💖 and the Henry Purcell one is just perfect, it works so well within the context of the movie too – honestly i wanna learn how to play the piano just to play that entire score

    2. Lol I’m just really dipping in and out! It’s harder to read when I’ve been basically reading my textbooks all day. 😅

      I am embarrassed to say this as a P&P fan who has watched that movie more than once, but I don’t remember the score there! Time to rectify that. Though I probably won’t be able to play any of it until the end of the year 🤣 And the ukelele counts! I find string instruments even harder because they don’t add up to me. Why only ~5 strings when there are like 88 notes??? At least with piano you just press something and voila, music! What songs did you learn? 🙂

      1. the p&p score is one of the best–i highly recommend checking it out!! and i learned a bunch of stuff on ukulele, i can play most songs now (i love playing Dream a Little Dream of Me!) and can strum and everything– its mostly the super complex stuff that idk how to do yet ☺

      2. I studied to it the other day, and you’re right, it’s fantastic! Another to add on my to-play list. 😄 Ah, I love that song—it’s very sweet and wistful. Good luck to us both on our musical journeys! 🙂

  3. It looks like you’ve had a busy and great week! I hope you end up liking Far From the Madding Crowd.

    That Paganini/Liszt’s La Campanella piece is indeed amazing. Those hand movements are something out of this world! I don’t think I will ever be able to play it either. I am a complete beginner to piano (I started it only in December last year) and I am about to begin learning my first Mozart in a very simplified version – even that seems daunting to me! But I love piano-playing and it is such a rewarding way to spend one’s time and it always pays off in the end – that is what I love about it. It seems great that you are starting to teach it to your brother – if only my brother were as willing I would have had a piano-playing buddy! 🙂

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I know, Liszt is insane. Not even my eyes are fast enough to follow this pianist’s fingers. 😂 Oooh, which Mozart is this? 🙂 I never even had Mozart before—the only piece I could play was Bach’s Minuet in G Major, and the first movement of a simplified Blue Danube. I hope to eventually work up to Chopin—I would be very happy if I can play even his easier pieces! Is there a specific piece you would like to work towards? I ask also because I remember you posted about Satie (?) before 🙂

      Yes, it’s very rewarding to work through the pieces! I’m reviewing all my lessons again from the beginning because I’m so rusty, but even then I’m really enjoying the tunes in the method books. I wasn’t able to appreciate it when I was younger but I love it now. 🙂 I’m glad he got into it too, because I’m motivated to learn faster!

      1. Bach’s Minuet in G major is a lovely tune! – one of these days I want to learn it too. As for Mozart, I have simplified versions of both Rondo Alla Turca and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (piano arrangement) – so that’s my goal for the next couple of months. I would love to play Satie one day, such as Gnossienne 1, – but I guess this will require of me many years of hard work! I am currently dedicated and focused, so who knows 🙂

      2. Oooh, it’ll be so fulfilling once you get to play them! Ah, recently I’m really beginning to love Satie—I used to only like listening to the technically challenging and showy pieces, but I’m gravitating now to the more emotional and impressionistic works. Best of luck! I can imagine that with patience and dedication you’ll get there. 🙂

  4. If you ever feel like your book blog is too much for you, keeping up with a Sunday post with a bit of info like this is a great way to stay in touch with the community! Even better when the books you read are with buddies, because you’ll keep close contacts.

    I played violin for several years, even starting college as a music performance major. Boy, is it NOT like riding a bike, mainly because the muscles needed to play are now SUPER out of shape. If your brother only learns basic theory and scales, he’ll be in great shape to learn any instrument. That’s so nice of you!

    1. True! I hope to keep that in mind for the future, especially when things get much busier.

      Wow, a music performance major??? What made you shift to creative writing? And 100% agree it is NOT like riding a bike. I can barely even sight-read now and my fingers are really stiff. Ha, I’m really not that nice. I made him cancel what I owe him for coffee over the quarantine (because I wasn’t able to withdraw cash for any of our purchases) in exchange for “””piano lessons”””. 😂 Plus I get to review it myself, so win-win for us.

      1. OMG, you and your brother are so funny! I can’t imagine owing my brother money unless I sold him something big. It’s really cute that you guys have tabs for each other.

        The big shift from violin to fiction was because VIOLIN IS HARD. And music theory is HARD. And piano training is HARD. And sight singing and ear training is HARD. ETC! 😀

      2. I don’t know how it started, but it’s always been that way between us! He was also a lot less thrifty than I was before and ended up borrowing. Now he earns more than I do, since he works in a bank, so the tables have turned.

        Hahaha! I can imagine! Fiction is also hard but yes, music is just WAY harder. You have to coordinate so many skills. At least in writing you don’t even need good penmanship.

  5. Goodluck on your exams Gil. And your current reads are the kind of books I avoid right now. Because they need my entire attention when reading. As you know, I’m not in my comfort zone right now so I stick with safe reads like rom-coms and occasional YA Fantasy.

    1. Thanks Lili! 🙂 I know what you mean. It’s a weird time so we can all read whatever we want! Recently in between these reads I’m picking up my old HR faves and reading just the smutty parts, so I can’t even mark it as a reread, lol.

  6. Literary Elephant

    Good luck with your studying and exams! Your currently reading list looks so appealing to me, a lot of books from my TBR on there… looking forward to your thoughts, or even just your ratings if you’re too busy for reviews! 🙂 I’m especially intrigued to see how Bel Canto will turn out for you; it was one of the WP winners I had highest hopes for before reading The Dutch House, and now I’m not sure what to expect.

    Also, I love that you’re playing piano, and teaching your brother! I’ve played most of my life and love it, though mostly just for fun and my own ears these days. Music is a language of its own, a comparison I’ve always liked the thought of.

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I have mixed feelings about it too, like The Dutch House. I think Patchett can certainly write but there is something a little off for me in both—maybe the plotting. I still have half to go though, so we’ll see.

      Ahhh you play too!!! That’s amazing! What was the piece you played recently? 🙂 That language comparison is very apt—I also made that analogy to my brother, who was very impatient at first to just learn pieces by brute force of memory (which I was guilty of before, lol). I have a much better appreciation of it now than when I was a teen so I am glad I’m getting back to it!

      1. Literary Elephant

        Oh darn, that doesn’t bode well. I hope it’ll improve in the second half!

        Yes, thanks! My mom is a pianist so she started teaching me when I was about five- learning to read music at a young age was very helpful, though I’ve mostly taught myself since then and I’m actually terrible at playing by memory! I mainly play a lot of popular/contemporary music lately- Beatles, Adele, Disney. My springtime fave is a version of Here Comes the Sun, transposed by Lorie Line. I love her piano arrangements! I hope you and your brother have a lot of fun (and success!) with your playing! It’s so rewarding to master a new piece. 🙂

      2. Okay, I got goosebumps when I read your comment because I was just literally looking at the sheet music for Here Comes the Sun! It’s the Beatles song that’s the most personally meaningful to me and my dad was a huge fan of the Beatles, so I’ve always wanted to play something in memory of him. Thanks for the recommendation—I will definitely check her arrangements out. (I’m also an Adele fan—I’m thinking of starting out with Someone Like You, hehe.)

      3. Literary Elephant

        Ooh, that’s incredible! I hope you’ll find a version of it that you like, playing something that has sentimental value for you can make it a very powerful experience. It’s a moving song already in itself, I think, so added meaning is sure to amplify it. And it’s great for a piano solo! As are some of Adele’s arrangements! (I played Someone Like You ENDLESSLY a few years ago, it’s a fun one!)

      4. I think it will be—I still get teary-eyed when I hear Here Comes the Sun and I hope endlessly practicing it won’t butcher it for me, since I’m not that good yet 😂 Someone Like You sounds like it’s made for the piano, so I feel I’ll love it! Thanks for the well wishes! ☺️

  7. I play the piano too – I took lessons for years but I’m way out of practise. I’ve thought about trying to brush up my skills too, with the idea that I could start teaching my kids a bit.

    Bel Canto is one of my favourites! It’s such an unusual book. I hear what you’re saying about the political aspect; I appreciated that Patchett kept some details vague and that made the politics of it fade into the background for me, making it more of a story about relationships and who people are beyond political affiliation, language, etc.

    1. That’s a great idea! If I had kids I’d also want to teach them music!

      Oooh, I’m glad you liked it! I can definitely see the appeal—there’s something very tender about how music can connect people and how people can connect beyond language. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies | literaryelephant

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