Books

Book Lovers: Sexy Stories from Under the Covers

Some people fall into the “shut up and kiss me” category of prurient interest. These people have plenty of their own good (or bad) stuff to enjoy. For people that have a love affair with the English language itself, who find textures in words coursing over their skin, who cannot even consider the act of sex without preceding it with an act of wit – this book belongs to them.

This book has inhabited my bedside since September 2014. In some ways, it reminds me of a self-discovery I encountered during a brief period in my 20s when the cable company saw fit to provide me a sample of the Playboy channel. I learned then I cannot eat and watch porn. Sex and food do not go together for me – and bad dialog turns me off so hard I might as well be smelling hot garbage when it happens. Perhaps, in restrospect, if the dialog on the cheesy semi-consensual both couples did it, all parties were willing, but the couples didn’t tell each other about their shenanigans making it an unnecessary consent fail couples-swap movie had improved itself I might have plowed through that tuna sandwich.

This book does not have that problem – each story is submitted by a master of the art, and each one is masterfully erotic, an altering of mindset into an experience shared. Things that normally do not turn me on turned me on as I read this.

But it did lead to my latest discovery in my personal relationship with erotica: I can only read it in small doses. A story or two a night is as much as I can do before it wears me out, and sometimes I had to take a night off to see my partner, or other suitors eager for my literary desires. Suitors that are less handsy, less demanding, that don’t want me physically tired when we finish. It’s not just the slicks and tightenings that wore me down – it was the skillful binding of mind to language, the way language itself could stick to my body. I would love to write like that, but I’m not sure I could get anything done – surely what happens to the reader must also happen to the writer as it’s created.

If looking for highlights, the book included a variety of pairings, all of the cisgender variety but otherwise deeply varied in age, cultural background, and yes, even education. From wordplay as foreplay to an object displacement disorder that eroticize books, the tales themselves surprise and delight with twists and turns on the way to their erotic inevitability. It’s worth reading as much for the creativity as it is for its prurience.

I dare you to propose this to your book club.

 

Forthcoming Titles & Inclusions by Diana Rajchel 2015

So you want to read more stuff by me? Well, it’s still witchy – that’s been my wheelhouse for twenty years now.

First, on July 7, amidst the calendars and datebooks and almanacs galore (of which I have contributed to a few) is this:

Mabon

My first of two contributions to the Llewellyn Sabbat Essentials series. Yes, this is about the invented Wiccan holiday Mabon – and also about Michaelmas, the Christian celebration chock full of Pagan overtones. Just think about whose goose this title might get… It’s available for pre-order on Amazon and likely elsewhere, too – just have a click on the book image.

bast

The Queen of the Sky Who Rules over all the Gods – an anthology/devotional to the Egyptian goddess of love and pleasure, Bast. Before she became a love goddess she was also a war and battle goddess – not all that similar to Sekhmet. Well, sorta. Depends on the region. My submission is a ritual that calls on her badass self when somethin’ needs doin’. Presale link forthcoming.

samhain

The second of my two contributions to the Llewellyn Sabbat series – Samhain! Yes, there’s lore – lots of it. I even succeeded in sneaking in some Slavic stuff. There’s recipes, spells, and I wrote all the poems and invocations for easy adaptation to ritual formats. It’s hard to write to all traditions – sometimes you have to adapt. It will release on September 8, 2015 – and is available for pre-order now.

 

 

Review round-ups

Thought I’d renew my habit of publishing links to things I’ve recently written. In this case, it’s Facing North reviews. I have been (sort of) keeping up with that work – and making requests for books with a tiny bit more conservatism now that I have larger projects of my own to handle.  I also, in my fantasy world, daydream about making this blog a sort of Pagan Brain Pickings, where I find and feature quotes from Eliphas Levi, especially those labeling yoga as “imbecilic” and mentioning something about a finger in uncomfortable places. ((It really says that in the History of Magic. I laughed so hard I almost fell off the bed I was on.))

That’s my fantasy world. My reality has the MUNI, Outer Richmond, and BART trains that light on fire with astonishing regularity.

So in the meantime, here’s what I actually *did* accomplish – book reviews!

Ars Vercanus – Advanced Magical Techniques LOVED

Songs of the Metamythos DISLIKED – the author made the Showgirls error

Freedom from Your Inner Critic: a Self-Therapy Approach WILL USE

The Book of Core Practices: Learning Core Skills for Health, Success, and Happiness WILL USE

 

This Week’s Read: the Sartorialist

At any point in childhood, did your parents decide to put a kabosh on the picture books? Mine did.

At one point, I checked out a book from the children’s section of my small town’s  library. It had a red cover, was about 1/2 inch thick and the inside did have words but also lots of tiny, stamper size color illustrations. Sailboats, blond boys in nautical clothing…something about tiny bears that won’t kill and eat you.

In a reading session with my father,  I opened the book, declared it a cookbook and declared every recipe one for cake. I then informed my father that my future husband’s favorite food would be cake. But not my first husband. He wouldn’t like anything. (He didn’t, really.)

My partner’s favorite food is indeed cake.

My mother, overhearing this, decided that it was time to put the kabosh on heavy picture books. It had to be a few years later that I discovered the Alfred Hitchcock endorsed  Jupiter Jones series. In college I met a kid that resembled this Jupiter.

He was a total douche.

So as an adult, even now, I experience I weird sense of guilt when flipping through image heavy books. It may even explain why I started to avoid reading fiction despite the enormous relief it gives me when I do.

Of course, fashion is all about image – and since I dipped my toe into fashion blogging, even niche fashion blogging, understanding image has become a compelling force in my life. So when a fashion blogger releases a picture book… I want it. It took a few years, but my sweetie finally gifted me this at our Solstice/Festivus celebration (we do not air grievances.):

The Sartorialist book, a collection of photos from the popular blog by Scott Schuman, is probably one of the most gratifying visual feasts I have partaken of since childhood. Certainly I enjoy roaming Flickr, but few things can still beat the experience of an image printed on paper that invites the thumb to page then pause, page then pause, page then think.

This street style blog certainly has its share of harem pants and Japanese cartoon references – but it also has almost more men then women, a few people that are not “model pretty” as one hilarious send-up flow chart accuses, and here and there shot statements as the photographer reveals sometimes startling, fascinating, hilarious things about some of the men and women he shoots. The book is not a lesson in defining beauty, not really. It’s a lesson in curiosity. More than one image defies assumption, from the homeless-looking man to the plus-size woman who redefines flamboyance. While this photographer focuses on technique and personality, what good style means and why it isn’t any one aesthetic, it’s also about looking at what the photographed tells us of the photographer. He is showing us what he sees in the people he photographs. If you look closely at these people, you can also see in them how he sees the world – by revealing the people, the photographer also reveals himself.

It isn’t a recipe for cake, or course, but it’s a damn good visual feast.

 

 

 

 

Crackpot Theory Post: Book Order Jukebox (semi crackpot)

This is actually a semi-serious proposal for booksellers.

There’s a lot of legitimate worry about the way ebooks have undermined the brick and mortar bookstore. Especially for indie bookstores who were just emerging from the rubble left behind after Borders and Barnes & Noble overtook just about everything in the 1990s.

When new technology really takes – ebooks are  no laser disc – it demands adjustment. So either bookstores can disappear into the ether or they can find a way to adapt to the e-book market.

Why not take command of what’s billed as a disadvantage? Use the hard copies in the bookstore as your showroom. Then establish kiosks where people can walk over and order those books for their reading devices. Yes, some can and will just order via a SmartPhone. Many will still want hard copies. But for those who are ruled by the impulse buy, this is one way to keep their business in-house. This might even work for certain indie bookstores (starting with Powell’s and then going smaller.)

This could even the playing field for smaller presses as well – especially the print on demand types.

Touch-screen kiosks range from around $300 – $7K. It might just be affordable on a small bookstore sckale.

bookselling-cover
bookselling-cover (Photo credit: DaveBleasdale)

Love Books? So do I!

Here’s the latest batch of book reviews written for Facing North:

The Spiritual Teacher’s Handbook – 3/23/13
The Candle and the Crossroads: a book of Appalachian Conjure and Southern Root Work – 3/23/13
Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santeria: a Complete Guide to the Rituals and Practices – 3/23/13
Rude Awakening: Perils, Pitfalls and Hard Truths of the Spiritual Path – 3/23/13
Multiply Your Blessings: a 90 Day Prayer Partner Experience – 3/23/13
The Best of the Equinox vol. 1 – 3/23/13

My pick from this batch: Rude Awakening. If you practice any kind of spirituality, it’s well worth a read.

Thoughts on Julia Cameron’s the Creative Life

English: A logical fallacy. Statement 1: Most ...
English: A logical fallacy. Statement 1: Most of the green is touching the red. Statement 2: Most of the red is touching the blue. Logical fallacy: Since most of the green is touching red, and most of the red is touching blue, most of the green must be touching blue. This, however, is a false statement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At least according to GoodReads, the book has not been well received. People that enthusiastically follow Cameron’s work post disappointed, confused statements speculating on Cameron’s mental health at the time she wrote it and a few other opinions based on one logical fallacy or another. There were similar responses to her book Answered Prayers.

I consider both books excellent, but only if absorbed in a non-linear manner. The Creative Life is not meant for one sitting. I read it every day for a month as part of my morning pages and meditation time. In small chunks like that, it makes sense – my own artistic life happens in small chunks, influenced by weather, visits with friends, travel. The same is true of Answered Prayers: it’s not meant for reading straight through. I keep it in my desk drawer and in moments of question I open a page at random.

There is the prayer that speaks in that moment. When it happens it doesn’t read as patronizing – it reads as relevant.

We tend to think of books as linear. Most of the time they are. But every so often there’s a good one out there that you just can’t absorb in a single, straight line.

How Divorcing a Real Witch is Coming

As some of you know, I have a publisher for it now – O Books, under the Moon Books imprint.

It’s in its 5th draft now, and I am posting calls for beta readers over on my Facebook as I go.  At this point in the writing, it’s around 83,000 words, and I am trying to get it clean, polished, readable and ready. I’m nervous about indexing – I pretty much have to do that myself. I’m also nervous about marketing. I need to pitch national magazines, and figure out how/when to line people up to do interviews with me for the online documentary I want to pair with the book.

Hm – does anyone who reads this happen to know any Pagan documentarians? I know they’re out there – I’ve bought and watched some of the documentaries!

#30daysofreading My final words on the Bible (for now)

To clarify, I did not read the ENTIRE Bible for this month. I read the books I previously had not, in the standard Protestant Bible, which leaves out the following books common to Catholic (secondary) canon, called collectively “The Apocrypha“. The books marked by strikethrough are also no longer regarded as sacred texts in Catholic tradition.
1 Esdras
2 Esdras
Additions to Esther
1 Macabees
2 Macabees
Tobias
Judith
Wisdom
Sirach
Baruch
Epistle of Jeremiah
Susanna
Prayer of Azariah
Prayer of Manasseh
Bel and the Dragon
Laodiceans

I still plan to read these books, but as far as honoring my cultural heritage goes, I’ve done my duty. By age 20, I read the entire New Testament and the Old Testament through Proverbs. I kind of stopped and started with the book of Jeremiah, but after dating a guy with that name and wanting to drop his ass in a well after the poor way he treated me, I lost interest in Bible reading for awhile. I had continued to read through my religious conversion, so ceasing to read the Bible was not directly related, and I still sometimes refer to Christian/Abrahamic texts in magical work. This is because the Bible has inherent power created through collective belief energy. This is also because the Bible is equaled only by Shakespeare in its influence on speech, thought and symbol in the West.

Now, at age 35, I can say I’ve read the entire Bible, and the majority of the US population would consider the Bible I read “complete.” It isn’t particularly world-changing to me; when you practice a religion “not of the book” you rapidly abandon scores of assumptions that are Bible based, starting with religious/moral discussions that refer to the Bible as an authority on how you should act. I still find it disturbing that so many who self-identity as atheist or agnostic and who actively resent what some Western interpretations of Christianity has done to their inner lives will, upon either telling me why I should NOT believe in God (which by itself is a violating activity) or why there’s a problem with my own theism will refer to the Bible. I know I repeat it a lot here, but I have to say it again: if you want to have a religious discussion with me, you can’t use the Bible.

If you want to discuss Christianity with me, of COURSE we’ll have to bring up the Bible. Just don’t expect me to defer to it. Especially now that I’ve read the whole thing.

#3odaysofreading Tarot in the Bible

Wheel of Fortune card in the Tarot (move over Pat Sajack)

So, I’m still making my way through the “prophetic” books of the old Testament in the Good News Bible. I got sidetracked by origami, and loads of library books on that subject. In the meantime, I got to Ezekiel, which started off with this passage: (Ezekiel 1: 4-28)

4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.

5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.

6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.

7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.

8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.

9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.

13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.

14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.

15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.

16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.

18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.

19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.

20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.

23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.

24 And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.

25 And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.

26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.

28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

And what that passage says to me? “WHEEL OF FORTUNE!!!”