Tag Archives: Books

Lame Reader

So, Atticus and I have determined to try and wake up at 5:30 every morning to go to the gym.  Today would be the third week anniversary of our ambitious new schedule and so far we haven’t dropped dead.  It’s actually been kind of nice (once we’re awake and actually at the gym).  The only trouble has been that we hit the wall called exhaustion at 8pm every single night.  I don’t think we’ve gone to bed after 9pm since September.

Aaaaanyway, what I’m really saying is that falling asleep that early has cut in on my usual book-devouring time, so I haven’t put up my usual numbers.  But I have been able to read a few since my last post:

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman:  Actually, I was listening to this one rather than reading.  It’s been good to revisit His Dark Materials again.  I still think, though, that this middle volume is Pullman’s weakest, but necessary to set up The Amber Spyglass, which is my favorite of the trilogy.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  Yes, the final installment in The Hunger Games trilogy!  I don’t know if I’ll be flayed for saying this, but the first one, in my opinion, was the best one.  But I’m glad I got some sort of closure–Katniss totally ended up with the right dude.  But I had this thought:  “I know people who have conniption fits over one tasteful sex scene or a couple of curse words in books (which are actually very, very good books), yet they’re totally okay with the violence and gore in this series…because the books don’t have swearing or sex…?  Makes absolutely no sense to me.”    I don’t know if I’ll ever understand that one.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan:  I read In Defense of Food in Boston and really loved it, so I figured it was about time I read this other famous Pollan book.  Now I have trouble saying the word “corn” without feeling a little ill, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing…in the ethical long run…I hope.

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner:  Fascinating fascinating.  Good choice, my non-fiction book group people!  And guess what?  They’re making a Freakonomics movie!

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson:  I’ve been a Bryson fan since I ran across his Short History of Nearly Everything in London.  But, until The Danosaur notified me, I had no idea that Bryson wrote travel memoirs.  She recommended this one, detailing his travels through Australia.  It was awesome, hilarious, and full of fascinating facts like the disappearances of Prime Ministers, giant worms, and the particular strangeness of the inhabitants of Queensland (“Crazy as a bag of snakes.”).  Highly recommended for anyone who doesn’t know much about Australia…which should be everyone, including Australians apparently.

Still Reading

Harry Potter, Year 5 by J.K. Rowling:  Seeing as we’re only 35 days away from the beginning of the end of the Harry Potter generation, I had to start re-reading the last three HP bibles.

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman:  Because you can’t start re-reading a trilogy and not finish it!  Especially when the final section of this final book is the best part of the whole saga.

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Happy Banned Books Week!

Just thought I’d share a few of my officially banned favorites (although there are a lot more disputed books that are fantastic too.  Harry Potter anyone?).  Anyone else have a most beloved banned book?

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Animal Farm
  • Black Beauty
  • Brave New World
  • Candide
  • The DaVinci Code
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover
  • Madame Bovary
  • The Metamorphosis
  • 1984

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Summer Reading Continues…

Full Throttle!  Bam!  This is what is going on!  Summer reading is pretty much the cream of chicken to my Hawaiian haystack.  And so I give you the list I’ve read, am currently reading, and plan to read very, very soon.  All this in the past three weeks.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin: How I got through high school, college, and graduate school without having to read this I will never know!  It’s sort of a classic.  It’s sort of as classic as, say, Huck Finn or “The Yellow Wallpaper.”  Actually it’s more like “The Yellow Wallpaper.”  Actually, it’s really, really similar to “The Yellow Wallpaper.”  BUT, it’s still a deeply, passionately felt piece of lit that really got to me.  Hit a chord, made me think, etc. etc.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson: Probably not the best idea to follow-up something like “The Awakening” with a book whose original Swedish title translates to “Men Who Hate Women.”  Just saying.

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood: Again, probably not the best idea to follow-up The Awakening and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with a book about how humanity pretty much destroys itself.  Luckily, this one had a much more hopeful tone to it, in my opinion, than Oryx and Crake (its companion novel), though I think I liked O&C better overall.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: So, reviewing the existential angst above, it was probably a good thing this book showed up on the library hold shelf next–seeing as it’s much more light-hearted, adorable, hilarious, and friendshippy.  I really liked it!  I read it in 3 hours!  It was really uplifting (minus all those parts about concentration camps…).

The Importance of Being Earnest and Four Other Plays by Oscar Wilde: Well, seeing as there were Oscar Wilde references in  The GLaPPS, as I like to call it now because that title is insanely long and the editor should have known better, well, I had to delve into that beloved foppish aesthete.  And I did. “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” “Salome,” “An Ideal Husband,” “A Woman of No Consequence” and, of course, “The Importance of Being Ernest.”  Love!   But, then again, un-love to how many jokes Wilde recycled!  It was insane and annoying.  If I see his “What are Dry Goods?”/”American novels” line again I’ll throw the book across the room.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: Well, I had to read the man’s only novel after all!  Also, am I the only one who gets The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man confused?  Also, was I surely miffed that the “dry goods” joke came up again?  Yes.  Yes I was.  It’s a great joke, Wilde my man, but did you think I wouldn’t notice?

Marriage: A History by Stephanie Coontz: Dear Dr. Coontz–Can I please please be your adoring fan/protegé?!  This book is the freaktastic amazing!  I’d heard so much about this social/cultural history when it first came out in grad school, but I had not followed up and I rue. the. day.  I love this book like a husband loves a wife, but only in the post-enlightenment way that has been idealized and revolutionized until the movement culminated in the 1950s but then sowed its own seeds of destruction and now we live like the nomads but that is great! Read it.

On the coffee table

Cheap:  The High Price of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell: That woman has a lot of l’s in her name…and a lot of interesting things to say if that NPR interview is onto anything!

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains by Nicholas Carr: Also fascinating.  Also, I think I’m going to be on board with it.  Also, yes I realize I’m telling you this all over the internet.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann: For my coming-up Book Club dedicated to all things fascinating and non-fiction.  I’ve wanted to read this for QUITE a while.  Ever since I learned about those crazy self-watering floating farms that the Aztecs had?   You know about those?  Why don’t I have a floating garden that waters itself?!  Because I didn’t live in 1491.  That’s why.

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(The) Summer (of) Reading

So.   You all know how I love to read.

Since I pseudo-resigned from PW reviewing I’ve been on a binge of summer reading–mostly because I got tripped out on the idea I could read anything I wanted to and I didn’t have to read a book about a snowglobe/lusty-virginalChristianWWIRomance/gothic-southern-time-travel/how-chocolate-brought-me-to-Jesus book.

So.

Thus far, in the past two weeks, I’ve read

1. My Life in France by Julia Child.    Love!  Especially the first half.  Actually, I’d recommend only reading the first half.  The second half is about publishing a cook book…not as funny as reading about fantastically awkward French faux pas by a gangly, chipper American woman.  I just sat on the couch laughing/chuckling/giggling.  That Julia Child woman–she’s a wit!  It was awesome.

2.  Queen Bees and Wannabees:  Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman.  I “read” this book just like I’d “read” books in grad school.  Some fantastic stuff in it.  I got it after watching Mean Girls and learning the movie’s entire premise was based on this single book.  I think I’d like it more if I was actually approaching motherhood to a teen girl since most of it was helpful advice and tips on communication. But, no regrets here!  Glad I got it.

3. A Dictionary of Women in Scripture.  Okay, so I haven’t read the whole thing, but I’ve gone through a good chunk of it (namely, especially, the fantastic 5+ page entries on Eve, Asherah, Jephthah’s Daughter, Rachel, Rebekah, Miriam, Mary x 7, Deborah, Jael, Hannah, Dinah…well…I’ll just stop).  I saw it in the library book sale and about had an apoplectic seizure of pure lust/joy.  Four bucks for this gem!  Four bucks for 800 pages of pure amazing perfect wonderfulness!

4.  Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.  Holy. crud.  This book had my brain going a million miles an hour for three days straight.  I could not put the thing down!  I would close the book at 11pm when I couldn’t keep my eyes open, and then proceed to blabber about it in very excitable tones to poor, tired Paul for another hour since he was a captive audience.  It’s so amazing!!! It made my brain explode in so many good ways!  It had THE BEST ending I’ve ever read in recent memory! “Zero hour.  It’s time to go”  BRILLIANT!  Thank you Newsweek summer reading recommendations!

And now, onto my next two:

5.  Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen.  If I thought My Life in France was funny, I had somethin’ coming.  At 10:45 last night I got in bed and thought, “Meh…I’ll just take a peek at the table of contents.”  Right, like that ever happens.  Okay.  I’ve never laughed as hard when reading a book as I did in just that first chapter.  I’m not exaggerating in the least.  I had to leave the room I was laughing so hard.  I can’t wait to get home tonight so I can laugh and laugh and laugh some more.

6.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson.  I’ve heard so much about how everyone loves Larson’s series that I had to give it a go…though I am apprehensive about the whole murder/mystery/thriller aspect of it.  Sounds scarrryyyy….but at least I know that it isn’t literarily scary.  Those are the scariest books of all  (I’m looking at you Snowglobe/Romance/ChristianMystery book).

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Bodice Ripper

PW sent me another book this month: a Christian romance novel.

It makes me wonder what I did to offend them?

I mean, I think romance novels are pretty iffy to begin with…but Christian romance novels are the worst! I mean, you have to endure the completely fabricated and off-the-wall plot (if there is one) while knowing that there won’t even be anything remotely scandalous to look forward to!

So you spend your Sunday afternoon reading about the handsome, rich, Belgian businessman/noble/half-American and the pious, pretty, adopted French “girl” (never called a woman…though 23 years old) who people think is leprous (meh?) and a miracle-healer (which elicits the phrase “It was not me, it was God” about 500 times).   She also knows when people die (except this one time, which isn’t explained)…it’s just a gift, you know. Oh, and she ends up being the reason WWI ends.

Really.

And through all of that…the most scintillating part of the entire book went something like: Continue reading

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“The Haiku Review” continues…

{Okay, okay, so I know these aren’t actualhaikus…but it rhymed with review and, well, you get the picture.  I am returning with another collection of book reviews for you, in seven words or less.} Continue reading

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Slocalite In (Enthused) Training

It all started with the concept of an obese Carla Bruni.

Truly, it did.  The summer I read “French Women Don’t Get Fat” was the beginning of a new philosophy for me–the alien idea of enjoying food.

Not “enjoying food” because it was muscle fuel, or “enjoying food” in a uniquely American binge-all-you-can-eat buffet way.  Not “enjoying food” because you’ve spent the last three months eating only steak, cheddar cheese, and one floret of broccoli since Oprah told you Atkins ruled the universe.french_women

“French Women” was touted as a new kind of “diet book.”  One that didn’t waste space telling you what NOT to eat but rather basked in the plenty and variety of all you actually could eat.  It lauded home-cooking (“It is often so simple”) and taking time to dine (“Always sit down at a table with a full setting.  Eat with friends or with self-enjoyment, never with the television.”)  It was the best-selling clarion call to Americans: We don’t have a food culture here and we need one…badly.

It was the summer I first made leek soup (it was awful as far as leek soups go…but I still loved it because it was such a new taste).  It was the summer I bought an actual, honest-to-goodness eggplant and attempted a ratatouille (beforethe movie was even on the IMDB radar).  It was the summer I went to New York for two reasons 1) to see Wicked on Broadway and 2) to experience the Shangri-La of Farmer’s Marketdom.

Once you drink fresh-squeezed apple juice you will never go back.

Never.

Ever.

I remember standing with Alyssa in the shadow of the Flatiron Building and semi-idiotically yelling, “It Tastes Like An APPLE!  Like a liquid apple in a bottle!”  Alyssa nodded slowly and said, “Yeup…::pointing to the label:: Because it’s apple juice, Pinto…” Continue reading

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