Basically refer to whatever I said last month about Blackout, only more so because taken together, these two books are AMAZING. And I wondered some throughout about the pacing, but in the end it made sense - although my gosh, these two books need diagrams or cross references or something.
2. ...And Furthermore, Judi Dench
This is written just like she talks, so you can almost just imagine she's sitting in the room with you, chatting away. It's long on theatre stories and short on personal details, and will mean most to people who have some interest in and knowledge of the English theatre world. I enjoyed it, but it left me wanting more - more explanation of theatre things she takes for granted that the reader will know, and more information about what she was doing between shows.
3. Your Brain At Work, David Rock
Although the writing style and before-and-after dramatizations seemed a little hokey, this is full of really scientifically researched information that is helpful for understanding and improving brain function at work.
4. My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell
I can't remember who recommended this (unless it was Nancy Pearl), but it 1) wasn't what I expected, and 2) was AWESOME. It was written by the youngest son in a Cheaper By the Dozen-type family who move to Greece on a whim and have adventures and collect animals and it's just really whimsical and fun.
5. At Home, Bill Bryson (audio book)
Bill Bryson has a genius for taking any subject, weaving a whole ton of rabbit trails into it, and making it all fascinating. In this one he uses the rooms in his old rectory in England to explore architecture, social customs, and a lot of random history.
6. The Wilder Life, Wendy McClure
Like many children, Wendy McClure grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. But unlike many of those children, her interest in the world of Laura never really went away, and as an adult she found herself revisiting the books with new interest. It started small: she ground her own wheat berries to make bread like they did in The Long Winter. She learned to churn butter. She started a Twitter account called @halfpintingalls. But before long she was visiting historical sites relating to the series, ranging from Pepin, Wisconson to Springfield, Missouri – at least seven in all.
With equal parts humor and introspection, The Wilder Life explores the uneasy relationship between the real Ingalls family history, the book series, and the television show … and why we still are enchanted by the Ingalls family after all of these years.
I grew up with these books and Laura was often my pretend playmate ... I've even been to her homestead/museum in Missouri. I HAVE SEEN PA'S FIDDLE, GUYS.
7. The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande
Really REALLY liked this one. Gawande is a doctor who took the type of checklists used in aviation and figured out how to use a similar system in hospitals. He was able to prove that using simple checklists cut the rate of infection dramatically and made operations safer.
8. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente
Just absolutely fell in love with this one. It looks on first glance like Alice in Wonderland style silliness, but there's a lot of depth and beauty in those pages.
9. The King's Speech, Mark Logue and Peter Conradi (audio book)
Still haven't seen the movie, but at least I've read the book! The audio book is great because it starts of with a real recording of King George VI speaking.
10. Blood, Bones & Butter, Gabriella Hamilton
I'm not quite sure why this has gotten as much attention as it has - as foodie memoirs go, it's not bad, but there are many better. And when it strays away from food and into Gabriella's personal life, it just gets odd. She enters into a marriage of convenience with an Italian so he can get a green card and doesn't take the marriage seriously at all, but then the next chapter she is moaning about how much she loves him and he doesn't love her back? Not to mention that for the entire preceding portion of the book, she was a lesbian?
11. The Skin Map, Stephen R Lawhead
I'm starting to get disappointed with my man Lawhead. He was positively brilliant with the Song of Albion series and the Pendragon Cycle, and perfectly acceptable with Patrick: Son of Ireland and the Crusades series, but everything I've read after that has been mediocore at best. This book has an interesting premise (certain people can travel both geographically and through time using ley lines, the ancient lines of energy that Stonehenge and other standing circles were built around) but the characters are cardboard cutouts, no dimention whatsoever, questions are raised and never answered, and one particular character who finds herself transported back to medieval Europe without warning or explanation spends NO time angsting about the hows and whys and immediately fits and AND introduces the idea of the coffee shop to poor pre-coffee Europe. *headdesk*
12. The Time-Traveling Fashionista, Bianca Turetsky
Such a great idea (a vintage dress that transports the wearer back to its original time period - the Titanic, in this case), such poor execution. =\
13. Death Cloud, Andrew Lane (audio book)
Alternate title could be Sherlock Holmes: the beginning. Sherlock is 14 and though bright, not possessed of the extraordinary skills we know he'll have as an adult. By the end of the book, we starts to get an idea of how he acquired those skills. It's a perfectly acceptable book, but not brilliant.
14. Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks, Terrance Dicks
Came upon a 10-volume set of Doctor Who books from the 70s, had to read at least one. They're ... not very good. But it's the Doctor!
15. Manning Up: how the rise of women is turning men into boys, Kay S. Hymowitz
Along the same lines as Save the Males, but better. I think the title says it all.
"When you are born," the golem said softly, "your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you're half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it's so grunged up with living. So every once in a while, you have to scrub it up and get the works going or else you'll never be brave again.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making
1. Strings Attached, Judy Blundell
Young adult fiction which I liked very much (Blundell has a way of making a creepy/sad/mysterious admosphere throughout her books that I really enjoy). Plot in a nutshell: small town girl moves to NYC to be a dancer, there are secrets and lies and an ex-boyfriend with a creepy gangster father and it's all very 1930s-noir and I LOVED it.
2. City of Glass, Cassandra Clare
Losing interest in this series so fast. Jace is still being emo. Emo Jace is emo. See emo Jace run away from Clary ... AGAIN.
3. The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten
A collection of Steingarten's articles as the food writer for Vogue. Hit and miss ... some of them are really excellent, but a lot appear dated (mostly the ones discussing health scares/fads we've all gotten over a long time ago.)
4. Johnny and the Bomb, Terry Pratchett
Probably the best of the three Johnny book, although maybe I only think that because I'm into WWII.
I have neither loyalty to nor antipathy towards Wal-Mart, so I'm not sure why I thought it was a good idea to spend time reading this one. It was repetitive and openly hostile, but redeemed itself slightly when it called Nicholas Sparks an "emotion pornographer." haha, right on.
6. The Dead Beat, Marilyn Johnson
An obituary (at least a well written one) is a small slice of a life. Who was this person? What impact did they leave on the world? How old was he, where was she born, what did he do during his life, who did she leave behind?
In this book Marilyn Johnson has collected stearling examples of obituaries and the writers who craft them. I loved it!
7. Dying to Meet You, Kate Klise
Clementine Werfel blessed priests at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Strongsville with heavenly desserts, memorable meals and seemingly miraculous coffee.
The retired parish housekeeper, who died Aug. 2 at 96, routinely walked around the dining table in the rectory, offering coffee to each priest.
"Would Father like regular or decaf?" the 4-foot-something Werfel asked them one by one.
Regardless of the priests' individual preferences, she filled all their cups with coffee from the same pot. The coffee drinkers silently accepted what they got, as though Werfel really could turn regular cofee into decaffeinated, much the way the biblical Jesus turned water into wine.
Really adorable kids book. Charming illustrations!
8. The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery (audio book)
By the time I reached the end of the first disc I was pretty sure I hated this book. It was a whole lot of wordy philosophical ramblings maskerading as a novel, with two main characters who pretty much sit around and think about how much better they are than the rich, shallow people around them. And oh yeah, the plot goes absolutely NOWHERE. For 3/4 of the BOOK.
9. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, Joshua Foer
Journalist covering the US Memory Championship becomes interested in the tricks of the trade that allow the competitors to memorize 3 pages of unpublished poetry in fifteen minutes and the exact order of a deck of cards in less than two minutes, starts practicing these techniques and goes on to win the championship the following year. Interesting but not particularly practical unless you are
insane, er, really dedicated.
10. Blackout, Connie Willis
Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it. You can exercise daily and eat healthily and live a long life, while experiencing a short one. If you spend your life sitting in a cubicle and passing papers, one day is bound to blend unmemorably into the next - and disappear. That's why it's important to change routines regularly, and take vacations to exotic locales, and have as many new experiences as possible that can serve to anchor our memories. Creating new memeries stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perception of our lives.
I'm going to ditch any attempt at a real review (check here if you want that sort of thing) and just flail around saying that I LOVE this book, you should all read it, it is so real and vivid and wonderful, and captures the ordinary everyday heros of WWII, AND it's got awesome time travel, and I sort of know the ending of the second book already and that makes some parts of this one all the more poignant and yes, I did possibly cry over some of these characters.
Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms
Chocolate Orange Bread (this is SO good eaten with marmalade)
Persian Kotlety (added fresh mint)
Scored Potatoes (ditched the seasoned salt and used butter and herbs instead)
Rosemary Filone (my favorite artisan bread!)
Rosemary Apple Tart
Roasted Carrots with Dill
My herbs are starting to really take off now - except the basil, it's been too cool at night until recently for it to really start growing - so I wanted to make things that would take advantage of all the fresh parsley, mint, rosemary, dill, and oregano available.
If you only try one of these, make it the rosemary apple tart. It's very simple and such an unexpected - but completely delicious - flavor combination!
I took it, my friends. I haven't gone anywhere at all since Friday.
I knocked out so much of my to do list. I took early morning walks, and evening walks. I cooked for five hours straight and then read Blackout for almost that long. I napped under trees with kittens curled up by my side. I listened to chattering birds and tended the herb patch and watched a Bourne movie without even ever figuring out if it was the second or third. I baked bread twice and drank a total of about three pots of coffee.
I thought a lot about London.
I saw the same rabbit three mornings in a row.
And I slept with the windows open.
1. Those who look at my clipboard and find it interesting or helpful (or at least in some way understandable)
2. Those who do the same and say in genuine confusion, "You know you could just buy a day planner, right?"
Mechanics first: plain small clipboard ($2.50 at Wal-Mart), covered first in tissue paper (to create texture), then torn bits of an art book, then painted, then sealed with shellac. Sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 paper cut in half fit perfectly (I use blank-on-one-side paper that's headed to the recycle bin).
You who have known me for awhile know that I'm reliant on lists. Not kidding: they keep me sane. Each day has a page, and I can jot down note and reminders as I think of them. Towards the back are sheets for shopping lists, future travel plans, even movies I want to see/music to buy/books to find.
Each evening I look over and add to the following day's page. It starts out as a neat list of things to do, but by the end of the day it will be a mess of scrawled notes, crossed out (I hope!) tasks, reminders, and notes in RED for the really important bits.
And to all those who have suggested a day planner: my clipboard is endlessly reusable, frugal, expandable, earth-friendly, flexible and able to adapt to my changing life, AND has personality. Why would I WANT a day planner?
Part two: sometime later I was looking at a really awful cheap print hanging in a staff area at work, all mauve and teal and looking like something you'd find hanging in a nursing home (God bless 'em, but they aren't exactly examples of wonderful interior design). And I thought ... what if I ripped out that print ... and cut out some letters with the Cricut... and put it all on a craft-paper background ...
Part three: I picked up a tiny oval frame somewhere either free or almost free, and I kept meaning to design some sort of miniature collage or something else awfully clever to go in it , and I kept not doing anything and it kept sitting there all empty and sad. And then ...
Now it sits on my dresser and reminds me to be awesome.
(I feel compelled to point out that this isn't my natural handwriting. I was deliberately going for the sort of loopy unevenness, and I DO know how to capitalize things.)
It's apparently to see how tight of a ball I can curl up into, like a pitiful little puppy huddled in a cold corner.
My conclusion is that I am an idiot. At least when mostly asleep.
Read this because Mark Reads read it. At first I wasn't a fan - the writing was beautiful in a poetic way, but what does it MEAN? And the omnipresent narrator, out-of-order storytelling, and strange interjections were jarring. But then ... I started to get the hang of it, and I started to fall in love with it.
Basically, Zusak managed to rip out my heart and make me enjoy it. And all, somehow, without being overdramatic about it. For all the poetic imagery, it's a story told quite simply and matter-of-factly. It's heartbreaking. It's also beautiful. And it's a worthy addition to the WWII-fiction genre.
2. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
A reread, although the audiobook I listened to before was abridged, so this is my first time getting the FULL story. Controversy, blah
blah blah, I happen to like the plot and characters. (But I like Reardon a lot better than Galt. Heresy?)
3. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
I totally get why this won the Nebula! Like The Book Thief, it's a very powerfully emotional story, but simply told. It takes a lot of talent to write that clearly. I can't believe I'd never read it before now (thank goodness for friends who say READ THIS), but now that I have I'll be recommending it often to oh, just about everyone.
4. The Treasure is the Rose, Julia Cunningham
Step forward if you recommended this one to me! It was delightful - a really classic children's book. Lovely illustrations, clever story, and deeper than it appears on the surface.
5. To Timbuktu, Casey Scieskza and Steven Weinberg
World travel, falling in love, lots of food, new people, adventures ... in an alternate life, this might have been my story. So my practical side won't throw caution to the wind and leave for parts unknown, but I can certainly enjoy reading about it. Casey (Yes, Jon Scieskza is her father) provides the text and Steven the illustrations: a match made in heaven.
6. The Green Mile, Stephen King
YOU GUYS LOOK I READ STEPHEN KING!! I'm having an identity crisis because I can no longer say that he's the one author I don't read. So, um, yeah. It was really, really good. I never want to read it again, but that's a testament to King's powers of description. If anything surprised me, it was the depth of the story - I knew King was an excellent writer/storyteller, but I didn't expect the emotional complexity that I found here.
7. The Weird Sisters, Eleanor Brown
This book contains three sisters, one Shakespeare-scholar father (who mostly communicates in the words of the Bard), and a mother with cancer. I don't usually go for the human-drama kinds of books, but this one was really excellent - real without being a downer, funny without being over the top, sad without making me break out the tissues. How's that for a recommendation?
Also the cover art is perfection.
8. One of our Thursdays is Missing, Jasper Fforde
If you've read Jasper Fforde, then you know what to expect. If you haven't, I won't be able to describe it. But if you like books and you like speculative fiction, you should try this ... because Fforde is BRILLIANT, and because I said so.
(I'm not a bombshell, but boy can I relate to certain aspects of this!)
Bombshells don't sit exactly. They perch, curl, curve, and occasionally fling their legs up over the arm of the chair of back of the sofa. This also goes for seats on airplanes, cars and trains.
Bombshells always exit with an inhalation as if something wonderful is about to happen.
No matter how mundane the occasion, the Bombshell has an outfit in mind. She plays dress up every day.
Bombshell footwear always looks like it's about to be kicked off or as if it's been hastily slipped on after getting out of the tub. Any peekaboo sandal will be the first choice of a Bombshell, even in the coldest of weather. The Bombshell favors an open toe - she does this, confident people will take care that she is warm. (The Bombshell prefers bare legs, of course, to stockings of any kind, despite the cold.)
Most of all, the Bombshell enjoys her own company. She is not afraid to be alone.
Any Bombshell will tell you that she eats, not out of unhappiness, but out of joy.
When the Bombshell tries to be grown up ... she goes for a classic martini. Never a twist, she wants the olive. ... She would never order a Manhattan, but she'll pluck the maraschino cherry out of yours.
All the cliches are true. A Bombshell enroute is ready for anything and has the luggage to prove it. A Bombshell doesn't know the meaning of traveling light. The Bombshell travels with what might seem an excessive amount of luggage, not because she is a prima donna, rather she has no idea what may happen and has brought everything.
The Bombshell gets a kick out of life.
- anyone want a half bottle of Slatkin & Co "creamy nutmeg" home fragrance oil? I broke my oil warmer this weekend (it took up too much room anyway) and I hate to just throw away the rest of the oil. I'll mail it to anyone who wants it. :)
- I read The Weird Sisters (Eleanor Brown) over the weekend. It wasn't what I expected but it was wonderful. And I marked so many passages, including this one:
She remembered one of her boyfriends asking, offhandedly, how many books she read in a year. "A few hundred," she said.
"How do you have time," he asked, gobsmacked.
She narrowed her eyes and considered the array of potential answers in front of her. Because I don't spend hours flipping through cable complaining there's nothing on? Because my entire Sunday is not eaten up with pre-game, in-game, and post-game talking heads? Because I do not spend every night drinking overpriced beer [...]? Because when I am waiting in line, at the gym, on the train, eating lunch, I am not complaining about the wait/staring into space/admiring myself in available reflective surfaces? I am reading!
"I don't know," she said, shrugging.
Laugh at the Chinglish (Thailish?) on the menu from Thai House II. (Thai iced tea with no iced ... $2.50. Add extra sauce or something else, the price will be adding it up to original price.)
Try to answer some of the 40+ emails waiting for me, because I apparently FAIL at answering emails in a timely manner.
Listen to The Cat Empire and have flashbacks to Des Moines and music shopping at B&N.
Oh, and write blog posts.
2. The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, Sheril Kirshenbaum
3. Maskerade, Terry Pratchett
4. Black Heels and Tractor Wheels, Ree Drummond
Ree Drummond, better known as The Pioneer Woman, is hilarious. Her love story isn't high literature and there's a fair number of eye-rolling parts (how many times to you need to tell us how great MM looks in tight jeans?), but ... well, she's our PW, and we love her. I laughed out loud so many times during this book.
5. City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
After Clockwork Angel I was eager for more of the Shadowhunters world. But City of Bones started out and it was so modern-day and there were people in nightclubs and riding motorcycles in leather miniskirts (or was it the people in nightclubs with the miniskirts?) and ugggh. The first half draaaaged and it wasn't really the book's fault - it was mine for expecting it to be all steampunk like Clockwork Angel. But then I got into the characters more and by the end I couldn't wait to get to the sequel. [see #8]
6. Bitter Seeds, Ian Tregillis
THE ENDING YOU GUYS. Give me sequel. NOW. Definitely some creepy alt.history (WWII setting: what if the Germans had created a strange race of superhumans? And what if the British had warlocks on their side?) It took a little time to get really interested in it, and I would have left out the strange warlocks-of-Britian bits, and I wanted more details on the experiments that created the superhumans, but basically ... I just want more of the story. Also, it totally wins for Awesome Cover Art.
7. A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson
Audio book, read by the author - a real treat, although there is something odd about Bryson's accent that would catch me off guard now and then. Basically, I love how he can make any topic interesting... Including weeks and weeks of hiking. I almost wanted to go hike the Appalachian Trail after finishing the book ... but notice I said "almost."
8. City of Ashes, Cassandra Clare
[See #5] I need book three now but it's checked out. =\
9. Anne of Windy Poplars, L. M. Montgomery
Obviously a re-read. I used to read the entire series every October until I was overcome with panic at Too Many Books Too Little Time and stopped rereading things unless I had a really good reason to. So I hadn't read them in years and I was missing them and finally realized you don't have to read the entire series at once, it is perfectly acceptable to pick one at random and read it alone. So I did.
10. The Girl in the Gatehouse, Julie Klassen
Oh good GRIEF. Why do I do this to myself. It's Christian romance, the lovely cover art of which tempted me into listening to the audio book. I found the reader annoying, which didn't help, but the story was about twice as long as it needed to be, and was full of all kinds of un-period moments and attitudes and just ... ugh. Skip it.
11. How Young Ladies Became Girls, Jane Hunter
12. Only You Can Save Mankind, Terry Pratchett
Pratchett wrote best for kids in the Tiffany Aching books, but this series isn't bad. Cool idea (video games might be ... reality? At least for the characters inside them?) and full of the usual wordplay. [see also #16]
13. Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, Jessica Kerwin Jenkins
A lovely collection of exquisite things (lingerie, red lipstick, pillow books, the art of hot-air ballooning, water fountains.) Gentle, thoughtful, and contained within two gorgeous red-and-silver covers.
14. Among Others, Jo Walton
I read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in bed last night. I intended to read it quickly and be able to thank Deirdre for it, but it turns out to be hilarious and also wickedly clever, so I could thank her sincerely, because I'd never in a million years have picked it up for myself, as it looks like total tosh. I wonder if the book group have read it?
Finished LotR with the usual sad pang of reaching the end and there being no more of it.
15. Pop Goes the Weasel, Albert Jack
16. Johnny and the Dead, Terry Pratchett
[not quite as good as #12. But yanno, it's Pratchett, therefore it's good. Why no, I'm not biased. He's just bloody brilliant, that's all.]
17. Bittersweet: thoughts on grace, change, and learning the hard way, Shauna Niequist
18. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua
What I wanted and did not buy was the set of three stained glass window rubbings. Back when she lived in England, some churches would allow people to come in and make rubbings of the windows. These were beautiful - charcoal on art paper, very lovely and medieval. But not lovely enough for me to drop $150 on the set ... alas.
But I'm very happy with my Young Girl Reading, which is destined for my library one day.
I like news. I like information. And I think it's good to be interested in more than just your local happenings - keeping an eye on national and international stories gives a sense of perspective. But their innocent little promo made me realize that underneath my interest and enjoyment, I do feel like I'm "supposed" to keep up, and an underlying and subtle sense of panic if I don't.* I go to sleep listening to the BBC. I wake up to more international news. I check google reader and twitter and news sites throughout the day. Sometimes I listen to Deutsche Welle radio in the evening. I catch talk radio whenever I can, read newspapers, read magazines, read anything and everything interesting that I find online, read books on all kinds of subjects. If I can't do these things for whatever reason, I feel like I'm falling behind - like I have to catch up.
In conclusion, to myself: Self, it is good to be informed. But stop this senseless feeling of obligation.
*on the other hand, I feel panic about a lot of things, mostly variations on "must do ALL the things during my lifetime."
My mother's birthday is today, and I overheard her telling her brother she figures that maybe now it's time to be a grown up. Then later we decided that nah, neither of us would ever grow up. It's more fun to stay perpetually 21. And Younger Brother is 20 as of tomorrow. How did THAT happen?
Note: Even though the clocks went ahead an hour, I feel like it's later than it is. It's only 8:30 but I feel like it should be bedtime.
Mom, Dad and I finished Cranford this afternoon. We agreed that entirely too many people died. I LOVED it, and I never want to see it again. So is the general consensus that Mary ends up with the spectacle-doctor? Perhaps this is addressed in Return to Cranford?
I keep trying for weeks to read fewer than 8 books at once (and I've finished 8 this month already), but it keeps not happening.
Have I mentioned: RENFAIRES!!!! Less than a month away. So happy. So many plans.
Ha! It just started raining, big plump pattering drops. This, I think, is my cue to crawl in bed with some of those 8 books.