I have nothing unique to say about the weather, but I'd love to chat with you about some books!
What I Read:
I'm sorry to say that I've only finished one more book since my last set of reviews. I'll tell you why momentarily. However, I finished The Ice Storm by Rick Moody on the 17th. It's 1970's uppercrust Connecticut with a huge ice storm on the way. The adults are being naughty and attending a key party and have no clue and no care where their teenagers are (getting stoned and/or getting themselves killed). All of the characters were odd and I felt just generally uncomfortable for most of the book. I'd recommend skipping, despite that fact that it was a bestselling novel in 1994.
What I'm Reading Now:
My mom and I decided to read a classic novel together. My sister gave me a few books for Christmas that were to be discussed in her Victorian Literature class, which was not tops on my Christmas list but God love her, any book gift is a good gift! Anyway, we decided to go with Middlemarch by George Eliot (published in 1871, 904 pages, yuck), as I already had it in my house.
When I tell you that I'm SLOGGING through this book, I mean it! I feel that there is no end in sight. I'll look forward to providing a review when I finish up, but currently I can tell you that maybe about half of it is probably lost on me because I am so used to straightforward storytelling and the other half has not contained much outside of lots of talking. No murder, no kissing...... but I'm trying to stay positive. Jeff keeps exclaiming, "You're STILL reading that?" I've been with it for 10 days.
On the other hand, I'm super loving Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris, which is a book about a WORKPLACE!! I love books about workplace dynamics, and this one is straight up hilarious. It's also pretty long at 400 pages, which is still less than half of Middlemarch. I'm looking forward to finishing it up and reviewing it for you, as I know several of you (so, about half of you) would really enjoy it.
What I Can't Wait to Read Next:
I'm pumped that my book club chose Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. As you know, I loved my first taste of Sedaris, which was his most recent darkly comedic memoir, Calypso.
Daughter of Moloka'i: A Novel by Alan Brennert!!! Goodreads sent out a newsletter today on what exciting books are coming up in February and I nearly choked on my Lucky Charms when I saw that Moloka'i will have a sequel. Book Club read it some years ago and it was universally adored. Looks like we'll have to wait until February 19th, though. Which is fine, because I probably won't be finished with Middlemarch until then!
So tell me - what are your reading plans for February?
I'm resisting the urge to tell you to stay safe and warm. I like to think that you know to try to stay safe and warm today. I trust you to not go streaking through your neighborhood and hurl yourself in a pile of snow. That would be dumb, and even I'm not that dumb (despite not being very good at understanding Victorian Literature).
One reason I may never find success as a blogger is because I’m concise. With the exception of a few long-winded e-mails to former flames and my junior high 10-page letter pen-palling days, I like to be direct.
I’m amazed at how some bloggers are able to flesh out a subject – page after page devoted to how the family really felt when the cat ran away and how much more of a unified force they are now that they experienced the temporary cat loss together.
I have some things I could say which may be of some small interest to a portion of you (i.e. my mom *might* care) – but the problem is, there’s no way I can stretch it out to an entire blog post. In fact, I think I could share 10 blog “posts” right now that are each one sentence long. Let’s see how I do:
Why I Don’t Shame People Who Don’t Like to Read
While I do think that our non-reading friends probably haven’t found the right book or genre yet, it doesn’t make any difference to me if they read or not and it seems pretty uppity to criticize how people want to spend their well-deserved leisure time.
How I Feel About Men and Women and All the ISSUES
I believe that most men are great, most women are great, and nobody should be knocking one group down to lift their group up – which I am seeing more and more and am concerned about what will happen as a result. (This is something I could probably discuss at length, but is probably a better face-to-face <with wine> conversation)
How I Read So Many Books
Oh, the same way others are able to binge-watch 47 seasons of Game of Thrones – we make the time.
How Does One Achieve Balance When Working Full Time and Parenting Full Time (Parenting is Always a Full Time Job)?
No matter what you’re juggling, I’d advise not stressing about “balance” and stay focused on keeping your priorities straight (and not beating yourself up when a major client meeting needs to take priority over surprising your child at their class Valentine’s Day party) as well as ensuring that you have a wonderful support system to assist you.
Raising a Special Needs Child
I’m only seven years into this experience, but so far I’d say no matter what curveballs any of your kids throw you (and they all lob them at you left and right, some curves sharper than others), you’re going to love them and do the best you can and that’s how life is with Vivian and her curveball although she adds the blessing of being the cutest little thing EVER!
Why I Might Read Controversial Books and Why You Shouldn’t Panic
This year I want to read more non-fiction to help me learn about the world, as well as try to explore both sides of various issues, which might mean that I’ll be reading some stuff that makes you go “Hmm” but don’t worry, what I read is not necessarily a reflection of what I believe (so don’t abandon me, six blog readers!)
One Weird Trick to Losing Weight
Did you know that if you cut out all forms of alcohol AND whole-milk chocolate syrup espresso drinks that you will lose weight, even if you’re pregnant?
How I Like to Spend Money
Apparently people like blog posts that have to do with money, so although I’m not sure why you would care, I can tell you that I like to spend money on nice lunches, fancy cocktails, swanky make-up, gifts, seafood, home décor, body butter, steak dinners, wine, travel, casino visits and whole-milk chocolate syrup espresso drinks.
How to Be an Amazing Parent
You’re already an amazing parents, so just love your kids, try to spend time with them, and don’t let them accompany you when you buy drugs.
How to Be an Amazing Friend
Don’t tag them on your Facebook posts that are quotes about how you love those kinds of friends where it’s okay if you literally don’t talk for ten years because you know it’s all good and that you are still friends no matter what (I always wish someone would comment and just be like, “Who dis?”)
That’s enough of me talking! Comment with your one-sentence blog posts. Or not! Maybe you’re busy, I don’t know your life!
Winter is the best season for reading! I know I accomplished tasks this week outside of flipping pages, but somehow I did manage to pack in four diverse books.
Also, Jeff told me today that he will build me a reading nook! I'm very excited, and looking forward to keeping you posted on this exciting development.
This week I read:
Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
I enjoyed the imagery and the concept, but I really didn’t care about any of the characters. Plus it was fairly disjointed in terms of having some characters, then jumping 50 years into the future and having some other characters and then popping another 80 years into the future. The whole book foreshadows the end of humanity and then humanity ended and that was that. Welp!
I’ve dipped my toe in science fiction, and usually am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy it. Not in this case. I’ll keep trying.
Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody
I have so much to say on this one. Luckily, it was our book club choice and I can chat about in in person with several trusted friends before long. However, I’m concerned that some of my fellow book clubbers are going to want to kick me out, since I was the one who was like, “Hey guys, this book popped up on a ‘Great Book Club Books’ list!”
I have to be careful what I put out here in the universe, so I’ll say this:
I was repulsed but fascinated.
Ignorance is bliss. I don’t want to know that some of the things she described actually happen in real life. I pray that at least a few details she provided were made up.
Well-written. Incredibly entertaining and hilarious. Gross, in places.
Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent
Some authors have the amazing ability to present the point of view of multiple characters within a story, and keep those voices unique and accurate. That's what Liz Nugent was able to do in this novel. She also gave her villain multiple layers, which I was looking for immediately. I get so tired of one-note characters. Additionally, I was hooked from the first sentence and flew through to the satisfying ending. Five stars!
Just know, that this is billed as a psychological thriller and it's much heavier on the psychological than the thriller.
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World --and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling
So as you may remember, one of my reading resolutions was to read more nonfiction so that I could learn some things! This fascinating book was an excellent first step in achieving that goal. I learned a good deal about global poverty, the population boom, worldwide mortality rates, global warming, and more. Hans sensibly, clearly provides tons of good information as well as tips for how to process/question/analyze what we're being told about the world. (Plus there are pictures and graphs!)
I loved it, and would recommend it to all of you. Let me know what you think!
Next up: I just started a newly released post-apocalyptic novel, and on my phone I've recently started some crazy madness that I haven't yet sorted out. Soon - my mother and I agreed to read a classic together. I looked at it today and it is LONG. But I'm hearing rumors of another Snowpocalypse next weekend so maybe I'll get a good bit of it knocked out.
Have a great week!
Back to reality! The decorations have been put away, the kids are back in school, the adults are back at work, and I'm managing to spend time with my family AND fly through books. Life is good.
Last week I finished two memoir-like books, both hilarious, but one on the naughtier side and one much holier than I had anticipated.
Calypso by David Sedaris
My sister has been encouraging me to read Sedaris for years, so I finally bit the bullet and grabbed his most recent memoir (which is more or less in essay form - much less boring than standard memoirs!) While he does tackle some tougher subjects, I still laughed all the way through it. I laughed so hard at the part where he was feeding bits of his tumor to a snapping turtle that I'm pretty sure I ticked off everyone in the house. (People get ticked off when you're laughing while reading but won't share what's funny. But to provide enough context to help illustrate exactly how funny it all is, I'd basically have to read them half of the book. Right?)
Now I'm going to go back and read all of his other stuff. Goals!
(Oh, and this isn't TOO naughty. But it can get vulgar for sure.)
Pair with: Chunks of a tumor you had removed by an attendee at your book-signing event! Haha! OMG, I can't even think about it.
The Wondering Years: How Pop Culture Helped Me Answer Life's Biggest Questions by Knox McCoy
Sounds pretty good, right? It was! But - I didn't realize that primarily the big question that Knox tackles in this book is God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.......in pretty much every chapter.
Which is all good with me, but I wasn't prepared for it - so consider this my heads up to you. However, I'm so glad I read it, because it was genuinely super funny AND helped me ponder God with Knox.
He's poignant, and I appreciated how he poked fun at how Christians can really miss the mark within pop culture. He points out that movies billed as "Christian" are without fail 1000 times worse than any other movie, and attributes this to the thought that since the MESSAGE is so great, none of the other elements of the movie matter so much. These and other musings were certainly worth the read, and the laughs, to me.
Points taken off for the feeling that some laughs were just stuck in for no reason, like he's been holding on to that one-liner since 6th grade and if he doesn't get it in his awesome book, when else will he have the chance?
Pair with: A six pack of Mike's Hard Lemonade
Next up: I'm finishing up both an incredible science fiction book penned in the late 1950's as well as a book about an unlikely stripper. So my mind is really all over the place right now and I'm going to be needing a safe space.
I'm all over the place! Here is my blog that I should've posted on Sunday, but am now posting on Wednesday. But who cares! Nothing is going to make sense until Monday anyway, when our work weeks are five days and all of the kids are back in school.
I did manage to finish two more books before the 2018 ended, meeting my goal of 80 books by the skin of my teeth. This year, I'd like to focus a little less on quantity, although I did set a Goodreads goal of 90 books this year and a general loose goal of 2 books per week (so that I can blog about them on SUNDAYS!) As mentioned previously, I'd like to read a little more nonfiction this year and I would like to do a better job of avoiding books that suck.
Last week I finished just such a book and I should've known better. I also finished a fantastic book that I almost avoided because I heard it was depressing. What's wrong with me? Depressing books can be the best!
The Excellent: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Yes, this book is depressing right off the bat. 1950's: A little girl living with her big family in a crappy shack in the marsh has her family abandon her one by one. She's still pretty young once she's all alone, and has to learn how to make a life. When she does make the trek into town, everyone treats her like crap (except the black people, which feels like a bit of a tired plot point but yet makes sense, as everyone treats them like crap too so they are sympathetic. Plus I was very pleased that none of them were beaten or murdered.) We flash back and forth between her growing up and making a friend and becoming pretty badass to 1969, where the town's beloved son, a former star football player, is found murdered and guess who is the main suspect?
I don't even like mysteries, and since I usually go into books blind, I didn't realize there was a whodunit aspect, but I really enjoyed trying to figure out who killed the guy and I was wrong, wrong, wrong! Which is great, because I get mad at authors when I'm right! Throw me a curve ball that I should've seen all along but didn't!
Anyway, read this book, because although it can be sad in parts, it's mostly awesome and the writing is beautiful.
Pair with: Grits! Which is literally all she ever eats.
The Suck: The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer
I love Meg Wolitzer, usually! So this one isn't really my fault. But I haven't been loving as much the endless books everyone churns out about 30something 40something mom friend groups and how they navigate marriages, parenthood, friendships, and life. I live that anyway, so unless that's handled just brilliantly, which it can be, those types of stories usually fly out of my head the minute I turn the last page.
The Ten Year Nap does explore the decision: to be a stay at home parent or to be a working parent? I find that topic pretty interesting in general, although again I can have that conversation with any number of real life people anytime. Also, this book made one option look way better than another, in my opinion, which surprised me.
What didn't surprise me was the pretty standard theme of moms doing anything and everything and trying to balance all of these aspects of life and doggone it, just how do they do it plus handle all of those crazy men with their crazy men antics?!? Then again, Wolitzer did bring in the dad perspective from time to time, which was refreshing.
I just had this "so what?" feeling throughout the book and never did figure out why it was titled The Ten Year Nap, so that's a big question mark. Then again, I could've gotten bored and blacked out for a few pages, which might well have happened because I'm a mom trying to do all these mom things and I'm just so tired and overwhelmed from all of the BALANCING.
Pair with: Coffee, Have an espresso for me, I miss it lots!
Well, I look forward to blogging again on SUNDAY about the phenomenal new David Sedaris book and another hilarious book that I didn't realize was going to be about God. Sometimes I go in too blind.
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.