This week, we've definitely been feeling BLUE. Can you guess why?
Aside from all the fun that we've had telling folks how blue we've been feeling, I've been doing some reading! I had a great week in reading, which I needed after last week was unremarkable.
My book club opted to read Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I've been raving so much about Calypso that Levi suggested we bite the bullet and all try one of his earlier books.
I will refrain from providing TOO much of a review, as we will be discussing it Thursday, but I found it hilarious. Sedaris provides snapshots of his life that hit my sense of humor so perfectly that I can get a stomachache from laughing so hard. Read this book to laugh, not to come away with any sort of significant message or thought-provoking theme.
I also finished up Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. My friend Meg suggested this book to me some years ago, and I'm just sorry it took me so long to get to it! What a phenomenal read! Gladwell explores why some people become incredibly successful, and really dives into multiple terrific examples. So many factors can play into determining success in various fields, including year of birth, month of birth, parenting style, genetics, and opportunity to practice honing the craft. Outliers was inspiring for sure, but mostly just fascinating. I'm not usually sad when books are finished (yay, time to start a new book!!) but I would've enjoyed another heap of examples of success stories. I'll definitely be grabbing another book by this author. Great recommendation, Meg (who is also a success story)!
Next up: I'm flying through another amazing nonfiction book - and learning all about the hidden world of Islamic women. Now THIS would make a great book club selection!
Yesterday I hopped on Twitter and could suddenly see that Book Bingo was what all the cool kids were doing. So I took a few minutes and created my own Book Bingo from some of my favorite books. I don't know what you get if you get a BINGO off of my Bingo card. Can we go have coffee and talk about books? That would be fun!!!
PS Check out the bitchin' Word Art I used!! That takes me back!
This weekend, I finished a couple of books!
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
I marked this as “To-Read” simply because Hank Green is John Green’s brother, and John Green is a guilty pleasure author for me. The premise sounded a little dumb, though. When I let my book club know it was on my stack to read, Levi began reading the blurb to the group and I made him stop because it sounded so lame. Young 20-something April May stumbled upon a sculpture that turns out to be an alien, becomes a viral sensation, etc…. It sounds like it has potential but it also sounds like it’s for my 12 year old daughter’s demographic.
So I’ve read it now, and I’m not sure how to rate it or what to think. It was a quick read, and I enjoyed reading how someone can become addicted to the attention of strangers. I’m glad to hear he’s writing a sequel, because otherwise it just altogether doesn’t make any sense or have any point. He’s ambitious with what he’s trying to do, with the sci-fi and the romance and the mystery and the viral sensation stuff….but most of it collapses, though it could easily be salvaged in a sequel. It’s also gets a little political (spoiler: conservative = bad, can you believe it?), which I can usually handle, but I admit I appreciate a more open approach (as in, here are the issues we’re discussing as opposed to blatantly drawing a line from good and evil to conservative or liberal). That said, April May became a pretty unlikable character as well, which is a plus in the character development column and a minus in the me-even-caring-what-happens column.
Verdict: Less than remarkable.
The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians, and Other Remarkable People by Bethanne Patrick
I went into this book with high hopes, because for God’s sake, just look at the title. I thought it would totally blow up my TBR list. Maybe it should have, and the fact that it didn’t is more of a reflection on me than of the book, but still!
I did enjoy this book, as I do love this particular subject matter. But, I was pretty much ready for it to be done about halfway through. It could’ve been so much better! Despite the title, the individuals chosen were primarily writers. Also, I feel like some creative liberties should have been taken to ensure that each story sounded different. Instead, someone referenced how they or a family member was a “voracious” reader every five pages. Every ten pages, someone explained how they never even knew authors existed but that this book made them want to become one! Every twenty pages, someone explained how reading this book “as a woman” was extra meaningful (which made me realize that I obviously don’t reflect on my gender enough when I read books. I need to start cracking them open and reminding myself that I am reading this book AS A WOMAN. Maybe it’ll make a difference).
Still! Lots of super cool insights within the pages, if you can look past the lack of overall diversity in thought. Avid readers, or “voracious” readers, if you will, should definitely grab a copy. It would make a terrific bathroom book! Good for approximately 100 bathroom trips, unless you’re the type who likes to go in there and hide. Then it’s good for one life-changing bathroom trip.
I'm thoroughly enjoying the two books I've got going right now: A Sedaris book for book club and another nonfiction!
I’m currently reading a book about books, and one of the contributors was talking about a time when her children were very young when she bundled them up, took them to the library, and found this phenomenal book that she was able to savor for ten minutes while her girls were otherwise occupied with library games and books. I may not have had this exact experience, but I could 100% relate to that feeling of finding a few moments of bliss in a quiet, warm library.
I considered, then, writing a blog about how much I love the library. I shared this with Kiana (the Director of the Mackinaw District Public Library) when I was checking out books earlier this week and she said, “This would be perfect timing, as it is Love Your Library month!”
Perfect. In honor of Love Your Library month, here are a few of my own moments of bliss I have found in a library:
Early on – a school trip to the town library, grabbing a Sweet Valley High and being told that the content was a little too grown up for me. I think they let me check it out anyway. I was 7 or 8 – the content was maybe a *little* too grown up for me but I read Sweet Valleys long after I was way too grown up for them.
Spending hours and hours at Decatur Public Library. The children’s room was my own sanctuary. I just got comfortable and waited for mom and dad to come pick me up and tell me it was time to go, which they never did. I had to go search them out. Good thing I did, as we’d probably all still be there otherwise.
Graduating to the JA section at Decatur Public Library – in the new building! Discovering Caroline B. Cooney. The Face on the Milk Carton – aah! I should read it again now, but what if it sucked?
Coming home from the library book sale, dad pulling books out of his enormous green army bag, announcing the title of each book as he handed it to its new owner. I probably took this opportunity to make fun of my sister’s choices. I was such an asshat then, unlike now.
Junior high era - spending time in Cerro Gordo’s town library after school, waiting to be picked up. I can’t recall what type of books I looked at. At that time, I was so angsty that I probably just sat in a corner and shook. Who else is glad that THOSE days are over?
Hours and hours in ISU’s Milner Library, looking through scripts trying to find that PERFECT monologue that would help me capture what a phenomenal actress I truly was. I never found that monologue, probably because I was a little less phenomenal than I thought. Oh well, now I fundraise (and I’m phenomenal at it!)
Looping endlessly through the aisles of books in the summer of 2012, looking for something to read during Vivian’s hospital stay – something to get my mind off of reality in the 5 minute gaps I could seize between nurse visits, text message update requests, holding Vivian’s hand, and still trying to do some work. I really started reading again that year and haven’t stopped, despite having a much more pleasant reality from which to escape.
Picking up my own children after school, hearing Veronica’s stories about how she helped the librarians and occasionally how she might’ve talked them into giving her a cookie. The relief of knowing that my town has a safe place (filled with books) for my kiddos to hang out after school where they’re not babysat but they’re not alone.
Learning how to navigate the RSA CAT interlibrary loan system. Those e-mails that arrive informing me that my books are ready to be picked up are like messages from Santa Claus. Books! For free.
Sifting through the front hallways of my library, occasionally selecting a book to add to my home library. I haven’t collected books in recent years due to moving and moving again, but Jeff is soon to build me a book nook and I need to ensure it contains more than 10 books. (Books! For free!)
Taking part in some of the fun activities our library has to offer, such as parties for the kids, blind-date-with-a-book displays, March Madness for books, and more. Looking forward to enjoying the youth activities all over again here in a few years!
Throughout all of my local library experiences – knowing the librarians, at least to some extent. Kiana was my friend before she took on the Library Director role. It’s always a treat to walk in and see one of my favorite friendly faces behind the counter and quickly catch up on life.
Appreciating, every day, that I am able to read as much as I want – almost any book I want – without having to spend a dime. Incredible!
Books I Just Finished
Over the last couple of days, I finished two big ole books. I have mixed feelings.
After two weeks of diligent and regular reading, I at LAST finished Middlemarch by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans).
This is the story of a group of families who live in Middlemarch, England in the 1800’s. A few things happen in the beginning, followed by a long stretch of not a lot happening, and then the final 300-400 pages (of 900) contain a decent amount of action and intrigue. It definitely took me at least half the book to get used to the overly wordy and overly confusing style so that I could enjoy the actual plotlines. Obviously, Victorian Literature isn’t now going to be my genre of choice, but I admit I was interested in how the book would wrap up – and “George” provides a satisfying ending over and above the satisfaction of being able to close the book for the last time.
I will also admit that I exclaimed how much I hated the book several times. This fleeting hatred had to do 70% with style, 20% with lack of action and 10% with dumb characters.
I can see why others love it so much, though. I can. I’m glad I read it. Still, I’m so glad to now be able to move on to books that are much more concise and the all sorts of things happen in the space of 300 pages rather than next to nothing.
So that was the classic my mom and I agreed to read together. She’s finishing it up now. Any ideas for my next classic to read…..when I’m ready?
I also just finished Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.
When I finished This Could Hurt by Jillian Medoff about a year ago, I realized that I really love workplace settings for books. I’ve always been fascinated by the dynamics at play – always lots of crazy relationships, competition, gossip, and fun coworker idiosyncrasies. For me, Then We Came to the End was absolute laugh-out-loud hilarious until that all came to a complete halt, turned deadly serious, and then all of the sudden it was hilarious again. Ferris kept me on my toes, I admit it. I especially enjoyed the sense of being a fly on the wall for everything taking place, and then began to realize that the narrator seemed to be nothing more than a fly on the wall as well. Well done.
You might very well find this book really stupid and disturbing, but I found it hilarious and meaningful and weirdly relatable.
I read the Ferris’s To Rise Again at a Decent Hour a year or so ago, and thought it to be rather meh. Glancing at his other books on Goodreads, nobody seems to wild about any of the rest of them, either. Maybe he’ll keep getting better!
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.