Sunday, May 1, 2016

april: 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 & 18

i read so much in april!  woo hoo!  i'm almost halfway through my book challenge...though at this point all the easy-to-check-off categories are gone.  a satirical book?  a self-improvement book?  these are not at the top of my list to read.  we'll see how this challenge progresses...

crazy salad, by nora ephron (this is my "political memoir" and this is one that you can probably skip.  sorry, nora.  it's a serious of essays that nora ephron wrote in the 1970s about women, and while they are interesting, they are also pretty dated (lots of talk of consciousness-raising groups and such...several stories about richard nixon's daughter, who probably was more interesting to people of the 70s than she is to me today).  i have decided that i get to call this a political memoir because this book reminded me that to "be political" one just needs to have strong feelings about political issues (such as the women's movement, in this case) and act upon them.  one doesn't have to be a politician.  whew.  successfully avoided reading a book written by a politician, which i was not looking forward to.)

miss peregrine's home for peculiar children, by ransom riggs (this is my "book that's becoming a movie this year" and this is another one that was fine and all, but nothing fantastic.  i watched the preview for the movie and they appear to have dramatically altered the plot, which is probably going to work out just fine because the plot of the book didn't really captivate me.  fantastic premise, very cool historical photos interspersed with the text, but the plot doesn't really go anywhere and you can probably skip it and watch the movie instead.)

the red house, by mark haddon (this is my "book that takes place on an island" (island = great britain) and sorry to be a broken record: but this is skip-able.  i LOVED haddon's two previous books and was eagerly looking forward to reading this one...and then was disappointed.  there are eight narrators in this book - yes, eight - and each only gets a few paragraphs before we move on to the next one.  so it's a bit disjointed.  gets better over time, but i won't be re-reading this one.)

the longest night, by andria williams (this is my "book that is published in 2016" and, wait for it...i really liked it!  this was recommended to me by the skimm, an email newsletter i subscribe to, and they described it as a mix of serial and army wives.  loved serial; stuck with army wives as my guilty pleasure tv show for a couple seasons, so i definitely wanted to pick this up.  it's based on the true story of the only nuclear fatality in the united states, but told from the perspective of a fictional husband (military, works on the nuclear plant) and wife (1960s housewife).  in addition to the nuclear reactor storyline there's love and jealousy and intrigue.  i'd definitely recommend this!)

fangirl, by rainbow rowell (i switched some things around, so this is going to be my "YA bestseller" and oh, people.  you need to read this book.  i love rainbow rowell's writing (though the plot of carry on didn't really do it for me) and this might be her best book yet.  it's the story of twins who go off to the same college and drift apart...one parties, one writes fan fiction about a harry-potter-like series.  it has romance (duh, it's YA), poignant moments, believable and well developed characters.  thumbs up!  the only rowell book i haven't read now is attachments, and you better believe it's on my list.)

euphoria, by lily king (this is my "book about a culture you're unfamiliar with"; becky recommended it to me and i bought it in an airport bookstore before a flight - with a connection - back to houston.  an excellent purchase!  it's the story of a margaret mead-like character in papua new guinea with her husband in the 1930s doing anthropological observations of native people there...plus the story of another anthropologist doing similar work nearby.  it's not so much the story of their work as the story of the people themselves - the passion of the characters for the work they do plus the story of their complicated inner lives.  thumbs up!)

Monday, April 18, 2016

“Our soul desires to be understanding, our ego is only concerned with being understood. When you are being understanding you are connected to your soul.”
—Michaiel Bovenes

Thursday, March 31, 2016

march: 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12

it looks like i read a lot in march, but one of these is an audiobook, one is super short, and one is a graphic novel.  aaaaand one is 1100 pages long, so maybe it all evens itself out!

this month i read:

voyager, by diana gabaldon (this is my "book that's more than 600 pages," the third book in the outlander series.  i continue to love the characters claire and jaime and the quality of the writing and the ease of reading these books.  ridiculous plot twists aside, this one was just as good as the previous two and i'm sure after a bit of a break i'll pick up the 4th book in the series!)

carry on, by rainbow rowell (this is my "YA bestseller," but could also be set in europe or set on an island (great britain), so we may have to see which categories most need filling as the book challenge continues.  this was my book club's pick this month, and i spent the first half of the book being like "this is such a harry potter knock off i don't even know what to think about it" and the second half being like "oh, this is an interesting plot twist.  i am entertained."  and then i finished and in the postscript i found out that this book is a spin off of a different rainbow rowell book - fangirl - which i have not read.  so now i'm mad at the universe (or the publishers, i guess) for not making it apparent that i might appreciate this book a bit more if i read fangirl first.  so now i'm going to read fangirl.  this book was enjoyable and easy to read, but not my favorite book of the year.)

gratitude, by oliver sacks (this is my "book you can finish in a day," borrowed from kate and finished on the morning of the last day of spring break.  it's a set of essays that sacks wrote in the last years of his life.  beautifully written and thoughtful - i really enjoyed this!)

just kids, by patti smith (this is my "national book award winner" and one that i listened to in audiobook form (you know me and nonfiction).  i...don't know what to say about this book.  it was a glimpse into a very different world - i did not know patti smith's music, nor did i know robert maplethorpe's photography.  nor did i really GET the starving artist community or why someone would patronize the arts the way that maplethorpe gets patronized.  this book at least pulled back the curtain a bit on this world and led me to listen to a little patti smith and look at some maplethorpe photographs (pro tip: don't google his photography on your work computer).  and while i still don't totally get it, i can absolutely appreciate it, and for that reason i'm really glad i listened to this book.)

american born chinese, by gene luen yang (this is my "graphic novel," a contender for our summer reading book at school.  i really liked this book - three intertwining chinese-american stories, beautifully drawn and thought-provoking.  i'm not sure my principal will be convinced to pick a graphic novel for our all-school read, but there's a lot to talk about here and i'd love to engage in discussions on the content and on graphic novels in general with our community!)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

“I am not this hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within.”
—Rumi

Sunday, March 20, 2016

“My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”
—Oliver Sacks, Gratitude

Sunday, March 13, 2016

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
—Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

february: 6 & 7

my reading slowed down a bit in february - this month i read:

furiously happy, by jenny lawson (for the book challenge, this is going to count as my "book written by a comedian."  a colleague gave me this book because she had disliked it so much she didn't finish it.  not a rousing recommendation, but then my book club picked it for this month's read.  i had read jenny lawson's blog off and on for a little while, and i recognized her voice in this book.  it was fine but nothing special.  it was hard to laugh throughout it because she brings in some stories about her clinical depression, and one can only find that so funny.  don't rush out to buy this.)

the snow child, by eowyn ivey (this is my "book based on a fairy tale."  i bought this book a year or two ago, drawn to it because it was the runner up for the pulitzer prize, but it sat on my bookshelf until now.  i picked it up because - based on a fairy tale!  this is a category in the challenge!  plus, you can't read a book that takes place in alaska in the winter in any season other than winter...and while houston winters can include 80 degree days and tons of sunshine, i figured i ought to read this in the correct calendar season.  ooh this book was eerie.  subtle, captivating characters, vivid setting - there's a lot done really well in this book.  i kept wondering how it would turn out and realizing it was going to be bad no matter what.  if you're in the market for a slow-moving but beautifully done book, this one was great!)