Monday, September 1, 2014

What’s your favorite book club pick of 2014?

OK, I admit that I’m not in a book club, BUT because I led one for 5 years or so, I still think about the “discussability” of a book when I’m reading it. I just finished The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (author of the memoir, The Color of Water : a Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, and 2 novels, Miracle at St. Anna, and Song Yet Sung).

The Good Lord Bird made me think about the real stories behind iconic heroes (it’s about abolitionist John Brown, who comes off looking like a nut case), and about bravery, about killing done in the name of religion, narrative point of view (the story’s narrator is a slave boy who is mistaken for a girl, and decides the mistake can work to his advantage), the use of humor in telling a tragic story, slavery and race.

I know some book groups are starting to line up their titles for 2015. What are your favorite discussion books so far this year?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Both sides of the story

It's no secret that I am a fan of memoirs. Truth is often crazier than fiction. Recently I've been on an Ann Patchett kick reading which started by reading This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. That book featured a few essays on her friendship with Lucy Grealy, author of Autobiography of a Face. After I finished Grealy's memoir about her childhood with cancer I picked up Patchett's memoir, Truth and Beauty, about her twenty-year friendship with Grealy (the two met in college).

This isn't the first time I've found myself going back and forth between both sides of a person's life. A few years ago I read Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff. His father, David Sheff, also wrote a memoir about Nic's teenage drug use in Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Meth Addiction. A few years after that Nic Sheff added to the story with We All Fall Down: Living With Addiction, his memoir about relapses and rehab. The combination of those three books really painted a picture of what addiction and recovery was like on a family.

Have you read a combination of memoirs that offered both sides of the story? Please share your recommendations! I'm looking to read even more!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Question of the Week: What cookbook can't you cook without?

There are a slew of new cookbooks coming out this fall and I am wild with excitement to check them out and try something new. Nothing smells like autumn to me like a loaf of bread baking in the oven and a pot of chili simmering on the stove. I don't know about you but my cooking takes a nosedive in the summer and I live off of bread salads and BLTs and grilled salmon until the temperature outside is far cooler than the temperature inside. The shift from summer to fall always inspires me to slip on an apron and flip through cookbooks until I find the perfect dish to try. My husband's cooking bible is The Joy of Cooking but I tend to lean toward new classics like Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and Kate McMillan's Soup of the Day. 

What cookbook or cookbooks can't you cook without?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Question of the Week: What sequel do you wish for most of all?

I am not a series reader. I make some exceptions (the Mary Russell books by Laurie R. King, Terry Pratchett's Discworld, and plenty of graphic novels), but for the most part I am super annoyed when I get to the end of a book and discover it was just setting me up for the next one. I am a fan of poetry, brevity, and closure. I don't like feeling obligated to read a long string of books just because the first one was pretty good.

But let's face it, some books are so darn good, you are sad when they are over.  And you think about them over the years. And wonder what happened to the characters. Maybe you make up a story about them in your head.  Maybe you write some fanfic.  But really, what you yearn for is that thrill you get when you hear one of your favorite authors is going back and reopening that story once again.

For me, this book is (wait for it) The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.  (Do I write about this book every time it is my turn to post?  Maybe...)  This is one of the few books I love so much that I reread it periodically. And part of this is because I'm dying to know what happens to Alba!

Which book do you pine for the author to revisit most of all?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Question of the week: What are some of your favorite audiobooks for car trip listening?*&sort=RELEVANCE&page=0&searchid=15*&sort=RELEVANCE&page=0&searchid=16 Do you have a car trip vacation in your future? Do you have a long daily commute to work? Believe it or not, I actually look forward to my car time because sitting behind the wheel gives me permission to transport myself into another world - steampunk Victorian England, a Regency Period servant's quarters, pre-Civil War era Charleston, or just someone else's current reality.  A car trip suddenly becomes a treat rather than a trial (as long as I remember to keep my eyes on the road...).  Of course, a great narrator is a must for creating that experience and I have become quite a connoisseur of excellent readers.  Here are a few of my favorite recent car "reads." What are you listening to?,%20kate&relation2=ALL&by2=KW&bool1=AND&bool4=AND&limit=TOM=*&sort=RELEVANCE&page=0&searchid=13*&query=&page=0&searchid=11

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Question of the Week: What types of humor books do you like to read?

 In your opinion, what makes a book really funny? Do you read humorous fiction? Books by comedians? Funny essays? As part of a training session I'm working on, I've been looking at all the different categories of humor. There are way more than I had realized! I typically read humorous biographies and memoirs, but I'm currently trying some essays. What types of humor books do you like to read?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Do you like to watch movies or tv series that are based on books?

Absolutely! Sometimes I've read the book and would like to see how well they capture it on film. Other times, I'll decide that I simply must read the books after watching the movie or show. Here are a few of the many that exist:

Under the Dome - Stephen King
The small town of Chester's Mill, Maine, is faced with a big dilemma when it is mysteriously sealed off by an invisible and completely impenetrable force field. With cars and airplanes exploding on contact, the force field has completely isolated the townspeople from the outside world. Now, Iraq war vet Dale Barbara and a group of the town's more sensible citizens must overcome the tyrannical rule of Big Jim Rennie, a politician bent on controlling everything within the Dome.


Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeffry Lindsay
Hiding a secret life as an assassin while working as a murder analyst for the Miami police, Dexter Morgan is intrigued by the work of a new serial killer whose style mimics his own.  (Dexter series)


Deja Dead - Kathy Reichs
A killer in Montreal is murdering and dismembering women, and police are getting nowhere. Forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, a middle-aged lady from North Carolina, goes after him herself. (Bones series)

Congo - Michael Crichton
Armed with the latest gifts of advanced technology, a California scientist, a ruthless corporation agent, and a mercenary hunter face the dangers of the Congo jungle in search of the diamonds of the lost city of Zinj.


Shrek! - William Steig
Shrek, a horrid little ogre, goes out into the world to find adventure and along the way encounters a witch, a knight in armor, a dragon, and, finally, a hideous princess, who's even uglier than he is!

True Grit - Charles Portis
Mattie Ross is just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash money. Mattie leaves home to avenge her father's blood. With the one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side, Mattie pursues the homicide into Indian Territory.