Dr Horrible? Yup. Buffy? Uh huh. Dollhouse? I think so. House? Saw that one, too. Eureka? Eureka! Cheetos? Crunch. Geek and Sundry? Subscribed. Tabletop? A fDr Horrible? Yup. Buffy? Uh huh. Dollhouse? I think so. House? Saw that one, too. Eureka? Eureka! Cheetos? Crunch. Geek and Sundry? Subscribed. Tabletop? A few times Supernatural? (We haven't gotten to her arc yet) The Guild? Wowzer!
Yeah, I'm a Felicia Day fan. Intelligent humor, artful awkwardness. Seemingly unafraid to be outside of the norm for females in the entertainment industry. Honesty.
But is that her?
I was utterly thrilled to learn that someone I enjoy so much had a book out and immediately put in a reservation for it at my library and was first on the list for when it came in-- which gave me just enough time to begin to worry that I'd be disappointed by the book. That it would be as bad as some other celebrity memoirs that I've read. That I would cringe the next time I saw her on internet or television.
As they say down under, no worries mate!
Felicia's book is marvelous. Brutally honest, funny, informative. She plays the quirky geek girl often, but she is quirky. She is a geek and she is female, for real. Her upbringing was decidedly unconventional. I never would have guessed that she didn't graduate from high school, but managed to go to university, major in math and music/violin (4.0!) Her foray into acting and onto the internet fascinating. As for integrity, she's got it, and isn't afraid to speak about details many people keep hidden (struggles with her mental health), while keeping private details that many blather too freely (no kiss and tell name dropping, though she does tell that she kisses.) The voice in the book is open, direct, entertaining, able to poke fun at herself.
I came away with these impressions:
1. I'd recommend this book to fans and to girls coming up who probably fit the quirky geek girl mold. The road may not be easy, but it can be done. Stay the course.
2. This gal is a mensch. I'd have her over for martinis in a skinny minute.
3. I know jack squat about gaming.
4. Joss Whedon writes a kick ass forward.
5. You go, girl. Thank you for a great read....more
I was disappointed in this memoir. Aside from the annoying (and liberal!) sprinkling of exclamation points (!), I found the writing surprisingly flat.I was disappointed in this memoir. Aside from the annoying (and liberal!) sprinkling of exclamation points (!), I found the writing surprisingly flat. My conclusion is that Cindy Williams is a much better actress than writer. As to the stories relayed in the book, it seemed to be more of a big name dropping opportunity (I met Gene Kelly! I met John Belushi! I was friends with Andy Kaufman! I met Cary Grant! Johnny Carson liked me!) rather than the type of story-telling I am used to in a memoir. The stories often felt dull, despite the punctuation at the end of the tale!! I only watched Laverne and Shirley a handful of times, but get the impression there may have been bad blood between the two stars. The remembrances of interactions had that same flat, anticlimactic feeling I found throughout the book. The story that moved me the most was how Marshall and Williams visited the set of the show the night before it aired, and both felt it was too shiny and new. They each went out and gathered props, like thumbed through movie magazines and old 45s, and replaced as much as they could on the set to turn it into the apartment of two blue collar working girls. That, I found endearing.
And for the record, I, too met Gene Kelly, and he definitely deserves an exclamation point, as do all the stars Ms Williams met. What I would have liked to find between the covers of this memoir would be more passion, humor, and an editor with more evident red pencil.
Thank you to the publisher and LibraryThing for sending me a copy of this book....more
I don't think I could have read this book earlier than this year. It would have been far too painful, living with, and then losing, my own mother, whoI don't think I could have read this book earlier than this year. It would have been far too painful, living with, and then losing, my own mother, who was of the same generation as Roz Chast's parents in this wonderful graphic-memoir. Chast's brilliant cartoons in the New Yorker have long been favorites. In her memoir, she turns her sharp eye to what so many of us are in the midst of now: our parents' journey through elder years to the end. It's not an easy subject, but Chast is both brutally honest, and piercingly true to the pitfalls (many), insights (some), and the humor (readily available) that comes in this part of life. Though my parents came from similar backgrounds as hers, the evolution of character was completely different. My father died shockingly young, so I was spared his aging foibles. My mother, a completely guileless, and completely giving woman, died in her upper 80's. (When I say guileless, I do mean it. My brother once commented that the word "Gullible" was not in the dictionary, and she believed him.) She was, perhaps, the antithesis of Chast's mother. But the worries, fears, concerns, hopes that Chast depicts in her memoir/graphics really hit home. Been there. Done that. I miss the crap out of my mother....more
I've thought for a while that Amy Poehler is a bright lady, skilled comedian, and good actress. Doing an audio-read of her memoir, confirmed all threeI've thought for a while that Amy Poehler is a bright lady, skilled comedian, and good actress. Doing an audio-read of her memoir, confirmed all three of those to be true. I chose to listen to the audio for several reasons: it was read by the author; it had "guest appearances" in it by other notables (Carol Burnette, Patrick Stewart, Amy's parents, for starters), and it had some bonus material that the book lacks. Of course, I suspect the book has pictures, which my downloadable didn't, but I'll get my hands on a copy of the book someday, and look then. But until that time, I've had a wonderful glimpse into the fascinating mind of a fascinating woman.
I expected to crack a smile reading this book, and probably laugh. What I didn't expect was to be so drawn in to some of the situations and insights she presents. For example, she once was asked, at an audition, to talk about her most embarrassing moment. She refused. She also didn't get the part, but she did dispense this nugget: when someone asks you what your most embarrassing moment was, or any other question you don't want to answer, you don't have to answer it. Too often we (especially women) try hard to please and end up allowing ourselves to be pushed into some place where we are uncomfortable. It's okay to say no. The day after reading that scene, I was interviewed for something. When the interviewer said she wanted to start with a few questions, I immediately recalled this section. "Okay," I replied. "As long as it isn't what's my most embarrassing moment".
Another piece I found endearing was hearing Amy speak about her family. I knew she was a mom (who could miss it, when she was playing Hilary Clinton and pregnant, or doing doing that famous rap on SNL when Sarah Palin was on the show, and Amy very VERY pregnant. Look it up if you haven't seen it), but to hear her talk about raising these two boys, was a treat. I love the traditions she has with her boys, like hunting the moon. The genuine love she has for her brother and parents was also quite heartwarming. She hasn't lost touch with who she is or where she came from. Nice.
Neil Patrick Harris makes me wish I'd been raised by a gay dad. Or a dad who was a childhood actor, and retained his love of song and dance. Or a dadNeil Patrick Harris makes me wish I'd been raised by a gay dad. Or a dad who was a childhood actor, and retained his love of song and dance. Or a dad who looked good in a white lab coat, and people called "doctor". Or had a love of magic and showmanship. I guess three out of four ain't bad.
I'm one of the few who has probably never seen Doogie Howser or How I Met Your Mother, and one of the many totally in love with Dr Horrible. But, because of how this great big thing we call social media/internet works, I am a NPH fan. Even though I find the "build your own adventure" books a little annoying, I decided to seek out this memoir because the man himself interests me. I wanted to learn more about the inner dialogues that allow him to do what he does on stage and screen, and also share the persona he does to the world in real life. I don't remember any big deal when it became more public knowledge that he was gay. What has caught my attention, though is the way he and his husband, David, are raising their kids, with vibrancy, joy, humor, and a whole lot of parenting sense. I didn't expect less. I like how they are modeling for parents in general, not just same sex parents. (Case in point: Halloween costumes.
This memoir is fun, and because of the format (which I read straight through, not choosing any adventure) reveals even more about the wonderful mind of NPH, as well as his heart. I hope someday I get to see him on stage. Since reading the book, have been eyeing HIMYM on Netflix, working up to suggesting we put it on our queue.
(PS I tried to get this via Blogging for books, to get an early release, but couldn't. I was, however, first in line for it, when it hit my library.) ...more
I have a friend who calls herself a failed reader. She thinks because it takes her a long time to get through a book, and because she likes non-fictioI have a friend who calls herself a failed reader. She thinks because it takes her a long time to get through a book, and because she likes non-fiction, her reading "doesn't count". Ha! This book was one she highly recommended.
Fascinating, well written, and in the "life is indeed strange" category. I found the back history of the Clark family as interesting as Huguette Clark's own (long) personal one. The mansions, perfectly maintained, yet unlived in were just one element that tagged my attention. Huguette's artwork and doll collection grabbed another piece. I don't think this is a case of "poor little rich girl" as she seems to have been content with her existence, in fact, she took great effort to maintain her privacy, even if it cost her thousands of dollars. Her generosity, while laudable, was a bit over the top at the end, especially. Sad that her family seems so out of touch with her in the last decades.
If men are from Mars, and women from Venus, then John Elder Robison is from a whole different universe from me. That's not to say I didn't like the boIf men are from Mars, and women from Venus, then John Elder Robison is from a whole different universe from me. That's not to say I didn't like the book, because I did, or that I didn't think he loved his son and tried his best to be a good father, because he did. Some brains are wired differently, and that difference makes it hard for those individuals to fit into the world where most of us reside. So when you get an intelligent, articulate, and observant man, who has a differently wired brain, telling the story of raising a differently wired son, someone (such as myself) with mundane wiring in my brain, can only marvel at the alternate viewpoint.
The main thing that jumped out at me, aside from how much Robison loved his boy, is the vast imagination of the man. The stories he told his son were marvelous: getting Cubby from a store that sold kids, rather than that vastly unbelievable "mommy and daddy made you" or "the stork brought you"; how Santa got started, what that stone figure of a child holding a lantern at the end of someone's driveway really was. The activities he and his son did together were wonderful, too, and the solution to getting past security guards who wouldn't let him take his son to explore stockyards, energy plants, etc that they wanted to see, was brilliant. It was such a different world view than my own, and so fascinating.
My favorite (as in most heartwarming for me) of the different wiring examples builds on that enormous love element, as well. When young Jack (aka Cubby) was born, Dad became obsessed with the idea that somehow, by accident or intent, the wrong baby would go home with them. So, in the delivery room, moments after fresh baked baby had emerged, he carefully drew a temporary tattoo on the baby's foot with a sharpie, so no one could run of with his son, and foist a changeling on him.
Robison was diagnosed at age 40 with Asperger's; his son was diagnosed shortly after that. The boy's mother also turns out to be on the autistic spectrum, as do several other people who appear in the novel. Finding a way to work in the mainstream world is a struggle and a challenge for such folks. I know people in my own life who also fall in this spectrum, some who have managed more successfully than others, but I do know the hard work it takes. This book not only recounts the story of getting Cubby from babyhood to young adult (with a few minor blow-ups, pun intended, along the way), but it serves to help raise the awareness of those of us with the standard brain wiring of the gifts and challenges "different" folks bring to our world.
Thank you to Blogging for Books and to the publishers for sending me a copy of this book....more
I really thought I was going to enjoy this book a lot more than I did, especially after hearing Sandra Tsing Loh on NPR, and reading an excerpt of theI really thought I was going to enjoy this book a lot more than I did, especially after hearing Sandra Tsing Loh on NPR, and reading an excerpt of the book in AARP's magazine. It's not that wasn't well written, because it was, but eventually it proved to be not something I was really interested in reading. I guess I thought it would be funnier, and believe me, menopause needs all the humor it can get. Unfortunately, I don't think menopause was the only thing driving Tsing Loh's depression and rage.
The audio version of this book is read by Carol Burnett, herself, and hearing it in her own voice adds a nice layer to all the stories told. I'd readThe audio version of this book is read by Carol Burnett, herself, and hearing it in her own voice adds a nice layer to all the stories told. I'd read Ms. Burnett's first book about growing up in an extremely dysfunctional, yet extremely loving family. This was a nice follow-up -- stories of her breaking into show-biz, time on TV, family life, and life after The Carol Burnett Show. There were quite a few funny moments, some poignant, and some really interesting/informational. It was more on the sweet than raucous or bawdy side, and I suspect that having Harvey Korman and Tim Conway together was more the later than the former, but still, I enjoyed listening. There was an elevator story of Carol meeting John Steinbeck that reminded me a little of meeting Gene Kelly in an elevator in New York (sigh.) I had not realized some of the more personal elements of Carol's life, nor had I realized she had such a sense of almost karmic beliefs. I loved the Carol Burnett show and wish I could remember seeing the Gary Moore show (or that it was available somewhere, but supposedly it's in black and white and not been revived on DVD). It was fun to hear that famous Tarzan scream again (and a story involving a mugger will be a favorite, along with the Tim Conway toilet paper one.) But best of all were the stories of her grandmother.
"Seems we just get started and before you know it, comes the time we have to say, "So long"."
Billy Crystal is a man I'd like to have as a friend. Unless he's really fooling lots of people, he's a real mensch. There's nothing to date in all thaBilly Crystal is a man I'd like to have as a friend. Unless he's really fooling lots of people, he's a real mensch. There's nothing to date in all that I know of him to give any other indication. Caring, funny, married to the same woman since he was 23, devoted to his friends and family, and able to make the world laugh.
A few things that stood out for me in this book: the people he calls close friends, who inhabit every walk of life, his love of baseball, his athleticism. There were some stories I'd heard before, others that were totally new to me. Some particularly resonated (his bar mitzvah, the passing of his mother, his interactions with Mohammed Ali, the show in Russia.
Good book. If I ever get to have that fantasy dinner, I hope I remember to invite Billy Crystal....more
A gentle, sad, funny, insightful memoir. No parent wants to outlive a child. Yet, the author speaks openly about his grief, anger, and his unfailing lA gentle, sad, funny, insightful memoir. No parent wants to outlive a child. Yet, the author speaks openly about his grief, anger, and his unfailing love for his daughter and her children. Two things that struck me over and over was the fame of the people in the author's circle of friends, and his incredible sense of humor/playfulness. Bopo the great, indeed. ...more
An interesting book. The author is a reporter, of Afghani/Scottish descent, and was raised in the UK. An early desire of hers was to return to the lanAn interesting book. The author is a reporter, of Afghani/Scottish descent, and was raised in the UK. An early desire of hers was to return to the land that her father had told stories about, his homeland of Afghanistan. The book covers several trips, some quite harrowing, she took over the years, reporting on the events in Afghanistan. The most poignant pieces for me were seeing how the stories and myths she had been told were revealed in the cold light of day, by the brutalities of war, and seeing how her perceptions (and those of the people) of the Mujahideen shifted.
The audio version was narrated by the author herself....more
Dad may be fat, but he's also an exceptionally funny man, a loving father, and a delightful story teller.
Saw Jim Gaffigan on the Colbert Report, whereDad may be fat, but he's also an exceptionally funny man, a loving father, and a delightful story teller.
Saw Jim Gaffigan on the Colbert Report, where he talked a little about this book. I immediately went out to get it. Smiled just about the whole way through it. I parented far fewer children than he does, but as a mother, and as someone whose work put her in constant contact with children and their parents, I can say he's nailed much about how the two interact. Maybe not your kids, but you still will have seen or can relate (hate that term --"I can relate") to what he writes. I loved the affection and love he has for his kids and his wife Jeannie (who is not fat, and sounds like a fabulous mom.)
PS The title comes from the first full sentence Gaffigan's eldest son, Jack, (six at the time of book publication) ever wrote....more
I'm woefully iIt is my habit to listen to NPR and it was on one of the shows that I heard an interview with Patricia Volk about her book, Shocked. It
I'm woefully ignorant about the world of high fashion, so the name Schiaparelli did not immediately strike cords with me. Yet as I read, I realized that her influence even peaked into that small home in a middle class, mostly Jewish neighborhood, where I grew up. But the interview was so alive, fascinating, that I immediately headed to the library to request the next available copy of the book. Luckily for me, the wait was just two days.
This was a voyage into a completely different world than my own. Though I grew up surrounded by strong, beautiful, fascinating, forthright women, they were nothing at all like either designer/artist Elsa Schiaparelli or Audry Volk, the author’s mother. It was a glimpse not behind the curtain, but more of one from backstage to the spotlight itself, to see how women of fashion and a prestige my family never experienced lived.
The juxtaposition of the the life of these two women, and how they helped shape Volk, not so much by example, but by helping her to build her mind and ideals into a life she, herself, wished to live, is fascinating. Richly illustrated with photographs and fancy from the world of both women, dotted with dashes of the famous, the memoir reveals lives rich in conviction, passion, flare, and some flamboyance. I loved that each chapter began with a quote from each woman, and then unrolled with Volk's take on a subject or situation. And Volk also reiterates the theme of how a single book can change a life. I would add my own belief, that it is the books you read, and the people you meet, who help shape the person you become. While this book will not change who I am, it certainly has expanded my knowledge and filled in some interesting bits of information. I'm glad I read it....more
Someone recommended this book to me, saying it was about Verghese and an "idiot savant" who hung around the tennis courts where Verghese played, and wSomeone recommended this book to me, saying it was about Verghese and an "idiot savant" who hung around the tennis courts where Verghese played, and was a fascinating account of the relationship between the two men. She predicted I would like it because I played tennis. Were we playing a match, the score at that point would have been 2:1, my favor. She had the basic story all wrong, though the relationship was fascinating. And I don't play tennis, just am the mother of tennis players. Despite the slightly-off recommendation, I did pick up the book, mostly because I thought Cutting for Stone one of the best novels I've read, which interested me enough to read more by and about the author.
Verghese tells of his life in El Paso in the early 90's, where he has taken on a position in Internal Medicine at a teaching hospital. There he meets David, a fourth year med student. It turns out David actually spent time on the pro-tennis circuit before retiring to go to medical school. The two begin to hit together, and as they do, their lives open up to each other. Verghese's marriage is crumbling, though his love for his two young sons is strong and bright. David is a recovering IV drug addict, who, in fact, had to repeat a year of medical school because his addiction caused him to crash and burn last time through. He returned to the hospital to do so after completing rehab.
I knew from the start that this book would be a tough one to read. Verghese's powerful descriptions in Cutting for Stone let me know that he would write as eloquently a when depicting the tale of his friend. And I suspected it would end badly for David, even before reading the book. The back cover gives David's name, and so does the dedication -- except the dedication name is followed by birth and death years. What I wasn't prepared for was how impressed I would be with Verghese's clinical skills, his constant assessment of patients and people he sees, the use of touch, smell and sight. When he described how he approached a patient's bedside, or how he let his physical assessment be a part of his world observations, I rejoiced. This was how the physician I was closest to, the one who actually got me into nursing, used to practice healing arts. How did we get so far away from using our own senses, observations, and instincts, moving to machinery instead.
The other thing that stood out for me was the author's love for his boys. Beautiful. The nice to know bits included Verghese's background in tennis, and the descriptions of matches he played or observed, the things he learned from other players, pro or friend. I also liked the info on El Paso, a place I probably never will visit in person, but that I know a little better from this book.
It's a powerful novel of friendship, haunting, terrifying, and I'm betting, unforgettable....more
Paris: City of Light, macarons and perfect baguettes. Transplant a New Yorker to Paris and you get the the juxtaposition of madelein to muffin, gateauParis: City of Light, macarons and perfect baguettes. Transplant a New Yorker to Paris and you get the the juxtaposition of madelein to muffin, gateaux to cupcake. Each has a place in the orbit of the universe (most readily in my tummy.) Amy Thomas takes the reader along as she lives abroad, in what could be viewed as the perfect job, and explores the city of her dreams, one bakery at a time. Yet she also loves New York, and having lived, written, and nibbled there, invites the reader on that journey, too.
The book folds Amy's memoirs into a layered delight with exploration of places to find the most tempting taste treats in both cities. Her own story is the ganache between the two, with a decorative flourish of some of her favorite establishments in each city,capping the end of each chapter like a perfect dark chocolate swirl.
I'll admit it: there were moments when the memoir grabbed me more, others where my stomach lusted for sipping chocolate, or a rich, buttery, flaky croissant. I even put down the book and baked a batch of cookies at one point. But I came away less satisfied, in general, than I thought I would at the beginning of the book. Perhaps if tucked between the pages were tickets to either city? Or perhaps if I had the opportunities to retrace some of the travels? I've never been good at reading guidebooks for places I couldn't visit, so this was a bit frustrating. However, I live in a city of gastronomic wonders, and I have plenty of exploring left to do....more
Joseph Anton confirmed two things for the reader. She confirmed Salman Rushdie to be a talented writer. She also confirmed Salman Rushdie is not a likJoseph Anton confirmed two things for the reader. She confirmed Salman Rushdie to be a talented writer. She also confirmed Salman Rushdie is not a likeable man.
It was interesting (though a bit tedious) to hear of the days of the fatwah (plus some before and after) from the author's view. The interactions with other notable authors or public figures was also intriguing. Even the snippets from letters (the one that suck out in her mind was a thank-you note to Tony Blair, which might be clever, even witty, but ultimately came off to the reader as arrogant and insulting), journals, and articles lent depth to the narrative.
However, the lasting impression for the reader was that Salman Rushdie is essentially a rather unpleasant person. He loves his sons. He loved his wives (though arguably more before he married them than while he was married to them.) However, maybe it was the use of the third person during the entire memoir, but the author of Joseph Anton failed to engender much sympathy from the reader through the course of the book. In fact, there were a few times when she could be heard shouting "You idiot!" or "You arrogant sod!" at the audio book innocently playing on the sound system.
There were several things that engaged the reader's attention and became a part of her mind's wonderings when the book was no longer playing. One was her own memories of those days covered in the book: the way the world changed in 1989 besides the news of one author's plight, back when mobile phones didn't exist, and email was still years away, through to the death of Princess Diana, 9/11, and other world events. Another was her interest in how the title of the book was chosen (though she had to wait well into the book to discover that.)
The third bit that might just be the "take away" from this book for the reader came not from Rushdie, but from his mother. She said she has not a memory, but a "forgetory" where she placed all the memories she did not wish to confront again.
All in all, the reader was glad to have listened to the book, particularly since she was able to do a lot of other things while the book was being read to her. If she had to give up actual time that could have been productive in other ways to sit and read it, she would have been most unhappy.
She wishes Mr Rushdie good luck with the rest of his life. ...more
The Girl from Foreign chronicles Sadia Shepard's journey of discovery to explore her heritage. She is the daughter of a Pakistani woman of Islamic faiThe Girl from Foreign chronicles Sadia Shepard's journey of discovery to explore her heritage. She is the daughter of a Pakistani woman of Islamic faith and a white, Protestant from Colorado. Living with the family during Sadia's childhood and young adult-hood, was her cherished maternal grandmother. At age 13, Sadia discovers a pin that had belonged to a nurse named Rachel Jacobs. It turns out that Rachel was Sadia's grandmother's name before she married. Even more surprising was that her grandmother was not Muslim originally, but had been born, in India, into a Jewish family, one of the Bene Israel, a small group of Jews, shipwrecked in India two thousand years ago, who some believe may have been part of the lost tribes of Israel.
Sadia's story revolves around her year in India as a Fulbright scholar, as she explores, documents, and tries to discover her grandmother's story, and uncover her own.
One of the pieces I enjoyed the most was Sadia's time in Pune and Bombay, both places I have been. I also really liked learning more about the Bene Israel, as group of people I knew nothing about. ...more
Sometimes, I open the pages of a book and find a friend. It may be the story that draws me in, or the way the author shapes his words. It may be an ecSometimes, I open the pages of a book and find a friend. It may be the story that draws me in, or the way the author shapes his words. It may be an echo of a shared experience or memory, or just even the fragrance of what the author is trying to convey that binds me to a book. With Inner Travel to Sacred Places, I opened the book, and found all of the above. But even moreso, I reunited with a friend who left this world just over a year ago. Through this book, written in the last year of his life, I reunited with my friend, Robert Dreyfuss; he welcomed me to his world, into his life, into his sacred places.
As I read Robert's words, I was carried along on his path for seeking his life's spiritual center. His journeys, beginning as a young boy battling severe asthma, who found himself atop a boxcar in Denver, trying to escape home, fascinated me. Knowing Robert personally, it was easy to recall some of the stories I'd heard him tell in person, especially of those early, heady days in Boston, or of his travel overland, from Europe to India for a gathering with Meher Baba. As I read, I could hear his voice in my memory telling the story in Mandali Hall, of the struggles and situations that were scattered along his path on the trip,of his heart's breaking to learn the gathering was cancelled, and then the complete joy of his meeting with his beloved master. I remembered the hilarity in telling of crossing the Deccan Plateau in a 'throne" atop a truck. I found myself taking a few side trips, as I read, for Robert's road crossed my own in from the late 70's onward. I delighted in meeting up with dear ones, old friends, and family. There were even a few episodes where I was witness to some of the scenes, though an "extra", an unnamed player on the stage.
I knew Robert had some significant health issues in his life. In fact, years ago, when discussing my career change into health care, he said to me (of chronic illness), "It can only beat you if you let it." When I developed a serious medical condition myself, I took those words as a mantra. Robert's skill as a practitioner of Chinese medicine was legendary, and was probably part of what kept him going, against many odds, as his health continued to challenge him.
One of the surprised for me was a glimpse of the artistic Robert that I hadn't really known. Sketches and snippets of poetry*, grace the pages, as well as a wonderful photo of art in movement --Robert practicing T'ai Chi in the Ellora Caves). Readers journey to some other places that were of spiritual significance to him. I appreciated how Robert threaded his love for Meher Baba into a world view which took him from Machu Picchu and to the feet of the Dalai Lama. This was not a story of simply one trip, but of the journey of a lifetime.
My thanks to the publisher, Sheriar Foundation, for sending me this book to read.
*There's also a new book out of his verse, Blue Ridge Sonatas which I hope to read soon. ...more
When someone tells me that a book is nonfiction "but reads like fiction" my skeptic-meter goes way up. In this case, the story Nancy Bachrach tells flWhen someone tells me that a book is nonfiction "but reads like fiction" my skeptic-meter goes way up. In this case, the story Nancy Bachrach tells flows easily across the pages, though it is not necessarily an easy read. It begins with a horrible accident -- carbon monoxide poisoning of her parents on their boat, which leaves her father dead, and her mother in a coma. The backstory of Nancy's childhood and family history is not any easier, riddled with mental illness, abuse, and what today would get the social workers to the front door for child endangerment. Yet it is told through good writing, by a daughter trying to understand her complex mother, and her equally complex relationship with that mother. The neruologica journey on which Nancy and her siblings embarked was chronicled quite well (my professional interested was engaged for this bit.) This is not an easy journey, and while there were some moments that I suppose someone could call "funny", to me they were more bittersweet, and not a humor that would make me laugh out loud. Still, I'm glad my friend recommended the book to me and I'm glad I read it. If you've got someone with bipolar diagnosis in your family, it might be tougher to read.
(PS this book got put aside in order for me to read two books that came in from publishers for review. That's the only reason it took so long to read.)...more
The industry of food production in the US is incredibly awful. I knew that before reading this book, and only feel more certain that the lifestyle choThe industry of food production in the US is incredibly awful. I knew that before reading this book, and only feel more certain that the lifestyle choices my family and I have made in regards to healthy eating are sound, both for our bodies and for our world. I found it interesting that it was the birth of his son that caused Foer to begin the ruminations that became this book. Something about becoming a parent awakens a protective instinct in many of us. We just want to keep that little one safe any way we can -- even when they're all grown up and out there on their own.
My favorite part of this book, however, were the stories of his grandmother.
If the future finder of this book is interested in reading a bit more on this whole subject, with more offshoots, take a look at Barbara Kingsolvers Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which she co-wrote with her kids and husband. That was a lifechanger for me.
Foer will be in town next week to speak jointly with College of Charleston and the Friends of the Library. It really pains me that I won't be able to attend, because the more I get to know of him, the more interesting I find him to be. Plus I'd like to ask him how much of his wife's first book was influenced by him....more
To any of my reading buddies, it's no secret that I pretty much loathe the novels of Nicholas Sparks. I have tried them, and nope, not for me. There'sTo any of my reading buddies, it's no secret that I pretty much loathe the novels of Nicholas Sparks. I have tried them, and nope, not for me. There's a history and a story there, which I've recorded elsewhere, but the main part of that story is that I do have personal respect for the man, after a chance encounter with him at a Books-A-Million years ago.
A huge crowd of women were fluttering around an author. He was a clean cut, preppie-ish kind of guy (I remember that his blue shirt had an unfortunate white collar.) Normally, I like to meet authors, but when I found out it was Nicholas Sparks, doing a book-signing, I tried to skirt around the crowd. His handler stopped me.
"Don't you want to meet the author?"
"No thanks," I replied.
"But he's rather good. Have you read his books?"
"Umm. Yes, but I'd rather not meet him."
"You've read his books and don't want to meet him? Why not???"
"I'd rather not say," I said, trying to break the iron grip she had on my arm.
"He'll sign one for you."
"No thank you."
At this point, my struggling to get free caught the author's attention. He rose from his signing table, the red sea of women clustering around him parted and he came over to me. He was quite polite, and attentive, and inquired why I was so adamant about not participating in the book signing. Again, I demurred. He insisted. Did I like his book? Well-- no, not exactly. He pushed for details. I'd had enough and let loose with what I thought.
To give him credit, he didn't blanch though his handler did, and I actually heard a hiss from one of the ladies in the crowd. He thanked me for my opinion, and said he would rather have someone who vehemently disliked his book that someone who said it was so-so. At least he'd stirred a strong emotion in me. For a long time, that was the only thing I liked about Nicholas Sparks. Now, there's this book.
Three Weeks With My Brother tells more than the story of two brothers on what would, by any counts, be a fabulous trip. Mr Sparks takes the reader back to the beginning, invites us into his home, warts and all. The Sparks children had a unique upbringing: laissez-faire in some senses, but with certain iron-clad principles and a lot of love, that held the structure together. That the family was financially strapped is somewhat of an understatement. That they were resourceful, is another. In some senses, I was reminded of my husband's childhood in upstate New York. But the bonds in the family were strong, as became apparent when tragedy struck, again and again.
This story, of the Sparks family, interwoven with the brother's story of a round-the-world trip fascinated me. I thought so much of my two brothers finding both similarities and disparities. There's a lot of humor and honesty in the telling. Sparks' faith is evident, as is his strong love for his family. Clearly it was what has carried him through the deaths of the rest of the family and other obstacles that would have felled many others. I can relate to that handing on that combination of love and faith, because it got me through my own periods of grief. And now, like Nicholas Sparks, I am grateful for the love of a phenomenal spouse and the love of the only remaining member of my family, my older brother. I'll probably never take a round the world trip with him, but thanks to this book, I can read of one.
Though it's hard for me to believe, I really liked this book. I still won't read his fiction, even knowing from this narrative where the inspirations were. But remember that respect I felt after our brief encounter in that Books-A-Million? It's skyrocketed. I hope some day to have the chance to tell him that in person -- just as long as I don't have to read The Notebook again to do so....more
Stumbled upon this in a pile of books given to me by someone's mother in the hopes that I'd BookCross them. Curious about Patagonia, I gave it a whirlStumbled upon this in a pile of books given to me by someone's mother in the hopes that I'd BookCross them. Curious about Patagonia, I gave it a whirl. I went in knowing the company had a good reputation, and that even at my fittest, I wore a size larger than I usually do. The respect for the company has only grown, and the glimpse into this company was an amazing view of shared vision, and of a company that not only has a heart, but has a soul and a conscience. I learned an amazing amount about all sorts of outdoor related, and even chuckled at some of the stories (Like how Chouinard abhorred the idea of computers, but recognized them as a necessary evil. One day, he decided he really needed to actually see this marvelous machine that his employees had even given a name. He saw a metal rectangular contraption and stared at it. "Is this [it]", he asked. No, he was told. That's the air conditioner. The computer was on the other side of the room. ...more
There's a lot about Pat Conroy's writing, and Pat Conroy himself that I like. Unfortunately, for the reading of this book, his own narration is not onThere's a lot about Pat Conroy's writing, and Pat Conroy himself that I like. Unfortunately, for the reading of this book, his own narration is not one of those things. However, I can't imagine anyone else reading his personal works (meaning this and his cookbook). It just wouldn't do. The visions and vistas of my beloved lowcountry, which he can conjure up in words in his novels, is amazing. The disadvantage here was, when that magic of phrasing came up, I almost missed it because of the voice delivery. I caught a few, but there were far too many that slipped under my ear radar.
Despite all that, I found this a really interesting book. Much of Conroy's fractured family life has been dished up in the various venues of his novels. He says in this book that his father's fists and his mother's words formed the bookends of his life. This book is about what is contained within those bookends -- his experiences that led him to discover his love of words and literature, what brought him to being a writer. The people who helped shape his life, particularly his English teacher/mentor, the owner of an Atlanta bookstore, and the rep for his publisher who took him along selling books were people I not only wished I'd met, but wished I had in my life. The stories told were fabulous, and I think a marvelous evening could be one spent with Mr Conroy, a fine beverage, a few good friends, and a lot of reminiscing. Even with an audio read, some great images and phrases planted themselves in my brain -- his shrink telling him, while he was in an extreme depressive state after the breakup of his second marriage that her professional reputation would never survive if the author of Prince of Tides killed himself while under her care. Or one of the few quotes I was able to jot down;
"I can forgive almost any crime, if a great story is left in its wake."
I've known a few grand storytellers in my time. I will add Pat Conroy to that list.
A wonderful collection of letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder to her husband when she went to visit their daughter, Rose, in San Francisco in 1915. It wasA wonderful collection of letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder to her husband when she went to visit their daughter, Rose, in San Francisco in 1915. It was the time of the the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and thus provides a view of both the ordinary and the spectacular in that city where so many of us have left our hearts. As a history lover, I really liked the glimpses of the time. As a reader, I liked seeing one of my favorite childhood authors in a different light. As someone interested in writing and former journalist, I found the bits about Rose's career and the paths of writing at the time fascinating. Plus, there were pictures! One hundred twenty five pages of lovely....more
I really want to read this book, but I'm just not in the mood for non-fiction right now. I keep skipping over it when picking it up, so shall put it aI really want to read this book, but I'm just not in the mood for non-fiction right now. I keep skipping over it when picking it up, so shall put it away for a bit until the spirit grabs me to check in on Anna again.
I've been fascinated by what I've read so far, particularly that Anna totally reinvented herself and her history. Her actual history, which the author/researcher tracked down, placed her born and raised in an area of India where I've spent much time: Ahmednagar, in Maharastra. My brother and sister-in-law lived just outside there for nearly 40 years (she's still there). At one point in my life, I thought I'd go back there and work permanently at a rural health clinic where I'd done some volunteer work, but then I met javaczuk and the rest is history.
I will pick this up again. This note was written December 19, 2011. The book is about 1/3 finished....more
I probably would have never picked this book up if it had not been on the Stanford Book Salon reading list for this year. The author tells the very puI probably would have never picked this book up if it had not been on the Stanford Book Salon reading list for this year. The author tells the very public story of the events leading to the First World War, and of the War itself, but from a personal perspective of a young woman lost in the power of the events. Her personal loss and her absolute powerlessness were shattering to read, and make me realize how much the impact of history fades with time -- for if it didn't, we as a people would never be able to repeat such events, or find new and better ways to destroy ourselves.
One of the more interesting parts of the book was reading about the role of women at the time, including education. She is a witness how difficult it was for women to get an education at that time. But her memoirs are also a powerful look at someone who stands at the margins of history, powerless to change things, in almost every way, except through her writing. Hers is a rare account of what it is to be a woman in that time of war....more
The other day, I received a message from the author of this book, saying she hoped I was enjoying it and that she forward to my review. Now, try as IThe other day, I received a message from the author of this book, saying she hoped I was enjoying it and that she forward to my review. Now, try as I might, my answer to her seems the place to start my review: "There are some absolutely marvelous moments you've written, and I have had such obvious enjoyment reading that my husband is waiting to read it as soon as he can. I'm amazed you went with such little preparation about the history and genealogy, but think that perhaps that opened you up to the experience in a way that preparation might have prohibited. Will post a full review shortly. Thank you for letting me visit Croatia with you, Jim, and the kids."
I've read many books about travelling abroad, but few have captured me as much as this one did. Perhaps because the author was so candid about how little she knew before going, perhaps because though I know next to nothing about Croatia (horrible wars and beautiful beaches), perhaps because I somehow link it with Ukraine and my own heritage, I really felt right at home with Jenny, Jim, the two kids, and their journey into the small world of Mrkopalj. To go from anywhere in the U.S. to a village which mixes the old ways with a smattering of Nickelodeon would be culture shock enough, but to lack language abilities, and even minimal knowledge of heritage and history, and bring your kids along, takes courage. I think one of my favorite pieces of the book was how young Sam and Zadie adapted. It was no surprise that they mastered communications quickly. Sam's conversion to vegetarianism after seeing his meals on the hoof, then prepared on the spit, really endeared him to me. I also loved the discovery of language, and incorporation into the family canon of words: smecer (pronounced SMETCH-air; I can't type the c properly) for "the dump" reminded me of the inclusion of mit schlag into our family language after a trip to Switzerland/Austria/Germany one winter.
The people of Mrkopalj became my friends, too. Though the village is poor economically, it is rich in generosity of spirit and in strong hearts. Through their stories, I learned more of the land than I have in any history book or newspaper. Ms. Wilson brought them, and their world beautifully into mine. Thank you, for giving me the journey.
(My only complaint was that there were no pictures in the book, but in my conversation with the author, she clued me to her website http://www.jennifer-wilson.com/. Definitely worth a look, even if you haven't read the book. Some stunning photographs and a taste of the tales of the family.)
Many thanks to LibraryThing and the publishers for sending me this book via teh Early Review program on LibraryThing....more
I wanted to read this book mostly because I like most of the stuff I have seen Tina Fey perform. I'm not a 30 Rock viewer, but have enjoyed some of thI wanted to read this book mostly because I like most of the stuff I have seen Tina Fey perform. I'm not a 30 Rock viewer, but have enjoyed some of the SNL skits and movie parts I've seen. I like funny, clever, smart people, and Tina Fey has carried through on that promise. Some of her observations are really funny, clever, and smart. (Though there are some that aren't, but what I learned from this book is that if something bombs with the audience, to just keep pushing through. Something about it not being the audience's fault, I can live with that.
It does fascinate me how close the world of comedy is, and how many of my favorite artists have cycled through Second City and SNL. It somehow seems "right" when I find them to be personal friends, as well.
It really helped, as well, I think, to have the author read the audio book, though, she did swallow some of her asides. Oh well, Tina Fey and Sylvester Stalone need to enunciate better. (Plus the audio has some film clips of the jokes she refers to in the 30 Rock chapter. Yay!)...more
Bhutan captured my imagination back in my son's freshman year at Stanford because of a connection with one of his Stanford faculty and the Royal familBhutan captured my imagination back in my son's freshman year at Stanford because of a connection with one of his Stanford faculty and the Royal family. He almost spent part of that summer there, but time and finances worked against him heading to the Happiest Kingdom on Earth. Had he gone, he would have been in Bhutan the same time Lisa Napoli first went there, to help with the fledgling youth radio station Kuzoo FM.
There was a lot I liked about this book, but it had little to do with the author's story and more with the country itself. I was fascinated by the story that was behind University of Texas El Paso's architecture being based on Bhutanese architecture. Who knew? I had to look it up to see the Texan interpretation of Himalayan style [ http://universitycommunications.utep.... ] And I, who absolutely love all kinds of graffiti and wall art, or native art that decorates homes in other country got a huge kick out of learning many homes in Bhutan has phalluses painted on them to ward off evil. Of course, that got a google search. Amazing. The unfolding of democracy, and the way auspicious dates were calculated intrigued me. Then there was the general beauty of the country. I spent hours looking at photographs.
As to Napoli's story itself, I had less infatuation. But she had a tale to tell, and told it well. (Many of my frustrations in reading were because this was an uncorrected proof, and there were some mixups with names of characters - real vs fictional. I hope those were straightened out before the book went to press.) Napoli's needs and life are very different from mine, but I still can appreciate her journey -- especially since she gave me a lift, via armchair travelling, to the beautiful kingdom of Bhutan.