Interestingly, this is now my least favorite of the series. It's not that I don't like it, but I like the others better. Perhaps I like it least becauInterestingly, this is now my least favorite of the series. It's not that I don't like it, but I like the others better. Perhaps I like it least because it's last, and that means the series is over. I know a large part of what I don't like is that it starts with Shift the ape. I don't like him AT ALL. And I was always very disappointed in the dwarfs in this one.
I do like Esmeth the Calormene, though. And I love reunions. I also love that Jill is a good archer. I hope there's a movie of this one ......more
I really need to write journal entries on these books when I read them! To put in perspective how far behind I am onMy lame review from BookCrossing:
I really need to write journal entries on these books when I read them! To put in perspective how far behind I am on journal writing, this book was #58 for me for the year. I'm currently on #85! oh dear ....
And now for the ironic part: one of the reasons I re-read this this year was so that I could actually write a real journal entry. Sadly, I didn't mark anything specific and have nothing brilliant to say! I do, however, know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love this book, and I love James McBride and his mother. It's the kind of book you could read once a year and get something new out of each time.
Mr. McBride's mother was a general with a small army, and her refusal to see color in a colored world is a lesson for us all. I love her answers when the children ask where they're from or what color she is. She knows and teaches them as best she can that these things aren't what matter. And that the way they turn out as people is. It's probably a good book for any mother to read.
This is the hardest kind of book review to write, because I prefer to reference things I liked and quote favorite passages in my reviews. If I did that for this book, I'd basically reproduce the entire book in my journal entry!
So I'll limit my notes to a few things, like this part on "marrying libraries" I read to my friend Jen when she got to my house 20 minutes after I read it: His books commingled democratically, united under the all-inclusive flag of Literature. Some were vertical, some horizontal, and some actually placed behind others. Mine were balkanized by nationality and subject matter. Like most people with a high tolerance for clutter, George maintains a basic trust in three-dimensional object. If he wants something, he believes it will present itself, and there it usually does. I, on the other hand, believe that books, maps, scissors, and Scotch tape dispensers are all unreliable vagrants, likely to take off for parts unknown unless strictly confined to quarters. My books, therefore, have always been rigidly regimented. Really, this whole chapter is entertaining, charming, and tells us a lot about the author, and George. And I loved it.
In talking about inheriting books from parents, I both loved what she said, and also became very emotional about my own father and his books. My father died in 1998, and I still look for his copy of Les Misérables when I visit my mom. My dad loved that book, and read it in the original French. He used his copy for one of his many degrees -- this one a minor in French literature, and I remember reading the notes in his handwriting in the margins. Where is this book? It has vanished, and I want it. Can I read French? No, but that's irrelevant. Anne's story makes you smile and cry, too:
Later, of course, I kicked myself for having spurned Turgenev. The four hundred volumes that passed to me (which included the Trollopes bu, unfortunately, not Fanny hill) were at first segregated on their own wall, the biliothecal equivalent of a separate in-law apartment. "You just don't want your father's Hemingways to be sullied by my Stephen Kings," said George accusingly. "That's not true." He tried another tack. "Your father wouldn't want his books to be a shrine. Didn't you say he used to let you build castles with them?" This hit home. I realized that by keeping his library intact, I had hoped I might be able to keep my father, who was then eighty-six, intact as well. It was a strategy unlikely to succeed.
I love this author. I read restaurant menus the same way her family does, I love word games, I love meeting new words, and I love books. The bad thing about reading this particular book is that it makes you want to hoard books ... just when I was getting good at giving them away!
When I read this, I was shocked that I'd never read it before. I shall make up for this shortcoming immediately by purchasing multiple copies and spreading them around the world :)...more
Review from July 2011: Read this for book club, and I loved it just as much the second time as I did the first. More so, in fact. This could be an annuReview from July 2011: Read this for book club, and I loved it just as much the second time as I did the first. More so, in fact. This could be an annual re-read for me ... if I had time. I seem to have dropped a lot of my re-read books lately only because there are SO many other books I want to read!
Anyway, at book club on Saturday, we talked about *who* is the mockingbird in this story. I'm sure, like English lit classes the world over, it was a similar discussion. But as I read the Tom Robinson section this morning (Atticus comes home and interrupts the ladies' luncheon), I'm pretty sure Tom is the mockingbird, although Boo/Arthur is also a legitimate assumption, I think.
Like last time, I marked some of my favorite parts. Things like "... but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls always imagined things, that's why other people hated them so..." LOL -- "other people"? Guess that would be "guys". Ha!
At book club, April brought up just how funny this book is. She's right -- Harper Lee inserted some very entertaining parts -- mostly by using Scout's voice (the Absolute Morphodite slays me!). There is just some very clever clevering in this. Like, "I mumbled that I was sorry and retired meditating upon my crime. I never deliberately learned to read, but somehow I had been wallowing illicitly in the daily papers." Ha!
I realized even more with this reading that one of the reasons I like Scout so much is that other than the overalls, I was very similar to her as a child. The discussion on "the n word" and her trying to get out of going to school is a classic conversation that could have easily happened at my house:
"Do you defend niggers, Atticus?" I asked him that evening.
"Of course I do. Don't say nigger, Scout. That's common."
"'s what everybody at school says."
"From now on it'll be everybody less one-" [love the way he said that]
"Well if you don't want me to grow up talkin' that way, why do you send me to school?"
Yup. That's exactly the kind of thing I used to say to my parents :)
I loved when Scout was going to carry the heavy coffee pot into the living room and Calpurnia told her not to look at it and she wouldn't spill it. That is GREAT advice!
Miss Maudie might be my new favorite superhero. In reading the scene after Atticus and Calpurnia leave to go talk to Mrs. Robinson, I love how Miss Maudie sort of rouses the troops and gets Aunt Alexandra and Scout back on task. I'd re-type the whole thing, but it covers a few pages. Seriously, it's why "Steel Magnolias" is called that, it's the whole strong women thing. And it's such a surprise. Because the women really can't do much, it seems (I mean they can't even be on juries!), and yet - they must be so strong. And so they do what they do:
And so they went, down the row of laughing women, around the diningroom, refilling coffee cups, dishing out goodies as though their only regret was the temporary domestic disaster of losing Calpurnia.
And of course, "After all, if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I." (that line, by the way, is what earned the "made me cry" tag in this review.)
This really is such a layered book that I am sure future re-reads will reveal different things to me. Possibly the things that might have been revealed if I'd read it over an entire semester in an English class :) It was also fascinating, as April noted, to read it after having recently read "The Help" (also for book club). I'm also just now noticing that this only had 4 stars on my shelf. I'm changing it to 5 for this reading.
Review from April 2007: ok I seriously loved this book! Now that I've read In Cold Blood and this, I can watch the Capote movie, the one where Sandra Bullock plays Harper Lee, the movie version of this book, and read this book too!
This was one of those books that my English classes never read, so I hadn't. I can't believe I waited this long to read it! I loved it. I loved that Scout was the narrator, loved how sorry she felt for her kindergarten teacher, I loved how Aunt Alexandra called her "darling" in the end, I loved her overalls, loved Jem's sense of ethics, and I loved Atticus defending Tom Robinson.
When word starts getting around town about the Robinson trial, I love the way Lee gives her opinion. I tried to explain to Atticus that it wasn't so much what Francis said that infuriated me as the way he had said it. "It was like he'd said snot-nose or something." ... "You aren't really a nigger-lover then, are you?" "I certainly am.
This is one of those books that I will re-read the next time I get my hands on a copy. This particular one is going to a friend -- we talked about it over coffee the other day, and she totally made me interested in the movie (Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch? Are you KIDDING? I'm all over that!).
hmmmm ... waiting for more than a year to write a book review is not a good idea. That said, I still say this was one of my favorite reads of 2007, anhmmmm ... waiting for more than a year to write a book review is not a good idea. That said, I still say this was one of my favorite reads of 2007, and as I come across more copies of it, I will definitely grab them.
Here are some of the things I remember (or marked) about this book: The main character's name is "Betta", but the write-up on the back of the book refers to "Bette". Weird.
I'm sure that part of why I found this book so moving is because of the way Elizabeth Berg deals with grief, and living after the death of a loved one. Even though my father died in 1998, I continue to need to work through the grieving process, and this book was a huge help for that.
I felt a low and distinct kind of relaxation. Time became real. Nature becamse real: the woods, the sky, the lakes, the high bluffs and low valleys, the acres of spent fields, the muddy riverbanks. Live photos flashed before me: Here, a construction worker eating a sandwich, one foot up on the bumper of his truck. Here, a woman in curlers loading groceries into her car. Here, a child glimpsed through a kitchen window, standing on a stool to reach into a cupboard; there, a beauty operator giving an old lady a perm.
I won't quote the passage in the middle of page 20 that affected me so much, but future readers will understand what I mean when I say that ever since my dad died, I want to pick up the phone on a regular basis to ask him how to pronounce a word in French, or what does this mean in German, or what he thinks about something a politician said. If I could just ask one more question ...
This is something I've noticed (and don't like) in my own life: "It was the downside of having such a good relationship; we were so compatible that we were lazy about starting and maintaining outside friendships."
I love Benny.
It's things like this that tell you Elizabeth Berg is a real person. When Carol offers to "lend" her dog, "I was nervous doing this -- when a relationship is so new, everything one says has disproportionate weight and staying power. But it felt good to unburden myself by telling her the whole story, unedited."
"Are you ok?" Benny leaned his head in the car and took a quick look around, like a miniature state trooper. [LOVE that!] "Yeah. I'm just going somewhere." "Because it looked like you were crying." "I felt like it for a second. But I'm all right now. I'm fine." "Okay." He stood there, making sure. "What do you do after school, Benny?" He shrugged. "I don't know. Homework." "Why don't you come over sometime? We'll make some cookies. Do you like to bake?" "Well, mostly I only like to eat cookies." ... Before I turned the corner, I checked my rearview. Still standing there. For his vigilance and care, his cookies would be made with Vietnamese cinnamon.
I could quote more, but I'd be quoting most of the book. Read it -- it's lovely....more
I have finished The Book. Mr. van Loon's Narcoleptic Affect (thanks for that, Jen) notwithstanding, I enjoyed it. Seriously, I have never in my life fI have finished The Book. Mr. van Loon's Narcoleptic Affect (thanks for that, Jen) notwithstanding, I enjoyed it. Seriously, I have never in my life fallen asleep reading a book as many times as I did this one. I lost count, but am pretty sure it was upwards of 10.
That said, I marked a TON of things I wanted to refer back to. We'll see how many make it into this review. Of course, my first thought, about 30 pages into this book was, "exactly who was this book written for?" A bunch of scholars who thought it a brilliant book for their junior high students to read, or the students themselves? I'm pretty sure no students actually read and enjoyed this. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. I, however, thought his dry sense of humor rather charming, and his gift for understatement had me chuckling often (in between naps, of course).
Of course the first thing I must mention was the dead chicken passage: And then one evening a dead chicken fell into the fire. It was not rescued until it had been well roasted. Man discovered that meat tasted better when cooked and he then and there discarded one of the old habits which he had shared with the other animals and began to prepare his food. LOL when I read that! If it was dead, how did it fall?! Was it dropped? Did it fall in and then die? I was giggling at that for quite a while.
I loved the explanation of the things placed in an Egyptian grave: ... the body was surrounded by pieces of furniture and musical instruments (to while away the dreary hours of waiting) and by little statues of cooks and bakers and barbers (that the occupant of this dark home might be decently provided with food and need not go about unshaven).
You think van Loon isn't understated? How about this description "they were very ill-mannered" in describing "They lived like pigs and threw the bodies of their enemies to the wild dogs who guarded their sheep."
I LOVED the description of how "Draconian laws" became ... well, "draconian". And of course, it was fun to come to the part about Leonidas, as 300 is a very popular movie in my house lately.
And then in the fall of Rome, we come across "The rich people had been thrown out of their villas which were now inhabited by evil-smelling and hairy barbarians." Seriously, how can you not giggle at this historical account? Actually, perhaps he asks the question better himself -- right after the year 1066 when "the grandson of a Norse pirate was recognised as King of England." He asks, "Why should we ever read fairy stories, when the truth of history is so much more interesting and entertaining?" Why, indeed.
Because a kid reading this might wonder, he addresses things like the weather -- "Henry, dressed as a penitent pilgrim (but with a warm sweater underneath his monkish garb), wait[ing] outside the gates of the castle of Canossa."
I learned a lot in this book. For example, Gutenberg of the printing press was really Johann zum Gänsefleisch. You don't hear that in a normal history class! Something else you don't normally hear in history class: don't study; just listen to a song!
[about Napolean]: ... if you want an explanation of this strange career, if you really wish to know how one man could possibly rule so many people for so many years by the sheer force of his will, do not read the books that have been written about him. Their authors either hated the Emporer or loved him. You will learn many facts, but it is more important to "feel history" than to know it. Don't read, but wait until you have a chance to hear a good artist sing the song called The Two Grenadiers. The words were written by Heine, the great German poet who lived through the Napoleonic era. The music was composed by Schumann, a German, who saw the Emperor, the enemy of his country, whenever he came to visit his imperial father-in-law. The song therefore is the work of two men who had every reason to hate the tyrant.
Go and hear it. Then you will understand what a thousand volumes could not possibly tell you.
Almost last, I loved this part of "The Age of the Engine", partly because I have a friend who works in the U.S. patent office: In Washington, the story is told of a director of the Patent Office who in the early thirties of the last century suggested that the Patent Office be abolished, because "everything that possibly could be invented had been invented." Well, that made me giggle, anyway.
And last, I have to say that I enjoyed his defense of why he did or didn't include things that people might ask about. "I'm not writing a history of America," he'd say. How very plain-spoken and Dutch of him :)
So. I've read the first of the Newbery-award-winning books. Now for 1923-current!...more
This book made me sad. It was really, really depressing. In fact, so much that it actually put me in a bad mood while I was reading it.
Don't get me wrThis book made me sad. It was really, really depressing. In fact, so much that it actually put me in a bad mood while I was reading it.
Don't get me wrong; there were flashes of humor, clever writing, and certainly it begs a lot of introspection. But it was a real downer. None of the hope of "About a Boy", and although I haven't read "High Fidelity", I've seen that movie, and I think that had hope too.
So here's what I started writing after the first section for BBC last Saturday:
"How to be Good" isn't exactly a cheery book yet, is it, and frankly those in attendance were wondering if the notes on the cover ("Hilarious", "Such a zip to read", and "Breezily hilarious") were about this book or another. However, it also offered up quite a bit of fodder for discussion. For starters, we were very interested that it's a male author and this is from the female point of view, especially because of our knowledge of "High Fidelity" and "About a Boy". It's also interesting given the question she asks her son "do you think of me as the mummy or the daddy", and her perspective on being the primary breadwinner.
None of us got "GoodNews", or his place, nor his healing powers. We also discussed giving to charity, and her views about her position as a doctor.
I found this commentary so insightful that I was hooked from the bottom of the first page:
I can describe myself as the kind of person who doesn't forget names, for example, because I have remembered names thousands of times and forgotten them only once or twice. But for the majority of people, marriage-ending conversations happen only once, if at all. If you choose to conduct yours on a mobile phone, in a Leeds car park, then you cannot really claim that it is unrepresentative, in the same way that Lee Harvey Oswald couldn't really claim that shooting presidents wasn't like him at all. Sometimes we have to be judged by our one-offs. (emphasis mine)
A sentence I wish I had written, and maybe one of the ones those cover blurbs was referring to, is "I can now see, for the first time, just how many worms a can holds, and why it's not a good idea to open one under any circumstances."
And then there's Katie's honesty, "My conversation with Molly has made it impossible for me not to think, even though not-thinking is currently my favorite mode of being." I totally get this -- when I'm upset, "not-thinking" is what I'd rather do any minute of the day. How is Hornby able to write a female character who thinks so similarly to the way I do?
And then there's this. Honestly? It's just one of many reasons why we didn't have kids.
And the other thing I think is that I have failed my daughter. Eight years old, and she's sad ... I didn't want that. When she was born I was certain I could prevent it, and I have been unable to, and even though I see that the task I set myself was unrealistic and unachievable, it doesn't make any difference: I have still participated in the creation of yet another confused and fearful human being.
Here's something I thought interesting, at the top of 221, when David and GoodNews are working on "reversal", and "GoodNews says excitedly, 'That's what we're doing! Building an ideal world in our own home!'
An ideal world in my own home ... I'm not yet sure why the prospect appalls me quite so much..."
I know why it bothers her so much! Because GoodNews is calling their home "ours"!
Last, I found this ... well, thought-provoking: When I look at my sins (and if I think they're sins, then they are sins), I can see the appeal of born-again Christianity. I suspect that it's not the Christianity that is so alluring; it's the rebirth. Because who wouldn't wish to start all over again?
In thinking through my final thoughts on this book, and my preference for hope in books, I would have been happy with the ending of this book if it had ended one sentence earlier. That is, I'd have removed the last sentence before publishing it....more
oh dear. This was my 13th read in 2007, and I wrote my review in October. How can I possibly remember what I wanted to say about this book? I'm an awfoh dear. This was my 13th read in 2007, and I wrote my review in October. How can I possibly remember what I wanted to say about this book? I'm an awful book reviewer.
What I do remember is that this is probably the most-talked about book ever at BBC. We had the best discussions on this book of any book we've ever read. I also remember that I love this book, and the next time I have time to do some re-reading, this one will definitely be on the list.
I left markers throughout this book, on things I liked, words and phrases I loved, and I think I'll be leaving them in the book. One of the things I like that will only make sense to people who've read this book is this:
I asked the renter, "Can I tell you my story?" He opened his left hand So I put my story into it.
I marked the picture of the CNN screen capture on page 241, because I was in the NY/NJ area when that happened.
This is a great book, because it's not about the 9/11 attacks; it's about a boy whose father was a victim of the attacks. And his journey all around the city, meeting people, learning about his dad, developing a relationship with his mother, is an amazing book. Through the majority of the book, I was amazed at how believable Oskar's voice was. I truly believed I was reading the thoughts of a 9 year old boy.
This is definitely becoming part of the permanent collection. Perhaps I'll add more when I read it again....more
First, I liked this WAY better than Wicked! It was so much easier to read, to follow, to keep reading and not put down ... Of course it had some darknFirst, I liked this WAY better than Wicked! It was so much easier to read, to follow, to keep reading and not put down ... Of course it had some darkness to it, like Wicked, but nothing on that scale! Talk about your fractured fairy tale, huh? One of the previous people who read this book said they still weren't sure if they liked it, which is kind of how I feel too. But I think I liked it!
I loved Caspar and the Master. I wanted them both to be happier, but I guess that wasn't the point. And Iris is so gentle and caring. I felt awful for her that she was stuck with the mother she had.
The Clara transformation is fascinating to me, and almost makes me want to read it again. I really cared the most for Iris during the reading, and so was much more interested in her story than anyone else's.
Last, being a little Dutch girl myself (my dad is from Friesland, and came to the U.S. at age 21), I loved the Dutch-ness of it. I know it wasn't the point of the story, but I really liked the part when the water finally froze and everyone was out skating. I think I'd have liked more of that :)...more
Purchased this one for book club (BBC). BBC member comments will be here.
I have a ton of thoughts on this book that I might continue adding to, but lePurchased this one for book club (BBC). BBC member comments will be here.
I have a ton of thoughts on this book that I might continue adding to, but let me first start with the fact that the cover is misleading. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, this is right up there with In Cold Blood. I'll just say now: it's not. It's also not fair that the back of the book says "Jon Krakauer's literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. He now shifts his focus from extremes of physical adventure to extremes of religious belief within our own borders...". From this and the cover description "On July 24, 1984, a woman and her infant daughter were murdered by two brothers...", I thought it would be an in-depth story of the Lafferty family (both killers and those killed), like Into the Wild was an in-depth study on whatshisname. Again I'll say: it wasn't.
If this had been presented as a study of mormonism, or a history of it (or even a study of plural marriages in Fundamental Mormonism), I'd have read it differently. As it was, it was a very interesting history of mormonism, with a disturbing murder story semi-woven throughout, making the focus sort of on the Fundamentalists, but not. I think he missed the mark on both levels, as either book could have been better in its own right (albeit the murder story being rather grizzly to read).
Here's what I wrote on the BBC blog:
Back to the discussion of the book — I think it was in the previous blog entry comments that a couple people commented on the mormon history part of the book as opposed to the story of the Lafferty murders. I’ve finished it, and have lots to talk about. But on that topic in particular, I think he’s missed his mark. The book isn’t about the murders at all, but rather a (mostly interesting) history of mormonism. Do you think the publisher decided to spin it as a story of the murders to garner more readers? Be more sensationalistic? I would never compare it to “In Cold Blood” (as The San Fran Chronicle does on the cover of my copy) — it’s hardly an in-depth study of the crime or the characters involved as that was. As a history/study of Mormonism, with attendant stories throughout, I found it fascinating. Why try to make it “about” the Lafferty murders, which frankly i didn’t want to read about anyway?
This is definitely the most in-depth story on mormonism I've ever read, and I found it both fascinating and sad. It is truly amazing to read the history of a religion, and that's possible because (as Krakauer says) of the era and printing.
I marked a ton of pages which I'll bring up at BBC, but I did want to comment on one thing here. In Chapter 15: The One Mighty and Strong, Krakauer makes a comment on the disagreement about the "removal revelation": The disagreement among the school's members that evening underscores the conundrum that inevitably confronts any prophet who encourages his acolytes to engage in dialogue with God: sooner or later, God is apt to command an acolyte to disobey the prophet. My thoughts on his evaluation? This is the problem with a religion where the basis of belief is fluid. That is, where there are no absolutes, of course the followers can interpret things as they will. If, however, the basis of the belief isn't fluid, Krakauer's comment is inaccurate.
Last, my copy contains an "appendix to the anchor edition", which although interesting, smacked of an email argument to me. Basically, a high-ranking LDS official named Richard Turley read the book and didn't like it (surprise, surprise!). He published a document on errors, innacuracies, and of course, in defense of mormonism in general. Krakauer evidently felt his work didn't stand on its own and the need to defend it (strike 3, in my book -- 1 being that it wasn't about the Lafferty murders, 2 being that it wasn't just a history of mormonism). So in this appendix, he reponds to Turley's work. There are a few legitimate inaccuracies, which Krakauer graciously corrects, but in general, it's just him responding point-by-point to Turley's attack. I read/skimmed it, and all I could think is "I'm reading an email flame-war." He, or Random House, should have made the decision to omit that. It was a strong enough book on its own.
One other thing I keep meaning to mention: I cannot stand the abundance of footnotes in his books! A random footnote or two in a book, referencing a date, time or publication is one thing. Whole pages of text belong in the content of the book; not as footnotes. The smaller font and distraction of a footnote are what slowed me down in reading this book, and for the record, it made me crabby....more
It's hard to write a book review for this book, because the copy I read belonged to a friend who is taking it with her on a trip, and she asked a smalIt's hard to write a book review for this book, because the copy I read belonged to a friend who is taking it with her on a trip, and she asked a small group of us to write in the book. So a lot of my comments are actually in her book! That said, here's the review I wrote on BookCrossing:
Reading this book felt like sitting down and having a cup of tea with all the previous readers. One of my favorite things!
I finally finished this lovely book a couple weeks ago, and have been both crazy busy, and "processing" it ever since. The hard thing here is how to write a book review when the vast majority of what I wanted to say I already wrote in the book. On the other hand, I don't want to not have a journal entry on this, a book I bought a copy of for my permanent collection, and 2 more copies for my sister and friend.
So I'll see what I can say here... On page 10, I found a soulmate. Liz says, "I kept waiting to want to have a baby, but it didn't happen." My sister!
I cannot say how much I love the way she wrote chapter 3. As I noted on the top of page 13, "I read it about 3 times ... because of course, the #3 is the number of supreme balance :)"
I found this part deep, and challenging: Strictly speaking, then, I cannot call myself a Christian. Most of the Christians I know accept my feelings on this with grace and open-mindedness. Then again, most of the Christians I know don't speak very strictly. That's the kind of Christian I want to be.
I loved when she talked about her sister. The "That family needs casseroles" part made me grin and cry. My note at the bottom of page 91 says, "I love her sister, and I love mine, too. These pages brought me to tears. And even though I talked to my sister 3 times today, I called her again."
I'm sure Liz and I would be friends, when she describes a woman "exuding an unbelievably glamorous air of: 'You will look at me, but I will refuse to look at you.'"
And who knew this? "Historians say that rhetoric was invented in Syracuse, and also (and this is just a minor thing) plot.
And then there's the part where she totally nails what happens to me when I'm praying: I can't seem to get my mind to hold still.
I love, love, love this: I'm irritated by spiritual prudence and I feel bored and parched by empirical debate. I don't want to hear it anymore. I just want God. Chapter 58 will change the way I pray.
I added the reference Philippians 4:8 at the bottom of page 178, because I felt like it was so appropriate. Her vow I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore really spoke to me. And of course, that's what Phil 4:8 says, too.
There is so much more I could say, and maybe I'll write another review some day when I re-read this....more
This was a fascinating book! It definitely had a lot of melancholy, but I wasn't filled with despair or depression while reading it. I just wrote on aThis was a fascinating book! It definitely had a lot of melancholy, but I wasn't filled with despair or depression while reading it. I just wrote on another thing I read recently that lately I require "hope" in my reading. This is the oldest character Berg has written yet that I've read, and although she didn't disappoint, I find myself prefering her younger characters.
Re the beauty shop scene -- I know I would have stood up and shouted, "Brava!" had I been there :)
One of the things I like so much about Elizabeth Berg is that she writes things that have actually happened to me. Not the entire story and plot, per se, but the way she describes things is just spot-on. For example, "I pulled over and I wept so hard the car was shaking ..." I myself have done this very thing. And oddly, one of the things I noticed after crying for a while was that the car was shaking. This is real, and only those people who have done this would know it. And then further down the same page, such a poetic piece of writing. She's describing something upsetting: "and the feeling would have been of all my eggs being walked on by boots." Brilliant!
I found this part rather thought-provoking. Enough to mark the page, anyway: in describing how they have come into affluence, she describes buying new cars before the new-car smell has gone from the old one. New furniture, fashions, etc. "... for what? So that we can sit out on our (new) deck in the summer and drink vodka and tonics out of vodka-and-tonic glasses with limes that have been cut with the (new) lime cutter? It's always bothered me, what we lost when we stopped being able to fit our things into the trunk of our car. ... [Martin] says it's a luxury of being rich to wish you were poor. I don't want to be poor. I just want to be appreciative." (emphasis mine)
Again, I just love Berg's comments: "She wore a sweatshirt and jeans and lovely pearl studs in her ears -- dressing up a bit of herself so she wouldn't forget how, no doubt. You will see this in mothers of small children: they dress up from the neck up. Everything else is in danger of peanut butter." Isn't that awesome? It's almost a slogan.
I turned 40 the year I read this, so it's interesting to think about things like menopause, getting older, becoming part of the scenery, how menopause was for my mother (I made her life miserable), etc. This was a good book to read at this time in my life, and it made me rather introspective. It's possibly the deepest Berg I've read yet, too....more
I'm on a short business trip (leaving this afternoon), and finished this one last night in my hotel room (it was this or the revamped "American GladiaI'm on a short business trip (leaving this afternoon), and finished this one last night in my hotel room (it was this or the revamped "American Gladiator". Please). It's my third book of the year and frankly would have been the first, but I didn't finish Breakfast at Tiffany's last year and frankly didn't think I had the nerve to have the first book on my list have this title :) That said, I loved it!
As I was reading (also in my hotel room) it on Monday night, I got to the part where she's at the doctor's office and they give her a paper gown. By the time I hit this phrase I begin to get very angry at the exploding clothing. Exactly when did I turn into the Jen-credible Hulk?, I am laughing so hard I 1. am crying, 2. can hardly breathe, and 3. am dialing my sister to read this section to her.
Aside from her love of the "f" word (which really, who can blame her), I think Jen Lancaster is my kindred spirit. She's mouthy AND conservative. She's modest and so not into The Naked. She's bigger than she should be and although she cares about it, it doesn't run her. She has a funny husband who often thinks she's nuts and ... seriously, she might be me (she even points out to the Target person that they didn't greet her! This is so me-embarrassing-my-husband). I mean, I even lived in Chicago for 12 years. What are the chances? Really, we are basically the same person, which is just one of the reasons I'd put this one head and shoulders over any Shopaholic book any day of the week. I had to look it up but I was pretty sure I actually said (and I did!) that Becky Blomberg and her lying actually gave me a stomach ache in Confessions of a Shopaholic. (major side note to SKing and anyone else reading this and forming opinions: if you get a chance to read Can You Keep a Secret?, do. It's seriously one of the funniest books I've ever read and will also make you laugh out loud)
All that said, this is one of those books where I folded down too many corners and now don't know which ones to quote here. Frankly, I could re-type the entire book here because it's just that funny, but I'm also at work at the end of a business trip and need to finish this book review so I can hand the book to a friend before I get on the plane :)
I'll just add some random, short, funny things: Talking about IKEA (of course I've been in the one she shops in -- it's near my old house) ...they carry every single thing you could possibly ever need ... at low, low prices, but in obscure Swedish sizes so those items won't coordinate with anything else you own, like, say, if you want to put a regular Target lamp shade on your IKEA lamp. Fletch thinks it's Sweden's master plan to make Americans so busy trying to construct furniture with Allen wrenches that we don't notice they've invaded us. (Personally, I think it's payback; the Swedes are pissed that we aren't buying ABBA albums anymore). (another side note: what is it with 4-letter Swedish words in all caps?)
About cultural diversity in an urban Target Plus, I've heard their cashiers speaking ten different languages, so I, Miss Whitey McXenophobe, should perhaps cut them some terry-cloth-covered, stool-seated slack.
OK -- no time for anything more except to say THANKS! to SKing for sharing this one with me (because of course now I have to go buy Bitter) and I'm passing it on to another BookCrosser who usually forgets to "catch" books I give her so we may never get another journal entry out of it, but I know she will laugh at it....more
I finished this book while running errands, and the first thing I did was call my friend bookczuk.**spoiler alert** Warning: review contains spoilers
I finished this book while running errands, and the first thing I did was call my friend bookczuk. Why did I call her? Because I know everybody loves this book so much and it's such a favorite, but I didn't know I'd be so sad at the end! I was heartbroken that she didn't get over there before F.P.D. died! I hated that. I never thought I'd be sitting in the parking lot of McDonald's, crying about this book!
That said, I did love it. As I told Czukie, I was halfway through it before I realized that it was real correspondence, which made it even more entertaining. I love the way she wrote, and he responded back so properly! I like her asking them to "translate" the pounds-to-dollars, and her P.S. early on in their correspondence "I hope 'madam' doesn't mean there what it does here."
I loved the friendship with Nora, Cecily, the neighbor ... I loved it all. I just wish it hadn't been so sad. I was so sure she would actually be there that it never occurred to me otherwise!
ah well. Now I know what everyone's talking about :)...more
This is definitely better than the last few Newbery books (1922-1928), and honestly, I really wanted to like it, given my SIL's birthplace (Poland). BThis is definitely better than the last few Newbery books (1922-1928), and honestly, I really wanted to like it, given my SIL's birthplace (Poland). But I guess the whole alchemy thing took so much away from the story where I was loving the people and the descriptions and pronouncing "Elzbietka" in my head that it made me not like it much. And of course, again I'm thinking of junior highers reading this and going, "HUH?!"
It's so odd to me that there I was, going along reading a story about a family in Krakow, and the next thing I know, I'm reading about "the dark arts", and I have to say, it was really an odd juxtaposition. It was almost as if I was reading two different books. And I have to say I liked the one about the Charnetskis better.
1922-1928 didn't do much for me. Let's hope "Hitty, Her First Hundred Years" (of 1930 is better. At least they're getting easier to read....more
I seriously love this author. She cracks me up, she tells the truth, and if I could, I'd be her new best friend. Heck, I'm even blogstalking her blog.I seriously love this author. She cracks me up, she tells the truth, and if I could, I'd be her new best friend. Heck, I'm even blogstalking her blog.
The one caveat I'll make about this book in not recommending it unconditionally is that I think I liked it better because I read the second book first. That is, in this first one, she's just that much more self-centered, and not quite as loveable. By the second book she's learned a bit more about herself, the world, and life. It's "book 2 Jen" I want to be friends with -- "book 1 Jen" needed to be metaphorically smacked upside the head a bit first :)
I finally found my notes in my moleskin: I think I probably read this book differently than I might have if I hadn't read Bright Lights first. That is, I think I might not have liked Jen quite as much if I'd read this first. She's more of a kindred spirit in the 2nd book, and honestly, I think I had more sympathy for her in this one, having read the other one first.
This was really interesting to me, as I at first found myself reading and not liking her much. She really does sound pretty spoiled in the first one. But then as I read, I realized what people mean about book/movie characters and growth. She really did grow in this book. The kinder, gentler Jen at the end -- with special sauce, of course -- is the girl I want to be friends with. I love the way she takes care of Fletch and her dogs, and the part where she goes to see her mom is awesome. That girl actually cares.
The comment "Maybe if you ate some meat you'd last longer!" is just one of many times I was shaking with laughter while reading this....more
This was a very good book, but in all honesty not quite as good as The Beach House. It was just a bit too predictable. But I still enjoyed it. I lovedThis was a very good book, but in all honesty not quite as good as The Beach House. It was just a bit too predictable. But I still enjoyed it. I loved Ella, and Marion, and the volunteers at the clinic. . . all good.
This is only the second Mary Alice Monroe book I've read, but I wonder if she isn't trying too hard to put "everything" into her books. This book had Brady, a young punk who turns his life around. The Beach House had a young pregnant girl. This one has, of course, the birds of prey and that one had the turtles. It will be interesting to read another book by her -- see if this is her actual formula, or it's just happened in these two books.
The descriptions of the birds were great, and certainly made the reader appreciate them. However, the thing I liked about The Beach House was that she didn't beat us over the head with the turtles. The birds were much more prominent in this one.
This all sounds like I didn't like the book, but I did. I loved 'Lijah, and Brady, and Ella and Marion and Harris -- I really cared for them all by the end of the book. It was definitely enjoyable to read, and a nice break to read about the humid summer in the middle of winter in Denver :)...more
To this day, I wonder why I didn't read this in my AP English class. I graduated in 1984, for Pete's sake!
Anyway, my book club added this to our readiTo this day, I wonder why I didn't read this in my AP English class. I graduated in 1984, for Pete's sake!
Anyway, my book club added this to our reading list, and we read it in late 2007. Then I procrastinated writing a review on it until 2008. Frankly, it didn't blow my skirt up, so writing the review became even less interesting. Here's what I wrote on BookCrossing:
Well, I did read it for book club, and sadly it was quite a while ago so I'm trying to remember enough about it to write a review. The biggest thing I remember is that I was pretty "meh" on it. It did create some good discussions at BBC, and we all did a lot of wondering on it. What if it were written today? What if it were updated for today? What was the point of the Che Guevara-type character? Why was the book (The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism) reprinted in the middle of the book? And of course, the big question -- did you read the book within the book? um ... skimmed it :)
I did mark some spots in it, but didn't really enjoy it enough to spend much more time on it. I'm glad I've finally read it, and that's good enough for me.
Profound, no? Yeah, I have to say that I don't get the *wow* factor on this one. And although it's possible I'd like it better, or maybe have gotten more out of it if I'd read it with Ms. Counts in my senior year, perhaps the fact that we didn't read it with her is more telling than I previously thought.
And I still don't get why half of the book was another book....more
I really liked it, but the phonetic dialect made me put it down more than once. I'm fine with a bit of canna, willna and summat, but this was over theI really liked it, but the phonetic dialect made me put it down more than once. I'm fine with a bit of canna, willna and summat, but this was over the top. I don't know if it's the era it was written in, the country, or the author, but it was almost impossible to read. That dialogue needs to be read out loud, and I just don't prefer that and/or read books in places where I can read out loud all the time. I almost added this to my books I couldn't finish in 2007 list several times, but I persevered :)
That said, there were several things I liked, including Joan's development, Anice (who I was sure I would dislike at the beginning), Derrick, Jud Bates and 'Robyson Crusoe' and of course, chapter 30.
I love when I find a word I don't know in a book, and I found one here. It was contumacious, which upon reading the description, is a perfect word for Sammy Craddock, as it was used in the book.
The whole Sammy Craddock/Jud Bates 'Robyson Crusoe' thing just cracked me up. I loved the cannibal discussions, the way Sammy realized that there was more to read than the morning paper, and I loved that they talked about litterytoor. It's important that 'he wur a litterairy mon.' I loved Jud learning to read quickly once he was promised the beautiful book, and I loved him reading to Sammy. I even like Mrs. Craddock sitting in on some of the readings :)...more
I loved this book! However, I made the mistake of not writing a review of it right after I read it, and I didn't mark pages I wanted to comment on, soI loved this book! However, I made the mistake of not writing a review of it right after I read it, and I didn't mark pages I wanted to comment on, so I don't have a lot to say about it. I remember laughing at and tearing up at some of the stories of her dad. The charm of this book isn't limited to Iranians or even immigrants. It's just a great book, and I highly recommend it....more
Good, and hard to put down, but she's done others better. It was sort of a cross between Firefly Lane (which was better), the Laura Linney storyline fGood, and hard to put down, but she's done others better. It was sort of a cross between Firefly Lane (which was better), the Laura Linney storyline from "Love Actually" (but this was better), and something else. Maybe the inconsiderate friend from Something Borrowed (don't ever waste your time reading that crap)?
Anyway, I liked it, and it kept my attention on the plane to Las Vegas and during the Garth Brooks concert my friend went to, but that's about all.
I did like Addie and Jordan, even though I saw that coming a mile away. But the Dan Swansea storyline was weird.
There was some clever writing in here, though. Like after Addie has lost a lot of weight and tries Internet dating:
To get a date on the Internet, a woman had to be many things, starting with thin and proceeding relentlessly to attractive and pleasant and a good listener and good company. Young, of course. Still fertile, still cute, with a good body and a decent job and a supportive (but not instrusive) family. The men didn't even have to be sane.
I remember reading an excerpt from this years ago -- in Reader's Digest, or some other magazine, maybe? Or maybe even the newspaper article she talksI remember reading an excerpt from this years ago -- in Reader's Digest, or some other magazine, maybe? Or maybe even the newspaper article she talks about in the beginning, I don't know.
Anyway, it's beautifully written, and an interesting choice of style, to alternate chapters with one in the present and one from childhood. I mostly liked it, but it was a little bit distracting as I was getting into the story.
There were many parts I liked and wanted to remember, so I marked them. Let's see if I can remember what I thought when I read them -- it was a while ago!
There were some people in this book I just loved. Jacob, for example, just loves Beth throughout the whole book. Better than that, he's figured out the real meaning of "WWJD", which has become kind of a joke to most people.
'She asks what I think, and I tell her. Of course, then she tells me back. Some drivers get impatient, especially if it looks like her mind's made up, which it probably is' - he laughs - 'but I don't get bothered. It's good for me that she tests my patience. If I see myself growing irritated by Beth, I know I have a problem. I know Jesus wouldn't act like that. It's how unselfish can I be, because when I'm not, that's my problem.'
And then there's Rachel's turning point as her sister approaches a homeless man:
I avert my eyes, figuring, as always, that it's better to ignore homeless people than to get a request for a handout. ... After a few more blocks, I realize that she knows all the misfits. Every time I notice one - the mustached guy with the loping belly and duffel bag, the frog-faced woman whose scarlet shoes match her hair, anyone who seems homeess or "different" -- I, preset to tune them out, turn away. Immediately, as if reading my dismissiveness in the swing of my head, Beth will say, "He lives in a shelter. He uses Tide in the Laundromat." Or "She works at the drugstore. We talk about Whitney Houston." I walk on, my footing less sure than only minutes earlier.
This is the kind of thing I often think when I hear non-PC remarks (and I don't mean "PC" as smarmy politicians with an agenda do; I mean stuff that's downright inappropriate and small-minded):
"People should stick with their own kind."
I tell my friends I want to know what "their own kind" means. People with visual impairments? People who favor nomadic existences? People who other people would like to label by their "mental age"? Okay, so she's a tiny sassy, roly-poly, Crayola-bright, nonpracticing Jewish chatterbox ...
Anyway, I liked this. I've seen some reviewers thought it was pithy and too cheesy, and making a movie out of it with Rosie O'Donnell sent it over the edge, but I liked it. It made me uncomfortable, and it made me feel good. Not a bad book....more
It's kind of a silly one for Nora -- it's two time-travel stories in one book (no, I'm not kidding). First one pilot crashes his "spaceship" into currIt's kind of a silly one for Nora -- it's two time-travel stories in one book (no, I'm not kidding). First one pilot crashes his "spaceship" into current Oregon (or maybe Washington state, I can't remember), and then his brother comes looking for him. It's totally unbelievable and far-fetched, but entertaining as well. The hippie-granola parents and their current day inventions that have become hugely popular and wildly successful in the future are another amusing aspect of these stories. ...more
These books where the author manages to make the kids sound real are so entertaining! I can actually hear my nieces and nephews saying/thinking the thThese books where the author manages to make the kids sound real are so entertaining! I can actually hear my nieces and nephews saying/thinking the things Jerry and Rachel say and do. This was charming, even though I was disappointed that this was going to be a dog book when I found out.
Loved it and am surprised I'd never read it, given how much of Eleanor Estes' titles I read as a child.
I just remembered that I liked this sentence and Jen said I had to include it in my review: "... Wally Bullwinkle ... was studying Ginger with a sly and furtive mien."...more
I continue to be confused by what the Newbery committee is/was thinking and what they consider a level of appropriateness for children. I'm also surprI continue to be confused by what the Newbery committee is/was thinking and what they consider a level of appropriateness for children. I'm also surprised at what this author thought appropriate for children. I'm really of two minds on this, after reading about the author and this series. On the one hand, I love the idea of writing stories about different parts of the country so children could learn about them. On the other hand, there's all kinds of DRUNK in this book, and I'm just picturing a 3rd grade me reading it. I'll be honest; I wouldn't have understood it at all.
Which brings me to: I need to stop this review and look up the criteria for the Newbery Award, and also the intended age group. Love this:
In Melcher's formal agreement with the board, the purpose of the Newbery Medal was stated as follows: "To encourage original creative work in the field of books for children. To emphasize to the public that contributions to the literature for children deserve similar recognition to poetry, plays, or novels. To give those librarians, who make it their life work to serve children's reading interests, an opportunity to encourage good writing in this field."
And in the "Terms & Conditions", I find that the book must be written by an American (resident or citizen) author and published by an American publisher. And that "literature for children" is defined as "...a book for which children are an intended potential audience. The book displays respect for children's understandings, abilities, and appreciations." And a "child" to the Newbery committee is "persons of ages up to and including fourteen" and "books for this entire age range are to be considered."
So that's that. What's interesting to me is that I read a lot of books ahead of my age group as a kid. But this cover, looks like ... smack in the middle of 2nd-4th grade to me. I can't imagine a 14-y.o. (even a nerdy one) picking this book up, solely based on the cover. And yet the themes in this book seem more appropriate to a 14-year-old. hmmmm ... maybe I shouldn't play children's librarian and should just give my thoughts on the book. Except that the entire time my 44-year-old brain was taking it in, I was thinking, "I wouldn't have a kid read this". I don't think.
Anyway, I found the language in this fascinating. It seemed Lenski hit the mark with writing colloquially in this one, as opposed to Smoky the Cow Horse (the 1927 winner) where my major concern was that the grammar/spelling in the book would actually "rub off" on the children reading it! The other thing about the language in this is it reminds me a lot of the script for "Oklahoma!" I remember the first time I picked up my lines for the community theatre musical and saw I had to say "no sich of a thing" (something said multiple times in this book) -- I wondered if I could really do any sort of appropriate accent at all in that. (turns out our director didn't really care about our accents)
From the Foreword: In this series of regional books for American children, I am trying to present vivid, sympathetic pictures of the real life of different kinds of Americans, against authentic backgrounds of diverse localities. ...so that we can say: "This then is the way these people lived. Because I understand it, I admire and love them." Is not this a rich heritage for American children?
I found that fascinating. In fact, she did present vivid, sympathetic pictures to me. But I'm 44, and I'm not sure a child in 1946 ... well, I just don't know. I'm also not sure "I admire and love them", although this book really did make me want to grow stuff. Actually, I did admire Mr. & Mrs. Boyer. I didn't love them.
What did I love? Mrs. Boyer and Mrs. Slater and the evolution of their relationship. There was also "classic" stuff in here like how to make wax roses - I loved that that kind of stuff was in there, and as a child would have found it wholly intriguing, like pouring maple syrup on fresh snow in the Little House books.
Overall, I did like this, but it felt all slammed together at the end. No spoilers, but the end seemed rather abrupt ... or maybe convenient. Or perhaps the author was told to do something about Mr. Slater, kind of like when a movie studio makes a director change an ending....more
**spoiler alert** I really liked this book ... until I got to the end. I don't mean I disliked it, but I realized that as I was reading it, I was real**spoiler alert** I really liked this book ... until I got to the end. I don't mean I disliked it, but I realized that as I was reading it, I was really enjoying it, but that was sort of anticipatory of what I thought might happen near the end. Perhaps it was the misleading back cover (which I hardly ever even read!), or perhaps it was just my naive desire for a happy ending, but I really thought it would end differently.
It was fascinating, and really well written. I'm always surprised when a woman writes from a man's point of view, or a man writes from a woman's point of view, and it's believable. But it was, and was very well done. It was also interesting to read Samson's perceptions and observations about Anna, as she grieved for her husband and their relationship.
Sometimes when you're watching a movie, you notice something that is missing, rather than something that happens. It's when I assume that the scene that would have explained what I'm confused about must be "on the cutting room floor". The same thing happened at one point in the book. Samson is having a conversation with Lana over lunch, and he says, "I'd follow you in a paddle boat and shout encouragement." Her response: "Thanks. And if you ever decide to walk across the country again, I'll follow you in a car." This never comes up again, but I felt like it told us how he ended up where we first met him. Why isn't this discussed? Why doesn't the author follow up on this? Why doesn't Samson ask Lana more about this? Or tell Anna about it? I think the answers must have been edited out. This is the kind of thing I would ask the author about if I were a reporter.
There was also a use of "disorientated" that I thought should have been "disoriented": Soon the long corridor gave way to other long, equally sterile stretches of corridor and Samson became disorientated. The sour chemical smell in the air, so archly inhuman, and the vile light that cast everything in a flat and sickly hue were enough to lend the place a tense, unnerving quality... Maybe it's small of me to pick at that one word when the rest of the writing is so good (as illustrated by the words around it), but that bothered me!
I did like this -- don't get me wrong. But I wanted more hope at the end than I got. It won't usurp History of Love as my favorite of her books, but I'm glad I've read her first novel....more
I should let several months pass between Scottolines. I like her just fine, but they're pretty much all the same book, so reading one or more in a rowI should let several months pass between Scottolines. I like her just fine, but they're pretty much all the same book, so reading one or more in a row makes them seem less impressive.
This one had significantly coarser language than some of her others, so it was less appealing in general, and honestly, there was nothing about Alice that was in the least bit sympathetic, so I really didn't prefer this one.
And now that I think about it, I don't really much like Bennie either, so there's that. Judy and Mary and Lou are the characters I prefer in these books, I guess.
All that said, this was good for the stationary bike....more
As I told my friend Rebekkila in the comments to her review of this book, I actually saw a movie made from this several years ago. I'm embarrassed toAs I told my friend Rebekkila in the comments to her review of this book, I actually saw a movie made from this several years ago. I'm embarrassed to admit it was on Lifetime :) What's funny is I really don't watch Lifetime much, if ever, but I distinctly remember this being on late one night while I worked on expense reports in my office. I'm thinking my husband might have been out of town, too (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). I didn't even see the whole thing, which makes me even more annoyed that it's a Lifetime movie, because so far it appears "unreleased" as a movie that can be rented, checked out, or watched On Demand. I kind of want to see it again! Anyway, I remember at the time really liking it, and the women in it. I was also impressed when I read that they all actually gained/lost weight for the movie.
Anyway, it's charming chick lit with a bit of depth. If you've read The Little Lady Agency, it will seem familiar, but not in a bad way. It was fun to read it since I'd seen the movie, and although the movie was fairly true to the story, as expected, there were several things left out that I was glad to come across in the book.
The Nigel storyline left me a bit confused, and the Chester storyline (and perceived fat discrimination which led to the Cinderella pact) was entertaining. There's a bit of Lucy and Ethel or Three's Company in this in terms of wacky things that would never really happen in real life, but it's still fun and charming to read. And also pretty clean, which was nice for chick lit. I'd keep it to read it again but want to send it to a friend I know will love it....more