I didn't read this particular edition -- I have an old, used book store edition that I got as a gift from my high school English teacher senior year....moreI didn't read this particular edition -- I have an old, used book store edition that I got as a gift from my high school English teacher senior year.
Anyway, this is a perennial favorite of mine, and it gets better every time I read it. There's always something new that I wonder about -- in this case, I started to wonder about some of the vocabulary he uses. I always just assumed that a lot of the words were made up. But I just looked up "viviparous" and it's an actual word. So next time I read this, I think I'll read it with a dictionary at hand. Through the context you get the meaning, but it's still interesting to me.
1/7/12: Read this time for one of my book clubs. A fast-paced read, and entertaining as always. This time through it occurred to me early on that it's a very sexist view of the future, and probably was also very shocking at the time due to the constant refrain of "everyone belongs to everyone else." I'll be really interested to discuss this with everyone.(less)
I'm not sure when I originally read this - probably late in high school or in college - but I'm very glad I came back to it. If you've forgotten the b...moreI'm not sure when I originally read this - probably late in high school or in college - but I'm very glad I came back to it. If you've forgotten the basic premise, the narrator, Offred (like "of Fred" - as in the male head of her current household, her name changes as she is moved from place to place), is a handmaid - her only job is to bear a child in a society where pollution and viruses have made many people sterile. She lives with a high-ranking political/military leader and his wife, and each month participates in a bizarre sex ritual with both of them. She is old enough to remember a time "before," when she could do things like have a job, and raise her daughter, and wasn't forced to participate in weird community religious ceremonies.
In Offred's telling, it was really the speed and ease with which the rights of all women were stripped away that got me. Fire all women employed anywhere, move their (state held) bank accounts (society is cashless and no credit cards) to their closest male next of kin, and voila.
I definitely recommend reading this again (or to begin with) if you haven't recently. I could not put this down and read it in two nights, staying up much later than I should have. Ooops.
Date originally read: Not sure - over a decade at least. Change in rating? Yes - three to five stars(less)
This book has a ton of delicious & unusual ice cream recipes (as well as granitas, sorbets and sherbets). They are, almost exclusively, French/cus...moreThis book has a ton of delicious & unusual ice cream recipes (as well as granitas, sorbets and sherbets). They are, almost exclusively, French/custard-style - this means that you have to cook a custard, chill it, and then freeze your ice cream. This is not as difficult as you may initially think while reading the instructions, it simply requires you to be on top of things and able to multitask well in the kitchen (or otherwise get everything set up before you start). A handful of flavors are presented in both custard-style and Philadelphia-style (no custard to cook, just mix the ingredients together and go).
I'm only going to copy down a few recipes before I return this to the library, but it's an excellent book to go to for ideas and new recipes. Lebovitz includes a great introduction that walks you through the basics of making ice cream of both types, and things to know about different ingredients (for example, alcohol will make for softer ice cream).
I'm currently waiting for the custard for Goat Cheese Ice Cream to chill, and will probably make some fresh ginger ice cream in a few weeks. Yum!(less)
I enjoyed this quite a bit, and it was interesting to read in the wake of some of the other books I've torn through recently. This book covers some fa...moreI enjoyed this quite a bit, and it was interesting to read in the wake of some of the other books I've torn through recently. This book covers some familiar territory for Oates -- family life and the attendant emotions and issues when something goes terribly wrong. We follow two sisters in the aftermath of the murder of their mother; the book is told from the point of view of the "party girl" sister, Nikki, who is transformed through her grief over her mother's death. There is a little bit of the familiar "misguided woman/lecherous men" theme, for lack of a better word, but this protagonist has more control over the situation. Whether that is because it takes place in contemporary time (as opposed to 30+ years ago, in the case of "A Garden of Earthly Delights") or is due more to the character is hard to say, though I imagine it is a little of both.
The story pulled me along nicely, though there were a few scenes and revelations that I felt weren't quite fleshed out enough to warrant inclusion. For example, we discover (late in the book), that Nikki's father had anger management problems he managed to hide from his daughters. I was unclear on how this was a useful piece of information -- to my mind, it didn't do anything to explain anyone's behavior.
That said, I still enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who's not previously read any Oates and wonders why I am so into her. :)(less)
This one took some warming up to. The tone is very frantic and choppy, but it eventually starts to smooth out a little bit. At first that really annoy...moreThis one took some warming up to. The tone is very frantic and choppy, but it eventually starts to smooth out a little bit. At first that really annoyed me, but it goes with the main character, who does not have the best life. She is the daughter of German immigrants who come to a small town in upstate New York and wind up persecuted by the townspeople. Eventually her family falls apart and she marries a man who turns out to be an abusive alcoholic who doesn't seem to actually want to have a family. The bulk of the book focuses on her life with this man and after she leaves him. The character slowly grew on me, as you can see her taking control of her life, if not in the best ways. (This is more than I feel you sometimes see with Oates' female characters.) I wouldn't say this book was a favorite of mine, and I wouldn't recommend it as the first thing you read by Oates, but I liked it well enough and definitely recommend that fans pick it up.(less)