I read the first hundred pages last night before bed, and then had nightmares all night. Then I finished the rest today. I can't say it was a favorite...moreI read the first hundred pages last night before bed, and then had nightmares all night. Then I finished the rest today. I can't say it was a favorite, or that I enjoyed it much at all, but it was a very strong, moving story, and I'm looking forward to reading it in the morning at book club.(less)
I enjoyed this book. My friend Linda told me I should read it many times in the last seven years, and I checked it out of the library but never got to...moreI enjoyed this book. My friend Linda told me I should read it many times in the last seven years, and I checked it out of the library but never got to it until now. I wish I had read it seven years ago, because it irritates me a little to read nonfiction books that are several years old, but not old enough to be old yet. So I kept thinking, "Hmmm. It was published in 1998. So she has the Internet, but probably just dial-up connection. And no cell phone. Too bad. That would have come in handy." Whereas if the book were old, it would have a historical feel to it, and if it were current, I wouldn't think about it at all. But I did like it.
Susan Orlean has a way of describing things that makes them alive and immediate and important, so that I feel like I've been in a horribly hot and sweltery swamp, now, even though I'm on the other end of the country in Washington state and it's cool and rainy here. Also, her short histories of various orchid hunters, explorers, growers, etc. were awesome. They didn't drag on for so long that I felt like I was having a history lesson, but they were long enough to get me into it.
I watched Adaptation a few years ago, and I vaguely remember that that movie had something to do with this book. Nicholas Cage was trying to write a screen adaptation of the book, I think. And in the movie, Chris Cooper played John Laroche, who is a central character in the book, even though I wouldn't say it's about him. Chris Cooper did an excellent John Laroche, as far as I can tell. I pictured him all the way through, and he totally fit. Meryl Streep didn't work for me as Susan Orlean, but since there was an author pic in the back of the jacket, I didn't need her in my head. Now that I'm done with the book, we're going to watch the movie again. If I remember right, the movie was a commentary on how Hollywood perverts things and messes up stories, even when they're supposed to be true stories, so that the story in the movie goes off in a totally different direction, but it's all irony. Either that, or it just perverts the story and goes off in a totally different direction, and it's not irony, it's normal Hollywood. But I did like Chris Cooper, and I liked the circularity of the movie, and the freakiness of two Nicholas Cages with frizzy red hair (he had a twin).
I may have thought about the movie too much while I was reading the book.
The things I didn't like about the book are few, but they were enough to knock it down from a pretty good 4 star to a solid 3 star. 1) It had some repetition that bored me. Not a lot, but every now and then I'd start thinking, "Yes, but you said that already. Get on with it." 2) It was nonfiction, and even though she wrote a lot of it in a way that fooled me into reading it like fiction, it wasn't always chronological, but it didn't exactly do flashbacks, and that had me counting to see how many pages I had left to read so I could go on to the next book on my list, which is the third in a series, and YA, and dystopian, and I bet I finish it in an afternoon. Nonfiction just takes too long!
If you enjoy reading nonfiction for pleasure, though, you should definitely read this book. It's well-written, and about a topic and characters that are bizarre and noteworthy. Also, it has the potential to make you think about the ways in which you, yourself, might be bizarre and noteworthy. And if there currently aren't any ways in which you, yourself, might be bizarre and noteworthy, maybe you should become an orchid collector.
Hooray for anti-consumerism! Let's all use less stuff! I love this message. And yes, it was completely Christian-churchy-Jesus filled, because the aut...moreHooray for anti-consumerism! Let's all use less stuff! I love this message. And yes, it was completely Christian-churchy-Jesus filled, because the author is a pastor's wife. I normally hate Christian religion filled messages, because I grew up in it and it was shoved down my throat and used to manipulate me and it all became the bane of my existence. But this message is uplifting, and these people are trying not to be what I would call "regular" Christians, and I admire that.
This was kind of helpful, and it was interesting and funny. When I put my ancestors in google, though, it pulls up ancestry.com pages that you have to...moreThis was kind of helpful, and it was interesting and funny. When I put my ancestors in google, though, it pulls up ancestry.com pages that you have to buy a subscription to get to, and no thank you - I'll be using the one at the library. So I didn't really get anywhere. Then my great grandpa is named Arthur Miller, so none of those 5 million google hits is relevant to me. Most of the success I've had with genealogy has been with the ancestry.com database at the library, and I wouldn't have found half what I did had some of my relatives not given me letters, pictures, a link to an awesome book about one branch of my family - John and Prudence (Emrey) Lloyd. This guy wrote what sounds like a dissertation on the family, researching it extensively and providing as many notes as there were pages of story. My second or third great grandma was the sister of his great grandpa. Very very interesting. But this is not a review of that book.
So yes, I am really getting into genealogy, and this book is interesting and somewhat helpful, but most of my ancestors are not notable or interestingly named, and so they don't show up in most of your web and database searches. Plus, most of the tips (Boolean searches, for example) were not news to me, as I am a librarian. If you don't know about Boolean searches, though, you should learn. (less)
This isn't a fabulous book, exactly, but I enjoyed it immensely because it is a book of old pictures of people and houses in Oklahoma by decade. I lov...moreThis isn't a fabulous book, exactly, but I enjoyed it immensely because it is a book of old pictures of people and houses in Oklahoma by decade. I love old pictures, and old houses, and...well, I'm an Okie, so they were all meaningful. I saw things like those old aluminum drinking glasses, which my great aunt had a set of and which to be honest I didn't like. Also a mailman, and a Christmas tree, and a sidewalk that says WPA 1940 on it. There were teepees, sod houses and log cabins, lean-tos and tents, dog-trot cabins, bungalows and craftsmans and Prairie School styles and farm houses and ranch style (the kind I live in! from the seventies!). Oh, and there was a picture of a bride on a mule. You don't see that every day.
The sad thing is that I was about to withdraw this book from the library because it hasn't been checked out in two years. I started looking at it, and decided I had to check it out instead. If you live in Oklahoma County, you can go to your Metro library and check it out!(less)
This is my three-year-old's favorite book. He likes to look for the skeletons he's seen at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, which he asks to g...moreThis is my three-year-old's favorite book. He likes to look for the skeletons he's seen at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, which he asks to go to every single day. (We have a pass, so we try to go at least once a week.)
It's a heavy book, with beautiful pictures. We started out just reading him the captions, but now that he's more familiar with it, we're actually talking about the pictures, and summarizing some of the text for him, too. The text is the kind of nonfiction that, if you just dip in at any point, you find yourself pulled in and next thing you know you've read the whole page and the next one. There are only two or three pages of text per group of pictures, and he usually steals the book from me if I stop talking long enough to actually read, so I only read it in bits and pieces. But I highly recommend it. (less)
I know I've had this on my currently reading shelf forever, but I swear I'm going to finish it, because it has some great ideas on how to stay focused...moreI know I've had this on my currently reading shelf forever, but I swear I'm going to finish it, because it has some great ideas on how to stay focused on goals and not get off into the timewasters that will destroy the best-laid plans. Plus, a lot of it reinforces what I already do, which I enjoy almost as much as the new ideas.
What did I take away from this book?
Mainly that I'm already a focused individual, and I'm on the right track. Really. But it's because I wandered around lost for a good bit of my twenties trying to figure out who I wanted to be, and then I figured it out, and ever since then I've been doing it. Po Bronson's book, What should I do with my life?, had a lot to do with that. I figured out that I wanted to be a writer, wanted to have a family, wanted a job where I don't have to stand up in front of people, don't have to take work home or work overtime, but that's intellectually stimulating and that pays okay. Public library! Perfect!
Having a family and a full-time job makes it difficult to work in the writing and keep from feeling like I'm letting everybody down with my levels of commitment, but I've discovered I can write for forty-five minutes at breakfast, and again at lunch, without it interrupting family or work, and I still get to feel complete. It's not really enough time, but once the kids are older I'll have a little more free time, maybe.
So I'm already focused, and that part of this book was great but not really necessary.
The thing I liked most was the part that originally came from Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. He said that "ten thousand hours of practice is the magic number to become the best at anything." Yay! I've put several thousand hours in over the last ten years, plus a couple of years of creative writing instruction in my undergrad degree, so I'm on my way to being the best! Watch for my name in lights! Or at least, on goodreads, right? (PS I do already have a collection of short stories available, and if you're interested in reviewing it message me and I'll send you a copy for free.)
The thing I liked second most was the part where he said "Make sure the story you tell about yourself (sometimes only to yourself) inspires you to move in the direction you want to move." I like the idea of framing my story. It's like those moments when I'm driving down the highway on my way to somewhere or sitting in the living room with the kids and I suddenly realize my life is just as interesting and entertaining as the ones people write about in books and on TV. Maybe that sounds weird, but I think it's important to enjoy and be proud of your own life. Otherwise, why wouldn't you just give up on it? Also, it's very motivating to remind myself that I'm the kind of person who...well, in my case, who gets up at five to rewrite and edit my current YA project before I get ready for work. I'm the kind of person who takes my kids to the science museum on my day off. I'm the kind of person who ignores the dishes to read a book, and loves folding laundry, and secretly loves country music even while disagreeing with the values represented in the lyrics of most of the songs. I believe in ghosts, and reincarnation, and global warming.
Okay, but you're not reading this to learn more about me. It's a book review.
This is a decent book, and if you're needing help to cut through all the crap of your life and get focused, this book might be the one for you. Also, it's short, which I think is important in a self-help book. (less)