Within about 45 minutes of starting this book I was knee-deep in the contents of my closet, decluttering. Because that's how I roll. Strike while the...moreWithin about 45 minutes of starting this book I was knee-deep in the contents of my closet, decluttering. Because that's how I roll. Strike while the iron is hot. My problem is the follow-through, which is why the dregs are still all over my bedroom floor, but I'm getting there. The whole finishing thing is the reason the closet was overflowing in the first place. I had so many supplies for craft projects that never got finished (or even started in some cases). So I packed up a big box, put it up on freecycle and within 15 minutes had a girl scout leader coming to pick it up. I already feel a little lighter. I did, however, keep the supplies for the clothespin reindeer ornaments, because I love those and I'm really going to make them this year.
Anyway, the book (which I think is mostly cleaned up blog posts, but I'm not certain) is pretty good. I was obviously inspired. But I found the practical aspects much more interesting than the spiritual. The zen of owning a single knife or whatever was thought-provoking the first time she talked about it, but it got a little repetitive. Only had to say it once, Francine Jay.
I will likely never be a minimalist. For me, it's about options. I like knowing that if I need hole reinforcements for notebook paper I have them. Francine Jay does not even own a stapler and I have a tool intended just for scraping the insides of jalapenos. I like that. But there are some things--like my 17 tote bags--that just had to go. I had a drawer full of mysterious electrical cords which I had not used in several years, but was hanging onto "just in case". Gone. My ipod from 2002 which is approximately the size and weight of a smallish stone paver is going back to the apple store for recycling. My sewing supplies now fit in one small plastic tub and I have self-imposed a lifetime ban on Joann Fabric's remnant bin. I no longer have five junk drawers. It's nice.
I found out about this book from one of those BUY!MORE!STUFF! emails I get from Amazon almost daily. When I saw the title I thought Amazon was making...moreI found out about this book from one of those BUY!MORE!STUFF! emails I get from Amazon almost daily. When I saw the title I thought Amazon was making some rude assumptions about my approaching spinsterhood, possibly based on the unusually high number of Joan Crawford movies I have purchased over the years. But then I saw the author, realized that Amazon had actually made a good recommendation in this case, and found the book at the library. Take that, Amazon. It's the least you deserve for the "Carnie Wilson, Unstapled" recommendation.
This book is not uproariously funny, but it is humorous, especially if you have read Devil in the Details and have some familiarity with her family and the details of her OCD. Overall, I thought her earlier book was better (possibly in part because I liked the smarmy reader on the audio version), but this was a fun, quick read. The bits about the history of hypochondria were very interesting, though I suspect they were not rigorously fact-checked. Traig implies that Florence Nightingale hopped into bed at age 37 and stayed there until she died at age 90. She may have been a hypochondriac (not sure that was ever proven), and she was bedridden at times, but she also did a lot of great work during those years. So read this book for fun, but don't use it as a reference for a research paper. (less)
I had this on pre-order for my kindle, so as the clock struck 12:00 a.m. I was having a bit of a dilemma. Not only do I have a massive amount of readi...moreI had this on pre-order for my kindle, so as the clock struck 12:00 a.m. I was having a bit of a dilemma. Not only do I have a massive amount of reading to do for class (and not the kind where you can skim), it was also still sort of Halloween and TCM was about to air The Innocents and The Haunting. I do not have a DVR. Also, it was about the time of day when most people have either been in bed for a while or they are trying to get there. This book eventually won out after a protracted internal debate that involved actual internet research. Netflix does not stream either movie. They are both on dvd, but according to the most helpful negative review on amazon, the transfer is poor. Both movies are based on books--Turn of the Screw, which I believe I started 10 years ago but didn't finish, and Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, which I have read and enjoyed, but don't remember very well, and wouldn't it be best to watch the movie with the book fresh in my mind? It's usually not, but I am one of those book first people. You might notice that studying and sleeping were basically dismissed out of hand.
This book is obviously not a great intellectual exercise and it doesn't pretend to be. Instead, it is my favorite type of memoir: a smart, funny collection of essays about whatever the heck she wants. There's some interesting stuff here about The Office, but not as much as you might expect.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I will admit that it may be due in part to my love of The Office and her Kelly Kapoor character. Someone unfamiliar with either might not find this quite as funny as I did. This is not to say that her writing doesn't stand on its own, but I may have been more indulgent than I would have been otherwise. Then again, I genuinely laughed out loud through just about the entire thing, so maybe I wasn't. (less)
Aside from his memoir, which I seem to remember really enjoying, I find Bill Bryson humorous in the same way that I do Dave Barry--very small infreque...moreAside from his memoir, which I seem to remember really enjoying, I find Bill Bryson humorous in the same way that I do Dave Barry--very small infrequent doses, such as reading a 2 minute newspaper column taped up on someone's office door. Unfortunately, I am always forgetting this and pledging to read more Bill Bryson because I feel like I should enjoy his books and they have charming covers.
I picked this book to read in particular because the Wikipedia entry for the 5th Duke of Portland, William Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck said that it discussed him "in some detail." After reading The Underground Man earlier this year I have been very curious about His Grace. So I got started on this book, read about 20% and had to just skip ahead to the pertinent bits. Bill Bryson can be very funny and I laughed out loud several times, but it seems that the ratio of truly funny to overly forced cleverness in this book is something like 1:10 and it's mixed with quite a bit of dull material. I suspect that I would have enjoyed this book a bit more had I been more familiar with England, but I don't think that should be a necessary requirement for enjoying travel writings. (less)
Five stars for the New York Public Library, two stars for this book, which has some gems, but overall is a little on the dull side. Not everyone asked...moreFive stars for the New York Public Library, two stars for this book, which has some gems, but overall is a little on the dull side. Not everyone asked to contribute is a writer and it showed.
However, I think the book will raise awareness of the NYPL and its impressive collection. I had no idea that it housed so many amazing pieces of history. Should I ever visit New York, I'll be making a visit. (less)
Somehow I feel like I have failed Ira Glass, but I just couldn't get into very many of these essays. Some, like the play-by-play account of the poker...moreSomehow I feel like I have failed Ira Glass, but I just couldn't get into very many of these essays. Some, like the play-by-play account of the poker tournament were just dull. I did a lot of skimming in this book. I'm giving it 3 stars, though, because there were several essays that I enjoyed: I liked Malcolm Gladwell's essay, but I think I read it in "The Tipping Point." I also liked Jack Hitt's story about the acid pit, the story of the SEC and the 15-year-old, and the odd Val Kilmer interview. (less)
I've read a handful of Vonnegut now and while I don't love his work, I really do appreciate it. This books takes maybe 30 minutes to read, but the len...moreI've read a handful of Vonnegut now and while I don't love his work, I really do appreciate it. This books takes maybe 30 minutes to read, but the length is deceptive. There's a lot there; Vonnegut is just extremely subtle and never beats you over the head with the point he's trying to make. The interviews are a bit of a strange mix--everyone from Karla Faye Tucker (I suspect that this interview probably got some letters when it was broadcast so close to her execution) to John Brown to Clarence Darrow, and of course, Kilgore Trout. (less)
Apparently Susan Hill is best friends with everyone who writes her favorite books. The name dropping is a little wearing, but the book is still enjoya...moreApparently Susan Hill is best friends with everyone who writes her favorite books. The name dropping is a little wearing, but the book is still enjoyable. I did a little internal fist pump when she talked about not getting Jane Austen, but then she trash talked Mavis Gallant. Susan Hill, you are dead to me.
Well, dead-ish. I did finish the book after all, and I've been trying to come up with my own list of books I would keep if I could only have 40 for the rest of my life. It's a difficult exercise. (less)