Thursday, August 27, 2009

“At least you'll never be a vegetable - even artichokes have hearts.”

In the good old days (read: pre-kids), I would take 5 or 6 books on vacation with me, and read 4 or 5 of them. What I was reading on vacation often required much more consideration than what I was wearing (although I must say, the little shift dress I picked up on a whim at Target the day before we left? PERFECT beach dress. Cool, comfy, and cute enough to go out for dinner or sit around on the deck with cocktails.).

I took 6 books with me this past vacation:
The second 39 Clues book, One False Note
A Ruth Rendell mystery, The Water’s Lovely, which I was already halfway through.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
The latest Charlaine Harris/Sookie Stackhouse novel
Swimming by Nicola Keegan
And Under the Banner of Heaven which I was also already halfway through.

I managed to finish the 39 Clues book one afternoon while the boys were in New Haven with H.
I managed about half of the newest Sookie one evening down the shore, when all the other adults fell asleep.

And that is it.

Man, vacation is not what it used to be.

Even my knitting took a vacation – I got lots done on the Hogwarts scarf while in the car (8 hours to CT, another 5 (DON’T ASK) down to Stone Harbor, then almost 8 back here), but otherwise, after one ridiculous day when 1) I thought I would get to sit on my beach chair and knit, and 2) said knitting got covered in sand, I gave up.

I spent one evening leafing through all the magazines in the beach house; Mrs S reads all sorts of good stuff and gets great catalogues as well. So, of course, I now have a list of other books I have to read….

What I’m reading now:
Little Bee - Chris Cleave. This book was almost too cutesy about itself; the flapcopy reads:
“We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book.
It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it.
Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this:”

And then it goes on to a VERY brief admission that there are two women characters in this book and they meet at one point and then at another. And that is all.
But now that I am drawn into the book (100 pages in), I don’t care. It’s charming and wrenching and beautiful; I might be in love.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. This reminds me VERY much of my all-time favorite childhood book (and one of my just plain favorite books ever), Roller Skates. Calpurnia might be almost as wonderful as Lucinda Wyman.

Plenty: One man, one woman, and a raucous year of eating locally, from the originators of the 100-Mile Diet. The guy is a great writer; it’s a really intriguing topic, and so far, I recommend it.

What I got from the library but may not get to:
A Great and Terrible Beauty. I am not sure I am really in the mood for more vampires just now.
The Scenic Route. This was one of the magazine lists and I jotted it down, but I just happened to see it at the library yesterday. Eh. Seems more like a poor (wo)man’s Eat, Love, Pray, but I could be wrong.

What I bought today (oh, let me go off on a tangent and sing the praises of Half Price Books’ clearance shelves. I almost never even look at the regular priced stuff anymore unless I am looking for something VERY specific. Nevertheless, I did almost buy Ayelet Waldman’s Bad Mother – I don’t care if she is a train wreck, she’s a fine writer; and Gil McNeil’s The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club, which might be one of the most delightful and comforting books I have read in a long time and which reminded me very much of my beloved Hens Dancing):

Motherless Brooklyn - Jonathan Lethem. Because Lethem is a genius, and I need to reread this. I almost put it back, but then I opened it randomly waiting in line, and laughed out loud at the lines I read. Sold.
HomeLand - Sam Lipsyte. Um, why did I buy this? Looks good but can’t remember exactly how or why it crossed my radar.
City of Thieves - MUST get past gross revenge scene to appreciate the rest of this beautiful and haunting little novel.
Geek Love - Katherine Dunn. Ok, ok, I’ll try this AGAIN.
With Bold Knife and Fork - MFK Fisher. Always fun to read about food, from a master.

And what I ordered yesterday:
Knitalong. Because I need to make my little nephew a purple Meathead Hat.

And also, these dance sneakers.
Because I appear to be taking this gym/zumba thing seriously.
If I start wearing off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, someone slap me.

*Amélie Poulain, whoever the heck that is

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Quick, quick, like a bunny...

Damn these kids. Primo has me unscrambling anagrams for his 39 Clues fixation.
Anyone know Russian geography better than I do?
And now I have to read the dang things. Grrr.

If you are a Raffaella Barker fan(Hens Dancing, Summertime) (and I am), you will like Gil McNeil's The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club. However, looking at that now I've typed it, I have no idea where they got that title.

Has anyone read Chris Cleave's Little Bee? Should I read it?

*This is the one I totally cannot get. I THINK they are all Russian cities, but possibly this cheating?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're dead."

For you, a smattering of bookish thoughts.
I can barely form a coherent sentence these days: who has time to think straight? You’ll have to make do with this for the moment.

I caved and bought the newest Sookie Stackhouse; I couldn’t wait for it from the library. I haven’t started it though. It’s sitting tantalizingly on my nightstand. (Yes, since you ask, I was also the sort of child who hoarded her Halloween candy until her brothers’ candy was all gone.) I also bought the third Harper Connelly (and read it in an evening) and the first Lily Bard book, which also waits on my nightstand.

I borrowed a few anthologies from the library with Sookie stories in them: “One Word Answer” from Bite, which gives some of Hadley’s backstory, and “Dracula Night” from Many Bloody Returns. It was pleasant to have a Sookie fix while I steeled myself to spending twenty bucks on the hardcover Dead and Gone. (Eventually, I used one of the boys’ Easter B&N giftcards from their grandmother instead. Because THAT is the kind of mother I am.)

Richard Russo has a new book out; as I haven’t managed to slog through Bridge of Sighs, I doubt I will be running out to spend 30 dollars on the newest. I love love love his earlier books, but his last two were spotty at best. Philippa Gregory tackles the Plantagenets: The White Queen is released in late August. A Touch of Dead, billed as “Sookie Stackhouse: The complete stories” is released in October, as is the next Harper Connnelly book. And of course, A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book has an October release (finally!) here in the States.

Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven sat on my TBR pile for well over a year, but once I picked it up and started it (why is it you need to be in a certain mood to want to read and to enjoy certain books?), I couldn’t put it down. Fascinating stuff. Fundies are crazy, no matter which religion they are affiliated with.

I just started Ruth Rendell’s The Water’s Lovely. It’s one of those books that you THINK you have twigged from the beginning, but as it’s Ruth Rendell, I am quite sure I do not. I am sure I will enjoy the ride.

Jacqueline Kelly’s The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (thanks for the recc, Jess!), Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty, and Maggie Sefton’s Knit One, Kill Two wait for me at the library. My local branch is closed for 18 months for renovations, so I have been going to the next closest, in a kind of dicey, economically challenged neighborhood. At first I was a bit nervous, but the building is positively lovely (high ceilings, lots of marble and warm, rich wood), and the staff are incredibly sweet and totally happy that the East Liberty patrons are coming there for the duration. H doesn’t want me to take the kids there, as the neighborhood is somewhat well known for its gunfire and other crime, but I am happy enough to point out that the microbrewery where he picks up two growlers a week is only two blocks away from the library, and the middle-class minivanned people who buy beer there don’t let the thought of gunfire stop THEM.

And there you have it.

30 days till school starts.

*Cole Sear, "The Sixth Sense"