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Archive for the category “Reading”

May 2015 Reading

Books Bought May 2015

TitleAuthor
A Replacement LifeBoris Fishman
The NightingaleKristin Hannah
The Prime of Miss Jean BrodieMuriel Spark
The BBQ & Outdoor Grilling BookScott Cooper
Wreck of the MedusaAlexander McKee
Knitting Yarns: Writers on KnittingAnn Hood
The Red NotebookAntoine Laurain
The Elegance of the HedgehogMuriel Barbery
Stringing, Spring 2014Magazine
Stringing, Spring 2013Magazine

Books Read May 2015

TitleAuthorRating
A Replacement LifeBoris FishmanThumbs down; could not finish it.
The NightingaleKristin HannahLoved it.
The Red NotebookAntoine LaurainLoved it.
The Elegance of the HedgehogMuriel BarberyStill reading
Stringing, Spring 2014MagazineGood ideas!
Stringing, Spring 2013MagazineGood ideas!
Calling Invisible WomenJeanne RaySo so.
First FrostSarah Addison AllenStarted, but returned to the library.
Need to check it out again.
Mrs. Queen Takes the TrainWilliam KuhnThumbs down (did not finish)
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia ChildBob SpitzEnjoyed it, did not get a chance to finish.

May seemed like a long month in terms of reading in that I was able to read more than expected. I read a wide variety of materials and took advantage of my Book Bub emails to pick up some really good deals to add to my library and To Read list.

My May reading covered a span of choices with a great many surprises of what I enjoyed, and met my expectation of at least 1 book that I did not like.  Let’s start with that one.  My Temple book club selection has consisted of at least 4 books by Russian male writers in their 30s whose families have migrated to the US.  A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman is one such book (our previous book in this genre was The Betrayers, by David Bezmozgis).  A Replacement Life tells the story of an aspiring writer (employed by a magazine) whose grandmother dies and his grandfather asks him to write his grandmother’s story to submit for a Holocaust payoff.  I did not get very far in the book. I didn’t like the style of writing, and I couldn’t relate to the story or the characters.

Surprisingly, I voraciously read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  The story, the characters and the writing had me hooked by page 5.  At this point, I checked to see how many pages were in the book (440) so that it didn’t end too soon.  I had been a bit reluctant to read another Holocaust book, but this one was absolutely captivating.  It is from the perspective of non-Jews, which was eye-opening at how much they also suffered, and a story about the bravery of women was so refreshing.  The characters’ relationships were fascinating, surprising, and moving.

The Stringing magazines were a break from reading about off-loom beading techniques. Originally, I thought that stringing would be too basic, but this style has interesting designs, and they also provide practice of standard skills, like attaching clasps, using different stringing materials, beads, chains, etc.  I made this glass bead bracelet and am quite taken with it! (My mom knit the scarf in the background.  She picked up knitting after about 50 years….apparently knitting is just like riding a bike, because she did a great job!)

Dearie and Mrs. Queen were library audiobooks to be able to “read” while knitting.  Dearie, about Julia Child, was good but I didn’t get a chance to get very far before I had to return it.  Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, a contrived story about a monarch’s attempt to use modern technology, like a computer, and then figuring out the public transportation system, was just dreadful. I only listened to a couple of chapters (if that) before stopping.

I picked up Wreck of the Medusa, the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and the BBQ & Outdoor Grilling books through Book Bub, all for $2.00 or less.  Wreck of the Medusa: Mutiny, Murder, and Survival on the High Seas,  previously titled Death Raft (wow!), is the true story of a shipwreck in 1816.  My all-time favorite book, Dean King’s Skeletons of the Zahara,  is a similar recounting of a shipwreck near the Sahara Desert, where the sailors were captured and then sold, and many survived!  I am drawn to these survival stories.  Maybe some past life connection?  And who could resist a Muriel Spark at a good price?

I find that whenever I read a good book, like The Nightingale, the next book has to be extra special.  I did something right this time, because the next two books just pulled me right in!  The first, The Red Notebook, by the French author Antoine Laurain and translated by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce, is about a woman whose purse is stolen and the man who found it.  It’s a story about fate, luck, possibilities, and relationships. I loved it.  I found myself moved by it even when I wasn’t reading it, and when I didn’t even realize I was thinking about it.  I recommended it to my book club and they’re reading it this month.  I hope they enjoy it as much as I did!

May 2015 Reading

I seem to be on a new twist of reading translated French authors. I am currently reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. This book takes place in an expensive apartment building in Paris. One of the plots is about the super, who strives to meet her tenants’ expectations that she is slovenly and uneducated while enjoying the arts and philosophy in secret. The other plot is about a young girl who is tired of the stupidity of life and its inhabitants and is planning to end her life on her next birthday when she turns 16.

I bought this book as a hard copy and I am so glad I did!  It was one of those purchases of wandering around the bookstore and stumbling upon it.  I’m happy that I have the hard copy (paperback) instead of digital because it’s easier to share with others, and it can be kept on the bookshelf to be seen (by me!) and remembered, and picked up again, unlike on a digital device.  I was reading a bit before going to work this morning, and I thought that this might actually replace my favorite book, Skeletons of the Zahara by Dean King, that has been my go-to favorite for years.  Hedgehog is so well-written, amusing, believable, intelligent, and keeps me wanting to read more each time I have to put it down.  More on this book when I finish it in June.

Yes, my favorite book this month…well, I really thought it was going to be The Nightingale. Then it was The Red Notebook.  But now it is definitely The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

What a great month!

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Chronicle Books Craft Books Sale

Let’s All Go to the Movies!

I missed a whole era of movies while I was married (before being with DDSO). For a variety of reasons, the only movies I saw during my life with young children were ones that I could share with them. (“There was a lost decade, so I don’t really know,” Bill Nighy’s character, Quentin, in Pirate Radio.)

Let's all go to the movies

I am rediscovering the pleasure of movies. They are a reader’s cheating version of getting immersed in someone else’s story.  Sit in a darkened theater and engulf the story in under 2, 2 1/2 hours instead of taking 24+ hours to read it.  Having missed so many movies in the 90’s not only do I not want to miss any current movies, but I also have so many to catch up on!

I thought I had done really well seeing 24 movies last year, but when I looked at a list of all the movies that had been released in 2014, I was aghast at how many I had not seen!

Now, I am a movie glutton.

We got out of work early on Friday for the long weekend and I immediately headed to a 5:00 movie (In the Name of My Daughter).

I carved out time on Saturday for another movie (Saint Laurent).
Let's all go to the movies
I am toying with checking out the IFC Center in Manhattan that plays only Independent films.

Actually, let me restate that….I am thinking of switching my art museum memberships to a membership at IFC. I know, why not do them all? But I am trying to be realistic about which establishments I will actually visit (rather than just support as a distant admirer).

I was so pleased when I was reading The NY Times this morning, and realized that I had seen half of the movies advertised for the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas! Prior to that, I would have been pleased to just recognize the movie titles and know if I wanted to see them or not.
Let's All Go to the MoviesO
Of the advertised movies, I’ve seen the In the Name of My Daughter, Iris, and Wild Tales.
And recognizing a movie that I want to see:
Let's all go to the movies

I purposefully haven’t given my opinions on the movies as I already track them on my Resolutions page and I don’t like to be (too) repetitive. That’s also not the point of this post. Just getting to the movies and experiencing them in a theater is so enjoyable. I’m glad I’ve rediscovered and am allowing myself this pleasure.

April 2015 Reading

It got to a point that I would not allow myself to read any beading books before bedtime. Worse than electronic interaction where people do not watch TV at bedtime, the beading books got my mind whirring so swiftly that I could not sleep.  Or I would finally get myself to sleep and then I would wake up two hours later to jot down ideas.

It’s nice to be obsessed!  Oh my, another stash opportunity! With beads being so less expensive than skeins of yarn, it is a frightening thought! I. Must. Contain. Myself. at least until I have a direction. Which I Am Working Toward.
Shop Interweave Store
Thus said, you may not be surprised with the April Books Purchased Assortment. “Damn Interweave Press!”  They had some April 15th sales going on, and as you may recall from the Holiday season, I find their sales very hard to resist.

Books Bought

TitleAuthor
Getting Started with Seed BeadsDustin Wedekind
Beadwork, June/July 2014Magazine
Beadwork, August/September 2012Magazine
Mastering Beadwork A Comprehensive Guide to Off-Loom TechniquesCarol Cypher
Beaded Allure Kelly Wiese
The Beader's BibleDorothy Wood
PlainsongKent Haruf
Eggs for BreakfastDonna Leahy
Farmstead Feast: WinterAnna Hess
Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks LeagueJonathan Odell
StolenSusan Lewis

My mother told me about an email service called Book Bub, where you get daily emails about book bargains for your e-book provider.  Stolen is the first that I found and bought from this source.  I’ve never heard of the author, Susan Lewis, though I now see that she is very prolific.

Books Read

TitleAuthorRating
Getting Started with Seed BeadsDustin WedekindDisappointing
Beadwork, June/July 2014MagazineGood
Beadwork, August/September 2012MagazineGood
Mastering Beadwork A Comprehensive Guide to Off-Loom TechniquesCarol CypherGood
Beaded Allure Kelly WieseGood
PlainsongKent HarufGood
Eggs for BreakfastDonna LeahyOkay
Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks LeagueJonathan OdellStill reading
The Storied Life of A.J. FikryGabrielle ZevinLoved it!
The After LifeGigi Levangie GrazerJust Terrible
Girls in White DressesJennifer CloseCould not get into it at all
The Book of TomorrowCecilia AhernTwo stars
When the World was YoungElizabeth GaffneyDid not get through it.
The Mathematician's ShivaStuart RojstazerStill Reading...

I enjoyed Plainsong by Kent Haruf.  Amazon has placed it in a category which I feel is an oxymoron – Vintage Contemporary.  (What is that? Like wearing a 1980’s dress?  It’s still vintage, worn by a contemporary. But I digress.)  This is a story about a pregnant teenager who is taken in by two older bachelor brothers.  I love stories about relationships, and this one abounds with people and how they interact with each other.  At one point, where the girl goes off with the boy who impregnated her, I had to put the book down because I didn’t want to read about the brothers’ reaction of what I expected to be disappointment and confusion.  It really is a lovely book.

I have The Mathematician’s Shiva in paperback next to my favorite chair in the living room. I pick it up sporadically and am slowly wending my way through it.  It’s good enough for me to keep picking it up and returning to it, but it hasn’t drawn me in to think about it all day and rush to get home to see what happens next.

I thoroughly enjoyed our Book Club Selection, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.  Our discussion was relatively short because we all loved it. There were no heated discussions of what was unbelievable or boring, or disengaging.  We understood the characters, they were believable, and we were all in agreement that it was a good book. While I like good books, I was disappointed (for many reasons) that the conversation veered to a discussion about many of the book club members’ pet dogs.

The Storied Life set such a high standard that it was difficult to find another book on its heels.  I tossed multiple library books, then finally got through Cecilia Ahern’s The Book of Tomorrow, a very contrived story about a girl who finds a book that has diary entries for the next day.  Admittedly, the author uses the first chapter to tell the reader to suspend reality but even so it wasn’t that great, and initially I thought I may have read it before until I realized that I was getting it confused with JoJo Moye’s Me Before You because there’s a castle in each story!  When I finished it, I gave it two stars on Amazon.  That meant “well, there must have been something there because I finished it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.”

BeadRoom.com
 

March 2015 Reading

My March 2015 Reading report looks like I went a little crazy with the book buying, but Amazon had another one of their Sale Days when a multitude of Paleo e-books were not only on sale, but free! What a deal!

Books Bought March 2015

TitleAuthor
Death in Sicily: The First Three Stories of the Inspector Montalbano SeriesDamon Runyon
The ItaliansJohn Hooper
Paleo Gluten Free Slow Cooker RecipesBeth Gabriel
The Flavor Bible: Paleo Sauce and Dip RecipJ.S. West
10 MInute Paleo Slow Cooker CookbookDerek Doepker
Paleo BreakfastAngelina Dylon
Paleo CookiesAngelina Dylon
The Art of Frugal SimplicityJessica Jacobs
The Paleo Comfort Foods CookbookMartha Drummond
Death at La Fenice: A Commissioner Brunetti MysteryDonna Leon
The Storied Life of A.J. FikryGabrielle Zevin
The Hundred-Year HouseRebecca Makkai
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian StoriesHenry Whittlesey

The sale was also good timing with Passover right around the corner. I find that many Paleo recipes are perfect for Passover since they avoid flour all together. Paleo Cookies has many good recipes, but I haven’t made any yet. (I ended up making Paleo Fudge Bites for Passover, which were delicious!)

I looked through the Paleo Comfort Food book because I made the worst meatloaf ever the other night!  I used almond meal instead of bread crumbs and while I did eat it that night, I could not bring myself to eat the leftovers.  It usually tastes better the next day…not this time! Too bad, how disappointing! I am hoping for a better bread crumb replacement from this book.

Books Read March 2015

TitleAuthorRating
The ItaliansJohn HooperDid not like; Did not finish
Paleo CookiesAngelina DylonWill come back to make the recipes!
The Paleo Comfort Foods CookbookMartha DrummondGood selection.
Death at La FeniceDonna LeonFair to Good
The Hundred-Year HouseRebecca MakkaiStill Reading
What Alice ForgotLiane MoriarityTrite. Could not get into it.
The Girl in the Flammable SkirtAimee BenderDisappointing
Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian LifeFrances MayesOkay, did not finish.
All my old knitting magazinesVogue, Interweave, KnitSimple, etc.Great!

My friends and I are planning a trip to Tuscany in the Fall so that led to a renewed interest in Italy-related books.  The Italians was disappointing. The description “John Hooper’s entertaining and perceptive new book is the ideal companion for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Italy and the unique character of the Italians. Digging deep into their history, culture, and religion, Hooper offers keys to understanding everything from their bewildering politics to their love of life and beauty. Looking at the facts that lie behind the stereotypes, he sheds new light on many aspects of Italian life: football and Freemasonry, sex, symbolism, and the reason why Italian has twelve words for a coat hanger, yet none for a hangover,” sounded so engaging, but so far I haven’t made it past the 40th page!  I will try again later.

March 2015 Reading

Death at La Fenice was good even though I guessed the answer around the middle.  This is the first in a series, so I think I will read more and hope they will get harder to solve.

Every Day in Tuscany is the sequel to Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. I couldn’t get through the first but decided to try the second book anyway. Same result.  They’re just not that engaging.  A friend and I are going to have wine and watch the movie before we go to Italy. I think the wine will definitely help!

Another friend has asked me to knit her a poncho/ruana so I have been looking through  my magazine and book (and of course online) materials to come up with ideas. This has given me the opportunity to also bookmark other exciting patterns.  Even patterns from magazines that are ten years old (or more) would be so pretty with the luscious yarns available today!

March 2015 Reading

I am two-thirds of the way through The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai, the author of The Borrowers.  I loved The Borrowers when I was young! I would say that even though I haven’t finished it yet, I liked The Hundred-Year House best of my March selection.  It’s about the inhabitants of a house, and how their stories evolve over the years. It’s told backwards which is kind of annoying, but also makes me think about the story when I’m doing something else. When I get to the end, I wonder if then I’ll have to re-read the beginning?

February 2015 Reading

Summary: My February 2015 Reading Results were better than January’s, but not where I want to be.

Bottom line: I really need to get to the gym more often.

I station myself on a treadmill, set my kindle on the book rack, and let the book “take me away” while I walk.

Really, if I have a good book I will go to the gym more often and walk as long as possible. As long as possible = Given that my gym is at work, the more I walk the later I will end up working.

The only time this strategy did not work was when I was reading The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins.  I had high expectations and did not want to get caught up in the story and then have to drag myself away in the middle.

Books Bought February 2015

TitleAuthor
GangsterlandTod Goldberg
Leaving TimeJodi Picoult
The Girl on the TrainPaula Hawkins

I had read about Gangsterland in the NY Times Sunday Book Review, and had recommended it to my Temple Book Club. As with The Grifters, again from the NY Times Book Review and a recommendation to my other book club, I just went ahead and read it on my own, without waiting for the others to join me.

February 2015 Reading

I wouldn’t say that I loved Gangsterland, but I would say that I loved certain parts of it…especially when the Rabbis were portrayed irreverently!  Some of my friends say that they choose a temple based on the rabbi, but I have never liked to give the clergy that much distinction.  I choose based on the community because I feel I would spend more time with the other members than with the clergy. (And between you and me, I rarely pay attention to the sermons because I often feel that they are sanctimonious, and I have no patience for that kind of attitude.)

So a story that has an American-Italian mobster impersonating a Rabbi was highly enjoyable!

February 2015 Reading

TitleAuthorRating
GangsterlandTod GoldbergGood
Leaving TimeJodi PicoultFair
The Girl on the TrainPaula HawkinsGood!!!
The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town that Raised ThemAmy DickinsonDid not finish
Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the LineMichael GibneyNot interested
Fall of GiantsKen FollettHave not finished

I wasn’t sure if I should put Fall of Giants on the list yet. A friend has lent me the hardcover, and I also borrowed the e-edition when I went away for a weekend.  But I’ve barely cracked it open, and have only read through the family listings before the story begins. BUT…I have heard rave reviews, and it is on the To Read list, so alas, it is included.

Sous Chef is about how a restaurant kitchen operates over the course of 24 hours.  Turns out I wasn’t as interested as I thought! And I was disappointed in Amy Dickinson’s book, and I hate to say that because I love her on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.

As of February reading, I was biding my time to sink my teeth into The Girl on the Train.  It is now March when I’ve finished it, so I will be quite proper (Downton Abbey-speak!) and wait till next month’s post to give you my review. (Sneak Peek: if you are thinking about reading it, do so!)

February 2015 Reading

Since I have so few books on my list this month, I would have to say that the one I recommend most is Gangsterland.  It has interesting perspectives on modern mobsters, religion, and relationships.

 

January 2015 Reading

I’m late to report on my January 2015 Reading!  That’s because there wasn’t much reading going on. I was trying to remember what I did instead of reading, and all I could think of was knitting the Iodine Cowl.

A friend recommended that I listen to books instead of reading, so I can knit and read at the same time, but I just really prefer to read than be read to…unless I’m in the car (driving or not!).

January 2015 Books Purchased

This would have been zero, except that a book that I back-ordered arrived this month:

200 Fair Isle Motifs, Mary Jane Mucklestone

January 2015 Reading

Well, if I had to buy a book in January, this was a great one!  Each pattern is shown in at least two color diagram choices (like cross-stitch) and then with a chart to follow. There is always a knitted sample of one of the designs at the top of the page.

January 2015 Reading

I already have a project in mind that will use at least two of the designs, which I hope to share the end results with you soon…

January 2015 Reading

Again, a small list.

First, I have to say that I don’t see the appeal of Mary Kay Andrews’ writing.  After two chapters, I couldn’t bear to waste my time anymore and returned it to the library ASAP.

I have no idea why I wanted to read The One and Only, but it had been on my Read From The Library list for awhile.  It’s about a young woman who likes sports, and her best friend’s family, where the father happens to be a college football coach. There’s obviously a lot of sports talk, which is not that enlightening to me, but the relationships are pretty believable, which is why I made it to the end of the book.

The Betrayers and Leaving Time were the selections for my two book clubs.  I read through each of them, not really engaged in either.  The Betrayers, at a high level, is about an Israeli political persona who basically runs away with a (younger) mistress to a Russian seaside town where he and his family visited when he was a child. After our book club discussion, I had a little more insight into what could make this book more interesting – the history of Jews in Russia, the Russian equivalent of the McArthur era, and even some insight into Israel.

Leaving Time was my first experience reading Jodi Picoult’s writing.  Interestingly enough, it was about elephant relationships and human relationships, and sometimes a elephant-human relationships.  I say “Interestingly enough,” because I have always been fascinated by elephants, and also have donated money to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee which was the basis for much of the book.  I was not captivated while reading the book, and had to push myself through certain parts.  However, by the end and when it was over, it gave enough to leaf back through it, looking for hints of what I missed to bring it to its conclusion (which I now understand is typical of her stories).

I would have to say that thanks to my book club discussion, The Betrayers was the most interesting book I read this month.  I’m sure if I had been more prolific, my choice would be different.

January 2015 Reading

 

 

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