Knit Wit Living

Reflections, Beading, Knitting, Life

November 2015 Reading

I just finished reading The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2015 review.  Even with what I thought was prolific reading this year, I’ve only read two!  (The Incarnations and Dragonfish) And both are in this month’s Reading post.  Plus, there is a book listed that I have bought – as a pre-order for August 2016.  (A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories) How did that make it on to the 2015 list if it’s not even available yet?

On with the report.

November was distracted. Reading had very little place in it.  There had been rumors for month that my company was going to have layoffs mid-November.  This led to worry, anxiety, and thinking about next-step options and to reading selections like Big Travel, Small Budget: How to Travel More, Spend Less, and See the World and Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship – both representing the pursuit of one’s dreams. This round of layoffs are over, and I am still employed. I am laughing as I realize I have not finished either book. The Pirate Hunters book has been returned to the library and the Big Travel book is on my Kindle.  I’ll probably start reading it again with the next round of impending layoffs…

November 2015 Reading

TitleAuthorRating
DragonfishVu TranThumbs down.
Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession and the Search for a Legendary Pirate ShipRobert KursonGood
The LiarNora RobertsUGH
Silent HouseOrhan PamukNo, not for me.
Big Travel, Small Budget: How to Travel More, Spend Less, and See the WorldRyan ShauersLiking it.
The IncarnationsSusan BarkerGood

November 2015 Reading

The Incarnations is our December book club selection. We wanted something different from what we’ve already read together. We achieved that. I can’t think of any book that I’ve read like this one. This is the story of a taxi driver in Beijing who is being left letters from his soul mate, telling him of their history together.  It travels through centuries of Chinese history telling of their various relationships, weaving in Wang’s current life, and his reaction to receiving these letters. It was very interesting. I would recommend it, much in the way of the  I Am Pilgrim recommendation. I would want you to read it so we can discuss it together.

I had been on the library wait list for Dragonfish for awhile, so when it was finally my turn to check it out I couldn’t remember what it was about!  Don’t you hate when that happens?!   This does sound worthwhile:

Vu Tran has written a thrilling and cinematic work of sophisticated suspense and haunting lyricism, set in motion by characters who can neither trust each other nor trust themselves. This remarkable debut novel is a noir page-turner resonant with the lasting reverberations of lives lost and lives remade a generation ago.

But it just wasn’t for me.

Orhan Pamuk has a new book (A Strangeness in My Mind) that looked interesting but it wasn’t available in the library so I checked out Silent House instead. I did not like the writing style, though the story seemed like it had potential. I stopped after a couple of chapters.

Yes, I am admitting to have started a Nora Roberts book, The Liar. Her books are usually light and breezy and allow for distraction from reality for a bit. This one was so poorly written that I had to stop.

The books I bought in November were primarily based on Kindle deals. A book club friend told me about the Estelle Ryan books; she also “bought” them at no charge through Amazon.  This month’s purchases – the Leon Berger & Estelle Ryan books were at no charge. The Dana Cowin book was $1.99, but looks good. I’ve enjoyed her perspective when she guest judges on Top Chef, and who can resist the subtitle of this book: Learning to Cook with 65 Great Chefs and  Over 100 Delicious Recipes. (I love the “over 100” notation. I haven’t counted them – maybe there’s 101?)

Books Bought November 2015

TitleAuthor
Big Travel, Small Budget: How to Travel More, Spend Less, and See the WorldRyan Shauers
The IncarnationsSusan Barker
The Gauguin ConnectionEstelle Ryan
The Dante ConnectionEstelle Ryan
Lunch with CharlotteLeon Berger
Mastering My Mistakes in the KitchenGail Cowin, Julia Turshen

Our book club discussion is on Tuesday – I’m looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts about The Incarnations and seeing what we decide on for our next selection!

Beading Report

I think beading is more prolific than knitting.  There are more options of things you can do with beads, and the projects are a lot faster to complete (in some cases) than knitting.  Plus, bead designs are available everywhere – you are more likely to see people wearing jewelry than a knitted item.

It could become a daunting task to try to come up with new designs. Or maybe not? There are soooo many different types of beads and new bead types being produced that it may be easier to come up with combinations and patterns that are unique.

On the other hand, knitters may come up with new knitting stitches or yarn / stitch combinations more than noticed or publicized.

It is a fascinating world to be creative with so many choices.

So the really cool thing is that I’ve come up with some ideas and looked online to see how other people have done them…and I can’t find anything!  That is so exciting because it tells me that I am on to something new and different.

The first time this happened, I was making a necklace to wear to the opera in Milan. (I know, how lucky am I?!) I bought a fabulous dress and knew that I wanted to wear a necklace that was totally unique and made specifically for it.  I had read about creating large beads from small ones – a fairly common idea – but then I decided to hang them from the necklace like little pendants.  I could not find any advice on how to do that.  What fun!  Like recipes, patterns are usually just recommendations, so this was actually perfect. I could do what I wanted to make it work.

So amazing!

While planning the jewelry to take on my trip, I realized I had many necklaces but very few earrings. So I decided to take the major components of the different necklaces and make one pair of earrings that would go with them all.  Call it funky, definitely call it unique. This is what I ended up with – and love! because I don’t think anyone else would ever put this combination together!

Beading Report

Now, I’m playing with the herringbone stitch, which is a simple stitch but looks terribly advanced! For some reason, I enjoy doing the tubular rather than the flat stitch. I think it’s more interesting to watch the product develop as a tube.  This is a fairly standard spiral herringbone design, but in the middle section I have Swarovski crystals spiraling in the opposite direction.

I made a point to have both sides match up.  While not unique at all, this was a major challenge for an asymmetrically-driven crafter.  It was a gift for a very symmetrically-oriented friend, who appreciated my extra effort in this regard!

October 2015 Reading

After I Am Pilgrim, it was hard to focus on other books. My October 2015 Reading list is bare, well maybe not as bare as last month!  I only bought one book, though I did try two samples from Amazon. How fortunate to have samples first because I did not like either.

Books Bought October 2015

TitleAuthor
A Man Called OveFredrik Backman

October 2015 Reading

TitleAuthorRating
Good Manners for People Who Sometimes Say F*ckAmy AlkonCould not get through it.
The Fame Lunches: On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, the Brontes, and the Importance of HandbagsDaphne MerkinCould not get through it.
A Man Called OveFredrik BackmanI liked it, and I have not finished it yet.
One Year Off: Leaving It All Behind for a Round-The-World Journey with Our ChildrenDavid Elliot CohenSeemed promising, but my check-out expired before I could dig my teeth into it.
At the Water's EdgeSara GruenGood
First FrostSarah Addison AllenSimplistic but enjoyable
The Trouble with Poetry - and other poemsBilly CollinsGood
The Boston GirlAnita DiamantUnable to make headway
Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers EverywhereLauren LetoThis was a sample. Thank goodness.
The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My LifeAndy MillerDitto to the above rating.
We Never Asked for WingsVanessa DiffenbaughReally liked it.

A Man Called Ove is a well-written book about a man described as a curmudgeon…and how he deals with life, or how he doesn’t deal with life and how he deals with death. We had a great book club discussion, and I am determined to finish it!

I had seen Amy Alkon’s book, Good Manners for People Who Sometimes Say F*ck, at the library and decided to buy it to read while away. What a mistake. I did not like the writing style nor the content for that matter. Apparently, Amy Alkon is an advice columnist, so maybe she is better read one paragraph per day.

I have only liked one Anita Diamant book (no, not The Red Tent!) – Day After Night – but I thought I’d give The Boston Girl a chance. The first chapter was enough (too much?) for me. I did not care enough about the character to continue.  The audio book of The Boston Girl is read by Linda Lavin.  That may make the character more enticing…but straight off the page…it did not draw me in.

I did read At the Water’s Edge and First Frost, which were fine.  At the Water’s Edge would probably create a good book club discussion because it covers different topics about society – different classes, WWII recruitment, relationships, and more.  I did finish it, and would recommend it, but I actually forgot I had read it until I reviewed my list for this post!

First Frost is a fairy tale. It is not realistic at all, as is true of Allen’s book Garden Spells.  The book reminded me a LOT of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.  I loved those books by Betty MacDonald as a kid!  Mrs. Piggle Wiggle had medicine to make children be nicer, stop having tantrums, etc.  This book is VERY reminiscent of dear Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

October 2015 Reading

I really loved The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh so her new book We Never Asked for Wings was on my list.  For some unknown reason, I was reluctant to get started. I thought that maybe I wouldn’t be interested and might not like it. I’d rather not read it than be disappointed.  Also, the book cover illustration made me believe that I would be disappointed.   But I opened it…and really enjoyed it.  It’s a story about a woman who had her first child when she was in high school, and let her mother raise her children until her parents move back to Mexico.  Her son is in high school and her daughter in first grade.   She has to step up to the plate and become the mother.  The book is also about the son, and how he is able to spread his wings.  I recommend it.

October 2015 Reading

 

September 2015 Reading aka I Am Pilgrim

September 2015 Reading

TitleAuthorRating
I Am PilgrimTerry HayesI think I liked it.
More discussion below.

Yes, that’s right. I only opened and closed one book this month.  Continuing my reading from the previous month, for my October book club, I Am Pilgrim consumed my time and attention and took me from all other reading possibilities.

I Am Pilgrim

“Screenwriter and producer Hayes makes his fiction debut with an exceptional thriller that boasts an utterly credible narrator who has had so many covert identities he can barely remember his original name. Soul-weary Scott Murdoch (aka the Pilgrim) has retired from the top echelon of ultrasecret espionage, but duty and faith in the human spirit call him back into service…Like many pilgrimages, this one is painfully long and packed with unexpected menace, its glimpses of the goal fitful and far between, but readers will agree that this journey of body and soul is well worth the effort.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Did I like it? I don’t know.  Here’s the thing.  The main character was telling the story.  So no matter what happened, I had the comfort level and expectation that he does not die.  That made me feel better.

Many times I said to myself, “I would never have read this book if it were not for book club.” and “I would not have continued reading this book if it were not for book club.”  My paperback copy was 785 pages.  When I hit page 475, I wanted to continue reading.

Here’s another thing.  This book was frightening. It was making me read about the jihad society and terrorism.  It made me wonder what is actually going on over there, and how scary the world is now.  I don’t like that. I am thankful every day that I live in this country and that I am safe, and my children can live happy productive lives.  I don’t aim to present myself as a shallow person, but too many details just make me depressed about the state of the world.

This book was disturbing.

But it was also about relationships.  And I like books that explore relationships.  How far would you go for love? For hate? How does someone with relationships where most of the people in his life have disappointed him take his experiences to figure out other people’s motivations?  That is the underlying story that kept me reading.

I haven’t even decided if I would recommend it.  It is way too long.  It often has the feeling that it was written to be turned into a movie instead of just writing for the beauty of telling the story.  It is violent, and scary.  It addresses topics that I don’t want to think about.  But even after finishing it over a week ago, I am still thinking about it.  The characters are well defined and believable, even scarily authentic (to my limited knowledge of the Arab world). There are a few missing links in tying the story together (MINOR SPOILER ALERT: like how does the US agent tell the terrorist’s story, when at the end he doesn’t follow the thread in his search?) which was a tad disappointing.   I guess I might recommend it with the caveat of saying, “I’m not sure I liked this book, but it is worth your time to read it. …And let’s discuss it when you’re done.”

Books Bought September 2015

TitleAuthor
Good Manners for People Who Sometimes Say F*ckAmy Alkon
The Fame Lunches: On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, the Brontes, and the Importance of HandbagsDaphne Merkin

I bought these two books as reading material for an upcoming trip, but didn’t open them until October, so no comments until my next Reading update.

What I’ve Been…

I have been remiss in posting and want to give a quick update of what I’ve been doing…

ABBREVIATED VERSION
knitting
The Poncho
reading
I Am Pilgrim
beading
Herringbone stitch
eating
No sugar
planning
Trip to Italy
playing
Golf
doing
Tidying Up along with the usual procrastination and daydreaming (all part of the process)

UNABRIDGED VERSION
knitting
The Poncho for my friend. This pattern is two 50″x24″ rectangles that are sewn together to make a poncho. It’s quite creative, but very slow-going because I have been so distracted lately.
reading
I Am Pilgrim for my book club.
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I keep reminding myself that I joined the book club to read books that I normally would not pick out on my own. This is one such book. It’s about spies and terrorists and murders and 9/11. All things that are very bleak. I have been depressed about the state of the world while I’m reading this book.
beading
Herringbone stitch – I am digging this stitch! I think it looks more professional than the peyote stitch and I am having such fun with it.  (Just a visual reference below – another post with my own projects to follow…)

eating
No sugar…again. I fell off the No Sugar Wagon awhile back – a little in my coffee, a sweet now and again, and before I know it, I’m eating a lot of sugar. Now I am avoiding it along with gluten, and it makes the No Thanks choices so much easier. I am sleeping better and am not hungry or have any cravings.  There was cake at work yesterday (I am a frosting fanatic!) and I looked at it…did think about that frosting…but walked on by and did not go back. Yay me!
planning
Trip to Italy – coming up…going with college friends. Can Not Wait!
playing
Golf – oh my goodness. I am addicted! I played twice last weekend. I think that it’s mathematical, exercise without thinking you’re exercising, and social. And you only play against yourself really, so no one else is depending on you to do well, like in a team sport.
doing
Tidying Up along with the usual procrastination and daydreaming (all part of the process). I tidied up my books, er, let me clarify, my non-knitting, non-beading, non-craft-oriented books. I had some from college and decided I could let go of them. Now I’m trying to decide if my art books should be donated to Goodwill or given away. I want to make sure they go to nice homes.

The trip is almost upon us and I’m sad that I’m already making plans for when I get back…except that they include golf, knitting, beading and getting together with friends.  Oh, yes, and book club.  It will be interesting to hear everyone’s opinions.

Also, use that reply box down there to offer up other book club suggestions. I’d love to see what other clubs are reading.

Arrivederci!

July & August 2015 Reading

Here is my report of my July & August 2015 Reading.  Lack of interest and summer activities kept me away from reading time.  However, I did stumble upon the book Florence Gordon by Brian Morton in my local (e-)library about an intelligent cantankerous 75-year old woman and her relationships with her family, friends, and herself.  I greatly enjoyed this book because it was so believable and I was able to relish, understand and empathize with each character’s perspective (and a few days after I finished it, I realized that Florence reminded me of my grandmother).

I usually end my reading posts by selecting my favorite, but this month is different.  It’s two months’ worth of reading and I’ve already shared the book I liked the most!

The others…

July & August 2015 Reading

TitleAuthorRating
Gourmet RhapsodyMuriel BarberyJust a few chapters in...
Funny GirlNick HornbyOkay
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingMarie KondoVery good
Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the GlobeNational GeographicNot great - ended up just perusing it.
A Fall of MarigoldsSusan MeissnerOkay
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary ObsessionAllison Hoover BartlettOkay
The Knox Brothers (a Sample)Penelope Fitzgerald Did not like
The Bookshop (a Sample)Penelope FitzgeraldDid not like
Freedom Fries and Cafe Creme (a Sample)Jocelyne RapinacDid not like
The Little Paris BookshopNina GeorgeDid not like
A Paris ApartmentMichelle GableOkay
Florence GordonBrian MortonLoved it
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and EatBee WilsonDisappointed
Then and AlwaysDani AtkinsTERRIBLE!!!!
The Paris ArchitectCharles BalfourOkay
I Am PilgrimTerry HayesStill reading...
Mastering Herringbone Stitch: The Complete GuideMelinda BartaGood
Mastering Peyote StitchMelinda BartaGood
Favorite Bead Stitches, 2013Beadwork Magazine CompilationInspiring!
Stringing, Fall 2015MagazineEnjoying it

I have had Penelope Fitzgerald on my To Read list for awhile, so I downloaded  The Knox Brothers (a Sample) and The Bookshop (a Sample).  I enjoyed neither sample and was very happy I didn’t make a full purchase of either!

I also continued my Paris fascination  by finishing The Paris Architect and purchasing A Paris Apartment (that I had seen someone reading at a community pool) and The Little Paris Bookshop.  They went from Good to Okay to Un-finishable, respectively. The Paris Architect was good until the author didn’t know how to end it.  That just cast a pall on the rest of the story. A Paris Apartment was a light summer read.  I wouldn’t recommend it.  I had been looking forward to The Little Paris Bookshop from a book review.  Yet, I was not drawn to any of the characters and the story became so preposterous that I stopped after the first third.  How disappointing.

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat was on my Want to Read list for some time.  I really like reading about how necessity becomes tradition & how common behaviors are influenced by our surroundings.  Unfortunately, a lot of these food/society/tradition histories read like college thesis dissertations – which I’m betting many of them originally were.  I just can’t get into that style of writing, and had to put it down.

I was drawn to The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession because it was about a man who stole valuable old books.  In the introduction, the author speaks about people stealing books from their libraries.  GASP!  I can’t imagine!  Well, actually, I have a very old copy of Mrs. Gaskell’s account of Charlotte Bronte.

July & August 2015 Reading

Tell tale clue at the spine bottom

Tissue paper over the title page!

Tissue paper over the title page!

July & August 2015 Reading

From 1901!

I looked at it the other day, and in the back there was the little envelope where the date due card is inserted.  For the life of me, I cannot remember if I “just never returned it” (they won’t miss it!) or if I bought it or some other scenario.  I guess I could take it back and see if they want it.

July & August 2015 Reading

Egads! 4 cents a day since 1976!

I did not enjoy The Man Who Loved Books Too Much because there was just too much detail and not enough action or interaction so I did not finish it.  I was very disappointed because I really wanted to like it.

Then and Always – the worst book ever!  I borrowed it from the library’s e-collection.  One of the problems with e-books is that you can’t pick them up and leaf through them.  I felt like I was reading someone’s high school English creative writing paper.  (It reminded me of a really bad paper my BFF and I wrote in high school! [You know who you are, and you also know to which paper I am referring!]) The ending was so stupid that I realized it WAS probably self-published.  I sometimes judge myself of being a snob because I try to read only books that are published by a large company, but then I remember that at least those books have been edited and reviewed before being released.  Not to say that all books published by a large publishing house are good, but at least they’ve already been vetted.

Books Bought July & August 2015

TitleAuthor
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingMarie Kondo
The Little Paris BookshopNina George
A Paris ApartmentMichelle Gable
I Am PilgrimTerry Hayes
Mastering Herringbone Stitch: The Complete GuideMelinda Barta
Mastering Peyote StitchMelinda Barta
Favorite Bead Stitches, 2013Beadwork Magazine Compilation
Stringing, Fall 2015Magazine
Thai Slow Cooker Cookbook: Classic Thai Favorites Made SimpleRockridge Press
Flight of PassageRinker Buck

I was looking to expand my beading skills so picked up a few more books and magazines.  A report on the beading is coming soon…

The good news is that I read more books than I bought. Some months it’s been the reverse! The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is compelling. I am reading it bit by bit, activity by activity. So far I’ve cleaned out the clothes in my house.  I got rid of 7 garbage bags of clothing, purses and shoes.  Finally, my closet has only the clothes I really wear and/or really love!  Books are next.

I Am Pilgrim is a venture into new territory.  My book club is reading it for our October session.  It’s a thriller and it’s longer than what we usually read.  My take on it so far (and I’m only at page 96 out of 785 at this point) is that I must like it a little because I haven’t picked up anything else to read at the same time.

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