Monday, November 30, 2015

It's Monday! (11/30/15)

It's Monday! is sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.
Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Ours was nice. And now, nothing but reading for three days. It's my reward for hosting Thanksgiving!
Last week, when I should have been cleaning my house for company, I finished these:
I've told you how I felt about Sarah Vowell's Unfamiliar Fishes. It wasn't my cup of tea. Not that I think she's a bad writer or researcher.
Adriana Trigiani is known for her fiction, but I've had her memoir, Don't Sing at the Table on my bookshelves for years now. It wasn't quite what I was expecting. Judging by the title, the photo on the front, and her cookbook, I assumed it was going to be a food memoir. Wrong. It's actually an articulation of what her grandmothers taught her about life. It was sweet and simple, a nice read.

Last week, I started:

I picked up several audiobooks the last time I was at the library, so I'd have a selection. I forgot I picked up The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, but when I finished Unfamiliar Fishes, I immediately started it. At one time, I owned a copy of this book, but I never got around to reading it, so I donated or sold it. Now I'm thinking I'll buy another copy (wouldn't be the first time). It's a set of classic poems that Jacqueline Kennedy loved throughout her life, edited by her daughter Caroline Kennedy. It's a nice collection.
This week, I'll be reading books off my December reading list, probably three or four of them at once.

Monday, November 23, 2015

It's Monday! (11/23/15)

It's Monday! is sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.
I spent a portion of the weekend getting ready to host Thanksgiving. I have to tell you, I'm just not feeling it this year. We've hosted every year since the year we were married (13 years), and I don't relish the idea of making, eating, and cleaning up after that same meal again. If I had my druthers, this year we'd put a big Stouffer's lasagna in the oven and be done with it. I guess it's time to delegate and ask for help.
At any rate, when I should have been planning the Thanksgiving meal, I've been reading.
Last week, I finished these:

I loved A Light in the Window. Period. I enjoyed listening to it especially. The narrator is the perfect fit for Father Tim.
I found Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter a tedious read. There's really little more than an essay's worth of material here, but it's stretched to 240 pages. The fateful lobotomy that caused irreparable damage didn't happen until 150 pages in, if that gives you an indication. I'd had high hopes for this one, but it disappointed me.
I was looking for a sentimental book about fathers this fall, and The Last Season fell into my lap. It's the story (memoir) of a son who decides he and his 95-year-old father should take in one more season of Old Miss football games. It's not stellar--I didn't expect it to be--but it's such a comfortable read.
Last week, I started these:
I finally cracked Humans of New York: Stories. If you're unfamiliar with the Humans of New York tumblr or the first book of the same name, do check them out. This is more of the same, and I'm loving it. It's heartbreaking and hilarious and bewildering all at the same time--a fitting metaphor for NYC, I assume.
And I picked up the audio of Sarah Vowell's Unfamiliar Fishes last weekend. It's the story of Hawaii being "colonized" by American missionaries in the 1800s. I thought I'd love it, but I have some real problems with how missionaries and colonization are portrayed. I know it's not PC these days to appreciate either missionaries or early colonization of "heathen lands", even in part, but Vowell's odd irreverence is off-putting to me. I know some folks love her, but she's not my cup of tea. Our world views are just too different to have much common ground.
After swapping Unfamiliar Fishes for my reread of Tender at the Bone (I realized I probably wouldn't have enough time to finish it with Thanksgiving fast approaching), there's only one book left on my November reading list:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Nonfiction November 2015 - Week 3

Nontraditional Nonfiction: This week we will be focusing on the nontraditional side of reading nonfiction. Nonfiction comes in many forms. There are the traditional hardcover or paperback print books, of course, but then you also have e-books, audiobooks, illustrated and graphic nonfiction, oversized folios, miniatures, internet publishing, and enhanced books complete with artifacts. So many choices! Do you find yourself drawn to or away from nontraditional nonfiction? Do you enjoy some nontraditional formats, but not others? Perhaps you have recommendations for readers who want to dive into nontraditional formats.  We want to hear all about it this week!  
Link up your week three post on Becca's site, Lost in Books.

I'm a very traditional reader when it comes to the form my book takes. My ideal is a good hardcover that I bought. This year I branched out a bit by trying (and loving) audiobooks, but I listen to my books on CD. I've read lots of people say they enjoy audio for nonfiction, but I'm the opposite; I like audio for fiction. I like being told a story. When I'm reading nonfiction, I like to take notes. I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to books this year, but that's not the only place I get my nonfiction.

I love documentaries. I don't spend a lot of time looking for them--I just don't need another thing in my life to divide my time--but every now and then I stumble upon something on PBS that strikes my nerd fancy. Here are three I've watched in the last year or so:

How I loved the hours and hours I spent watching The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, a PBS miniseries by Ken Burns. Covering Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Eleanor Roosevelt, I learned a lot and was entertained, too.

Recently, my boss asked me if I'd seen the Walt Disney documentary on PBS. I hadn't, but I was intrigued by her description, so I DVR'd the two-part series and just finished it this week. It was exceptional. Disney was a complex character, creative, driven, and flawed. I love the questions raised as to how Disney defined childhood for generations of children.

I also recently watched The Amish: Shunned on PBS. It seemed very familiar, and I wonder if the producers used material from their American Experience: The Amish (also available on DVD) show put out a couple years ago. At any rate, this one dealt with Amish leaving their homes to live among "the English" and the inevitable shunning of these exiles from the Amish community. Several people were interviewed, some from laxer ordnungs which was interesting, some who returned and left many times before finally making a break. It was heartbreaking to watch people choose between their families and their desire to live a different life.

Do you have any documentaries to suggest? I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Monday, November 16, 2015

It's Monday! (11/16/15)

It's Monday! is sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.
Last week I finished three books:

I absolutely adored The Residence. It's the story of the household staff who work at the White House. Kate Andersen Brower interviewed as many staff, current and retired, first ladies, and first children as would talk to her and wrote their reminisces. It's a fabulous, politically unbiased look into how the Executive Mansion runs. It's equal parts discretion and gossip. I highly recommend it.
I was not as enthused about The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. Elisabeth Tova Bailey is convalescing when a friend brings her a snail to cheer her. This leads to much examination and research. My problem with the book, I've decided, is we learn more about the snail's personality than about Bailey's. I like more intimate books than this one. As a straight study of nature, it's fine.
And I've finished The Art of Losing, edited by Kevin Young. This was a wonderful collection of poetry about death and grief. That makes it sound like real downer, but it really wasn't. The poems ran the gamut of grief and healing. I found many old friends included and found some new friends, too.

I am this close to finishing:
A Light in the Window has been a delightful listening experience. And now I can't wait for the rest of the books in the series. (There are many more.)
Last week I started:
Rosemary is about the third Kennedy child, John F. Kennedy's sister, Rosemary. As you may know, she was institutionalized after a failed lobotomy that was hoped to correct her "slowness." So far, though, it's focusing mostly on Rose and Joe Kennedy.
Next up:

I can't wait to begin Humans of New York: Stories. I enjoyed Stanton's first book of photography (Humans of New York), and I'm looking forward to more stories with the photos.
And I'm reading something from the I've-had-this-forever shelf: Adriana Trigiani's Don't Sing at the Table.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Nonfiction November 2015 - Week 2

Book Pairing: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

Link up your week two post at Regular Rumination.

Well, now this should not be so hard. Others were able to come up with several pairings, but I guess I just haven't read enough fiction in the last couple years to put books together. I guess I could have chosen books I haven't read, but I don't like to feature anything on my blog that I haven't read. So I have one measly pairing.


If you grew up with Charlotte's Web (or came to it as an adult, like I did), chances are you have a place in your heart for pigs, just like little Fern did in E. B. White's book. So, I'm going to suggest a book about a woman who has a relationship with a pig. The Good Good Pig is a wonderful book about Sy Montgomery (whose recent release, The Soul of an Octopus, is a National Book Award finalist) raising Christopher Hogwood, who topped out at 750 pounds. Montgomery has a profound love for animals, but strives to keep nature in perspective. It was a superb book.

Monday, November 9, 2015

It's Monday! (11/9/15)

It's Monday! is sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.
Had a nice relaxing weekend at home with my hubby. Yesterday I made meatballs and spaghetti sauce in the slow cooker. Yum. I did a mountain of laundry. I put away the last of the summer clothes. And I made small progress on organizing my office.
Oh yeah, and I read.
Last week, I finish:
I enjoyed Driving Hungry a lot! I'd gone back and forth on whether to buy it (thus, read it) or not, and I finally bought it on a whim. I'm glad I did. It's Mosler's memoir about her years living in Buenos Aires, New York City, and Berlin. She talks about learning to tango, driving taxi in NYC, and falling in love in (and with) Berlin. Food is sort of an afterthought--though I thought it would be foremost, but that didn't even really bother me. I really just loved being taken for the ride.
Last week, I started:
I love books about the White House. And I love books full of odd trivia, especially presidential. The Residence is both, and I'm loving every page of it. I highly recommend it.
This week, I continue with:
I'm still loving A Light in the Window. There's actually quite a bit to chew on regarding relationships. I hadn't expected that in a light novel.
I'm sad to be nearing the end of The Art of Losing. I'm finding some really good poems.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is not a great fit for me. I'm unsure why. I don't mind books where very little goes on, I love "quiet" books, and I love learning trivia about unusual things (in this case, snails), but I'm just not loving this book. I think it has to do with the lack of intimacy between author and reader. I know nothing about her other than she's convalescing.
Next, I'll probably pick up:

Even though I'll just be finishing a political book with The Residence, I've been chomping at the bit to get to Rosemary, so I think it will be next.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Nonfiction November 2015 - Week 1

Your Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Link up your week one post on Kim's (Sophisticated Dorkiness) site.

Nonfiction November was made for me! I'm an unabashed reader of nonfiction. For me it's not a departure in my reading, it's the destination!

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

Of the 90 books I've read so far this year, 63 (70%) have been nonfiction. Can I even choose a favorite book? Not really. So I'll give you two of my favorites from my favorite nonfiction category: memoir. This year I loved Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires and Jen Lancaster's I Regret Nothing.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

I think the answer would be Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, although I'm not sure if you can count that book as straight nonfiction. Whatever it is, it's one heck of a book.

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?

I haven't read enough of any kind of nonfiction! I love it all: memoir, biography, narrative history, cookbooks, photography, etc.

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I hope to get more titles to add to my reading list. Also, I just love the community of readers talking about my favorite slice of the reading pie.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (2015 discovered authors)

Link up with your own list here: The Broke and the Bookish.
This week, the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish are asking for debut authors who have me looking forward to their sophomore novel. Well, I don't read enough novels or books by brand new authors to make a list, so I've adapted that topic to: Authors I discovered this year that I want to read more of.

 Alan Bradley       L.M. Montgomery       George Eliot
Daphne du Maurier       Maxine Kumin
Jeanne Birdsall       Jacqueline Kelly 
Jan Karon       Jon Krakauer       Cara Nicoletti


Monday, November 2, 2015

It's Monday! (11/2/15)

It's Monday! is sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.
Spent all day yesterday raking and bagging leaves. Even though we removed a tree and trimmed several others to within an inch of life, we still filled 21 bags! I hurt pretty much everywhere today, but we did have a nice meal out and a relaxing evening on the couch to celebrate.
Last week I finished one book:
The Reading Promise was a re-read for me, and I remember being a little annoyed with it the first time I read it. The annoyance was still there this time. It's a little too cute, and she doesn't talk about the books they read at all. She mentions titles here and there, but it's not a book about books, which I apparently expected even the second time.
Last week, I started:

I love books about food and about other cultures, so Driving Hungry was a natural choice. Mosler travels to Argentina, Germany, and New York City.
I was looking for a contemplative book, so I picked up The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating at the library. So far, so good. It's about a woman who is convalescing, and a friend brings her a snail to keep her company.
And I'm continuing with:

This week, The Art of Losing brought up several poems I've known for years. It was nice to read them again. I especially loved Jane Kenyon's "Let Evening Come". Such a beautiful poem, but I'd never necessarily thought about it in terms of death and grieving before.
And A Light in the Window became the thing I look forward to most during last week's bleak, cold mornings. The time change will help a little, but a good audio story does wonders, too. The narrator has the exact voice I imagine Father Tim having. What a great pairing. I think I'm enjoying this book even more than the first book in the series.
Who knows what I'll start next...