Monday, August 1, 2016

What I'm reading this week (8/1/16)

What I finished last week:

I'm not sure why I put off reading That's Not English for so long, but it was worth the wait. I expected the book to be nothing more than an examination of 30 words that either appear in both English English and American English but have different meanings, or words that appear in one culture but not the other. And it was that, but it was much more, and that "more" is what really made me like the book. Moore, who moved from New York to London and therefore has experience with both cultures, also discusses cultural nuances. You learn about how the English think about class, esp. the middle class, why Americans love the underdog, which culture swears more, and lots of other interesting things. I really enjoyed the book, and I especially enjoyed the short chapters that dealt with a single word and cultural concept. I just made it sound kind of anthropology textbook-y, but it's not dry at all. If you like Downton Abbey, Monty Python, the Queen, or Kate Middleton, you'll like this. My rating: 4 stars.   

I also finished Farmer Boy, from the Little House on the Prairie series. This one deals with Almanzo growing up on a farm in New York whereas the first showed Laura growing up in the northwoods. I enjoyed this one more than the first. I find both of them much too simple for my tastes. They're very straight-forward and lack imagination, which shows just how much children's literature has changed in the last near-century. We used to think we needed to "tell children a story" but now we are much more concerned with engaging the reader. I did enjoy, having grown up on a farm myself, learning how basic farming was done in the late 1800s before all the conveniences of modern farming. I can't imagine the backbreaking work of plowing and hoeing (hoeing!) a field by hand, harvesting all the crops for sale, animal feed, and family use by hand, etc. It's really a marvel how far we've come. I think Pa was right when he said to Almanzo that it was the farmers who created America. My rating: 3 stars.

What I'll begin reading this week:

Long before the movie trailer was advertised back-to-back with an NRA ad during every commercial break of the RNC (explain that to me), I was counting the days not only for the movie version of Florence Foster Jenkins to come to town, but also for the book to be released. I ordered a copy the minute it came out, and it will be my first August read. Can't wait to take myself to the movie--which I try to do once each summer.

I'll also begin:

I was torn between saving All the Presidents' Gardens and reading it while the weather was still warm. I love books about the White House (have you noticed?), books about history, and books with copious pictures, so this one is right up my alley. Can't wait to begin.

And speaking of presidential history, I'll be digging into Grover Cleveland, Again!, a children's book by Ken Burns, of PBS documentary fame. Although he's recently said some pretty nasty things a certain presidential candidate, I still tend to trust his productions. We'll see if his obvious bias shows.

My audiobook:

I continue with Death Comes to Pemberley, of which I have rather lukewarm feelings. It's not bad, but it's also lacking in Austen-ian subtlety and humor. And for some reason I'm having difficulty following the story on audio. But that might just be disinterest which makes my mind wander.


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