Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Book List

Holy cow!  It's been three weeks since I've posted anything (at least it was only three weeks).  I guess that's what deep relaxation can do to you.

I hate to reduce vacations/trips to things accomplished on them, but for the sake of getting the blog up to speed, I'm going to resort to a little list.  I actually happen to love lists and make them all the time.  (I even keep the notebooks where I jot those lists down, but that might be changing soon...)

Books read:

The Feast Nearby:  How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week) by Robin Mather
     Verdict:  Enjoyed it although the memoir aspect of it overshadowed the "on $40 a week" aspect for me; nonetheless, it's got some great recipes in it.

Hit by a Farm:  How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn by Catherine Friend
     Verdict: Meh.  I found the writing to lack sophistication, and I often thought the two women were embarrassingly naive about things.  I left it in Nova Scotia for someone else to read.

Grace by Grace Coddington
     Verdict:  Fun but lacked depth/self-awareness.  I enjoyed feeling like I was part of the fashion in-crowd through the decades but found Coddington's lack of self-examination (glosses over the devastation to the fashion community caused by AIDS, does what I call a 'hit-and-run' about her miscarriage and her sister's death, etc.) disappointing.  In my Creative Nonfiction class I would've given her a C+/B- for her lack of disclosure or willingness to be vulnerable.

Unless by Carol Shields
     Verdict:   Interesting and well-written novel; found the conclusion a bit too tidy and the narrator unsympathetic but not so much that she inspired any kind of deep reaction from me (which would've been better).

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
     Verdict:  Compelling and smart although I don't know that it will stick with me.  There were a few other issues with it (uh, almost complete lack of fully formed female characters) that are probably more reflective of my politics than the book's literary merits.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
     Verdict:  F*cking amazing.  (Yes, it deserved the emphatic swearing.)  A stunning book that does so much within its pages (and incidentally is entirely narrated by women).  Read it if you haven't already.

I had a lot of time to read, which was great.  Nova Scotia is the place where I get to feel like a reader again.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Some Things I Learned on a Long Trip - Wrap Up

The ladyfriend and I agree - the best caption for this is "Where's the key party?"
Because this post is so overdue, I thought I'd limit my commentary (as much as I possibly can) and summarize the other things I learned; however, after typing the first one in, I forgot what the other lessons had been.  I must confess to a bit of Nova Scotia brain.   Please forgive me.

  1. Don't save the sightseeing attractions for when your visitors come.  Of the four sets of guests we had, only one wanted to see some of the sights of Berlin.  Needless to say, we were surprised.  It also meant that we didn't see a lot of things we'd assumed we would.  We did take an amazing 4-hour walking tour of Berlin a few days before we left, but next time, we'd take our chances having to see a sight twice rather than miss it altogether.