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Showing posts from June, 2012

Perspective: Groceries or Reading?

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A show of hands: who's eaten anything at hand rather than put a book down to figure out dinner?
I rest my case.

Brilliant Haiku

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Too, too clever. Thanks for the tip, Buzzfeed.


Summer Reading List (Warning: Ambition Level is Off the Charts!)

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For the 12 weeks in summer, I chose 18 books for my list. See below.

For those who crying out, "What in the — Chris, no one can read all of those titles!" I offer them to you, from the top (but not necessarily in the order in which I will read them):

Fifty Shades FreedFifty Shades DarkerMockingjayCatching FireWe Always Have Lived in the CastleSmutFrom the Borderlands: Stories of Terror and MadnessWicked AppetiteThe Great StinkThe Weed that Strings the Hangman's BagA Lion Among MenAn Outrageous AffairThe SubmissionSacre BleuDream FeverAnubis GatesTrue GritThe Hangman's Daughter

But wait: I have two on my Kindle to add to the list!

A Princess of MarsBeyond Hades: The Prometheus Wars

Counting Fifty Shades of Grey, which is on my nightstand, that brings the total to an even 20.

And that's just my list now.

Wait until I get going. I suspect there may be a swap-out based on a few discussions I've had. I also have to get The Hobbit re-read and Les Misérables read by t…

Meet Condescending Literary Dog

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See more of him on I Can Has Cheezburger.

(Okay, I admit: the misspellings and grammar on the site drive me crazy, but look at this dog!)

To David, On the Occasion of Our Anniversary

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To My Dear and Loving Husband
If ever two were one, then surely we. If ever man were loved by wife, then thee; If ever wife was happy in a man, Compare with me ye women if you can. I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold, Or all the riches that the East doth hold. My love is such that rivers cannot quench, Nor ought but love from thee give recompense. Thy love is such I can no way repay; The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray. Then while we live, in love let's so persever, That when we live no more we may live ever.
by Anne Bradstreet

Our Own Summer Reading Program: Read and Share

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There's something carefree about reading during the summer.

Even when I took summer school classes (for fun!), I always had extra time to read. In fact, many of the classes I took included reading lists that somehow seemed less daunting because the books could be read under a tree, on the beach, in a hammock.

I could tackle hefty books in the bright summer sunlight. I could breeze through light fare on the windswept beach of the Pacific Ocean of my childhood. There was nothing too huge that couldn't be faced in the summer.

One excellent source of summer reading lists was my local library. There was always a reading competition, an incentive to read more, the most, the best. Not to brag, but one year I read more books than any other kid in the library. The librarians ran out of prizes — which was even better because reading was its own reward.

But as I left school and found myself in the workaday world, I found fewer and fewer reading programs. Libraries used to offer reading …

Review: The Odds: A Love Story

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I wanted to like The Odds: A Love Story, the latest slender novel by one of my favorite authors. And yet — Stewart O'Nan killed the entire novel for me with the last line.

The book itsef was not entirely trouble-free. For such a small tome, the build-up was rather lengthy. I liked the detail, but I didn't like the characters. I really disliked Marion, who seemed rather shrewish and unforgiving (considering her own story). I thought Art was a little too groveling, but I suppose that made sense, in context.

While the relationship was the story, the gambling aspect was a mystery through most of the novel. I don't gamble, not even pretend Monte Carlo Night, so I needed more guidance. Art seemed to think he knew what he was doing, but I didn't. Again, not until the end was there any detail on how in the world two very grounded people thought they would succeed at such a, pardon the pun, gamble.

I have adored a couple of his past novels, repeatedly recommending them to ever…

How a Book is Born, Flowchart Edition

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Because everything needs a simple, easy-to-read flowchart, Mariah Bear illustrated for us simple humans how a books is born.


Thanks to HuffPost Books and the artist Mariah Bear.
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Letter Home

--New Orleans, November 1910 Four weeks have passed since I left, and still I must write to you of no work. I've worn down the soles and walked through the tightness of my new shoes calling upon the merchants, their offices bustling. All the while I kept thinking my plain English and good writing would secure for me some modest position Though I dress each day in my best, hands covered with the lace gloves you crocheted--no one needs a girl. How flat the word sounds, and heavy. My purse thins. I spend foolishly to make an appearance of quiet industry, to mask the desperation that tightens my throat. I sit watching-- though I pretend not to notice--the dark maids ambling by with their white charges. Do I deceive anyone? Were they to see my hands, brown as your dear face, they'd know I'm not quite what I pretend to be. I walk these streets a white woman, or so I think, until I catch the eyes of some stranger upon me, and I must lower mine, a n…

Review: The Leftovers

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In the past year or so, there have been multiple reports of the coming Rapture, where God in Heaven will collect His righteous to his bosom, leaving behind the unworthy. For the True Believer, it is Gospel, literally: God will call home his chosen.

How would our lives, our beliefs, change if the chosen are not who we expect?

The prologue of Tom Perrotta's new novel, The Leftovers, sets up his story: one day, in the middle of October, millions of people disappear without a trace. Millions. Vanish instantly: one moment you're watching television on the couch with your wife, then in a blink of the eye it's just you.

Your promiscuous sister, your cruel mother, the Hindu librarian — all gone. However, your minister is still here.  Ditto the Pope (and many other religious leaders of note). In short, many people who "deserve" to be gone are wandering around asking the same question: What the...?

The Leftovers takes a secular look at the aftermath of this event from the…

When a Bookstore is a Church

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From Buzzfeed:


Completed in 2007 by Merkx + Girod Architecten, the Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore in Maastricht in the Netherlands is an incredible church conversion that was originally consecrated in 1294.

Ray Bradbury: a Great Writer, a Gracious Man

Ray Bradbury died Tuesday, and I am still trying to come to terms with it.

I know it sounds crazy: it's not like we were friends, right? But we were.

First of all, I am convinced he wrote for me. I was a voracious reader from an early age, and I knew Mr. Bradbury's books were meant for me. He was a space guy, which wasn't exactly my cuppa, but I trusted him — and where he took me was worth the price of admission.

Second of all, his vision was great. His scope was vast, his ideas were expansive — and yet, his stories were personal. Stuff didn't just happen, but happened to someone not unlike me. Okay, so the likelihood I would go to Mars as a child was unlikely, but it's what happened there that was personal. A Sound of Thunder resonated with me for decades after I read it, and I purchased a complete set of his short stories just so I could have it. I am a fan of time travel, and his single image of a butterfly made me ponder the responsibilities and dang…
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The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entr…

Review: The Tiger's Wife

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The Tiger's Wife is an exquisite tale unfurled by a master storyteller.

So, why didn't I like it?

Well, that's not completely accurate: I like many of the characters and many of the stories were fascinating. I just did not understand why the novel was written.

Natalie, a young doctor in a war-ravaged Eastern European country, is on her way to an orphanage to vaccinate its occupants when she discovers her physician-grandfather, a cancer patient, has died in a town near the orphanage. How did he die? Why was he in that town?

Natalia tells her tale, and her grandfather's tale, and their tale together. She also tells the tale of the war-torn country in which she lives. The tales are interesting, compelling — but do not cohere into a particular story. I enjoyed reading it, right up to the end, when I came to the last page and thought, "Why did I read this?"

I don't mind a novel where there is no clear ending. I don't mind when the story continues after th…

What's on My Nightstand, June 2012

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I've cleared off my nightstand lately, finishing a few books that were lurking and keeping a few in rotation. Here's the current lineup.




First of all, I need a little book junk food, and I think Moning will fit the bill.

Second, I want to finish The God of Small Things — just because.

Then there's The Hunger Games. I can't wait to discuss this with Valerie.

I am really excited to start The Illumination. I liked Kevin Brockmeier's novel The Brief History of the Dead, and I hope this one lives up to my expectations.

The biggest surprise on this list, however, is at the top of the stack: an e-book.

I could tell you it's a free copy of Edgar Rice Burrough's A Princess of Mars. I could tell you I checked out the paperback twice from the library and ran out of time on both attempts to read it. I could tell you a lot of things that make me sound defensive, but I won't. I'm trying out an e-book a way that makes me comfortable. So far, so good: I read …