Tag Archives: books

Straightjacket, Meredith Towbin @mtprose (2013)

10 Mar

Straightjacket_ByMeredithTowbin_453x680A book is shaped as much by its reader as its author.  There are books that I read while younger and loved, but picked up later and could not stand.  There are also books that I struggled with and put down, only to revisit years later and completely fall in love.  I wish Straightjacket had been released when I was in high school, because I know I would have obsessed over it.

Meredith Towbin is a prolific blogger who I’ve been reading for a while (can’t remember how I came across her blog, but probably through Rainbowmaker Emily Levenson).  A few months back she announced on her blog that her book was picked up and would be published.  Then publication day finally arrived.  I didn’t have much in the way of expectations, because it seems like everyone with a blog has a book nowadays.  The price was low and I was looking for an easy read, though, so I decided to give her YA novel a try.

Straightjacket follows the tortured romance of star-crossed lovers Anna and Caleb.  Caleb is, or claims to be, an angel.  Anna is plagued by crippling panic attacks.  They meet in an inpatient mental health facility and tumble into love, and decide to check themselves out and run away together.  Each Anna and Caleb have parent issues and demons and all kinds of struggles, but they are determined to be together.

The characters are fairly one-dimensional, and the book is driven by the plotline of Anna and Caleb’s love and struggle. As a grown up old lady, I’m more interested in character, but I know that as a teenager, the lack of complicated characters wouldn’t have bothered me a tick.  I would have connected deeply with the struggle, and passion and parent conflicts of each of the characters.

Towbin is spot on with the YA genre. This is a perfect book for brooding teenagers.  I’m too old to fully connect with it now, but can appreciate how much it would have impacted me, had I read it when I was younger and moodier.  Nice work, nice work.

Beyond Belief, Jenna Miscavage Hill (2013)

23 Feb

I love secrets. Boy oh boy do I love secrets.  That is one of my favorite parts of my job, that I get to learn all kinds of secrets.  I have to keep them all locked up in my head, but the fun part is knowing them in the first place.  In Beyond Belief: Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, Jenna Miscavage Hill (niece of David Miscavage, the leader of the Church of Scientology) shares all the secrets.  She has escaped, she is mad, and she is not holding back.

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I went into this book with my sole source of education on Scientology being that South Park episode.  I expected there to be tons of strange religious ritual and extraterrestrial worship, but it turns out that life in the core of Scientology is more about manipulation, punishment and power.  What I found to be the most shocking is how families in the Sea Org (the core of the church, so to speak) were so often split up, with wives, husbands, and children each in separate states or countries, and how by that point Scientology was so embedded within them, that they did not question it.  I know if someone told me that I was being ordered to move away from my family for some undefined period of time, it would not go over too well.

I read a fair number of these terrible ordeal kinds of autobiographies, and it’s unfortunate that in terms of writing quality, they frequently have the same flat, conversational tone.  There are plenty of writers who pen autobiographies who are magnificently skilled and produce amazing work– Jeannette Walls, Cheryl Strayed, David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs to name a few.  But when I see an autobiography on the shelf that is written “with the assistance of” some journalist or another, I know that the story itself better be full of gripping twists and turns, because the writing itself isn’t going to do much for me.  While this book likely will not win any literary awards, it was interesting to get a glimpse inside the strange and secretive world of Scientology.  I can’t imagine this book interesting everyone, but if you’ve got a nebby, gossipy, curious side to you, it wouldn’t hurt to pick it up.

The Antagonist, Lynn Coady (2013)

12 Feb

The Antagonist is a brand new book by Lynn Coady, and it really feels new.  I feel this absurd boundary between the printed word and the electronic word (even though I tend to read most printed words on electronic devices nowadays), and it nonsensically throws me for a loop when social media plays a big role in a book.

The Antagonist follows big, burly but well-intentioned Rank, who has, to his surprise, discovered that Adam– a former friend from college–wrote a book about him.  A not very flattering book.  Rank takes a stand and, through a series of unresponded e-mails, sets the story straight.

antagonist-lynn-coady-205x300 Much of the plot is driven by the question of what exactly did Adam say? You know it has angered Rank and it’s something bad, but it’s not entirely apparent at the outset.  A big chunk of the book also deals with the wonder of rediscovering old friends through social media.  For those in their early 20s who don’t remember life without Facebook, this wonder is lost.  But for those a generation or two older, the excitement of reconnection is highly relatable.  If this book were written by an unskilled writer, it would be all wrapped up in three pages, but Coady does a good job of structuring the story so that the reader is neither lost nor bored.

The Antagonist certainly isn’t a thriller, but it does keep you wondering.  It’s not heavy reading, and would make an excellent poolside novel for those of us who aren’t too interested in trashy romances.

Unexpected Day of Rest (and movies and books)

2 Feb

My January got hijacked by a million different things.  I’m dreading getting my hours report for January, because the meager billables number is going to make me cry big tears.  I wasn’t sitting around and being lazy, there was just a lot going on.  Trial college and the HFF happy hour both took up a LOT of time.  Plus, there were fewer work emergencies because a lot of the things I was working on big time in December either settled or went into dormant mode.  These events were not unanticipated, I knew they were coming.  What I did not expect was that I would get sick and KEEP getting sick in January. Argh.

I don’t know if I came down with two separate cold/flu things, or if it was one sickness that waxed and waned, but I spent most of January sniffling, hacking, destroying box after box of Sudafed, and feeling miserable.  I eventually knew that January was a lost cause in terms of productivity, so I set my sight on February for a new, diligent beginning.

And then on February 1, I came down with pink eye.  ENOUGH with the getting sick already.  I look a total mess. Not a hot mess, but a scary gross terrible mess.  I went to the doctor on Friday afternoon, and she said that I could go back to work for the rest of the day as long as I washed my hands a lot, but I don’t think my coworkers would appreciate me risking them to catching this gross sickness.  I worked at home the rest of the day Friday (and yes, I actually did work).  Now that it’s the weekend, I’ve had to set aside most of the things I planned, and instead I’m sitting around, trying to hide my hideous, swollen, gross face from the world.

Baby Beez and I rented Hotel Transylvania on OnDemand, and we’re both loving it.  It’s a kid’s movie with a predictable storyline, but it’s funny, clever and a lot of fun for both adults and kids.  We got it for a 36 hour rental, we’ve already watched it three times, and I don’t mind at all.  I think we might need to buy this one to add to the DVD collection.

Hotel-Transylvania-Poster

I’ve also spent my time on the couch reading. Well, not a lot of reading, since I keep having to do eye compresses, and it’s very difficult and disorienting to read out of just one eye.  I’ve been slowly making my way through The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.  It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2001, and it keeps coming up in lists of favorite books, so I decided it was worth a read.

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The major themes of WWII/Nazi Germany and comics/the comic book industry are not themes that are high on my list of interests, but the storyline of the characters’ personal lives was interesting and kept me engaged.  It is a long book (639 pages), so reading it felt like it took forever, but the writing is smooth and (despite my impatience) was not a struggle to get through.  I can easily see how this book could reach certain readers to be their absolute favorite book ever, but it just didn’t have that fit with me.  It’s a great novel, exhaustively researched and beautifully written, but is not the sort that I feel the need to run out and tell everyone to read right now.

So to the extent I can actually see out of my disgusting eyes, I plan to spend today watching Machine Gun Preacher, reading The Antagonist and The Red Tent, doing a bunch of laundry, and washing washing washing washing my hands.

What’s up with yinz this weekend?

Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri (2008)

26 Jan

UnaccustomedEarth Unaccustomed Earth is such a lovely little book. It’s a collection of 8 short stories, each of them a glimpse into someone’s life. Lahiri stays within her comfort zone– most of the stories concern an adult child of Bengali parents, living in (or with connections to) Massachusetts, who is involved in a relationship with a non-Bengali. The stories are heavy with the themes of culture, family, guilt, trust, and independence, but balance those broader themes with an incredibly personal focus on the stories.

Although Lahiri’s characters have very specific characteristics, their decisions and struggles have many universal qualities. There was one story in particular that rang incredibly true to me. Without getting into the details (the story hit home on an incredibly personal and painful issue), reading that story provided me with kinship, feeling like there was someone else who has really been there and really knows how I felt.

This was my first Lahiri book, but I did see the movie based on her novel The Namesake. I’m typically not much of a crier with movies. OH BOY DID I CRY. Did I EVER cry. That movie will make turnips cry. They aren’t tears of sadness, it’s not an incredibly sad story. The struggles were just so personal and intricate and there was not one clear answer on how to sort through them and make everything better. And I cried and I cried and I cried.

Unaccustomed Earth is a perfect book for curling up in the cold winter, drinking tea, and feeling a little sad. Pick this one up for sure, just don’t take it to the beach with you. I’m really glad that my book club picked this book for January. It’s a book I ordinarily would not have chosen on my own, and I really loved it.

Not a bad start to the New Year

1 Jan

Last night we had a delicious dinner with our friends Sandy and Ben at Alla Famiglia (more on that tasty experience to come later), then spent the rest of the evening at home sipping champagne and watching New Years Eve with our kiddo.  In my true lazy fashion, I fell asleep on the couch well before midnight.

I’m excited to restart my book and movie lists for 2013.  I was really surprised by how many books and movies I got through.  I watched 138 movies in 2012 (some of them multiple times) and read 41 books. Not too shabby at all.

This morning I got to sleep in til 9, started the day off with some Starbucks, and now we’re hanging out at the in-laws.  We’re relaxing and watching TV, and later this evening Mr. Beez and I will go see Flashdance at Heinz Hall!  No complaints here, it’s a nice way to start the year.

Flashdance

2013 looks to be a good one.  I’ve set the foundation for my grown up life– I’m pretty satisfied with how things are in my professional, civic and personal lives.  There’s plenty of room to grow, but I have sorted out a solid foundation to start from.  2013 is going to be the year of bigger, stronger, faster, better.

In the professional sphere, I’m kicking off the year by leaving for Trial College at the University of Virginia on Friday.  It’s a five day intense seminar on trial skills, where you learn through classroom style teaching, and also putting together your own trial start-to-finish.  I’ve been told it will be exhausting but awesome.  I’m looking forward to this amazing learning opportunity.

In the civic sphere, I’m still working hard at getting sponsors and attendees to the Haitian Families First Back to School Party on January 31.  I’m also going to work hard this year to up my blog/social media engagement.  I read tons of blogs, but I need to get better at getting into the conversation with comments, RT’s, Follow Fridays, etc.

In my personal life, I’ve spent 16 weeks so far working hard with Weight Watchers and have seen some good success.  I’m looking forward to keep moving toward my goal weight, and to incorporate more exercise into my life.  I failed to get to yoga today, but that’s OK because I took advantage of one of the very rare opportunities I have for sleeping past 7am.  I plan to do more yoga, and also experiment with some fun new workouts.  Aerial Yoga maybe?

What does 2013 have in store for you?

The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

23 Nov

I discovered the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge thanks to Pinterest. Even though I was not a Gilmore Girls fan, I love the diversity in this reading list. Completing this list is going to be one of the things on my 40 before 40 list. What are you reading over this long holiday weekend?

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Somebody was hungry for Thanksgiving Dinner!

  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  3. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  5. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  6. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  8. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  9. Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
  10. The Art of Fiction by Henry James
  11. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  12. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  13. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  14. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
  15. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  16. Babe by Dick King-Smith
  17. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
  18. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  19. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  20. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  21. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  22. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
  23. The Bhagava Gita
  24. The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
  25. Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
  26. A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
  27. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  28. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
  29. Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
  30. Candide by Voltaire – read – June 2010
  31. The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
  32. Carrie by Stephen King
  33. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  34. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  35. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  36. The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
  37. Christine by Stephen King
  38. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  39. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  40. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
  41. The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
  42. A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
  43. Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
  44. The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
  45. Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
  46. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  47. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
  48. Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
  49. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  50. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
  51. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  52. Cujo by Stephen King
  53. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  54. Daisy Miller by Henry James
  55. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
  56. David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
  57. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  58. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  59. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
  60. Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  61. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  62. Deenie by Judy Blume
  63. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
  64. The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
  65. The Divine Comedy by Dante
  66. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
  67. Don Quijote by Cervantes
  68. Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
  69. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  70. Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
  71. Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
  72. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
  73. Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
  74. Eloise by Kay Thompson
  75. Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
  76. Emma by Jane Austen
  77. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  78. Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
  79. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  80. Ethics by Spinoza
  81. Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
  82. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
  83. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  84. Extravagance by Gary Krist
  85. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  86. The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
  87. Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
  88. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  89. The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
  90. Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
  91. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – read
  92. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
  93. Fletch by Gregory McDonald
  94. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  95. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
  96. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  97. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  98. Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
  99. Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
  100. Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
  101. Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
  102. George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
  103. Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
  104. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
  105. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
  106. The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
  107. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  108. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
  109. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  110. The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
  111. The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
  112. The Graduate by Charles Webb
  113. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  114. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  115. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  116. The Group by Mary McCarthy
  117. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  118. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
  119. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  120. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  121. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  122. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
  123. Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
  124. Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
  125. Henry V by William Shakespeare
  126. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
  127. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
  128. Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
  129. The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
  130. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
  131. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  132. How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
  133. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  134. How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
  135. Howl by Allen Gingsburg
  136. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  137. The Iliad by Homer
  138. I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
  139. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  140. Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
  141. Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
  142. It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
  143. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  144. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  145. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
  146. The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
  147. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  148. Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
  149. The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
  150. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  151. Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
  152. The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
  153. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  154. The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
  155. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
  156. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  157. Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
  158. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  159. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  160. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  161. The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
  162. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
  163. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  164. Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  165. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  166. The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
  167. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  168. The Love Story by Erich Segal
  169. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  170. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  171. The Manticore by Robertson Davies
  172. Marathon Man by William Goldman
  173. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  174. Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
  175. Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
  176. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  177. The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
  178. Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
  179. The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
  180. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  181. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  182. The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
  183. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  184. The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
  185. Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
  186. A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
  187. Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
  188. A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
  189. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
  190. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  191. Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
  192. My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
  193. My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
  194. My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
  195. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  196. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
  197. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  198. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  199. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
  200. Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
  201. New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
  202. The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
  203. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
  204. Night by Elie Wiesel
  205. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  206. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
  207. Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
  208. Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
  209. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  210. Old School by Tobias Wolff
  211. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  212. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  213. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  214. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  215. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  216. The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
  217. Oracle Night by Paul Auster
  218. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  219. Othello by Shakespeare – read
  220. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
  221. The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
  222. Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
  223. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
  224. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  225. The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
  226. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  227. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
  228. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  229. Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
  230. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
  231. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
  232. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
  233. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
  234. The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
  235. The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
  236. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  237. Property by Valerie Martin
  238. Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
  239. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
  240. Quattrocento by James Mckean
  241. A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
  242. Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
  243. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
  244. The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
  245. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
  246. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  247. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
  248. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  249. Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
  250. The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien
  251. R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
  252. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
  253. Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
  254. Roman Fever by Edith Wharton
  255. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  256. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  257. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
  258. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
  259. Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
  260. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
  261. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
  262. The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
  263. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  264. Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
  265. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
  266. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  267. Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
  268. Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
  269. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  270. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  271. Sexus by Henry Miller
  272. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  273. Shane by Jack Shaefer
  274. The Shining by Stephen King
  275. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  276. S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
  277. Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  278. Small Island by Andrea Levy
  279. Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
  280. Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
  281. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
  282. The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
  283. Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
  284. The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
  285. Songbook by Nick Hornby
  286. The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
  287. Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  288. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
  289. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  290. Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
  291. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
  292. The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  293. A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
  294. Stuart Little by E. B. White
  295. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  296. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  297. Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
  298. Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
  299. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  300. Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  301. Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
  302. Time and Again by Jack Finney
  303. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  304. To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
  305. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  306. The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
  307. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  308. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  309. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
  310. Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
  311. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – read
  312. Ulysses by James Joyce
  313. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
  314. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  315. Unless by Carol Shields
  316. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
  317. The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
  318. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  319. Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
  320. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  321. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  322. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  323. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  324. We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
  325. What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
  326. What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
  327. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
  328. Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
  329. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
  330. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
  331. The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
  332. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  333. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  334. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Reader Assignment: Go have fun in Pgh!

11 Nov

This coming week is one of those weeks where there is a TON of fun stuff going on.  As luck would have it, I’m going to be out of town doing lawyer things for most of the next week, so I am going to miss it.  But if I WERE in Pittsburgh, this would be the stuff I would be doing:

On Tuesday, Propelle (Helping Women Entrepreneurs Take Flight) is having their one year anniversary networking happy hour!  I’ve gotten to know Emily through the BlogMob events we’ve been co-hosting, and I have been really impressed by all the awesome things that Propelle is doing for women business owners in Pittsburgh. Propelle provides a unique and much-needed function for women in Pittsburgh, and this special birthday is cause to celebrate!

On Wednesday, Neil Gaiman is speaking at the Carnegie Music Hall (Oakland) as part of the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Series.  Sandman? Stardust? American Gods? Coraline? Anansi Boys? Excellent. General Admission tickets start at just $15.

On Thursday, Pittsburgh twitterers are getting together for a monthly TweetUp at the Porch at Schenley Plaza!  Good people, good food, and drink specials! What’s not to like?

And finally, on Friday, it is Light Up Night in Downtown Pittsburgh.  I’ve been living here for 12 years, and shamefully, I’ve only made it to Light Up Night once.  Baby Beez would love all the lights and festivities, but she’ll have to wait til next year.  Light Up Night marks the season opening of the PPG Place skating rink, maybe this year will be the year I finally get around to getting a lunchtime ice skating season pass!

Readers, please go out and have FUN in the city this week, there is so much to do! Tell me all about your adventures!
pittsburgh

Busy days

5 Nov

Work is b-a-n-a-n-a-s right now, and has managed to devour most of my energy and creativity.  So I’ll just share that I’m currently reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and loving it.

I remember seeing this book on our living room bookshelf growing up. Even thought I was an avid reader, it never occurred to me to pick it up.  Probably because it was my mom’s book, and in my mind anything my mom read was lame.  Now, of course, we toss recommendations back and forth. It only took about 20 years for me to accept that my mom can have respectable taste in some things.

I am nervous about election day tomorrow.  I am impatient and anxious.  I know I’m going to be distracted, and refreshing refreshing refreshing the internet.  I wish I could just wake up, go vote, and then sleep through the rest of the day, and wake up when the votes are all in. The waiting is going to kill me.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky (1999)

28 Oct

Between Chbosky being an Upper St Clair (read: Pittsburgh suburb) native, the Perks of Being a Wallflower film being filmed in Pittsburgh, and Emma Watson saying lovely things about our fair city, all of Pittsburgh has been blowing up over this book lately.  I feel like everyone is reading it, or has just read it, and is madly in love with it.

So, I read it.  I can’t complain.  Chbosky’s got writing chops. I just didn’t get into the story.  Every review I’ve read has emphasized how incredibly relatable the book is, but I didn’t much relate to it.  I liked the format of the story being told through letters.  Letters enable the author to get right to the important parts, without having to deal with that awkward space that comes between characters doing interesting things.  The plot device of Charlie’s intended recipient of the letters being anonymous, and only described very vaguely, ended up being distracting for me.  It was a total loose end, and while I can deal with a little unresolved mystery, a total loose end bothers me.

The twist in the epilogue also caught me very much by surprise, but not in a good way.  In this context, by “good way” I would mean an interesting twist that got me to think more about the book.  I did not think the twist was effective at that.  To me, it came out of left field, and I really didn’t recall anything in the earlier parts of the book that might have foreshadowed what occurred.


I suppose that for me, the best description of my reaction is that I did not mind this book. It wasn’t mentally taxing and it moved at a good pace.  I don’t regret reading it, but I won’t be in a massive rush to recommend it either. I do plan to see the movie (although probably won’t get around to it until it makes it to OnDemand).  My only hesitation about the movie is that I do not think it is at all possible for me to watch a film with Ezra Miller and think of anything other than We Need to Talk About Kevin.  (Sidenote, I did read that book as well, I just never got around to blogging about it. My thoughts about the book were fairly consistent with my thoughts about the movie.  The only exception was that there was a theme of forgiveness at the end of the book that I did not care for, and could not relate to, regardless of the monster being the narrator’s child).

It’s wonderful to see Pittsburgh get attention from books and movies, and I’d love to see this as a continuing trend.  While Perks wasn’t completely my thing, I wouldn’t rule out picking up other work by Chbosky.  He’s got the fundamentals down, now he just needs to find plot/themes that work for me (and isn’t that the task of every writer, to cater to me personally?)