Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ten Tiny Book Reviews

Something is wacky with my Google Docs today. Skipping letters. Typing so s-l-o-w-l-y. Muy malo.

So I just got frustrated with the whole thing and decided to write tiny little book reviews. Please forgive me. I promise I will do better next time.


Rick Sammon’s Field Guide to Digital Photography: Quick Lessons on Making Great Pictures
All the adjectives apply. Digital. Field. Quick. Great.

The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and other Simple, Brilliant Things by Neil Pasricha
From the website. Pasricha names a few of his favorite things. Small moments.

Let’s Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Commendable Things from Times Gone by Lesley M. M. Blume
You know how people are always wishing they’d bring back hats? Lesley M. M. Blume has been thinking about the things she misses a LOT. Enough for an entire book.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
The Corrections was a bleak novel about unhappy, unlikable people. So is Freedom. I was not in the mood for Freedom; I didn’t think I was going to like it and I didn’t. That doesn’t mean it is not a good novel, possibly even a great novel. I just was not in the mood for a huge book filled with disfunctional people.*

Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun by Liza Bakewell
My family calls me “Madre." I was, consequently, eager to read this book, a book that centers on a single word, "madre." Imagine my horror, then, when I discovered in the very first chapter that this word is often a very, very ugly word in Mexico. Oh dear. Quite disconcerting. I’d envisioned a book of happy stories about "madres." I read on, nevertheless fascinated with Bakewell's stories about this word. (BTW, “Madre” does have some positive connotations. Sigh. Thank goodness.) If you love language, and especially if you love the Spanish language, you will enjoy this book.*

The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time by David L. Ulin
A long essay, really. Honestly, if you are taking the time to read this book, you are probably cheering for Ulin on every page, as he shares with us, those who live to read, all the glorious joys of reading. Sadly, I just don’t see those who should be reading this book (you know who you are, you video game fiends, you tv addicts) saying to themselves, I will repudiate my Nintendo 64 and my tv and read a book about why books matter so I can vituperate myself about how I am squandering my life by spurning reading.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Loved this story told from the point of view of a young boy who must leave Berlin and go with his family to Poland when his father is assigned to run the camp at Auschwitz during WWII. Our naive main character befriends a boy who is startlingly like him (they even share the same birthday) except that this new friend is on the other side of the fence.

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger
Graphic novel of a woman who discovers a bookmobile that appears sporatically and only at night and which contains all the books the woman has ever read.

The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia by Paul Theroux
A very early Theroux (copyright 1975). I had not noticed Theroux’s snarky tone until it was pointed out to me repeatedly by my fellow bloggers while I was reading this book. I like it, nevertheless.

How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O’Neal
No mistaking Ramona Gallagher’ life for that of June Cleaver. Ramona got pregnant at fifteen, raised her daughter on her own, became estranged from her family over a business tiff....Okay, you get the picture. Now Ramona is all grownup and soon to be a grandmother herself, but the problems go on and on, much like the problems we face daily in our troubled world. All of the problems are ameliorated by the delightful smells of baking that permeate these pages. Just a nice little piece of chick lit. With recipes.

That's it for me for this week. I'm off to read the day away. What are you reading today?

*Thank you to the publishers who sent me these books.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Top Ten Book to Movie Adaptations

I usually don't like movies made from good books.
Good books. Bad movies.
Usually.

But not always.
I like these.
Good books. Good movies.

The Princess Bride
Breakfast at Tiffany's

The Grapes of Wrath

 
Gone With the Wind


To Kill a Mockingbird

Lord of the Rings

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner)

Ordinary People

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont

Enchanted April

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Overload

It's Sunday. I love Sunday. Not so much today.
I'm on overload, trying to talk myself off the ledge.
I've got a g-normous stack of books to review
 (why do I finish books all at once?);
I've got scads to do to get ready
 for the book fair tomorrow;
paint all over my fingernails from yesterday's attempt
 to slap on a fresh coat on my son's former room,
an angst-y teen years' gray;
I have yeast rolls to make
 for an after church dinner with my parents;
 I'm terribly worried my Fancy Nancy clothes
 for next week's Bring a Book Character to Life Night 
are going to cause me to be renamed Fatty Nancy
 after last night's meat gorging at Fogo de Chao;
and I really want to make it to church today. Whew.

Okay.
Time to remind myself of all the Happiness Principles I have learned.
Breathe. Breathe again.
Good. That's better.
 Now, one thing at a time.
 Big stuff first.
And I guess that means
I have to save my book reviews for another day.
 And my Sunday Salon blog visits.
Sigh. I'm off to the grocery store.
Hope you will stop in. I promise to visit back later in the week.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One Book?

From the Blue Bookshelf,
the writing prompt for this Literary Blog Hop:

If you were going off to war
(or some other similarly horrific situation) and
could only take one book with you,
which literary book would you take and why?

Just one book?
It would have to be a horrific situation.

(I'm going to
imagine that this One Book
will be in addition to
my religious text and
a basic text that provides fundamental information
necessary for a person going to war.
Like how to operate a gun.)

What book, in other words,
would I happily read
over and over and over,
through gunfire and hunger and suffering?


Poetry.
A collection of poetry.
Definitely.

Some contenders:
Strong Measures.
Good Poems.
The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry.

How about you?
What one book would you choose?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Top Ten Favorite Love Stories in Books

I'm a sucker for a good romance.
Here are some that I'd recommend,
along with a tiny bit from Amazon.

Never Change by Elizabeth Berg
'Middle-aged Myra Lipinsky describes herself as "the one who sat on a folding chair out in the hall with a cigar box on my lap selling tickets to the prom, but never going." And despite a flourishing career as a visiting nurse, she feels as much an also-ran as ever. As the novel begins, in fact, high school seems to be rearing its ugly head again: Chip Reardon, the heartthrob of Myra's youth, has returned to town to live with his parents. Chip is dying from a brain tumor, and Myra becomes his nurse.'

Eleanor & Abel by Annette Sanford
"When a storm tears a hole in Miss Eleanor Bannister's roof, the itinerant carpenter who volunteers to repair it is so capable and charming that he remodels Miss Eleanor's life. A retired schoolteacher in the town where she's always lived, Eleanor, at age sixty-nine, finds the sudden presence of Abel Brown in her life unnerving and unsettling --and after a time, irresistible."

 Happenstance by Carol Shields
'This early Eighties chronicle of a marriage is actually two novels in one ("The Wife's Story" and "The Husband's Story") published in a back-to-back format. Over the period of one particularly eventful week, the husband and wife each experience midlife crises.'

The Gold Bug Variations by Richard Powers
"If you don't get the title's allusive pun (to Robbins's Goldberg Variations), you won't get far into this long, densely textured, multi-referential, and brilliant novel. It demands that a reader make connections between such diversities as the genetic code and musical notation, Flemish art and biological nomenclature, the logic of computer systems and the Dewey decimal classification, cartography and chemistry. Making such connections--deciphering the encrypted messages of our world--is the great single quest in this novel of multiple searches. There is a rudimentary plot: a pair of love stories, separated by 25 years, entwined one round the other, but the real story here, its great treasure hunt, is the search to break the code unlocking the secret of life."

The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington
The Monk Downstairs follows the beguiling romance between a jaded San Francisco graphic designer and a monk who flips burgers at McDonald's. Rebecca Martin is a 38-year-old single mom who has lost her faith in men; Mike is a disillusioned monk who's lost his faith in God. The two meet just after Mike leaves his monastery of 20 years and rents the downstairs apartment of Rebecca's house."

Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
"Taking place on one summer day, when Maggie and Ira drive from Baltimore to Pennsylvania to a funeral, with an accidental detour involving an old black man they pass on the road and a side trip to see their former daughter-in-law and their seven-year-old grandchild, the novel reveals the basic incompatibility of their 28-year marriage and the love that binds them together nonetheless.'

Love is a Wild Assault by Elithe Hamilton Kirkland
"This brilliant novel tells the story of Harriet Potter--the dark-eyed pioneer woman who became a legend during the struggle for Texas independence and who played a dramatic role in the unfolding saga of the new republic."

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
'The Major epitomizes the Englishman with the "stiff upper lip," who clings to traditional values and has tried (in vain) to pass these along to his yuppie son, Roger. The embattled hero discovers an unexpected ally and source of consolation in his neighbor, the Pakistani shopkeeper Jasmina Ali.'

Step-Ball-Change by Jeanne Ray
"Caroline McSwain, a dance instructor in her 60s, is sitting down to dinner with her devoted husband, Tom, a public defender, when two phones ring simultaneously to interrupt their rare moment of privacy. Ten minutes later, her estranged, flighty sister, Taffy, newly separated from her husband, has decided to come from Atlanta for an extended visit, with her nasty terrier in tow. And the McSwains' only daughter, Kay, has just gotten engaged to Trey Bennet, a member of Raleigh's bluest-blooded family, but she still hasn't gotten over Jack, a charming district attorney."

The Dewey Decimal System of Love by Josephine Carr
"After 15 celibate years, librarian Ally Sheffield is in love, and the object of her newfound affections is gorgeous maestro Aleksi Kullio, the latest conductor of the Philadelphia Philharmonic. The choice of which man is really right for Ally may be obvious early on to some readers, but much of the pleasure in this wonderfully amusing novel comes from Carr's realistic depiction of the everyday pleasures and occasional downsides to working in a library; her wonderfully quirky, all too real characters; and her delightfully acerbic prose."

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
'Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment--from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart.'


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Indie Lit Awards Announced!

I love nonfiction.

(Don't misunderstand me; I love fiction, too. But I love nonfiction.)

I was happy this year, then, to serve on not one but
two nonfiction book judging panels.
One was for children's nonfiction picture books (Cybils) and

The Cybils finalists are here.
The Cybils Awards will be announced tomorrow.

The 2010 Short List for Non-Fiction
was selected earlier in the year:


■The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

■The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson


■Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell


■Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff


■At Home by Bill Bryson

And now...the envelope, please....

The winner of the Independent Literary Award for Non-Fiction for 2010 is...


The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson!



What do you think? Did you read this title?
Do you have other nonfiction
favorites from 2010?

For a complete list of Indie Lit Award winners for 2010, visit the website.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top Ten Characters I'd Name My Children After


1. My favorite.
Bet a lot of us would choose this one.
Atticus. 
from To Kill a Mockingbird

2. Should I go with Aramis, Athos, or Porthos?
Or D'Artagnan?
from The Three Musketeers

3. Named after the book character,
not the movie character.
Shrek.
from William Steig's Shrek

4. What about naming a child
after a favorite elephant book character?
Babar.
from Laurent de Brunhoff's Babar

5. Not her real name, surely,
but certainly a lovely one.
Stargirl.
from Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl

6. My husband, with his penchant for the western,
would love either or these.
Gus or Call.
from Lonesome Dove

7. Bilbo?
Or Frodo?
Gandalf?
from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

8. Chrysanthemum.
from Kevin Henkes' Chrysanthemum

9. So many wonderful names
from Shakespeare...
Romeo?
Macbeth?
Hamlet?
from Shakespeare

10. Or, what about naming my child after an author?
There are some fantastic author names...
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for example.
Or Halldor Laxness.
Haruki Murakami.
Khaled Hosseini...
I could go on and on....


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blog Hop: Where in the World?

From this week's Literary Blog Hop,
Robyn asks: What setting (time or place)
from a book or story would you most like to visit?

I inherited some strange genetic combination
of both my father's love for travel with
my mother's deep desire to never leave her house.

Luckily for me, I have books.

And from my travels via books,
I've determined most that I really
don't want to be anywhere but here.

Here is my list of
places/times I would NOT want to visit:

The World is Not Enough by Zoe Oldenbourg
Life in the 12th century.
"It's an epic of multiple pregnancies, miscarriages,
births, diseases, wounds, deaths, infidelities,
debts, superstitions, treacheries, feuds, battles,
flea-ridden castles, mud, cold, mold,
damp, dust, heat, flies, mosquitoes, and
other assorted attractions of the good ol' days."

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Life in a future dystopia.
If you thought the past was
bad for women,
this picture of a future is worse.


Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Tehran in the last century was not
a nice place for women.
Especially independent-minded women.
Nafisi established
a secret reading group for women in Tehran.
Here's a bit from my review
"Nafisi's group faces bullets and beheadings,
yet the most awful horror is the day-to-day
slow death of the world of the imagination."


Shooting the Boh by Tracy Johnson
A middle-aged woman travels to Borneo.
A little from my review:
"...Gimme a second here (pant, pant)...
Let me...ugh...rip this leech off my leg...
Ouch!...Jeez...another beesting!...And...what?...
What the heck is that GROWING ON MY FEET???..."

I hope you did better than I did.
Have you found some lovely
places/times to visit via books?

My First Snow Day

School was cancelled today. We're under
a Severe Weather Alert. Usually this means,
for those of us who live along the balmy
Gulf coast of Texas, that a hurricane is approaching

Not today.  Snow, we were told, was imminent.
We were under a Winter Storm Warning.

I eagerly checked outside
several times during the school day yesterday.
Took off my gloves. Studied the sky. Nada.

I woke up several times last night
and raced to the front porch.
A little rain. And the porch felt slippery,
like there might be ice.

But I was pretty disappointed
 to see this when I checked again
at five this morning:


My regular green world.

A teeny-tiny bit of ice on the front porch.
It was enough for my husband to slip on it
this morning and fall down the concrete steps.
Ouch.

My bird bath. Frozen.

And that's it.
Snow-less.  A snow-less Snow Day.