Monday, April 24, 2017

It's Monday, April 24th! This is What I'm Reading. How About You?


Hosted by The Book Date

What have I finished reading?

Last week was both Book Club #2, followed closely by Book Club #1. As luck would have it, and for different reasons, I missed both although I did finish the chosen books.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles was read for BC#2. I, borderline, loved this book. It was the second novel in the last few I have read set in Russia so I was more acclimated to similar sounding character names. The story begins when the main character, in his early twenties, is sentenced by the Bolshevik government to live out his remaining years on house arrest in a famous Russian hotel for being an aristocrat. He is warned that he will be shot on sight if he ever steps foot outside its confines. His world narrows as does his living quarters, which change from a luxurious suite to one hundred square feet of space. His closest friends become the staff and returning guests of the hotel. He manages to thrive and find a certain happiness in his reduced circumstance mostly because of the relationships he develops and cultivates. 

If you loved Rules of Civility like me, this is a wonderfully told tale like that! Read it!

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich was read for BC#1. I love her. Her writing is so, so good and so meticulous. Her characters are always raw and flawed and authentic feeling. Have you read Olive Kitteridge where characters weave through multiple story lines, but the each truly is a separate short story? This was a similar experience. All of Erdrich’s novels are set in North Dakota Indian Territories. She lives there and knows the culture well, both Native American Indians and other nationalities living in close proximity to the local reservations. It is fantastic as is she.

What am I currently read?


Today I start Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett. While I have had it on loan since last summer and have wanted to read it even longer than that, he is coming next weekend to the Chicago Humanities Festival’s Spring Event to speak about the book and I would like to be finished by then. Here is what Goodreads has to say about this book.

I am still listening to Edgar and Lucy. Still about halfway through the almost twenty hours of narration. Still loving it, but there is only so much time I can be in the car or walk around with earbuds in.

What will I read next?

I really need to alternate participating in these two groups. 
Book Club #1 has chosen Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders for our next read. I have already read it so, YIPPEE, I have some free choice time for reading with no idea what I will read next! How freeing! 


Any suggestions?

Monday, April 10, 2017

It's Monday, April 10th! What Are You Reading?: Been a While Edition!

Hosted by The Book Date!

I know time flies, but really? Looking back, I haven’t accounted for my reading since the beginning of March. 

Excuses:

I’ve been on vacation, which you’d think would translate into multiple books finished. Nope. 

I experienced a reading slump. First in a while. 

I wasted precious time I should have spent reading. Can’t get it back so onward…

What have I finished reading?

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham. I really haven’t enjoyed a Grisham book since his first five and refused to read any since. Until now. This was a fun and carefree listen. I made excuses to wear my earbuds or drive in the car (which I don’t often do…drive, not make excuses). Yay!

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes. I am a Barnes fan through and through from years back when I read The Sense of an Ending. I LOVED that book (the movie was pretty good and true to the story, by the way)! This was not that. The feeling I got from my first Barnes experience has been elusive. I will not give up on him! I suppose part of the problem was the character names. Russian, and they sounded too similar with just a few consonants or vowels rearranged to form a new name. It caused me to do a lot of unnecessary reviewing. [Did you read Memories of My Melancholy Whores with all the similar Latino names? While I liked that book very much, the character names lead to some confusion here too.] While the subject matter, Russian composers of classical music in the early 1900’s, was somewhat fascinating, these 180 pages just took too long to read. ACK!

What am I currently reading?

I love absolutely everything about what I am currently reading!!! It feels so good and right. I feel at peace and one with myself and my books!

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (of Rules of Civility notoriety and a book I adored). Don’t you just love when a book hooks you from the very first words? [rhetorical question because who doesn’t?] I am one hundred pages in and shirking the days’ responsibilities just to pick it up. It goes everywhere I do.

“When, in 1922, the thirty-year-old Count is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by the Bolshevik tribunal, he is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin.” If he leaves, he will be shot. As his world narrows, he begins forging relationships with others living and working in the hotel while Russian history is being made outside his door. 

Tremendous so far, the writing and storytelling are fabulous!

Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato. Loving this book! The author is doing an outstanding job narrating his story. It’s a big book, in theme and size. Check it out on Goodreads for a quick description of it. It's complex. Talk about making excuses to drive! 

I am in the sweet spot right now. If heaven meant books, I’m Cloud Nine.

What will I read next?

A Gentleman in Moscow is for Book Club #2. This time Book Club #1 meets after BC#2, so I have about a week between them to read Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (I loved LaRose). From what I understand, Love Medicine is an experience akin to Olive Kitteridge in that characters thread through separate short stories only in Erdrich style.

But I really need to make some headway on Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett because I have a date with him during the Chicago Humanities Festival on April 30th. 


That’s me! What about you? Tell me what you are reading! I love recommendations!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Froth and Bubble


Life is mostly froth and
bubble. Two things stand 
like stone. Kindness in
another’s trouble.
Courage in your own.

Adam Lindsay Gordon

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain for embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart: yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.”


The Book of Ecclesiastes 


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Too Little, Too Late: 100 Word Alternate Submission for "No Means O"


So I wrote this one first, but it never really came together to my liking. I decided to throw it out. But wait! Why not show it too you instead? I do this all the time. Write a few pieces for a prompt, chill on them for a while hoping for additional inspiration or a better feeling about one or the others. Do you do this?

**********************************

His proposal had a pleasing pitch, but aborting a previously set date for a better offer left her kicking herself. Her mother’s old rules.

Dreaming of possibilities post-refusal, she left a letter to her buddy from across the hall overflowing with regret though almost missing what peeked from his doormat. 

A missive? Yes, disguised as a paper football like guys shot across desks during school.

Dare she?

A teacher, thus the childish origami. Syrupy words. Details of a supposedly impromptu kiss were daggers. 

Today, she was a voyeur, the outsider, and too late.


How to refold perfectly? Quick, QUICK!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Time is Stingy: 100 Word Challenge


I made a huge mistake the last time we were together. It was failing to appreciate it for what it was; the last time we would ever see each other.

I had a strategy for it, too. To trace your brows, lashes, lips, jaw with my thumbs all the way to your earlobes completely memorizing your face. Slowly. Feature by feature.

I suppose part of me realized it could be that day. Like the shared molecules that previously made up "us" vaporized before our view, I felt it. You?


Time refuses to give that back. It moves forward. Without us.

********************************

This week, Tara at Thin Spiral Notebook charged us to write a piece about whatever we desired. The caveat? She refused to allow the letter "N" . Yeah, crazy hard! You try it. Go, go!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Big Little Lies on HBO, Are You Watching?


Are you watching “Big Little Lies” on HBO?

While I’m not a huge fan, I’ve read two novels by Liane Moriarty previously (What Alice Forgot and The Husband’s Secret), but not this one. I’m glad I didn’t so that the finale this Sunday will be somewhat of a surprise for me.

I have a strong feeling for what will happen and who is murdered, but I’ve been wrong before! We shall see. It’s pretty safe to say I won’t be reading the book now, and I am halfway tempted to search for spoilers as to how this story ends. Don’t do it, Gina! Just wait three more days, for goodness sakes!

There are a couple themes that consistently run through this. Marriage, while seemingly perfect, is hard and hardly perfect even for the most happily married people because, DUH!, nothing is. We all make mistakes. Big ones and little ones. We are all selfish at times. Judgement of others plain old sucks, and we can only worry about what those important to us think of us, not anyone who really doesn’t matter because that’s not our business. We need to keep our own houses in order. Kids make marriage an even bigger challenge. There’s more.

For some reason in the last episode, this conversation resonated with me:

“We don’t talk about it because that would make it harder to pretend. Sometime that’s the essence of a happy marriage, isn’t it? The ability to pretend.”

Then: 

“In every marriage there is pretending. Even the best ones. I don’t have to pretend to love you, and you don’t have to pretend to love me, but what I DO like to pretend, as do you, is that I’m all that.”

I’m thinking of all the ways I pretend in order for life to flow smoothly or to feel happier or to avoid certain issues. Do you sometimes pretend, too?

What do you think of the whole concept of pretending and/or Big Little Lies in general (book or movie)?

[Also, I read somewhere that Keith Urban was upset and did not like the severe bruising his wife, Nicole Kidman, experienced during filming. She, and her character, took a lot of physical punishment, sexually and abusively. This storyline was incredibly sad, horrific and hit far too close to home, as I know someone who was in a similar relationship and secretly moved out while her husband was away on business like the show implies Celeste will do. I helped her fill the moving truck, rearrange furniture so nothing would look amiss when he entered the house, if he didn't look too closely, but he is the type of man who would notice every possession missing. Papers were served a few hours after we left as he walked up their driveway, suitcase in hand. The first thing he asked was, "Where's my Bronco (a car)?" That night, we slept on the bedroom floor, a knife beside each of us, because the sparse amount of furniture she took from their Malibu mansion wouldn't arrive until the following morning. I've only since been that scared one time and that was last November. Oh, we also took one of the dogs. That next day, we set up her hideaway. She was safe and divorced shortly thereafter (after a bit of a struggle settling affairs, of course. He is a lawyer.)]

Thursday, March 16, 2017

When I Should Be Doing Something Else



I do not have ducks.

I do not have a row.

   I have squirrels………

 And they’re at a rave.
@elephantjournal


Is this you, too? Ever feel this way, too? At least some of the time?

Or how about this one:

“I tried to be normal once. Weirdest two minutes of my life.”

Or

“In my defense, I was left unsupervised.”

Or

“Some people 

never go crazy.

What truly horrible

lives they must lead.”

Charles Bukowski

(Kidding, kind of...)

About people and books:

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”

Lemony Snicket

Or

“Reading a good book in silence

is like eating chocolate for the

rest of you life and never

getting fat.”

Becca Fitzpatrick

[Hear, Hear!]

So this is stuff I do when I am procrastinating (AKA what I am doing when I should be doing something else.).  And I read.


Sorry, not sorry.

What do you do when you should be doing something else?