Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Beginnings: Maximum Bob by Elmore Leonard


Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I am trying to follow all Book Beginning participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.



MY BOOK BEGINNING



Dale Crowe Junior told Kathy Baker, his probation officer, he didn't see where he had done anything wrong.

-- Maximum Bob by Elmore Leonard. 

I haven't read an Elmore Leonard book in years.  I o.d.ed on them a while back so had to take a long break.



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Top 100 Books of the Twentieth Century by Image Journal


Image is a literary and arts journal (among other things) with a mission to "support and showcase art shaped by the faith traditions of western civilization."  A central part of Image's calling is to showcase contemporary writing that "grapples in a serious way with religious faith."

Image compiled its Top 100 Books of the Twentieth Century list during the flurry of Top 100 lists made around the turn of the Millenium.  The intent was to provide a "resource for those just starting to explore the great tradition and wondering where to begin."

In selecting books for this list, Image listed an author only once in order to feature 100 different writers.  Only "creative writing" was included – fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction.  Works selected were those that "manifest a genuine engagement with the Judeo-Christian heritage of faith, rather than merely use religion as background or subject matter."

The idea of this list intrigues me.  I don't know if I will ever finish all the books on this list because it includes a lot of poetry book and I am not a big poetry reader.  It also includes some books that are out of print and hard to find, which is too bad. 

The books are listed in alphabetical order by the author's last name.  Those I have read are in red; those currently on my TBR shelf are in blue.

If anyone else is working on this list, and would like to be listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.

Collected Poems by W.H. Auden

The Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos

Sabbaths by Wendell Berry

77 Dream Songs by John Berryman

Souls Raised from the Dead by Doris Betts

The Woman Who was Poor by Leon Bloy

The Stories of Heinrich Boll by Heinrich Boll

A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt

Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Selected Poems by George Mackay Brown

Godric by Frederic Buechner

Recovered Body by Scott Cairns

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

The Man Who was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

The Satin Slipper by Paul Claudel

Many Things have Happened Since He Died by Elizabeth Dewberry

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

Selected Stories by Andre Dubus

Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot

The Sin Eater by Alice Thomas Ellis

Silence by Shusaku Endo

Collected Poems (The Residual Years; The Veritable Years) by William Everson

The Trip to Bountiful by Horton Foote

The Lady's Not for Burning by Christopher Fry

Saints and Villains by Denise Giardina

The Cypresses Believe in God by Jose Maria Gironella

Diaries by Julien Green

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

Virgin Time by Patricia Hampl

Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen

A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin

Mr. Ives' Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos

The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Peguy by Geoffrey Hill

Earthly Measures by Edward Hirsch

Great River by Paul Horgan

The Never-Ending by Andrew Hudgins

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

In the Crevice of Time: New and Selected Poems by Josephine Jacobsen

Questions for Ecclesiastes by Mark Jarman

Collected Poems by Elizabeth Jennings

The Anathemata by David Jones

The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis

Three Cheers for the Paraclete by Thomas Keneally

Ironweed by William Kennedy

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

The Stream and the Sapphire by Denise Levertov

The Mercy by Philip Levine

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Light by Torgny Lindgren

Lord Weary's Castle by Robert Lowell

Salvage Operations by Paul Mariani

Viper's Tangle by Francois Mauriac

Charming Billy by Alice McDermott

Collected Poems by Thomas Merton

If I Had Wheels or Love: Collected Poems by Vassar Miller

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller

Collected Poems by Czeslaw Milosz

Black Robe by Brian Moore

The Truest Pleasure by Robert Morgan

Chronicles of Wasted Time by Malcolm Muggeridge

Complete Poems by Edwin Muir

Collected Poems by Les Murray

Dakota by Kathleen Norris

The Aubrey/Maturin Novels by Patrick O'Brian

Short Stories by Flannery O'Connor

If You do Love Old Men by Virginia Stem Owens

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc by Charles Peguy

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

The Francoeur Trilogy by David Plante

My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

The Presence of Grace by J.F. Powers

Three Gospels by Reynolds Price

Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez

The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy L. Sayers

Bread and Wine by Ignazio Silone

New and Selected Poems by Louis Simpson

Collected Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

Hapgood by Tom Stoppard

Collected Poems by John Heath Stubbs

Collected Poems by Allen Tate

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

In the Beauty of the Lillies by John Updike

The Blood of the Lamb by Peter de Vries

Returning by Dan Wakefield

The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Night by Elie Wiesel

New and Collected Poems by Richard Wilbur

All Hallows' Eve by Charles Williams

Wise Virgin by A.N. Wilson

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Beyond the Bedroom Wall by Larry Woiwode

In the Garden of the North American Martyrs by Tobias Wolff


UPDATED December 15, 2016. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese





But to condemn Camembert makers for wanting to change the recipe because they're "all about profit" is to condemn them for being traditional. No one in the history of Camembert has ever labored to make the cheese simply for the sheer joy of hard work.

 -- The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese by Kathe Lison.  I want to read this for the 2013 Foodies Read Challenge!

 The cover on mine, above, may be the ARC cover, because I got my copy from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. The official cover looks like this:



Both are cool, but I prefer the ARC. Which cover do you like better?


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event. 



Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!




Mailbox Memorial Day


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday this holiday weekend! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event (details here).

Abi at 4 the Love of Books is hosting in May. Please visit her fun, inspirational blog.

I got two books last week:



Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest by Sandi Doughton, published by Sasquatch Books. This is a terrifying, if accurate, explanation of why Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver are the urban centers of what will be the biggest earthquake -- a mega-quake -- in the continental United States.



The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. I was in Dufur, Oregon last week for work and found this on the Take One/Leave One shelf at the charming and historic Balch Hotel.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Kitchen Remodel, Week Thirteen: A Place to Sit

Another week has gone by with no visible progress on the kitchen.  Apparently the hold up is the tile.  Even though it is plain white subway tile, because we ordered a slightly less-ordinary dimension (2x6 instead of 3x6), it has to be custom made. But because we need very little of it, our order has been sitting there waiting to tag onto a larger order when it comes in.

So we wait.  In the meantime, the two kitchen stools we ordered for the island came in.  So we can sit in the kitchen and imagine it being finished and usable.


We saw these stools made out of old wine barrels at Syncline Winery in Lyle, WA (about an hour northeast of Portland).  I like them because they are unusual and made here in America.

By happenstance, because I had no idea what it was about until I read it, I read a book this week about cooking and the comfort of good food.  Rose Tremain won the Orange Prize for The Road Home, the story of an Eastern European immigrant to England who teaches himself to be a chef while working as the plongeur at a toney London restaurant.





WEEKEND COOKING






Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Beginnings: The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese by Kathe Lison


Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I am trying to follow all Book Beginning participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.



MY BOOK BEGINNING





The blade of Napoleon's sword scythed air redolent of roasted meat as the man who would one day be emperor severed at the top of the cheese before him.


 -- The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese by Kathe Lison.  She starts the book with the apocryphal story of Napoleon refusing to eat a pyramid-shaped cheese after his defeat in Egypt.

What a fun choice for the 2013 Foodies Read Challenge!

It looks like the cover on mine, above, may be the ARC cover, because I got my copy from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. The official cover looks like this:



Both are cool. Which cover do you like better?



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Independent People



Independent People, first published in Iceland in 1934, secured Halldór Laxness his Nobel Prize in 1955. It is the grim saga of Bjartur of Summerhouses and his family, early 20th Century "crofters" -- subsistence sheep farmers who live in a sod house with the sheep on the ground floor and the family huddled in the upper level. The semi-literate characters starve through the winter and spring until they can grow a few meager vegetables in the home field and sell their scrawny sheep in the fall.

The book is rich, although the plot is meager, following Bjartur from the acquisition of his farmstead through the loss of two wives and three children. Vivid scenes punctuate long passages describing geography, weather, and peasant conversations about sheep ailments and Icelandic politics. For example, in one scene, Bjatur clings to the furry antlers of a reindeer as the animal drags him across a half-frozen river. Meanwhile, his first wife -- about ready to give birth alone in the hut -- kills and butchers a ewe, salts down the meat, and then gorges herself on a pot of offal stew. The cognate, while false, is apt.

Dark humor is woven into the story but does little to lighten the somber mood. With the cadences and vocabulary of Icelandic epic poetry, Independent People reads like a cross between J. R. R. Tolkien and Thomas Hardy. Many readers praise the book's genius; others will find it a heavy slog.

OTHER REVIEWS

CaribousMom

If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.

NOTES

Independent People counts as one of my choices for the 2013 European Reading Challenge.  At just under 480 pages, it also counts as one of my Chunkster Challenge books.




Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Favorite Author: Graham Greene


Graham Greene (1904 - 1991) has been a favorite of mine since I read The Heart of the Matter while working my way through the Modern Library's list of Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century.

Greene was a prolific author, writing novels, short stories, poetry, plays, screenplays, travel books, memoirs, essays, and criticism.  He wrestled with Catholic religious themes in much of his work, as well as political and moral issues.  He traveled widely and his books are set in all around the world.

Below is a list of Greene's novels and short story collections.  Those I have read are in red; those currently on my TBR shelves are in blue.

If anyone else is working through Greene's bibliography, and would like related posts listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.

The Man Within (1929)
The Name of Action (1930) (out of print)*
Rumour at Nightfall (1931) (out of print)*
Stamboul Train (1932) (also published as Orient Express)
It's a Battlefield (1934)
England Made Me (1935) (also published as The Shipwrecked)
The Bear Fell Free (1935) (short stories; out of print)
A Gun for Sale (1936) (also published as This Gun for Hire)
Brighton Rock (1938)
The Confidential Agent (1939)
The Power and the Glory (1940) (also published as The Labyrinthine Ways)
The Ministry of Fear (1943)
The Heart of the Matter (1948)
The Third Man (1949) (novella)
The End of the Affair (1951)
Twenty-One Stories (1954) (short stories)
The Quiet American (1955)
Loser Takes All (1955)
Our Man in Havana (1958)
A Burnt-Out Case (1960)
A Sense of Reality (1963) (short stories)
The Comedians (1966) (reviewed here)
May We Borrow Your Husband? (1967) (short stories; reviewed here)
Travels with My Aunt (1969)
The Honorary Consul (1973)
The Human Factor (1978)
Doctor Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party (1980)
Monsignor Quixote (1982)
The Tenth Man (1985)
The Captain and the Enemy (1988)
The Last Word and Other Stories (1990) (short stories)
No Man's Land (2005) (posthumously published)


* Greene repudiated these two early novels and they were never reprinted. In his autobiography, he stated, "Both books are of a badness beyond the power of criticism properly to evoke."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Holdfast: At Home in the Natural World by Kathleen Dean Moore





At darkfall, we all trip to the edge of the water, standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the sand, hoping to hear the fish sing. The breeze is warm and piney, sliding out of the forest onto the water, lifting our hair.

-- Holdfast: At Home in the Natural World by Kathleen Dean Moore, from an essay about the toadfish, also called the western singing fish.

Moore is an award-winning nature writer and professor of philosophy at Oregon State University.  This edition of Holdfast is part of the OSU Press Northwest Reprint series. It is available on amazon or direct from OSU Press

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
Naturalist and philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore meditates on connection and separation in these twenty-one elegant, probing essays. Using the metaphor of holdfasts—the structures that attach seaweed to rocks with a grip strong enough to withstand winter gales—she examines our connections to our own bedrock.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event. 





Monday, May 20, 2013

Mailbox Monday


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event (details here).

Abi at 4 the Love of Books is hosting in May. Please visit her fun, inspirational blog.

I picked up two books last week from the "Adopt a Book" self at the Helena, Montana library.  It is their way of distributing withdrawn library copies.  I snagged one for myself and one for my hubby.



A Thousand Bells at Noon : A Roman's Guide to the Secret & Pleasures of His Native City by G. Franco Romagnoli. This looks wonderful! I know I read about it somewhere, but I can't remember where.



Ungrateful Daughters: The Stuart Princesses Who Stole Their Father's Crown by Maureen Waller.  This one is for my husband who has been in the mood for books on English history ever since watching The Tudors

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Kitchen Remodel, Week Twelve: The Great Wall

Nothing visible happened in our kitchen last week. Electricians and plumbers did invisible things, so our appliances turn on.  And Ella Fitzgerald found a new hiding place.


We did make progress on the outside part of this project.  There are now walls outlining where the stairs will be from the garage up to the kitchen door.  Still no stairs, but we can now at least envision where they will be.


I've been reading Blood From a Stone, one of Donna Leon's mysteries set in Venice.  Even in the middle of a murder investigation, Commissario Guido Brunetti always goes home for lunch, where his wife -- a college professor with an apparently light work load -- makes him incredible lunches.  They eat pasta or risotto every day.  It's making me crazy!  Since I try to avoid carbs, I go for months without eating pasta or rice.  The Brunettis' lunches have me fantasizing about noodles!




WEEKEND COOKING



Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Beginnings: Holdfast: At Home in the Natural World by Kathleen Dean Moore


Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I am trying to follow all Book Beginning participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.



MY BOOK BEGINNING




In the green, light-shot sea along the Oregon coast, bullwhip kelp lean toward land on the incoming tides and swirl seaward as the water fall away, never letting go of their grip on the ocean floor.

-- Holdfast: At Home in the Natural World,  a much-appreciated reprint of collection of essays by award-winning nature writer Kathleen Dean Moore. This edition is part of the OSU Press Northwest Reprint series.

This is available on amazon or direct from OSU Press

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
Naturalist and philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore meditates on connection and separation in these twenty-one elegant, probing essays. Using the metaphor of holdfasts—the structures that attach seaweed to rocks with a grip strong enough to withstand winter gales—she examines our connections to our own bedrock.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: A Sand County Almanac



A Sand County Almanac was published in 1949, a year after Aldo Leopold's death, and remains a formative work of conservation philosophy.

There are three parts to the book. The first, the Almanac section, is a collection of 12 essays, labeled by month, discussing the "wild things" of Leopold's farm in the "sand counties" region of Wisconsin. Birds are a recurring topic, as are trees, prairie grass, weather, hunting, fishing, and the ecology that connects them all.

The second part, "Sketches Here and There," includes essays inspired by places: Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, Arizona and New Mexico, Chihuaha and Sonora, Oregon and Utah, and Manitoba. Although the subjects vary, Leopold's consistent theme is how human access to wilderness and mechanization – well-intentioned or not – has altered the land's natural system.

In the last section, "The Upshot," Leopold raises philosophical questions about why and how to correct the ecological imbalances created by man's use of the land. He advocated a "land ethic" that considers aesthetic and other non-economic interests when making land-use decisions.

Leopold's tone is musing rather than didactic. His position could be described as small-c conservative, with the goal of conserving the wild parts of nature while accommodating man's use of her resources. He acknowledges the paradox inherent in these goals:

But all conservation of wilderness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish.

He offers no solution to this dilemma, criticizing private land owners, government programs, and consumers alike. He sees conservation as "too large, too complex, or too widely dispersed to be performed by government," and concludes that an "ethical obligation on the part of the private owner is the only visible remedy for these situations." But once proposed, Leopold offers no method to create such an ethic. We still wrestle with the same environmental conundrum.

OTHER REVIEWS

If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.

NOTES

Aldo Leopold inspired many environmentalists and conservation organizations, including the Property & Environment Research Center (PERC) in Montana and the Sand County Foundation, based in Madison, Wisconsin, which manages Leopold's old farm.  Among other things, the Sand County Foundation works on removing dams to restore Wisconsin's natural floodplain.

A Sand County Almanac has been on my TBR shelf for years.  I finally read it as one of my non-fiction choices for the TBR challenges I am doing this year: the MT. TBR CHALLENGE (hosted by Bev on My Reader's Block) and the OFF THE SHELF CHALLENGE (hosted by Bonnie on Bookish Ardour).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: A Sand County Almanac



How like fish we are: ready, nay eager, to seize upon whatever new thing some wind of circumstance shakes down upon the river of time! And how we rue our haste, finding the gilded morsel to contain a hook.

A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold.  This was first published in 1949 and remains one of the most popular books on conservation.


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event. 



Monday, May 13, 2013

Mailbox Monday


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event (details here).

Abi at 4 the Love of Books is hosting in May. Please visit her fun, inspirational blog.

I got a nice stack of books last week, mostly because I stopped by my favorite Second Glance Books where Rachelle had some set aside for me. 

I also got a copy of an interesting book when I went to hear the author/editor speak.  If you would have told me that I could sit and listen to a two-hour lecture on the history of, and predictions for, the modern welfare states of Europe and America,  I would have scoffed.  But Tom Palmer was a riveting speaker.  I am looking forward to reading his book:



After the Welfare State, edited by Tom G. Palmer, featuring essays by himself, David Beito, Piercamillo Falasca (Italian),  David Green(English),  Aristides Hatzis (Greek), Johan Norberg (Swedish),  and Michael Tanner.  I like the international perspectives.

My books from Second Glance are:



Death of a Cozy Writer by G. M. Malliet.  I also have her book, Wicked Autumn, on my TBR shelf.



The Japanese Cat at Home by Nobuo Honda, because it is too adorable!



Morgan's Passing by Anne Tyler




Long Day's Journey into Night
by Eugene O'Neill, which is on the College Board's Top 101 list.



McTeague by Frank Norris



Promised Land by Robert B. Parker, which won the Edgar Award.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Kitchen Remodel, Week Eleven: Appliances!

The appliances are in! They aren't hooked up yet, but it is starting to look like a kitchen.


Better yet, now that the dusty work is finished, the door between the dining room and the kitchen has been unsealed, so we can get to the kitchen -- and more important, the basement -- from inside.  For the past months, we've had to go around the outside of the house to see progress on the kitchen or get downstairs.  Hauling baskets of laundry around the yard to the cellar door got tired fast.

The cats love exploring the new room. So many smells! Here is Ella Fitzgerald admiring the island before a leaping circuit of all the counters.


I haven't read any food books this week, but I did just buy one yesterday.  And, yes, I bought it because of the title: Spotted Dick, S'il Vous Plait: An English Restaurant in France by Tom Higgins.





WEEKEND COOKING



Friday, May 10, 2013

Book Beginnings: The Tin Drum


Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I am trying to follow all Book Beginning participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.



MY BOOK BEGINNING




Granted: I'm an inmate in a mental institution; my keeper watches me, scarcely lets me out of sight, for there's a peephole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can't see through blue-eyed types like me.

The Tin Drum by Günter Grass.

I've had a copy of The Tin Drum on my TBR shelf forever, but it daunts me.  The whole notion of German literature daunts me, although I'm of 100% German stock, so I feel I should appreciate it, and I've read hardly any, so don't have a basis for my opinion.

Then I read about the new translation of this Nobel Laureate's classic, and decided to go that route.  My library had an unabridged audio version, so I can read it with my ears.  I figure I can just keep listening, even when I don't get it, like with this opening sentence.  Sometimes you just have to let art flow over you. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Notes: Audio Books


  • Do you read audio books?
  • Do you enjoy particular types of book in audio editions?
  • Where do you get your audio books?

I've listened to audio books on and off all my adult life, but I really became a fan when I got an iPod and discovered how to load audio cds from the library onto my iTunes library, then on to my iPod.  I could keep 20 or more books in my purse!  More recently, my library expanded its list of iPod-compatible audio books available for automatic download, so I no longer have to mess around with the cds.

I still read the majority of my books with my eyes, but there are plenty that I read with my ears.  I bristle at the argument that listening to an audio book does not "count" as reading the book.  An unabridged audio book puts every single word of the book into your head, just like reading a paper book does -- it just gets into your brain via your ears instead of your eyes.  But it is the same information getting to your brain -- just like reading a book in Braille puts the book into your brain through your fingertips.  The difference is sensory, not substantive.  It is not like watching a play or a movie or listening to a radio program because an audio book is not an adaptation -- it is the real book, read aloud.

There are a couple of genres I enjoy best in an audio format.  First, memoirs read by the author, because they can be superior to the paper format.  You hear exactly how the author intended the words to sound -- you get inside the author's head.  For example, I always know who listened Frank McCourt read Angela's Ashes and who read it with their eyes.  The first group, including me, thought the book was heartwarming and very funny.  The second group thought it was heartbreaking and incredibly sad.  The difference is in the cadence and inflection McCourt put into the words when he read them.

Likewise, Ayaan Hirisi Ali reading her biography Infidel was mind blowing.  I cannot imagine getting the same impact from the printed page.  On a lighter note, I came close to abandoning David Sedaris until I listened to Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and became a devoted fan.

The second genre I prefer in audio is classic literature.  I am listening to The Tin Drum now.  I've listened to, among others, The Count of Monte Cristo, Moll Flanders, Silas Marner, Hard Times, Madame Bovary, and Moby Dick.  And, yes, even the passages on cetology and the meaning of "white" were entertaining when read out loud.

Listening to these classics is more rewarding for me that reading them with my eyes.  Instead of facing dense, page-long paragraphs of prose, some professional has parsed the phrasing and figured out every nuance of intonation.  That, along with different voices for characters, makes some of these older books come alive.  In that way, I agree with the idea that audio books are like a play -- listening to them is satisfying in the same way that watching a Shakespeare play makes more sense than trying to read it on the page.

So while I will continue to flip pages, you can often find me plugged into my iPod, listening to a book.  And I definitely count every one of those audio books as I scratch the titles off my various book lists.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: Word Up! by Marcia Riefer Johnston





 
Trying to review Marcia Riefer Johnston’s Word Up! daunts me. She starts with a chapter advising vigorous deletion of all “to be” verbs. Ack! Good advice, but it stymies my ability to write a review, lest a stray is, am, was, or are bogs down my prose.

But it must be done. So I’ll offer my opinions and risk straying from the path Johnston’s advice, with a reminder to myself that good writing is a continual process of practice and honing.

Word Up! takes a holistic approach to strong writing, rather than rehashing the same old rules about grammar and punctuation. Johnston covers a lot of ground, but always focuses on getting the most out of every word and sentence. She preaches energetic and repeated editing – to eliminate bloat and flab, make sentences punchy, and create compositions that resonate with readers.

There is just enough jargon and technical guidance in the book to appeal to grammar geeks and punctuation buffs. But the strength of Word Up! lies in Johnston’s enthusiasm for teaching powerful writing. This is a book to turn to again and again for guidance and inspiration.

OTHER REVIEWS

You would like your review of Word Up! or any other guide to good writing listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Direct Hit! by Caroline Sutherland










Love addicts are people who need to be "in love" constantly. They attach to people through euphoria, romance, or sex in an attempt to get their needs met.
-- from the author's Introduction to Direct Hit! How Facebook Destroyed My Marriage and How I Healed by Caroline Sutherland. 

Sutherland is the popular author of The Body Knows booksDirect Hit! is the story of how her husband betrayed her, stole her identity, and tried to ruin her life.  Once you start, you can't look away!

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event. 



Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mailbox Monday


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday! MM was created by Marcia, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring event (details here).

Abi at 4 the Love of Books is hosting in May. Please visit her fun, inspirational blog.

Two random books came into my house last week, both from books lists I'm working on.



Death and the Joyful Woman by Ellis Peters. This is the second book in the Inspector Felse series and it won the Edgar Award in 1963. I have the first book in the series, Fallen into the Pit, already on my TBR shelf.



Trust by Cynthia Ozick. I have never read anything by her, but this one -- her fist novel -- is on the Erica Jong list of Top 100 20th Century Novels by Women. The amazon reviews don't do it any favors.

What books came into your house last week?



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