40 Things (31)

Cover of "The Secret Life of Bees"
Cover of The Secret Life of Bees

Following along with Boof’s 40 Day Challenge leading up to her 40th birthday, day 31:

31) A book that everyone else seems to love except me

Once again, I turned to Goodreads to review my lower-starred books to see what I didn’t love that others did.  I don’t have many one-star books, although “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen is one.  I tried to listen to it on audio and was very turned off and disturbed by it immediately so I couldn’t even attempt a finish.  That was a long time ago.  And I don’t know anyone who loves that book, although I’m sure that people do.

Other books that I gave three-stars to that I think others loved more than me (my three-stars means I liked it – not a great book in my eyes) would include “Lovely Bones” and “The Secret Life of Bees.”  I am probably going to re-read “The Secret Life of Bees,” because it is on my nephew’s 9th grade English syllabus and I’d like to read it with him, and maybe I’ll have a different reaction this time.  I listened to this on audio, and sometimes that is a very different experience than reading the book.  I may have been distracted during my commute by things going on at home or at work and so I didn’t give the book my full attention.  I’ll try it again.

#31 on my list was: Buy a good bra.  Yes, up until this time, I did my lingerie shopping at Target.  Nothing wrong with that, I’m sure, but I hadn’t had a proper fitting in ages, so I took myself to Victoria’s Secret and bought a few bras that actually fit good.  Last fall I hosted a bra party with a friend from Preston, and so there were bra fittings going on upstairs in my house!  It was a blast and that bra is amazing (and should be for the price!).

Weird, good stuff.  🙂

Off to read!

40 Things (30!)

The Passage of Time
Image by ToniVC via Flickr

Following along with Boof’s 40 Day Challenge leading up to her 40th birthday, day 30!  Her topic is:

30) A favourite sensational novel

I wasn’t quite sure what Boof meant when she chose this topic – a book that makes a sensation when published? a book that has a storyline so sensational that you can’t believe it? a book everyone is talking about?

So I googled it.

And got a lot of hits for “sensation novels,” British novels written in 1860-1880.  (See Wikipedia definition summary: The sensation novel was a literary genre of fiction popular in Great Britain in the 1860s and 1870s, following on from earlier melodramatic novels and the Newgate novels, which focused on tales woven around criminal biographies, also descend from the gothic and romantic genres of fiction. Typically the sensation novel focused on shocking subject matter including adultery, theft, kidnapping, insanity, bigamy, forgery, seduction and murder.)

Well I’m pretty sure this is what Boof meant, as I’ve seen her talk about some of these books and she is British, and I’m also pretty sure that I haven’t read any books of this type.  There was a list of books in this genre and the closest to anything I’ve ever read was “Great Expectations,” except I haven’t read it.  I’ve read Charles Dickens.  🙂  Crime fiction is not my favorite type of fiction and I don’t read too many books written pre-1900.  One book that I loved (that doesn’t fit this in the true sense of the term or at all, really) was “Time and Again” by Jack Finney – a story about time travel to New York City – 1880.

Goodreads summary:  First published in 1970, this highly original cult classic tells the story of Simon Morley, a young Manhattan illustrator who is selected by a secret government agency–presumably to test Einstein’s theory that the past actually co-exists with the present–and finds himself suddenly transported back to the New York of the 1880s. Written with style and elegance, this bold, visionary novel provides “Mind-boggling, imagination-stretching, exciting, romantic entertainment.”– San Francisco Examiner.

I loved this book and was excited when the sequel was written in 1995.  I believe I have that one on my bookshelves.

Harry Connick, Jr. - Oh, My NOLA

#30 on my list of 40 things was: Go to see Harry Connick Jr. in concert, which I did on April 5, 2007!  Deadra and I both have loved Harry Connick, Jr. since his early days – his music and his goofy acting career.  Will and Grace – loved it!  Hope Floats – how fun!  When Harry Met Sally music – superb!  I have a LOT of his albums so was glad that he toured during the time that I was working on this list and we were able to see him at the Orpheum in Mpls.  Good times with good friends and good music.

Off to read!

40 Things (29)

Garrison Keillor and cast members of A Prairie...
Keillor and cast in Lanesboro, MN Image via Wikipedia

Following along with Boof’s 40 Day Challenge leading up to her 40th birthday, day 29 –

29) A favourite book with animals in

When I was young (5th grade? 6th grade?) I loved “Where the Red Fern Grows,” but I haven’t read it since then, so  it’s hard to say it’s a favorite, because when I think of books with animals in it, my mind goes immediately to “Life of Pi.”  I listened to that book on audio first and simply fell in love with the story.  I loved the cadence of the reader, the description of the animals in the life boat, the floating island, and the horror of the story.  A few years later I read the book for book club (at my insistence) and I enjoyed the story just as much and loved talking about it with everyone (although most didn’t share my love for the book).

#29 on my list of 40 things was: Go to Michael Feldman or Garrison Keillor.  Michael Feldman and Garrison Keillor have weekly entertainment radio shows on public radio.  I have listened to Garrison Keillor since I was introduced to the show when I was about 12 by my aunt and uncle.  I don’t listen religiously, but whenever I am in the car or at home and remember, I will turn on The Prairie Home Companion,which is taped in St. Paul, MN or NYC.  Michael Feldman’s show, “Whad’ya Know?” was introduced to me much later – in the late 90s – and it is less musical and more interview/comedy based with local color.  It is taped in Madison, Wisconsin.

On May 31, 2007 Garrison Keillor came to a small artsy town about 20 miles from where I lived, so I got tickets and went with a bunch of friends.  He recorded the show on a baseball field outside and the weather was perfect, the guests were colorful and fun, and his show was fantastic.  It would be fun to see him at the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul sometime and I hear he’s going to retire soon, so I’ll have to get on that.

Off to read!

40 Things (28) – I am so unoriginal in these titles!

Cover of "Persepolis: The Story of a Chil...
Cover of Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Following along with Boof’s 40 Day Challenge leading up to her 40th birthday

28) A book I loved but nobody else did

I often try to get my book club out of their comfort zone a bit, and one of those stretches was a graphic novel, “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi.  I loved this book, but others just kind of squinched their eyes at me.  I don’t know if it was the story or the graphic novel aspect, but I loved it.  (Summary from Goodreads below…)

#28 on my list was:  Get a new passport.

FAIL!  Yikes.  I really need to do this.  I’m not sure what the hold-up is, and I even picked up all the paperwork once, but I just need to do it.  I got my first passport in college and used it twice (England and South Korea) and unfortunately it has been more than 10 years since that first passport was issued.  *Sigh*

Goodreads Summary of Persepolis:  Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. 

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love. 

Off to read!

40 Things (27)

In western painting, Helen's journey to Troy i...
Image via Wikipedia "Helen of Pasadena" is about archeologists, not Helen of Troy, but lots of references! Good stuff...

Following along with Boof’s 40 Day Challenge leading up to her 40th birthday, day 27!

27) A book I love that deserves to be better known

I have been following The Satellite Sisters for more than ten years now – through their weekly radio show turned daily radio show, turned daily podcast, turned weekly podcast; through their articles in O Magazine and through their blogs, and most recently through one of them publishing a novel.  Ten years ago for Christmas I got their book ‘The Satellite Sisters: Uncommon Senses’ which was (and still is) such a great book.  It’s the lessons they learned growing up in a large family (8 kids) on the east coast.  The lessons were many and still hold true today.  I believe they are possibly re-releasing the book or some incarnation of it and if they do, it will be a gift I will give to friends.  One of the sisters, Lian, published her novel “Helen of Pasadena,” last December and it is a really great book, too!  I drove to Edina on a cold cold evening in December to hear her speak and get some books signed for gifts.  What fun to meet a “sister” in person.  I feel like they are all friends of mine!

#27 on my list was:  Finish a NYT crossword without looking at the answers!  I have been able to successfully complete this several times – at the Monday level.  The New York Time’s Crossword Puzzles get harder as the week goes on, leading up to the nearly impossible (to me) Sunday puzzle.  I have a book filled with Monday puzzles and can rip through one pretty easily.  I should go get a Tuesday book and keep moving forward. Maybe in my 43rd year.  🙂

Off to read!

40 Things (26)

Following along with Boof’s 40 Day Challenge leading up to her 40th birthday, day 26:

26) A favourite science-fiction book

Goodness.  Once again, I had to look to Goodreads to find a list of science fiction books to see if I’ve read any!  It’s not my thing, I guess, but a few came up that I have read.  I loved “A Wrinkle in Time” as a youngster and tried to re-read it as an adult but found it weird.  I read “The Giver,” and didn’t care for it – too spooky.  I enjoyed “Her Fearful Symmetry” lots more than “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” and are they considered science fiction?  “Her Fearful Symmetry” is a ghost story – certainly not realistic fiction – and would be my pick as favorite.

# 26 on my list was to Play the accordion.  I’ve watched some great foreign films with memorable accordion music (“Amelie,”  “Bread & Tulips”) and would love to learn how to play French or Italian accordion.  So this was on my list, but it was the night of my 40th birthday that I finally had a chance!  I went to Whistle Binkies and it was Oktoberfest and a small German polka band was playing, so after some begging and pleading, the accordionist allowed me to hold and play and be photographed playing his accordion!  Mission accomplished.  Since that time I have purchased an accordion and have worked at it a little!  I certainly am not up to the beautiful French melodies I’m after, but there are two songs I can play pretty well!  It’s so HARD!! But fun. 🙂

Getting some lessons from Barb (Oct 2010)

Off to read!

40 Things (25)!

chick lit books $2
Do Chick Lit books have to be pink?

Following along with Boof’s 40 Day Challenge leading up to her 40th birthday, today’s topic is:

25) A favourite chicklit book

I do love me some chicklit!  To answer this question I first looked up a definition of chicklit.

  • Novels written for and by young women
  • Literature appealing to women, usually with a romantic or sentimental theme
  • A genre of fiction concentrating on young working women and their emotional lives
And then I looked at my Goodreads books, especially those rated five stars, and the following authors had more than one rated five stars for me:
I have followed Jennifer Weiner’s blog and twitter for ages and know that she is pretty sensitive about the title “chicklit,” because it diminishes the importance of the book and its content in some people’s eyes.  “Chicklit” isn’t given column space in prominent book review publications.  Interesting to think about…
I can’t pick one book, so I’ll leave it at that. 🙂

#25 on my list of things to do was to Go to the Trempeleau Hotel for an outdoor concert.  The Trempeleau Hotel is in the small town of Trempeleau along the Mississippi River.  There is a lawn where they hold outdoor concerts in the summer and Beth and I were able to take in a concert there.  I think it was the summer of 2008, but for the life of me I can’t remember who we saw!  It’ll come to me (or Beth will remember).  We brought our own lawn chairs and had yummy food and drink in the late summer evening.  It was a great time.

Off to read!

40 Things (24)

Cover of "The Firm"
Cover of The Firm

Following along with Boof’s 40 Day Challenge leading up to her 40th birthday, the next topic is –

24) An “unputdownable” book

I am a pretty slow reader, as a rule.  I think a big reason why it takes time for me to get through a book is that I am a) distracted by other things to read, and b) enjoying every word in a book.  I can’t skim or speed read.  I immerse myself in words.

I remember reading “The Firm” by Grisham in my early 20s.  I had just started my first job out of college and still loved to stay up late and dreaded early mornings.  I read that book in one weekend day, staying up until 4:30 am to finish it, because I knew that if I didn’t devour it it would leak into my week and cause sleeplessness.

I always look forward to reading but it isn’t every book that I read that causes that feeling of happy anticipation at the thought of crawling into bed and reading THAT BOOK.  If you look at my Goodreads list, I believe that every book I rated five stars gave me that feeling.  It stuck with me all day, making chores easier to bear, bringing a smile.  Recently, “Attachments” made me feel that way.  Last summer I devoured “The Girl Who…” books.

It’s such a great feeling…

#24 on my list of 40 things was: Have a memorable New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is one of those “coupley” holidays that I sometimes dread.  There’s also that great expectation that it’s going to be a spectacular and memorable evening!  I’ve hosted some NYE parties that were a blast and some that were ok.  I’ve gone to movies alone, returning home just in time for the Rockin’ New Year’s Eve shows.  I’ve rented movies and stayed home.  I’ve gone to parties and had a good time.  I’ve gone to see “Dueling Pianos” and drank Jaegermeister from the bottle.

So I’ve had memorable New Year’s Eves before and I will again.  This challenge was to create the intention to make every NYE intentionally memorable.  On the last NYE before my 40th birthday, I realized I’d better do something, so I invited my friends Beth and Doug over (to my mom and dad’s, since that is where I was living at the time) and we ate good food and played Guitar Hero and singing games all night long.  We created a funny band name and had big laughs.  Again, the intention was there so the evening will be remembered.  It would be fun to have some kind of traditional NYE celebration in our family, but every year is different and usually planned at the last minute.  A good thing to look forward to. 🙂

Off to read!

Books: Lunch in Paris – A Love Story, with Recipes

Cover of "Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, w...
Cover via Amazon

by Elizabeth Bard

I LOVED this book!  And how perfect that I finished it late last night (an UNPUTDOWNABLE?) and today I can post a few words for Words and Peace’s “I Love France” meme!

Elizabeth Bard was an American living/working/studying in England when she saw a man at an academic conference and on the last day exchanged emails with him, which led to a flurry of flirty emails and eventually a weekend trip to Paris for a lunch date.  This book chronicles their life together – from this first date – and tells the story through food.

This book is quite like another book I love – Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life” – which owns space on my cookbook shelf.  Early on in “Lunch in Paris,” (after I started dog-earing recipes that I wanted to try in chapter one, chapter two, etc.) I realized that I would be purchasing this book for the same reason.  Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes, Mamy Simone’s Tabouleh, Eggplant Stuffed with Quinoa, Lemon Sorbet and Vodka (inspired!)… the list goes on and on.  Some of the recipes look a little complicated but most simply enhance the flavors of whatever is being served (wild boar or haricot verts – I love haricot verts!).

Elizabeth Bard is able to simply and beautifully write about what it means to be an American living in France.  I don’t even know what else to say about that!  She writes eloquently about what it’s like to have parents in US who wonder what she’s getting herself into, cultural expectations of Americans and French, how cultural differences impact relationships and attitudes towards work and happiness.

It is an excellent little book filled with intelligent insights.  Adriana Trigiani (one of my favorite authors) has a blurb on the back that says “It’s Eat, Stay, Love with a side of spiced apricots.”  I thought about that as I read the book.  One of my pet peeves is when people set out to do something amazing with the sole intention of writing a book at the completion of the amazing feat.  It feels contrived and unnatural.  I felt that way about “Eat, Pray, Love” and “The Happiness Project.”  I didn’t feel that way about this book at all.  And in the last chapter she writes about how the “cookbook” idea came to be – during a New Year’s Eve feast that lasted for eight hours.  Yes, they stopped eating at around 4AM.  Can you imagine?  Each hour a new course was brought out to be savored and enjoyed.

This book is a joy.  Savor it.

Off to read!

40 Things (23)

Pippi Longstocking (book)
Image via Wikipedia

Following along with Boof’s 40 Day Challenge leading up to her 40th birthday, next topic is:

23) A book that is a most treasured possession

Because of the flood, many of my childhood books were destroyed so anything that I have from my childhood is treasured by me.  It’s kind of funny, because I’ll be at my brother’s house and find a book that somehow ended up at his house but was inscribed to me and I’ll just steal it back to my house, thankful that it survived.  So I now own my Pippi Longstocking book as well as a Child’s Book of Prayers.  Yay!

Some of my favorite books were in high bookshelves upstairs, so I am still thankful that I have them – like “Now We Are Six” and the poetry books I compiled in high school.  When cleaning out my flooded house, the gravity of it all hit me when I picked up my book journal and threw it away.  I kinda lost it then.  Books that were surrounding my bed were all a loss – imagine that TBR pile disappearing!

How depressing that is!  I also treasure books that I’ve had autographed recently.  It was fun to read the books, discuss them with the author, and get them autographed by those fantastic women.  Good stuff.

# 23 on my list was to: Go to local art galleries.  I make it a conscious choice to visit art galleries and museums whenever I can.  I also do my best to support them in my small way by making purchases there for gifts or for myself.  I can’t afford big art but I can buy hand painted cards or earrings.  As I have said before, the first art museum I went to was eye-opening and made me wonder why I hadn’t been going to them all my life!

Off to read!