Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I'm so excited about this new social network (http://www.goodreads.com). Pedram's friend Gentry introduced us to it last night. I spent the last hour filling up my list of books and trying to get all my friends to join. I'll still post my reviews here, but you should really check it out because of the connectivity and easy interface it offers.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
by Toni Morrison
I love Toni Morrison--she was a big figure in my college book-reading years and she's just an amazing person. Beyond her classically exceptional literary talents, she has a particular knack for writing slightly spooky, inter-generational tales, and Love falls into that bucket. (Remember Beloved? Sooo creepy). Love takes place in a resort town that has fallen onto hard times. The story revolves around a central (yet absent) figure-- the handsome, wealthy resort owner and the women who love him.
I don't think this is Ms. Morrison's best writing. Her prose, as always, is beautiful but the story lacked essential ingredients. Yes, it is spooky and interesting, but the story was difficult to follow-there was no particular character to identify with and root for, I suppose. There is a distracting narrator that we never really get to know (and her text is always italicized, which I find massively annoying). There's a young guy who falls for this young tough punk of a girl, but we don't really know him or her either.
All in all, a fine read, but not a spine-tingling one as I've come to expect from her.
But read it and tell me if you feel differently.
Monday, February 12, 2007
by Barbara Vine
This one was really good, guys. Maybe even better than my previous favorite of hers, The Minotaur...
Suspenseful, clever twists and just engaging as heck. I spent all of yesterday's daylight hours (after my first horseback riding lesson-yay!) reading this and only emerged when I'd turned the last page to have dinner with the hubby.
Perfect to lose yourself in--on vacation or on a day you want to spend indoors on the couch.
Monday, February 05, 2007
by Kaye Gibbons
My Kaye Gibbons streak continues...I liked this book too. Not as much as Charms for an Easy Life, but holy heck, this woman is talented.
What is love? Love endures. This is a love story about an unlucky woman and man who become lucky to find each other. Their love isn't flashy, isn't heart-pounding and lusty, but it's real, long-lived and tender. These are flawed, weak and vulnerable characters, but they are also kind and real.
If you're in the mood for something sweet, a bit melancholy, but also uplifting, check out A Virtuous Woman.
Monday, January 29, 2007
by Muhammad Yunas
Have you heard of Mr. Yunas? He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work in establishing Grameen Bank, the first bank to arrange micro-credit (loans usually less than $300) to the poor. This model of banking has since spread around the world to alleviate poverty and create a self-sustaining model of independence.
The book is the story of his life and Grameen Bank. He writes in a casual, conversational style that is easy to read.
After a visit to a local village in the 1970s, when he lent $27 to a poor woman so she could end the cycle of dependence on moneylenders and lift herself out of poverty, he was inspired to found Grameen Bank
He paid attention to the poor around him. And he paid attention to what it would take to make them self-sufficient (not dependent on charity).
It fascinated me that paying attention and being resourceful can wreak such a wonderful outcome (btw, why do we usually only say "wreak havoc"? we should start saying "wreak joy/life/beauty").
Isn't that an attribute of all great entrepreneurs and innovators--that they are paying attention at the right moment? In Farsi, "paying attention" translates to "well-gathered thoughts". What do you need to pay attention to?
Monday, January 22, 2007
by Barbara Vine
Ms. Vine goes into a bit too much detail on the biography process, and the central intrigue about the good doctor didn't grab me. In addition, the other two story lines she is juggling (the House of Lords and the pregnancy) end up getting almost as much attention, and detract from the central mystery.
I suppose I was expecting quite a lot after The Minotaur, and I found The Blood Doctor lacking. However, she is still very deft in her prose and I do believe if the book had been halved in size, it would have worked excellently.
But read it and tell me if you disagree.
Despite The Blood Doctor and because of The Minotaur, I'm not giving up on her yet, and have checked out another Vine book and two Ruth Rendell books. Reviews on those to come.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Cold Comfort Farm
by Stella Gibbons
Funnily enough, I picked up this book because I was cleaning the library out of their Kaye Gibbons collection, and scooped this accidentally! Good accident. I had a jolly time reading this quick read. No relation in themes or style to Kaye Gibbons incidentally.
It's a humorous satire, poking fun at the melodramatic novels popular at the time (CCF was first published in 1932). Flora Poste, our heroine, finds herself an orphan--but despite being "athletically and lengthily educated", she has no means of making a living, and off she goes to live with some relatives in the country. She then proceeds to apply her common sense, levelheaded, omniscient, and modern approach to fixing all of the resident evils of the motley family living there.
Yes, the book is fun and quite funny, but it also made me noodle on (my boss uses this phrase, I think it's hilarious) the notion of "fixing" people's problems. I recognized myself in Flora Poste, and while I rather liked Flora, she was also incorrigible and such a busybody! However, dear friends, rest assured that I'm not sure I'm going to become less of a busybody (matchmaking, offering unsolicited advice, etc.) anytime soon...You may remember, that this novel was a made for BBC movie, starring Kate Beckinsale (who oddly, I find annoying in real life, but fine on sceen) back in 1995. It is now on my Netflix queue as well. (Good reviews of the film too, which is lovely).
The grandmother, when she's young, gets this lucky charm, that's supposed to bring her an easy life. Her husband leaves her, tries to con her, she works as a doctor in the early 1900's when infection and poverty are rampant--but she is blessed with a wonderful daughter and granddaughter---they're all three smart, good-looking, admirable, love each other deeply and admired.
The grandmother gives the charm to her granddaughter (fully believing in its worth as a lucky charm) as a gift to her granddaughter's future husband and tells her to tell him "It's a charm for an easy life. Just depends what your definition of easy is."
I love that. The relativity of life and the difference perspective makes about how you feel about your life.
There's another line I really like too where the grandaughter says of her grandmother "I admired her energetic mind and her muscular soul." Isn't that a great thing to have--a muscular soul? One that's strong, flexible, resilient?
As many of you know, I haven't posted on here in over a year...the truth is I struggled with what would be appropriate fodder for this semi-public forum. I have strong notions of privacy (even with my random, usually trivial, silly or boring) regarding my internal world--thoughts about myself, life, the people I love, even just the people I know slightly just seemed to precious to broadcast to any Joe Blow who happened to be clicking through the blogger "next blog" feature.
However, I've decided to take the plunge again (with some urging from my good friend and tireless blogger, Wendy) and reinvent this blog as a place for me to post my thoughts on the books I read.
As you probably know, (if you're reading this, you probably know me) I'm a grossly voracious reader. I probably average about 6 books a month, and that's a slow month.
The good, the bad, the ugly, it will all go here. My notions of privacy will probably still be a little uncomfortable with cracking open my head about the books I spend my free time on (giving you strong glimpses into who I am and why I read what I read), but I'm willing to go for it, in the interests of being both modern and entertaining, as well as creating a good record of what the heck I spend that free time on!
I look forward to receiving a lot of comments and reactions to my reviews and hope that there is strong differences of opinion, because I love debating books, almost as much as debating films.
Note to Pedram & Wen: I can be a lazy mofo, so keep me on track!
(Bonus points if you can figure out why this particular picture of Madonna's graces this entry)
Thursday, January 05, 2006
I am in the grips of an unholy obsession, people.
It is officially known as weddingus madnessus. I have been suffering since August, but it's well and truly got me now...My current malaise centers around wedding photographers. A secondary affliction centers on wedding videographers. Next in line are flowers, decorations, invitiations, itineraries, reservations, the list is so long!!!
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Still looking for a good wedding site. It seems like an endless saga. Started in September, and hasn't concluded yet. I think we may end up at a certain farm in a certain county, but it's not certain yet. What a racket! I always heard about how expensive and time-consuming weddings are, but the reality of it overwhelms.
Monday, October 24, 2005
What's better: Being happy or being successful? Can you be one without the other? I wonder sometimes if staying at home would really make me happy. Yes, I'd theoretically have time to do whatever I want but could I be happy without some objectively available standard of success? When you work, you know that even if you hate your job, you have some measure of success. But when work sucks, and puttering around the house seems like heaven on earth, is it really worth it to have that fleeting sense of gratification that comes from being perceived as a productive member of society?
Monday, October 03, 2005
i woke up in a stunningly good mood this morning, considering it was a monday and work is utter chaos right now. even pedram's usual morning chirpiness didn't faze me. i was chirpy right back!
love that. how life can be totally random and happy for no reason sometimes. :)
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Thursday, September 08, 2005
It's been a year of change. Big changes....at work, at home, in the world.
My mom has always believed that change is good. My dad avoids change, likes stability. I'm both. Initially wary of change, but usually feel that it's a good thing, after the fact.