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    48 posts categorized "Reads and Recommends"

    July 30, 2015

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    Last night I met a friend at the Barnes & Noble Cafe and over her shoulder I spied a copy of a hunting magazine with a big lion on the cover. HOW TIMELY! I thought to myself. 

    Fury over Cecil the Lion also sparks race conversation
    Why Dems don't want to talk about Planned Parenthood
    And Camille Paglia doesn't like Jon Stewart!

    I got drunk on a cruise ship with Kathie Lee Gifford    

    This was all over Facebook so you might have seen it already, but if you haven't, it's pretty wild (and sciencey) (can something be wild AND sciencey?): The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogota

    This piece about FitBits is... well...

    A FitBit has little tolerance for magical thinking. It says: Eating the 0% yogurt rather than 2% yogurt for lunch after sitting at your desk all morning will not make up for your past three days skipping the gym, any more than finding out why that thing Dad said still hurts you will save your new relationship.

    FitBit tells us back a story of our lives that has become highly abstract. The difference between the springtime run that you take with two friends and the half hour of jumping jacks that you do in the bathroom after not managing to throw up all of a chicken burger will not register. In this life, steps are steps.

    Every form of confession comes with settings that determine what kind of self we get to know, and therefore, be. It also implies a particular vision of society. A kingdom of souls under God. A nation of citizens just repressed enough to get married and carry on reproducing citizens.

    In the Republic of FitBit we are fundamentally alone.

    Oh my. 

    We went to see a Jim Gaffigan show a few weeks ago. Jim Gaffigan is not my favorite (that creepy "inner" voice!), but allll our friends wanted to go and it WAS more fun (and funny) than I was expecting, but now I am slightly obsessed with his wife. Jeannie Gaffigan is a Model for Modern Women. I know that I personally do not aspire to live in a two-bedroom Manhattan walkup with my creepy-voiced husband and our five children, but her perspective on work and creative fulfillment is pretty all right with me. 

    What is a Jumpsuit? No on really knows.

    Time for...

    THIS WEEK IN NAZIS Lithuania tries to forget it's collaborationist pastMike Huckabee compares Obama to Hitler(this quick blip of a story is worth it for the last three sentences), Nazi tunnels under Berchtesgaden, I'd only heard of 1 of these Four Weird Things The Nazis Did (and the last two kinda blew my mind). 

    THIS WEEK IN SEATTLE The Mayor backs downAnd Erica C. Barnett is pissed.  

    January 20, 2015

    Reads & Recommends

    I can't remember the last time I did one of these. I only thought of doing it tonight because we've found a book series that Jackson really likes AND THAT I LIKE TOO and I felt that that was noteworthy. 

    (And here I am, editing my own post after reading through everything - you won't like these. SORRY. God, I am depressing these days.)

    The Secret Agent Jack Stalwart Series. My sister bought Jack the first book in the series for Christmas and two miraculous things happened: he liked it and he read it (mostly) by himself. !!! Then the other day she texted me a link to the fourth Jack Stalwart book because in that one he goes to LONDON which is where Jackson Cheung is headed in a few short months. I ordered it right away, it arrived today, we hammered out three chapters before bed. It's about a 9-year-old secret agent for the "Global Protection Force". He's sent on missions all over the world (very educational ones, obvs) and is ultimately looking for his older brother, also a secret agent who has mysteriously disappeared... I hadn't heard of this one anywhere else, so here's your heads up. (P.S. Jack and Molly have also discovered the Boxcar Children, which, barf.)

    I finished David Downing's WWII spy series (starts with Zoo Station) and I haven't read anything I've liked since. I've been reading a sort of anthology of personal experiences during WWI, but... eh... I have a handful of books on hold. Oh, and I borrowed No Vulgar Hotel from my mother; it's Judith Martin's take on being a Venetophile - but if you're not in the section of the Venn diagram where "Miss Manners" and "Forget the rest of Europe, I'll rent a palace in Venice" meet, I'm not sure it's up your alley. I don't know why I don't immediately read what everyone else on Twitter is reading... I'm very happy in my war book/murder mystery rut, to be quite honest, and I could use a few more of those. There's IS a new Inspector Rutledge out, but I'll bet you a million dollars Meredith Channing isn't in it and I'll just get annoyed all over again that they're never going to let Rutledge be HAPPY FTLOG. All right all right, I know no one wants my BOOK recommendations. Harrumph. 

    How about an app? The only phone games I like are Bejeweled, the NYT crossword to which I've stopped subscribing because it costs more than ninety-nine cents, and mindless-ish logic games, like Hashi. I finally found a new app I didn't delete after the first try. It's called Logic Dots and I don't know, maybe other people know it already or it's crazy boring? It's the perfect amount of puzzle and automaton swiping that I like to do before I turn out my lights. The first sets of puzzles are pretty simple, but I have a feeling they're going to get bigger and more complicated and start laughing at me. I don't love it like I love Hashi, but it's filling an App Void right now. 


    Have you not seen the Taylor Swift Blank Space video? (Why haven't you?!) Okay, so I basically want to be Taylor Swift's character in this video. The clothes, the hair, the makeup, the style, the furnishings, the drama, the opportunity to whale on a fancy car with a golf club - YES, PLEASE. 

    Think anyone is going to let me have my very own afternoon at Bletchley Park when we go to England? I'm guessing no. But this was a great article about an amazing place that no one knew about: Where The Real 'Imitation Game' Happened.

    This is a really long, super geeky link about "advanced" enneagram stuff - moving towards, against, away from) and maybe skip this one? (I read it in chunks, bookmarked for future reference.) (Nerd.)

    Why Asian-Americans Might Not Talk About Ferguson. I still don't have words for this topic, but it's been helpful to read a lot of what Asian-American leaders are saying to Asian-American churches. My general direction to myself is Listen. 

    In a similar-ish vein, Why Can't Critics Talk About Fresh Off The Boat? Phillip and I eagerly and nervously await the debut of this network sitcom. 

    I've been reading a lot about France... this was really interesting (I promise), about French secularism... and here's a piece on about why it was okay Obama didn't go to the demonstration in Paris

    Trying to parse all of that is HARD. 

    To cap off a bunch of links you don't want to read, here's another! On that football game this past Sunday, the one during which I washed and changed everyone's sheets because I couldn't stand being around my overinvested husband shouting at the television. But this one made me want to hug the dude that couldn't hold onto that onside kick, man, I feel SO BAD for that guy. SO BAD.


    May 19, 2014

    A long list of Reads and Recommends so I don't have to come up with anything to say tonight

    Dear Typepad, 

    One more DDOS attack and we're through. I know it's not your fault. I know it can happen anywhere. But one more time and I'm hitting up one of my web designer Twitter buddies and running for Wordpress. And my business website? It's going in the CLOUD. Or something. I don't know. I won't do any of this because 1) lazy and 2) the bakery has no money but MAN DO I FEEL LIKE ISSUING AN ULTIMATUM.

    Reads and recommends anyone? Warning: it's been a while, and I have a lot. (These are in order of oldest to newest, I think, if you just want to skip to the end!)

    This is Rachel Held Evans on the World Vision fiasco. Remember that? UGH, I DO. 

    This isn't about food businesses, but as you are probably aware I've become emotionally invested in Tales of Useless Bureaucracy and here are more: Is Your Fortune Teller Licensed? 

    This is an NPR interview transcript with the Frozen composers. (Who are rad. I loved this. I wish I had listened to it instead of read it. I think I want to hang out with them.) 

    The New Ugliness of Mad Men - Atlantic. I'm glad someone else thought of this. So much of what I initially loved about Mad Men was the STYLE and the ERA and as its inched ever closer to the 70s I've just been like WHOA, STOP THE TRAIN. 

    I'm not sure where I found this, where it was linked, or what, but you HAVE TO READ THIS. It's basically a blog post about going to the Oscars with your best friend, Jennifer Lawrence. Not entirely clear who this chick is (besides JLaw's BFF), but I need her to write some sort of backstage blog, stat. 

    For a time I was interested in purchasing a hot pink fainting couch for my living room. And so, A Short History Of The Fainting Couch

    This is amazing. (And also: agree agree agree.) Stephen Fry Responds To Grammar Pedants.

    I CRIED. Ohio couple married 70 years dies 15 hours apart

    Simcha Fisher has a Jewish dad too! (Well, BOTH her parents were Jewish, then they became Catholic, okay, so not the same. At all.) But I loved loved loved this post about how her family celebrated both traditions

    @herewegoajen linked to this post on Twitter. I read it. I bookmarked it forever. I almost never disagree, challenge, contradict, issue the opposing viewpoint, ETC. with friends, ever. I just... it's not my thing, and not just because I don't like conflict. I often don't see the point in most situations. BUT. I am a staunch, proud, very vocal supporter of The Internet, whether someone is complaining about people who never look up from their phones or people who "can't make real friends" or people bemoaning what's become of the culture AND THIS IS WHY. THIS IS WHYYYYYY. (I sobbed.)

    I bookmarked this to read later and then I didn't! I will! I am very interested! Forcing Kids to Commit to Their Extracurriculars.

    And finally, Anne Applebaum on Ukraine. Is amazing. She should just go by Amazing Anne Applebaum. 

    I feel like I had more! Oh well. I haven't been reading anything spectacular... I'm in the middle of a book on spiritual leadership (fascinating stuff, let me tell ya) and I keep LOOKING at The Rosie Project and not reading it. I don't know why I'm not reading fiction right now. I used to ONLY read fiction. Something is off in my brain, I agree. 


    March 20, 2014

    Thursday Afternoon Reads & Recommends

    Let's kick things off on a cheery note and wonder What If The Germans Had Won The First World War? As @hopejumper said on Twitter today, the treaty of Versailles ruined everything. 

    Just as cheery- Ukraine: Is This How The War On Terror Ends? 

    Okay fine, how about something ACTUALLY uplifting? This is the best thing I've read on the internet in a long time. Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney

    Study: Milennials Deeply Confused About Their Politics, Finances, Culture. This study made the news outlet rounds about a week back. Did you see it? I am actually only interested in milennials so far as wondering if I AM a milennial - depending on who and what you read, the cut off birth year is 1979 or 1980. As a July 1979 baby I'm either a verrrrry old milennial or a verrrrry young Gen Xer. I find this annoying, because even though I scoff at attempting to define an entire generation, I would still like to know what people define me AS. (This one defines Milennials as between the ages of 14 and 34. I am 34 and a half. So.)

    I have not bugged you about the enneagram in a VERY LONG TIME. Let's amend this right now as I send you off to read this series on the enneagram and blogging. (How does a Three blog? OH SO FASCINATING!)

    May I recommend this orange chocolate chunk (with ginger) quickbread

    And THIS... THIS seems to me to be a VERY convincing theory for Who Is Don Draper. Seriously. I'm only vaguely aware of the D.B. Cooper story, but IT FITS! Doesn't it? It totally does. Either way, I love this idea. (If you're not a Mad Men fan, you can skip it.) (Why aren't you a Mad Men fan?)

    Right now I am reading Venice: A New History by Thomas F. Madden. SUPER READABLE. A lot of times these things are not, so I'm just letting you know. I'm not deeply enthralled, but I have learned two things. Donna Leon, author of the Brunetti mysteries, stole 'Falier', the last name of Paola's parents and fancypants Venetians, from one of the first doges, and 2) can you even IMAGINE escaping to a marshy lagoon ahead of the murderous Huns? (This is how Venice was founded.) For the gazillionth time: thank you Jesus for letting me live in 2014 Seattle, Washington. 

    Which brings me to Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder. I've been trying to figure out what I want to say about this book for weeks. I think the thing it makes me think is: I don't even know what to think anymore. I thought I knew all about the worst of what happened in Eastern Europe but nooooo I did nooooot. Reading Inferno made me wonder why God didn't just send another flood. Reading THIS made me... I don't know. Something worse. Maybe it was reading about the collectivist farm famines in Ukraine knowing that soon my own country would team up with Stalin. Which had to be done, and yet. YET! Ugh. This book made me DESPAIR.


    February 27, 2014

    A very moody Reads & Recommends

    It's been a weird week. Well, not really. Everything is the same as always. I'm wondering if Bakery Setbacks deal me harsher blows than I think they do (or they should). And I'm wondering why I feel lonely after seeing friends this morning, making a possible new friend at ballet tonight, hanging out lots with Phillip this week, talking online. Anyway, I'm just in a morose sort of headspace and no one is interested in that so HEY, time for Reads & Recommends! 

    I finally finished The Lost Peace: Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope, 1945-1953. I will say that I learned a lot. There is a lot of basic Factual Information of which I was completely unaware and because this book sort of assumed the reader knew all that stuff, it didn't go too in depth. Which was good! Just enough to cover the basics. I found it super engaging, easy to read (unlike a certain WWI book where I had to read each page 5 times), and full of authorial insight which I like my history books to have. THAT SAID, I'm not sure what I thought about the authorial insight. I took his point about America maybe getting caught up in emotion and fear and not creating the best foreign policy, but the other half of his thesis rested on Gee, If Only Stalin Hadn't Been So Suspicious And Paranoid! Which... oh, and Mao being a nicer guy. While I'm sure there are things the US could have done better in the interest of world peace, I don't see Stalin and Mao having made poor decisions so much as acted like the crazy evil wackjobs they were. And rethinking their actions, wondering what THEY could have done better, seems... I don't know. Pointless. ANYWAY.

    Not like you're going to read that. How about this? The Dark Power of Fraternities, by Caitlin Flanagan in the Atlantic. A fascinating read, even if Wazzu didn't have such a starring role. OH WAZZU. I actually remember one of these incidents (the one at UW she mentions later on.) I don't really know what I think about fraternities. I have absolutely no experience with them and hardly any with people who belong to them. My biggest question coming off this article was: when are you officially not your parents' problem anymore? Is a college supposed to monitor a student's behavior (in place of his parents?) (Aaaand, I just wrote a whole bunch on this subject and deleted it because I sounded like a twerp. Shut up, Me.)

    MOVING ON. I loved this. Loooooved this. Jennifer Fulwiler on following your dreams. I'm not sure the bakery is my "blue flame" (what IS my blue flame?!) but it made me feel a lot better about my horrible backyard and the fact that I don't care what we eat for dinner. 

    I also loved this. Go Ahead, Let Your Kids Fail. This speaks to me, as a recovering Three. ("Stop talking about the enneagram!" the internet shrieks. "NEVER!" I shout back.)

    This is not of interest to you, I'm sure, but my heart grew ten sizes when Phillip forwarded me this local NPR piece on the Catholic Seafarer's Union. I used to be very involved with local maritime stuff in my working days and went to many a fund raiser at this center - it's where I won my big TV! This priest is a kooky guy - he sells a CD of himself singing hymns and sea shanties - but he's also an amazing servant to an underserved and largely ignored community. I was glad to see his ministry got some attention. 

    This is an interview with Dawn Eden, former music journalist and Catholic convert, about abuse. Don't open it if that's triggering for you. She's kind of amazing, though. She brings hope to a very hopeless place. 

    And speaking of hope in hopeless places, here's a video of the Pope - like, an IPHONE video with the POPE - talking about Christian unity and asking evangelicals to pray for him. Holy heck. 

    I'm off to a churchy retreat for college students this weekend. Ostensibly I am there to volunteer and serve, but we all know that this is going to be good and serving for ME. Things have been a little too much Small Business Frustration and not enough Jesus lately. xo


    January 30, 2014

    A pretty quick Friday Reads & Recommends

    Life as a Nonviolent Psychopath from The Atlantic. Um, yikes? (SO. INTERESTING.)

    Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A from the Huffington Post. I don't know much about the Chick-fil-A issue, but I was deeply encouraged by this piece written by an LGBT activist.

    Long time blog reader Sarah (and sender of the Mary Consoling Eve cards!) sent me the link to this article: My wife and I are atheists, but our daughter wants to be baptised Catholic. My heart swelled 10 times.

    This WSJ series called The Lobotomy Files: Forgotten Soldiers is heartbreaking. So awful. 

    What do you think, fellow bloggers and Tweeters - do you know How To Spot A Narcissist Online? From the Atlantic.

    Also from the Atlantic (like nearly everything good): The 2 Teenagers Who Run the Wildly Popular Twitter Feed @HistoryInPics. Why wasn't I this smart when I was seventeen?

    I know she'd have a million unpleasant things to say about my parenting style (or lack thereof), but I kind of love Amy Chua. Confessions of a Tiger Couple, NYT Magazine.

    And you probably already read this or saw it linked somewhere or read Heather Barmore's response, but still, this is ... well. Let's start with *headdesk*.


    happy weekend!





    January 13, 2014

    The Return of Reads & Recommends

    I HAD to bookmark the following book reviews: 

    The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey. From the NYT Book Review: 

    But it soon emerges that John’s son sealed these rooms after his father’s death. “He knew there was something bad in there,” a family member tells Bailey, “but he couldn’t bring himself to confront it.”

    World War 1. Crazy upperclass English family. MYSTERY! I am so reading this. One day. 

    And then then this one, about the orchestra during the siege of Leningrad, oh dear GOD. I think I want to read this one? I am still reading WWII books, though I have a staunch anti-Holocaust book policy. Those stories never leave my brain. But while I've read about the Holocaust since I was a kid (is this a disturbing fascination visited upon every even slightly Jewish child like myself?), the Siege of Leningrad is a relatively new event in my collection of historical horrors and thus I consider reading. There's a sentence in the review that gets at generally why I read these things: 

    The battle descriptions are of course atrocious, but the street scenes perhaps horrify more, because soldiers expect to suffer and die, while people going about their daily chores are simply us in another time and another country.

    "Simply us." I don't know if I'll actually read this, though I'd like to. Just like I'm interested in visiting St. Petersburg one day, just to stand there and remember what happened. 

    I am half interested in a North Korea book. Do you have one? The one by the camp escapee is the only one I really know of, and I still haven't decided if I want to go there. (Because that one is happening NOW. And what in the WORLD can I do about it?)

    Have you ever seen liberal commentator Kirsten Powers on Fox News? Are you going to turn up your nose and say you never watch Fox News? FINE. I'm outing myself. Here's her story about becoming a Christian. Love it. 

    I am two episodes into the Veronica Mars rewatch project. Obvs you must join me. 

    Oh, here we go. Welcome to another of my Lifelong Obsessions: Top 10 Bermuda Triangle Theories.

    The new Charles Todd/Inspector Rutledge mystery comes out in DAYS, people. DAYS. I, of course, pre-ordered it in October. If Meredith Channing does not make an appearance I shall positively DIE. 

    Maybe you read the Atlantic cover story on anxiety? It floored me. I deeply appreciate other people describing their demons in print. I had the same experience reading this story that I did reading Dooce back when she wrote about her postpartum madness - I may struggle, but my struggles are miniscule in comparison. It's not very nice of me, but it does make me feel better. Or at least help me to see how it could be much much worse. And Scott Stossel's experience is so much worse. It seems that no one experiences anxiety the same way, but we can still relate. The line I remember from this story is how he described the onslaught of anxiety as "existential dread". Thank God I haven't felt that way in years, but I remember it exactly. I will have to read his book when it comes out. 

    November 13, 2013

    Tiny collection of unrelated thoughts with a nonfiction book rec at the end

    Do you guys miss my links posts? Reads & Recommends? I miss them. It's not that I haven't been reading anything, I've just been too lazy to save the links. Or I read them on my phone and I am somehow incapable of finding something I read on my phone. 


    Phillip is out with friends tonight, which is nice for him, and I have spent the last hour combing through Pinterest for modernized versions of flapper dresses. I have absolutely no idea why I am so taken with 1920s fashion, but I was seriously born in the wrong era. What is it about embellished sacks that makes me swoon? It's not because I have the right boyish body type that looks right in those dresses (HA HA HA). Somewhere in my twenties and thirties I became smitten with sequins and beaded shifts and now I spend actual minutes wondering if headpieces will ever make a comeback. I could totally rock feathers in my hair. And why do all the best 1920s-ish dresses cost so much? (I'm looking at you, Anthro and Sue Wong.)

    All this to say: whatever shall I wear to my Christmas party?!


    Phillip and I are both sort of slackjawed and helpless in front of the Philippines coverage. We keep talking about what we, personally, can do, and then not acting because the enormity of what occurred and the utter smallness of what we could affect is horribly laughable. I want to elaborate on this thought, but I know it will only sound privileged and first world and self-absorbed. It IS, I suppose. But I had to work through those thoughts anyway - am I really so overwhelmed by what I cannot do that I don't do ANYTHING? Hopefully I have enabled Catholic Relief Services in the tiniest way to better do what they can. 


    I helped in Jack's Sunday School class this week. It was really nice. I was encouraged. I felt the slightest bit better about Church In General. Phillip registered us in the parish for totally practical reasons, but I rebelled against the idea and got anxious when he did it anyway. For someone who loves community, I don't know what my problem is with stepping into another one. (OH WAIT, I REMEMBER. COMMITTEES SUCK.)


    I'm one of those people who doesn't love Thanksgiving. I don't HATE it, but it's definitely not my favorite food and I don't get excited about it. I'm one of those people who is already playing Christmas music on her piano. But I WOULD like to acknowledge Thanksgiving with my kids somehow. I suppose I should be combing Pinterest for those ideas instead of dresses I'll never wear. As far as I could tell, Thanksgiving wasn't much discussed in school last year. Some combination of Age-Appropriate History and Proper Christian Thankfulness would be nice for them, I think. Do you have any little traditions you can share? We are going to my in-laws, where holidays aren't a super huge deal, but that just means I don't have to stomp on anyone else's tradition before making everyone do what *I* want to do. HEH. 


    Speaking of history, I will once again recommend Mayflower, by Nathaniel Philbrick, a seriously awesome, in-no-way-boring, historical read. Although this new Kindle Single, Mayflower: The Voyage From Hell by Kevin Jackson looks kinda good too. And is cheap. And you have to be interested in something with that subtitle, yes?

    August 29, 2013

    Friday Reads & Recommends: The Mostly Books Edition

    It's been a long time since we had a Friday Reads & Recommends, yes? 

    First up: I made this Cheesy Baked Pasta With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Eggplant for my vegetarian-ish friends tonight and it was YUMMY. It felt like the right spot between Grown Up Food and Easy Enough For Me To Make. (Also: No Onions Or Other Unpleasant Vegetables. Bonus points.)

    I have read lots and lots and lots of online articles, but I haven't bookmarked any of them. SORRY. A lot of times I'll read something interesting on my phone and I don't really know how to save the link so I can easily (EASILY) go back to it later on the computer. I know. Lame. Not like I live with a Technology Professional or anything. So now I'm going to tell you about a bunch of books. BOOKS! How novel. (NOVEL! That was totally unintended. I am super proud of myself anyway.) 

    FIRST UP. Sisterland! I read this poolside in Cabo. I loved (loved loved loved loved) Prep, it's one of the very few books I've read more than once. I just think Curtis Sittenfeld is a genius when it comes to... I don't know, like the insecure female inner monologue. ANYWAY. This was not a masterpiece like Prep and there were parts of it that I really didn't like - at the same time I appreciate her writing. She has ways of saying things that make my brain whir. One of the best parts of this book is when the main character, a stay at home mom, is talking about her husband and his professional life and home life, how he figured out how to have the job and "us", but the main character has only figured out how to have "us". MAYBE I IDENTIFIED. I DON'T KNOW.

    Then I read The Spectacular Now, because I've been seeing the movie previews and even though I am not inclined to like Shailene Woodley after seeing some of her interviews, I thought she was amazing in The Descendants SO. This was a bummer of a book, you guys. At first it's all about this super cocky, super likable high school boy, which is my favorite kind, and alcohol is not one of the YA Sacred Cows that makes me twitch. BUT. The girl character in this book sucks. SUCKS SO MUCH. It's like she's not even there. She's a cardboard cut out. She's a wisp. She's pointless. She makes no sense. The EX-girlfriend in this book is a thousand times more developed (and interesting) than the main girl. And since I really liked the beginning and I was pulling for the high school boy, this stunk. 

    Before those I finished To End All Wars on the plane. This book, THIS book is tremendous. And hopefully not just because it's the first WWI book I've managed to get through. I feel like I have a modicum of understanding now. Amazing! Also it zeroes in on real people, sharing their stories from long before the war until way after, and that makes it much less of a Boring History Book, you know? It's mainly about Britain and goes super in depth on suffragettes, conscientious objectors, and the socialist movement - things I knew absolutely nothing about, and now I think I could bore you to death on how all of those things interconnected with wartime. It reminded me a bit of Inferno (about WWII) in that it doesn't glorify war or its proponents at all, quite the opposite. And it has affected what I think about today's madness in Syria. Not that I will go into that here. HA HA HA. 

    (Also: Phillip is reading this book. As I type. PHILLIP. You can do it too, folks.)

    Phillip read Lean In on our trip. And read so much of it to me that I feel Iike I read it too. Eh. 

    Before our trip I read The Demon Catchers of Milan because my dad handed me a little slip of paper with the title and author and said, "I GUARANTEE YOU WILL LIKE THIS BOOK." Aaaaand, I hate to say it, but I did. Even though it was overwrought, unbelievable (and I'm not talking about the demon part), and Twilighty in that our fearless heroine gets hooked up with a Family With Special Secret Gifts, it's about 1) THE SUPERNATURAL in 2) ITALY. I am guaranteed to like this book. Best thing about it: the crush remains unrequited and unencouraged. Worst thing about it: not sure how you write a whole book about exorcising demons without mentioning God. But that's just me.

    Before THAT I read Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Book Store. Courtesy of EBJ. And I really really reeeeeeally wanted to love this book, but I knew the ending would disappoint. And it did. Sort of. It's like you KNOW Kelly should choose herself, but it's disappointing anyway? That. (Best thing about this book: Google/technology is like a full fledged character. Super interesting. Have passed it on to a tech nerd so he can tell me which parts are actually real.) 

    Oh and somewhere in there I read Life After Life. Have I already written about it? I loved it. It was amazing. I want to re-read it and make a timeline/take notes. I feel like it went on a little too long? I feel like the perfect ending was right there and then I was surprised when that wasn't the end? But I thought this was amazing. (Note: I should say I didn't think it was amazing until Ursula starts trying to beat the Spanish flu. I think I only got what was going on at that point. But from then on: amazingness.)

    Right now I am reading a $2.99 Kindle book about a WWII crash and rescue blah blah blah WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO RECOMMEND? 

    Oh! Other articles of note. The Rolling Stone feature on Macklemore? Excellent. The Mark Bowden piece in the Atlantic on drones? FUH-REAKY. The entire new issue of The New Republic? Fascinating. I need to subscribe to that again.

    Okay, the end. Next week: Cabo recap! I mean it this time! 

    June 03, 2013

    Tuesday Reads & Recommends: An Actual Book Edition

    I finished The 5th Wave this afternoon and I need to talk about it. It is INTENSE. It is dark, dystopian, teenage angst with ALIENS and SHOOTING and VIOLENCE (especially among and between children) and therefore it is not at ALL the sort of book I would at ALL be interested in. Except, you guys, it was so good. 

    I am hesitant to say HOW GOOD because of this other book I read called Bomb: The Race to Build - And Steal - The World's Most Dangerous Weapon. Elizabeth told me about this book when I was visiting her in Sacramento. Apparently it won a Newbery Honor and heaps of people were raving about it. She was unsure, but obvs I instantly downloaded it and read it on the plane ride home. And it WAS great! It was a fast-paced, thrilling, true life read that I'd recommend to anyone even slightly interested in Oppenheimer or World War II or espionage. It's worth a read just for the story of how the Norwegians sabotaged the German bombmaking facilities. (CRAZYPANTS.) 

    However! I could not figure out why, exactly, it received honors or why people were especially smitten with it. I also didn't understand why a Newbery honor. Because to be perfectly honest, this book was just like many of the other fast-paced, thrilling, true life historical books I've read in the last several years. It was GOOD but why was it better than the others? And nothing about it seemed specifically directed at young people, at least as far as I could tell.

    After discussing this with my dad, with whom I discuss all things Book- or War-Related, I decided it had to be one of two things. Either people were pushing non-fiction on the YA crowd and drumming up interest and excitement around a new and very good book OR. OR these people weren't FOND of history books and tried not to read them and when they had to read this one they were excited to have finally found one that didn't bore them to death. THAT COULD BE IT, RIGHT? 

    So that's a bit of what I'm feeling around The 5th Wave. I don't normally read those sorts of books, so maybe this one is good-but-nothing-special. I don't know! Apparently the movie rights are already sold and it's the first of a planned trilogy, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's AWESOME. It also had elements of books I really didn't like (Twilight) or only sort of liked (The Hunger Games) and the love story was drippy and silly (at least to this 34-year-old cynic). BUT THE REST. The rest is more Ender's Game and I couldn't put it down. I want to read the next one NOW. 

    On a completely TOTALLY different note, I also read Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work And Service. A much different kind of intense. I spent a whole evening trying to tell a friend what I got out of this book - I'm not sure I can do much better here. It's not the BEST book I've ever read, it's not the greatest story. It was something else, though. It details the author's attempt to find her Calcutta. What is the thing she is called to do. I appreciated what she had to say on that front, but for me what was most impactful was the study of Mother Teresa herself. Her humility, her obedience, her wisdom, her pursuit of God even when she hadn't heard his voice for years and years and years. In the face of that character my own anxieties seemed petty and insignificant, my ambitions small and unexciting. I guess I could say reading this book exposed me to my own spiritual immaturity. LAME. At the same time, it was so encouraging I only feel uplifted and reenergized. 

    Now I don't have anything to read. And I can't buy MORE Kindle books. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF.