13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

Thoughts 13wolaafgbyma by Mona Awad, Penguin 2016, 212 pages

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Challenge: What’s in a Name Challenge: Number # in Title
Genre: Adult Lit / Linked Short Stories
Type/Source: Tradeback / Library
 Why I read this now: Longlisted but not shortlisted for the TOB

MOTIVATION for READING: This was one of two books on the TOB Long List that would satisfy any categories in other reading challenges I am participating in this year. And it was available at the library. The Nix is the other – hopefully getting to that soon. 

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Our protog is the only child of a fat mom and a dad that split. She survives high school, somehow graduates college after trying every degree option available, cultivates interests that easily spark online conversations, meets men online, arranges to meet one of them and THROW THE ROSE PETALS! they fall in love. She has such a low self esteem that she somehow manages to lose weight to fit the ideal of what she thinks her new man –> fiancé –> husband deserves (not sure if deserves is the right word here) but now she no longer has any shared interests with her man; they have nothing in common anymore and eventually they split up.

It’s all about situations and relationships skewed by her physicalness and what she thinks it is, what it means. Maybe?

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s so sad.

What’s NOT so good: The self-loathing is so very sad.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Not my cup of tea. The writing was fine.

RATING: Three slices of pie.

I meant to count how many stories were in this book to see if there were thirteen. That would makes sense, right? But I returned it to the library before I remembered. So I got to thinking, what IS this preoccupation with “13 Ways to Look” at stuff? Quite a few books with this title beginning. And THEN! I recalled there is a poem, a famous poem (doh!) which I just now took the opportunity to go read: Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. I didn’t get that, either.

Now I can’t get the Beatles Blackbird song out of my head. “Blackbird singing in the dead of night…” At least it is a pretty song. I think I’ll go look up the lyrics and count that for my Poetry 100 Challenge, too.

But before I chase off to go do that! A thought interrupts my task with this:

Sing a song of sixpence – AKA blackbirds in a pie
Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The king was in his counting house counting out his money
The queen was in the parlour eating bread and honey
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!

PIE!  (But I prefer the Beatles song, don’t you?!)

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Just Mercy

Thoughts jmbybs by Bryan Stevenson, Spiegel & Grau 2014, 349 pages

Genre:  Nonfiction, Death Penalty Debate
Type/Source: Tradeback / Local Indie Bookstore
 Why I read this now: Mr. Stevenson is speaking next month as part of a prominent lecture series in town. The Local Indie Bookstore is having book club discussions and offered a discount on the book.

MOTIVATION for READING: I am interested in the work Mr. Stevenson does through the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: The EJI provides legal support for inmates sentenced to die for their crimes – most in the US South but all over the country, as well. They have grown the organization and they now helps children serving time in prison without parole and has effectively influenced federal legislation concerning these issues. They provide support to these men and women after they have been released from prison.

Mr. Stevenson shares about how he got started in this career field, the beginning of the EJI, and gives an intimate look at his first few cases.

WHAT’s GOOD: His dedication to serving the poor and unfortunate is amazing.

What’s NOT so good: The descriptions of the justice system willfully acting illegally and with evil intent are maddening.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Just maddening.

RATING: Five slices of pie.

Not that pie in the sky stuff, not a preference for optimism over pessimism, but rather “an orientation of the spirit.” The kind of hope that creates a willingness to position oneself in a hopeless place and be a witness, that allows one to believe in a better future, even in the face of abusive power. That kind of hope makes one strong.

I think my next read will be Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow.

 

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Grief is the Thing With Feathers

Thoughts gittwfbymp Graywolf Press 2016, 114 pages

JUST ANNOUNCED! This is on the TOB Short List!

Challenge: TOB Long List and also counting for Poetry 100
Genre: Poetry, Adult Fiction
Type/Source: Tradeback / Library
 Why I read this now: It’s short!

MOTIVATION for READING: I’ve heard good things about this moving story.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A man loses his wife, his two sons lose a mother. A crow moves in to help them grieve.

WHAT’s GOOD:  The style, the cadence, the imagery.

What’s NOT so good: I admit that I am not much of a Ted Hughes fan but that is probably because the only thing I know about him is that he was Sylvia Platt’s husband. But I tried to drop my bias because I’m not sure I have given him proper consideration. That said, this book is somewhat based — I’m assuming – on a Hughes’ Crow poem. (I had to google that. Could have been part of the fiction for all I know.)

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I really did enjoy this sad yet hopeful poetic work. It reads very fast. It begs to be read aloud, as I assume poetic works do.

RATING: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

A sample:

Crow

Look at that, look, did I or did I not, oi, look, stab it.
Good book, funny bodies, open door, slam door, spit this, lick that, lift, oi, look, stop it.

Tender opportunity. Never mind, every evening, crack of dawn, all change, all meat this, all meat that, separate the reek. Did I or did I not, ooh, tarmac, macadam. Edible, sticky, bad camouflage.

Strap me to the  mast or I’ll bang her until my mathematics poke out her sorry, sorry, sorry, look! A severed hand, bramble, box of swans, box of stories, piss-arc, better off, must stop shaking, must stay still, mast stay still.

I also wrote down more poets to investigate:  Ibn ‘Arabi, Shostakovich, Osip Mandelstam, R.S.Thomas.
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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Going Gray

Thoughts ggbyak by Anne Kreamer, Little,Brown&Co 2007, 206 pages

Full Title:  Going Gray: What I Learned About Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters

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Challenge: What’s in a Name – Alliteration Category (two words in a title have same starting letter)
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir? Aging, Fashion
Type/Source: Hard cover / Bookmooch…
 Why I read this now: It’s short!

MOTIVATION for READING: I somewhat remember an article or a review that suggested this book and since it was available on BookMooch, I scooped it up.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  One woman’s decision to stop dying her hair and how she navigated through all her notions about aging, fashion, attractiveness, and her role in the world now that she was approaching ‘middle age’. It really is mostly her research on gray hair and what it means and not so much personal sharing on all that ‘everything else’ she lists in the extended title.

WHAT’s GOOD:  She does do a bit of research but it is also conducted in a personal way – which I guess is more fun, so I wouldn’t call it an academic study.  It did confirm for me that a female attempting to get a new job after age 50 is S.O.L. It is so sad how we don’t consider and value experience and society wants to ignore old people. Terribly sad.

In fact, she seems to conclude that gray hair is certainly NOT less sexy so we all can feel good about that. But finding a new job will be impossible. New lover? not a problem. Impressive to anyone hiring? not a chance.

What’s NOT so good:  She tends to make a few blanket statements that some careers are more youth-oriented than others but I think it is every job category out there.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I really need to figure out how to write a best-seller…  or even a moderate-seller. I really am well-suited to the working conditions of being a writer. Now I just need to figure out how to produce something.  Maybe I should write a nonfiction memoir study on some odd topic and then write some self-help books… Do I sound bitter?

RATING:  Two to three slices. It was short, not really memorable and no pie was mentioned.

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Poetry in 2017

Poetry Baby!

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I’m going for 100 poems. Not sure what I constitute what a ‘poem’ is compared to what others might say a poem is but maybe that’s the others problem and not mine.

AND… in that spirit, I googled “What is a poem” fully expecting to find a poem or an answer of some sort in poem form. I found this. It links the site (The Atlantic) I borrowed it from:

whatisapoem

I am of the opinion that this answer would look like a fine poem if in a layout/setup that would give the impression of a poem…

The reason I am choosing to make poetry a priority in 2017 can be placed at the feet of Cheryl Strayed. Her advice column book, Tiny Beautiful Things, strongly suggested that poetry is a good solution for what ails ya. This has stuck with me. It feels like a worthy goal and one I’ve never attempted in all my focus on New Year Affirmations and whatnot. Or at least, not stated in public.

I share POEM #1 in my count to 100. I found it today in my current read, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It is written by Ian E. Manuel of Union Correctional Institute in Florida. He is a harshly penalized prison inmate for a deed committed when he was young, uncared for, lost. I have compassion for his situation. His poem is beautiful.

UNCRIED TEARS

Imagine teardrops left uncried
From pain trapped inside
Waiting to escape
Through the windows of your eyes

“Why won’t you let us out?”
The tears question the conscience
“Relinquish your fears and doubts
And heal yourself in the process.”

The conscience told the tears
“I know you really want me to cry
But if I release you from bondage,
In gaining your freedom you die.”

The tears gave it some thought
Before giving the conscience an answer
“If crying brings you to triumph
Then dying’s not such a disaster.”

Please share poets and poetry compilations that will not intimidate but instruct, inspire not confound. Thank you.

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The 2017 Attempt to Complete The Back to the Classics Challenge

Back to the Classics 2017 – click the button below for our host Karen’s rules for the Challenge:

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The categories for the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge: My choices in RED but if this goes like last year, I won’t read any of my original selections! eeek.

1.  A 19th century classic – any book published between 1800 and 1899. Probably a Trolloppe. or a Hardy.

2.  A 20th century classic – any book published between 1900 and 1967. Rabbit, Run

3.  A classic by a woman author. Cold Comfort Farm or Orlando

4.  A classic in translation. The Three Muskateers or Love in a Fallen City

5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category. Candide!!

6.  A romance classic. Jude the Obscure?

7.  A Gothic or horror classic. Jane Eyre.

8.  A classic with a number in the title. One Fine Day 

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title. The Bird’s Nest

10. A classic set in a place you’d like to visit. Love in a Cold Climate (whatever/whereever – will likely be English…)

11. An award-winning classic. ??? Will look at the Pulitzer list. Perhaps The Voice at the Back Door by Elizabeth Spencer. Uh, NOPE. Is listed on that page but I didn’t realize the award was NOT given that year. So maybe The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau, 1965.

12. A Russian classic. Memories by Teffi, as suggested by Ruthiella. Or Dead Souls by Gogol?

Happy Challenge-Reading!

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

What’s in a Name 2016 Wrap Up and 2017 Set Up

wian2016   Done √

  • Category A COUNTRY – Radio Shangri La: What I Learned in Bhutan by Lisa Napoli
  • Category ITEM of CLOTHING – The Painted Veil by WS Maugham
  • Category ITEM of FURNITURE – The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien
  • Category PROFESSION – The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta
  • Category MONTH of the YEAR – March by Geraldine Brooks
  • Category TITLE with word TREE – The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

This crazy challenge had me reading multiple books for almost all of the categories. I do love this one and I love reading books already on my shelves.

Announcing  wian2017

  • A number in numbers (84, Charing Cross Road; 12 Years A Slave; 31 Dream Street)
  • A building (The Old Curiosity Shop; I Capture The Castle; House Of Shadows; The Invisible Library; Jamaica Inn)
  • A title which has an ‘X’ somewhere in it (The Girl Next Door; The Running Vixen)
  • A compass direction (North and South; Guardians Of The West; The Shadow In The North; NW)
  • An item/items of cutlery (The Subtle Knife; Our Spoons Came From Woolworths)
  • A title in which at least two words share the same first letter – alliteration! (The Great Gatsby; The Luminous Life Of Lilly Aphrodite; Gone Girl; The Cuckoo’s Calling)

FUN! I will not have time to find titles in the house but will the first week in January…

[Updated now that I’ve looked at my shelves…]

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Uh oh, the number thing. Does this mean that numbers spelled out DO NOT work?! crap. If that is the case, then I have no books on my shelves for this category. I am keen on reading The Three Musketeers – perhaps there is an edition somewhere with a 3? I also do not have any titles with an X – though, I do have a few author names with an X (hello Alex Dumas and Maxine Hong Kingston.) The alliteration category could possibly be satisfied by Maxine’s The Woman Warrior, a memoir called Going Gray or a story by Elizabeth Kelly called Apologize, Apologize! The title The Widow of the South will work for the compass direction and for the building category, I seem to have ample books with HOUSE in the title. I really want to read Home this year by Marilynne Robinson so that is my top choice but I think I might also like the Berg book – it’s short anyway. I have no books featuring cutlery.

So now, I get to look for any TOB Long List books that might fit or any classics 50 books I’ve committed to. I will also take suggestions!

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Back to the Classics Challenge for 2016 Wrap Up

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Back to the Classics Challenge 2016 – (My original post) √

Of the books I listed and expected to read for this challenge, I only read 3! So much for my predictions and selections. Unfortunately, the only translated classic I read was also the only 19th century classic that I read. I had the same problem with a re-read of a HS classic and a banned book classic, so I can only claim NINE classics completed for categories 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,10 & 12. I bailed about 1/2 in on the book for category 9 so not sure it counts but that’s ok because I still did nine… SO:

TWO ENTRIES!!!

 

  1.  A 19th Century Classic – Germinal by Zola
  2. A 20th Century ClassicThe Painted Veil by WS Maugham JAN
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author  – And Then There Were None AC
  4. X                               A Classic in Translation –  Germinal  (uh oh… )
  5. A Classic by a Non-white Author – Go Tell It On the Mountain
  6. An Adventure Classic – Beryl Markham’s West With the Night
  7. Fantasy, SciFi or Dystopian – Brave New World / Huxley
  8. √ A Classic Detective novel – Murder Must Advertise / Sayers
  9.  X  Title includes Name of a Place – Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
  10.  Banned or Censored Classic – To Kill a Mockingbird/Harper Lee
  11. X             Reread a Classic from High SchoolTo Kill a Mockingbird?!
  12. Classic collection of Short Stories – O.Henry the Four Million and other stories

 

I’m done! I finally completed this challenge!!  YAY me.  Happy New Year.

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

All About the Months

Thoughts aatmbymrk by Maymie R Krythe, Harper and Row 1966, 222 pages

Challenge:  What’s in a Name Challenge : Month Category
Genre:  Reference/Nonfiction
Type/Source:  Hardback / from a discarded book bin
 Why I read this now: Had to finish up the Challenge!

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MOTIVATION for READING:   Again, for the Challenge.

Here’s what goodreads.com has to say (and it is noted that it is from the book jacket which has been lost with my edition.)

After exploring every possible source of information–fact and fable–on the months, Mrs. Krythe writes as authoritatively about this subject as she did about Christmas and American holidays in two earlier books. In her own pithy prose, and with borrowed lines from early and contemporary poets, the author gives the special characteristics of each month, such as how it was named, the number of days it originally contained, and when and how changes came about.
Much of the book is devoted to the months’ symbolic jewels, from precious stones to the fabulous 44.5 carat “Hope” diamond; and flowers, from the common little field daisy to the most resplendent rose. Their origins and their often bewitching roles in history are all here.
Important events that have taken place in each century and in every country are related here. Famous statesmen, royalty, dignitaries, actors, sports figures, and other personalities whose birthdays fall in a given month are mentioned. All about the Months is a storehouse of information that makes fascinating reading for everyone, and will surely prove a boon to those who plan programs built around the months of the year.

WHAT’s GOOD:  I think it fun to read books from earlier times (pub’d in 1966, mind you) to reflect on what has changed. And what hasn’t. She actually mentions what we would now call climate change!

Even though for centuries December has been regarded as a time of hard frosts and heavy snowstorms, in recent years conditions have changed in some localities, and milder weather has prevailed.

What’s NOT so good: It was a slog to sit and attempt to read as a straight-through text, but enjoyable enough to dip in a little at a time and check out month by month as the mood hit. It was interesting to see who she considered ‘famous people’ in the listings for each month’s birthdays and notable happenings:

… and in February 1962, the orbital flight of Lt. Col. John H. Glenn made news.  (RIP John Glenn, American Hero of the Space Age)

The only U.S. President born in June was George HW Bush… Whatever that might mean, but I had to look. When Mrs. Krythe wrote this book, she states, “June is the only month of the twelve in which no President was born.” And we will soon get to add Donald Trump (born June 14). Of which I am still in utter disbelief.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I admit to being fascinated by this “Mrs. Krythe” and was inspired to search for more author information; only to find… nothing. Absolutely nothing. I suppose I need the skills of a librarian and more than just Google. Maymie R. written other books that explore holidays, specific holidays and songs (probably holiday songs!) and I even found a reference to an article she wrote for the Historical Society of Southern California. She had to have been a hit at parties. But where is she now? Who was she married to? Did she have any children? Why do I care?

Recommended as a reference text, for quips and historical notes, especially any information about flowers and jewels relative to their calendar importance and then some. (Though, I got confused reading about the Hope Diamond.)

RATING:  Three slices of pie (I didn’t find any mention of pie but that’s because I am grossly over-exaggerating my claim to have COMPLETED this…  oh well. Sue me.)

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Double Helix: Annotated and Illustrated

Thoughts dhbyjw by Dr. James Watson, Simon and Schuster 2012 (orig 1968), 368 pages [Edited by Alexander Gann and Jan Witkowski]

Challenge: Classics Club 50
Genre: Science History
Type/Source: Hardback / Library

MOTIVATION for READING: I love science.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: How Watson and Crick used models to figure out how DNA was structured.

WHAT’s GOOD: I did not expect the breezy style. It is very readable.

What’s NOT so good:  Well, you may or may not like Dr. Watson at the end but he does tell a fun story, even if bits are regrettable. He was young and determined. He shares more than just the science, but also other activities these youthful scientists were up to – where and what they ate (gooseberry pie has a mention!), the girls they tried to meet, the famous people they encountered and traveled to visit. He talks about his troubles with the sponsor for his time abroad and quite a bit about the personalities of everyone he works with.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I am so glad to have read this. The big question:  did Rosalind Franklin get screwed out of the discovery and subsequent Nobel Prize. Question Mark. Let’s just say, it’s complicated and that I could say yes, but. It very much feels like facts happened and one’s viewpoint is X and the other is Y. This and that. Perspectives. And when you start to get snarky, it gets very ugly fast. Did circumstances make it difficult and thus makes it a helluva story? Oh yes.

She deserved more accolades and unfortunately she is getting it now and not in her lifetime. It is sad that she died so young. Was Watson a _____ (insert whatever nasty/relevant word you want here, but my answer is “he was a man”.)

And NOW:  I get to read more about Rosalind Franklin:

rftdlodnabybm

RATING: Four slices of gooseberry pie. If you are going to read this, I suggest the annotated illustrated edition.

fourpie

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.