The Disappearing Spoon

Thoughts : And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean, Back Bay Books 2010, 416 pages

Challenge: What’s in a Name: Cutlery Category
Genre: Pop Science
Type/Source:  Tradeback Paperback / Local Indie Bookstore
 Why I read this now: I think it took me all month to read it. I wanted something new and different after all the 2016 pub’d books I had furiously flown through.

MOTIVATION for READING: I like fun science. This satisfied the cutlery challenge and looked interesting. My other option was Consider the Fork about technology and food. (Yep, another nonfiction.) If you want a title with a knife, I only recommend The Knife of Never Letting Go if you have ALL books in the series. I hate cliffhangers.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: The author walks the reader through the elements of the Chemistry Periodic Table regaling with history, personalities, OF COURSE some science and other oddball tidbits to fascinate.

Jupiter is a fantasy camp for elements.

WHAT’s GOOD: Easy to understand sections about how they figure the age of the world. I enjoyed the personal anecdotes about the fascinating scientists that worked out these challenges. The author does a fair job of recognizing and discussing privilege in science/history. And how much we still don’t understand – the chapter on the alpha constant! It’s everywhere – totally fascinating. He highlights many recent stories that show how science of the elements is still evolving. [doh. The study of medicine/pharmacology, anyone?!] I know that I have internal bias that science discovery was all done ‘back then’ and when he mentions research and experiments past 2005 — I admit, I am embarrassed to wonder “hey- that is recent!” Maybe it is the realization that I have lived some of this history but how can I be that old already? It really is an odd thing to sense one’s own aging; it still befuddles me.

“If anything runs deeper than a mathematician’s love of variables, it’s a scientist’s love of constants.”

What’s NOT so good: I had to have two bookmarks – one for the text and the other in the footnotes section. I’ll never remember most of it! Only occasionally, the presentation is dense and extremely technical but also easy to skip over and get to the good stuff.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you like science history, this is a don’t-miss. But then again, if you really love science history, you probably know a lot of it already.

It often reminded me of that episode of the Big Bang Theory when Sheldon adopts the cats…

RATING: Three slices of pie. No pie 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.

What’s Care Been Readin’ Lately?

Thoughts

I have had a slow down. Not a slump! but a definite lack of time spent reading, it seems. I did attempt a re-listen to Lincoln in the Bardo but I didn’t finish it. I was looking listening for a pie mention that I thought happened.  PLEASE ANYONE!! If you read or will read the eBook version — do a search pretty-please?

This week, I have rediscovered my ability to read read read. I am half through the 14 hour audiobook of Warren Zanes’ bio of  Tom Petty. Wow, do I love biographies of interesting artists. I do.  Mr. Zanes is an interesting character himself and he has an appealing literary quality to his writing. He has quoted Karen Blixon and Russell Banks and a few other authors I know of (but haven’t read.)

I’m still trudging through  The Disappearing Spoon and not that it’s not interesting, it’s just that I have been not picking it up. You know what I mean? What interesting characters these scientists can be…

And finally, on the heels of the Pulitzer announcement of Colson Whitehead winning for The Underground Railroad, I decided to check if my library had a copy of The Intuitionist They did and now I’m reading it. It’s got a scientific quirky vibe. Enjoying it very much so far.

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I finally watched Far From the Madding Crowd with Carey Mulligan and Martin Sheen  and it was wonderful! I loved it. If you loved this romantic triangle story with one fabulous independent woman lead, you should read my review of the book/audiobook…  You should read the book first. Film was a fun adaption, in my opinion. And visually stunning. Oh! the costumes!! And I miss reading classics. I need to get back to my Classics Club 50. “It is my intention to astonish you all.”

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I made pie for Easter.

The not so pretty but still rather interesting Carrot Pie and the Italian traditional ricotta cheese pie called Fiadone:

centered?

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I miss not having a book review to post on this now-dusty blog… Soon, though. Hope everyone is reading something good. TELL ME! What are you 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.

Home

Thoughts  by Marilynne Robinson, Farrar,Straus and Giroux 2008, 325 pages

Challenge: What’s in a Name: Building category
Genre: Literary Fiction
Type/Source: Hardcover / Used Bookstore Raynham MA
 Why I read this now: Because I wanted to.

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Kindness takes more strength than I have now. I didn’t realize how much effort I used to put into it.

MOTIVATION for READING: Because I loved Gilead. I love the quiet powerful books.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Gilead is a fictional small town in Iowa and the book of the same name is about a Congregationalist minister contemplating some key elements of his life as he looks back on relationships and pivotal events. This book is a companion piece to Gilead, with other characters’ viewpoints and stories featured more prominently. Where Gilead was about Ames, this book is about Jack and his sister Glory, children of Ames’ best friend Robert. I suppose that is more than you need to know and yet doesn’t tell anything at all.

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There was a barely restrained glee about him, as though he felt he had done something, or had done nothing, to excellent effect.

WHAT’s GOOD:    Oh.

Sentences. Provocations? Emotions.

What’s NOT so good: What is not so good for me is having to read all the reviews that say this book is boring. They said that about Gilead, too. I was never bored so that claim rings false. I should respect those who make it but I don’t have to like it.

As a matter of courtesy they treated one another’s deceptions like truth which was a different thing from deceiving or being deceived.

Sure, Jack smiles too much and glances at Glory a lot. But it felt so true. Such a different time. What would a bum son look like in now times? Would such a degenerate be so good to his father? Was he good? What IS good? Takes my breath away. And poor Glory. Ugh. Trapped in our roles, are we? I can’t write a review, I can only ask more questions.

She used to ask yourself, What more could I wish? But she always distrusted that question, because she knew there were limits to her experience that precluded her knowing what there was to be wished.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Beautiful. Sad. Contemplative. Aching.

“She said you hated cream pie, but I was certain I remembered you had a special fondness for it, and she made it on my say-so, despite her reservations.”

“It’s pretty leathery by now,” she said.

“You see, she’s trying to prejudice you against it! You’d think we’d made a wager of some kind!”

Jack said, “I like cream pie.” He glanced at her.

RATING: Five slices of pie. Apple pie.

He asked for a look at the pie before the top crust went on – “more fragrant than flowers!” – And for look at it afterward, on the edge had been fluted and the vents were cut.

The kitchen began to smell of pie baking.

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That odd capacity for destitution, as if by nature we ought to have so much more than nature gives us. As if we are shockingly unclothed when we lack the complacencies of ordinary life. In destitution, even of feeling or purpose, a human being is more hauntingly human and vulnerable to kindnesses because there is the sense that things should be otherwise, and then the thought of what is wanting and what alleviation would be, and how the soul could be put at ease, restored. At home. but the soul finds its own home if it ever has a home at all.

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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 Nix

Thoughts by Nathan Hill, Knopf 2016, 628 pages

Challenge: My last TOB book, I promise

Also…  Satisfies the “Title with an X” category.

Genre: GAN? (why so uncertain? I am ALWAYS uncertain.)
Type/Source: Hardcover / a friend.
 Why I read this now: It was time and possession.

MOTIVATION for READING: I have had this book on my tbr since before the long list was announced, but I’m sure it was the TOB possibility list of 2016 published titles that put it on my radar. [Added to tbr on Nov 11, 2016 – hmmm, this sounds like I did NOT find it before the tob long list date…  darn.]

WHAT’s it ABOUT: The premise is enticing, no? A NIX is something you love that will ultimately destroy you. Or something like that.

It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson—college professor, stalled writer—has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn’t seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she’s re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paint Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: she’s facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel’s help.

It’s just a fun, plot-ful, charged and funny read. It has internet-gaming addiction, college angst and student-entitlement issues, music + young love + best friend love + frozen TV dinners, history (I love learning about stuff from past real life via fiction), some travel, some odd interesting things about plants. I loved it.

WHAT’s GOOD: It was action-oriented and gave me history of Chicago – a favorite town. It has one of the most heart-breaking (to me) scenes of high school angst via Faye that I’ve ever encountered. It put raw-honesty words to some of my own life. It had many a crazy moments. It has a 13 page run on sentence! I just might re-“read” this by audiobook someday. [OK – you rereaders can go ahead and laugh because I probably never will.]

After today’s commentary, I have been asking myself if I liked this one more than Version Control. I think yes, YES, I did. But they felt similar to me in that they packed a lot of stuff into the plot.

What’s NOT so good: That same HS-angst that Faye felt didn’t quite jive with her freshman year persona. She was afraid of being noticed or thought wrong and yet did crazy-fearless things I would NEVER have done my freshman year in college and I couldn’t quite balance it. But I gave it a pass. People are always surprising. I read some critiques after I finished this book (always a GOOD sign when I read this AFTER – if read DURING, a bad sign…) and I am still thinking about the negatives others have shared. Let’s just say that THIS commentary on TOB round day will be captivating to me. Yes, I said CAPTIVATING.

Was this book sexist and misogynistic?  Gawd, do I have to go there?! I didn’t have those thoughts I.Get.It. if did/didn’t. It’s seriously exhausting to have that lens on all the time, give it a rest?!  Life is so fecking troublematic.

Was it… white bread privilege? Maybe. How could Faye make a living by creating a nonprofit to read books to children? How easy did that happen?! How was Sam going to make a living -*-*-*-*-*-SPOILER ALERT!!! -*-*-*-*-*- in the last half of the book? oh yea, he’s a writer with the best publicist ever.

I didn’t get a good sense of what the 1968ers were protesting, compared to the protests going on now. It definitely had a pre-election feel to it and yet it also grasped that political party struggle of us vs them.

I think I am looking forward to commentary on this. And I seriously also hope that everyone who DOES comments reads the history of the TOB and takes a chill pill. I am totally speaking to those who have newly discovered the TOB and are throwing their opinions about how unfair and seriously flawed the thing is because THAT is the point. Take a step back. Pause, breathe, get a grip, laugh some, realize that I sound absolutely awful and I don’t care, think some about it all and BE KIND. Be kind. Please be kind. Love things, disagree with things, and smile because life can still be beautiful or what’s the point. The point is not which book wins the Rooster but that we have an opportunity to think about what we LIKE about books. Rant over. That is all.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Whew. The Nix. Was this the Next Great Amerian Novel? [I wish all the best to Mr. Hill.] I don’t know. I don’t think so, though.

RATING: I rounded up from 4.5 slices of pie to give this the honored 5-slicer because I enjoyed it.

Have a nice day.

BIG SHOUT OUT TO MY FRIEND Katie! who loves the TOB and reads voraciously and is the person I think about when I see anything related to hedgehogs, who sent me this book.

Here’s a photo from Ireland of a cafe called the Strawberry Hedgehog. Unfortunately, we were unable to stop and check it out.

 

 

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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.

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

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

wian2017

 

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.

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.

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.