Big Magic

Thoughts bigmagic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Riverhead Books 2015, 273 pages

Challenge: for Boat Friends Summer Reading Club

“Measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”

Genre: Self-help, Creativity
Type/Source: Hardback / Purchased at Indie BookStore
 Why I read this now:  Summer means Boating

MOTIVATION for READING: I have a friend, our next door boat neighbor, who inspired us to have a “bucket list summer” and one of the challenges was to read this book, together.

“Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Ms. Gilbert’s personal thoughts and her own exploration of how to be creative, how to MAKE art, why to make art. And art is totally subjective; whatever art is in you. Let that idea chase you down and find you to be its partner.

WHAT’s GOOD: I love the anecdotes, I love her style, I love her encouragement. I really enjoy the quotes and writer references. I admire her unabashed go-for-it fierceness.

What’s NOT so good: The book is too short?!🙂

FINAL THOUGHTS: So many quotes I could share. So many things that she stimulates in my head – ideas, past memories good and bad, smiles, the inspiration to try…

“Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration IS the process.”

(The REAL work is pushing through, keep on keeping on, manage the gaps between the glory bursts of inspiration.)

I am one of those who loved EPL and I also really enjoyed The Signature of All Things. If you don’t like her fine, but why exactly such hostility? I can think of so much worse things to be against than the work that EG is putting out there into the universe. To each their own — I can respect that; but let’s be kind and uplifting and supportive and creative!

RATING: Four slices of pie with extra whipped cream.

” It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at. For instance: If I had spent my twenties playing basketball every single day, or making pastry dough every single day, or studying auto mechanics every single day, I’d probably be pretty good at foul shots and croissants and transmissions by now.”

 

 

 

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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 Devil in the White City

Thoughts ditwcbyel by Erik Larson, Vintage 2004 (ori 2002), 396 pages

Genre: Nonfiction, history, architecture, true crime: serial killers
Type/Source: tradeback, unknown
 Why I read this now: craving nonfiction

MOTIVATION for READING: My husband is not a fiction reader (or book reader, really) and he requested a book from my library that I thought he might enjoy. He has yet to finish and I needed a book when we were traveling so I finished it while he was doing other things.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Larson typically takes two story lines – 1) a big event in history and weaves it with 2) a celebrity(?) personality. This one is about 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and the men who were in charge of building it while exploring one of America’s earliest known serial killers. The Fair provided the opportunity for victims.

WHAT’s GOOD: I really enjoyed learning about Daniel H. Burnham. He’s the guy that the famous Chicago fountain is named for:

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I also liked learning about the Ferris Wheel (but then I also explored more about this on my own. I just got curious after the inventor/designer was mentioned. I did that a lot, actually – pursued further knowledge about many a topic in this. And photos…)

What’s NOT so good: I was bored with the serial killer part and was mostly annoyed at Larson for the teasers that were so obscure and explained so far beyond in the text that I often groaned in frustration.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I am not sure I need to read any more of this guy’s books. They just aren’t for me. The history is usually awesome but I want more pictures and no more heavy-handed foreshadowing.

RATING:  Three slices of Blackbird Pie.

 

 

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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.

Is It Me? Or the Books?

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I don’t know if this is a reading slump or I am just reading three unappealing-to-me books all at the same time?

I suppose I would/should like a couple of these if I was in a better frame of mind or perhaps three books all at the same time of this competition is only making them all unpalatable?

Should I power through or give up and start something else?

Let’s chat, shall we?  and please advise.

The current three:  ptlbytc  qbysc hiapwdbysjg

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Prologue To Love is a paperback printed before I was born. The font is tiny, it has the slightly yellowed brittle paper feel and lovely old book scent. I had to tape the cover back on. There are over 750 pages. I’m told that this is loosely based on the true life story of Hetty Green, once the world’s richest woman – I’ve read a book on her and found it fascinating. One of those tales that reinforces the idea that lots of money can’t buy happiness. HUZZAH!

I’m just too turned off by the father of the main character; he is miserly, judgmental, obsessed with the creation of wealth but abhors the idea of spending ANY of it. (He lets his daughter live in a run down house with no heat nor extra blankets and lousy inadequate quantity of food?) I don’t have enough sympathy for him – I don’t get his quick critical thoughts about why he doesn’t like his nephew nor why he doesn’t like his own daughter and I don’t really care to find out. I’m sorry Bybee!

Prologue To Love! –> I declare you DNF’d.

Quiet just isn’t capturing my attention. I decide to go read, sit in a comfy chair or go out to the lounge area of my lovely backyard, and end up playing with Litsy, IG and Facebook on my phone. I’ll probably carry it around the house and misplace it a few more times before I give up on it. However, I’m thinking the reviews I have read have probably given me enough information on the subject.

Quiet! (With a Chainsaw?) –> Vote is still out…

Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress is supposed to be a funny feminist book guaranteed to entertain. I’m not entertained. I’m bored. Maybe the narrator’s voice just isn’t quite right? No, she’s doing a fabulous job, but like coconut — you like it or you don’t. It’s possible that I’m still too early into it?  So far, it is still her childhood (the current essay is about her obsession with the Rolling Stones when she was 15.) I don’t know; it’s just not working.

Hypocrite! –> Playing in the background but I’m not listening.

The problem with audiobooked essay collections is that you can’t flip and skip around. Can I suggest that audiobook chapters start showing titles? Which bits of this book are the ones I shouldn’t miss? Should I save it for print? Yea, maybe I should get the book from the library and return this to Audible…

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While these three books are jockeying for some love, I am stalled… Release the guilt, release the books back into the wild or back to the shelf, move on.

Ok, NOW what should I read?!

 

 

 

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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.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Thoughts titsoahmbyap by Ann Patchett, Bloomsbury 2013, 306 pages

Challenge:  none. A gift at Winter Holiday, via book bloggers book exchange. Thanks Bex!
Genre: Memoir, essays, nonfiction
Type/Source:  Tradeback/Wordery-Bex
 Why I read this now: Upon perusing the shelf, this sounded good.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Ann Patchett is a successful prize-winning novelist (I really enjoyed Bel Canto – read for a book club way before blogging. It won the Orange and PEN/Faulkner in 2002.) who also owns a bookstore in Nashville TN. This writer-plus-bookshop-proprietor was a magazine article writer in order to support her fiction writing habit; this is a collection of a few of those articles from her past combined with new, fresh takes on life and love.

WHAT’s GOOD: I love her. From word one, I fell hard into this and couldn’t stop enjoying, thinking, relating, pondering. I had no idea what to expect; I really didn’t know anything more about Ann Patchett other than the first fact:  1) she wrote Bel Canto and the second, that 2) she owns a bookstore. I am now a fan and she is one of those authors that I hope to have the opportunity to meet/see/hear in person. I suppose I should put State of Wonder on my tbr – I had not yet because I had read a few reviews that made me consider it skippable. Now, I think I must reconsider that just because some don’t like her writing, I do. I have to find out if I am on the PRO SoW side of things. (Come to think of it, I wish I had suggested this for book club! but somehow, my gushings of I Capture the Castle had all the gals thinking they, too, want to read it. Which is cool. But a divisive book is so much more fun. Oh well..)

What’s NOT so good: I have no criticisms.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Ms. Patchett and I are about the same age and we have a few things in common (we both like dogs and we both own The Pie and Pastry Bible) but we are also quite different. I like to read about strong women who carve their own path and enjoy adventure.

RATING: Five slices of pie. Apple pie.

“She loved to tell me a story about a doctor who ordered his piece of apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese and how she refused to give it to him because it was illegal to serve pie with cheese in the state of Kansas because the combination was thought to be poisonous.”

 

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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.

Notorious RBG

Thoughts nrbgbyicsk by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhinik, Dey St imprint of WmMorrow, 227 pages

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Type/Source: Hardback, Library

MOTIVATION for READING: This Supreme Court Justice has always interested me. Everyone is raving about this book.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Apparently, and for perfectly wonderful reasons, RBG has captivated the hearts of many for her groundbreaking work in law and her thoughtful and sharp reasonings on cases appearing before the Highest Court. This short book tells a bit about her whole life – how she started and what she is doing now. It doesn’t go into much depth but just enough to get a sense for her character, her smarts, her sense of humor and her incredible work ethic.

RATING: I rated it 5 pie slices because I truly enjoyed learning more about the background and work of this amazing woman.

 

 

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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.

Radio Shangri-La

Thoughts rslbyln1 by Lisa Napoli, Crown Publishers 2010, 279 pages

SUBTITLE: What I learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth

For the What’s in a Name Challenge – Country category

I am having a tough time thinking up what to write. Especially when I agree wholeheartedly with Nancy’s review from 2011.  If you don’t want to click over, she says this:

” Lacking in adventure but fascinating for its analysis of the people and the time, at times uneven but overall a decent memoir.”

Yes. I agree.

I read the very same book that Nancy read! Because she is the generous booklover who gave it to me. And I am willing to send YOU this book if you want to read it, too. Just be the first to request and I will email you for your mailing address and will eventually send it off. Eventually.

It looks like this:  rslbyln2

Also, it’s an ARC. It does have a few misspellings or typos and it got very VERY confusing with what I must assume were name swappings. She would be yapping about Sebastian and then refer to him as Benjamin. And Ngawang would be Pema and then back to Ngawang…  Just sayin’.

One more fun thing…  The author mentions a term familiar to all who loved Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein. Here’s the quote, do you know the word?

“The only not-so-smooth part of the plan came from my father, who couldn’t quite grok the adventure I was about to have.”

All righty, then. Carry on.

RATING:  Three slices of pie. (No pie mentions in this one.)

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Copyright © 2007-2015. 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.

First Book 2016

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First Book is hosted by the lovely and talented Sheila at BookJourney. I will be reading Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth by Lisa Napoli. Click on the book cover to go to goodreads.com.

rslbyln2 rslbyln1
Memoir
Travel
Happiness

Lisa Napoli was in the grip of a crisis, dissatisfied with her life and her work as a radio journalist. When a chance encounter with a handsome stranger presented her with an opportunity to move halfway around the world, Lisa left behind cosmopolitan Los Angeles for a new adventure in the ancient Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan—said to be one of the happiest places on earth.

A big THANK YOU to Nancy the BookFool who loaned me or gave me this book way back in May of 2011. I can now soon return it to her. This book will satisfy the country category for What’s in a Name 2016, is a book “in the house” and a loaner. Three happy checks right there.

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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 Free Men

Thoughts tfmbyje The Free Men by John Ehle, Press 53 2007 (orig 1965), 351 pages

Blurb from goodreads.com:

This moving narrative by John Ehle describes the experiences of a handful of dedicated young students, both black and white, during the 1963-64 civil rights protests in Chapel Hill, NC. The movement began through the efforts of three young men: two white UNC-Chapel Hill students, John Dunne, a gifted Morehead Scholar, and Pat Cusick, the grandson of the founder of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama, and one student from the all-black North Carolina College in Durham, Quinton Baker. First published in 1965 by Harper & Row, ‘The Free Men’ was controversial but won the Mayflower Award for Nonfiction. It is now back in print by Press 53 with a new Afterword by the former UNC-Chapel Hill student, ‘Daily Tar Heel’ editor, and Pulitzer Prize-Winning journalist Wayne King.

I read this for Nonfiction November which was focused on my desire to deepen my understanding of  US civil rights history. My local indie book store featured this book as important and sold me on the quality of the writing.

This appealed to me as a book with a timely and fresh impression of the activities covered. The first events happened in 1963 with court dealings mostly in 1964 and the book was published right after, 1965. This wouldn’t be a glossing over what happened way back but would deliver a true feel of the atmosphere of that ‘now’. I wanted to experience it truly like I was there with no 21st century ‘wiser’ perspective. Set in Chapel Hill, a town presumed to be the most liberal because it was the host of the flagship premier university of the state, the University of North Carolina. Chapel Hill is close to the state capitol of Raleigh and less than an hour’s drive from where I live in Greensboro.

I am not a native North Carolinian and to be honest, I’ve yet to set foot in Chapel Hill. But it is so on my list to visit and I want to see if I can be transported to the Franklin Street of downtown as it looked in 1965; to see the Post Office and the site of the original picketed restaurants. I know much has to have changed but I love the feels of old downtowns and the imaginings of the people who walked the streets years and years and years gone by.

He had come into the South to get to know the South, and now he was held by the South, but what he had not learned was the ponderableness of the South, …  The instinct of the South was not part of him yet. As is the case in any revolution taking place, the need for immediate action was inside him and was what he breathed.

This was a fascinating portrayal of the key individuals involved, how the movement got started in the town, the machinations of the politics, the fears and commitments and frustrations of good people who wanted things done right but had different ideas of the best way to achieve or promote or demand results. It also gives some time with the side against desegregation. Fascinating. Oh, and let’s throw in one crazy tough bastard judge.

Those who support the superiority of conscience often have the embarrassment of explaining how their system is to work on a practical level; those who support the superiority of laws have the embarrassment of the way their system does work, day in and day out, at the working level.

And it showed that not a lot has changed in 50 years.

I admit that it got tough keeping track of who was who and what was when. If I had kept notes and timelines, I probably would have rated this a 5 star read. So, my failings.

This amazing book is a very good example of how things might need radical happenings to force change. Also fabulous discussion on how both sides of the rightness to ‘radical happenings’ (my words). Any social justice warrior would find this book valuable. Any student of journalism history would find this book insightful.

I’m glad I read this. I aspire to such courage of conviction as these men and women demonstrated.

“They had been condemned by the court, and they knew they were in a sense guilty of breaking laws, but they were moralists essentially, and what they were trying to determine now was the nature of their deeper crime whether they had violated not only laws but also justice.”

This is one of those books that inspires MORE research. I was constantly looking up people in Wiki, places on the map, and other stuff. I found a 1989 interview of Pat Cusick who ended up in Boston after being forced out of North Carolina – click this link for fascinating discussion and reflection of the events described in this book and beyond. He recommended the following book as pivotal and now I want to read it. Click the cover to go to goodreads: ptwbytb

The best understanding of America begins, or so it seems to me, with the realization that this nation is young yet, that she is still new and unfinished, that even now America is man’s greatest adventure in time and space.

Ponderableness.

Wishing us all a sensible 2016 of peace and freedom.

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Copyright © 2007-2015. 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 Post In Which I Rank My Top Rated Books of 2015

Oh goodie! The year end review posts are starting! I’m having a grand ol’ time printing out and counting up and percentaging and all the jazz that comes with the last week of the year.

GRyob2015c

And trying to figure out which book will be FIRST of 2016. This question keeps popping into my head and then silence. So, for right now, I have NO idea which book will be first. It’ll happen, always does. For more on that topic, visit Sheila at Book Journey.

Now. Let’s look at my top books and find out – drumroll, please – which was the very best for me in my opinion of all the books I enjoyed in 2015:

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The book covers above are in no particular order as far as I can tell. It is the order goodreads.com put them in.

Here’s MY order most loved first to only very slightly less loved last:

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (on audio, rev)

The Good Lord Bird (review)

H is for Hawk (on audio, rev)

Between the World and Me (review)

The Elegance of the Hedgehog (review)

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (on audio, rev)

Far From the Madding Crowd (on audio,rev)

The Snow Child

Dept of Speculation (review)

Station Eleven (review)

Big Little Lies (review)

Bad Feminist (review) *According to WP, this review was my most visited post…

 Death in the Garden (review)

All I Have in This World (review)

Heft (on audio,rev)

Inside the O’Briens (review)

Lost Lake (review)

Wow, I have some very different books here. And I know that I have some FOUR slice reads that might be worthy of jumping up into this list and maybe swap places with the lower tier but let’s just say, I had a REALLY good reading year, shall we? (Honestly, I really don’t recall much about Lost Lake. gulp.)

If tomorrow, you asked me to re-rank these, the order would likely be different. But overall, these books were the ones that hit the right buttons, the right mood, the right emotions, the everythings.

These account for almost a quarter (23%) of the books I read! 70% of my total 2015 books read were a 4 or 5 pie slicer. Wow, indeed.

Which genres do I like, you ask? Oh my, what genres these books cross! Science fiction, romance, chicklit, historical fiction, almost-not-quite fantasy, civil rights, memoir, medical lit, mystery-thriller, fictional travelogue, death and dying, feminism, experimentally-stylish?

Three of the books above are nonfiction; Between the World and Me won the National Book Award 2015. H is for Hawk won the Samuel Johnson Prize 2014.

The Good Lord Bird won the National Book Award for Fiction 2013.

Five were audiobooks.

Station Eleven and Dept. of Speculation, both pub’d in 2014, had all sorts of acclaim this year and maybe a slew of awards.  Of course, Far From the Madding Crowd is a classic (and Hardy’s least sad, I’ve heard.) My review for that was my least read and most fun to write. But you wouldn’t get it if you haven’t read the book, so… And why!??! it isn’t on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list is a travesty.

I read both Harold Fry and Queenie Hennessy books TWICE. Each both in print and on audio. I am now Rachel Joyce’s biggest fan.

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The most popular book I read was Mockingjay. I gave it 3 slices.

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My least favorite book of 2015 was The Importance of Being Oscar. Skip it, seriously. And I gave more one and/or two slices to books this year for 11%; whereas, last year I only gave 8% the dreaded 2 slicer. Any DNFs I had were due to mood and timing and not a reflection of the quality of the experience. I didn’t count any DNFs, in other words. Only a few put-back-on-shelf-for-later.

A good year. A fine year for reading, was 2015. On to more stats and stuff… Posts, they are a-comin’.

 

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What’s in a Name 2016 Challenge #whatsinaname2016

wian2016 Hosted by The Worm Hole blog. The button will take you there.

The CATEGORIES:

  • A country
  • An item of clothing
  • An item of furniture
  • A profession
  • A month of the year
  • A title with the word ‘tree’

My IN THE HOUSE choices are:  wian2016mine

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (also for Classics Club)

The Kingmaker‘s Daughter by Philippa Gregory (a Kingmaker is a profession, yes?)

Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities by Prof. Ian Stewart (ya’ll want this one, too, right?)

All About the Months by Maymie R. Krythe (nonfiction) pub’d 1966

 

What will YOU be reading? and WHAT do you have to suggest for item of clothing?

 I’m thinking Susan Jane Gilman’s Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress and/or Maugham’s The Painted Veil.

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2015. 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.