Feelin’ the Love

A perfect heart-shaped leaf that sprouted on my green bean bush.
A  heart-shaped leaf on my climbing green bean bush.

OK this isn’t about books but it’s one of those awesome miracles of nature that I just had to share.

This year I’m getting more than green beans from my climbing bean bush!  Check out this beautiful little heart-shaped leaf.  It’s perfect.

Have you seen anything like it?

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Read it and Sleep

Konnikova-Sleep-p1-690If you’re anything like I am, sleep can be elusive at times.  It seems to be a phenomenon in today’s highly active electronic world.  Go, go, go and you do nothing without your electronic device.

I wanted to share this great 3-part article in the New Yorker magazine by Maria Konnikova.  She’s gathered some impressive research that’s been done on sleep trends in the US.  Not surprisingly she concludes we are all sleep-deprived zombies.  Ultimately, she says, the one consistent sleep remedy, along with a few others, is reading  – reading real books that don’t shine bright lights into your eyes right before you try to sleep.  We all know this but it’s hard to put down the computer, the Nook or any other reading gadget, and just read a book.   Why Is Sleep So Elusive?

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The Plover – a must read for seagoers

Friends, I have to give a shout out to The Plover.  This book had special meaning for me and, I suppose, to others who have spent long periods of time sailing in open waters.

The Plover brought to mind a quote I’ve had framed for decades:

“Would you — so the helmsman answered, Learn the secret of the sea? 

Only those who brave its dangers Comprehend its mystery!”            

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

9781250062451 (2)If you love the magic of the sea, you will love this book.  It is charming in every way.  It had me laughing, crying and wishing it would never end.   That is the beauty of this well-written mystical story with real-life meaning. But like any long distance ocean voyage, this book had a few doldrums in the way of one-page sentences here and there, not many, but watch out for those.  The author, Brian Doyle, is local and  lives in Portland, OR.  I’m particularly proud that such a creative and engaging story came from one of our own.  He’s developed a group of characters, not all human, and created a sea adventure that will keep you reading, not just for the adventure, but for the life lessons, emotions and insights into the human spirit.  Plover was a delightful book.  I was sad it ended and I still think about it weeks later.  It’s a keeper.  I loved it.

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Little Free Library

My neighbor put her Free Little Library up recently.

My neighbor put her Free Little Library up recently.

Mullaedy's Irish Pub has had their Free Little Library for several years.

Mullaedy’s Irish Pub has had their Free Little Library for several years.

A growing trend here in Seattle, and in my neighborhood of Magnolia, is to host a Little Free Library – take a book, return a book.  The organization started in 2009 with a two-fold mission:

  • 1. To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.
  • 2. To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations

The goal is to build over 2,500 Little Free Libraries to promote reading for children, literacy for adults and provide free libraries around the world.  And it’s a great way to get books off your crowded bookshelf to share with others!  I’m considering hosting one.  To find out more go to the Little Free Library website and follow the directions in Get Started link.  While you’re on the site, check out your neighborhood by going to Locations.  How many Little Free Libraries are close to you?

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Starting with a Book List

My crowded bookshelf

My crowded bookshelf

Hello book lovers!

Welcome to my blog.  We all love a good discussion about books so the intention of this blog is to share with each other. Below is a list of the recent books I’ve read.  I’ve made a few personal notes trying not to give too much away.  Have you read any of these?  Tell us what you think.

Books I really enjoyed:

  • The Plover – a delightful story balancing magical realism with adventure, I loved this book!
  • Euphoria – this well-written book was inspired by Margaret Mead’s experiences in Samoa in the 1930s.  The story features three young anthropologists researching in New Guinea.  Loved this book even with the surprising twist at the end.
  • My Education –  a not-so-typical story about an Ivy League grad student’s attractions & obsessions.  It gets progressively better in the second half.
  • The Storied Life of AJ Fikry – a lovely story about a book store owner/widower and the series of events that change his lonely, curmudgeonly life.  Quick and fun read.  
  • The Moment of Everything – I loved this clever little love story written by a woman in Silicon Valley.  Another great story centered around a book store.  Quick and fun read.
  • The Girl on the Train – a mystery of a different sort, about a girl in England who watches people’s lives from her daily train rides.  Similar to Gone Girl but much better.
  • While Beauty Slept – an interesting fairy tale/love story, it kept me reading, a loose variation on Sleeping Beauty but better
  • The Other Typist –  about a police station typist in the 1920s.  This mystery has some twists and turns that will keep you reading.  Really liked this one.
  • The Bookman’s Tale –  about a widower bookseller who is searching for the origin of an old photo and runs into a more complex and dangerous mystery.  I tend to like novels about books and bookstores.  This one is especially good, keeps you reading.
  • The Art Forger – historical fiction about the stolen art at the Gardner Museum in Boston. I loved this book.  While in Boston recently I went to the Gardner Museum, they still have the empty frames hanging from where the art was stolen in 1990.
  • The Dinner – written by a Dutch author, this novel features a horrific event that drives an off-centered father into extreme behavior.  It’s raw, harsh, disturbing and thought-provoking.  It’s a good ‘book club’ book.
  • The Darlings – a filthy rich NYC family drama and scandal.  A fun read that should be made into a TV series IMO.
  • The Headmaster’s Wife – interesting drama, has all the components to keep you reading, great writing
  • Seating Arrangement – drama about a New England wedding at the family’s vacation home on a remote island, this is an entertaining and funky story that keeps you reading
  • The Woman Upstairs – drama about the obsession of an artist/school teacher who is attracted to both her friend and her friend’s husband, well written but an odd story
  • Some Kind of Fairy Tale – a young girl leaves her family but upon her return cannot explain her fantastic whereabouts.  I typically don’t like “fairy tales” so I  didn’t expect to like this as much as I did.  Interesting read.
  • The Red Book – great read about four Harvard classmates approaching their 20 year reunion.  The story revolves around what’s published in Harvard’s red book vs. reality.  “There’s the story we tell the world, then there’s the real story.”
  • An Idiot Abroad –  Laugh out loud hilarious!  A Brit is sent to the seven wonders of the world to write about his experiences.  It’s unsophisticated but perceptive and very funny.  This became a travel series brought to you by Ricky Gervais.
  • Beautiful Ruins – this is a charming book that intertwines the life of a humble  Italian innkeeper  and a movie star.  Great book beginning to, and especially, the end. 
  • Yes, Chef –  if you like NYC chef Marcus Samuelsson you’ll love reading his fascinating journey from Ethiopia as a boy, adopted by a Swedish couple, trained in France, on to NYC.
  • Tigers in Red Weather – setting in Martha’s Vineyard.  It seems to be a normal happy family on the surface but over the years the truth is revealed.  Good book, keeps you reading.  Side note:  the author is related to Herman Melville.
  • Laura Lamont’s Life in the Pictures – easy to read about the ups and downs of a woman’s Hollywood career in the 1920s.
  • The Divorce Papers – clever writing approach.  The entire book is written in the form of letters or emails, parts were predictably harsh.  Entertaining and quick to read.
  • Where’d You Go Bernadette – written by a Seattle woman.  It’s a bit  over the top at times but has a good twisty plot, fun reading.
  • The Secret Keeper – solving a family mystery is central to this story.   Really keeps you reading.
  • The First Wife – Interesting accounting of life with Hemmingway in his early years.
  • The Aviator’s Wife –  wife perspective of the Charles Lindbergh and family.
  • Loving Frank – Frank Lloyd Wright’s life from the perspective of his first wife.
  • Above all Things –  the life and struggles as a wife of George Mallory.
  • Z – a well done novel about Zelda and her life with F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • I Always Loved you – about the relationship between Edgar Degas and Mary Cassett, I really enjoyed this book, one of my favorites.

Highly rated books that I didn’t much enjoy:  

  • Bring up the Bodies – I did not like this one, tiresome reading about the all too common topic of Henry VIII
  • The Goldfinch – I appreciate the author won the Pulitzer for this book but for my taste I found it tedious reading and the plot did not follow logic.
  • Olive Kitteridge – well written but depressing from beginning to end, it was also made into a miniseries starring Frances McDormand who was magnificent as Olive
  • Carthage –  Joyce Carol Oates is a phenomenal writer but I didn’t care for this book. This was a dark and depressing novel involving the return of a soldier from Iraq and the disappearance of a young girl that  devastates the lives of all involved.
  • By Blood – odd story about a disgraced professor whose obsession with a certain voyeurism drives him to do weird things, I finished it just to see where it was headed
  • Gone Girl – I liked the book until midway and only finished it because I needed to know how it ended

 

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