Washington

Every once in awhile, I have a book that I know is going to be a beast to read. It is long, it is dull. It is more like a text book than entertainment.

But…I make myself read those kinds of books every now and then. I feel they are important. And I don’t mean that to sound pretentious. They are important for me. I could care less if you read them. But my brain craves expansion–so even while I yawn and scan and swear that I’m going to quit…I force myself to read one more chapter, until I reach the end.

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Washington was such a book for me. A massive biography on our first president. 900+ pages kind of massive. It was a lot of Washington to take in. I was sure ready to be done by the end.

Ok. For the sake of review, I should stop and say this:  Chernow clearly did a great deal of research. And for fans of political/historical figure bios–they are probably going to find this fascinating. It would take my husband a year (or more) to read this ,but he would like it.

There’s a reason I stuck with it for all 900 pages. The information was interesting. Washington is kind of a ghost figure in our history–he’s there, and we know he’s important, but we don’t learn that much about him. Not like we do Lincoln or FDR or JFK.

Chernow covers everything in his book–childhood, his courting days, the entire scope of Washington’s military career, and of course–the founding of country and his resulting presidency. There’s a lot to read and learn about here, and while yes, it was long, I’m better for it.

I did find it dull and dragging, but I think that is more because I prefer books with plots than because the actual writing was bad. There was just so much information to take in. I’m also taking into consideration that I was reading this during a pretty crappy family moment, and I was trying to get it done before I had to go home to Indiana. I will say that it was a great book to absorb while not being able to devote myself entirely to a storyline, so there’s that.

If you enjoy this sort of book, and/or are interested in our country’s beginnings, I would say pick this one up. It definitely has merit.

Five Night Stand

There are books. There is music. And sometimes there are books that read like music inside your head. You swear you are in one of those dark, smokey clubs. The ice might as well be clinking in your glass, and you get goosebumps on your arm as if the melody rose or someone’s suit jacket ran across your shoulder in the packed aisle. The upright bass thumps, the horns blow, and the piano, well, that piano just sings.

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That is what reading Five Night Stand by Richard J. Alley is like. The entire book is an ode to old-timey jazz, as we watch the retirement of a jazz piano legend. Or maybe, I should say we listen. Because while we are reading words on the page, it sure doesn’t feel like it. The moment you put the book down, you feel empty, as if you have turned off a radio. The music has stopped.

There aren’t very many characters in this story, and there don’t really  need to be. It really is a very simple narrative. A few people meet in the span of five days, and their lives intertwine for a few moments. But every moment was lovely and interesting and beautiful.

This book is a big yes for me. I just fell in love with the whole thing. Every breath, every song, every moment. I wanted Oliver to keep on playing, I wanted Agnus to find her music again, I wanted Frank to get the stick out of his ass, and I wanted Pablo to get everything he ever wanted. You’re going to have to find out what all that means. The book comes out on May 12. Buy this book. Go find the music.

 

NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review.

 

WWW Wednesday 4/29/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories by Henry James

Roots by Alex Haley

 

What did you just finish reading?

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy:  A Handbook for Geeks by Sam Maggs

Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

Five Night Stand by Richard Alley

Washington by Ron Chernow

Orange is the New Black

When I was in school, we took a field trip to our county jail so that we could see how the inmates lived. I’m sure the purpose of the trip was to scare us into submission. “Don’t break the law or you will end up here!”

To an 80-pound white girl from a very sheltered small town, those big scary tattooed criminals sure seemed like the worst thing in the world at the time. I’ve grown out of my shelteredness for the most part, and tattoos certainly are no longer scary, but I’m still not sure I want to go wandering around in that place for long.

Still, when Orange is the New Black came out on TV, and I started seeing the trailers for it, the hype sure seemed fun. I haven’t watched the show, but I was eager to read the book. And though I won’t be able to make Club on Monday, I was glad we chose to read this one for Non-Fiction Night.

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I wasn’t disappointed. OTNB is a completely different perspective on the prison system than I’ve ever heard or seen. This was not the dark, dirty, depressed view of things. And it certainly wasn’t big scary dudes with tattoos. Piper could have been one of my friends from high school–she screwed up, and paid for it, but she wasn’t a bad person. In fact, most of the people in Danbury were caring and full of life.

Something I did notice was that Piper didn’t list her friends’ crimes. That did not matter to her. This made the women much more human. The crimes did not define the people in her story, and while I’m curious, I probably would have judged them much more harshly for those crimes. The book instantly would have been much darker.

This was a very interesting and educational memoir. I’m glad I read this, and maybe I’ll watch the show now, if I can manage to put my books down!

TBR Pile

Even though I love my Kindle, it will never be a replacement for real books. I love going in and pulling books off my shelves, and there is nothing better than reorganizing those shelves. I’m quite anal about books–everything MUST be in alphabetical order. However, now that I’ve seen how other bloggers sort their shelves, I have been thinking about reconfiguring some of mine. That may be a project after we move in August…OH YEAH…you don’t know yet. WE ARE MOVING TO DALLAS!!!!!!!! Which means I get to unpack all my books, which I’ll be honest, is my favorite thing about moving. Expect lots of blogging that day.

I did create a To Be Read shelf the other day. I had so many I couldn’t fit them all! Guess I better get to readin’. Here’s everything that’s on that shelf, plus a few.

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This pile doesn’t include all the “husband” books that I haven’t read. That list includes basically all of John Grisham’s collection, a good portion of Stephen King’s, and most of Tom Clancy’s too. He has a bunch of sports and political books, but I don’t care so much about those.

I also took a Book Haul picture for May. I was surprised at how big this stack was. Don’t get used to this…or maybe you should! I would like this trend to continue, but we’ll see. I would like to keep increasing my collection, but I’m also not the type of person to spend money on myself either.

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I can’t wait to read all of these! That Raymond Chandler book is gorgeous. The cover is sort of a squishy leather, and the pages are lined in silver. The ribbon is a little frayed, but other wise it’s in fantastic condition.

Yay books! What did you pick up this month that you are looking forward to reading?

Favorite Non-Fiction

If you look at home videos of my younger days, I liked to show off. A LOT. I have two younger sisters, and we would put on pageants, theatre, runway shows. The one that comes to mind specifically happened shortly after Prince of Egypt came out, where we donned costumes and sang the full soundtrack, LOUDLY, in our semi-formal living room (it had blue carpet…the Nile River, DUH).

At home, I was completely comfortable, free to be me, which was loud, social, and creative. But then I hit kindergarten and my mom started getting reports from my teachers that were completely different from what she saw at home. And she started worrying. Sure, I was “president” of all of the group activities, active and enthusiastic in the classroom when the teacher was around and calling on people. But when it came to actual social things, like recess or voluntary things, I was always by myself. And I was almost always reading. To my VERY extroverted mother, this was not normal. Why didn’t I want to play with the other kids? Why all of the sudden was I so shy, and why was I sitting on the curb at recess?

We talk about this often now, because when I was in high school, and absolutely balking at every social activity imaginable, I thought she just did NOT understand that I was an introvert. My two sisters are pretty extroverted too, so for me to be the only one who would much rather stay in her room rather than go party…I felt that just no one got me. Now I know that she was trying to be encouraging…not torturing. She actually did know, it’s just hard for an extrovert to counsel an introvert. About as hard for an introvert to relate to an extrovert mother!

My introversion has come a long way since then. I’m still an observer first, and until I’m completely comfortable in a situation, I usually keep quiet. I’m much better in small, intimate groups and one-on-one. Give me a little pub where I can get to know the man/woman tending bar, instead of a crowded, pounding club.

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Why am I telling you my whole life story? Because my favorite non-fiction book is Quiet by Susan Cain. Every Introvert will cry when they read this because YES YES YES SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS FINALLY WHAT WE GO THROUGH EVERY DAY. And I want to give it to every Extrovert parent of an Introvert because it helps to show how to relate between the two. I want to give it to teachers, managers, CEOs. Basically, everyone should read this book.

I read this in about 4 hours. I devoured it. We live in such an extroverted society, where people are expected to be as outgoing and go-get-em as possible. If you can’t be popular and society-driven, you are going to get run over. Those of us who need to recharge in quiet, and heaven forbid if you have an anxiety disorder, life is so much harder, if not near impossible.

And for those Extroverts out there saying, “What about us? Introverts need to learn how to deal with us better too!” You are absolutely right. And I’m getting better. Learning why I react the way I do to certain simulations, and knowing that I can only handle so much of those stimulations before I have to recharge, has helped me so much. When I was dating, I would show up 15 minutes early, get a beer, and get settled so I wasn’t so anxiety-ridden. And if I have a meeting, or group event–like book club on Mondays–I do the same thing. I’m learning what I can handle, and what I can’t, and what I can do to deal with social situations.

There you have it. Way too much information about me, and a little bit about my favorite non-fiction book. But that’s what this is all about right? We learn from reading, and we learn from each other. As you can see, this is a subject near and dear to my heart. I know there are a lot of Introverts out there who feel the same way I do, and have been hurt badly because they don’t know how overcome it. One step at a time, and don’t wait too long to recharge. We need the quiet.

Another Life

The Poem of the Day in my email made me laugh today. I heard so many people during the long winter this year say, “I will punch the first person who complains about the summer heat!” We were all so ready for spring, and already it is in the high 80’s!

Another Life

In another life, we waited
all winter for this, or something

very like it. May ending,
summer hard on its heels, all things
made different by rising
humidity, by heat that will
quickly turn sullen, oppressive,
give not an inch for weeks at a time.
So many things we never
thought to choose, we, hanging
about on the fringes of life, rejoicing
in spite of ourselves this first
day of high eighties, nineties soon
to follow, relieved that our waiting is
over again. We know we will
sweat, as we always do, cursing
the rigor of southern suns,
happy, no matter what we say,
to be wherever we happen to be,
everything heating up again,
another season begun.

–Phebe Davidson

WWW Wednesdays

letyourvoicebenerd just posted a WWW Wednesdays post, and I thought it was neat, so I’m going to play along!

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What are you currently reading?

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (I may decide to read all four books in this collection, we’ll see if I do it all at once.)

White Apples and the Taste of Stone by Donald Hall

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

The Kill Order by James Dashner

Nine Horses by Billy Collins

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Eye of the Minds by James Dashner

 

Favorite Memorabilia

I don’t have a ton of things in the way of memorabilia. I know a lot of book lovers have Harry Potter medallions, and Lord of the Rings brooches, things like that. And trust me, I love all those things.

But I also have this horrible affliction of “can’t spend money on myself” syndrome. Only recently did I start buying things again, now that I have a husband who budgets discretionary income into my life. (He’s pretty awesome, that one.)

However, when we got married, we wanted to incorporate some of our nerdy tastes into our wedding.

Photo by Lauren Reber Photography

I had found kept seeing a quote by Dr. Seuss on Pinterest, over and over again, and it so perfectly described Richard and I, that I knew I had to have it on our programs.

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” –Dr. Seuss

Then, in my quest to find jewelry, I failed miserably. I just could not find a necklace that worked perfectly with my beloved dress. I really wanted a pendant that I could wear every day forever, something that was just me, but would also work for the wedding. And for my bridal shower, my wonderful Maid of Honor came through for me. Look what she had made!!!

Photo by Lauren Reber Photography

Is that not perfect? I still wear that every single day. I get a lot of comments on it too, and get asked about the quote often. I have been told that the quote MAY not be as Seussical as I thought, but I’ve never been able to find out for sure. Either way, it’s still our marriage motto.

Do you collect any booky type things and stuff? I’d love to hear about it!

 

ALSO!!!!

Go check out my amazing photographer, who took the pictures above. She’s pretty amazing.

Lauren Reber Photography

Favorite Book Blog

Starting this blog has been one of the most refreshing things for me, because it is encouraging me to become more involved in the books I read. My book club teases me relentlessly because I always show up with PAGES of notes that I’ve taken about the book–it’s become almost involuntary now.

And not only that, but the discussions I am getting into, here, and on Tumblr, are incredible. The Book Community on Tumblr is unlike anything I’ve ever imagined. Sure, I’ve gotten more recommendations on books to read. That I expected. But I am also quickly gaining friendships–that I didn’t anticipate from a relatively “anonymous” website. Everyone has each other’s back, and everyone (for the most part anyway) keeps an open mind. The goal here is to fuel constant discussion, and that is not something you see anywhere else.

It is also a place for humor and beauty, creativity and wonder. I am constantly amazed by what people post. We have artists, poets. We have photographers and writers. But my favorite…mostly because I am one myself…are the book hoarders. I am always in awe over the pictures of  constantly changing shelves, the weekly, monthly book hauls. I may post a book “haul” of my own every month on Instagram…though don’t get too excited guys, it’ll only be a few at a time. I think I MAYBE have 5 this month.

Mostly the book community is a place for encouragement, and a place to be ourselves. Every day I log on, because I cannot wait to see what else is new in my world, the world that no one on the outside of “nerdland” really gets. I had a full on discussion about Game of Thrones and a few other books the other day when we went out, and my husband just watched in awe, and I looked at him and said “SEE?! THIS is what I’m talking about.” That so rarely happens on the outside.

Sometimes I feel like I really do need to say, “I like your shoelaces.” And wait for the appropriate response, just to see if my people are out there.

I could never choose just one Favorite Blog. There are way too many. But here are just a few I follow, both on WordPress and Tumbr.

Librocubicularist

letyourvoicebenerd

Beth’s Books

Bitten and Written

bibliophilenycmom

thebooker

xgingerbookworm

The Bookvengers

teethequoter

treesofreverie

grangerandherbooks

Payge Turner

Oh man I know I’m leaving out so many amazing bloggers. I love all of you, and I’m meeting new people every day. Come join the conversation!