Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

For months I’ve been seeing this beautiful blue starry cover across Tumblr, and a gazillion Booklrs raving about (what I thought) was a pair of philosophers falling in love. I rarely read Goodreads reviews before adding a book to my TBR–I tend to just jump in to the story, preferring to discover along the way. My library never had it available, but they finally released the audiobook to me, and I am so glad they did. I think it was almost better in that format probably!

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I quickly learned that this wasn’t about the two ancient philosophers at all, but two teenage Mexican boys living in the desert city of El Paso. I generally can only read audiobooks while doing something–chores or walking–so falling in love with this story motivated me to walk more often! Except guys, it damned near broke my heart! Do you know how hard it is to keep pace while crying? I’m sure I got some weird looks on the trail.

Ari and Dante’s friendship is completely beautiful. For those of you who haven’t heard of this book before–it isn’t just a coming of age story, it’s also a coming out story. It’s powerful, sad, happy, scary. About every emotion you can have, you will have it while reading this book. A must read this year, absolutely.

And if you like audiobooks, definitely listen to this one. The narration is extremely well done!

 

The True American

A few weeks ago, deep into my reading slump and looking for brain food, I flipped through TED.com and found a talk given by Anand Giridharadas titled “A Tale of Two Americas, and the Mini-Mart Where They Collided.” He told the compelling story of a young man from Bangladesh working at a Dallas gas station, and the white man changed his life forever with a rifle full of birdshot. After listening to the speech, I had to order the book from the library. Not only was the story incredible, the fact that it was literally so close to home–I just had to read the whole thing.

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I was not disappointed. The author/narrator of this true crime (for lack of a better genre) story is relatively silent. You know who is telling the story, but as he states in his Author’s Note–he tries to stay out of the picture. This story isn’t about him. It is almost documentaryesque in form because of that.

This creates a very informative and involved picture of multiple points of view:  Rais (the victim), Mark (the shooter), and their families and friends who were involved afterwards.

Why is this such an interesting story? Some guy shot another guy at a convenience store. We hear about that all the time. There’s a few differences.

First, the shooting itself. This was only a month after September 11, 2001. Mark was enraged after the attack and in his words, became a “white terrorist.” His hatred for Arabs caused him to shoot 3 men, Rais being one of them (and the only survivor.

The second half of the story is what Rais does after he heals. I mean this guy is just…Captain America, basically. Seriously, if anyone deserves to wear that shield, it’s this guy. I’m not even going to tell you. At the very least, watch the TED talk. I would encourage you to read the book. It’s going to change your perspective on some things, I promise.

In this day and age, we really all need to think a bit more like Rais.

The One That Got Away

Everyone has been posting pictures from the beach in the last few weeks. It is Spring Break, but for those of us here in Dallas, it has been rainy season. I’ve never seen such rain–in Indiana the rain is in short 20 minute cloudbursts and big storms. Here it rains for DAYS, and in constant soaking sheets.

But finally, the sun is out. It was a gorgeous 72 degrees today, not a cloud in the sky. It was warmer in the house than out with the windows open, so after yoga yesterday I decided to make myself a Bloody Mary (or two) and have a mini “Spring Break” day on the porch. It was pretty perfect.

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Bethany Chase is releasing her debut novel tomorrow, and it was the perfect read for such a sunny spring day. If you’re looking for a great beach or poolside read–this is the one! And it just happens to be set in Texas!

Ree’s design business is taking off and her newest client just happens to be a friend of a friend…and a one-night stand from her past. Her boyfriend is away on business in Argentina for a long-term trip, and they are struggling with the distance. Ree is figuring out exactly what she wants out of life, becoming more successful, and balancing two very good-looking (and to be fair, caring) men. It’s all very complicated, dramatic, and sexy. This is chick-lit at it’s best!

I’ll be honest, this isn’t a genre I pick up as often anymore because it can all be very stencil, paint-by number. But Chase had me laughing with the characters’ sarcastic humor. Ree’s countrygirl background was me all the way, and while sometimes in stories where two guys face off one or the other can be placed in a “villian” type role, this was very realistic in my opinion.

All in all, this was a funny, heartfelt book that goes down easily with some sunshine, a little music, and an icy drink.

 

Disclaimer:  NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review.

Selected Canterbury Tales

There’s nothing quite like sitting in a pub with a big glass of beer and swapping stories with interesting company. It is one of my favorite ways to while away an evening, and we have a couple of really great places to do that here in Texas.

I am always drawn to those sort of scenes in books–it doesn’t matter where or when the characters are drinking. If there’s a story to be told, it is often told around booze.

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The Canterbury Tales, while difficult to readwere definitely amusing. Who doesn’t love a good drunken story? These would have been so much better to listen to though, and it makes me wonder if there’s any Old English bard groups who act them out. That would be neat to have as entertainment in a dark pub some night, or maybe in a place like Universal where fellow nerds flock.

I will say that I’m glad I only had 3 (plus the prologues) to get through. Maybe some day I’ll finish them all, but for now…it was good to keep it short and simple. I can mark it off the list and move on. Out of the three The Wife of Bath was my favorite.

Have you ready any of the Tales? Which was your fave?

Fulfills PopSugar #8:  A Funny Book

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Movin On–Indy to Dallas

We’ve been in Dallas almost three months now. That’s crazy to think about sometimes. I grew up in Indiana, and while I moved gradually from the north down to Indy, I never left the state. And now, we are living so far from home that sometimes it feels like a whole other planet.

There are a bunch of differences between Indiana and Texas, and a lot of similarities too. I meant to write this post sooner, and just kept putting it off. I don’t know why. It just never felt right. Still doesn’t, really.

Here’s some differences:

1. The tap water is never ever cold. This is a huge annoyance to me. I can’t just go get a drink from the faucet, I have to let the pitcher get cold in the fridge before it’s drinkable. I guess because the ground (and in turn the pipes) is warmer?

2. The roads don’t have potholes…just ridges. And mannnnn are they bumpy. They don’t use salt here from what I understand, so they don’t get the big gouges in the asphalt like Indiana does. Over time it just kind of shifts and creases into itself.

3. And speaking of roads….all of the sudden….SEMIs!!!! Funny story with this one. The freeways here are insane. They just build roads on top of roads on top of roads. So when you go on an onramp, you might have another on ramp crossing next to you, with cars coming the opposite direction. If you aren’t expecting it, it can be pretty jarring. One night, we were coming back from the movies, and hit one of these. R was driving, and all of the sudden, there was this semi coming RIGHT AT US. It looked like it was on our bridge. We thought we were going to die. But no, it was on the bridge next to us, but it was so scary. Driving here is taking a bit to get used to.

 

4. Children in bars. This has got to be one of my biggest annoyances. Until 9, children are allowed in bars. So all my favorite hangouts, where I go to be an adult, become family restaurants essentially. Which, on one hand, is great because our best friends have a 1 year old (who is an absolute joy when we go out), so they are able to come out with us more often. On the other, it means that there are 8 year olds running around being idiots while I’m trying to have a peaceful adult evening. For me, there’s a difference between Bar and Family Restaurant.

5. SPEED BUMPS EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

6. There are these things called Frontage Roads that make entering and exiting highways so much easier. Thank you Texas for Frontage Roads.

7. I have trucker arm from sitting by my window in my office. Not even kidding. One of my arms is noticeably frecklier/tanner/sunburnt than the other.

8. Clouds are rare. It may be a little overcast in the morning, but by 10-11 am, it will be completely blue sky. And when it rains, it will rain straight down with very little wind. We had one really big storm with 90 MPH winds, but the air is just so still here.

 

My favorite thing about living in Dallas so far is that there is always something to do. There is always a festival going on–really just about every weekend. R is out of town this weekend, but Untappd is having a beer festival that we would have gone to probably if he was here. We’ve been to a Chipotle festival, there’s a big whiskey tasting coming up. There’s certainly no shortage of restaurants for us to check out. We also live right next door to the Dallas Arboretum, which is a big garden architecture place. I’ve even joined a yoga studio, which is something I’ve never considered doing until we moved here. We live right on a big lake with a walking path all the way around, and though we haven’t researched it yet, I think there are canoe/kayak rentals and stuff like that. There’s also a much bigger reservoir not too far from us.

Also, the people here are super friendly. You can’t go to a grocery store or sit at a bar without someone striking up a conversation with you. For someone who grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone…that’s my honey. I may be an introvert, but I also feel more awkward in social situations if I just sit at a bar and DON’T talk to the bartender, or the person sitting alone next to me. That’s just so weird to me. Because back home…I probably KNEW that bartender or that person sitting next to me. So when the girl in line behind me the other day at Target started laughing because she had a stack full of freezer meals and made fun of herself for being single, of course I chimed in about how not too long ago I was buying exactly the same thing! We were so distracted, the cashier had to cough to get my attention when it was my turn in line! Whoops!

It still doesn’t completely feel like home yet. My apartment does. I love our townhouse, with my office and the porch overlooking the neighborhood. But I’m still getting used to living in Texas. I’m trying to get out more often on my own, and I think once R’s store opens, that will help–we’ll get into a real routine, and I’ll stop by the store on my way back from yoga, like I used to do on my way home from work. We’re getting there. It was a bigger adjustment than I expected it to be, but it hasn’t necessarily been a bad one, just different.

I do really love that there is a taco stand on every block. Thank you lord for TexMex.

Read This Month

I can’t believe tomorrow is already October. We’ve been in Dallas a month and a half, and things are finally starting to cool down. Or…at least as much as Texas cools. The State Fair just opened up, and my lucky husband gets to take a work trip over there today. I’m so jealous! Hopefully we can make it over there soon.

I read a ton of books great books this month. Now that I’ve set a schedule for myself, I’m getting quite a variety again. And I’m allowing myself to ditch books if they aren’t up to par, which I had stopped doing at one point. Gotta stop wasting time. Some books just aren’t blog-worthy.

(Which, on that point. Aaron’s Rod is on the list below, but I’m not going to do a post about it. I got about 65% through it before I had to give it up. Far enough to count it as “read” but I’m not going to bore you guys with a terrible post. Not DH Lawrence’s best work, let’s leave it at that.)

And now, the books!

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Read this month:

Throne of Glass by Sarah Mass

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

Justine by Lawrence Durrell

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

Atlantia by Ally Condie

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (which didn’t make it onto the list in the picture…oops!)

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Aaron’s Rod by DH Lawrence

Can I Live Here?

I am not really a world traveler by nature, but I am a world….liver? That sounds weird.

I could probably live anywhere and be absolutely satisfied. I’m very adaptable. Once I find my niche, I’m happy.

I always said I’d never live in Texas or Florida, it would be waaaaaaaaay too hot for me. And now look at me, it’s actually kind of wonderful down here. And I moved here in August. Of course I hardly ever go outside right now…

Soon. Soon I will be able to go outside.

I always had this dream though of retiring in a beach or lake house. Not in Florida though, somewhere in Massachusetts, or in the woods or mountains somewhere. I want a big deck overlooking water, a boat to float on. I want a comfy chair to read in, a cup of coffee in the mornings, wine at night. Maybe a dog at my feet. Definitely a big floppy hat on my gray head. Yep. That’s what I want.

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But until then, I want to live all over the place. I’m pretty lucky that I can do that.

Goodbye Indianapolis

This morning is finally here. We are all packed (I’m prewriting this blog so the me that is writing this sincerely HOPES that everything gets done in time…) and are pulling out of our parking spots in Fishers IN, next destination Dallas–with a quick stop in Memphis for the night. My cat is most likely crying at the top of her lungs, and my radio is turned up full blast to drown her out.

I’ve been writing this post in my head for weeks. How do I say goodbye to Indy? As much as I have been looking forward to our next chapter, Naptown has become my home for so many wonderful reasons. I couldn’t leave without a tribute post.

For those who follow solely for book reviews…this is not one of those posts. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming soon. For those of you who know me personally…this one is for you.

Indiana has always been my home. I was born here, raised here, and I moved to NE Indianapolis three years ago. Has it really been that long? Hard to believe. As a small town girl, the move to the “big” city was a little overwhelming at first. I had no idea how quickly this city would change my life forever.

Indy is the place where I got my first out of college job. My first foray into the corporate world. No more 20 people businesses. This is a battle through real bureaucracy, constantly changing goals and bosses and coworkers. It’s been both a curse and a blessing, and I have grown so much from working here. I’ve met so many interesting and wonderful people, and thankfully I am able to keep my job as we move across the country.

Living here blessed with me with some of the best friends I have ever had. We are so close we are like sisters sometimes–and if you have to sit next to us at a restaurant on girls night…I’m sorry…we are LOUDDDDDD. Our group has been through hell and back and we fight for each other constantly. Moving away doesn’t change a thing, and I’m so glad I have these girls at my back.

I dated here, I kissed a LOT of frogs here. And finally, I met my prince here, and we got married here. We are both gigantic goofballs, but that is completely ok with us. I could not ask for a better partner to walk through life with. R is my absolute best friend, and we will go through life holding hands walking side by side.  Dallas is just one new adventure of many we will find, I’m sure.

My nephew came into the world here two years ago, and he is one of the great loves of my life. My Little Man is the sweetest, funniest little boy and I can’t wait to watch him grow up…even if it’s from afar. And, shortly after he was born, I met R, and so I met my niece and other nephew, and my life was blessed even further. Being an aunt is one of my favorite parts of life, I gotta say.

I learned about beer here. We will miss the beer culture in Naptown terribly–don’t be surprised if we hit you up for a shipment of Indy craft at some point. You know we are going to miss it!

I learned about baseball here. We had season tickets to the Indy Indians this year and had an absolute blast. Ed and Brendan, who ran our section, were the nicest guys in the worked. And who could forget Beer Mike! There’s no other beer vendor like him. Hopefully, he’ll come visit us in Dallas soon (he has family there), and bring us some Sun King! We even got the honor of ringing the bell after an Indians Victory!

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I became HAPPY here. I learned who I was here, I learned how to be me here. Because of that, Indy is not just a city, a point on a map. Indy is the people, the culture, the environment. To all of you here who made my life what it is now, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. You can never know the size of the impact that you had on my life.

And now, because of all of this, I can move on. So, goodbye Indianapolis. Goodbye, Indiana. I will miss you. But I do not need you to hold me up anymore. I will visit soon. I love you all, so very much.

Rain

I’ve been sitting outside on our balcony as much as possible lately, trying to get used to the sun and heat before we move to Texas. Even though I’m a brunette, I have ginger skin, and my body does not do well in high temperatures. I’m much more a winter bird. But, I am looking forward to the change, and people say Texas is a much drier heat than Indiana, so maybe I’ll get used to it.

We had quite a few storms in the area yesterday, so I stayed inside in my little corner of the couch. And what do you know? Hemingway was writing about rain and storms in the last half of A Farewell to Arms. More on that later today.

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