July 13, 2013

discomfort reads


- We moved in completely. Nearly every artifact that was stored in this loft, in wrapped in ancient newspapers and nested in dusty cartons, has been discarded. I am as sentimental a fool as any, but something in me has ... shifted? ... enabling me to discard so many things I never dreamed I'd be able to chuck into a dumpster. Things that I know were precious to my mother, things I loved when I was a child, things my brother made when he was in preschool. We've kept the most important things of course, but we purged to make room for the future. It was sad but it did not break my heart. This surprised and worried me at first ... but I remind myself, we carry her in our hearts, not in these moldy boxes. She would approve. God, I hope she'd approve.

I kept the books. And some stupid things I found like a "Sand Breeding Kit" that was no doubt a gag gift to one of my parents from their friends, back in simpler times. And some things that I will keep forever, or at least until the next shift, like the shoeboxes of old 35 mm slides and the Christmas ornaments that used to scare me.

- Thought I'd devour Wild by Cheryl Strayed as quick as I did A Walk in the Woods, but find myself picking it up maybe once a week. I am enjoying it, though, and I know I'll finish.

- Hit the 2013 FOTL book sale last month. Scott bought more books than I did. So. Weird. I bought nothing of note.

- Currently reading with much fascination The Wave by Susan Casey. I bought it because I wanted to be able to talk to my husband about surfing and the ocean, which he loves, but now that he is deep into his new (and what I believe to be a deeper, truer) love - hunting - I am just reading it to read it. I am deathly afraid of the open ocean and a good portion of my nightmares involve large waves or being forced onto a boat. Reading this book is like going to the zoo and standing behind the glass while an aggressive lion paces back and forth. You know you're safe but it's still a thrill.

- I just finished The Bright Forever by Lee Martin. Reminiscent of The Lovely Bones, and don't worry, that doesn't really spoil anything. You'll know what happened to the kid from the get-go. The juice is of course the who and why. It's written with the easy prose that is the only kind I can digest in large chunks these days. Which is not to say it's trash, like so many things I read (on purpose, because trash is so easy to read, and I don't even pretend to feel bad anymore about seeking out Easy.) It's a compelling story and even as the protagonist/antagonist is giving you the heebs, you never feel too far above or separate from him. (He does invite you to, though, by suggesting that if you can't handle hard truths, you turn away or put down the book.)

Some stories you have to wash down with Archie Comics or a Golden Girls marathon, and this would be one of them.

Here's hoping I don't go another year without reading something worth writing about.

Ta ...

December 30, 2011

comfort reads

To close out 2011, I made myself read The Descendants (and in a short-sighted attempt to get my Dad out of the house, invited him to watch the movie - thank God he declined), and even took a few bites out of We Need to Talk About Kevin before throwing in the literary towel and hitting the '90s young adult trash - hard. Scott and I moved in upstairs as soon as my mom got back from the hospital, and lo - musty, dusty boxes filled with SVH books still haunt the corners of the room that went from guest mini-suite to kids' playroom to storage room to guestroom again. I dug the Wakefield twins out of their dusty YA grave, borrowed a flashlight, and that's how I've been getting to sleep these past few bewildering weeks, when the last hours of each day leave a person with not much more to think about than the sadness behind you and the tough days ahead. I've said it before and I'll say it again ... there is no salve like the salve of Sweet Valley. Each installment is like marshmallows floating in your cocoa. Small, puffy, easily swallowed, and forgettable.

Last night's pick: Super Star #1: Lila's Story. SIAS: Spoiled daughter of an old-money tycoon stops her father's ill-fated wedding to a social climbing b*tch, falling in and out of love with a typical Sweet Valley jerk along the way. I drifted off to sleep wondering - 1) How did an idiot like George Fowler manage to stay so wealthy? and 2) Did I ever believe these stories were remotely plausible? ... but really, that's the point of this junk binge. Right now I'm choosing books that let me escape. The Descendants was wonderful, but it was too familiar - nitty gritty Hawaii, from the ocean to Queen's Hospital. Two surly kids and a grieving husband. I am glad I read it - it was like submerging myself into icy morning North Shore water - a cutting, deep cold, a feeling you can't ignore - but with relief afterwards I turned back to the shallow warmth of Calico Drive and the pleasantly simple problems of pleasantly simpleminded teenagers.

The ever-fabulous Vickie gifted me with my very own Kindle(!!!) this Christmas, and thoughtfully loaded it with SVH and the millenium's answer to it - Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries, etc. - I am set! Cub's ecstatic - he has always thought I should own a Kindle, so marvelously earth-friendly - and friendlier still toward this space-challenged couple and our humble, cluttered abode. I did warn him that e-reader ownership doesn't eliminate the need for page-turning action and/or bookstore smell. But now maybe I can part with some of my old volumes. Still a victory, in his eyes.

Hopefully soon I'll dig myself out from under the soft, fluffy rubble and pick up We Need to Talk About Kevin again. Or finish the Hunger Games trilogy - I left off at the beginning of Catching Fire. For now, though, I'm totally content to hide out in Sweet Valley ... hopefully all the literary cotton candy I'm consuming won't rot my mind too badly.

June 3, 2011

Summer 2011

Of my eleventy-thousand blogs, Three Sided Sophie is by far the most neglected. Work, home stuff, short attention span, a perverse fascination with Farmville, plus a ton more excuses as to why I can't sit down and finish a book (or on the off chance that I do finish one, I can't take five minutes to blog about the momentous occasion and/or the book I just finished.)

In summers past I've been so determined to finish a diverse list of books ... and never have. This summer I have no determination but oh my gosh, I have the one thing I've been lacking for months. I don't know where it came from but it came back - A DESIRE TO READ (things other than teacher editions of basal readers, the latest research on special education, and food labels, I should clarify.)

I just finished a book most people read for the first time in 5th or 6th grade - The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I have to admit that I didn't follow the plot, clues or characters that closely, and aside from figuring out the "America the Beautiful" connection with the first set of clues (although I'm sure pretty much everyone does, so I can't feel too smart about that), I didn't even attempt to figure out the culprit and/or heir. But I like the feel of old-fashioned murder mysteries, so that was an easy start to my summer reading.

Making my way through The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity by Jill Lepore, and The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War by Fred Anderson, so that I have a better understanding of the "side wars" that are given pretty much less than a page apiece in the American History textbook I teach out of for Social Studies. Dry and dense, like ... I don't know, some unspoilable provisions Revolutionary War soldiers would have packed for a long journey on foot?

Today I started and will probably finish Uncharted Territori by Tori Spelling. (The key to actually finishing books this summer may be just letting myself read anything and everything I feel like reading, instead of succumbing to guilt and shame. This also means if the month's Cosmo is more enticing than Harper's Bazaar, I should really learn to admit that I don't always buy magazines for the articles ...)

Even though I have a hard time with anything by a British author who isn't Nick Hornby, I'm currently very obsessed with Anne Hathaway so I decided I have to read One Day by David Nicholls. Also, I have Still Missing by Chevy Stevens but am not positive I want to read it since the first page I randomly flipped to had the protagonist sinking an axe into the back of her captor's head.

That's it for now - thank goodness for the rain today. Yay Tori Spelling!

July 22, 2009

'ere, chicky chicky

You know that feeling you get (or ... plethora of feelings you get) after you've had too many lychee martinis or mango margaritas? After a decadent trip to the Bay Area and exactly four late-night chick-lit binges (plus one for the road - or, as it were, sky), I feel familiar hangover pangs and a need to plunge back into the cold, cold waters of Amy and Isabelle, which is what I left off reading before my trip.

The first night, it was Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed, because my hotel room freaked me out and I needed some distraction. I had brought my standbys, and The Woman at the Washington Zoo and A Wrinkle in Time for the plane (I find them really good for settling nerves) but neither was doing the trick for the creepy hotel room. So after I picked up dinner from a Powell Street diner, I went to the Borders at Union Square and grabbed Something Borrowed along with Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger. (The latter actually mentions Emily Giffin's Borrowed and its follow-up, Something Blue, which is sort of neat.)

Despite two thousand and one cliches in Something Borrowed, the story did take my mind off the room. SIAS: Goody-two-shoes snakes BFF's fiance (whom everyone knows is wrong for her from page 2 on). One thing that annoys me about the few chick-lit examples I've frolicked in is that everyone has a name like Rachel, Samantha or Marnie, and all the stories take place in Manhattan, and all feature a prodigal daughter who wants her parents to leave her alone - until she is spurned by the real/corporate/chauvinistic world and goes crying to her mom. They hate their jobs, their bosses hate them, and the only way to get through each workweek is to drink too much on Friday night and/or take the jitney to the Hamptons on Saturday. Invariably, someone gets pregnant or dumped or perhaps both, and in the end, someone gets the guy (or a guy), or gets a much better job, and no one gets the swift kick in the pants they so desperately need.

I generalize. But so do they. Also, I realize that to get a broader, fairer view of this genre, I'd have to read more titles. A task which, after I finish Something Blue, Love the One You're With, and Confessions of a Shopaholic, I am unlikely to focus on.

Anyway, I didn't mean to crap all over chick-lit in general - the indulgence did save me from staring wide-eyed at the ceiling till I fell asleep, and I did go back for more at the airport bookstore. Also, I picked up Amanda Eyre Ward's Love Stories in this Town from City Lights (the closest thing to chick-lit they had was Amy Tan, and I'm positive they only carry her for her homages to the city) and read it over a tuna melt and mixed green salad on Sunday in a cafe whose name I can't remember along a street I can't remember either. I remember the stories, though. I tried to consume them in one sitting - and therein lay my mistake. Once the mini-plot to each story went down, all I was left with was the essence of sadness. Most of the stories are about loss or despair about never having had in the first place. Because of my state of mind on this trip, it was back to Emily Giffin that evening.

All told, I got to know Giffin and Weisberger (read The Devil Wears Prada in Vegas last summer, come to think), peeked at Sophie Kinsella (Confessions of a Shopaholic), and inhaled some Jane Green (Babyville). Got home to find The Reader in the mailbox, which I am excited about, and which reminds me that I should start posting chick-lit titles immediately. They seem to be snapped up really quick on PBS.

June 23, 2009

annual treasurehunt report

Friends of the Library Booksale, 2009:

I'm sure they do all right, and I'm sure stifling heat is part of the FOTL tradition, but this booksale would rake in b'zillions more if they'd find some way to get air conditioning for the McKinley High School cafeteria. I brought a cardboard box but could have stuffed my meager (and mostly halfhearted, might I mention) purchases in my handbag. (Which is kind of a big handbag, but still, I am making a point.)

Got a few more days to decide if I want to go back. Can't hold out till the last day, when everything will be cheaper, because this coming weekend's (Not Our) WEDDING WEEKEND! Woo hoo for Tami and Roger! Anyway, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are still open. Probably should not go back. Although we are soon going to be the PROUD new owners of a hand-me-down bookshelf from Cub's sister. I'm insanely excited. Cub, a little less so.

1) Bought Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Living to Tell the Tale. A dollar fifty. Liking it so far. Kind of distressed that this is just one of three installments of his autobiography, though.

2) The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Two dollars. This, along with the Marquez, was something I vascillated on for awhile but decided to go ahead and buy it because it was inscribed. I am drawn to books with pasts. I feel so sad when I find a book that was given as a gift at a garage or rummage sale. When you give someone a book, you're either taking a huge risk and putting your heart out on a limb - giving the book because you loved it and/or hope the recipient will love it too - or you just don't give a crap. Inscribed discarded books tell me that a heartfelt effort was spurned and the book needs a loving home. Do not tell my husband I think this way and that that's part of the reason a good number of books live on our shelves. He thinks I'm crazy enough as it is.

3) Paid two measly bucks for new-looking copy of blogger-journalist Rebecca Eckler's 2004 pregnancy memoir Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother-to-Be. And I want a refund. If Eckler's self-portrait is accurate, she was for nine months a ridiculous, self-absorbed ball of misery whose every self-centered whine* probably made her nameless fiance so very glad theirs was a long-distance relationship. She's so determined not to let pregnancy and motherhood change her life that for more than 300 pages she brags about her daily french fry and Big Mac consumption, and smokes cigarettes. Somewhere in the second trimester I think it is, she acquires a weird sort-of boyfriend who fills the void in her life that should have been filled by the guy who made this all possible, the nameless fiance.

*Not talking about her references to morning sickness or the assorted aches and pains that come with pregnancy. Talking about her incessant whining about being fat. 1) News flash: Growing a kid in your uterus makes you appear fat. Even though Eckler didn't plan her pregnancy, surely she knew that much? 2) Eating fries and Big Macs every day of your pregnancy will not make you appear fat. It will make you fat.

Kind of want to sneak the book back into the booksale or maybe ask for a trade. Ha.

Grabbed a few others as well, maybe TBB later.

Might hit up the sale again sometime this week. Wasn't really feeling it last time ... that's why I ended up rescuing orphan Christmas gifts instead of squealing with joy over truly awesome finds like last year.

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