Monthly Archives: August 2011

I Survived Hurricane Irene…

Hurricane Irene…and read a lot in the process.

So it may have taken re-booking my flights three times, but I did make it to Florida and (hopefully by the time this post is up) back to New York.

While the traveling part was pretty stressful, I’m glad I came. I got to spend time with my dad and brother, eat good food, and sit in the sun (while back in New York people were hiding from the storm no less). Of course, since I’m writing about it on the blog, you know I also got plenty of reading in.

I won’t tell you too much about the books because they are for work and so won’t come out until next year, but I will mention them again closer to their release date. And, as a sneak peak of those posts, I’ll say I enjoyed them both so that’s good!

Now that I’m home with no travel in the foreseeable future, I’m ready to pick up the hardcover of No One You Know. Looking forward to it!

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Heading to Florida… Hopefully!

It’s a week of wild weather. My first earthquake, a looming hurricane, and more! If Hurricane Irene or the incoming thunderstorms in New York don’t stop me, I’m off to Florida tonight so don’t look for me around these parts. But have no fear, I’ll be back to blogging Monday… or Tuesday… or later if Irene decides to keep me stranded down south.

But nobody likes talking about the weather so let’s talk books. I’m packing ’em in Kindle form plus one very heavy hardcover for my dad. Speaking of packing, I should be doing that instead of doing this. So, on the topic of books, I’ll leave you with this great book trailer for Jane Lynch’s Happy Accidents above. Love her.

So Many Books At Once

Stack of booksI think I’ve discussed my choice to read more than one book at a time, but I can’t seem to find that post so I’m going to talk about it again. In the past, I’ve “read” multiple books at once, but that mostly involved reading a book while listening to an audio. Now I’m attempting to read two books and listen to an audio. At the moment, I’m in the middle of The Emperor of All Maladies, a novel for work, and The Rules of Civility on audio.

So how’s that going for me?

It’s… going. The Book Lady describes it as “book polygamy” and I like the phrase so much I might have to steal it. Just as she explains, I too thought I would have a “system” for tackling all of these books. The audio is mostly for walking to and from work and various other locations. No problem. Then I thought I would read my fiction book in my spare time when I got home from work or on the weekends, while tackling the 600 page behemoth of Emperor of All Maladies with a very manageable 10-20 pages per night before bed. Well, easier said than done.

It turns out reading a book all about cancer right before bed makes me fall asleep. It’s not that The Emperor of All Maladies isn’t really interesting (it is!), it’s just not a topic that can overcome a little sleepiness. So, I’ve tried to change things around. Read a few pages of Emperer of All Maladies earlier in the day and then switch to fiction. Still, I’ve realized the best system to handle this juggling is to have no system. I read what I want when I’m in the mood. If that means I put down fiction for a few days before coming back to it and ignoring non-fiction so be it. They will all get done eventually. And fortunately, it’s hard to mix up what’s going on in a biography of cancer with the plot of a novel so things are staying nice and separate.

Anyone else out there as crazy as me and reading more than one book at a time?

Next Up: No One You Know

No One You KnowDon’t you just love when timing works out perfectly?

Here I was sitting on my couch, watching the Hurricane Irene coverage obsessively on The Weather Channel (of course it’s the weekend I’m supposed to go to Florida) and trying to decide what to read next from my mom’s list, when Andrew asked me if I had picked up my package downstairs. I had no idea I’d received a package and I certainly wasn’t expecting one. After much speculation, Andrew was nice enough to climb all four flights of stairs down and then back up again to pick it up for me.

It was a hardcover copy of No One You Know by Michelle Richmond… from Michelle Richmond!

Now to rewind to December 23, 2010. Michelle Richmond found my blog and emailed me. It was a sweet note complimenting my blog and offering to send me a copy of her book. I thanked her and gave her my address. Then came the holidays and we both must have completely forgotten about the exchange. I know I did.

Until eight months later when No One You Know arrived unannounced. I’m still so pleasantly surprised! Michelle even signed the book, writing “To Samantha – In honor of your mother, Robin. Affectionately, Michelle Richmond.” I cannot fully express how appreciative I am of this so completely nice gift.

And now I don’t have to choose what to read next. It chose me! No One You Know, here I come.

A Review of The Bill From My Father

The Bill From My FatherAbout a week ago, I told you to stay tuned to see whether The Bill from My Father was one of the memoirs that would stand out for me. I unfortunately must report that it is not.

I think I have memoir fatigue. I’ve read so many from my mom’s list and beyond that it now takes something special for a memoir to capture my attention. The Bill from My Father did not have that something special.

Bernard Cooper’s book revolves around his dad Edward. We are to believe he is a stubborn yet charming man. Much more of the stubbornness comes through, though, than the charm. That’s not to say Edward isn’t a complicated and interesting man. He is and I can see why his son would be so taken with the enigma that is his father. However, as someone not related, I found it less captivating. Edward came across as elusive, but also mostly as an obstinate, crotchety old man. (I’ve always wanted to use the words crotchety!)

I feel for Bernard and his lifelong attempt to understand and connect with his father. He writes about his life and the lives of his family with such eloquence. And some moments do shine. When, as the title implies, Edward sends Bernard a bill for his childhood totaling $2 million dollars, you have to enjoy the eccentricity. There just wasn’t enough of those moments to make me enjoy the book as a whole.

Since this is someone’s real life, though, I feel so bad saying that. I’m not criticizing the life, but rather the entertainment value.

Go Bananas!

BananagramsThis post isn’t about reading, but it is about words. And not just words, but competitive words. Bananagrams! For those that think I may have just started speaking gibberish, I assure you this is a real thing. It’s a game that’s a combination of Scrabble and make-your-own crossword puzzle with a speed element mixed in. And it comes in a banana!

I come from a family of word game players. There’s Scrabble and Boggle in my lineage. I will soon introduce my dad and brother to Bananagrams. I think my mom would have really liked it. Minus the speed factor. She didn’t like having to play games involving speed.

Bananagrams is a favorite around here. I received it as a gift and I’ve given it as a gift. Some Bananagrams sessions with Andrew have gotten pretty cutthroat.

I’m exposing this side of my dorkdom because I was so surprised (and excited) to see that NPR was covering Bananagrams today in a story called “The Addictive Appeal of Bananagrams.” The piece profiles the invention of a game that’s doing really well despite a struggling economy. Of course, the comments are full of people saying their family “invented” this game too just minus the marketing and banana pouch. But, I have to say, I like the banana pouch.

Emperor of All Maladies Is On

So, while killing time before book club the other day, I decided to make a big purchase. I don’t mean big as in expensive… I mean big as in big. Like 600 pages big.

I had read that The Emperor of All Maladies recently came out on paperback and I was determined to finally take the plunge. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book is a biography of cancer and, while that may not sound thrilling for most, it won the Pulitzer Prize and the online buzz has been amazing.

Now the question is how and when I will fit in this 600 page non-fiction title. My goal at the moment is to read 10-20 pages a day. At that rate, I’ll be done in less than two months. Simultaneously I’ll be reading The Bill From My Father and listening to Rules of Civility. Piece of cake.