Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Night of Baseball and Books

Cracker JackI just realized I never filled everyone in on last week’s book club meeting. Carley and I put on an evening of baseball… literary baseball that is.

We gathered to discuss Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding with mini hotdogs, chicken fingers, sweet potato fries, and cake balls decorated to look like baseballs. Oh, and Crackerjacks! We’re totally authentic.

Food aside, the discussion was a good one. Only about half of us had read the whole book, but we all enjoyed it. At first it seemed there weren’t that many deep issues to delve into, but we managed to find plenty to talk about. One starting point was the question of whether Henry’s first errant throw was the catalyst for everything else that happened. Owen and President Affenlight’s relationship was also a good fodder for discussion.

Overall, I will deem the night a success. Especially because there were leftover cake balls. Now I’m looking forward to finding out what we’re reading next.

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On NOT Improving My Memory

Moonwalking with EinsteinLast week was my first full week listening to my new audiobook Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer. In it Foer explores how our memories work while training for the U.S. Memory competition.

So far, I really like it. Even though it is nonfiction, it’s written almost like a story. I like learning when it seems like I’m not learning.

But even though I am learning, I certainly am not improving my own memory. In fact, in the week that I was listening to Moonwalking With Einstein, I left my work ID badge at the office twice. This is the card that gets me into the building and onto my floor. It’s pretty important so I usually keep good track of it. Before last week, I probably hadn’t left it behind in at least six months.

Apparently the more I listen to information about improving memory, the worse my memory is getting! What does that say about me?

Next Up: I’m So Happy For You

I'm So Happy For YouContrary to its title, I’m only ambivalent about reading Lucinda Rosenfeld’s book I’m So Happy For You. The subtitle, A Novel About Best Friends, sounds promising enough. But after reading the description, these best friends don’t sound like anyone I know.

The publisher summarizes the book, in part, as:

Wendy’s best friend, Daphne, has always been dependably prone to catastrophe. And Wendy has always been there to help. If Daphne veers from suicidal to madly in love, Wendy offers encouragement. But when Daphne is suddenly engaged, pregnant, and decorating a fabulous town house in no time at all, Wendy is…not so happy for her. Caught between wanting to be the best friend she prides herself on being and crippling jealousy of flighty Daphne, Wendy takes things to the extreme, waging a full-scale attack on her best friend-all the while wearing her best, I’m-so-happy-for-you smile-and ends up in way over her head.

So much for best friends.

Normally I don’t read the reader reviews on Amazon, but for some reason this title had me scrolling down the page. The headlines on the visible reviews jumped out at me. “With friends like these… I’d move, change my name, and only make friends with men!” “I’m So Unhappy for Me.” “The Worst Book I have Ever Read.”

So, why am I reading this book? Well for one thing it is on my mom’s list and I will have to get to it eventually. However, I also have to say the bad reviews almost intrigued me. And with most books that have some bad reviews, there are others who really liked it. I guess I will soon find out which camp I fall into.

A Review of Starting Out Sideways

Starting Out SidewaysBefore I started Mockingjay this weekend, I finished Mary E. Mitchell’s Starting Out Sideways. If it seems like I read that quickly, it’s because I did. And I was surprised how much I enjoyed it!

Starting Out Sideways is the story of Roseanna Plow. Her husband has just left her for her best friend and she’s bickering with her mom as usual. But she’s not completely without love. There’s her mentally challenged client Milton who thinks the world of Roseanna, and then there’s grocery store manager Mickey Hamilton who has a crush on her as well. The book confronts relationship problems, illness, and one very big surprise.

I found myself finishing one chapter and having to start the next. I got much more invested in the book than I thought I would. I’m not sure why I had such low expectations. Perhaps it’s because it is one of the last on my mom’s list or because I hadn’t heard anything about it before. Either way, my expectations were exceeded.

Still, I don’t believe Starting Out Sideways is a book I will still be thinking about a week or two down the line. The story and characters kept me hooked, but it isn’t the kind of book that sticks with me for the long haul. But I am happy to take it for what it was – a story I really liked living with all week long.

A Presidents’ Day Full of Reading

MockingjayYesterday was Presidents’ Day and I feel bad I didn’t come around here to wish you all a happy one! It was certainly a good one for me. It capped a weekend of celebrating Maggie’s birthday and I had the day off of work.

But I did still spend the day thinking of presidents. Those presidents just didn’t happen to be Washington or Lincoln. No, instead I had President Coin and President Snow on the brain. That’s because I spent most of Monday on the couch reading Mockingjay, the third book in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. (In case you still don’t understand, President Coin and President Snow are both characters in Mockingjay). Even though I had heard it isn’t as good as the other books in the series, I got sucked in and couldn’t stop reading.

It was also the first time I had tried out the Kindle loaning feature. Andrew “loaned” me Mockingjay through his Amazon account and now I have two weeks to read it before the loan expires. Judging by the number of hours I spent reading it yesterday, I don’t think finishing within two weeks will be a problem.

Starting Starting Out Sideways

Starting Out SidewaysNo, that headline is not a typo. It’s just an announcement that three weeks after choosing Mary E. Mitchell’s Starting Out Sideways to be my next read from my mom’s list, I have actually gotten around to starting it.

I’m only a chapter or two in so I don’t have much to report yet. Though I do already know why the title is what the title is. So that’s progress.

Even though I really want to be reading Mockingjay right now (since Hunger Games is pretty much the topic of 72% of all my conversations these days), it’s for the best that I get back to the list. If my goal is to read the rest of the books this year, I better hop to it.

Next thing you know, I’ll be Finishing Out Sideways. (Yeah, no, that worked better in my head.)

I’m Moonwalking With Einstein

Moonwalking with EinsteinI mentioned the other day that over the weekend I finally finished Anne Sebba’s That Woman on audio. That left me with the decision of what to listen to next. I happened to have access to Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein and I just went with it.

The short version of what the book is about is as follows:

Foer’s unlikely journey from chronically forgetful science journalist to U.S. Memory Champion frames a revelatory exploration of the vast, hidden impact of memory on every aspect of our lives.

The long version is, well, too long to share here, but I think you get the point. It’s an odd choice for me, but I want to read more non-fiction and here’s my opportunity.

Plus, I totally want to know how to remember stuff better. Plus, plus, my new favorite blog Books Are My Boyfriend liked it. And she informed me that Joshua Foer is the younger brother of Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. That is cool. So, here goes nothing.