Wednesday, November 27, 2013

When Someone Dies: The Practical Guide to the Logistics of Death by Scott Taylor Smitth

This author and book was featured on NPR and I listened while I was making some granola. It was a really informative interview about a topic that we tend to stay away from. I checked out the book shortly after and it was not a fun read, but provided some good information.

This book really breaks things down into what needs to be done practically to go through the business of closing out a loved one's life. It includes some helpful check-lists and is written in really accessible language.

The last chapter is about what you, as a still living person, need to do in order to make things easy for those you leave behind.

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (With Recipes) by Luisa Weiss

I mentioned that I noticed myself reading books on Parenting, Death, and Cooking. So here's one that falls under the Cooking category.
Luisa grew up with an Italian mother and American father in Berlin until her parents divorced. She spent some time living with her father in Massachusetts and then more time in Berlin with her mom. She lives in Paris and then New York before heading back to Berlin where she finds love.
A pretty solid book but slow at times. The recipes, especially the German ones, sound tasty but didn't seem easy enough for me to try. I did make a tomato sauce with carrots that she writes about and it made for a pretty tasty dinner.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Embrace the Coming Light: Daily Readings and Prayers for Advent by Eddy Ekmekji and Tyler Watson

I don't know if you observe Advent, the period of time leading up to Christmas, but if you do, I have a book of daily readings for you.

This year, Advent begins on December 1st, so I haven't actually used this book yet, but I am very much looking forward to it. The copy that I ordered arrived last week, and I flipped through it and it looks good. I have a feeling that it will be a good companion during these next weeks.

I must say that I went to college with the gentlemen who wrote this book, so I know that they offer a great combination of heart, wisdom, and thoughtfulness. Plus, all of the proceeds are going toward World Vision's relief efforts in the Philippines.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Breeding in Captivity: One Woman's Unusual Path to Motherhood by Stacy Bolt

The title makes it sound like Bolt and her husband lived in a zoo. Bolt underwent years of fertility treatments, and then decided to pursue adoption. The book is split up equally about the fertility treatments and then the adoption process. Both were grueling and full of ups and downs.

I learned some stuff. Like about all of the online message boards out there providing support for women trying to get pregnant. They sprinkle virtual "baby dust" on each other to wish each other good luck.

A short, compact, and very readable memoir with lots of humor and honesty throughout, this book had me rooting for Bolt and her husband throughout the process. They are seem like very cool and grounded people.

Friday, November 15, 2013

No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood edited by Henriette Mantel

I had just finished checking out some books at the library and was putting them in my backpack. There was a little boy a couple of feet away screaming and swinging on the library check-out ropes.

A librarian said, "Ma'am, ma'am, please control your son!!" I slipped the last book into my backpack and I heard the librarian again say in a very exasperated voice, "Ma'am, ma'am, your son!!" I looked at her and put on my backpack and walked away. It wasn't until I was headed toward the door that I thought, "Oh, she thought that kid was my son!" That did not connect at all.

Hahah. Yes, I guess the boy could have been my son as we were the same ethnicity. Anyway, I looked back and the librarian had realized that I was not the mom, but that this other lady was the mom. And the boy's mom looked at the librarian and exclaimed, "But I don't know what to do!"

Here's a whole book of essays written by women who don't have children by choice or circumstance. Some are funny and some are more serious. An excerpt:

"They [people with children] always want to know if they can bring them [children] when they visit me...I always say 'No' because I don't want to live through another afternoon of: 'Put that down. DOWN. SO how's your...PUT THAT DOWN. What did I just say? Put that down. Is that a new couch or did you...PICK THAT UP. Pick that up right this instant. Pick that UP.'" --Suzy Soro in You'll Never Babysit in This Town (Again)

Amusing and frank. One common thread was that although these writers don't have children of their own, they all mentioned lots of nieces and nephews that they are involved and invested in.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta by Jen Lin-Liu

I liked Lin-Liu's Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China about how she learned to cook in China. She's thoughtful and a great writer.

On the Noodle Road is her second book, and I found it to be less successful. Lin-Liu has started a Beijing cooking school and is now married. She wants to figure out the origin of the noodle. Did it come from China? Or Italy? She decides to follow the Silk Road from China into Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, and ends up in Italy.

Lin-Liu's conversations with women and the descriptions of some of the meals were interesting. However, some of the descriptions were too long and boring and I found myself skimming some pages, especially as the book went on and on and on through its 400 pages.

My biggest complaint about the book is that the "love" part did not work. Lin-Liu tries to make this book into both food writing and memoir, but it just didn't work. Lin-Liu's husband joins her on some legs of the trip so she writes about their travels together. In other chapters, she reflects on their courtship, relationship, and future, but it was just a tie-in that really did not work at all.

Not gonna recommend this one to you, but I will encourage you to read Serve the People if you're looking for something about cooking Chinese food.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Reading Flight Patterns

I've noticed that the books I've read lately fall into three categories: 1) birth/kids/parenting 2) cooking and 3) death.

Does this sum up life?? Well, I guess you don't have to cook. Or have kids.

I'll write about the books I've read in each of these categories in the upcoming weeks. Also, if you have any good recommendations for books in these categories, please let me know.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing by Jeff Goins

"Most growth happens this way: slowly, over time...When it comes to waiting, we have a choice. We can try to bypass the delays to get immediate gratification. Or we can embrace the 'long game' of life and invest those days, months, and years in the slow but intentional growth that leads to lasting change." --Jeff Goins

This book is all about waiting and the times in between those big moments of life which is where real life actually happens if we can pay attention. Goins writes about slowing down and learning to live and enjoy life as it unfolds right now.

This was mostly a memoir with reflections on what Goins has learned. I thought it was an okay book with a good message. Only okay in that the book seemed to lose some cohesion as it went on. But overall, an okay read.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls: Essays, Etc. by David Sedaris

I love exchanging favorite book titles with friends who read. Mia listed David Sedaris as one of her favorite writers, so I checked out his latest book. It's a series of short essays about...well, everything. For example, one essay is about getting a colonoscopy. Another is about the pet turtles he kept as a boy. My favorite essay in this book was titled "#2 to Go" all about China, phlegm, and Chinese food which was disgusting and spot-on.

Overall, I thought this book was hilarious, crass, thoughtful, and sometimes touching. But not recommended if you're easily offended!