Monday, March 31, 2014

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

A collection of short essays by Patchett that cover a lot of ground. Marriage, dogs, bookstores, and writing. Rich and interesting.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, with Recipes by Shauna Niequist

"The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved."     --Shauna Niequist

Bread and Wine is a collection of essays about the power of food, family, friends, and community. Niequist writes that it's not about being the perfect hostess or serving impressive food. Rather, it's about creating a space and time for the messiness of life and the comfort of food to bring us all together.

This is a really beautiful book. I'm sad that I finished reading it although I tried to drag it out as long as possible.

Usually, when a book includes recipes, I don't pay so much attention to them because they don't seem that easy or the ingredient list is too long. This time was different. I bookmarked about seven of the recipes in this book. I've already baked the Blueberry Crisp twice! And I'm looking forward to trying out some of the others like Bacon-Wrapped Dates and Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee and Mango Chicken Curry.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Flora and Ulysses: The Iluminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

This is a very silly book about a girl with divorced parents and a super-hero squirrel. Written by the same author as Because of Winn Dixie (one of my favorites!!), I was expecting more, but this was a disappointing story that made little sense.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne Lamott

"As far as I can recall, none of the adults in my life ever once remembered to say, 'Some people have a thick skin and you don't. Your heart is really open and that is going to cause pain, but that is an appropriate response to this world. The cost is high, but the blessing of being compassionate is beyond your wildest dreams. However, you're not going to feel that a lot in seventh grade. Just hang on.'" --Anne Lamott
I previously listened to Stitches as an audio book. I liked it better when I read it. The author read the book on the audio CD and it sounded like Eeyore reading a book. Kinda down and depressing. So reading the book was better.

Lamott tries a bit too hard to be funny so some of the humor comes across as forced. But overall, I like the questions that this book addresses: how do we find hope and kindness in loss? How do we keep going on when there is suffering within us and around us? This book offers some thoughts and some hope.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sensible Shoes: A Story About the Spiritual Journey by Sharon Garlough Brown

I love it when people give me books as presents! I am so used to reading library books that are sometimes stained and smelly that it is a very special treat to read a brand-new book. A friend gave me Sensible Shoes as a birthday present, and for that, I am grateful. What a treat to read not just a new book, but a book with a very tactile-ly pleasant cover!

Sensible Shoes follows four women from very different places in life on their spiritual journeys. This is a great introduction to various spiritual exercises, but as a fiction book, it doesn't work that well. The author uses flashbacks, old letters, journal entries, handouts, and italics to try and fill in the story but it just ends up being a bit clumsy and awkward. Also, the four women never really came alive for me.

Although I finished the book, I can't recommend it. But it was certainly nice to read a new book.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I've been recovering from jet lag for the last ten days or so. It's one of the drawbacks to traveling overseas, but I do love traveling and seeing new places so it's a small price to pay.

It is, however, quite a sad feeling when I wake up at 3am, wide awake and ready to go while it is still dark outside.

With a snoring husband on one side of me and a snoring cat on the other side of me, I didn't want to disturb either of them, so I would read this book. I found out that it's not the best pick for reading in the middle of the night when you can't sleep. It took me into a dark underworld of theft, drugs, and hangovers. And yet, I couldn't stop reading. Until I realized that I should probably read happier fare and save this book for reading in the daylight hours.

Theo Decker is a 13-year-old boy when his mom dies in a museum accident. He then lives with a wealthy family for awhile before moving out to Las Vegas with his father. In Vegas, he meets Boris.

The story takes us into Theo's growing up and moving between the world of antiques and the world of criminal doings. Sometimes those worlds are not so far apart from each other.

I liked this book. The ending offered some redemption and surprises. Recommended, but I don't recommend that you read this during the middle of the night.