Category Archives: Books

Reading List Triage

So let’s talk about the library.  You know that thing where you put a bunch of books on your holds list and you wait for them to trickle in, one by one?

Well.  About that thing.  Over the course of the last week and a half, I’ve found seven books stacked on my table.   Which means that I am now doing reading list triage.  We’ll see what ends up surviving this round.

Tragically Dorky Fun Secret: I brought two books to work today, that way I would have lunchtime reading options.

But we all know I do not write about the books that I am about to read.  I tell you about the books that I have finished.  In case this does not become readily apparent, this is by far the most eclectic potpourri of books I could have possibly chosen to read in the last month or so.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places

World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

The Gifts of Imperfection

I Thought it was Just Me (But it Isn’t) by Brené Brown

I thought it was just me

What have you been reading lately?

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Checking Out Again.

Hah!  Not like that.  But I just couldn’t resist the title.  It was Too Good.

Like I said a month and a half ago, I have hopped straightaway back on the reading party-train. Cancelled the magazine subscriptions I was no longer keeping up with.  Paid off my library fines.  Actioned a new “holds” list.  Or as I like to think of it, My Queue.  It’s cool to have a books queue, right?

Suffice it to say that those weeks have brought a rather eclectic potpourri of reading materials into our house.

Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Superfreakonomics

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

eleanor & park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

The Alchemist

Inferno by Dan Brown

Inferno

What have you been reading lately?

Overdue

Y’all.  It has been absolutely FOREVER since we have done a Book Club-style beat down.  I’ve been a terrible book reader this year.  This seems to come and go in phases – either I am reading Every Book Known To Man or I am reading Absolutely Nothing At All.

Anyway, we’ll lead off with the book that kickstarted my reading books instead of magazines habit once more (translation: got me to pay off my damn library fine).  Since it has been just ages since I read some of the stuff that’s popping up here, what I will say about all of it is that this batch of books?  Were a fascinating read.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Cooked by Michael Pollan

Cooked

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me

true colors by Kristin Hannah

true colors

Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch

Girls in Trucks

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

How to Be A Woman

Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden

Escape from Camp 14

And, because y’all know that I couldn’t forget, our book list.

The Millenium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson
The Glass Castle
Anything by Chelsea Handler (I’ve read My Horizontal Life – it’s good, but if you loved I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, you’ll find it tame)
The Joy Luck Club (Tawny, I somehow managed to escape reading this one in H.S.!)
Anything by David Sedaris
Water for Elephants (Back in my book-club days I read this one – highly recommend)
Life of Pi
All Creatures Great and Small
The Gun Seller
Room
Unbearable Lightness
Immortal Life
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Sherlock Holmes (collection)
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (series)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (I love this book SO hard.)
Other People’s Love Letters
Bitter is the New Black
Slave
Not Ready for Mom Jeans
Madras on Rainy Days
Good Girls Don’t Get Fat
Here on Earth
A Thread of Grace
Outlander (series)
Under the Banner of Heaven
Lolita in Tehran
The Pact
A People’s History of the United States
Stori Telling
Cleaving
Julie and Julia
The Three Musketeers
The Lady and The Unicorn (along with anything else by Tracy Chevalier)
Beachglass
The Persian Pickle Club
Seaglass
Light on Snow
Two Kisses for Maddy
The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
The Space Between Us
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Tipping Point
Blink
Outliers
Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West
My Life in France

Columbine
Sing me Home

One Day
Matters of the Heart
We
Moscow to the End of the Line
Girls in White Dresses
World War Z
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
The Devil in the White City
The Bean Trees
Arcadia
The Corrections
The Dovekeepers
50/50

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

The Good Father

Home to Holly Springs
The Fault of Our Stars

What have you picked up lately that you cannot put down?

Workshopping

All: Mercury is in retrograde.  

So if you’re trying to figure out why every day is uphill, or like me you’re having vivid dreams featuring honeybee hives and mobsters, there’s your answer.  Y’all know that I casually dabble in astrology when the time is right and after last night’s dream along with a text from a sorority sister informing me that she dreamed I had twins, it was just time.  According to Meredith, it rolls out on the 26th, so let’s all just keep going until then.

Anyway, no, I haven’t dropped off the grid.  While we were cooking dinner, Marcus observed that it had been a few days since I posted and I told him that part of it was because I don’t really feel like I have anything to say right now, and other part largely has to do with the fact that over the last five days (Thursday – Monday) I was up to my ears in visiting with girlfriends.  Birthday-ing, Running, Friendsgiving-ing, Passing out during My Big Fat Greek Wedding-ing.  You know the drill.

It’s unseasonably warm here right now.  Even though I don’t even know if you can really say that anymore, since I’m pretty sure that it was just as warm here last year at this time.  But I’m not complaining.  Because if a large swath of Minnesota winter is dominated by temperatures hovering around or above freezing (this week’s theme is 50s and 60s), I am SO DOWN.  I will embrace brown winter for the rest of my life.

Since it’s so warm, the geese have returned.

No I cannot make any sense of this either.  But it makes me so 11/10 happy.  Yes, I have more snaps to share on the days where my bottomless well of content runs dry.  I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that’s better or worse than my cat lady blogging.

Meanwhile, tonight I finished the book, I am Forbidden, by Anouk Markovits.

On the couch in the living room.  Because after dinner, that’s what I really wanted to do.  And no, I haven’t been reading a lot lately either, so it was all sorts of soul-filling.

I think Sue, my Mother-in-Law recommended this one to me.  It was extremely painful and very beautiful.  It flew by.

What have y’all been up to for the past few days?

Some Light Reading

Right now, the basket of books beneath our coffee table is full to overflowing.  So don’t you worry about me.  I’ve got thousands of pages yet to go. ;)

How I’ve managed to opine on these books without giving any real plot points away is somewhat beyond me, but I guess that’s just how we’re weaving the web, this go-round.

bloom by Kelle Hampton

I believe I heard about this story because it was making the rounds in the blogging community.  Kelle is actually a blogger.  bloom is the story of how she unexpectedly gave birth to a daughter with Down Syndrome.

Kelle’s also quite the photographer so the book is absolutely loaded with glossy photos of her beautiful family in every stage of life.

Innocent Spouse by Carol Ross Joynt

This book was recommended to me by a co-worker who thought I would find the concept of “Innocent Spouse” protection in our tax code to be fascinating.

For all of you who are never going to read this, it means that if your spouse is being investigated for fraud, if you really, truly had no clue that the fraud was going on, you may be eligible to claim you were an “Innocent Spouse.”

So that part, to his credit, was actually interesting.

The other half of the Innocent Spouse plot (it’s a true story) is that Carol didn’t know that her husband was being investigated by the IRS until after he unexpectedly passed away.

Surprise.

That tidbit aside, the author is a privileged whiner.  I find it extremely hard to believe that she truly was an innocent spouse (how anyone could be that clueless about their standard of living is beyond me) and there were SO many points in her story where she could have just tagged out (after her late husband’s death) and yet she didn’t.

Spare us.

home front by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah.  Your go-to gal if you’ve got an urge to read at least 300 pages and be rewarded for your efforts with the kind of sobbing you reserve for family members with terminal illness.

I wish I was kidding.

But really, I’m not.  You would think that I would have learned my lesson after the firefly lane debacle of 2011.  Mais, non.

And apparently Kristin is a prolific writer of things.  So we can keep this gravy train going for a long while.   As long as I’ve got a thing for girlfriend/sisterhood stories and sadness, that is.

Buster Midnight’s Cafe by Sandra Dallas

I think the best way to describe the body of Sandra Dallas’ work would be “bucolic.”  Or as something your grandmother might read.

They’re sweet enough stories about friendship and loyalty, but in the most PG, Little House on the Prairie-sort of ways.

Except that’s selling Little House on the Prairie extremely short.

On the bright side, I don’t know that I’ve ever read a story set in Butte, Montana before.  So she has that going for her.

The as-promised list…

The Millenium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson
The Glass Castle
Anything by Chelsea Handler (I’ve read My Horizontal Life – it’s good, but if you loved I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, you’ll find it tame)
The Joy Luck Club (Tawny, I somehow managed to escape reading this one in H.S.!)
Anything by David Sedaris
Water for Elephants (Back in my book-club days I read this one – highly recommend)
Life of Pi
All Creatures Great and Small
The Gun Seller
Room
Unbearable Lightness
Immortal Life
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Sherlock Holmes (collection)
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (series)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (I love this book SO hard.)
Other People’s Love Letters
Bitter is the New Black
Slave
Not Ready for Mom Jeans
Madras on Rainy Days
Good Girls Don’t Get Fat
Here on Earth
A Thread of Grace
Outlander (series)
Under the Banner of Heaven
Lolita in Tehran
The Pact
A People’s History of the United States
Stori Telling
Cleaving
Julie and Julia
The Three Musketeers
The Lady and The Unicorn (along with anything else by Tracy Chevalier)
Beachglass
The Persian Pickle Club
Seaglass
Light on Snow
Two Kisses for Maddy
The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
The Space Between Us
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Tipping Point
Blink
Outliers
Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West
My Life in France

Columbine
Sing me Home

One Day
Matters of the Heart
We
Moscow to the End of the Line
Girls in White Dresses
World War Z
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
The Devil in the White City
The Bean Trees
Arcadia
The Corrections
The Dovekeepers
50/50

What are you reading right now and what are you loving?  GO.

Getting it Done: Book Club

Kittens, it’s been forever since we have done book club.  So let’s get it done and party-on.  We’re not doing book reports or even annotated bibliographies ’round these parts.  Just fast and dirty.
Food
The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan
Every Twelve Seconds by Timothy Pachirat
The End of Overeating by Dr. David Kessler
Or to summarize, read ALL of them.
Memoir/Documentary-ish
Read My Hips by Kim Brittingham
I haven’t read a ton about fat acceptance, and it was nice to be able to read about it from a first-hand perspective.  I do think that the way we treat people who are overweight or obese in America is shameful.  I do believe that you can be healthy at any size.  All of that being said, I do not believe that morbid obesity is an acceptable permanent state for anyone.
Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
If you’re Jewish you need to read this.  Period.  The blinders are coming off.
Our Black Year by Maggie Anderson
I learned so much about the flow of money through communities and the high social cost of entrepreneurship that I never thought I would know (needed or otherwise).  Ever.  What the Andersons chronicled here is valuable knowledge for everyone.
Fiction
Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
This was everything I was hoping to find in I Was Told There’d Be Cake.  I wish this book would have been twice its size.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
I don’t usually go for The Fiction, but this was a wonderful read.
The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosenay
This was terrible.  I thought it was hard to get into Sarah’s Key.  There is no point where you ever get into this book.  It’s like one, long, giant introduction.  And by the time it ends, you’re STILL NOT TO THE BEGINNING YET.  If you’re into blogs where people allude to things without ever saying them or Vaguebooking, then you might like this.  Might.
Athletic
A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington
Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek
Do them both.  I still don’t know what list I was reading that compelled me to put these stories on my holds list, but they were inspiring and perspective giving.
What have YOU been reading lately?  I’ll post The List next go-round!

Day 5

Last week, before we set out for Illinois, I found out that the copy of A Life Without Limits that I had put on my holds list had come in.

The funny part about that was the fact that I didn’t remember putting it there or even what it was meant to be about.

In case you actually cared to know, it’s the autobiography of four-time Ironman World Champion, Chrissie Wellington.

In terms of things that The Universe could have put in front of me at this point in time, this book was pretty much perfect.  There was a lot of really good stuff in there about competition, distance and using your mental game to guide your physical one.  All of it relevant and needed at a time where I am so struggling to Trust In The Process.

But as I neared the end of her story (for now), she detailed the stories of endurance athletes that had inspired them because of their commitment to get to the starting line despite amputations, the ravages of chronic disease and terminal illness.  One line from John Blais really hit home with me:

Understand that this is not a dress rehearsal.

THIS.  IS NOT.  A DRESS REHEARSAL.

That’s a pretty full-frontal statement to me.

18 weeks of training is not a dress rehearsal.  It is The Journey.  That we happen to finish it with The Longest Run is purely circumstance.

I’m very lucky to have had nearly 12 weeks of near-ideal training.  And for the roughly 6 weeks where I’ve been ready to go all 127 Hours on the lower half of my body, I’ve been lucky to have access to the medical and physical resources I’ve required to be able to continue through my training, albeit a bit differently.

So.  This is not a dress rehearsal.

There is no hurry up and wait-ing to be done, because today is the only thing we’re promised.  Of the many things that running has taught me, it has made several things very apparent to me:

There is  NO Perfect Time.

If you do not Do Now, no one else will do it for you.

Everything is fluid, including the ground you run on.

You must live ferociously and presently.

I need to remember that Saturday isn’t The Final Exam, it’s The Graduation Party.

On that note, let’s talk The Running Pack in the Sky for a moment, shall we?

For those of you who are new to the group,  I run alone.  I actually have plans to run significant portions of 20-26 on race day with friends, but what I am meaning to say is that I registered for Grandma’s Marathon on my own.  The Running Pack in the Sky was borne out of the idea that when I was gearing up to get going for Twin Cities Marathon, I realized that even though I would be running alone on the course, that didn’t mean that I couldn’t run with other people remotely.

AKA Run Together As One.

So, what I’m meaning to say is: If you would like to join-up with The Running Pack in the Sky, sign-up is now in the comments section.  On Saturday June 16th, the gun goes off at 7:45 AM CST.  I’m planning on pulling into the finish line at some point before 1:00 PM CST.  I am asking you to commit (in advance and by specifying what time you’ll be at it) to run at least a mile with me during the marathon.

What that really means: While I’m out on the course, at any given point in time, I can look down in my watch and know that I am never alone out there.  And, having tested this out last fall, I can tell you that it was extremely encouraging to know exactly who was with me.

Yes, I know there are a few of you who are saying, But Kat, I can’t run because of X physical problem.  If you have physical issues that preclude you from the act of running, just sign up anyway and don’t tell me that you’re not actually running.

Running Pack in The Sky: Who is in?

Another Round

Yesterday we workshopped purses, and today, we get in-touch with our intellectual sides.

Books: I read them.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Can we talk about how much I loved this book?  Because I am seriously considering buying it.

It spoke to my soul.

After finishing the last page, I was absolutely ready to plant my fields and live off of my acreage.  Except for that small detail where life on the Tundra is not as generous to agriculture as Appalachia is.

It makes me count my blessings to know that not three miles from our house is a family farm that we visit weekly during the summer to get our produce.  They don’t offer a CSA program (it’s really unnecessary), but I am contemplating calling the owners to see if we can just put in some sort of weekly order.

I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

This.  Is a compilation of essays.  What actually happened between the covers, I couldn’t really begin to tell you.  It’s fairly nondescript as far as stories go.

It’s great that they compared Sloane to Sedaris.  But the two are not even remotely related.  Yes, there were a few laugh out loud moments, but nothing that will ever come close to The Santaland Diaries.

On second thought, probably read those instead.

Columbine by Dave Cullen

I have no idea who told me to read this.  Because really, who tells anyone to read anything about Columbine?

I take that back, on our run today, I actually told Brady that she would find it to be interesting.

So maybe I am that person.

Dave Cullen was one of the journalists who covered Columbine and the volume he produced analyzing the killers, their families, the community and the coverage was outright overwhelming.

I don’t want to say that everyone needs to read this, because everyone really doesn’t.  It’s heavy.  It’s dark.  There is no redemption.

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

Eric Larson also wrote The Devil in the White City. Which I reserved, checked out and ended up having to return without reading because I didn’t have the time and I was starting to get fined.

Someday.

Anyway, what I didn’t know is that this book was going to be about the American Ambassador to Germany (and his family) on the eve of WWII.  It’s narrative non-fiction and provides major insight into (the not-so-positive) American attitudes and opinions during that brief period of time.

If you like non-fiction, history and/or historical fiction, you would probably be able to get into this.

What have you been reading lately?

I’ll update our reading list next go-round!

Falling Behind

So, here’s the thing.

When the weather gets warmer, I stop running inside.  Because spending time on the treadmill is a waste when the sun is in the sky and there are tank tops to be worn.

As a result, I have 15 shows hanging out on my DVR.

Fine.  I can take that.

I’ll get around to them someday.

Or maybe they’ll just get deleted and sent to The Big DVR In The Sky.

It happens.

Because how many cooking shows does one girl need to watch, really?

When the situation becomes unmanageable: I’m beyond behind on my magazines.  By that, I mean I’m three months (AKA 12 issues) behind.  Because when we went to Napa, I ended up napping on the plane instead of reading.

I had priorities, I guess.

Apparently my priority is not finding out that neon, tribal and Halston-esque pleats are “in” for Spring/Summer 2012.

Talk about terrible discoveries I made last week as I was browsing at The West End.

I am surrounded by clothes and there is NOTHING to wear.

And last but not least, if I’m not reading my magazines, it’s because I have real, physical books to enjoy.

Y’all know me, saying no to Kindles and yes to real pages.

Which is great, except for the small detail where my “holds” list at the library has been raining cats and dogs.

To quantify: I have six books hanging out in my reading box.

Where does it ever end?

Are you behind on your DVR/reading materials?

The Last Page

Even though I am continually falling behind on my magazines, the reading continues.  What I realized a few weeks ago, is that I read some pretty interesting stuff.  Which isn’t to say that I’m some sort of book-purist who avoids total crap (just wait until you see what pops up next round).  But more often than not, when I turn the last page, I do so knowing that I actually learned something.

That’s a really nice feeling.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentices by Lisa Abend

I never thought I would describe the experience of finishing a book to reading a documentary.  But that’s exactly what this was.

If money were not an object and el bulli was still open and running, I would toss our names into the hat and book plane tickets in a heartbeat.

But money is an object and the el bulli that exists within these pages does not exist any longer.  So what Abend managed to capture was positively transporting.

It was the perfect book to read before our pilgrimage to Travail and our trip to Napa because it reached into an area of food production and restaurant service that I had never given more than a passing thought to.  A life that most all of us will never live, nor would we ever choose to live.  A detailed picture of what it really takes for a great restaurant to stay great.  The level of thoughtfulness and scrutiny that is brought to some of the meals we eat.

On the other side of the coin, it also made me realize how chaotic and unintentional our time in the kitchen and at the dinner table can be.

Comfort Me With Apples by Ruth Reichl

I was so disappointed when I finished Tender at The Bone because Ruth’s voice and storytelling abilities are so 11/10.  So when I found out that she had penned another portion of her memoirs, I reserved it at the library immediately.

I think I liked this book better, if that’s possible.

After trying to figure out what it was that makes Reichl’s stories so fascinating to me, I think it’s that she shares an unfiltered look at the early development of Californian cuisine.  That’s kind of a big deal when you live in a country that doesn’t have one specific food culture.

The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell

Summary: Eat a whole foods, plant-based diet.  It will drastically lower your chances of contracting Western disease and increase your longevity.

Surprise, surprise.

I’m glad to have finally had the chance to sit down and read it, but I don’t really think I was the person who needed to hear the message, you know?  Because Marcus and I already try to eat a whole foods, plant-based diet.

One friend pointed out that parts of this book are extremely repetitive.  It takes a lot of the guilt out from skimming.

Verdict: If you’ve already heard and received the message, you don’t need to take the time to read this.  If you don’t eat a lot of vegetables or feel that meat’s place on your daily plate is non-negotiable, this needs to be the next book you read.

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

I remember reading about this in the NYT Book Review when it was first released.  The plot: Some sort of non-religious rapture occurred and the book delves into the lives of those left on earth (hence the title, The Leftovers) a few years later.

Yes, this is one of those books where the more I tell you about it, the more that it ruins any chance of being surprised.  What I can tell you: The characters are well-developed.  They make you want to know more about them.

Just as you are finally getting to the point where you’re truly comfortable with the characters, the story is over.  Which is actually quite fitting when you think about it.  Suddenly, You Are Leftover.

And, as always, the list.

The Millenium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson
The Glass Castle
Anything by Chelsea Handler (I’ve read My Horizontal Life – it’s good, but if you loved I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, you’ll find it tame)
The Joy Luck Club (Tawny, I somehow managed to escape reading this one in H.S.!)
Anything by David Sedaris
Water for Elephants (Back in my book-club days I read this one – highly recommend)
Life of Pi
All Creatures Great and Small
The Gun Seller
Room
Unbearable Lightness
Immortal Life
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Sherlock Holmes (collection)
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (series)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (I love this book SO hard.)
Other People’s Love Letters
Bitter is the New Black
Slave
Not Ready for Mom Jeans
Madras on Rainy Days
Good Girls Don’t Get Fat
Here on Earth
A Thread of Grace
Outlander (series)
Under the Banner of Heaven
Lolita in Tehran
The Pact
A People’s History of the United States
Stori Telling
Cleaving
Julie and Julia
The Three Musketeers
The Lady and The Unicorn (along with anything else by Tracy Chevalier)
Beachglass
The Persian Pickle Club
Seaglass
Light on Snow
Two Kisses for Maddy
The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
The Space Between Us
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Tipping Point
Blink
Outliers
Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West
My Life in France

Columbine
Sing me Home

One Day
Matters of the Heart
We
Moscow to the End of the Line
Girls in White Dresses
World War Z
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

What have you read lately and loved?