Category Archives: Books

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!

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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?

Zen Day

When I rolled out of bed this morning, the only thing I had on my agenda was a 6 mile run with the Run Club at The Running Room.

How out of the ordinary, I know.

But that’s all I really wanted on my schedule, and that’s all I really thought I was in the mood to handle.

If the answer to a week of vacation is a manic, seven-day race to the bottom, then I thought that I owed it to myself to enjoy a day where I had literally no expectations for myself or the world.

So I ran.  With lots of people, actually.  Which was different since if I’ve run with others before it has been one other.  Not many others.  But that was good.  Because running with lots of people is an effective way to kill off whatever expectations you attempted to set for yourself.

As it turns out, expectations were exactly what I was trying to kill off.

After returning home to enjoy my favorite weekend ritual of a long, post-run shower with a deep conditioning treatment, homegirl needed to eat.

Where eating at home is concerned, Sunday lunch is ALWAYS a challenge in our house.

Usually we’ve managed to eat all of our leftovers, and I haven’t started cooking anything for the new week.  Like, say, dinner.  Some days we’re in the mood to forage (he usually ends up eating soup, I usually end up eating a second breakfast) and other days, it’s just easier/more relaxing to grab something.

Because some days you just don’t want to be The Decider.

Today, the fridge was empty and I had a non-specific craving for…food.  So after I downed a grapefruit (this has replaced Blood Oranges as my latest love), I suggested that we head out to the Midtown Global Market.

It’s a favorite weekend lunch spot because we can eat in the same place without having to commit to eating the same thing.  Today was no different.

We found a Camel Burger for him.

Do you love the plating?  Because I almost died of laughter when he lifted up the top of the bun like so.  For the record, it was meant to showcase the surprise slice of pineapple within.

And a plate of tacos for her.

They were disappointing shadows of the glory we tasted out in California.  Not that I was really surprised by that.

What is love?  Ordering the combination platter so that your husband can eat your rice and beans instead of the crappy fries that came with his sandwich.

Once we got back home, the rest of the day was dedicated to drinking tea, reading The China Study and watching Valentine’s Day.  And Marcus headed off to a Superbowl Party on the other side of the city.

Yes, I realize that of all of the things in the world I could have picked to entertain myself with, I chose two things that rest at polar-opposite ends of the scale.

Who says you have to choose between Hollywood and legitimate research?

To that end, I’m comfortable saying that even though Valentine’s Day is ridiculously cheesy, it might be one of my favorite chick flicks.  No, I don’t have a favorite part.  But I think they did an 11/10 job of creating loveable characters.

On the other hand, The China Study is mind-blowing (in a preach it to the choir-sort of way) and will probably get a post all its own when I’m done with it.  I’m so glad I finally got it from the Library.  I can’t even remember when I put my name on the Holds List for it, to be totally honest.

Football was just not part of the Superbowl Sunday equation for me this year.

What’s one cheesy movie you’re embarrassed to admit you love?

How often do you look at your refrigerator and find that there’s tons of food in there but nothing “to eat?”

Have you ever eaten Camel?  What’s the most exotic meat you’ve tried?

Embracing The Printed Page

Apparently we haven’t Book Clubbed since September.  Which is a pretty long time in Kat Years.

I’m not so much in the mood to dissect each book today (who is?), so we’ll try something different this time.

Dystopian Stuff You’ll Love

If you liked The Hunger Games, 1984, or The Giver.

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood

Really Depressing

Some of it is real, some of it is not.  All of it is written in a way that will suck you in and spit you back out.  Prepare Yourself Emotionally.

Unbearable Lightness, by Portia de Rossi

Room, by Emma Donoghue

Excessively Long and It Offers No Redemption

If you’re interested in something dry that continues on to no real end, by all means, go for it.

The Duchess, by Amanda Foreman

Happy Girls Are The Prettiest

You’ll want to pinch yourself while you’re reading these.  As it turns out, sometimes the truth is the best story.

The Girls From Ames, by Jeffrey Zaslow

Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl

And, as per the usual, 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

What have you been reading lately? 

What have you loved?  Hated?

On the Side

Like I said before, the A Song of Ice and Fire series pretty much had a monopoly on my literary-life for the past few months.  While they were incredible, reading another book here and there on the side kept me sane.  It’s hard trying to keep hundreds of characters and dozens of story lines straight in your head!

I can’t say that any of these would qualify in the heavy thinking category, but as they say, Variety is the Spice of Life.

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, by Ree Drummond

I am a major disciple of Ree’s.  I agree with her style of cooking and the writing on her blog usually leaves me smiling.  Or thinking.  Or both.

But with Black Heels, I felt like she really sold herself short.  Without trying to sound overly harsh about the whole extravaganza, she came across as a caricature of herself.

While I don’t doubt that young Ree was a much different person than the strong ranch wife, blogger and Food Network star that we know today, I found the whole thing to be kind of disquieting.

And I love Marcus more than anything, but I can say with a clear conscience that I’ve never looked at him and felt my uterus do a somersault.

Like…seriously?

Let’s just say it was a perplexing experience at best and leave it at that.

Bossypants, by Tina Fey

Truth: I cheered through this entire book.  Marcus’ aunt gave it to me as a bachelorette party gift because I had asked if I could borrow her copy to take on the Honeymoon.

Smart lady.

I don’t know if I would have given it back.

Surprisingly enough (or not), I found the book to be a bit of an illumination.  I’ve always enjoyed watching Tina on the TV, but as I read further into her life and the stories she shared about being a woman in a profession that is dominated by men as well as her struggles to balance a career and a family, I was touched.

Her message was so clear and simple and true – Life IS hard and you have to fight like hell to create the world that you want to live in.

Don’t get confused, the book is funny as hell.  To Tina’s credit, I’ve adopted a number of her phrases and descriptions into my everyday speech with Crotch Nuggets (her term for that bit of fat at the top of your inner thigh) leading the pack.

You know you want to do it too.

Read it because you want to laugh so hard that you cry.  Read it because you need a serious dose of Lady Power.  Read it because you want to know more about the inner-workings of SNL, 30 Rock and NBC.  Just…read it.

Summer at Tiffany, by Marjorie Hart

Can you say impulse-grab from the autobiography shelf of the non-fiction section at the library?

I will be the first to admit that the moment I catch a glimpse of Tiffany Blue, everything else around me fades away.

Once I got past judging the book by its cover, I actually found this one to be a rather sweet story.  It’s the memoirs of a woman who spent a summer during WWII working as one of the first two female pages at Tiffany & Co.  The Tiffany stories were interesting, witnessing the transition of a country girl into big city life was endearing and her perspective of WWII was fascinating.

It’s not a long read or a particularly hard read – save this one for a cozy day.

The Persian Pickle Club, by Sandra Dallas

I cannot, for the life of me, remember who recommended this book to me, but they did so on the premise that if I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (which was apparently on The Duchess’ summer reading list), then I would love this too.

To their credit, they weren’t terribly far off.  Based in rural Kansas during The Great Depression as The Dust Bowl was setting in, it captured the sense of close-knit community and interdependence that I loved about the other book.

What I didn’t love?  The characters were far less complex than many of the books I’ve read recently.  In that sense it was almost as if I was reading a shadow of a book.  There was a depth I was craving that simply didn’t exist and there wasn’t a clear/obvious reason for that absence.

If you’re craving a book that embraces The Spirit of Sisterhood, then go for it.  It will leave you with a warm feeling inside.  Otherwise, I think there are other books that will scratch your itch.

Finally, our collective reading 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

What books are you excited to curl up with this fall?

Have you ever read a book and felt conflicted about the experience after you finished it?

A Song of Ice and Fire

I know, I know.

This week is just like the Island of Misfit Toys.

Or under-represented topics.

Or polar opposites.

Your choice.

But the absence of any proper discussion about books since May comes with good reason.

No, I haven’t forsaken reading.

About a week before the honeymoon, I realized I had zero clue as to what I was going to read (besides magazines) while we were en Europe.  That’s kind of frightening for a person who can put The Deathly Hallows away in less than a day if need be.

Having been totally enraptured by the millions of dollars that HBO threw at The Game of Thrones, I decided that it was time to commit to actually reading the books.

And the prospect of cramming 3,880 pages into my suitcase was The Insurance Policy against boredom.

When you add in the 959 pages that A Dance With Dragons brought to the table?

Well.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been occupied.

I am no stranger to fantasy.  I like to think that my childhood affinity for My Little Ponies and The Castle in the Attic lead me straight into the welcoming arms of Redwall, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Dragonriders of Pern, Harry Potter and His Dark Materials.

To worlds of woodland creatures who talk, the universe beyond the wardrobe, dragons that can travel between places and times, The Boy Who Lived and little girls who are wise beyond their years.

They’re detailed.  To the point where I feel like I should have some sort of textbook sitting next to me while I read to help me make sense of the thousands of years of history that have led up to these books.

Instead of focusing on one singular plot or purpose, he instead chose to create a world.  There is no quest, there is no singular aim.  And the further I read, the more I was able to see how it resembled ours.  The complexities of faiths that are at-odds with one another.  The issues that accompany social change.  The challenge of self-governance, or lack thereof.

Or more simply, loyalty.  Morality.  The Brotherhood of Man.

What speaks even more to the series is the fact that George R.R. Martin is an absolutely unapologetic author.  You’ve fallen in-love with a character?  They’re probably dead by now.  Things are starting to make sense?  Your world is about to be turned inside-out and upside-down.

I like to think that these are The Thinking Man’s fantasy series.  Because you don’t have to be into velvet and swords.  You do need to be into politics and history.

Or to distill that thought even further, Marcus is reading these books and he’s not even a books-reader.

Yes, I’ve just tried to sell you on an entire series without telling you what happens.  But that’s because if you actually wanted to know the plot, you could just Wikipedia it.  I’m the one who is telling you that they’re readable and enjoyably so.

Don’t fret – book club as we know it will resume soon!  I have managed to squeeze in a few other books here and there.

Have you read any of the books in the A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series?

What was your favorite book or series when you were a pup?

I will say that prior to kindergarten, I was rather fond of I am a Bunny.

A Lack of Enthusiasm

I had originally thought that I would kick-off the High Holidays Fashion Show tonight.  But it’s August.  And even though the sky was sulky today in the grayest of ways, I just can’t bring myself to show any sort of enthusiasm for fall.

Trees are already changing.  The geese have flocked-up and are actioning Flying Vs.

We live in Minnesota.  Winter is coming, and I’m deadly afraid it’s going to be arriving much earlier than any of us would like.  I would prefer to avoid doing anything that might be perceived as encouraging The Situation.

See Exhibit A for clarification of my feelings.

Exhibit A

I KNOW.  I think my stylist accidentally used the semi-permanent dye on my roots too!

But that’s just not a solvable problem in the here and now.

When we were done with dinner tonight by 7:00, I was baffled.

I know, the rest of you are probably thinking, Come on, Captain Obvious.  You get off work at 2:30.

Right.  I know.  But for the past week, I’ve been running long-overdue errands like a maniac.  Tonight is the first night where I’ve come home (okay, so I stopped at the post office to pick up a certified letter on the way), run and then been able to…just be.

I was so perplexed by the wide-open stretch of time that Marcus had to press pause on doing the dishes and welcome me to my new reality.

After narrowing down the evening’s festivities to Going to The Library or Watching Keeping The Faith In Bed, I decided to do the somewhat responsible thing and head over to the library.  The number of books hanging around the house since the wedding has been just pitiful, and I refuse to start reading my September Issues until I have all of them in my possession.

Since we live in Not Real World, we’re unable to be content with a library that is merely a home to books and multimedia equipment. It’s a tribute to advances in modern architecture.

Did I mention that it has a green roof?  Because there’s that too.

Even if I never set foot inside the place, I’d feel better just knowing that it’s there.

I left with more books than I could ever possibly hope to read in three weeks, but it was somewhat Soothing to arrange them all in the “book basket” I keep stashed underneath our coffee table.

Do you go to the library or are you a Kindle/Nook person?

Our library is literally a 90 second drive away, so unless we lived on top of it, I don’t think that it could possibly be more convenient.

Fall is basically upon us.  Are you the kind of person who is already waiting in line for a Pumpkin Spice Latte?  Or will you be wearing your flip-flops until your feet freeze?

Savouring Summer: A List of Essentials

Jo blogs at Mostly Fit Mom and when I think of her, the one word that keeps on coming to mind is prevailing.  Whether she’s attempting a week of solo-parenting, pushing through her finals or doing battle with a fussy hip injury (runners, we have all been there) she always makes it through.  I should like to think that in some ways she’s even managed to teach me a bit of second-hand patience.

-Kat

Hello, kittens!  While Kat is away playing in the Mediterranean – lucky girl – I’m filling in with a guest post.  My name’s Joanne (“Jo” to many) and I blog over at Mostly Fit Mom, typically about fitness and trying to eat healthfully, but also about random stuff, like what life is like as a mom and dental student.

Luckily, the school year has wrapped up so I won’t bore you with the details of my typical study schedule.  Instead, I’m looking ahead to summer.

Living on the Canadian Prairies, summer is short and sweet – or, as was the case last year, basically non-existent.  As a lover of sun and warmth, but not wanting to move away from our extended family, I try to squeeze every last bit of summer out of the season so that I can make it through the long, cold, dark winter, stoked with sweet memories involving sunlight and above-freezing temperatures.  And since I also have Type A tendencies and like to makes goals and lists a lot, here’s what I’ll be doing to make the summer of 2011 memorable:

1. Reading – Right now my reading list includes:

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • Run Faster by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald
  • Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  • The Harry Potter series (not the first time I’ve read it, of course, but it’s been awhile)
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (I’ve been waiting for the paperback version, but I’m tired of waiting!)
  • A few more books from the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich.  To me, these are TOTALLY what summer reading is about: easy-to-read and fun.

2. Taking the kids to Homestead Ice Cream – Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve been back to Homestead since we moved back to Saskatoon 3 years ago, but when I was growing up, it was a place my family sometimes went if we were visiting my aunt who “lived in the city.”  Later, it was a place my new boyfriend (now husband of 13 years) visited during the early months of our developing relationship.  Had I known then that his favourite flavour of ice cream was bubble gum, it might have changed the course of our relationship, because who, besides those under the age of 10, likes bubble gum ice cream?!?  I’m pretty sure he masked his strange flavour preference back then and ordered “normal” flavours featuring lots of chocolate.

3. Training for the Disneyland Half Marathon on September 4th – This is actually part of my master plan to Hit My Target Weight and Be the Fittest I’ve Ever Been this summer.  Actually, I’m still working out a specific plan as to how I’m going to achieve this, but it will happen!

4. Seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 -

July 15th.  I will actually be sort of sad to see this film, because it’s the last movie of the series.  But I’m sure it will be FANTASTIC and AMAZING.  Also on the summer viewing list:

  • The Green Lantern
  • X-Men First Class
  • Bridesmaids
  • Kung Fu Panda 2
  • The Hangover 2

Like my books, I like my summer movies fun and easy.

5. Taking the kids to the drive-in – It’s a family tradition to hit the drive-in at least once per summer.  We’re about a 10 min drive away from the drive-in here in Saskatoon, which is located just east of the city.  Unfortunately, I usually only make it through one movie.  Since we live fairly far north (about 52 degrees north, if you really wanted to know), the sun sets fairly late during the summer months, meaning that drive-in movies definitely do NOT start early and being that I’m officially a bore, I usually fall asleep after the first feature (often before my kids do – so sad).

6. Road-tripping with the kids to Banff and Lake Louise –

From the Banff National Park website www. banffnationalpark.com

If you have never been, you really should consider it.  Banff was Canada’s first national park, and the world’s third, and the scenery is spectacular.  I first visited Banff when I was 5.  It was a motorhome vacation with my family (mom, dad, sis, bro), paternal grandparents, and my aunt and uncle (who were, coincidentally, my mom’s sister and my dad’s brother – I think it’s a small town thing).  Of course now Banff itself is quite touristy, and the Chateau Lake Louise is owned by Fairmont (not that that’s a bad thing), but you can definitely still find yourself a quiet spot and take in the views.

Beyond that, I’ll just be trying to get outside with the kids, spending some much-needed couple time with my husband, and heading home to my parents’ house (conveniently located near a lake) for a few weekends.

What are your big plans for the summer?  Any books/movies you’re dying to read/see?  Do you have any traditions that you just have to fit in every year?

Page Turners

It has been over a month since our last round of Book Club and it’s not as if I haven’t been turning pages like a pro since then.

I can’t say that this latest round of reads would qualify me for the title of “Intellectual,” but none of them elicited an eye-roll, so I think we’re in a good place.

What’s been keeping me sharp?

Comfort Food, by Kate Jacobs

Most of the time, beach books have pink covers.  But this beach book’s cover?  Was black.

I don’t really think that any book titled “Comfort Food” could really be that weighty, but how far we’ve come, if we’re now writing fictional works about people on the set of a cooking show.

…Seriously?

It was entirely implausible but completely adorable in the most tried and true tradition of a chick-flick.  There was just enough plot to keep you turning the pages until you made it to the entirely necessary and predictable happy ending.

Not mentally taxing.  Not terribly long.

gods in alabama, by Joshilyn Jackson

Y’all know I’m not really one who goes for books with any sort of mystery or family trauma.  They just don’t do it for me.

And for one reason or another, I don’t seem to read a lot of books that are set in the American South or West.  The coasts?  Yes.  The Midwest?  Yes.

But Alabama?

Never.

So in the spirit of knocking it out of the park, I ended up bringing gods in alabama home from the library.

For what it’s worth, this doesn’t happen to people who actually walk into the library with a plan.

What I did appreciate the most about the book was the fact that even though there was a bit of a mystery to the main character and the story, the book let you enjoy watching it unravel, rather than forcing you to solve it on the spot.

Actually solving the mystery?  Is SO not how I roll.

Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Once again, I had to go and get lost in the biographical section of the library and came out with this jewel.

I wish I could say that there was some sort of method to my memoir-madness, but beyond the fact that they all seem to be women (I did read Ben Bradlee’s autobiography two years ago), I’ve got nothing.

But there’s something inherently interesting about learning what makes someone tick when that person happens to be a former First Lady and Senator as well as the current Secretary of State.

Given that a good chunk of Hillary’s life has played out in front of all of us, we all have some familiarity with her as a woman and as a human being.

So, rather than tell you all about a woman whose life has played out on a very public stage for the past (almost) twenty years), I’ll give you one interesting/fun fact that I learned: Hillary Clinton worked on the research team for the prosecution in the Watergate case.

Go.

firefly lane, by Kristin Hannah

Oh, shit.  Prepare yourselves, people.  I sobbed like someone in my own family had died for probably…the last 60 or so pages.

At first I thought I could handle it with the sleeve of my sweatshirt.  But then, the Kleenex box was in my lap and I barely knew what to do with myself.

It was a mess of EPIC proportions.

If I had to list books that it reminded me of, I would have to say the first one that came to mind was let’s take the long way home, by Gail Caldwell.

So if you’re looking for a story of friendship that runs so deep it can absolutely shred your heart into a million pieces, then yes you should go read this immediately.  It’s probably one of the best books I’ve read in awhile.

As per the usual, our collective reading list…

The Millenium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson
The Glass Castle
Anything by Jodi Picoult
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

Summer is just around the corner – what beach books do you just LOVE?