Sunday, March 7, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
1. Quit reading. I used to pride myself on finishing every book I started. No more. Life is short. There are too many wonderful books to read.
2. Read books you enjoy. When I’m reading a book I love—for example, I’m now reading A. S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book—I’m astonished by how much time I find to read during my day. Which is another reason to stop reading a book I don’t enjoy.
3. Use TiVO. It’s much more efficient to watch shows on TiVO, because you skip the commercials and control when you watch. Then you have more time to read.
4. Skim. Especially when reading newspapers and magazines, often I get as much from skimming as I do by a leisurely reading. I have to remind myself to skim, but when I do, I get through material much faster.
5. Get calm. I have a sticky note posted in our bedroom that says, “Quiet mind.” It’s sometimes hard for me to settle down with a book; I keep wanting to jump up and take care of some nagging task. But that’s no way to read. Incidentally, one of the main reasons I exercise is to help me sit still for reading and writing -- if I don't exercise, I'm too jumpy.
6. Don’t fight my inclinations. Sometimes I feel like I should be reading one book when I actually feel like reading something entirely different. Now I let myself read what I want, because otherwise I end up reading much less.
7. Always have something to read. Never go anywhere empty-handed. I almost always read actual “books,” but I carry my Kindle with me everywhere, so that I know I’ll never be caught without something to read. It’s a great comfort.
8. Maintain a big stack. I find that I read much more when I have a pile waiting for me. Right now, I have to admit, my stack is so big that it’s a bit alarming, but I’ll get it down to a more reasonable size before too long.
9. Choose my own books. Books make wonderful gifts – both to receive and to give – but I try not to let myself feel pressured to read a book just because someone has given it to me. I always give a gift book a try, but I no longer keep reading if I don’t want to.And some tips from great writers and readers:
10. Randall Jarrell: “Read at whim! Read at whim!”
11. Henry David Thoreau: “Read the best books first, otherwise you’ll find you do not have time.”
12. Samuel Johnson: “What we read with inclination makes a much stronger impression. If we read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the attention; so there is but one half to be employed on what we read.”
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is the book that stands out to me the most this year. What should be very depressing subject matter is actually uplifting and inspiring. The book is very readable and offers practical suggestions for what the reader can do to help. I hope this book becomes a part of high school and college curricula.
Most of my other non-book club reading this year was mysteries and I read two excellent ones this year: The Likeness and What the Dead Know. I heard the word mysterary somewhere once (mystery + literary) and that is a perfect description of these two books. The ending of What the Dead Know actually brought me to tears.
Happy New Year! Hold me to my New Year's reading resolution!
Monday, December 7, 2009
The New York Times released its Ten Best Books of 2009. I have not read any of them. (Although I do have Kate Walbert's A Short History of Women checked out from the library.)
- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (friendship, Victorian, magic)
- The Host (body snatcher, not Twilight, love)
- The Girl who Played with Fire (trafficking, justice, Sweden)
- Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse #9) (southern, vampire, blondes)
- From Dead to Worse (Sookie Stackhouse #8) (see #4)
- The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical (Jesus, charity, poverty)
- Whatever it Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America (schools, cities, equality)
- What Happened to Anna K? (not Tolstoy, New York, modern)
- NurtureShock (parenting, science, chatty)
- Intuition (postdocs, cancer, truth)
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
"I studied literature in college, and throughout my twenties I voraciously read contemporary fiction. Then, eight or nine years ago, I found myself getting — well — bored.
Why? I think it's because I was reading novel after novel about the real world. And there are, at the risk of sounding superweird, only so many ways to describe reality."
Meanwhile, I'm reading a fabulous fantasy/alternate history which was shortlisted for the Booker: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. One thing that shines in JS&MN, that Thompson doesn't highlight in his piece, is the ability of science fiction (or in this case fantasy) to present very lucid examinations of questions of morality, by taking us out of our day-to-day prejudices and contexts. My favorite science fiction novels create parables that have stayed with me and inspired me to try to live a more just life - books like the Ender Saga, and The Sparrow, for example.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
This post is on the food side of things but I was so excited by it, I had to share. Tonight I was craving something sweet but didn't have anything in the house. I remembered seeing this single-serving chocolate cake recipe all over the internet this summer and I decided tonight was the night to try it. There are all kinds of variations but the basic premise is that you scale a chocolate cake recipe to one or two servings, pour it in a mug, and microwave it for a few minutes. I chose this recipe randomly and it was a success! It wasn't the best chocolate cake I've ever had but it was very good for taking less than 5 minutes. It would have been even better with ice cream -- maybe next time.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Coming up the weekend of September 12th is the North Carolina Literary Festival, being held at UNC. I really enjoyed it when it was last held in 2006, at Duke. I believe a group of us went to listen to Barbara Kingsolver. I think it would be fun to do something similar this year. There are several evening keynotes, including John Grisham, but most of the authors will be speaking throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. One of my favorite sessions at the 2006 festival was a conversation between Allan Garganus and Ann Patchett. Garganus is speaking several times at this year's festival so he's definitely on my list of must-see authors. Take a look at the schedule and let me know if you'd be interested in making this a group outing.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Has anyone read anything by the author Monica Ali? The New York Times recently reviewed her latest book. Brick Lane and her new book, In the Kitchen, both sound really good. And In the Kitchen seems like it would have a nice culinary theme for a book club meeting.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
- A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson
- Swimming Lessons by Mary Alice Monroe
- the last Sookie Stackhouse book (#9)
- Coming of Age in Second Life (work book)
- The Believers b (Zoe Heller)
- Infinite Jest (all 1000+ pages)
- the 8th Sookie Stackhouse book
- The Survey Interview of the Future
- the 7th Sookie Stackhouse book (already finished, on the flight from RDU to JFK)
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
When David Foster Wallace died last fall, I kept reading articles about his life and his writing and I became intrigued in particular with his novel Infinite Jest. Coming in at 1000+ pages plus extensive endnotes, it has been featured on best of all-time lists like this one from Time. Yesterday I saw several links to this website, Infinite Summer, which is challenging people to read Infinite Jest from June 21st to September 22nd, 75 pages a week. This seems doable and kind of fun to me. I like the idea of reading a book with a large group of strangers. In addition to the blog, which will have daily postings by guides and forums for discussing the book, there is also a facebook group and a goodreads page dedicated to the project. Anybody in with me?
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Does anyone have a Kindle or considered buying one? I've been firmly anti- e-readers in the past but I think I'm warming up to the idea of a Kindle. A few people at work have them and love them. I'm impressed by how close the text looks to book text and it would be so nice for travel. I recently realized you can subscribe to magazines through it too. I'm all for reducing book and magazine clutter in my house. At ~$360, it's still too expensive for me but I can only assume cheaper, better versions will continue to roll out as it gains in popularity.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The NY Times has an article on Charlaine Harris and the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries. The latest novel, Dead and Gone, is going to be No. 1 on this Sunday's hardcover bestseller list. You can read the first chapter here.
She seems like a neat lady and I'm glad to see the NY Times devote space to her particularly since in the past they have been guilty of ignoring genre fiction.
Monday, May 4, 2009
March is Mystery Month is one of my favorite months of book club. However, it's always a challenge to pick an appropriate mystery. The format of the meeting requires that it be a whodunit novel that lays out all the clues and offers the reader a fair play chance of identifying the murderer and motive. Occasionally, we pick a book that doesn't really work.
However, the Agatha Awards are here to help us out! The Agatha Awards go to novels that:
- contain no explicit sex
- contain no excessive gore or gratuitous violence
- usually feature an amateur detective
- take place in a confined setting and contain characters who know one another
The 2009 Agatha winner is The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny. It looks charming!