Merry Christmas (& we’re back!)

Greetings all,

DSC04565Rather than the obligatory “I got burned out on my blog for a bit” in so many words post…. I’ll leave you with this in time for the holidays.

I was just listening to some Christmas music, and the final lyrics of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” struck me as perfect…

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, goodwill to men

So, Merry Christmas!

And also, I’m looking forward to more posts in the New Year and hoping you are too.

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2013 Reads

I have tried on at least two occasions to keep a “book log”, or reading journal, or really any sort of record of the books I have read in a year, but I always taper off after a few books / weeks. Since I enjoy blogging about books I have read, I think I’ll try my hand at a book log here, and I’ll update this post as I read more books. Also, it might serve as a quick way to know what books I would recommend, if you decided to ask me.

Ideally I will link the below titles to their corresponding post on the blog. Of course, this means I have to blog about all, or almost all of the books I read, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

So to start –

January

Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan – Recommend. 

More of a character piece than a plot piece, but those might be my favorite. I really liked the heroine, Serena, and for McEwan fans, I would say this is nowhere near as dark as Atonement.

Winter of the Worlds, Ken Follett – Recommend, but read Book One first.

Because it is part of “The Century Trilogy”, the who/what major historical event / where is a bit contrived, but it’s worth it. It’s a wonderfully intricate character web, if you will.

Grace: A Memoir, Grace Coddington – Indifferent on the reco.

As I wrote in my post on this book – it was interesting, and I learned from it, but as far as memoirs go, it was lacking the and this made my life feel ____, or XYZ happened and I was never the same. It was more of a play-by-play than my favorite memoirs – but if you love fashion (check) and pretend to know things about photography (check), you should read it. It won’t take too long.

February

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store, Robin Sloan – Recommend Passively.

Book club book that surprised me by its current-ness. More mentions of Google, Twitter, different generations of Macs than most fiction (that I read), but it was good storyline and a quick read. Perfect for a 3 hour flight.  Apparently, the hardback cover glows, but I read it on my Kindle, so I had no idea!

The Paris Wife, Paula McLain – Wouldn’t really recommend…

Also, a Book Club select, and it was a fiction book that teetered on non-fiction with the thoroughly researched dialogue. The most interesting part of the book – learning about the trip and obsession with Spain that inspired The Sun Also Rises. Mostly, The Paris Wife, made me want to read more Hemingway (not necessarily more Paula McClain).

March

Salt Sugar Fat, Michael Moss – RECOMMEND! 

Salt Sugar Fat is a fascinating nonfiction book I have forced onto almost everyone I know… but the book tells the story of the evolution of the packaged food industry. Written by a former investigative reporter, you can count on lots of facts, substantiation, details… definitely worth reading.

A Song of Fire and Ice, George R. R. Martin – Recommend 

Finished! Finally! I won’t say anything until the TV season wraps – but you should read it. In order.

I know I normally just post the cover of the book, but I found this picture of George RR and thought it was worth posting. He’s so Gandolf/Dumbledore/Peter Jackson-esque, I had to post it.

March

The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman – Recommend

“The Paris Wife”

My book club recently read, “The Paris Wife” and very exactly as predicted in the prologue,

“I don’t want to say, Keep watch for the girl who will come along and ruin everything, but she’s coming anyway, set on her course in a gorgeous chipmunk coat and fine shoes, her sleek brown hair bobbed so close to her well-made head she’ll seem like a pretty otter in my kitchen.”

And so she was right – the story is of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. First of four, so of course, they didn’t live happily ever after. Each page you feel it coming but you try to forget it and root for them anyway.

All in all, I would say the book is a pretty good read… but it is hard to put aside the fact that you know on page one that it doesn’t end well. The actual ending for Hadley is actually a bit gratifying, but with so many books out there… I don’t think I would recommend picking this one up… there are just too many great ones out there!

What did you think? Did you love it even though you knew the ending?

The Kindle

For Christmas, Hewitt gave me a Kindle in my grab bag / Happy Birthday bag of gifts. And I love my Kindle, but sometimes I’m conflicted about it.

I love books, so for a long time, I didn’t even want a Kindle. I actually never even asked for it. But when my carry on is weighed down by approximately three 800 page books before our honeymoon… I think Hewitt knew my book habits did not make for sustainable travel.

Kindle Pros

It is light. It is small and easy to travel with. (These are obvious benefits.)

I think I might actually read faster on it for some reason – this is unsubstantiated because I don’t know how I would justify this claim, but it seems the pages melt away more quickly.

I can read the Kindle on the treadmill. I’ve always tried to flip through a book or magazine on the elliptical, but only the Kindle allows you to increase the font size so it’s legible while actually running, and it doesn’t require any form of book holder/page holding down device. It lays flat.

The books costs a bit less.

I feel pretty appropriate reading The New Digital Age on it.

It prevents me from filling our apartment to the brim with books.

Kindle Cons

It isn’t a real, traditional book.

I would remember when a character was introduced or an event occurred based on the thickness / page number. I could refer back to passages or confusing sections as needed pretty easily. I haven’t figured out how to do this with the Kindle. The highlighting feature would only work if I knew in advance that I would want to remember something later… and this isn’t always the case!

It prevents me from filling our apartment to the brim with books.

Overall– I love having a Kindle. It was a great gift I could probably have never managed to bring myself to ask for or buy on principle. But I love having it.

And when we have a bigger apartment or home, I’ll probably have to buy some of the e-books I’ve been reading to fill the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves I’m dreaming of…

Grace: A Memoir

I just finished one of my Christmas presents – Grace: A Memoir, by Grace Coddington, and it was delightful. Grace is the creative director at American Vogue and gives the reader an inside look into fashion, fashion photography, life at Vogue – British and American.

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In addition to having exceptionally large type (somewhere around point size 16, if I had to guess), the book came complete with lovely illustrations by Grace. She claims to have read only 2 books in her lifetime without pictures in them, so I don’t mind her sharing her preferred medium of choice with me.

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Through reading about who she has worked with – and it’s everyone, I learned a great deal about photographers I only vaguely recognized before, if at all. So when I saw  this month’s Hollywood Issue of Vanity Fair with “photographed by Bruce Weber” splashed on the cover, I had a moment in CVS of “Oh! I know him!” Of course, I don’t know him – but I did enjoy reading about him in Grace.

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The book is different from many other memoirs I have read where the emotion and how this thing affected this part of me – in the deepest way, was missing. She suddenly mentions a terrible car wreck that sidelined her modeling career for a time and casually throws in later that when in another car crash, although more minor, she lost a baby and was never ever to conceive again. It seems there was plenty of untapped emotion to explore, but I suppose memoirs can be lighter and don’t always have to be gut wrenching and evocative, or something.

And since the book is interesting and delves into a world I knew little of the inner workings, and it also has photos, illustrations and a large font size… I would recommend. So let me know if you want to borrow it – this is one an e-reader simply wouldn’t do justice.