Some of My Favorite Books

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Editor's Choice Award (blushing but so proud) and I Started Reading Another Book

First things first! I just opened this email from Suite 101:

Congratulations! Your article "National Grammar Day Is March 4" was chosen by the Editor of the Section in which it appears this week because it exemplifies the quality content, excellent presentation, and high standard we are striving for at Suite101. The check mark icon associated with this Editor's Choice award appears on the article itself, and wherever it is listed on the site, and will continue to do so from this moment forward. Keep up the great work and enjoy this well-deserved recognition.

Oh... ta da! 

And I picked up Wally Lamb's book The Hour I First Believed the other day at the library. I can't believe I let this one slip through the cracks for this long. It was published in 2008! Good grief. I love his other books, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True.

It looks like another good one. Have you read it?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Heartburn Is Done

Book Read:  Heartburn
Author:  Nora Ephron

I finished Nora Ephron's book Heartburn last night. Good book but it wasn't as satisfying as I'd have liked. Maybe it was the length of the book. Short.

And I'm actually looking forward to watching the movie on this one, which is a favorite thing of mine to do; read the book then watch the movie. (And it's on hold for me at the library; I just need to go pick it up.) In this case, I think the movie will let me visualize (no duh, huh?) the characters better and frankly, help me keep them straight.

I would recommend reading this book in one or two sittings as opposed to the way I did it--stretched out over almost a week at night, tired, with a few evenings off when I was just too tired to read. A rarity but I think I missed some things by not chewing on it all at once.

Oh, and it has some good recipes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Who said (or wrote) this first? Julia Child, Nora Ephron, Julie Powell?

Okay, so I'm reading along last night in Heartburn and on page 113, a passage stopped me in my tracks. Granted I was lying in bed so I didn't have far to stop, but tell me if this sounds familiar to anyone else:

"...What I love about cooking is that after a hard day, there is something comforting about the fact that if you melt butter and add flour and then hot stock, it will get thick! It's a sure thing! It's a sure thing in a world where nothing is sure; it has a mathematical certainty in a world where those of us who long for some kind of certainty are forced to settle for crossword puzzles."

This almost identical passage was voice-overed by Julie Powell in the movie Julie and Julia, right? Right! I think Julie was making a chocolate cream pie dealie and Nora is surely referencing a gravy-type thing since she mentions stock, but it was the same concept, almost exactly, if I recall. So, since Nora Ephron, who wrote 1) the book I'm reading now, Heartburn, in 1983 AND 2) the screenplay for the movie Julie and Julia sometime much later, like in 2006, did Nora write it in this book first then decide to "borrow" her earlier words to let Amy Adams as Julie Powell, who wrote first the blog The Julie/Julia Project, then the book Julie and Julia, say in the movie? Did she? I wonder?

Or could Julie Powell have stolen the concept from Nora Ephron and written these words in her book, Julie and Julia? I read that book too but don't remember it, per se.

Or is there a chance that Julia Child wrote it in one of her cookbooks or memoirs? I've never read any of them but Nora Ephron references Julia Child all over the place in Heartburn so maybe??? Did Nora AND / OR Julie 'steal' from Julia?

Who wrote/said it first? If anyone knows, please let us know!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Long and Short of It

After reading Stephen King's long book (Under the Dome, 1074 pages), I must have subliminally wanted to read a short book. I've had Nora Ephron's Heartburn sitting on my nightstand for months, and it was on top of the pile, so I picked it up to read next.

I recently watched the movie Julie and Julia, which Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay for. I knew she wrote Heartburn, but have never read it. It's high time.

It's as tiny as Under the Dome was big, in length anyway. 153 pages. So far, it long on funny though. For example, on page 43, she wrote:

"I looked around the subway car. A Japanese man was taking pictures of the passengers. He was undoubtedly a tourist, but he was making everyone in the car uncomfortable. I tried not to look at him, but it was impossible. Once I saw an exhibitionist on the subway, and I tried not to look at him, too, but the funny thing about exhibitionists--and the reason I'm never really offended by them--is that you can't help sneaking a peek now and then to see if the damned thing is still sticking out."

And I really like the picture of Ephron from this 1983 edition. She more recently wrote the funny book, I Feel Bad About My Neck. I wonder, since she's wearing a turtleneck in the photo, did she then too?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Begging and Pitying Under the Dome

Spoiler Alert! Do not read if you don't want to know
how Under the Dome ends.

Book Read:  Under the Dome
Author:  Stephen King
ISBN:  978-1-439-4850-1

I finished reading Under the Dome and I must say I think it went out with a whimper. With all the drama and chaos throughout the book, I thought the ending would be more of the same. The ending was still powerful though, just not in the dramatic way of most of the rest of the book.

Big Jim did get his, but in such a lackluster way. I really wanted the town to be able to watch his demise.

Barbie and Julia got together, which was inevitable and well done. Their working together to save themselves and the remaining dozen or so citizens of Chester's Mill was courageous and smart and a fitting end. Using something as human as begging (mind to mind, mind you) with the forces that brought the dome to their town worked more magic than all the missiles on the outside of the dome. And the pity of one lone leatherhead saved the day.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Big Jim Rennie's Ol' Ticker is Acting Up

Big Jim Rennie, the second selectman of fictional Chester's Mill, Maine, in Under the Dome by Stephen King, is having trouble with his heart. YES! I don't usually root for people, even if they are just characters in a book, to have such ailments, but this feller deserves a big fat heart attack if anyone ever did.

How will it happen? Will his heart explode and splatter against the dome or is this just pie-in-sky, wishful thinking on my part? Time will tell.

I'm on page 819 at the new chapter, Blood Everywhere. I predict he'll bite it and soon!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lori and Gertie love Under the Dome too!

Lori commented that she is also reading Under the Dome. Thanks, Lori! Her comment is so funny and true. Lots of people die under the dome, for sure. And I'm wondering if you (and everyone else reading it) are rooting as loud as I am for Big Jim Rennie to GET IT and get it good? What a piece of work!

This book is such a whopper, I'm only on page 626 (but yay, I did make it past the half way mark!) but hope to finish it before the next library deadline of January 26. I think I can. I think I can.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Stephen King's lovely language

I don't usually read Stephen King books. I read Carrie however many years ago, and it scared the pee-diddle outta me so have steered cleared of them for the most part. I really, really, really enjoyed On Writing, but that's not his usual type of book, now is it? Oh, I saw the Rock Bottom Remainders perform in Denver. That was excellent in a bookwormy kind of way.

But I am really enjoying Under the Dome. King's a really good writer, tells a great tale, even though it's unlikely that this dome dealy would really happen. I'm a long way from page 1074, but in the meantime, how about some good writing from Under the Dome, page 316:

"There was something wrong in here, too. Linda was sure of it. The place felt more than creepy to her; it felt outright dangerous. When she saw that Jackie has unsnapped the strap on her service automatic, Linda did the same. The feel of the gun-butt under her hand was good. Thy rod and thy gun-butt, they comfort me, she thought."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman had it right. Why worry?

I reluctantly took my cat bookmark out of the book (page 215, page 215, page 215) and stuck it in my purse. Then I dropped the tome (Under the Dome) (yes, I'm a poet and don't know but my feet show it, they're LONGFELLOWS!) into the outside slot at the library. It fit after all.

Went inside. Walked to the Best Picks display and there it was, another copy of Under the Dome sitting, waiting for me. Checked it out. Stuck the cats back in (page 215). Brought it home. And got my exercise to boot (lugging the thing there and another copy back home).

Off to read more about the "clustermug" that the dome has created in Chester's Mill, Maine.

What are you reading?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Under the Dome... Stephen King does it again

I picked up Under the Dome by Stephen King, and that's a feat in itself (this sucker is nearly 2-1/2 inches thick with more than 1,000 pages), at the library a few weeks ago. I didn't start reading it right away, but I should have. It's a library Best Picks book, so when I went online to renew it, I found out it's not renewable. Dang.

So, now I'm into it, sucked in, on page 111 at the chapter called The Good of the Town, The Good of the People, and it's due tomorrow. I read fast but not that fast. What to do? What to do?

Well, I plan on taking it inside and handing it to a librarian because for one thing, I really don't think it will fit in that skinny slot out front. And maybe I can ask if they can check it in and reshelf it... immediately? Please?! We'll see.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I love to read, man!

All my life I've loved to read. My first memory of reading was asking my dad to read the comics from the Sunday paper to me because I didn't know how to read yet. Sure, I could look at the pictures and imagine what Dagwood said to Blondie, but I wanted to know what those letters said, spelled out in the balloons above Beetle Bailey's and Sarge's heads. I picked it up--that mysterious world of the printed word--soon thereafter and was proudly part of the group Mom deemed as having "her nose in a book."

I've spent my whole life reading. I've always read for a living one way or another. I've done everything from typesetting to proofreading to copy editing to technical writing (gag me with a computer manual), and have always been happiest when I go to bed at night and read for at least an hour before going to sleep. In fact, last year in 2009, I read 53 books, mostly fiction but some nonfiction slipped in by choice and a few by bribery (I was paid to read them).

My personal list of books I've read isn't earth-shattering. My tastes run from Nick Hornby to Anita Shreve to Lorna Landvick to Elizabeth George. It all really depends on what I'm in the mood for. Nonfiction choices tend to memoirs like the first book I finished in 2010, Valerie Bertinelli's latest, Finding It. I'm nosy, plain and simple. I also recently read Melissa Gilbert's Prairie Tale (what a slut!) and can get lost in tales of long ago told by great storytellers like Erik Larson (Thunderstruck, Isaac's Storm, Devil in the White City).

Book Read:  Finding It And Satisfying My Hunger for Life Without Opening the Fridge 
Author:  Valerie Bertinelli
ISBN:  978-1-4391-4163-2

So, this first entry of my new blog includes the first book I finished in the new year (I started it last year):  Finding It by Valerie Bertinelli. I thought it was okay, just okay. If I had to rate it, I'd give it a 6 out of 10 stars. I didn't read Losing It, which chronicled her battle to lose 40 pounds using the Jenny Craig program. Finding It is about maintaining her weight, which, as she says, is harder some days than it was losing it in the first place. I image so. I don't know. I could stand to lose 40 pounds and admire the fact that she did it so publicly.

But this was a lightweight book (literally too, with 270 pages, of which many were called Notes to Myself where she wrote little ideas that occurred to her at some point, sometimes relevant and sometimes sort of out there, which is allowed, I suppose in an autobiography format). Interesting but could be skipped.


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