When I last wrote aboutmy summer readingI had reached 4000 minutes with 6 weeks to go. As of today, I have reached 5600 minutes with 17 days left to solidify my status as a ‘Reading Rockstar’.
Most of the 1600 additional minutes were spent reading Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s. The Sirens of Titan, Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, Melanie Benjamin’s The Girls in the Picture, and John Connolly’s He. This is probably the 20th time I’ve read Sirens: I routinely read most of Vonnegut’s catalog on an annual basis. My only complaint with Little Fires Everywhere, which I thoroughly enjoyed, was that I wasn’t enjoying the story under an umbrella at the beach.
That leaves Girls and He, both of which deal with success, friendship, and love in the early days of Hollywood. The Girls in the Picture weaves the story of a lifelong friendship between ‘America’s Sweetheart’ Mary Pickford and screenwriter and film producer Frances Marion, both of whom were fascinating women way ahead of their time. Heslowly builds up to the moment when an arbitrary pairing on a movie set leads to the legendary comedic pairing and deep private friendship between Stan Laurel and Oliver ‘Babe’ Hardy.
I would never have guessed that two books with such similar subject matter could impact me so differently. I was bored to tears by Girls and did not bother to even finish the book, while I stayed up way too long each night reading He. The one thing I did enjoy about both books was how each author included Hollywood stars in bit roles throughout their stories Unfortunately, because of this and a few paragraphs in He I may never be able to watch Curly and Mo in a Three Stooges short again. An odd side note – both books have Charlie Chaplin playing an integral role to the plot in each.
Maybe I disliked Girls because it felt like a variation on a story I’ve read hundreds of times before. And maybe I liked He because it was written in a voice that felt uniquely fresh and nuanced, and because so few books revolve around professional respect and platonic love between two individuals, and men at that. Or it could have been that Mary and Frances, who were so interesting in real life, came across as oddly one-dimensional while Stan and Babe were rendered in such detail I felt as if I had known each personally. I the meantime, I’m going to try and catch some old Laurel & Hardy films to see if the magic I felt while reading He comes through on the silver screen.
How about you? Have you ready either of these books? If so, what did you think of them? What are you reading now? I’d love to know…
Who doesn’t like to receive a beautifully wrapped gift? I am a firm believer that the presentation is just as important as what it’s hiding inside and admit to having a bit of a paper and ribbon habit to support my wrapping efforts.
I also really like making unique gift baskets, a skill I first picked up years ago working at a shop on Gower Street near Paramount Studios run by a group of Scientologists who made gift baskets for the movie and tv shows filming in LA.
My favorite baskets to make aren’t really baskets at all but rather custom sculptural pieces made from felt which replicate things like a Fleischmann’s yeast bag (for a pombe’ researcher), an old fashioned baby bootie (full of goodies for a newborn), a replica of a home (for the new owners), and a look-alike book cover jacket (for a world-renowned author). These sculptures challenge my crafting and engineering abilities since each one has to look like the real thing while being structurally sound to hold all the goodies contained within.
My most recent basket was slightly little-less time-consuming since I used a Target collapsible storage bin as the foundation, but no less rewarding. A new colleague and his spouse were visiting town to sign the lease on their abode and I wanted to welcome them to our community so I included some local magazines, a ‘things to do’ guide, some light reading, waters, wine, fruits, and a selection of sweet and salty treats, plus a souvenir or two (in this case some great painted glasses from CatStudios).
It takes some practice to master the art of a well-crafted basket but if you like to give uniquely thoughtful gifts give it a try! Your basket recipients will be very glad you did…
I love to meander through vintage stores, flea markets, and antique malls to see what I can find (some past explorations can be found here and here). I can spend hours exploring the treasures for sale and quite often find graphic and clothing inspiration in old furniture, vintage postcards, kitchen gadgets and the like. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven by a shop that looks interesting only to swear I’ll check it out ‘next time’, which rarely comes. However, a few weeks ago while passing through historic Mullica Hill, an town I’ve driven through a gazillion times without ever once stopping (except for pizza), I finally decided to check it out… Continue reading “You’re just window shopping…”→
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation… Continue reading “O’er the land of the free…”→
When I was little I spent a large part of every summer reading. My sister and I would ride our bikes to the nearest library and load up our baskets with enough books for a week of reading. We’d bike home, fight over the porch lounge chair or the hammock, and read our afternoons away. My children, who each had a library card within weeks of being born, also participated in summer reading programs until they reached high school and their assigned summer reading assignments took over.
I continue to be a huge library user and supporter and generally utilize the online search and hold services to assemble a week or two worth of reading material. Imagine my surprise when I stopped by to pick up my book holds and realized that the summer reading club had started, featuring a club for children AND adults!
The program runs from May 14th through August 3rd and the goal is read 600 minutes. Not to brag, but I read 600 minutes in the first week, and am currently up to 4000 minutes and counting. There are also incentives for posting on social media (check), reading to someone (check) and making a recipe from a cookbook (check, check and check). I’ve already earned a mug and a $10 gift card and hope to have enough minutes to ‘win’ a book donation in my name when the program ends. Here’s what I’ve read so far…
Feel Free – Zadie Smith | Sing Unburied Sing – Jesamyn Ward | God Bless You Mr. Kervorkian – Kurt Vonnegut | Miller’s Valley – Anna Quindlen | The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks | While Mortals Sleep – Kurt Vonnegut | Eternal Life: A Novel – Dora Horn | Green: A Novel – Sam Graham-Felsen | Lullaby Road: A Novel – James Anderson | The Nothing – Hanif Kureshi | The Queen’s Embroiderer: A True Story of Paris, Lovers, Swindlers, and the First Stock Market Crisis – Joan E. DeJoan | King Zero – Nathaniel Rich | Surprise Me: A Novel – Sophie Kinsella | The Interestings – Med Wolitzer | The Monk of Mokha – Dave Eggers
The weekend is here and most of us are looking at a three-day holiday on account on Memorial Day (aka: the start of summer). I am looking forward to a few leisurely days spent cooking, gardening, working on long-ignored embroidery and painting projects and wasting some time surfing the web. Here are a few things I’ve recently stumbled upon that might help you waste some time too…
The Great American Readasks how many of the top 100 you’ve read (the books I’ve read are highlighted) and lets you vote on your favorites. PBS – we seriously need to discuss 50 Shades of Grey and great in the same sentence!
Ever wonder how the whole 4-20 thing got started? My money is on the Waldo theory.
I came down with a serious case of RWF (Royal Wedding Fever) this weekend and am only now recovering. Did you tune in to watch Megan marry Harry? I could not bring myself to get up at the crack of dawn to watch live but have spent a LOT of my free time since Saturday looking at all of the pictures and video of the event and am still captivated by each image from the ceremony, all of which show the radiant couple beaming with joy and love… Continue reading “Going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married…”→
I am beyond OBSESSED with silver shoes right now! It all started when I impulsively purchased #3 one dreary day during lunch. I wore the shoes almost immediately and every time I looked down to admire my new purchase I smiled with shoe happiness. There is no bad time to sport a silver shoe, although my personal favorite is at night after a day at the beach and accessorized with the perfect slip dress, silver jewelry and a fresh pedicure!
Since my first silver shoe purchase I have acquired #5 with plans to add #4 to my collection next payday. I am also coveting #12 and #14 but those shoes may be mine in dreams only, since I live a decidedly non-12/14 lifestyle. How about you? Which number – or numbers – speaks to you? I’d love to know…