Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yellow Ukuleles and Piles of Perfection Await

One of the advantages to not being beautiful is that one usually gets better-looking as one gets older; I am, in fact, at this very moment gaining my looks.

-Nora Ephron
As someone who reads a lot and talks about reading quite a bit as well, I find that it is this amazing natural phenomenon to go through phases in my reading. Not phases--that's the wrong term... more like.. spurts. There are weeks that go by and all I want to do is read. I've got a perfection of books in my queue and the gods of opportunity have shined down upon me to give me time to devour any piece of text in sight. Then there are other times when the gods do not smile and the pile is less than perfect and I just do the normal amount of reading. I think you know where this is going.

Last month handed me less than a pile of perfection.

Not to say that there wasn't an abundance of enjoyable reading, but I have only four books to account for since my last post. I want to talk about the books first and then go into some other orders of business.

Since my last post, here's what's been in my head:

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez: After reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and A Clockwork Orange, I'll admit that I was feeling a little drained. They were some very good, but very intense reads. I had nothing from the library, so I ransacked my roommate's bookshelves and came up with this one. My roommate Kristen had mentioned it to me before and told me I should read it, so it was in the back of my mind when I picked it out. And it was lovely. In case my love for books with varying narrators at differing periods of time hasn't come across through my love for A Visit from the Goon Squad and Let the Great World Spin, then let me fill you in: I love books with varying narrators at differing periods of time. The story is told from the perspective of the Garcia girls who were born in the Dominican Republic and move to the United States as teens. The story is told backwards and from all different sides, so it almost feels like a bunch of short stories, but Alvarez does an amazing job of holding the thread and making you feel for the characters. From themes of growing up to family ties to immigration, this book paints a brilliant picture.

I Remember Nothing and Crazy Salad by Nora Ephron: When Nora Ephron died earlier last month, it had a strange affect on me. I, of course, grew up adoring most things she had her hands in (I mean, You've Got Mail is one of the greatest movies ever... I mean... "Bouquets of sharpened pencils."), but I think what really affected me the most was the outpouring of devotion that followed her death. (If you haven't seen Lena Dunham's ode to Nora Ephron in the New Yorker, please read it here). Nora Ephron seemed like this amazing human being, and although no one is perfect, it seems as though few people had much bad to say about them. She was someone that people will genuinely and noticeably miss. Let's be true here: who doesn't want to be remembered the way that so many seem to remember Nora Ephron? So I thought maybe the secret of her ways would be revealed in her writing, and it completely was. I adored I Remember Nothing. And what I adored about it was it's complete hilarity and bluntness. The last two chapters made me pause. They are "What I Will Miss" and "What I Won't Miss" and they remind me of lists that I often make for myself.  I Remember Nothing is a very quick read and although it often had me choking back tears for reasons even I can't fathom, I really loved it. So of course, I picked up Crazy Salad next, and while I liked it, I wasn't as excited by it as I was the other. Maybe because it was a book of essays that, though related by the fact that they were all about women, weren't as personal as I Remember Nothing. Any Nora Ephron is wonderful, and perfect for summer, so if I were you, I'd pick one up.

In One Person by John Irving: If you're going to read a John Irving book, you have to be prepared to be completely enveloped in the world he creates. I'm serious--don't tell me I didn't warn you. I mean, it's a lovely thing and one that few authors can pull off, I find. But he has this way of letting you truly see and understand his characters and the world in which they live. The story follows a boy who grows up in Vermont and goes to an all-boys school at which his step-father teaches. The boy grows up knowing that he is bi-sexual, but is stunted in his small New England town. I don't want to tell too much of the story because although Irving doesn't try to hide it (he knows we aren't fools, after all) there are some big surprises. The cast of characters is raw and varied (including a cross-dressing grandfather and a librarian who is not quite who she says she is) and it did really keep me hooked through the whole thing. There are some graphic sections of the book, both sexual and not, but it wasn't just for the sake of being graphic--there is purpose. Irving goes deeply into the AIDS crisis in New York in the 1980s as well as the world of wrestling which was fascinating. A good read, but I would say it should be one you commit to, not just keep around for kicks.

And that's it.

I know! It doesn't seem like much at all. But life has gotten a little busy, so there is less time for reading. (I'm 2 weeks behind on my New Yorkers which NEVER happens!).

But there are other fun things happening and one of them is goal related.

I'm moving closer and closer to accomplishing more goals, and there is one I'm really excited about:


Yes. It's a yellow ukulele. Oh. My. God. I'm so excited about it I could die. I know how to play a total of 4 chords on it, but I'm learning! It's beautiful. And her name is Babette. So, if you're really nice to me, maybe I'll play it for you if I ever get past the four chords I currently am master of.

Also, this is not goal related, but it is something cool! I'm sure you all know that my roommate and I have moved out of our roach-infested, disgusting apartment into a brilliantly beautiful HUGE apartment. Well, we have so much space that we literally don't know what to do with ourselves. My room has two things hanging and it looks so sad. However, I love this blog Young House Love, and a while ago, they mentioned a company called A Vintage Poster who they ordered some things for their walls from. I loved it and have wanted to get something from them ever since. I wanted a custom poster, so all I had to do was send in what I wanted, and I got tons of proofs back and she tweaked them just the way I wanted (in my insanity) and out came this:

It's one of my favorite quotes from Leaves of Grass and I'm putting it by my bed so I can see it every morning. :) Gotta love Walt. I'm not 100% sold on the frame yet, but we'll see. Maybe once I hang it (which could be a while.. I'm so very lazy), I'll show it to you on the wall! A Vintage Poster is awesome and beyond helpful and they have really cool things that are pre-made, too!

Those are the big developments in my life (I know.. I'm so exciting, right?!) but in awesome book news, I'm devouring Arcadia by Lauren Groff right now and can't wait to talk about it, and I've got some other really awesome fun things in the queue!

What are YOU reading? I hope that the summer gods have given you a book pile of perfection. :)

Happy reading (and strumming!),
Stephanie

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