Monday, September 10, 2012


"Do you know," he asked in a delicious accent, "what Dom Perignon said after inventing champagne?"
"No?" I said.
"He called out to his fellow monks, "Come quickly: I am tasting the stars."
-The Fault in Our Stars

Have you ever just had a morning where you wake up, and even though you'd probably rather lay in bed for at least another hour, you get up and you know you can handle the day? I had that morning this morning: the sky was perfect, the weather was almost tights-appropriate, I had a good book to start, and my weekly to-do list seemed like it wasn't going to kill me. The only thing that could have made it better was if I had my iPod (which is basically down for the count.. it won't even turn on anymore) for some perfect tune-age. Oh well. But after a lovely, relaxing weekend, I always feel better.

So on this day that started out with me feeling pretty good and ending with me feeling not that different from other days, I wanted to try and recapture that morning feeling by doing several things tonight: 1) Cleaning my room (it was horrible... and I didn't even really clean.. just picked up the piles of clothes and ephemera that have gathered over the past two weeks), 2) Going to the library (duh.), 3) Blogging, and 4) Having what will probably turn out to be one of my last summer beers before fall hits. So that's what I'm doing: I'm recapturing, dammit.

I must say that I've been dying to write about the books that follow for a few weeks now, I just haven't had the time to sit down and actually post. In my last post, I talked about how my reading pile was turning out to be less than fulfilling... well, next time that happens, I'm going to make sure that I post it on the internet--it seems to be the medium the gods use to bless me with great reading! This past month has proven to be one of the better ones.

Without further ado, my recent readings:

-Arcadia by Lauren Groff: Now, if you have ever lived with me, you know that if there is anything about cults, gangs, communes, or serial killers, I will watch it. I am fascinated by all of these things and cannot get enough. So when I heard that Lauren Groff's new book was about a commune, I immediately requested it. The story is narrated by a boy, Bit,  who was born into and grew up in a commune that has (of course) a charismatic, power-hungry leader and that eventually falls apart. The story is broken up into three parts: one where Bit is 5 and observing his surroundings, one where he is a teenager and the commune is falling apart, and the final section is devoted to Bit's life after the commune. The storytelling often reminded me of Room during the parts where Bit is very young. It's definitely a coming-of-age story and in the end was almost not about what I thought it was really about. Wonderfully told and completely engrossing (especially if you're like me!), this is a well done novel that I highly recommend.

-The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker: Today at the library, I saw a woman walking out with this book and I told her (because I just can't help myself) "That book was really good, but it messed with my head a little bit" (at which point she told me that she was right in the middle of taking her psych clinical and that was all she needed). But really--I didn't expect this book to make me think so much, but it did. The main plot point is that the Earth has somehow been knocked out of it's normal angle and so days and nights no longer last their 24 hours--there are some days that last 40 hours and nights that last 10. The concept is interesting, and frankly, I found it terrifying. We learn all about this from the perspective of a young girl, Julia, who now has to deal with the craziness of the Earth as well as dealing with the normal things in life. The "slowing" as it's referred to changes all kinds of things: gravity, people's behavior, farming, diseases, and the whole idea was very well thought out but also very terrifying. One of the more interesting parts of the book was the discussion on how some people decided to live by clock time (meaning that they didn't pay attention to light and dark and went by how time had always been measured) and those who lived by when the sun rose and set. It was a great book, but one that definitely kept me awake a few nights!

-Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates: Joyce Carol Oates has always been hit or miss for me, and frankly there have been far more misses than hits (except for My Sister, My Love which I devoured). Mudwoman was a big miss for me. I almost stopped reading it halfway through but forced myself to get through it. The story is about a girl whose mother is mentally ill. The woman has two daughters: one of the daughters, she kills and leaves in a refrigerator, and the other becomes Mudwoman, the one she left in the woods and who was found and adopted. Frankly, the parts of the story that were flashbacks to her childhood and the story of how she was left and found could have been good if they weren't overshadowed by the strange, often gross, telling of the woman when she is 50. Mudwoman is adopted as a young girl by Quakers and grows up to be the first female president of an Ivy League university, but she can't outrun her past and deal with her life. There were parts where my face must have been so contorted in both confusion and disgust that someone on the metro asked me, "Are you okay, miss?" Yeah... I wouldn't recommend this one. Plus it's super long (longer than necessary by at least 100 pages) and took forever.

- Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas: To get over the strangeness that was Mudwoman, I picked up a book that I actually bought my roommate for her birthday. Paris, My Sweet is a memoir of a woman who loves sweets so much that she writes about them as part of her living. She works in advertising and is assigned a project in Paris, which she takes mostly because of her love of France and her love of French desserts. The book was cute, fluffy, fun, and make me long for France (though I've never been). Let's just say that the day after I finished it, I treated myself to Paul, which just opened near work (and will be the downfall of my waist and my wallet). But in all honesty, it made me really want to search for a good bakery in DC and also to go to Paris, which is on my list (of course). A cute, super-easy read!

-The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: Please read this book. I know it's young adult, and I know it sounds a little cheesy, but it's not. I promise. The story is about Hazel who is a terminally ill teenager who has a very interesting outlook on life. She meets Augustus who only has one leg because of cancer, which is in remission throughout most of the book. I'm not spoiling anything here by telling you that they fall in love and it is, of course, destined to be doomed. Okay, okay, I know that this is starting to sound like a Lurlene McDaniel book (which I was (ashamedly) obsessed with as a kid), but it's so well written and so beautiful. Hazel and Augustus kind of begin their love affair over a book that Hazel loves, which becomes an important part of their story. I loved the characters and the way that Green portrays them and how I came to love them myself. By the end of the book, I was a mess (warning: don't read this on public transportation... thank goodness I was home when I finished it) but I was so glad that I read it. I feel like I'm not doing the book justice here, but please do pick it up. Very quick and enjoyable read.

And thus ends my summer reading--I think it's officially over now, as I drain the dregs of one of my final summer beers and open my windows to let in the cool air that feels like fall. It's hard to believe it's already fall again, but I must say that I'm ready for sweater dresses, tights, cooking, opening my windows, autumn scented candles, and crispy leaves.

I've started reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and I think I'm going to love it! :)

In closing, let me say this: it's hard to believe that as of tomorrow, it's been 5 whole years since I got on my first airplane ever and landed in London to spend  3 months in Canterbury, England. So, to close this post, I'm throwin' it back with one of my favorite pictures ever.

How can anything possibly top skipping down the lane that Maria von Trapp skipped down? I ask you that. :)

I hope that your summer reading has made you feel renewed and ready for the fall!

Read on, friends,

1 comment:

  1. So glad to see you post again. Was wondering if my reader was acting up or something.

    I love John Green, (think he's this year's Teen Read Week spokesperson), and I'm already on the list for Age of Miracles.

    Lately, I've been reading mostly classics, since there are so many free ebooks. I'm starting to see the world through Victorian-colored glasses. Need something current.