Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

I stayed up till 12:15 last night reading this book. It was very naughty of me because I'm really tired today, but worth it because this book is so great.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner


I'm really not lying when I say that this book made me laugh and cry. I started this book before moving and between putting things away and cleaning, I didn't have much time to pick it up. I started it in earnest yesterday and read almost straight through. (Why can I not be moderate in my reading?) Last night, I was hiding my face in the couch pillows and giggling like a little girl, and this morning, I was distressing Lillian to an extreme degree with all my crying.

The book is a fictional diary of a woman named Sarah Agnes Prine whose family moves to Tucson in the 1880's. The fact that I live in Tucson didn't really influence my love for this book, if you were wondering, although it was interesting to have heard of the places that they visit and talk about.

Her diary chronicles her late teens through her twenties, her courting and marriage, and her struggles with small children. This is probably why I like it so much. There's a scene much like the one in Little Women where she's had a heck of a time with her toddler and baby and is standing covered in vomit with two screaming kids trying to cook and clean up a broken jar all at the same time when her husband comes home with company and asks for a haircut. She simply takes off her apron and announces she is going to bed. This scene has played out in my home as well.

Oh, I loved this book.

Another part I thought was wonderful, (maybe read this after you read to book if you don't want me to give too much away) was when after she has a few kids and she sees her brother go off to college and she is beset upon by a longing and a sadness. She feels sort of shackled to her children and home and is conflicted about wanting a bigger life and attend college too and wanting to be a mother to her children. A Yavapai Indian that she's friends with tells her wisdom is not a journey, it is a tree. She can grow up and out in many directions and there are many more ways to increase in intelligence than can be studied in a classroom.

I have never felt closer to a fictional character before. And, I realize it is fiction, but I just love that even though I've never had to shoot anybody to protect my family, or carry my belongings in a covered wagon, or watch my close family members die, I am a mother and that has been the same forever. The struggles I have with my kids not sleeping or crying or driving me crazy or the worries I have over them or how much I love them are the same with every mother from the beginning of time.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

American Buffalo by Stephen Rinella

For fun, I made a list of all the books I read last year. After I was done, I looked it over and realized that 95% of it was juvenile fiction with the other 5% being popular adult fiction. My friend Bridget did the same and she had her's categorized. One of her categories was "NPR-type books" and it had 12 books in it. Good grief. I looked at my list, and then looked at her list, I thought, "It's no wonder my mind is turning to oatmeal."

So, I decided to read some books that I heard about on NPR, the first of which being American Buffalo. The author is an extreme mountain man (who reminded me a lot of Brian) who has been fascinated with buffalo from a young age. He enters a lottery for the opportunity to go hunt a wild buffalo in Alaska. The book is about his experiences hunting the buffalo and intertwined with the narrative is the entire history of buffalo in North America.

The parts about him hunting are not that interesting and border on gross during the parts where he actually kills and butchers the animal. But the history of the buffalo is, well, fascinating. To Tyler's chagrin, I had the word vomit about it. For example, I thought it was interesting that the reason the buffalo were killed off so fast is that there was an advancement in the tanning process that allowed the winter coats to be processed. Previous to that, only summer coats could be processed allowing the buffalo to be able to regenerate their numbers during the winter/spring. I also thought it was interesting when the author makes the point that the Indians used every part of the buffalo, but they didn't use every part of every buffalo. They used what they needed at the time and left the rest.

I didn't think I liked this book, and I guess I complained a lot about how it wasn't over yet when Tyler said, "for a book you dislike so much, you sure talk about it a lot." So, maybe I did like it after all.

the latest

Since I perforated my eardrum and the kids and I got the flu, I've done a lot of reading. A lot. Half of it was recommended here, so I don't need to go into it, except to say that:

* I loved The Hunger Games
* I'm on the fourth Percy Jackson book
* Hattie Big Sky reminded me of a book I love called Tisha, about a woman who goes out into the Alaskan wilderness and faces the same kind of harsh weather and racism, etc. I don't know if it's still in print but it's by Robert Specht. It's good.

I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch for book club. I was the only one who thought it was just okay. Perhaps I'm the arrogant one, but it seems to me that anyone can write an anecdotal, this-is-what's-important-before-I-die type of legacy. He has some funny stories and good advice, but maybe the fact that he was way too into his career is what turned me off. He was a really accomplished guy with a positive attitude and I've heard that if you actually watch his "last lecture" online that he comes across as much more human and likable.

Since reading all the Jane Austen novels and watching lots of Jane Austen movies, including Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway, I decided to check out some Jane Austen biographies. Jane Austen by Carol Shields, at less than 200 pages, is highly readable. She offers valuable insight as an author of fiction herself.

I'm reading another Austen biography (all with the same title; I tell you, there's no creativity here) by Claire Tomalin which is longer and more tedious but apparently the new authority, so we'll see.

When I was still searching for something to read I found a book called The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, about a brilliant mathematician whose short-term memory only lasts for 80 minutes because of an accident. He's obsessed with math, the beauty of numbers, etc. The housekeeper has a son who forms a special relationship with the professor. I found it pretty boring. Probably there's something I'm not getting.