Jeannette Walls

Have you read anything by Jeannette Walls? It’s been a few months since I tore through The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses but I keep thinking of these two books. The first being her memoir, detailing a nomadic childhood with passionate and flawed parents, the second a “true-life novel” about her grandmother’s life. Both are meticulously written, weaving multiple stories into a cohesive book with a strong journalistic quality and clear voice. NYT reviews here & here.

I was thinking about these books today, googled “Jeannette Walls” and discovered that she’s a gossip columnist. Interesting. I then watched a few interviews with her and listened to Walls explain her career in gossip – how she had the urge to tear down the façade of invincibility that some people, ie celebrities, can exert. How she feels that there’s power in truth and there’s always a story that we don’t necessarily understand – that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on appearances.

I’m not about to hop on over to gossip sites to read more from Walls, but I do hope that she turns out another novel. If you haven’t yet read these titles, I highly recommend them! (The Glass Castle has sold 1.5 million copies, so I bet you could score a well-loved paperback at a used bookstore)

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there’s a used bookstore down the street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So I picked up these two books last week and absolutely devoured them – slowing down to savor the last few pages of Prodigal Summer. I finished the last lines and then immediately flipped back to the first page and started again, I’ve never done that before. I have a new favorite novel!

A pumpkin pie (Alice Waters style) is cooling off in the kitchen, the kittens are napping on a quilt by the window, and I’m stretching my legs out after a weekend of mellow hiking in the crisp November air. Wishing you a lovely week.

 

yes, what is it about 20-somethings?

A friend on facebook posted this article on her wall and I think it’s fascinating – it equates the ‘discovery’ or psychological defining of adolescence to what’s appearing now – the shifting and apparent elongation of the transition to adulthood.

I find the last line of the article quite heartening: “If it really works that way, if this longer road to adulthood really leads to more insight and better choices, then Arnett’s vision of an insightful, sensitive, thoughtful, content, well-honed, self-actualizing crop of grown-ups would indeed be something worth waiting for.”

this week’s books


I borrowed this one from my nanny family so I can read up on the youngest one in their Montessori household.

This one is recommended by Ina May Gaskin – how could I not read it? And before nursing school prereqs? Yes, please.

And to balance it all out, a necessary novel.

Reviews, comments, and favorite quotes to come : )

books can be confusing

image from here

Did you read Pat the Bunny as a kid? Me too. Well since then, the author has come out with a whole line of “Pat the… ” books. This afternoon, the 16-month-old and I were pawing through Pat the Cat and arrived at the last page – where you squeeze the teddy bear’s tummy and it squeaks. So after squeaking the teddy, squealing, and clapping his hands a whole lot, the little man looks down at his tummy and gives it a good squeeze, waiting presumably for the corresponding noise. He then looks up at me in complete bewilderment after which I had to explain the disappointing difference between stomaches.

S o c u t e.

(besides making squeaking noises, all things involving water, and stacking blocks, the little guy loves balloons, hence the pretty picture above)

knitting in the heat of summer

I am presently casting on in the humidity of mid-July. This is how inspired I was by Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter, a book that my mom let me borrow.

I was already laughing out loud by the introduction. To quote the review on the back of the book, “Really? A laugh-out-loud book about hand knitting?” Well yes, really. Apparently the author, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, is a big deal in the blogging world. Being so ridiculously brand new to this “blogging world,” knitting, and many many other things that I’ve been trying out lately, I had no idea. You can find her blog here. The particular passage that got me so inspired wasn’t all that funny, it just struck a chord with me:

“It really does seem so simple. Knitting is only two stitches, knit and purl, yet with those two ordinary acts we knitters can take a ball of yarn and a couple of pointy sticks and create something useful and beautiful. An average sweater takes god-only-knows-how-many stitches to make, each one of them a simple act… I know it looks like a hat, but really, it’s four hours at the hospital, six hours on the bus, two hours alone at four in the morning when I couldn’t sleep because I tend to worry. It is all those hours when I chose to spend time warming another person. It’s giving them my time – time that I could have spent on anything, or anyone, else. Knitting is love, looped and warm.”

Stephanie also goes on to describe an event that I personally experienced as a newbie knitter last holiday season, which is apparently referred to by knitting veterans as It. Remember when I was all excited about my first knitting project? Well, after that positive accomplishment, I went to my favorite knitting store in SF and stocked up on all the yarn, needles, and patterns to knit the entirety of my holiday gift list. I should have known when I heard someone casually joking about their fledgling ambition across the store, “I remember when I thought I was going to knit all of my holiday gifts that first year, HA” that there might be a little problem in my planning. Let’s just say that my mom found me bleary-eyed in the basement on Christmas morning… still knitting. The official term for this delirious dedication to hand-knit gifts coupled with poor planning is It.

Did I learn? I suppose I developed some speed and a better understanding of how long certain projects take to complete, but here I am, planning to make most of my gifts for this holiday season. And I’m glad that I will have hilarious company in that effort, now that I’ve read this book, and know that I am far from the only one out there.

I’m casting on now, mid-July, in an effort to avoid doing It again. Wish me luck.

childhood: the reading list

The kids I nanny for range in age from toddler to tween – making the books we read together especially appealing because I get to bring over all of my favorites for them to borrow, rather than just a few of a certain realm.

This is the overall favorite of the group at the moment:

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And my all-time favorite list:

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What are your favorite kids books?

So I read Twilight…

(Me suffering through the novel on a mission to deconstruct the current vampire phenomenon while Graham takes a break from On The Road and a Frenchman enjoys the view on Ko Tao)

* This post is a negative review. I normally like to focus on things that I enjoy and find inspiring but I think that this trend is interesting and the issues raised are important to discuss *

While in SE Asia, I devoured anything I found that was written in English, and was very curious to see what all the fuss was about when I stumbled upon a battered copy of the first novel in the Twilight series.

I will refrain from describing Stephanie Meyer’s writing style, (there are lots of books sharing the distinction of sloppiness beyond the excuse of a low reading level) but I do want to briefly touch base on how disturbing the thematic content is – and how this is all the more frightening due to the series’ popularity.

Twilight is centered around a pallid lifeless teenager lacking personal interests (or I’ll go so far as to say lacking personality) whose crush, throughout the series, breaks into her home and watches her sleep, verbally and physically threatens her, and encourages her to lie about being beaten within reach of death. It is a love story about an abusive relationship.

It is a book that romanticizes violence (and far exceeds the obvious poetic license in using the tired vampire theme) and author Stephanie Meyer’s dismissal of this fact displays an alarming naiveté that is present throughout her novel.

Censorship is not something I endorse and I thoroughly encourage anyone who’s curious about the book to pick up a copy at the library and form your own opinion. I appreciate the issue of abuse being raised in a format accessible to teens and my hope is that this poorly composed piece of “literature” will spark a dialogue among young women that is far more intelligent than what was released by this grown woman.

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(I stopped trying to read and analyze this series after I caught 5 minutes of the first movie in a hotel lobby where the emaciated main female character makes a cynical joke about teenage eating disorders. I also read the first few chapters of the last book where, after her marriage at age 19 to the vampire, a bloody birth scene takes place, involving vampires biting through her uterus to “birth” a baby that had been beating her from the inside-out. I literally gave myself a headache thinking of how many unfortunate images in society these extreme metaphors evoke.)

Asparagus Spirituality

“From the outlaw harvests of my childhood, I’ve measured my years by asparagus. I sweated to dig it into countless yards I was destined to leave behind, for no better reason than that I believe in vegetables in general, and this one in particular. Gardeners are widely known and mocked for this sort of fanaticism. But other people fast or walk long pilgrimages to honor the spirit of what they believe makes our world whole and lovely. If we gardeners can, in the same spirit, put our heels to the shovel, kneel before a trench holding tender roots, and then wait three years for an edible incarnation of the spring equinox, who’s to make the call between ridiculous and reverent?”

Barbara Kingsolver

from Animal Vegetable Miracle