Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Holy Crap! It's already February

This time last month we were celebrating the new year. We're a month in, people! Time to get out the Valentine's decorations.

I have 3 books on the go, because that's how I roll. Me, My Hair, and I, Spark Joy, and If On a Winter's Night a Traveler. I'm hoping the Marie Kondo one will jump start me back into cleaning. I did tackle one subcategory- electronics- over the weekend. Now to do something with all the items that need tossing.

I fell off the no sugar wagon after I got sick this week. It's hard to eat well, when you feel like crap. I ate ice cream instead.

Tomorrow is another day.

Although I do not like musicals or know anything about American history, I am listening to the Hamilton Cast Recording. I'm actually interested! That is a feat! He is doing the Schuyler sisters wrong. I have 9 songs left, so don't ruin it for me.

In other news, I knitted a sock! One sock. #2 is a WIP.

I missed this when Chris posted it, but it's important. His Dad is sick and needs moral support. Check it out!

There goes another week in 2016! How was your week? 

Bella! In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

In Other Words

When Jhumpa Lahiri was in her twenties, she fell in love with Italian. Not An Italian. Italian, the language.

She spent the next several years bouncing from teacher to teacher in the United States trying to learn the language but never conquering it. Finally, she decided that the only way to really learn Italian was to live in Italy.

That's not a terrible idea. Immersion is supposed to be the best way to learn a language. Hearing a language and having to speak a language to be understood is a sort of trial by fire approach that works. However, for Lahiri she didn't just want to be understood, she wanted the language to become a part of her.

In Other Words is a memoir of Lahiri's love affair with the language. She describes it that way herself: a love affair and later on an infant that she must protect and nurture. Why she fell so hard for Italian is a mystery to me. She just did. She became obsessed with it.

A child of immigrant parents, Lahiri never felt at home in either of her mother tongues: Bengali or English. By taking on Italian, she attempts to carve out a new identity, a new voice for her writing. She laments not feeling at home in any language, including Italian, but more herself in Italian. She vents her frustration at not being taken seriously, because she doesn't "look" Italian.

She articulates her struggles with the language through lovely metaphors. I loved her style of writing. This book was written in Italian, and translated to English (she explains that particular quirk early on). This adds another layer of intimacy that writing in English would have lost.

I've never read any of her other work, but enjoyed this very personal account of her time with Italian. I'll be looking for more books by her. This is a very short memoir- the second half of the book is in the original Italian.

Translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein.

About the Audio: Jhumpa Lahiri reads her own words. Words she originally wrote in Italian. How weird must that have been? She reads the book first in English, then Italian. If you would like to hear how she sounds in Italian, here is your chance. I found that she sounded a bit stiff at first, in English, but then loosened up a bit as she went. Her Italian sounds lovely!

Thanks to Penguin Random House Audio for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

In Other Words

One More Thing by BJ Novak

After reading Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me? I put One More Thing on hold at library. BJ Novak is Mindy's best friend. They love each other to pieces, and since I like Mindy, I was sure I would love this too.

Not so much.

Here's the thing. There were some issues with the writing that I wasn't a fan of, but I think listening to the audiobook might have been a bigger issue. Anyone who has ever watched The Office for more than 5 minutes would realize that BJ Novak's character is an asshole. Sure, Steve Carell and Rainn Wilson also play terrible characters, but they are so over the top it's easy to see that it's a ridiculous persona. BJ Novak's character is a swarmy, smug guy, and it's believable enough that I cannot separate that character from his voice as he reads his own words. Especially since so many of the short stories feature those kind of guys.

Why can't I believe you?
That's a me problem.

On to the actual words in this book.

It started out well enough. The Rematch was cute, The Something by John Grisham was funny, but as I continued on through the stories they all seemed to be more of the same. Repetition throughout each story was also a problem for me, and not as easy to skip over in audio. It seemed to me that he was trying too hard to be clever. The blurb says it was workshopped at comedy clubs and it feels it. By the time I got to Kellogg's I was hoping this collection would be done soon. Not even close.

If I could have picked maybe 10 of these stories, discarded the rest, and created my own edition, I would have been happy.

Lots of people loved this, but it was not for me. I feel bad about it, because deep down inside I know this will keep me and Mindy from becoming bffs.

About the Audio: See above. Also, Novak has a bunch of famous people narrate some of the stories, including Mindy Kaling, Rainn Wilson, Julianne Moore. So points for using those people. 

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Feeling Old On the Internets

This past week there was a post that blew up Twitter. I'm not going to link to it, because...well, because. It was a loooooong post about all the things that bugged this person about book blogging: ARC envy, blogger/author friendships, sponsored content.

It's interesting to see that in my nine years of blogging, people are still complaining about the same things. What was also interesting was that I didn't recognize these bloggers or most of the people in the comments. I felt so old.

There is nothing wrong with trying to improve things, of course. However, I've come to see that, "you do you" is a better philosophy for me. Maybe that's why I'm still here. I don't care what others are doing anymore. There is no book blogger Supreme controlling the book blogger world. You don't have follow anyone's rules. If what you do bugs other people, so what?* And maybe not care so much about what someone else is doing.

Not the boss of me

It's a pretty good bet that none of the people involved in that post will ever find my blog, so I'm going to "steal"** the idea by making my own list of confessions, ones that are all about me.

  • I have about 100 half-posts in draft***
  • I have about 100 gifs saved for "just the right post"
  • I don't ever want to read another think piece from authors on Used Book Stores (ok that one is not about me)
  • I'm probably going to be a Blogger blogger until the end of Blogger even though I complain about it- and there is nothing you can do to talk me into switching, I am too lazy
  • I panic that my domain name will expire without me noticing because I delete all emails from Go Daddy without reading them
  • I have tried a blogging schedule at least once a year and it never sticks
  • I am a terrible commenter
  • I long for that feeling I had when I was a new blogger and everything felt fresh. 
*Except for plagiarism, don't do that
**It's not really stealing if it's been done since the Jurassic Period of book blogging
***I may have exaggerated a bit

Let's talk about something else.

These lifestyle bloggers quit their blog. I can see why that would be stressful. Although book blogging is not the same, it could eat up too much of your life if you make too many commitments.

I finished BJ Novak's One More Thing. It was not enjoyable.

So many good audiobooks are coming out! I have four in my queue right now. This makes me happy! Now I can knit all I want and read.

I just finished watching Broadchurch on Netflix. What a bummer of a show. So. Messed. Up.

X-Files is on tonight!!!! I cannot wait!

What are you looking forward to?

American Housewife by Helen Ellis, Meh

I may have listened to this too close to reading Little Tales of Misogyny. It pales in comparison.

American Housewife is a collection of twelve short stories* by Helen Ellis. They are similar in theme as they are about wives of some variety and the women are all a little kooky. They seem to be a particular kind of American woman: wealthy and white.

What I can say about American Housewife is that there are a lot of good ideas here but nothing really struck me as great. It was...okay. Some of these stories were lists and that got old pretty fast. I don't mind lists, as long as you got some meat to your collection.

The email exchanges between the two women in The Wainscoting War were entertaining with things getting catty in a hurry. I found Dead Doormen to be both dark and sad- a woman marries a man who treats her like a glorified maid. Hello! Welcome to Bookclub was not what I expected and I kind of liked that.

In the end, I thought most of the stories rather forgettable. A few made me chuckle, but there was nothing that stuck out.

*If lists can be counted as short stories??? 

About the Audio: The short stories were narrated by a number of women. They all did a fine job.

Thanks to Random House Audio for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

Penguin Appreciation Day

Did you know that January 20th is Penguin Appreciation Day? Well, it is! Don't have a penguin near you to appreciate? How about some Penguin books instead!

Here are some Penguin Classics, cloth covered editions. I appreciate these so much I would like more.

Just a few of my Penguin softcovers: Classic and Modern Classic. You can appreciate Penguins on the cheap.

And something completely different: Penguin postcards. Classic old timey Penguin covers in postcard from. Appreciate them by sending them to friends or hanging them on your wall!

Appreciate your Penguins today!

Penguins out!

Little Tales of Misogyny (Or Ladies Can't Win)

Little Tales of Misogyny by Patricia Highsmith is a collection of very short stories of women. Each story highlights some "type" of woman: a prude, an artist, a middle-class housewife, a mother-in-law, etc.

In every story, the life of the woman goes very wrong and she usually, but not always, ends up dying in some bizarre fashion. That's not to say that these stories are heartbreaking or sad. They are so exaggerated that the endings are silly and laughable. Take The Artist for example. The artist spends time all her time in art school making bad art and ignoring her husband. She dies in an explosion, furiously playing a piano as it flies through the air.

These stereotypical women are recognizable. We've all heard about some variation of them before, usually by some grump complaining that "women are all alike." Not so, according to Patricia Highsmith, we're varied in our terribleness! Even when a woman struggles against type, it goes badly for her. The Mother-In-Law tries not to be like the stereotypical mother-in-law by being silent and accommodating and gets grief for it from her children. Poor lady. These women are dismissed, forgotten with a shrug as soon as they die.

Little Tales of Misogyny is a nasty piece of satire written in 1975 that's still relevant today. Middle-Class Housewife reminded me of Kate Beaton's Straw Feminists in the Closet.  Unfortunately some things never change!

For fun, read the Goodread reviews of this. They are as entertaining as the book.

Mini-Bloggiesta List: 2016 Edition (With Update)

I'm glad this one is a mini! I have a few things to do, but no major overhauls.

My list:

  • Update review page.
  • Backup blog. 
  • Clean out mail.
  • Plan some posts for the blog. 
  • Decide what I'm going to read (if ever). 
  • Add reviews to Pinterest.
  • ........
I don't think I'll make the Twitter chat. Everybody have fun without me!

Happy Bloggiesta!


Did some basic clean up. I also made a new blog header and cleaned up the sidebar. Everything looks neat and tidy. I guess I Kon-Mari'ed my blog!

Update for January 17:

I downloaded the 2016 Calendar for Evernote for blogging. I'm actually going to use this calendar! No really!

As per Doing Dewey Mini-Challenge, I've planned several posts for Valentine's Day. I got some ideas cooking! Thanks for the inspiration!

Oh hey! Here I Am!

Winter walk

Hey there! Yes, second week into 2016 and I already feel like I disappeared.

I've been doing a lot of stuff here at home. I "Marie Kondo'ed" my craft room. It looks a little neater now.

I've been working on my Etsy Shop. I've refurbished some of my items from the last time I had a shop. I'm making planner bookmarks, since my small items fit in nicely with that craze. Some new smaller stuff too. Nothing big, time consuming, or expensive. I have lots of plans for the shop, I just need to execute them. Once I have things up and running, I can spend more time here.

In an effort to be more efficient, I'm trying to plan out my day, especially for the Etsy shop. I don't want to spend too much time on one thing and neglect everything else. I'm getting a lot of use out of my new planner. (And also buying a lot of washi tape.)

One of my New Year resolutions was to learn to knit and I've taken a step toward making that happen. I joined a class! I'm not where Eva from The Charm of It is but it's going okay.

Did you hear? BBAW is coming back! I guess I'll have to be more of a Book Blogger for you all to appreciate me! Ha! That Andi is busy but so involved in our blogging world. I definitely appreciate all that she and Heather , Jenny, and Ana are doing for our part of the internet.

Mini-Bloggiesta is this weekend too, which I totally forgot about. I'll probably pop in a bit for that.

Personally, I have cut out excess sugar from my diet. I used My Fitness Pal in the past and was shocked by how much sugar I ate without even realizing it. I started last week with a 3 Day Sugar Detox. It was very strict- no grains, no sweet fruit. I ate a lot of spinach, nuts, and avocado. It was tough, (I had murderous thoughts about the people in the grocery line ahead of me buying pop and chocolate bars) but I managed to get through it. I couldn't keep up such a strict diet, especially since I run and need some carbs. I've added fruit and some grains back into my diet this week. It was a great start though, and made me much more aware of what I eat. Whether or not I can stay away from sugar forever is another story. You got to have birthday cake once in a while!

That's about all the updates I have! I'm having the hardest time picking a book to read. I'm overthinking it. I should just pick something, anything to jump start my reading. Anyone reading anything good?

Strangers on a Train (Not the Movie)

Strangers on a Train

I don't think I've ever seen the Hitchcock film Strangers on a Train. I've heard references to it. I vaguely knew what it was about. Two strangers plot to kill someone they want dead. Or so I thought. Patricia Highsmith's novel actually ended up surprising me.

Since the action happens early on, most of my thoughts are going to be SPOILERY. If you want the short version, here it is: don't tell strangers on public transit too much personal information.

Continue on if you like...

Two strangers meet on a train (just like the title!). One is an architect traveling to his hometown in hopes of getting a divorce from his estranged wife. The other is a drunken spoiled rich brat who hates his father. The younger drunk one, Charles Bruno, somehow charms personal information out of the architect, Guy Haines. Guy has too many whiskies which loosens his tongue and he tells Bruno too much about his past, his unhappy marriage in particular. Bruno also tells Guy about his idea for the perfect murder...

Just say, NO!

After that regrettable evening on the train, Guy meets his wife, but turns out she doesn't want a divorce after all. That puts a damper on his plans to marry his new love, Anne. He decides to forget his troubles by taking a vacation to Mexico with Anne. While he's there, he gets word that his wife is dead. MURDERED. Of course the police want a word with him, but in the end declare her death the work of a maniac.

Not long after, the trouble starts for Guy. Bruno begins haunting him. Sending letters, making phone calls. Asking him when he's going to return the favour.

The first thing I thought was that Guy should have gotten himself a lawyer and told the police about Bruno. "It might be nothing, but I met this weird guy on the train," might have saved him a lot of trouble. Then again, who would think a stranger you had a few drinks with would murder someone for you? Well, a maniac, I guess.

Bruno is an interesting character. He's an alcoholic. He has a strange attachment to his mother. He doesn't seem to have any interest in life at all. No goals- other than to commit the perfect murder. He becomes fixated, obsessed with Guy. He stalks him, harasses him. He makes vague threats. And at the same time he seems to love Guy. He wants to hang out with him and be a part of his life.

Guy, for his part, is sometimes disgusted with Bruno, but also fascinated by him. Bruno has a kind of charm that other people besides Guy feels. Guy ends up getting more entangled with Bruno than ever intended. He invades every part of his life. He's being tortured by this man, who sees it as friendship.

Guy, basically

Strangers on a Train has a lot of mid 20th Century tropes: Bruno hates women but LOVES his Mom, he's probably gay (or maybe he has no sexual feelings? It's hard to tell) therefore he's a villain. There's a floozy poor woman, and an angelic rich woman. Despite all of that, Highsmith doesn't create one note characters. There is much more to them than meets the eye. Even Anne. The point-of-view is mostly through Guy and Bruno, but there are brief interludes where we see into the minds of the other characters. This is more a psychological thriller than a mystery.

About the Audio: Bronson Pinchot does a spectacular job as narrator. His interpretation of Bruno is particularly good. He gives him a slurred, slightly menacing voice. In fact, all of his voices are distinctive. I guess that makes him Perfect, Perfect (at) Strangers. Woop!Woop!


Heart Warming Tales of Accidental Genius by Simon Van Booy

Tales of Accidental Genius

I read Tales of Accidental Genius during the Christmas season, so I kind of forgot what it was about. I did tell everyone on Twitter to read it, because it's great. It's like a warm hug.

Okay, so a few things are coming back to me now.

I loved the story of the pet store cashier who helps an old man with his "sick" fish. That was so charming. The story of the retired body guard had the right amount of hopefulness. I was less enamored with the tale of the rich couple on their anniversary. It felt distant to me. A feeling I'm not used to when reading Simon Van Booy's books. Maybe it was their elegant New York lifestyle that put me off.

The last and longest story is different from anything I've read of his. It's a story within a story. It begins with a successful Chinese action movie writer. He takes a working vacation to write his next script. He's decided to write something completely different. A romantic movie. The real story is the one he writes. It's the life story of a vegetable vendor who grows up, loses his parents, falls in love with a girl, loses the girl, then becomes a millionaire and saves the world.

What's so clever about the last story is that by making the tale a movie, anything is possible. Ghosts tell people what to do. Sure, why not? An invention solves the energy crisis. Of course! There are crazy coincidences, but whenever I had doubts, I remembered it's just a movie. Those things can happen in a movie.

In each of these stories, strangers touch the lives of the characters in meaningful ways. Some don't even know how they've affected others. It made me think about how we are all connected, which is just the thing to read at that time of year.

I definitely recommend it.

Thanks to Harper Perennial for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

My Blogging Anniversary and My #OneWord for 2016

Today is my nine year bloggiversary. I actually remembered it on time this year. I've been blogging for this long, I might as well keep it up for another year and make 10.

I'm not sure if I have much to reflect on regarding blogging this time around. It has it's ups and downs. I'm still here and that's about all I can say. Nine years and I'm still here.

It's not quite New Years anymore but close enough. Bryan at Still Unfinished had an awesome idea about choosing a word for 2016. I thought about it and came up with mine.

I know that's it's not a very sexy word, but I feel like it's something I need to work on. I waste so much time, when I want to be doing something productive. I want to work on being more organized, and better with my time. Time for working on reopening my Etsy shop. Time for blogging. Time for exercise. Time for more fun things too! And time for reading. I could have spent an hour on this graphic, but I did it in a couple of minutes instead. So already it's working. Ha!

So, I'll be working on being more efficient and if I come up with some good tips, I'll share them with you!