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A Moveable Feast By Fire

December 31st, 2009

Tonight is a rare night because my kids have gone with my wife to their grandparents and I have a few hours to myself. I have my book which I’ve begun to treat like a dirty little secret, keeping it hidden from view while waiting longingly for the rare private moment when I can indulge. And this is exactly what I’ve done. I’m reading Hemingway as you may have noticed, he being the only author whose words I form with my lips and silently sound out as I read them. Each word treated like something coveted, dropped one at a time, luring me into a place bereft of the mundane.

It is now past sunset and when I go to the backyard to retrieve the fire grate my breath is heavy and visible. The grapevines are covered in frost, the air void of chirping birds, and so tonight is the night I start a fire, the first fire since the previous winter. I turn off the heat in the house and dim the lights in the front room where the flickering fire is already burning hot. I open up to Paris in the 20s, where it’s raining and a young Ernest Hemingway is eating his oranges, writing his stories, drinking his wine, and having tea with Gertrude Stein. And this is where I’ll be for the next few hours, as cars outside drive past unnoticed, silenced phones will ring futilely, and my own conjured yet uneventful life patiently waits for my return.


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In Our Strange Gardens – The 52nd Book

December 30th, 2009

I’m really tired but also a little anxious and quite a bit relieved. Reggie and Bob weren’t doing it for me either. A commenter posited that it was so hard to find a book because #52 was supposed to mean something more, something to speak for the previous 51 books, to represent. And yes, I agree. I couldn’t choose a book that seemed appropriate for the final book.

I was avoiding reading In Our Strange Gardens because of it’s length. It’s only 80 pages when translated from French. How could I end the resolution with an 80 page book? But all day today I was telling myself that the resolution was over, that 51 had to be where it ended. I even got into bed telling myself it was over, you can relax now, it’s done and 51 is just fine. I hadn’t completed a book in almost a month.

Then I looked over at the book that my sister let me borrow and I just started reading. She really beamed up when she loaned it to me, and I still hear those words that I so often say to other people, “I can’t tell you why I loved it, I just did”. I guess that stuck with me.

So, resigned to failure I started reading the book and a few hours later I had it finished, and yes, it is a wonderful book. So simple and true, and much more full of life than other books with a higher page count with more to say that is quickly forgotten. But not here, not with these characters and these sacrifices and how the story is told, with the end at the beginning, the beginning in the middle, and the end back where you started the whole thing. And through this whole circuitous read you are totally engaged, and time fades away, and before I knew it, I had my 52 books.


Book Thoughts

2009 Reading In Review – The Numbers

December 29th, 2009

13,400 pages.
4,020,000 words.
20,100,000 total letters.
36 Pages Per Day
Total Spent on Books: $611.
Cost Per Page: $0.04.

SO Worth It

Book Author Week Started Finished Days Pages Rating
Born Digital Dan Palfrey 1 01-01 01-07 7 290 5
The Last Lecture Randy Pausch 2 01-08 01-10 3 206 7
Good To Great Jim Collins 3 01-10 01-20 11 218 6
Sparks Peter Benson 4 01-20 01-27 7 222 5
The Book Thief Markus Zusak 5 01-28 02-06 10 550 9
The Yankee Years Joe Torre 6 02-07 02-15 9 477 7
The Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell 7 02-23 03-02 8 280 8
The Alchemist Paulo Coelho 8 03-02 03-03 2 167 8
On Writing Stephen King 9 03-04 03-11 8 288 10
The Elements of Style William Strunk 10 03-12 03-16 5 95 7
The Book of Dahlia Elisa Albert 11 03-17 03-27 11 276 5
Click Bill Tancer 12 03-28 04-01 5 203 6
Why People Photograph Robert Adams 13 04-01 04-05 5 182 7
The Minds Eye Henri Cartier-Bresson 14 04-05 04-06 2 105 7
Blink Malcolm Gladwell 15 04-06 04-12 7 276 8
Things I Have Learned… Stefan Sagmeister 16 04-12 04-13 2 248 6
When You Are Engulfed In… David Sedaris 17 04-13 04-18 6 323 7
A Year With Swollen Appendices Brian Eno 18 04-19 04-26 8 414 7
The Midnight Disease Alice Flaherty 19 04-26 05-01 6 266 5
Quirkology Richard Wiseman 20 05-03 05-06 4 277 7
A Sense of Urgency John Kotter 21 05-06 05-09 4 194 5
Eat Pray Love Elizabeth Gilbert 22 05-10 05-14 5 334 7
The Wisdom of Crowds James Surowiecki 23 05-14 05-21 8 284 6
Tribes Seth Godin 24 05-21 05-23 3 151 7
Possible Side Effects Augusten Burroughs 25 05-23 05-25 3 291 8
Look Me In The Eye John Elder Robison 26 05-29 05-31 3 295 7
Beginning Database Design Clare Churcher 27 06-01 06-13 13 228 8
Beginning SQL Queries Clare Churcher 28 06-13 06-23 11 210 7
Predictably Irrational Dan Ariely 29 07-03 07-13 11 333 7
Getting Real 37Signals 30 07-13 07-17 5 186 8
Words I Wish I Wrote Robert Fulghum 31 07-24 07-28 5 221 9
The World Without Us Alan Weisman 32 07-28 08-09 13 369 7
Man’s Search For Meaning Viktor Frankl 33 08-10 08-12 3 165 9
The Old Man and The Sea Ernest Hemingway 34 08-18 08-18 1 127 8
The Pearl John Steinbeck 35 08-18 08-19 2 90 7
The Fountainhead Ayn Rand 36 08-19 09-12 23 704 2
Book of Mormon Authorship Noel B. Reynolds 37 09-03 09-10 7 543 7
Homer & Langley E.L. Doctorow 38 09-12 09-16 5 224 7
Nurtureshock Po Bronson 39 09-16 10-10 25 352 6
Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck 40 09-19 09-23 5 112 8
That Old Cape Magic Richard Russo 41 09-23 09-28 6 272 7
A Movable Feast Ernest Hemingway 42 10-10 10-11 2 211 9
Gilead Marilynne Robinson 43 10-11 10-15 5 247 7
The Accidental Billionaires Ben Mezrich 44 10-16 10-18 3 272 8
Indignation Philip Roth 45 10-19 10-22 4 256 6
Bounce Keith McFarland 46 10-22 10-23 2 166 7
Choice Theory William Glasser 48 10-30 11-16 18 340 6
StrengthsFinder 2.0 Tom Rath 47 10-30 10-30 1 174 6
The Accidental Masterpiece Michael Kimmelman 49 11-04 11-08 5 229 6
Ghost Alan Lightman 50 11-16 12-02 17 256 7
A Great and Glorious Game A. Bartlett Giamatti 51 11-21 11-24 4 121 7
In Our Strange Gardens Michel Quint 52 12-29 12-20 1 80 10

Book Thoughts

Einstein For Book 52

December 6th, 2009

So it took me longer than usual to finish Ghost. It wasn’t that it wasn’t enjoyable, because it was. It was everything that I thought it would be. I just got busy, as people do. While I was in the middle I did pick up a book about baseball. Sometimes that just happens. I read a collection of essays by the late Yale President and Baseball Commissioner, A. Bartlett Giamatti called A Great and Glorious Game. I started that book on 11/21 and finished it on 11/24. I started Ghost on 11/16 and finished on 12/02. It wasn’t until today, 4 days later, that I decided on what book to finish the year with.

I’m gonna challenge myself a bit and end strong. Right now I’m not really feeling the joy of reading as much as I usually do. Reading is tough work sometimes and lately other things have just taken priority over it. So I’m ending the year with the largest book I’ve read this year, a biography of Einstein. Hopefully by undertaking this large of a book I’ll get the drive back. I’ve been wanting to read an Einstein biography for a long time and I’ve heard great things about this particular one. And this biography is relatively new.

So, 704 pages in 25 days. Only two books this year, NurtureShock and The Fountainhead, have taken me longer than 20 days. The Fountainhead took the longest to read at exactly…25 days. For the first 51 books it took me, on average, 6.8 days per book. Wish me luck, I’ll need it for this one.


Book Thoughts

FIFTY. Alan Lightman Has Been Found

November 16th, 2009

Take my word for it, Einstein’s Dreams is one of the coolest books on the planet. If you don’t believe me, read it. If you read and don’t like it, well I guess that’s ok.

I don’t always keep up with the latest books from my favorite authors. There are many favorite authors. Alan Lightman sneaked one past me called Ghost. And it’s already in paperback so I’ve been clueless for quite some time.

So it’s fitting that BIG #50 is a book by one of my favorite authors. Fifty is important, especially with several weeks left in the year. And as always I’m pondering what’s next. I haven’t come to any sort of conclusion for ’10 but I’ll think of something. Or not.


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She Dreamed of Cows by Norah Pollard

November 15th, 2009

It’s not often that I post something that has nothing to do with my resolution but lately I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts and one in particular I look forward to everyday. This was a poem that was read by Garrison Keiller that I really liked. I’m not a poetry guy, I don’t read poetry at all actually. But that may change.

I knew a woman who washed her hair and bathed
her body and put on the nightgown she’d worn
as a bride and lay down with a .38 in her right hand.
Before she did the thing, she went over her life.
She started at the beginning and recalled everything—
all the shame, sorrow, regret and loss.
This took her a long time into the night
and a long time crying out in rage and grief and disbelief—
until sleep captured her and bore her down.

She dreamed of a green pasture and a green oak tree.
She dreamed of cows. She dreamed she stood
under the tree and the brown and white cows
came slowly up from the pond and stood near her.
Some butted her gently and they licked her bare arms
with their great coarse drooling tongues. Their eyes, wet as
shining water, regarded her. They came closer and began to
press their warm flanks against her, and as they pressed
an almost unendurable joy came over her and
lifted her like a warm wind and she could fly.
She flew over the tree and she flew over the field and
she flew with the cows.

When the woman woke, she rose and went to the mirror.
She looked a long time at her living self.
Then she went down to the kitchen which the sun had made all
yellow, and she made tea. She drank it at the table, slowly,
all the while touching her arms where the cows had licked.

Heard on The Writers Almanac, Garrison Keiller. A fantastic 5-minute podcast.


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Trip To SF + Quick General Update.

November 12th, 2009

Howdy folks. I haven’t checked in for awhile so here is a quick update.

Finished Bounce, then Strengths Finder. Both were ok.

I was in San Francisco last week and during my trip I went to visit MOMA to see the Richard Avedon exhibit. He is one of my favorite portrait photographers. It was awesome. I first went on a Wednesday but learned that the museum is closed on Wednesdays. But the museum store was open so I went in to take a look at a few books. I found and purchased an interesting book called Accidental Masterpiece: On The Art of Life and Vice Versa. I then finished that book in a few days. The author is the chief art critic for the NY Times. There is a great video with him talking about art here. I saw the Avedon exhibit the next day.

So I finished that and now I’m continuing on with Choice Theory which is moving slowly but I’m picking up the pace now and am finding the whole theory really interesting. Once I finish it, which should be by the end of the weekend, I’ll just have books #50, #51, and #52 left with 7 weeks to go in the year. This resolution is looking solid.


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I Found My Strength

October 30th, 2009

I’m good at reading.

On to #48.


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Book #46 – Bounce

October 22nd, 2009

Early early this morning I completed Indignation. It was so-so. Today I start Bounce, by Keith McFarland. I expect it to be so-so as well, but I’m going to start reading it anyway.

Book Thoughts

To Paris, France and Updates On 5 Books

October 19th, 2009

So I had a plan. And the best laid plans… well you know. This was the entry I prepared en route to Paris last week.

I finished Gilead in good time. During this time while not reading, I thought of Hemingway. A biography of him and the complete collection of his short stories are next on the list and tonight, high above the Atlantic, I begin the first of the two.

Both books are 500+ pgs so in the space of the next 14 days I have over a thousand pages to read, which is something that I have yet to do in so little time. Of course, I’m not bound to the 14 days, but with it being so late in the year I feel like I don’t have much breathing room as I did earlier in the year.

I’m excited for Paris and wasn’t planning on going until the last moment. I went from a job interview straight to the airport and when I return I’ll only have 24 hours before I get back on a plane bound for San Francisco where I will again attend meetings and answer questions. And then I’ll have some decisions to make and I’m grateful for them.

A highlight of the trip will undoubtedly be the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore where I hope to pick up a used copy of Death In The Afternoon or Ulysses, the latter I’ll probably never read but even for the non-religious an unread Old Testament bought In Jerusalem is better to have than an unread Bible from America. And Ulysses, an American novel of Parisian origin, was published by the then-owner of Shakespeare & Co.

There will be a view of the Eiffel Tower from our hotel so I imagine I will enjoy that for several seconds before I set off and look at books both new and used from the oldest bookstore I will have ever entered and in which Hemingway perused regularly. A Movable Feast is very geographically detailed so walking the steps of Hemingway, if I’m inclined to, will be an easy task.

I never made it to the bookstore. The problem was that the more I read about Hemingway, the less I liked him. I read almost 200 pages of his biography and decided I had had enough. The curtain had been pulled back and there was no mysticism anymore. And I no longer had an interest in continuing on.
So I left that book unread, as well as the book of short stories that I will also skip for now and jumped from Gilead straight to Accidental Billionaires. This was a surprisingly enjoyable book and I recommend it to any geek or enthusiast of “TheFacebook”. I finished that in a couple days then picked up my first Philip Roth book, Indignation. I’ll finish that book by Wednesday and then I’ll be a full 3 weeks ahead again with 7 books to go.

So, no. We didn’t see the bookstore but we saw a lot of the Eiffel Tower, The Seine, Notre Dame, Louvre, and all kinds of other fun stuff.

I had low expectation of France and I shouldn’t have. The people there are nice the food is great, and getting around is easy. It was an amazing 3 day trip with Sen, and 2 of our 4 kids.


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Gilead & The Turn of The Page

October 11th, 2009

I finished last night’s book in that single sitting, something I attribute to the setting. I don’t think I need to go into too much detail about reading A Movable Feast and how much pleasure it gave me. I sat in the front room and for five hours lived in Paris and experienced what Hemingway was experiencing. Not to mention F. Scott Fitzgerald. I may be in Paris, for real, a week from today. We’ll see.

Part of the fun was that I was reading an actual book, with pages and a cover and everything. I wasn’t reading the Kindle. There is a stark difference, maybe not too stark as I didn’t fully recognize it before (although I’ve spoken of “the feeling” before), but when you are reading a bound book you always have a sense of physical depth. You know without even looking how far you are into the book. You know how much you have left to read, and you know in rough approximation what should be happening so that the book ends nice and tidy. Of course, this was a memoir so the ending wasn’t one of resolution. But that is something, one of many things, that you miss when you read from the Kindle.

I love the turning of the page, the imperceptible thinning of the book you hold on the right side and growth of the book on the left. You turn the page and the thickness in your hands doesn’t seem to change, though you know it has. The weight of the book shifts a hundredth of an ounce at a time until you’ve moved the entire book without a thought of it.

I woke up this morning with nothing but my Kindle and nothing to read. When I don’t have something to read I get anxious, and I had no desire to read from my Kindle. So I went down to my library and tried to see something that I may have overlooked and had put aside for a different time. Not all books are meant for all times.

I came across a book that I’ve had for a few years but have never opened. It even had a book plate in it with my name in what appears to be my sister’s handwriting. I don’t recall when I received the book, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. It was awarded the Pulitzer in 2004 so I received it around that time and in hardcover. It’s a first edition but I don’t know if that means anything since I imagine after the award several thousand more were sent to press.

I’m well into the book now, reading it in bits and pieces throughout today as I go about being a Dad, and I’ve meant to email my sister to thank her for the book (as upon further thought I only have one sister that gives books such as this).

While I feel I can write reasonably well I’m not a prolific emailer. In fact, I loathe email, the informal nature and the instant regret I feel when sending something that wasn’t properly thought out. And of course you can’t be too formal in an email, it throws the conversational nature of the medium off-kilter. So without being able to be formal, and a distaste for correspondence that is loose-tongued, I’m stuck, and emails seem to fly around with me tagging along as a CC participant and while I rarely jump in, I do enjoy reading them. So Sis, thanks for the book, and for your ability to write great emails that everyone enjoys.

Now begins Gilead, book #43.


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The Lampe Gras and Other Reading Accesories

October 10th, 2009

Discovered these lamps today, The Lampe Gras. I love a good lamp, something nice and high that comes up behind me while I’m sitting in a nice recliner. I suppose it’s my reclusive version of being in the spotlight. According to the product details page, these lamps were a favorite of Matisse and Picasso, and for $600.00+ it can be a favorite of yours, too.

Lamps, bookcases, reading journals, bookmarks, I love them all. Reading accessories for me are like shoes for…for…Miranda Hobbes (oh boy I had dig down deep for that reference)

Bookcases. The avid reader of course is often somewhat utilitarian with their bookcase choices, as I was when I acquired the three I own now. They aren’t special, from the generally unoriginal IKEA ilk. A recent post over at Creative Cloud had me reeling with literary inadequacy and left me hopelessly embarrassed by my paltry attempt earlier this year to build my library.

The Chair

The Staircase

Check these magnificent creations, some prototypes and others existing.

Also, don’t forget to check out the web’s most comprehensive reference site on bookmarks.


Book Thoughts

Resolute With Book #42 – A Movable Feast

October 9th, 2009

Roger Ebert from The Chicago Sun-Times:

I wrote in my journal: “I have not spoken to anyone since Monday. The radio is playing ‘Downtown’ by Petula Clerk. I’ve been reading some Shaw — Man and Superman. I’m wearing jeans, my cable knit sweater and my Keds. I’ve made coffee and am waiting for it to cool. Let it be recorded that at this moment I am happy.”

Bibliophiles everywhere nod there heads in understanding.

A recent Merlin Mann post got my attention. The Paris Review website has some great interviews on pdf that can be downloaded. For me, I downloaded Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Kerouac. The Hemingway interview was great, Kerouac was a fool, and I’ll get to Steinbeck tomorrow. All these pdf’s go directly to my Kindle and are really enjoyable to read. Particularly the Hemingway interview, some really great nuggets in there.

I’ve been struggling with reading lately and today I realized that it isn’t reading per se, but the reading choices I have made recently have been impulsive and not without inevitable long-term passion that so many of my books this year have given me.

I read the Hemingway interview and was instantly inspired. I know what I want from my readings. So I went to Borders today to really pick a winner.

So I ended up with a Hemingway memoir, A Movable Feast. And since I finished NurtureShock earlier today, the feast starts tonight. And despite all my resolution doomsday talk, I’m right on track to finish just fine.


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The Kindle 3 – By Design Prodigy, 5 years old.

October 9th, 2009

Click Image For Full-Size Rendering

Book Thoughts

Reading Problems

October 7th, 2009

Is this the end of my resolution? I’m reading 6 books right now and I’m not even remotely close to finishing any of them. Nor am I interested in doing so. I have the attention span of a 5 y/o and it’s not swell.

None of these books have captured my attention which I’m beginning to think is not the books’ fault. Just a quick note saying this could be it. :(


Book Thoughts

Marsipity – Halloween’s “Polar Express”

October 6th, 2009


Just finished reading “Marsipity”, I needed a diversion after all the heavy duty “adult” books I’ve been barreling through. I got an advanced copy and was pleasantly surprised with not only the story, but also the incredibly detailed and vivid illustrations. Marsipity should be on the bookshelves by next Halloween (2010), and I could easily see this as becoming Halloween’s own “The Polar Express”.

As quoted from the book’s website, “Marsipity is a book about friendship, imagination, and magic that young readers will read over and over again. Beautifully illustrated and lovingly told, it is sure to become a Halloween favorite.”

The Marsipity Website

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2010 Resolution – The Pulitzer Winners

September 26th, 2009

I alluded to this in my last post, the question of how to approach next year. I don’t think there is any doubt that I will continue. As much as this has driven me crazy this year, I think of next year, of not doing it again, and watching the days tick by one after another and not being able to check books off week after week…it would probably drive me more crazy. Checking the books off, as much as I want to tell myself that it’s not important, has been really important. Fifty-Two. 52. LII. I’ve been thinking about that number for the last 268 days. I could easily replace it with a new obsession, but I’m oh-so-cozy with this one.

The problem I’m having is that I can’t just simply “do it again”. There hasn’t been any method, organization, meaningful purpose. Sure, I’ve read a lot of books. That was the goal. That was the only goal. I don’t feel like reading another 52 books in itself is going to be that important. There has to be something in addition. Not more books, that isn’t the answer. The answer lies in what I’m doing to enhance the reading. How am I enhancing, or getting the most of, the book-a-week experience.

My book choices have been all over the place. There is no rhyme or reason to what, or why I’m reading these books other than that magic number. That is the flaw, if there is one. The question that I’m trying to answer is, “What’s in it for you?” How can my reading goals benefit anyone besides myself?

So I’m looking for structure and process. That may sound silly, but if you look at my posts for this year there really isn’t any order. I don’t even stick to the same method of updating. For the last two updates I’ve added large photographs of the covers because I like book covers and I figured that is one thing that might appeal to you as readers, visitors, interested followers. I’m not reviewing these books, Amazon and the masses will always do far better at telling you whether a book is good or not. I don’t burden myself with the need to persuade. My interests aren’t other people’s interests and I have no desire to indoctrinate (half-truth). But I do enjoy sharing my progress publicly and humbly admit to falling prey to vanity.

“One of the troubles about vanity is that it grows with what it feeds on. The more you are talked about, the more you will wish to be talked about.”

Bertrand Russell

eek. So true.

So…next year. I’m thinking of reading only Pulitzer Award winning fiction. Surely there are stories behind these books that aren’t common knowledge (at least common knowledge in the blogosphere). So I could then write something interesting about the background of the book and the award. On a side note, there wouldn’t be any wondering if I had chosen a good book, would there? The blog could take a “Pulitzer Winner a Week” approach and research the hell out of these books, these authors, these award juries. That would interest me. Not only would I be very well-read, but I would also become somewhat of a Pulitzer amateur historian. And I’m giggling because yea, that sounds fun, and oh what a big friggen nerd I’ve become to make it so.

So that’s the question I need help with. The question of “what else?”. In addition to the primary goal of this project, what else is there? There are a few things currently that enhance at least my experience that I’m starting to pay attention to.

First, I’m getting more and more interested in writing. Second, I’m learning a crap-load of new words (crap-load not being one of them), and I’m casually collecting them on the Words I Didn’t Know section. Ok, so that’s about it. Just a couple of things.

I need ideas, people.

And That Old Cape Magic is coming along nicely.


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Richard Russo For Book #41

September 23rd, 2009

The only other book I’ve read of his is Empire Falls, which was obviously really good and earned him the Pulitzer in 2002. I downloaded a sample of That Old Cape Magic on the Kindle which is a really great feature. Previewing books before you buy them? Incredible. Oh wait, the library has been doing that for centuries.

I’ve been thinking about 2010 already. I’ve actually been thinking about next year for a couple months now, wondering if I’ll continue or not, wondering about another 52 and if that’s a good idea, that sort of thing. I have some thoughts but I’m still refining them. I’m thinking of taking a more thematic approach to reading. Only Pulitzers, or only Nobel winning authors, things of that sort. I don’t know exactly what I’ll do, if anything, but it’s on my mind. It’s not like TV is going to have a big turnaround next year and get more attention from me.

Book #39, NurtureShock is officially a drag. I’ll continue it, but I’m going to double-up until it’s completed so it may take me a few weeks. As long as I’m reading something else while I trudge through it, I’ll be ok to finish up on time.


Book Updates

Fishing Begets Steinbeck, Book #40

September 22nd, 2009

I was fishing this weekend. I don’t fish. The last time I fished was 22 years ago, and it was the only time. Not surprisingly, I didn’t catch a thing, except for the Steinbeck bug.

So I’m in this pontoon boat and I’ve been fishing for a few hours. And by “fishing” I mean seeing how far I can cast my line and doing that over and over again without regard to the act of fishing as I’d lost my bait about 20 minutes earlier and didn’t really care because it didn’t effect my distance… So I’d been doing that for a while and I started thinking about Monterey and Steinbeck and thinking about reading. At the lake the leaves were changing and it was barely raining and it felt like Fall for the first time this year and Fall in Utah reminds me of every season in Northern California, so there you have the Fishing-Steinbeck connection in rough outline.

I’m only about 50 pages through NurtureShock and at that particular time it wasn’t appealing to put my pole down and dive into a book about caring for children. I was in the outdoors! So I started reading Steinbeck because he writes so well about the California outdoors, and has that Monterey flavor at times, so thus began book #40, Of Mice and Men. A rare doubling-up of books as I’m still on book #39, NurtureShock.

Week #40 ends on October 3.


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Homer & Langley In Brief Summary

September 16th, 2009

I loved this book. The pace was wonderful. And it so ably shows that even an ol’ geezer like Doctorow can have a mind so young and energetic. There is a part of the book where all the lights go out in this mansion that he and his brother inhabit and Homer, being blind and having memorized the lay of the house, is the only one that can lead everyone out safely. It turns into this long conga line (with a slew of 60’s hippies), that spills out into the Manhattan streets. And the scene is so poignant and telling, and so remarkable in it’s portrayal that I put the book down and let myself be filled with a smile on my face and it reminded me why I’m reading. Words as breezes such as the ones that you watch barrel through the yard and play with a loved one’s golden hair and all is right around you. The scene was short but was so explicit in it’s intention. Explicit but not overdone, not-so-subtly nudging you to see the simplest of pleasures in Homer’s life and thus in your own. Doctorow doesn’t tell you what to feel, but his keen mind and knowing smile are right there in plain sight for all who wish to see something that at first glance isn’t there. The attention you give is given back a hundred fold, as all good books do.

Check out Homer & Langley: A Novel at Amazon.


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