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review 2017-06-04 20:39
Three Wishes - Liane Moriarty
Three Wishes - Liane Moriarty

Moriarty reminds me of Binchy and Pilcher and Susan Isaacs. It's got some drama, but there's more humor: the wry voice chuckling over family foibles, meals, affairs, pregnancy, all over bottles of wine and good meals, and upper middle class luxury. Like Austen, there's a recognition that one person's drama is a spectator's comedy, a theme reinforced with interstitial vignettes as told by a spectator to some important moment.

I love a book that reminds me we all screw up, and we aren't bad people because we do.

Library copy

Three Wishes - Liane Moriarty 

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review 2017-05-31 14:26
Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World - Sarah Vowell  
Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World - Sarah Vowell

I can already tell I'm going to want to read this again. Essays, I love them. Plus, in my mind, I can hear Vowell as she must have sounded on This American Life, which is where most of these began. There's a few bits of growing-up interspersed throughout, a lot of history, the blackest of humor. Great stuff, perhaps especially on the Trail of Tears and how many different emotions that trip spawned.

So much humor, though.

On the one hand, I think Vowell would be an awesome friend to hang with, laughing at Choo-Choo and working it into every comment because of the way it sounds ("spleen" is a personal fave) on the other, she would someday drag me along on the least appealing road trip ever. Hotspots of the Teapot Dome scandal? Tippecanoe? Some other phrase I only dimly recall from American history, but can't actually place in time or space? She's already done The Hall of Presidents, so I'd be clear of that one. Yet no matter how little the idea would appeal to me, she'd make it fascinating: full of humor and humanity. Maybe we can just get her and Kate Beaton and Bill Bryson to filter all of history for us?

Library copy

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review 2017-05-25 19:22
The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting - Anne Trubek  
The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting - Anne Trubek

After a slow couple of months my reading has picked up again: I'm finishing more, and I'm enjoying what I'm reading. The sad aspect of this is that I keep finishing books that I want everyone else to pick up, and mostly no one does.

This is an exception. It belongs on the odd shelf I don't have specifically, but can't resist reading from, called "History of a Thing". While it isn't funny exactly, there is a lightness of tone that makes this a pleasant break from heavier reading, like say, about Nixon and Mao, to pick a topic out of thin air and not off the cover of another book lying around the house. It's fascinating to learn at some depth about a very narrow topic. Not surprisingly, this book is a distillation of a topic Trubek has been teaching in college for years. Specialization is awesome: I've never thought about all the different kinds of writing together until now.

I love this post-book feeling of erudition. Two days after I finished the book I can't recall anything specific that I learned, which isn't really the point. I've grasped the gestalt. I've placed my own flirtation with calligraphy (highly recommended as a means to achieving a legible handwriting) into the appropriate context.

There are a number of people worried about the fact that schools aren't teaching cursive. I'm not bothered. I've done my share of handwriting and it hurts and it's slow, and I'm one of only two people I know who can write a cursive others can read. Admittedly, the time spent learning keyboarding will no doubt also become wasted time at some point in the Offspring's lives, in favor of something newer and easier for more people. That's fine.

Favorite bit: seeing all the different types of clerks/scribes/copyists there were a fairly short time ago. Poor Bartleby and Bob Cratchit!

Library copy

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review 2017-05-15 00:25
Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books - Nick Hornby 
Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books - Nick Hornby

It took me forever to read because I had to stop at least once per page to add something to The List, or to move something else higher, or to request something from the library. Hornby is a much bigger fan of literary fiction than I and he isn't a fan of genre (I know, right?) But I love his reviews like no one else's. It's ten years in the life of someone who loves to read, so it's all familiar, but written by a humorous pro. It's funny that I've read all of these three books before at least once and there were still so many I not only hadn't read, but also so many I hadn't already put on The List.

Library copy

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review 2017-05-03 14:49
The Snatchabook - Helen Docherty,Thomas Docherty 
The Snatchabook - Helen Docherty,Thomas Docherty

A story about bedtime books and adorable forest creatures: twee and appealing as anything. It's a good thing someone had't been holding the library's copy when I saw the cover, lest fingers had been lost. And it's as good as the idea sounds.

But the art really makes it. Somehow it looks very like a children's books from the mid-60s without copying at all. It doesn't look like Scarry's style, but the little homes with the little beds and all, it beautifully evokes those vintage books.

library copy

 

 

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