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review 2017-02-14 23:08
Food: A Love Story
Food: A Love Story - Jim Gaffigan

This was my first exposure to the comedy of Jim Gaffigan.  I went with audio because I figured it would come the closest to seeing him live; he's the narrator, so you experience this book presumably the way it was intended to be delivered.


It was good.  At no point did I ever want to fast forward, or yell at him through my car speakers.  I found almost all of it amusing, and there were some great one liners, but other than one out-loud chuckle, most of the humour remained at the amusing level.


If asked about my favourite bit, I'd definitely say it's the part where he talks about McDonalds, and how everybody has their own McDonalds, whether it's Star Magazine, or the hidden stash of chocolate, or the Ben and Jerry's in the freezer, we all have a McDonalds equivalent.  This had me talking back to my dashboard: "Yeah, that's right, I never thought of it like that - we do all have our own McDonalds!".  


The narration was... ok.  I don't think anyone could have done it better - but there was, especially at the beginning, a bit of stiffness; a sense that he hadn't seen the material for some time before he started recording the narration.  Sometimes, he really got into it and then the narration was great; the listener got a good idea of how great he'd be in a live show.


I'm glad I listened to it; it was entertaining.  If Gaffigan were ever to make it this far on tour, I definitely pony up the money to see him live.

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text 2016-09-08 09:33
Sometimes asking for clarification isn't very clarifying...

Most of my book friends have heard be bitch over the years about how expensive my library's InterLibrary Loan program is: $5.50 for every book requested.  The librarian was very clear about the program when I first applied for my library card.  This fee has always been a motivating force behind why I buy all my books.


But a couple of months ago my part-time work became much more part-time and it felt prudent to pare that book buying habit way back.  I sure as hell wasn't going to pare my reading back, so that meant finding a way to embrace my local library and its limited (regarding my tastes) collections.


I was on the site the other day, figuring out how to borrow their Audiobooks, and I saw a passing comment about how you could pick up or return your library books at any council (county) library.  That's all it said; I couldn't find anything else that expanded on that but I started to have the sinking sensation that I'd been part of a massive cultural translation fail.


So when I went to the library the other day, I asked:  Do you differentiate between ILL and inter-council library requests?  The answer:  Yes!  You can borrow any book in the council library system for free and it will be delivered to your branch of choice for pick up.



This is a perfect example of what I mean when I try to tell people that moving to AU was in some ways harder than it would have been had I moved to a non-English speaking country.  That librarian and I both knew what an InterLibrary Loan was; we just didn't know our definitions were different.


On the plus side, my choices have expanded exponentially.  :)

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review 2016-08-17 23:28
A Passion for Books
A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books - Rob Kaplan,Harold Rabinowitz

The Subtitle for this book is:

A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Lore, and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books.


which is pretty much the most accurate synopsis of the book possible.  It's an excellent collection of bits: cartoons, lists, quotes, poems and essays that range in length from one page to twenty.  I think there's even a curse upon those who steal books in here somewhere.


Everything included revolves around the simple love (or obsession) for books, as objects more than the stories they contain.  That's not to say the joy of reading isn't part of the whole, but this collection focuses on the joy, the need, of owning the books themselves.  Readers who've gone wholly digital, or prefer a minimalist housekeeping approach won't find much to love here.


As with any collection of writings from various authors and times, some are better than others, but there were very few I just didn't care for and then only because I either found the writing too dense or dated or the subject matter not quite interesting enough to enthral me.  There were maybe three all up that I wouldn't have missed if they were left out.  Given the table of contents runs to two and a half pages, that's a pretty good ratio.


The authors also include a 6 page bibliography at the end of other books about books, with the ones they used to create A Passion for Books marked with an asterisk.


This was a library loan for me, but I've already ordered a copy in hardcover for my personal library.  I'll enjoy dipping in and out of it again and again.

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review 2016-08-05 07:04
Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology - Rebecca Paley,Leah Remini

I gave this a 1/2 star bump in recognition of the sheer courage it takes to openly own, in print, to the kind of shortcomings Remini owns up to.


As a general rule, I'm not interested in celebrity memoirs; when I think about being rich, I think about how many books I could own, so I fall far short of the glitz and glamour loving target audience.  But I have always had an idle curiosity about what would posses someone to get involved with scientology and I've read nothing but good things about this book, so I grabbed it at the library.


This is an eminently readable memoir, not just because of the insider's perspective on Scientology, but because Remini is brutally honest about herself and her choices.  I imagine most celebrities (anyone, really) would try to creatively edit out those things that make them look less sympathetic, or at least rationalise their behaviour or skew the details in their favour.  There's a little bit of that in Troublemaker but no more than would be expected from any person baring themselves so thoroughly.  She's funny, too: I laughed even when I was cringing at the thought of what it would be like to be on the receiving end of some of her more scathing retorts.


As for the scientology, well, that's just as batsh*t crazy as I've always thought, as is Cruise.  I really want to know what happened to Miscavige's wife (I'll be googling when I finish this) and I hope that man and the rest of the organisation all get what's coming to them.  Remini succeeds brilliantly at showing the reader just how easy it is for honest people with the sincere wish to better themselves and the world to get sucked into this vortex of insanity.


But where she really gets my respect and admiration is for having the incredible courage to admit that, as insane and horrific and destructive as scientology is, there were aspects she was able to pull out and point to and say this was good; I benefited from this.  As she was describing her early experiences in the "church" and describing those courses where she was taught to communicate clearly and take responsibility for her actions, I was nodding and thinking "yep, all good" - which scared me, because the rest of it sounded like a lunatic asylum.


By the end of the book I admired her tremendously for having the courage to write about herself (and I admire her mother and husband for allowing her to write about them - holy toledo!) and to be able to say this was my life so far and these parts sucked, but these parts made me better.


I like her, but man, I think you'd need the hide of a rhino just to survive having coffee with her, although the laughs might make it worth it.

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review 2016-08-03 11:24
Book - John Agard,Neil Packer

My name is book and I'll tell you the story of my life.


This little guy is probably getting judged unfairly; judged based on the shelf I found him on in the library, which was in the adult non-fiction section.


Based on that shelf, this book was juvenile and cloyingly written.


But if this had been shelved appropriately, for young readers, I'd say it's a fun book with solid information about the history of books, starting from oral tradition.  The eye-catching illustrations add visual interest and the interspersed quotes and poetry about books could send those kids in new reading directions.


So, if you know of a young bibliophile in the making and you see this book, it might be worth a look.  

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