Month: June 2013

Book 24 of 52: Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp

This year, I moved back into the house I bought in 2007. While unpacking my boxes and boxes of books, I came across a smaller box tucked inside a bigger one: my master’s degree thesis, which was a short memoir about playing highly competitive softball.

In graduate school, I became enamored with the works of Caroline Knapp, who has appeared quite a few times on this blog before. I set out to write a book in her style, and even sent a proposal to her agent, Colleen Mohyde. She asked for sample chapters, then passed. I can’t blame her. I wrote the project when I was 23. I’ve re-read parts of it in the last 10 years, and it wasn’t terribly good. I also don’t thing I was mature enough at the time to write a gut dump book. I certainly couldn’t have matched Knapp’s masterpiece Drinking: A Love Story, which I picked to read again for book 24 of this series.

This is the second alcoholism book of this cycle, and I am always interested in reading books about the topic because an ex of […]

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Book 23 of 52: Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James

Two for two! I have been completely engrossed by my last two selections: Book 22 Tide, Feather, Snow and now Eloisa Jame’s Once Upon a TowerThat’s not a huge surprise – I’ve been reading James’ work for some time, but I found myself engrossed in Once Upon a Tower. Here, our hero is Gowan Stoughton, Duke of Kinross, a strapping Scottish man who apparently puts the thin lipped Englishman to shame. He instantly falls in love with Lady Edith “Edie” Gilchrist and her calm, even manner – not knowing that the reason she acted that is because she was very ill and could barely keep her head up.

Whenever I read a romance, I wonder one of two things: Either “how will they get past the huge hurdle of being so completely different and at odds?” or “Things are going well…what will the conflict be?” Even after Gowan gets wind of Edie’s true character – and that she’s an accomplished cello player – they STILL get along and speak all sorts of things of love.

That is, until their wedding night. This might be the most interesting […]

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Book 22 of 52: Tide, Feather, Snow by Miranda Weiss

This review is going to include a little bit about my May trip to Alaska, so there’s a warning to you. I tried to write this review without my experience, but that seemed silly. I bought this book in Alaska, because I was in Alaska, so here goes.

Whenever I travel, I try to buy a book set in the place I’m visiting. I think I’ve said this before – I couldn’t find the right book on this year’s Tampa trip, though this one is always perfect for a Florida trip – or for anything, really. It’s a scream.

The day after I landed in Anchorage, I borrowed my college roommate’s car (I stayed with her for the week) and drove to Title Wave Books. Not only is that a fantastic name for a bookstore, but it was a very cool place, selling both new and used titles. Plus, I figured I’d find the right book when they have a section like this:

It went on for rows – history, fishing, birding, novels, Sarah Palin, other assorted Palins. My […]

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Book 21 of 52: Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams

Here’s the thing about Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time: it’s just the kind of book I should absolutely love. It’s got adventure and travel and a big heaping of memoir as Mark Adams does exactly what the subtitle says: rediscovering Machu Picchu one step by journalist shaky step at a time.

But I had a really hard time not just getting into the book but staying in it. I don’t think this is Adam’s fault, though. There’s a lot going on in my life right now, and it’s the kind of stress that would have me diving for a romance novel, not something heavy with history of South America – as fascinating as that history may be.

So we’ll call this a bonk – like a race where something went wrong but I can’t pinpoint exactly what that is. Nothing anything Adams did wrong. It really was a lovely book, and I can see why it was a New York Times bestseller. Just came across my desk at the wrong time.

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Book 20 of 52: Sticks and Stones by Emily Bazelon

In October, I’m giving a TED talk in Cape May that deals with, in part, how I was bullied in elementary school. I’d heard about Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathyby Emily Bazelon before, and now seemed like a perfect time to read it as I started research for my talk.

I’m not going to say too much about my story here – I’ll save that for October – but a lot of what she described happened to me. That happened to me in the 1980s, and I’m horrified by how social networking, especially Facebook, allows that kind of bullying to happen 24/7. At least in my situation, I could go home, or away from the summer, and get a break. If those girls could start Facebook groups about how much they didn’t like me? I don’t know how I’d have coped.

The book leans a little toward the academic side at times, which isn’t a surprise since Bazelon is an academic as well as a journalist. Still worth the read, especially if you have kids.

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