I realized with a start this week that I have become one of those "typical" women you read about in magazine articles--working hard, trying to maintain a house, juggling one too many things. Good grief. The bad news is that Intellectual Domesticity has suffered from my insanely over-packed schedule over the past two weeks. The good news is that I still found time to read between working early and late and visits from family.
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler's Wife was highly recommended to me and I am excited to see the movie. I didn't think it was the most romantic book ever--as was described to me--but, still, it was a great novel. My perception of it may have been a bit tarnished by trying to discuss it with Nathan and him being hung up on the particulars of Henry's time travel. Have I ever shared that physics is not my thing? Have I ever told you that part of Nathan's job involves reading academic articles about time traveling written by actual scientists? Yeah--that was a frustrating conversation at Pinkberry.
Me: So this book was really interesting. The wife has known her husband since she was 6 years old, but he was always an adult.
Nathan: Particles...two main theories...that can't happen scientifically...blah blah blah.
So, read and enjoy if you husband doesn't know a freakish amount about scientific time travel studies.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner is a difficult book to read for most, but it was a bit too literal for me to feel deeply moved by it. Evocative language is far more jarring to me than graphic depictions. That said, it's a violent story and one that may haunt you. I don't think I could handle the film.
The story follows a boy in Afghanistan who witnesses a harrowing racially and sexually charged attack on his best friend and how these events, and the wars in Afghanistan through the 1970s to the present, shape their lives.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Kitchen Confidential made me feel so, so, so glad that I have never worked in a restaurant kitchen. I did work in a coffee shop for years, but it's not the same at all. It was really cool to have an insight into a world that you are never a part of as a consumer even though all that separates you is a swinging door, but it definitely got old after a while. Anthony Bourdain had one main theme: kitchen workers are pirates and we love it. He hit that same note for 200ish pages.
New King of Non-fiction (edited) by Ira Glass
I don't know if you love creative non-fiction, but I do. This was a great anthology. I only skipped two essays--one by David Foster Wallace because, really, it's so difficult to read his stuff that it's not worth it (and it was about talk radio--ugh) and one about poker because I don't understand poker and it was too much to process at once. All of the other essays were interesting and on topics I could wrap my mind around: a day in the life of Saddam Hussein, a piece about a 14 year old arrested by the FDIC and a piece I particularly loved about being a hostess at an exclusive New York restaurant.
If you're into the stories people tell ala This American Life, you will love this collection.
Julie & Julia by Julie Powell
I so wanted to love Julie & Julia. What could be better--a young wife in New York City with a tiny kitchen attempting all of Julia Child's recipes in one year while blogging about it--sounds perfect, right?
Well, this book is really not about that. It's about Julie trying to battle her depression and listening to her friends wax poetic about thier sexual exploits. I quit reading halfway through.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach and Russell Munson
This book is a great graduation gift, although I more highly recommend The Alchemist (below). In other words, not a lot of substance, but you feel really good and inspired after reading it and looking at the pictures of seagulls. I read it in about 25 minutes which irked me because I had to endure my afternoon commute with no book. Anyway, the story centers on Jonathan Seagull who learns to follow his dreams and pursue his passions and finds happiness along the way. Pure sappy graduation goodness.
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant (edited) by Jenni Ferrari-Adler
All of the essays in this collection focus on eating and dining for one (something I rarely do), but I found most of the essays really interesting. Only one was really whiny which is a plus in my book. The rest were celebrations of aloneness in the midst of our busy lives. The authors are a nice mix of food writers and writers who happen to touch on food sometimes.
Eat.Pray.Love. by Elizabeth Gilbert
Am I the last person ever to read Eat.Pray.Love.? I think I might be. Anyway, I had the same reactions every one did--I immediately wanted to pack up and move back to Europe. It didn't help that I read it on the one-year anniversary of coming back from Bulgaria.
The book wasn't that thrilling for me, story-wise, but it was entertaining and I was excited for Elizabeth that she hit some balance in her life by the end.
I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
If David Sedaris were female, upper middle class-raised and went to college in New England (and subsequently picked up that special kind of snobbery), he would be Sloane Crosley. Man, I was right there with her on the essay about her first job. I teared up when she quit--no joke. I was proud.
Sloane is much less laugh out loud funny than David Sedaris, but these stories were super engaging.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Oh, The Alchemist. I didn't want to love this book and, truth be told, I think the premise is a wee bit cheesy, but I think we could all use some cheesy sometimes. In much the same vein as Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Alchemist is about following your dreams and pursuing your passions. This book does a much better job, however, about being real about the risks of dreams. In fact, Coelho points out time and time again that the risks are central to the process.
I really connected with the ideas of the manifestations of God in the everyday and also that a dream can be a simple undertaking in the eyes of the world, but can turn out to be more than you ever imagined.
It's an uplifting story of a Andulusian shepherd who is trying to follow his God-given dream. The shepherd meets a cast of characters along the way and finds out his dream is better than he ever imagined. The driving force of the story is "be the best possible 'you' that you can be in any situation and always make the next correct choice." Loved it.