Books, Professional Development

Book 507: If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? – Alan Alda

Only two ARC/Galleys left and I am all caught up! The same publicist who sent me Finally Out reached out about this book and the title had enough humor in it I figured it was worth a shot.* I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would!

What Alan Alda—I didn’t even recognize him from M*A*S*H (IMDb link), I just recognized his caricature—is doing is what the Plain English Campaign (website) has been trying to do since the late 70s, just through a different venue: improv. Both are trying to get things translated from the indecipherable jargon of science or government into easily relatable language. Alda, has basically made a side career out of this with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where the observations he made from his many years on Scientific American Frontiers are put into practice to teach scientists how to talk to non-scientists.

Continue reading “Book 507: If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? – Alan Alda”

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Random

Adios Madrid y Hola Barcelona!

2015 06-03 Vas a BarcelonaLast week we were in Madrid and this week we are in the beautiful Barcelona. I have no idea what we’re doing in Barcelona and I cannot wait to find out. I know we’ll see a lot of Gaudí and I am excited about that, but other than that I’m not sure.

The reason for this is, when we decided the trip I was going to plan one city, Madrid, and Tim was going to plan the second city, Barcelona. There were I’m sure more museums and artsy things (and of course a bookstore visit) in Madrid, but I’m excited to let Tim take me where he wants in Barcelona!

I hope you are ready for the explosion of pictures when I come back!

Random

Bienvenidos a Madrid

2014 06-02 Madrid PostcardWhen this posts, I will be in the air on my way to Spain! Needless to say I am very excited and cannot wait to explore a new country. It has been almost six years since I was last out of the country, living there so not really traveling, and it’s been too long!

For the first week, we will be in Madrid. We have SO much planned from the national library and a  bus tour on the first day, to eating at one of the oldest continually run restaurants in the world, a rooftop walking tour and visiting the many museums and bull fighting ring!  I’m also VERY VERY excited about visiting the Don Quixote* and Sancho Panza statue on the postcard my sister sent me last summer and getting my picture taken there too!! I plan to start Don Quixote (Part 1 & Part 2) while I’m there to make it even more festive!

I’ve scheduled a few posts for when I’m gone, including an update on Monday (June 15) of where we go for our second week! So don’t worry if you don’t get an immediate response from me.

*I’m going to stick with the “x” version of Quixote as that is the way it is spelled in the title of the version I am reading. The postcard, and many other places have the “j” version, Quijote.

2012 Challenges, Books, The Classics Club

Book 102: Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

It has been a long time since I read a (non-young adult fiction) book in a day, but this novel certainly sucked me in. It was very easy to read and I enjoyed the characters. And it’s not like I spent the day in my room reading, I was out and about getting my haircut and running errands!

I’ve always wondered how some people are able to read 100+ books in a year (and I may be wrong), but reading novels like this where you fly through the pages could have something to do with it! I would definitely love to go back and read some more of Christie’s works, but I doubt I will unless I participate in some sort of mystery challenge. On the plus side, this book counts towards THREE challenges! It counts towards my Mount TBR Reading Challenge (9/25) and counts as the first book for both the Back to the Classics Challenge (1/9) and The Classics Club (1/85)!

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Book Group, Books

Book 100: Snow Falling on Cedars – David Guterson

If I had a ranking system for the novels I read and it was based on beauty, Snow Falling on Cedars would definitely be towards the top of that list. It has to take an amazing writer/wordsmith to make me want to live on a small island off the coast of Washington State and take up farming of some sort. I read this book for my Books into Movies book group at the local library and I am VERY glad I did. I plan on watching the movie later this evening or tomorrow.

Snow Falling on Cedars focuses on a murder trial, but it is not just a legal story, or a love story, or even just a war story as you might think from the back cover. It is a novel about a town forced to look into the mirror and see the harsh truths and realities simmering just under the surface. Set almost ten years after the end of World War II, the novel was a lot broader and a lot more powerful (and suspenseful) than the back-cover synopsis led me to think. But, more than anything, what took my breath away was the vitriol of some of the (surprisingly mostly female) characters and their overt racism. I was surprised at how upset I was at various points throughout the novel when placed into a character’s shoes and how they were treated.

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Books

Book 55: Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller“Sex everywhere: it was slopping over, a neap tide that swept the props from under the city.” (204)

This quote sums up what is perhaps the most vulgar and misogynistic book I’ve ever read, and that’s saying something coming from someone with an MA in Gender, Sexuality and Queer Theory. Not only does Miller spend 9/10ths of the novel debasing women, but when he attempts to remedy this it comes across as trite and self-serving. I was slightly embarrassed reading the book on the metro and bus with the cover the way it is, but honestly once you’ve read Imperial Leather (among others) on public transportation, you just sort of get over it.

The novel is a debauchery of the senses, a crass introduction to 1930s Paris and the life of a struggling writer. From the graphic (and degrading) sex scenes and language, to the descriptions of the city’s inhabitants and Miller’s absolute disregard for any moral standards the novel reeks of egoism and hyperbole.

Click here for the recommendation, quotes and the rest of the review…

Books

Book 9: Bella Tuscany – Frances Mayes

You can’t help but love the way Frances Mayes writes her books. You can tell she has a background in literature, but truly loves writing. Her rich descriptions and colorful asides take her beautiful memoirs from just being books to being journeys. Having read Under the Tuscan Sun and A Year in the World, when I found out Ms. Mayes was speaking as part of the Lowell Lecture Series at the Boston Public Library I had to go and listen. I had a brief opportunity to speak with her after the lecture about A Year in the World and her growing up in the South, however it is her time and writings in Tuscany which brought her into the public eye and to Boston in particular.

In Bella Tuscany we once again join Ms. Mayes and her partner Ed and their various friends, acquaintances and neighbors in Tuscany. We are immediately reintroduced to Bramasole, their house, which is almost a character in its own right with a unique and quirky personality. Although it has been a few years since I read Under the Tuscan Sun, the similarities in the beautiful writing style and the ill temperament of Bramasole remain. There are a couple of sad portions of the memoir, but the ebb and flow of life in San Francisco and Cortona, Italy show that with sadness comes change and the future.

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