Thursday, January 24, 2008

Challenges, movies, and Literacy and Longing in L.A.

Literacy and Longing in L.A.I finally seem to be getting to all of those books I have been wanting to read for sometime now, but for whatever reason have gotten distracted from somewhere along the way. For instance, Literacy and Longing in L.A. has been on my TBR list for months now, and at last I have immersed myself in it and am enjoying it immensely. I love the fact that the main character Dora goes on "book benders" whenever she is faced with emotional turmoil she doesn't want to deal with. There are tons of literary references in this book and each chapter's heading begins with a perfect literary quote. One paragraph in particular early on in the book really jumped out at me.

"I collect books the way my girlfriends buy designer handbags. Sometimes I just like to know I have them and actually reading them is beside the point. Not that I don't eventually read them. I do. But the mere act of buying them makes me happy - the world is more promising, more fulfilling. It's hard to explain, but I feel, somehow, more optimistic. The whole act just cheers me up."

This describes my book buying habits to a T. I am forever buying books, excited by the new novels that will line my bookshelves. No matter that I already have more books than I know what to do with and that a good chunk of them are those that haven't been read yet - just knowing that I can walk into any room of my house and pick up a book that suits my mood is somehow comforting. It can make a crappy day seem less crappy and provide a much needed escape.

I'm hoping to crack open some Jane Austen novels in the coming weeks. I've been watching the Masterpiece Theater film adaptations on PBS Sunday nights. I thought Persuasion was ok, but I really enjoyed Northanger Abbey. And I am ashamed to admit that I've never actually read any of Jane Austen's works. In an attempt to inject some classical literature reading into a standing bookclub I am a member of, I suggested we pick a Jane Austen novel, read it, and compare it with the movie and then discuss both for a future meeting. Sounds like a good idea, right? I had noticed that PBS posted a nifty book and film club discussion guide. However, my suggestion went over like a lead balloon so suffice it to say I will be reading Austen on my own. Ah well, I tried...and everyone's tastes are different. But I couldn't help feeling disappointed by those people who weren't willing to even try reading one of her books. Kind of like when people tell me they don't like to read or couldn't possibly find the time to doesn't make me think any less of them as a person, but right away I get that deflated feeling from knowing that I will never be able to talk books with that person as books are such a huge part of my world. It makes me want to scream at these people too - "Do you have any idea what you are missing???" But at the same time I know I have to realize that not everyone loves to read. And there's nothing wrong with that (even if I happen to think it's bizarre :)

And speaking of PBS, while watching the Jane Austen adaptations I stumbled across the show the Vicar of Dibley and found myself roaring with laughter. Definitely a show to be DVR'd for me!

I've seen some challenges posted about in the blogosphere and I think I'm going to jump on the Chunkster Challenge bandwagon. I thought this one would be perfect for me since three of the books in my current TBR pile are indeed chunksters. Here is my pick list for now with the option to add others as I think of them.

1. The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
2. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (It's about time - this one has been waiting on the shelf for me for the past 2 years!)
3. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (I've been saving this one for a rainy day because I know it is going to be oh, so good! I think it qualifies as a chunkster, although I haven't checked the page count.)

And last but not least, have people seen that there is to be a movie adaptation of Meyer's Twilight series? If you go to her website, you can see who has been cast as Bella and Edward. I'm in agreement with the casting - both actors look similar to how I had envisioned the characters. Robert Pattinson, aka Cedric Diggory from HP, is a great choice I think - those cheekbones lend themselves well to the vampire look. What does everyone else think? Are they happy with the casting choices?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Latest reads

After getting my stitches out Friday, I met some friends for dinner at John Harvard's. And enjoyed a very tasty post-stitches meal :) Finally being able to open my mouth wide enough to cram a hamburger in was wonderful. We started with a buffalo tender appetizer, enjoyed a couple of winter warmer beers - with the glass rims coated in cinnamon sugar, yum - before polishing off a good sized burger and fries. An excellent meal indeed. Afterwards we moseyed on over to the movie theater and saw P.S. I Love You. I had my doubts about this movie as I wasn't too crazy about the book, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I actually liked the movie better than the book, which almost never happens. I still say it's more of a renter though rather than a pay $10 to see it like my friends and I did.

AtonementCurrently, I am reading Atonement and am enjoying it, although based on what I am hearing and the tone the book is setting, I am getting the feeling that things do not end well. I can't say for sure though, I need to keep reading. I've just gotten to part three. I do think I will try some of McEwan's other books once I've finished this one and gotten through a few more in my stack. I've heard good things about Saturday as well.

Literacy and Longing in L.A.Next, I am hoping to sink my teeth into Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (book 6) or Literacy and Longing in L.A. - I've had L&L in L.A. on request from the library for months now and a copy finally came in. I'm not really even sure what it is about but I've seen it blogged about quite a bit.

The Tea Rose: A Novel The Winter RoseI bought my copy of Jennifer Donnelly's The Winter Rose and can't wait to start reading. I read The Tea Rose right before Christmas and couldn't put it down - I thought it was fantastic! I ended up buying a copy of it as part of a Christmas gift for my MIL as I think she will really like it too. I just loved the setting of The Tea Rose and the historical fiction-ess of it - set in England, then NYC, and then England again. I loved reading about Fiona and her success as she moved up the ranks and became a very prominent business owner in the tea trade as I silently rooted for her and her long-lost love Joe (I will say no more in case you plan on reading yourself). Just a fabulous book. Another one of my favorite reads of 2007.

Did anyone watch Persuasion on PBS Sunday night as part of the Jane Austen Masterpiece Theater special they plan on running through the winter? I did while I caught up on a little knitting and I'm still undecided as to whether or not I liked it. I liked some of the scenery shots, but am not sure how impressed I was with the acting or the presentation of the film - it seemed a bit choppy to me. Of course I did like the story though - another Jane Austen novel I will have to read in the very near future! I do plan on watching the other movies - there is a new one every Sunday night. I am especially looking forward to Pride and Prejudice which I think has 5 parts.

I need to get my act together - I've noticed several new (or newer) reading challenges in the blogosphere many of which I want to join. I need to pick and choose which books are going to make my lists and then post about them!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Holiday 2007 Wrap Up

Hmmm...time seems to have gotten away from me once again as I realize it's been a few weeks since my last blog post. I'd like to say my New Year's resolution is to blog more, but as much as I would like that to happen I'm not sure how realistic it is. So for now, I will just be content to post as often as I can and continue to keep up with my Bloglines - I read so many great posts everyday (I find this to be the perfect activity while on my lunch break at work); I am very happy to have found such a wonderful and fascinating community of book bloggers!

This weekend is definitely a reading-filled weekend. I'm recovering from some minor oral surgery, which has caused my bottom lip to swell and bruise making me look like I went a couple of rounds in the boxing ring. I figured rather than venture out and risk scaring small children, I'd relax at home, put my feet up and catch up on some good reading. Although I did take a trip over to the library earlier because I received an email saying a copy of Atonement was waiting for me and I couldn't possibly wait until Monday for that! Anyone see the movie yet? I'm dying to see it.

Speaking of movies, I've seen some good ones recently. First there was The Golden Compass. I know this one got some mixed reviews, but I have to say I enjoyed it. I had read the book for a young adult literature class I took in grad school and had to do a whole semester-end project on the book. I will say though, that if I hadn't read the book ahead of time I am not so sure I would have understood everything. My husband hadn't read the book and said he was a little confused in some parts, but overall got the gist of it enough to enjoy it. And I thought Nicole Kidman was prefectly cast as the sinister Mrs. Coulter. I've always found her to seem cold and aloof when I watch her in interviews...I found her portrayal of Mrs. Coulter to be very believable! And as a knitter, I just have to mention all of the fabulous knitwear Lyra wore in the film. I loved her hat and I know there is a pattern for it floating around somewhere in Ravelry.

Most recently, we saw Sweeney Todd. The timing was perfect, because we had just seen a theater production of it in Boston right before the holidays. We both thought it was great, but then again I love all of Tim Burton's films and I think Johnny Depp always does such a great job of playing those eccentric characters. Who would have thought that when I was watching 21 Jump Street in junior high, that he would turn out to be such a well known and respected actor? And again with the knitweat in this movie - I think Sweeney Todd wore a pair of handknit warmers in every scene which was funny to us because I had just finished knitting a pair for my husband which he dutifully wore to the movies that night.

And a couple pairs for myself...look closely and you'll see a wedding photo in the background - this is probably the closest I will ever come to delurking :)

This week I am going to see P.S. I Love You with a friend. Total chick-flick I know...I don't have high expectations for it other than to be entertained for an hour and a half (or however long it is). I read the book last week and hated the ending, I am curious to see how true the movie will stay to the book. My friend and I are both in agreement that Gerard Butler is dreamy to look at, so if nothing else I am sure we will both enjoy watching him :)

I got some great books and DVDs for Christmas this year, and I am sure many of you did as well :) Most of the books I got were knitting/crafting books or cookbooks with oh so many pretty pictures and project ideas. Here are a few below...

DVDs include seasons 4 and 5 of Smallville, so I now own seasons 1-5 and only have season 6 left to get. I didn't start watching this show until season 3 and became hooked right away. Such a great show. And I also got seasons 1 - 4 of Felicity. I loved this show before it was cancelled...we are slowly working our way through season 1 right now and I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed watching it the first time around.

And my Christmas gift to myself...a brand new pair of Uggs! I have lusted after my sister's pair for some time now, I finally bought my own. They are the most comfortable boots ever and I only take them off to shower and sleep - he he.

I hope everyone had a good New Year's. We didn't do too much...we stayed in New Year's Eve, had a friend over and feasted on yummy appetizers most of the evening. Anybody ever have Amy's Organic Pizza from the freezer section of the grocery store? We love this stuff - it is delicious. We've tried several varieties and have liked every one, although the roasted vegetable and margherita pizzas are our favorites.
I also served this appetizer which couldn't be any easier to make. We have a Harry and David store near us, so getting our hands on jars of their pepper and onion relish is very easy. If you don't have one near you, I urge you to order some of this stuff online and try the recipe - it seems to wow everyone. It's the perfect blend of savory and sweet.
New Year's Day morning I tried to recreate some blueberry-lemon-sour cream pancakes I had had for brunch at a cozy little inn we had gone to earlier in the week. They came out quite good if I do say so myself (although pancakes are pretty hard to screw up).
Ok, all of this talk about food is making me hungry...I need to go rummage around in the kitchen and see what I can find to eat that will actually taste good and not rip the stitches out of my lip. Starting to get very sick of oatmeal and cheese ravioli...

Hope everyone has a great weekend!