Thursday, August 25, 2016

Give or take a few, these are some of the books I've read over the past two years.  The titles in bold type are what I would highly recommend.

Blessed Are the Cheesemakers
Lynch, Sarah-Kate *

An Incomplete and Inaccurate History of Sport: . .and Other Random Thoughts from Childhood to Fatherhood
Mayne, Kenny

American Dreamers: The Wallaces and The Reader's Digest: An Insider's Story
Canning, Peter

Burning Bright
Chevalier, Tracy *

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Maguire, Gregory

A Man Called Peter: The Story of Peter Marshall
Marshall, Catherine

Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy, #1)
Lewis, C.S.

Some Luck (Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga, #1)
Smiley, Jane *

Early Warning (Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga, #2)
Smiley, Jane *

Eligible (The Austen Project #4)
Sittenfeld, Curtis *

Funny Girl
Hornby, Nick

Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck
Alkon, Amy

The Husband's Secret
Moriarty, Liane *

When Breath Becomes Air
Kalanithi, Paul

Erdrich, Louise

Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy
Apatow, Judd

Saint Maybe
Tyler, Anne

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey
Taylor, Jill Bolte

The Summer Before the War
Simonson, Helen *

300 Sandwiches: A Multilayered Love Story . . . with Recipes
Smith, Stephanie

Buddhaland Brooklyn
Morais, Richard C. *

My Name Is Lucy Barton
Strout, Elizabeth

I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections
Ephron, Nora

After You (Me Before You, #2)
Moyes, Jojo *

The Girl in the Red Coat
Hamer, Kate *

The Marriage of Opposites
Hoffman, Alice *

The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)
Russell, Mary Doria *

Saint Mazie
Attenberg, Jami *

The Martian
Weir, Andy *

As Good as Dead
Evans, Elizabeth *

Counting by 7s
Sloan, Holly Goldberg *

The Pope's Daughter
Fo, Dario

The Wonder of All Things
Mott, Jason *

The Nightingale
Hannah, Kristin *

The Little Paris Bookshop
George, Nina *

The Girl on the Train
Hawkins, Paula *

Many Waters (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #4)
L'Engle, Madeleine

After You (Me Before You, #2)
Moyes, Jojo *

Franzen, Jonathan

A Spool of Blue Thread
Tyler, Anne

Daughter of the Queen of Sheba: A Memoir
Lyden, Jacki

The Sellout
Beatty, Paul

The Circle
Eggers, Dave

The Invention of Wings
Kidd, Sue Monk *

Inside the O'Briens
Genova, Lisa *

The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman, #2)
Simsion, Graeme *

One Plus One
Moyes, Jojo *

You Could Be Home by Now
Manaster, Tracy *

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (Harold Fry, #2)
Joyce, Rachel

Why Not Me?
Kaling, Mindy

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
Lawson, Jenny *

The Book of Speculation
Swyler, Erika

Nora Webster
Tóibín, Colm

Everybody's Got Something
Roberts, Robin

The Boston Girl
Diamant, Anita *

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Evans, Rachel Held

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls
Sedaris, David

The Hundred Days
Roth, Joseph

Reichl, Ruth

Looking for Me
Hoffman, Beth *

First Frost (Waverley Family, #2)
Allen, Sarah Addison *

Yes Please
Poehler, Amy

All the Light We Cannot See
Doerr, Anthony *

Love, Death and the Ladies' Drill Team
West, J.

Lost Lake (Lost Lake, #1)
Allen, Sarah Addison *

The Good Lord Bird
McBride, James *

Winner of the National Book Award: A Novel of Fame, Honor, and Really Bad Weather
Willett, Jincy

Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women
Bessey, Sarah *

The Great Divorce: a Nineteenth-Century Mother's Extraordinary Fight Against Her Husband, the Shakers, and Her Times
Woo, Ilyon

Milford, Nancy

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
Hatmaker, Jen

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
Miller, Donald

Thoreau, Henry David

The Call of the Wild
London, Jack

The Lost Princess: A Double Story
MacDonald, George

Several Short Sentences About Writing
Klinkenborg, Verlyn

The Smart One
Close, Jennifer *

The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds One $25 Kiva Loan at a Time
Harris, Bob *

Fear of Flying
Jong, Erica

Servants' Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance
Powell, Margaret

Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match
Webb, Amy *

The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac
D'Agostino, Kris

Blood & Beauty: The Borgias
Dunant, Sarah

What We Talk about When We Talk about God
Bell, Rob

The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
Leganski, Rita

Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde: A True Story
Dana, Rebecca

The Middlesteins
Attenberg, Jami *

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister: A Novel
Backhaus, Jeff *

Flight Behavior
Kingsolver, Barbara

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Winterson, Jeanette

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman, #1)
Simsion, Graeme *

The Light Between Oceans
Stedman, M.L. *

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Strayed, Cheryl *

The Next Best Thing
Weiner, Jennifer *

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
Waldman, Adelle *

The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family
Hanagarne, Josh *

God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine
Sweet, Victoria

Thursday, August 04, 2016

I've Always Wanted to Work in a Bookstore. And Live in the Appalachians. And Be a Quaker.

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book. This book, by Ethnographer and Used Bookstore Owner, Wendy Welch, is the book I wish I could have written. It is a love song to books, bookstores, and reading and makes me dream of, perhaps, becoming a Quaker and moving to The Appalachians. I loved every part of this book, from the epigraphs to the acknowledgements. Every single page. Every single word. What Wendy Welch writes of is the stuff of my dreams.

Vacation and Murder

I have this crazy little dream to visit all of the state capitol buildings in the United States. I have a few under my belt.

California's is my favorite thus far, simply because I am SO IN LOVE with my home state.

New York was definitely the most sculptural. If you are ever in Albany and have have the chance to go inside, the hundreds of delicately hand carved faced in the sandstone walls are stunning. A little creepy, but in a super cool way.

Connecticut holds a special place in my heart because my eldest son and I were able to get access to the staircase that takes you to the top of the dome and the walkway ON THE OUTSIDE! We were on the outside of the very top of the building, people! Outside! My spidey skills were itching to be used. With great power comes great responsibility, you know, so I held it together and just took a few photos.

Wyoming's building in Cheyenne is the only capitol building to have a statue of a woman in front. Go Wyoming!

North Dakota? Seriously? You could do so much better than a 70's era office building that has a sign that says North Dakota State Capitol. I expected so much more from the noble Dakotans.

Every building I visit has it's own fabulous feature: statues, tributes, mile high markers (how could I ever forget you, Colorado?). With each visit I learn more about our country and the uniqueness of each state. With each visit, I feel more a part of America. I feel connected.

Sarah Vowell's hilarious and historical book "The Assassination Vacation" is like a visit to a state capitol for me, if wandering around the outside of capitol buildings checking for unlocked doors was the same thing as visiting sites related to presidential assassinations. Reading it gave me a sense of connection to historical events that have shaped the country I live in today. It helped me feel connected. It helps me to remember, as much as the situationally racist orange guy likes to shout it, America isn't worse off today than it was when President Lincoln skulked about, being all emancipatory and stuff.

Here's the deal, studying history, especially history delivered in a relevant and engaging way, helps us to see that there is truly nothing new under the sun. Even if it does feel like we are all going to hell in a handbasket that we bought at Wal-Martville made by child laborers, it's all going to be o.k. When I read of the shitshow that was the Republican nominating convention of 1880, where James Garfield was nominated to be the presidential candidate in the 36th round of voting, my heart stops palpitating for a moment at the thought of the current pile of ridiculousness that we are calling politics. It's all going to be o.k. When we take the time to examine what has happened in the past and how we, both individually and as a collective people, have managed to make it through relatively unscathed (well, except for Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley, in this case), it can provide the perspective that the tiny little moment of time we are experiencing right at this very moment isn't all there is. In the grand scheme of things, it's just that: a tiny, little moment. It only seems all-encompassing to us because that is all we are able to see.

State capitol buildings, presidential assassination sites, plaques on large rocks in Upstate New York, whatever it takes to move someone to study the history of their place, whatever it takes to help people to calm the heck down and realize that it's all going to be o.k. We've gone through muck and mire before, we've been afraid of change before, we've watched our leaders be total buttheads and make butthead-ish decisions before, and still, we have survived. In fact, some might think we've become a better place because of it. All I know is I love capitol buildings and have about 40 to go. Watch out South Dakota, unlock those doors and polish up the dome, because I am coming for you!