BITS OF MY MAY

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Books

The Alloy of Law doesn’t compare to the Mistborn trilogy – it just isn’t as good. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was ghostwritten, although Sanderson claims it as his own. The protagonist wasn’t the strongest character, not even the second strongest. I was disappointed, but mostly because I had my hopes set high.

I really liked David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle until the last hundred pages. I was delighted with it! I cherished each moment while I was reading it. The ending was a huge disappointment.

Unfamiliar locales and situations plus a variety of complex and flawed personalities make Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder an absorbing book that was a joy to read.

Patchett’s The Magician’s Assistant was too dreamy for me; the way that Sabine, Parsifal, and Phan seemed to be so content and without conflict was unrealistic. I liked the Nebraska characters better because their lives seemed more true.

My favorite part of Patchett’s The Patron Saint of Liars was the masterful handling of changing the point of view from Rose to Son to Cecelia. I enjoyed reading it, but was disappointed in the lack of an ending.

I enjoyed reading Patchett’s Run. Great writing, and flawed but likeable characters.

Never Be Lied To Again (by David Lieberman) has nice short chunks of information, making it very readable. There is lots of good information, but I’d need to have a better memory to use it properly. Also, in most instances, the examples were so far from the realm of my life that they were useless. What I found most useful were the reminders of ways to appear genuine – things that don’t come naturally to me such as an open posture and looking people in the eye; I need to remember these things even though for me it isn’t about deception.

Slow and serene, this book requires patience. I happened to read Wendell Berry’s Hannah Coulter while in bed with a headcold, so I was able to stick with it, and perhaps my slightly fuzzy brain was required.  There are several lovely moments and thoughtful ideas, but I am not as keen about farming as the protagonist is, nor do I prefer the non-chronological manner that Hannah’s story was dispensed.

When You Were Older by Catherine Ryan Hyde is interesting in the turnabout of roles with an older and younger brother, but due to the subject matter it would have been more timely to read it ten years ago.

I liked the history-memory-reading aspects of Michael Siemsen’s The Dig, but the present-day storyline was pretty dull.

 

Movies

Amelie is a quirky French film with subtitles and nudity. It was somewhat amusing, but I don’t actually recommend it.

 

Drive has Ryan Gosling, and that’s pretty much the only good thing about it. Really violent and rather pointless.

 

Blog posts you should read:

Choosing the right habits isn’t exactly as the title describes, but I appreciate the reminder to not be judgmental about the choices that others make, because we don’t really know their circumstances or what they need to keep their head above water.

It’s pretty fashionable to mock people who have a $4 daily coffeeshop habit, but what Ann says is true — for some people, the daily $4 may be staving off a much bigger problem! On the other hand, we have a bad habit of misidentifying luxuries as “needs.” Maybe the question to ask is, exactly how does this thing I say I need fill a hole?
“I really need my daily latte” might mean, “I am addicted to caffeine and a latte is a tasty way to get my fix.” It might mean, “I have established a ritual of stopping at the coffee shop each day, and doing the same thing every day makes me feel peaceful while changing my routine makes me feel upset.” It might mean, as Ann suggested, “I need to encounter other people so I don’t feel so lonely, and the latte gives me an excuse and a motivation to go do it.” It might mean, “I can afford so few luxuries, and the latte is a petty luxury that makes me feel less poor

Hyperbole’s Depression Part 2

…you can’t combat nothing.

What seems to help in the midst of pain

it’s hard to hurt.  and it’s hard to be around other people who are hurting.

i have a theory that we often have an unconscious hope that if we could  say the right words in the exact right way, it would radically help another person. most people aren’t one sentence away from feeling better when they are in pain.  presence seems to matter more than words.

 

In my ears

The Boardwalk Empire soundtrack (favourites are After You Get What You Want and all the songs by Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks)
Skeetz Tolbert and His Gentlemen of Swing
Raymond Scott
Gang of Rhythm by Walk Off the Earth
Drive by Incubus
Churchill’s Change
The Speakeasies’ Swing Band
Clap Your Hands on the Afterbeat
Beauty and a Beat by Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox

 

BITS OF MY APRIL

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Books

If you need a story to take you away from your current cares and stress, this is it: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

 

In Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle, Kent Annan faces a lot of difficult truths and challenges involved with the disparity in the way we value life in developed versus developing areas. He doesn’t shy away from asking the tough questions, even if he has no pat answers.

 

Brad Meltzer must be a good writer, since he kept me going through 500 pages of politics, presidents & aides, CIA, FBI, freemasons and intrigue, which is definitely not my preferred subject matter for reading! I especially appreciated his pacing, and the short chapters in The Book of Fate.

 

Imager doesn’t have a breakneck pace, but I don’t need that in a novel. I liked the protagonist, the thorough backstory of the international politics, and the depiction of strong women in a story about a man. I will definitely try the next book in this series by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

 

Considering that there wasn’t anything really surprising about Hugh Howey’s Wool Omnibus, I find it difficult to pinpoint why I like it so much. I’m always up for an alternate “world” convincingly drawn. The characters are compelling. The writing is good. Do you need more reasons to read it?

 

Apparently Inversions cannot stand alone, and I should have read the other Culture books by Iain M. Banks to understand these stories.  Two narratives are told in alternating chapters; both are the tales of foreigners who are in positions (physician, bodyguard) close to the rulers of their lands.

 

Neither The Book Borrower nor On the Island were worth reading. I would not have finished them if I weren’t sick and desperate for distraction.

 

Imager’s Challenge, the second in the series, continued with many open story arcs from the first book. It was an enjoyable read. What resonated most with me was the idea that people want things to be easier, not better.

 

Movies

We all found The Croods to be very entertaining.

 

500 Days of Summer was a tough call for me; I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but I really dislike Zooey Deschanel. There didn’t seem to be much story to tell, and the character of Tom’s sister Rachel was very unbelievable.

 

The plot of The Bourne Legacy is a bit murky, but it was mostly enjoyable as an action adventure. The Bourne movies always dismay me with how casually other lives are seen; it seems to be okay to kill or injure people who aren’t part of the Big Evil Plot but are in the wrong place at the wrong time, such as bystanders in the chases scenes, or security guards.

 

Expendables 2 is noteworthy only in the number of “action stars” (possibly dinosaurs) who appear in it: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Jean Clause Van Damme, and more.  The sheer number of deaths is overwhelming. The storyline… not so much.  I did laugh at the ridiculousness of it, and at some of the throwaway lines they gave the stars.

 

Flight is not a movie about airplane flight. It is perhaps about fleeing yourself. Mostly it is about substance abuse. And it contains unnecessary nudity.

 

Chasing Freedom is based on a true story about a young woman from Afghanistan seeking asylum in the USA.  If that appeals to you, you’ll probably like the movie.

 

Blog post you should see

How churches should address abuse

It’s important to note that churches are not the only place where the tragedy of child sexual exploitation occurs. Unfortunately, pedophiles prey where they can gain access to children, and that includes schools, day care facilities and sports programs. What seems to be uniquely dangerous within the church, however, is a tendency to attempt to deal with the problem internally instead of involving legal authorities. Some pastors may feel that they can exact accountability and punishment within the church community. Unfortunately this practice in harmful in many ways. It shields perpetrators from facing legal How consequences, and it also puts other children at risk since the perpetrators have no criminal record of their actions.

 

How to get along with an introvert

Introverts are like that cell phone you’ve got that needs to be recharged several times per day. In their minds, they’re running a lot of applications.
Go deep or go home. Mostly, introverts live in their minds and they think about why things happen or they daydream or whatever. Shallow conversations about the weather, at least for me, are painful. I just don’t want to have them. It’s not that I want to talk about politics or theology, I don’t, but I don’t want to have conversations that aren’t going somewhere. I want to talk about your passions, your fears, your musings about why you think life is the way it is. The cool thing is, once I know we can go there, I can talk to that person about anything shallow, including the weather. I just have to know we can go to the deep end when we feel like it.

 

How to keep it together when you’re depressed

 

Reasons my son is crying

 

Quotes

Charles Wu:

I realized a couple of years ago that not only am I not super-skilled at anything, I’m not even particularly good at being myself.