More Wordless Wednesday fun here.
When I first tracked down this book in Barnes & Noble, I was surprised at the size of it. It. Is. TINY. The cover; it’s kinda twee. And it’s short stories, of the sort that connect to form one narrative, but still. Short stories. I wasn’t sure about it but my Debi had it on my 50 books to read list, so, I put my trust in her and got it.
She was so right. This book is just so Me.
It all starts with a vacant lot and a small girl with a desire to find a connection to the Vietnamese father she never knew. A few seeds are planted, and they start a chain-reaction that grows into something amazing. Each story, each character, builds on what this small girl starts, turning a few rows of peas into a garden, into a community, into a neighborhood. Souls are healed, couples are (hopefully) reunited, reasons to live are found, and families are saved for another season. Thirteen stories are contained in this very slim volume, but believe me, they pack quite the punch.
What I love the most is, yes the gardening aspect, but also the way Fleischman brings together all these different people – the old and the young, Hispanic, African American, white, tough, troubled, lonesome – and shows how they can all get along, that they are just alike, down in their very souls, that they have at least the basic need to provide for themselves and to find purpose in life, and he does it with so few words. Every word has its place and not a word is wasted. These people work together, in ways they never dreamed, to turn a trash-filled inner-city abandoned lot into something immeasurable. They learn to communicate, something we could all stand a lesson in at times.
What a great book. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Debi for bringing this dear book into my life. I’m sure I’ll be reading it for years to come.
Dogear Diary loved it too!
Chris at Stuff as Dreams read it because of Debi too! And of course, he loved it too!
Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews liked seeing how the garden changed the community.
I bought this little jewel for my birthday.
- I meant to do a Stuff I Love post Saturday, and I didn’t get a chance between going to the farmer’s market (hello strawberries!) and going to get my car fixed. Which took 3 hours. Egads, it was a long wait. So, I’m sort of going to do it here today, along with all my other weekly rambling.
Bart from Barts Books shared this on Formspring and dude, I LOVE her voice! And the ukelele just cinches it.
- Doesn’t that Effie Trinket cupcake look all kinds of awesome? Click it to embig it.
- Speaking of Hunger Games, I am happy to report hubby finally started the audiobook and seems to be enjoying it. He’s just got past the interviews. And he’s Team Peeta, be still my heart. There is hope for him yet.
- I finished The Princess Bride over the weekend. The new, heartbreaking problem I had with the book? It. never. went. away. I still love the book, but instead of a 5, it’s probably more of a 4.65. I just don’t have the heart to go any lower. The likelihood of The Graveyard Book becoming my absolute favorite book is becoming more probable the more I think on this new problem. I’m extremely upset about this, as you can imagine. I feel like I’m having an identity crisis.
- I also read, in one day, Hope Larson’s graphic novel Mercury. I’ve never read Hope Larson before, I don’t think…her name seems familiar but I hadn’t heard of any of her other books. I hope to review it soon.
- Missing Picnik? Try PicMonkey. Some of the Picnik team members started it and it looks verrrry promising. Extremely promising. As in I’m going to love it more than I ever did Picnik promising.
- Also, THE READATHON IS NEXT WEEKEND!!!! How did this happen!?!? It came so fast! I have to make a list! An entirely too long but unavoidably so list! Should I post it? I’m leaning towards a lot of YA. I feel a YA binge coming on.
- Okay, so none of the classics I wanted to try last week stuck. Any suggestions? I have so many to choose from, it’s not even funny. Please? I need to get back on this bandwagon, I am behind on my goal for the year. *pout*
- I put in most of my garden yesterday. Lots of tomatoes, some cucumbers, a jalapeno…. Already had in green beans and carrots. Still need to do onions and potatoes. I have more room but can’t decide what else to put down. Plus I need to get some basil. Pictures on my Tumblr. Eventually and probably all summer.
- I could go on all day, so I’d better wrap it up now. How was your weekend? Are you as excited about the Readathon as I AM?!?!?!?!?!
If you’re thinking this isn’t my usual book, you are completely right. However, as the owner of a entirely too small house and an income that doesn’t exactly provide for a bigger one, I occasionally like to dip into these sort of books for, oh, I don’t know; inspiration? encouragement? the feeling that I’m not at all alone in that? and of course, how to remedy that.
One morning, Geneen Roth got a call that changed her life forever. She, and her husband Matt, were part of the many people ripped off by Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme, according to Wikipedia is:
is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to its investors from their own money or the money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from profit earned by the individual or organization running the operation.
Overnight Geneen went from comfortably rich to having $5,000 in the bank. Unfortunately for the Roth’s, they invested their money instead of paying off their equity, their mortgage, and, well, putting they’re eggs in that one basket. Geneen lists willful ignorance, complacency, and, the main problem – the fact that she believed she shouldn’t care about money. At first, I want to be annoyed with Geneen, for her “It was always more important for me to find work that I loved than to be rich” attitude. Coming from a family that was very monetarily inclined (she even got a nose job), it felt like (to me) it was easy for her to say that. However, she goes on to explain how she washed dishes and worked as a maid in her late twenties, and worked as a nanny for a two year old, before going on to become a writer. She saw first hand what money cost:
What I do know is that I saw what money cost: parents who were cruel to each other; addiction to alcohol and drugs; infidelity; physical and sexual abuse; and self-loathing all around. It was impossible to know if the pursuit of more caused the wretchedness, but the connection between misery and money was scalded in my brain-as well as the need to find out if there was more to being alive than being rich and sleeping with your best friend’s wife or husband.
All this served to (again, for me) humanize a woman who, in real life, I would have nothing to do with. We wouldn’t be in the same social circles. We’re not in the same age group. Yet now, thanks to her candidness and humanness, she feel real. Which made the rest of the book an easier pill to swallow. I love her honesty. I love her openness. She knows she’s putting herself out there for criticism, but (again, it feels like) she is sincere in her wish to help others, not just anyone affected by such fraud, but those, like me, who live paycheck to paycheck. And that makes this a book anyone can read.
Also? I love the way she compares her situation to food and overeating. I can SO identify with the thought that overspending is the same as overeating and I hope hope HOPE I can apply many of her thoughts to my own financial and other consuming parts of my life.
“This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are most definitely my own.”
How about I start where I started? With the book description? Because I think that’s where it all started to go wrong.
In the ancient Scottish ballad “Tam Lin,” headstrong Janet defies Tam Lin to walk in her own land of Carterhaugh . . . and then must battle the Queen of Faery for possession of her lover’s body and soul. In this version of “Tam Lin,” masterfully crafted by Pamela Dean, Janet is a college student, “Carterhaugh” is Carter Hall at the university where her father teaches, and Tam Lin is a boy named Thomas Lane. Set against the backdrop of the early 1970s, imbued with wit, poetry, romance, and magic, Tam Lin has become a cult classic—and once you begin reading, you’ll know why. This reissue features an updated introduction by the book’s original editor, the acclaimed Terri Windling.
So, yeah. Sounds like fantasy, doesn’t it? And it is. In about the last 50-75 pages or so. And considering this book was 468 pages…. are you getting what I’m saying? Let me break it down.
The first 400 or so pages of this book is absolutely lovely. It’s all about college life and boys and love and sex and studies and literature and boys who quote literature and sex with those boys and friendships and more and more. The writing is just as lovely as you could hope for:
“Look,” said Janet, irritated, “if the thing you liked best to do in the world was read, and somebody offered to pay you room and board and give you a liberal arts degree if you would just read for four years, wouldn’t you do it?”
I just LOVE that. And Janet is such a great character. I really loved her. I loved all the characters.
“Why do all your friends talk like books?”
I mean, what is there to complain about there? I wish ALL my friends talked like books!
“It did occur to me that the effect of good literature may be as dizzying as that of alcohol.”
Yes, yes it can.
You know that feeling you get when you take a swallow of water, only to find it was actually beer? Or took a bite of steak and got fish? Or drank milk only to find it’s rotten?
That’s how I felt reading this book. For 400+ pages, I’m all, “where is the fantasy?” I almost through the book against the wall, I am not even lying. And, this sounds weird, it wasn’t because I wasn’t enjoying the book. I just didn’t know what the heck was going on! Because the summary had me expecting on thing and I was getting something else! The stuff in the summary is the stuff in those last 60+ pages! And it was frustrating! Not to mention the fact that this book covers all 4 years of Janet’s high school career, with the first year taking up the first 300 or so pages. It was like Dean said, oh my gosh, 300 pages, I guess I’d better get this bitch moving. So those last three years really fly. And the romance? Or, I think I should say the obligatory romance? The romance that has to be there because there IS a romance in Tam Lin? The basis of this story? It felt so FAKE. I guess because for the first 2 years of Janet’s high school career she was with this OTHER BOY and the last month of her career she was with the “Tam Lin” character guy. It felt so contrived and unbelievable!
Does this even make sense?
I hate this too, because I was all set to have nothing but love for this book. Instead, I got nothing but problematic enjoyment. Because THAT IS THE RUB. I DID enjoy parts of this book. The first part? The COLLEGE part? It was made of awesome. I loved how strong and independent the girls were. How free and smart and intelligent (for the most part) and in control of their lives they were. They do what they want to do! And that fantasy part? The last little bit? It was pretty cool. They-just-didn’t-fit-together for me. AH! Just talking about it brings back all the frustrations.
Just to be more confusing, I actually feel like if I reread this, which I probably won’t, more things would become obvious to me and might even make me rethink some of my many feelings about this book. However, like I said, I doubt I would do that as I have other things to be reading.
Just for arguments sake, here are other (and much better!) arguments.
Nymeth says: I wanted even more details in a novel that is over 450 pages long goes to show how engaging I found this story. She enjoyed the book more than I did, but had a few of the same problems I did. And she goes more into the literariness of the book, which was pretty great.
Rhinoa says: I mostly enjoyed this novel. I loved it from the first page, lost interest a little in the middle as it all seemed a bit pomous and then enjoyed the latter third again. The thing that most bothered me was the sudden change that seemed to happen in the last 50 or so pages when it suddenly became a reworking of Tam Lin. It changed the tone from a look at college life with a few oddities and a ghost, to suddenly something much more supernatural which seemed a bit abrupt. YES!
Jenny says: I found this book rather unputdownable the first time I read it, particularly as the end drew near, to the extent that I did something I never, ever, ever do at university, which is I read it during my Christian and Byzantine art class, under my desk, even though I was sitting up in the front row in plain view of my professor. Great review, this one.
I read this for the Once Upon a Time challenge and I bought the book for my birthday.
- Happy Easter Monday! So, are you down from your sugar high yet? My kids stayed with their grandparents last night, so lucky for me! I didn’t have to deal with them last night. Woot! I won’t miss it all though; we’re having our Easter egg hunt today since the cousins were in Disney World. Lucky ducks.
- Did I mention? I’m on vacation today!!! Although, I guess I’m being a housewife today since I’m doing laundry, cleaning, laundry, and um, laundry. Hooray for me.
- I’ll also be doing a fair bit of reading, I hope. I desperately want to start a classic, but am having trouble deciding which one. I’m down to A Moveable Feast by Hemingway, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser or Emma by Jane Austen. Yes, Andi, I know your vote is Sister Carrie. Anyone else care to speak up?
- Do you have a favorite book you like to reread? Do you ever eventually reread it and discover something about it bothers you? Alas, I am having this trouble with The Princess Bride by William Goldman and it’s breaking. my. heart. More on this soon.
- I recently rediscovered a game I love and kinda forgot about. It’s a cross between Scrabble and Boggle, called Babble. It’s hard as hell, but goodness gracious me, I am addicted again. I am putting this here so if I ever forget about it again, remember and can’t remember the name and can’t find it on the internet (this is what happened this time) I can come find it. It’s PlayBabble and it’s here. Check it out!
- I am still addicted to Instagram and I added a new toy to the mix. Hipstomatic. I. am. in. love. Witness:
What do you have in store for this beautiful Monday?
I reinstated Meatless Monday this past week and, since I knew this went over well the last time I made it, I brought out this old standby; Creamy, Cheesy, Potato Leek Casserole. I have made it before, but I got a different recipe from FOODjimoto to try out and had to basically cut in half. It makes a very VERY large casserole. Seeing as only 3 of us will eat it (I have a very picky 4 year old), it would have been way too much. Plus, it cooks a little faster! This casserole is so yummy, warm, and comforting. We will be having it again, very soon.
Also pictured, I stir-fried asparagus in my cast-iron skillet with olive oil, garlic, and mushrooms, and a ciabatta roll.
4 medium-sized potatoes, sliced
1 leeks, chopped
1 grated carrot
1 cups chopped celery
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cups chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon each, butter & oil
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or jack cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Weekend Cooking hosted by BethFishReads every weekend. It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.
It can get kind of ugly when I get like that.
This calls for my trusty standby method, which I rarely use because I feel it is not very effective. Gush and rave. Gush and rave. Because oh my goodness y’all. I am a child of the 80s and I ADORED THIS BOOK. And I completely and totally adored Wil Wheaton, the geek wizard who narrates the book.
Okay. So. The year is 2044 and the world is jacked into the net like never before because WOW the real world? It’s ugly. Very ugly. Thanks to James Halliday, a Steve Jobs like character, there is a place to go. He created a virtual reality world where people work, go to school, play games and basically do all their living except for the bare necessities. Like everyone else, our main geeky geek Wade Wyatt, goes into the OASIS, this virtual world, and spends all his waking hours there. Wade is a, well, a nobody. He goes to school. He lives with his crazy aunt because his mom and dad died a long time ago. He doesn’t have a lot of friends and the ones he does have, he met in the OASIS. As in he’s never met them in real life. He is, by most standards, a loser. But he’s a SMART loser. And he’s just so darn LIKE-ABLE. He has underdog written all over his immersion suit.
Like the rest of the world, Wade hopes to solve the greatest mystery of the times. When James Halliday died, he bequeathed his ENORMOUS fortune to the gamer who beats his game. Obsessed with the 80s and 80s culture (movies, games, music, books, and more are not safe), Halliday created a difficult series of riddles that must be solved to get the keys, open the gates, and win the prize. For years gamers have quested to find the prize, and no one, NO ONE, has made it to the first gate.
Until Wade Wyatt.
If you are a child of the 80s, ever lived in the 80s or no anything ABOUT the 80s, I can’t see how you can’t find something to love in this book. If you’ve played Ms Pac-man, watched a Matthew Broderick movie, listened to Rush, loved everything John Hughes, or played Dungeons and Dragons, or more, you will find something familiar in this book. And that is just. the. tip. of. the. iceberg. And even if you don’t know much about these things, and more, I don’t see how you wouldn’t love this book because at it’s heart, it’s a great story of a boy, and a girl, saving the universe. And, you know, themselves and such.
And Wil Wheaton’s narration? Is masterful. I have found a new favorite narrator. And I loved it when the text referred to him. It was a like a magical Easter Egg (pun all KINDS of intended, if you’ve read the book) of fantastic fun.
So, I’m sure I didn’t really convince you to read it. If I did, please let me know and boost my morale a bit. If you don’t love this book, I’ll eat my hat. If it’s made of Pop Rocks and Hubba Bubba and Tab.
Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable.
I watched a lot of YouTube videos of cute geeky girls playing ’80s cover tunes on ukuleles. Technically, this wasn’t part of my research, but I had a serious cute-geeky-girls-playing-ukuleles fetish that I can neither explain nor defend.
Whenever I saw the sun, I reminded myself that I was looking at a star. One of over a hundred billion in our galaxy. A galaxy that was just one of billions of other galaxies in the observable universe. This helped me keep things in perspective.
“Continue your quest by taking the test
Yes, but what test? What test was I supposed to take? The Kobayashi Maru? The Pepsi Challenge? Could the clue have been any more vague?” ME: Do you have any idea how proud I was that I knew what the Kobayashi Maru was????
I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.
They read it:
eclectic/eccentric (who says reading this made her miss World of Warcraft)
Devourer of Books (who says “Wil Wheaton’s narration lends it that extra oomph, so get ahold of it in audio if you can.”)
The Readventurer (who calls this book nostalgia porn, the best two word description ever)
The 3 R’s Blog (who confesses to not being much of a gamer, but that the book was written in her language anyway)
Other fun stuff:
And lastly, the trailer: