Book 38

Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. by Rob Delaney.

That’s how you write a motherfucking memoir.  Take notes, Amy Poehler and Neil Patrick Harris.

Delaney writes honestly about his life, including the bad stuff he’s done.  We all read memoirs for the dark stuff, right?  He is funny and honest and doesn’t pull any of this “I don’t want anyone to know my shit (but I’m still writing a memoir)” or “Nothing bad has ever happened to me” bullshit.

Plus, the chapter interstitials with his tweets are the best.

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Book 37

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.

So I’ve read all three of her books so far, and I think that Gone Girl is actually my least favorite of the bunch.  But they were all pretty engaging, fun reads.  They were thrillers where I partially but not totally figured out what was going on, which is always satisfying.  There was enough there that I could have seen it, but the twist is clever enough that I didn’t.  Or maybe I was satisfied enough with a partial explanation that I didn’t look any deeper?  Not so great for someone in my line of work.

I just found out that the movie is coming out sometime this year, starring Charlize Theron as Libby Day, the girl orphaned when her mom and two sisters were brutally killed… a crime for which her older brother was convicted, based at least in part on her eight-year-old testimony.  I think Charlize is a little to … statuesque?  beautiful? …  to play Libby.  Charlize is, what?, 5’10”?  And Libby was supposed to be a tiny kid who turned into an even tinier adult.  But whatevs.  They horribly mis-cast Gone Girl, too, with Ben Affleck much older than both the woman playing his twin sister and his older wife.  Oh well.  Gillian Flynn tries to write more interesting women, even if Hollywood decides they all have to be blonde and  perfect.

Back to the book… I remember the satanist hysteria, and could totally buy into the witch hunt (so to speak) that would have surrounded this teenage boy who listened to heavy metal and wrote disturbing shit in his diary.

This was a great plane read on my recent trips.  I’m feeling pretty sad that my reading is going to have to wind down soon…

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Book 36

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.

This book may be benefiting from low expectations on my part.  When it came out, I heard and read lots of reviews that said they were disappointed; they had expected more.  It was compared unfavorably to Tina Fey’s Bossypants (which I read when it first came out and loved).

I kind of liked this book.  It had lots of laughs and some great stories.  I’m not sure what, exactly, people were expecting that they found this disappointing.  I guess maybe I read Bossypants a long time ago and this only recently, so it doesn’t suffer so much in comparison as it does for the folks who read Poehler’s book right when it came out?

My main gripe is her lack of willingness to write anything about her split from Will Arnett, which of course we all want to know.  She alludes to the divorce several times, but says she won’t write about it because she doesn’t want people all up in her shit.  In which case, why the hell are you writing a memoir?  Do you really think we got this book to read about your elementary school play?  No!  We want to know why you & Will split.  We loved you together!  Why why why why why?

I would probably be more bothered about this if (a) the NPH autobiography hadn’t been even worse in terms of “nothing bad ever happens to me, or at least I’m not going to tell you if it does,” and (b) I had actually bought the book instead of checking it out of the library.

It was a fun diversion.  I read it in a few days, and my husband read it on the plane ride from Boston to San Francisco.  We both got lots of laughs out of it.  What’s not to like?

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Book 35

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris.

This one is actually way out of order.  I read it ages ago, but apparently never wrote it up.  I’m mildly interested in having a record of what I’ve read this sabbatical year (who knows why), so I’m adding this post mostly to record the fact that I read it.

I don’t remember much about the book (not surprisingly).  I do remember that I was pleasantly surprised.  After a couple of books where basically nothing happened but a lot of talk, this one felt relatively fast-paced, and there were some nice surprises and reveals.

It appears to be the end of Sookie and Eric because he wants power in vampire world more than he wants her.  Someone is trying to set one or both of them up, and early on Eric is framed for murder.  And Sookie finally uses her magical faerie compact (I forget what it was called), but she used it to save Sam and not to keep Eric with her.

Will Sookie end up with Sam in the book series?  (Very different from the TV show.)  Will she end up with no one?

I thought about checking out the last one right away, but then I didn’t get around to it.  Of course, now there’s a waiting list, and classes are about to start.  I had thought I’d kill off the series this year, but that looks less likely.  Still, I might be able to kill it off not to far into the fall…

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Book 34

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And other concerns) by Mindy Kaling.

I know that my summary of The Interestings made it sound like I might swear off memoirs.  But this was already on my wish list, so there it is.  I knew it would be a quick read, so I dove right in.

I have to admit that I never watched the US version of “The Office.”  The British one was funny but so cringe-inducing.  I couldn’t imagine (1) Anyone but Ricky Gervais pulling off that character, (2) The need for a remake, or (3) My ability to be that uncomfortable for the 24 or so episodes of a US season.

But the first few minutes of “The Mindy Project” (which I would catch at the end of whatever show I TiVo’d right before it) were amusing enough for me to watch the whole shebang on Netflix.

I love a lot about “The Mindy Project,” and I’m ambivalent about a lot of it as well.  But I’ve never read an interview with Mindy Kaling that I didn’t love.  I love that she pushes back hard on the racist, sexist, and fat-shaming (as if she’s fat!) undertones of questions like “Where do you get your confidence?”  (See this post.)

She as a person seems beyond rad, so I dug into the book.

I expected it to be a quick read — that’s part of why I was willing to pick this one up when I’ve been away from books for so long.  It was, just a few hours a day over three days or so.   And she is as awesome in her memoir as she is in interviews.  Smart, funny, self-deprecating a bit, but also supremely confident and badass.

I’m almost a little bit tempted to go watch all of “The Office” now.  I probably won’t, at least not for a while.  But I want to see more of Mindy, and see her in a different role.  I also had no idea that Ellie Kempner is in it, and she’s just the fucking best.  It’s been in my Netflix queue forever… maybe after I get through all of “Friends” (which I watch during my workouts), I can move on to that.

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Hiking – Makapu’u Lighthouse

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One of my favorite views on the island.

We have missed a few humane society hikes due to travel, weather, and other conflicts.  But we did make it again to the Makapu’u sunset hike with the Hawaiian Humane Society.  (Last year’s hike described here.)

We debated a while before deciding to take both dogs again this year.  The old one is really having some arthritis.  But she loves other dogs and hikes (or she used to), and this is one of the easiest ones around.

What we did: I hiked with `Opihi, going pretty quickly.  Her rules of the hiking path seem to be “none shall pass.”  If some dogs are going faster than us, she tries to speed me up so that we can overtake them.  I feel a little bad that I’m not a fast enough hiker for my girl, but honestly I don’t know who would be!

The husband walked with sweet but elderly Kona, since he wanted to go slow and take pictures anyway.  After hanging out up top for a bit (where we ran into our neighbors! whose name we don’t know! and whom we never would have recognized, but we totally recognized their dog!), we headed back down.

At about the halfway point, we ran into our partners in crime.  The husband and I switched dogs.  He went quickly to the top to snap a few pics, since I knew `O could handle another trip up & down.  (The pic at the top is from my cell phone, and doesn’t do it justice.)  I turned around and headed down with the old dog.  She was going very slowly and seemed to really be struggling with the downhill.  But she also seemed happy, especially to see other dogs & people.  We need to get her arthritis treated.  We’re giving supplements, but she pretty clearly needs something more.

As the sabbatical ends (it’s officially over, in fact, today), I know that I didn’t hike as much as I wanted to.  But I did get out there and enjoy myself a lot.  I hope to keep it up at least on the weekends as I head into teaching again.  We’ll see.

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Book 33

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

It’s been a long time since I blogged, and a long time since I read this book.  I loved loved loved it.  It was everything I want the memoirs I’ve been reading (and not enjoying as much as I wanted to) to be.  Maybe I should dump the memoirs and get back on the fiction bandwagon.

I wish I had blogged about this right away, when I still had the book (Kindle version) checked out of the library.  I know that I highlighted a ton of wonderful passages, but of course now I have no idea what they were.

What I do know: It was this amazing tale about how life really fucking works.  When we are adolescents, we all think we are special and talented and wonderful, and that we’re going to make it big in the world.  But most of us don’t.  Most of us make it small, and some of us don’t make it at all.

This group of friends (the titular “interestings”) meet at a summer performing arts camp.  There’s the beautiful one and the funny one and the handsome one (brother to the beautiful one) and the dancer and the animator.  And they all love and believe in each other.

They remain friends, mostly, throughout their lives.  I loved the female friendship at the center of the book, between the beautiful and successful girl and the one who never quite made it, who settled for a smaller life, and who had to deal with jealousy.

I loved that the people were complicated.  The beautiful girl is an avid feminist.  Except when her brother is accused of rape.  For some reason she never for a second believes the charges, though her brother is not such a wonderful kind person that it’s unimaginable.  She cuts the other girl, formerly one of the interestings, out of her life.  It’s this major blindspot, and it’s oh-so-real.  And I love that secretly her husband hates this about her and holds a grudge about it for many, many years.  I mean, ouch.  But yes.

I wish I could say I ran off and immediately read everything else by Meg Wolitzer.  In truth, I went on a bit of a reading hiatus.  I started planning for fall classes, and I also just started doing other stuff.  Maybe I read the perfect book and wasn’t sure where to go from there.

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