Monday, November 30, 2009

The Face on Your Plate by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

This book is a battle cry for veganism. A fast, easy read it is packed with a very persuasive argument against eating any animal based products. There are chapters discussing the gruesome and inhumane way animals are slaughtered for our eating pleasure, how factory farming is helping to destroy the environment and how eating a plant-based diet is healthier for us. The last chapter of the book describes the author's own personal diet and eating habits. I liked this personalization of the book. Statistics and examples of horrible animal deaths are spurring, but I want to know how someone really lives with the choice to become a vegan. I can't say I enjoyed this book because it is very disturbing and horrific, but I appreciate the author's efforts to persuade us to stop eating animals.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks

This is another graphic novel I picked up recently at the library. It is set at a private girls' boarding school and centers on Juniper, called Jun, a scholarship student who stirs up trouble when she dares to challenge the queen bee of Ellsmere, Emily. Who doesn't enjoy a classic tale of dork triumphing over the popular set? I know I do and I did enjoy this GN. I really liked the subtle, yet grin-inducing jokes and the antics of Jun and her roommate Cassie. The black and white drawings are extremely expressive and detailed. Fabulous.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Moon

I saw New Moon down in Yuma last night with Kyla and Niesa. Sybil, we wish you could have been there, though the movie was less than stellar. True to form, most of the characters were whiny, the dialogue was simplistic, Edward was ridiculous and there was no chemistry between the two main stars of the film. The only bright spot was Jacob and the other La Push werewolves. That storyline is ten times more intriguing than that of the Cullens. The filmmakers have inadvertently made Edward look like a weak, hideous freak by glorifying the beauty and charisma of the Jacob character. I think there are many more girls willing to play for Team Jacob these days than for Team Edward.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Good Neighbors V.1 by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh

This graphic novel was recommended to me by a friend at work. This is the first book in a series of GNs by the author of the Spiderwick Chronicles. Rue is a teen who's mom has disappeared and who's dad has lost all will to live. When the GN opens she is pretty carefree, despite her family problems. When she starts seeing things, like fairies, and her dad is arrested for the murder of one of his students, she discovers that she has ties to the fairy world and her entire life is changed - but is it in a good way? This was a great, quick read with very expressive black and white drawings. I enjoyed the storyline and its novelistic feel.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reading Roundup

I've lost momentum with my reading lately. I'm still plodding away at Middlemarch, but I gave up on Her Fearful Symmetry. I should have known better - I hated The Time Traveler's Wife. I have also checked out a few YA books and should get to them soon. Honestly, I don't know what I've been doing with my spare time lately.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Victorian Painter Alfred Stevens

I recently discovered the paintings of Alfred Stevens, a Belgian artist who painted during the Victorian era. I really love his work; it is beautiful and detailed and I like how he brought Victorian women to life. His depiction of their clothing is amazing. Every little ruffle, fold, drape and pleat is highlighted. His paintings have helped me imagine what the characters in Middlemarch would have looked like.You can view many of his paintings here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote

Another great holiday-themed story from Capote. This tale was more humorous than his Christmas story, but just as bittersweet. Featuring the same characters from A Christmas Memory, Buddy and Miss Sook, this story depicts the Thanksgiving preparations in their unique household and the arrival of an unexpected guest. I truly enjoyed reading both the holiday stories by Capote and they have spurred me to seek out other Christmas tales.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Honor of Veterans' Day

Anthem for a Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
--Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
 Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons. 
No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
 Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
 And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
 Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
 The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

This short, charming story is an autobiographical tale of a Christmas in Alabama in the 30's. The narrator, Buddy, and his distant, elderly cousin are best friends who plan and save every year in order to purchase and make fruit cakes for various friends, including Mrs. Roosevelt. They also spend lots of time on finding the right Christmas tree and in decorating it like "a Baptist window". I was struck by the thriftiness of the characters: almost everything they created was from scratch, they scrimped all year to even come up with $12 to buy their ingredients with, their gifts were homemade. How different life is now! I loved this story and its warmth and humor. I have a soft spot for Truman Capote and have enjoyed almost everything I've read by him. Next, I'm going to read his The Thanksgiving Visitor.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Goal Post

I am posting today to fufill my goal of posting at least every other day in November, but I don't have much to say. I'm still reading Middlemarch - that might be a long-term project. I really admire it, but after reading about 4 or 5 pages I have to turn to something else. I am also reading Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger and a couple of books about brain development. I still want to read the list of Victorian classics suggested by Sarah Waters so after Middlemarch I'll start Great Expectations.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I've loved Andre Agassi since I was 14 and became a tennis fan. I always rooted for him to beat Pete Sampras in their legendary matches. I loved his flair, his passion, his showmanship and, most of all, his heart. When he retired a few years ago and played his last match at the U.S. Open I bawled. So I was excited when I discovered that he was writing an autobiography - I was really looking forward to reading it. I'm not now, however, after the revelation was leaked last week that he was a meth user for a year DURING his tennis career, lied to tennis officials about it and has also stated that he hates tennis. Hmmm... I try not to be judgemental and I still think he is an amazing person, but the fog has lifted. I don't have any interest in reading about him now. Is there no one left in the world who deserves the praise of humanity???

Monday, November 2, 2009

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett

Published in 2004 this memoir has smacked against my windshield a few times, but it seemed that in every instance I felt an urgency to read it, it was checked out. It splattered once again this past week while I was on my quest for something special to read and this time, it was on the shelf.
Truth and Beauty entranced me from the first paragraph. Ann Patchett has a very clear, honest, shining voice and the story of her intense friendship with fellow writer Lucy Grealy is a fierce beacon to the reader's soul. Lucy Grealy was a poet who suffered from cancer as a child and lost the lower half of her jaw. She and Patchett meet in college and become roommates when they both attend grad school in Iowa. Lucy is an extraordinary person, larger than life and spontaneously vibrant. Her severe anxiety about her facial abnormality does not stop her from pursuing her goal of becoming a writer, yet she suffers from unbearable depression and loneliness throughout her life that debilitates her progress. I think anyone who has ever felt unattractive, lonely, and unloveable will understand Lucy's intense feelings of inadequacy, but most of us will also identify with Patchett, the long-suffering, loyal stalwart who can do nothing to heal her friend's ruptured self-worth. At the start of the book, I felt more in tune with Lucy but as it neared its end and Lucy tumbled into mental illness and drug abuse, I felt myself align with Ann. Patchett neatly times the reader's response to Lucy; I started to become exasperated with Lucy at exactly the point in the book when Ann nearly ends their friendship. I admired Ann's faithfulness throughout. I've never been called upon to serve a friend the way she served Lucy. She is an amazing example of true friendship. I enjoyed this beautifully tragic true tale.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November Goal

I have a goal this month to post on our blog at least every other day. I find writing down my thoughts about reading and books helps me sharpen my insights and refine my scattered musings. I am reading a lot right now since I have chosen lately to be homebound and haven't felt particulary sociable. I'm sure this is due to the weather changing and it getting dark so soon. It is dark now when I get off of work and it makes me want to flee to the coziness and comfort of home. This time of the year also makes me reflective and more willing to ponder the "big questions" about life. So, I will be thinking and reading and will share my thoughts here throughout the month. Happy November!