Monday, October 20, 2014

The Still Point of the Turning World by Emily Rapp

What a sad, somber, heartbreaking story. The author's son was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease which means that he stopped developing at six months old and gradually regressed until he passed away before he turned age three. She starts the book with the day of his diagnosis.

This is a different kind of memoir (and it's actually more of a long reflective meditation rather than memoir) than I've ever read because she seeks to find comfort and meaning in literature and weaves all sorts of literary references throughout the book. I actually wish that she wrote more about her son's decline and what it was like in terms of the practical ways she had to care for him. Her vagueness about the end of his life left me unsure about what it was like for her and her husband.

If you're looking for an uplifting and happy book, you are not going to find it here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

I re-read My Name is Asher Lev every couple of years, but I've never written about it on this blog. I just finished reading it again for an online book club that I sometimes join in on, and it was as wonderful as it was the first time I read it (which isn't always the case with re-reads!).

Asher Lev is a boy growing up in a Ladover Hasidic Jewish family, but he is also an artist. Not just any artist though, an artist who has the potential to be a great and famous artist. How does he reconcile his art and his religion? It's a constant source of tension inside of himself, with his father, and between his father and mother.

Rich and wonderfully written. I will probably read My Name is Asher Lev quite a few more times in my life.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Follow-Up

Heya, thanks for reading my blog! Some of you asked about the vinaigrette recipe I mentioned in my post about How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are.

Here it is: (add in order listed!)
salt
1 part vinegar
1 part water
2 parts olive oil
pepper

Thanks to the authors, Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret and Sophie Mas, for sharing this recipe and the tip about the order to add the ingredients. It's my go-to vinaigrette now!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Never Eat Alone And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazi

This book stressed me out.

On one hand, I understand what Ferrazzi is saying which is basically that being successful requires us to not just know a lot of people, but to have quality relationships with them. Ferrazzi writes about practical ways to keep in contact with people, to know who they are, and to find ways to help them succeed. One section about how being vulnerable first allows others to also open up was especially helpful.

There was a lot of food for thought but, like I wrote at the start, it kinda stressed me out.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret and Sophie Mas

I've only been to Paris once (this needs to change!), but I had one of the most delicious meals of my life there (thanks, Jerome!) and also had a really difficult time finding the Eiffel Tower (Boomer kept looking at the map saying, "It's got to be around here somewhere!")

Anyway, after reading this weird and shallow book about how to be a Parisian, I'm really not that interested in being more like a Parisian! There's a bunch of short essays and lists about food, men, decorating, etc.

There was one redeeming thing about this book. There is a recipe for vinaigrette that says you MUST put the ingredients in the order listed (salt, vinegar, water, oil, pepper). I tried it last night, and yes, it was an excellent vinaigrette, the best one I have ever made at home. Hum, at least when it comes to vinaigrette, these Parisians know what they are talking about.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Jessica and Rachel are two recent college graduates who promise to write each other weekly emails about their work and love lives. Jessica moves to Beijing and Rachel moves to New York City. Over the course of three years, Jessica moves to Melbourne and Rachel also moves to Paris. They have jobs, find other jobs, apply to graduate schools, meet guys, dump guys, and get dumped. Oh, and there are pregnancy and STD scares all in there as well.

The book is comprised of emails going back and forth. I thought that it was going to be cliche and self-absorbed, but I was wrong. Their personalities come out clearly and they are funny as they try and find their way in post-college life. They encourage and support each other.

Funny, light, and entertaining. I read it in a day!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lucky Dog: How Being a Veterinarian Saved My Life by Sarah Boston

It is not unusual for friends and family to warn me about certain books or movies. Someone will say, "Elaine, PLEASE don't read/watch _____________." They know that I don't like offensive movies (especially about ethnicity), movies with squalor, or books/movies when an animal is killed or dies. By the way, I don't think I'll ever read Where the Red Fern Grows again.

I wish someone had warned me about this book. I cried three times!!

Dr. Boston is a vet. More specifically, she a surgeon who operates on cancer in dogs. This is the story of how she found a lump in her neck which turned out to be thyroid cancer. She goes back and forth between stories about her patients and her own process in getting treated through Canada's free health care system (her patients get treated much faster!).

Dr. Boston is a very likable lady and I really enjoyed her writing and her humor. She also has some thoughtful insights about life throughout the book as well. Even though it was painful and sad at times to read, I did like it.