Category Archives: Books

Reading Something For The First Time

The Jillian has finally learned to read. By that, I mean she can read actual books, by herself, TO HERSELF (that last is v. important). She's able to follow a more complex storyline and characterization, which means there are literally HUNDREDS, if not thousands of books I want to throw at her, like NOW.

This was a bit more of a struggle than I would have liked. It took awhile for her to get past the fact that this wasn't something she was instantly good at and maybe had to work at a little bit.

[I wonder where that comes from]

While she learned the alphabet and was able to recognize words and sentences fairly early on, it really took awhile for her to get stuck in the books. It was frustrating to watch, since the number of things I would RATHER do than read a book is exactly zero. 99% of the time, I am reading a book as well as doing at least two other things. I read all the time. So for her to NOT be a bookworm was very strange to me and I had no idea what to do with that.

For about a year, we thought she might be sporty, instead. So we signed her up for soccer and dance and gymnastics and swimming.  That year taught us a lot.  Namely: the child, she is not going to be a jock.  She seems to enjoy gymnastics and we really ought to sign her up for some dance lessons, but beyond the requirement that she learn how to swim, she's probably not going to be a sporto.  And that's fine. Maybe she'll find something later on, like fencing or juggling or something.

Then art took over our lives. I cannot tell you how many reams of paper we have gone through in this house.  We have a craft bucket that is basically 23 pounds of crayons in various stages of brokenness.  There are markers everywhere (and thank goodness for washable markers, amirite?).  There has been discussion about fashion and wanting to learn to sew and make her own clothes. There is plenty of time to explore that.

Enter Captain Underpants. I think I can lay the blame at the doors of the book fair, because I gave the kid some money and that's what she chose.  I'm not at all opposed to Captain Underpants, though.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  You see, when I was in 8th grade (I think), Dav Pilkey  visited our school and gave a talk. I don’t remember much about what he actually said, but I do remember him drawing Captain Underpants for us. There was a breakout session later on for a handful of select students, and I do remember him telling me “just write. Even if it’s bad. Keep writing.” It stuck because he was a young guy, not a “grown-up” telling us these things. He wasn’t that far from being one of us!

That was 25 years ago and I am still doing that, so… thanks Dav!

Anyway, Captain Underpants entered our lives and suddenly, the child was reading. ALL THE TIME. We even got to the point where I had to physically take the book away from her and send her outside because she was getting all pale and sickly-looking. My proudest parenting moment so far was the night I went in to check on her before going to bed and I found her asleep and drooling on her book, flashlight in hand.

Finally, something clicked with her and she started reading everything she could get her hands on. It took some time for us to explain to her the more or less linear progression of story in most books, but now that she’s figured that out, she is plowing through everything. We love the library and will likely spend a great deal of time there this summer.

Personally, I am extremely excited that she will get to read All The Books that I read and loved when I was her age. She gets to read them all for the first time, and I am SO JEALOUS of that. I have started a list, that has Ramona Quimby at the top and I can’t wait for her to discover all the characters and stories that I grew up with. There are so many books I wish I could read again for the first time.


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Books books books BOOKS

I love books. I love books like some women love shoes. I have hundreds (used to be nearly a thousand, but lots of moves forced me to cull the herd more than twice). I worked in a bookstore for a good four years, which were some of the best years of my life. BOOKS AND COFFEE EVERYWHERE, what more could a caffeinated nerd ask for?

I resisted when the Kindle and other e-readers came on the scene. I flew the flag of “out of my cold, dead hands” for a good long while, preferring the heft and feel of an actual, paper book. At one point, I paid an additional $65 dollars in luggage fees because my suitcases were stuffed full of books coming home with me from Chicago. That’s dedication to the printed word, friends.

Then Scotland happened. I was about to finish a whole bunch of books and I knew I would need MORE BOOKS for travelling, but I didn’t want to take up precious luggage space with huge doorstops full of words. As it was, my bags weighed in at 21.5kg and 21.9kg, respectively. Just under the 22kg weight limit, HIGH FIVES FOR ALL. So books were sort of out of the question.



So I bought a Kindle, literally a week before the Kindle Fire came out. I didn’t want a Kindle Fire, however, so that didn’t faze me in the slightest. I read A LOT. And eyestrain is starting to be a concern, what with me being elderly and whatnot. The idea of e-paper or e-ink or whatever they call it was alluring. So, Arthur (that’s my Kindle’s name) entered my life, and nothing has been the same since.

In a good way, I mean.

I know! I KNOW. I’m sad about it too. But it has opened up so many new possibilities! I can read almost anywhere, thanks to the Kindle app on my phone and the light on my Kindle case. (This is starting to be a Kindle advertisement). But I read more now than I ever have before, simply because my books are so much more portable. I can easily get through 8 or 9 books in a week, and now I can read them all at the same time. Or combine physical books with the e-books!

The only thing bumming me out, however, is the amount of money I am spending. I don’t mind buying books, but sometimes I just want to read a shitty book and not have to shell out cash money for it. This is why the library has almost all of Danielle Steele’s offerings. Nobody wants to be buying that crap! I still go to the library and check out books, but then we’re back to that low-portability issue and the fact that What’s-His-Name gets crabby if I have the light on for too long whilst reading in bed. Plus, it’s the 21st century, my friends! There’s no real reason why my tiny library can’t get on the e-book wagon, you know?

And now they have. Our library is miniscule. There’s just not a lot of room for books and it has to be curated ruthlessly. But with e-books, oh… friends. The possibilities.

UNFORTUNATELY, my library’s e-book situation doesn’t currently work on the regular (non-Fire) Kindle.


(and heaping helping of gratitude that this, THIS is the biggest problem I have in my life at the moment)

This is because the e-book lending situation is an app. And derrrrrrrrrrrr the regular old-skool Kindle doesn’t “do” apps, WHICH IS THE REASON I HAVE ONE.



My phone, however, does do apps. My Magic Space Phone! So… I guess I could read things on my phone but ugh. Tiny and battery-eating! It’ll do in a pinch, I GUESS.

But the app is supported by Baker & Taylor, and I harbor quite a bit of resentment toward that place. Not the place itself so much as the fucking bitch boss I had who trained me poorly and did not support me AT ALL. I am still mad about that. Granted, the end of my tenure there was fully and totally my own fault, but I honestly feel like things would have gone better had I had a better manager, who was less of a bitch.

Annnnnnnnyway, I’m still futzing around with this Blio app thingus, so I don’t have an opinion of it just yet. I will soon, however. And I hope the catalog of books available will be deep and varied and not full of Danielle Fucking Steele.

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Giving Thanks – Day 9

I am thankful beyond belief when it comes to books. Reading is my most favorite thing to do in the world. If I could figure out a way to knit and read at the same time, I would almost never do anything else. Alas, I haven’t yet found a non-frustrating way to do this.

I read constantly. Everything I can get my hands on. Luckily for me, my eyesight is still pretty damn good, because if I lose that AND my hearing, I’m fucked. I am always reading.

My favorite book of all time is Gone With The Wind. I have read it well over 200 times since I got it for my 8th birthday. Aside from being an amazing epic story, the main character is incredible. Scarlett O’Hara is so tragic and flawed – I love her so much. I especially love that she doesn’t get a happy ending. She doesn’t really get an ending at all, which is both the perfect way for GWTW to end AND incredibly maddening for me, because I always like to know What Happens Next. The beauty of GWTW is that you get to imagine Scarlett, waking up alone in her giant Atlanta house, thinking “okay, now what the fuck do I do?” And I’m sure that with Scarlett being Scarlett, she eventually figures it out.

The sequel was straight-up terrible. Of course I’ve read it.

The other one, written from Rhett’s perspective, was so utterly putrid that I bought my copy on the remainder pile and it was SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR. Don’t be messing with the classics, people.

My next-favorite book is The Pillars of the Earth. If you haven’t read it, I don’t know what to tell you other than “go. Read it.”

After that, we’ve got Harry Potter, anything Jasper Fforde has written, various forms of Chick Lit… the list goes on. I’m always happy to recommend my favorite books. Indeed, I can be obnoxious about the ones I really really love.

I almost always have at least three books going at a time. Back when I worked at the bookstore, I was reading something like 9 books a week, but I just don’t have that kind of time anymore. I wish I did! Instead, I am busy trying to build another reader in Jillian. She is getting there.

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More resolutions

Well, I de-friended a few people from Facebook because they were stressing me out and of course now I’m stressing about being stressed about it. Awesome. Nothing has been said to me, nor do I expect anyone to say anything, but I’m stressed over the anticipation of some maybe-confrontation. Classic! I need to learn to let that go.

So – more resolutions. My reading life has suffered massively since I left the book world, and that’s sad because I love books more than just about anything else. I need to read more. However, there are only so many hours in the day when I’m not entertaining Jillian or cooking or working out or doing something. I need time to sit and really get into a book or it will NEVER get read. Case in point: The Instructions by Adam Levin. I am almost to page 100, and it’s been sitting on my nightstand for over a month now. After I finish this one (at nearly a thousand pages, I should be done sometime in May at the rate I’m going), I have a long list of things I want to read about. World War I, South America, Beer, and I’m really looking for a very good, very comprehensive book or series of books about European history, from as far back as they can go to present.

I’ve been told “that’s a college major.” Yes, I know. Ideally, I’d like to read about the history of Europe as told through its music. That might be a book that hasn’t yet been written, however.

Aside from my super-nerdy list of things to read about, I want to knit more. I just frogged a 99%-finished second sock because I noticed a dropped stitch some 30 rows previous that couldn’t be fixed. That was nice. I hated the yarn I was using and was so happy to be almost done with the pair, so I have put that project aside for the time being and started working on a crocheted afghan for Jillian. I got a gift cert for yarn for the holidays and of course I have project paralysis because I don’t know what I want to make. Fun. So the next resolution is to knit more, and try new skills that are scary to me (Fair Isle, entrelac, etc). I am a fringe member of a couple of knitting groups – maybe I should start going to more meetups. I don’t know.

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Fun-ish things (I like lists)

1. I have given away both copies of the book I promised to the Tomato Nation Comment Army. Thanks for the interest and good luck to all! Once the NCDS is over, we’ll get started in earnest, yes?

2. I have been trying to ignore it, but apparently I need to re-organize my cupboards a little better. This morning, a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce fell out of the cabinet and splashed me in the face. Not an awesome way to start the day.

3. I made a big batch of waffles this morning. Ever since I discovered Jillian’s intense and burning love for all things leavened, I have been making waffles about every 5 days. I figure I have saved approximately $527.32 just this year alone by making them from scratch (ridiculously easy) instead of buying Eggo. The child can put away two of them each morning, no problem. She’s a machine.

4. While Freddie and I both have our own iPods, we share the iTunes. Therefore, EVERYTHING that is on the iTunes ends up on my iPod (18GB) because there is no way in hell I’m manually managing 5,000 songs. During the day, I like to put it on shuffle and let it go but today I found I may have to re-think that. Collective Soul came on. I mean, Collective Soul? On MY iPod? Ew. I do believe this is grounds for divorce.

5. I have a fairly eclectic musical palate. I’ll listen to most things, but there are a few things that make me want to stick rusty scissors in my ears. The Eagles come to mind. Collective Soul is another one – they were EVERYWHERE in the mid-to-late 90’s and I’m sick of them (still) on top of the fact that THEY SUCK. Freddie already had that CD in his music collection when we got together because I for sure didn’t authorize that purchase. Thank God he dislikes country as much as I do or I really would have to call my lawyer. If I had a lawyer, that is.

6. I… like the smell of Murphy’s Oil Soap. I didn’t used to – when we moved out of our last apartment and into our first house, I scrubbed the shit out of the hardwood floors in the apartment using the MOS. And for some reason, the smell of it was unpleasant to me, but in hindsight that might have had more to do with the fact that the whole apartment was kind of stanky when we got there. It smelled like the dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant – like old sesame oil. Hrm. Perhaps that’s why sesame oil still makes me heave a bit when I cook with it. Interesting. Anyway, I finally got fed up with the grody milk driblets all over my TV stand and coffee table (thanks, toddler!) so I busted out the Murphy’s and went to town. Much better.

7. Technology, which is sometimes the bane of my existence, is actually doing nice things for me these days. Via Facebook and MySpace, people are falling back into my life after long absences and I couldn’t be happier. As I reconnect with these people, I feel like the pieces of me that are connected with them are joining back up with the whole of me. It’s a nice feeling, even if talking about it makes me seem a little less than sane.

8. My little brother is coming to be our houseguest for a few weeks. This means I have had to shovel out the 3rd bedroom and make it habitable for him. I also needed to buy curtains, since the previous owners left little valances across each window which is fine when nobody is living in there, but now that there’s a tenant, he might want some privacy. So I went to Target this morning and picked up some curtains. For ONE window, despite the fact that there are two perfectly useful windows in that room, both of which need curtains. Because I am… how you say… RETARDED. Therefore, once The Jillian wakes up from her nap (blessed, blessed naptime, how I love you so), we are headed out to Target AGAIN. Because I’m a dumbass.

9. I wonder what kind of proof-of-address the library needs in order to issue me a card. We moved here last October and I only just recently got around to getting on the DMV website to change my address on my license. You can do it online and they send you a sticker to put on your license and thus saves you the immense hassle and ass-pain of actually GOING to the DMV. Yay, right? WRONG! While I might sit in the DMV with a speed-freak toddler for a few hours, at least I would HAVE MY STICKER. Because I did it online? Three to four weeks. Yes, WEEKS. For fuck’s sake.

10. But I need to go to the library. Small and dismal our town library may be, at least it has books. And I have read all of my books. ALL OF THEM. Even the shitty ones that I got for free at some of my various and sundry book-related jobby jobs. Most of the books I have read twice. Or three times. Or, in a few cases (Gone With The Wind), upwards of 150 times. I need some new books. That I do not have to pay for.

11. No, that’s not a typo. I have read Gone With The Wind more than 150 times. I got a paperback copy of it for Christmas (or my birthday, I forget which) waaaaaaay back in 1983. I was eight, and [duh] reading at a much more advanced level than most people are at that age. Books written for my age group: a) bored me to death; b) had stupid, condescending plotlines; and c) took me roughly 15 minutes to read. Since I wasn’t athletic (that’s putting it extremely diplomatically), I read. A lot. So the parents, pissed off at having to drag my nerdy ass to the library every two days, bought me Gone With The Wind in hopes that it would shut me up for a good long time. It took two weeks for me to read it that first time, and once I got to the end I promptly started it again. It’s my favorite book.

12. I don’t hate the movie, exactly, but it has so little to do with the book that it bums me out to watch it, even though I think I could rock a hoop skirt.

13. In knitting news, I am about done with my Big Ugly Sweater. I ran into a bit of a problem in that the sleeves are a bit longer than the body pieces will allow so I sort of have to do a little bit of hillbilly engineering to get them to look presentable. This problem will be fixed next time because I will knit the sleeves first and then make the body pieces fit. If there is a next one. I initially knit this in the ugly color scheme as a test run before I knit one for Freddie. The ugly color scheme doesn’t bother me at all but it will blind most people (wait for the photos).

…and there you have it – today’s brain mush!

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Filed under Books, Freddie, Friends, House, Jillian, Knitting, Me Me Me, Stuff

Everyone’s favorite: A list of random crap!

1. If you’re getting here via Tomato Nation comments, I apologize for making you read this drivel. I have one more book to offer – just drop me a comment and we’ll hash it out.

2. Nice job, USA track & field relay teams. Dropping the baton is a great way to go.

3. Ms. Prufrock called me cool (or awesome or something else nice, I forget what it was exactly) the other day so now I feel obligated to post and post brilliantly more often. This one’s for you, Pru!

4. I have approximately four Very Important Projects to work on, so naturally I’ve been spending far too much time on Facebook. I can’t help myself – between the stalking opportunities and Pieces of Flair, it’s a perfect place for someone like myself who… ooh, shiny!

5. The Jillian is starting to speak English with a lot more fluency these days. I can’t keep up with her sometimes. Girlfriend can even count to ten! I don’t know if she knows what it means, exactly, but it sounds good.

6. She’s ‘reading’ Snow White right now. I’m a little bit grossed out by Snow White and her desire to be saved by a handsome prince and all of that. So when I read it to her, I can’t help but interject my own commentary which is usually along the lines of “… because Snow White is a NINNY.” Snow White needs to get herself a clue and take care of her ownself. And for fuck’s sake – who doesn’t learn the rule about taking candy (or apples) from strangers? Does she have no Stranger Danger instinct at all? I think Snow White is a bit touched in the head, to be quite honest.

7. If it’s not obvious, can I just tell you all how much I am dreading Jillian’s absorption into the Disney Machine? I don’t mind the old-skool Mickey Mouse stuff so much, but the Disney Princesses make me want to hurt myself. But I will gladly put up with any amount of Princess crap as long as it keeps those Bratz dolls out of my house. Those things are truly scary.

8. So, I’m a little bit ashamed to admit this but I just read “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks. It suuuuuuuuuuuuucked. The movie was about 12 times better, and I don’t think I have ever said that about any movie made from a book. Mr. Sparks cannot write for shit, yet he is a bestselling author. Just goes to show that we live in a culture that doesn’t give a fuck about what it’s consuming (see also Cheez Doodles, McDonald’s, MTV). My mom’s dog can write better dialogue than Sparks can.

9. I probably had a real reason to post today but I’ll be damned if I can remember what it was.

10. Because ten is a nice place to end this.


Filed under Books, Jillian, Me Me Me, Movies, Other People, Stuff, Teh Internets

Oh my Goth.

Oprah’s latest book club pick just so happens to be my 2nd-favorite book of all time: The Pillars of The Earth by Ken Follett. If you don’t know what my 1st-favorite book is, then you are missing some very key information about me. Put it this way – my child’s middle name is Scarlett.

I normally pay little attention to the whole Oprah “thing.” She doesn’t really do anything for me, and at times I feel her attempts to be “real” come off more fake than if she would just say something like “You know what? I have more money than God, and therefore I have no idea what a normal person’s life is like.” That would make me feel better.

But the book club, well, that’s a great idea. Here is a woman with a lot of influence, telling her Oprah Army what to read. And they do it. So it’s nice that she picked a book that I absolutely LOVE, meaning lots more people will read it, and maybe fall in love with it, too.

If you like TPoTE, then also check out the sequel: World Without End. It picks up 300 years later with the descendants of the characters in the first book. It’s not as good as the first one (what sequel ever is?), but it’s pretty well-done all the same.

I wish I could be more coherent about this, but it’s been a rather tough couple of days. More on that later, but for now, go out and read. TV is going to be all re-runs after this week anyway.


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