Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child
By Bob Spitz and Kimberly Farr
For someone whose first introduction to Julia Child was Bill Cosby teaching his fictional son Theo to carve a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve become somewhat obsessed. And I mean that in a good way. I mean, the woman was 6’3″ tall, didn’t get married until she was 34, and could debone a duck with a flick of a wrist. What’s not to love?
Sometimes big biographies like this one can be scary because they are long and there is always a chance you’ll get stuck in the boring middle part. Well the good news here is that there is no boring middle part. Even though it got a little sad towards the end, I still wasn’t ready for the Julia fun to be over. I was simply amazed at what Julia was able to accomplish in the later part of her life. For someone who basically wasted the first 30 years, she certainly made something of herself.
Also, I was so impressed with her scientific method for breaking down and improving recipes. I can’t even imagine the stamina and dedication (not to mention cost) that took. It made me go upstairs and actually check out Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Now…I’m not gonna pull a Julie and Julia and cook every recipe, but it would be nice to find one or two good ones to add to my repertoire. Guaranteed NOT to be that winner: deboned duck (not gonna touch it) or anything with aspic (umm…boiled hooves? no thanks. I’m not even the biggest fan of Jello).
(Happy reading and then hopefully eating…)
Once again we find ourselves in the middle of award season…The Emmys, The Golden Globes, the ever-coveted Oscars. It seems like everyone is clamoring to enjoy movies with deep, complex story lines and films with breathtaking cinematography.
This is not one of those movies.
Personally, I haven’t seen any of the Oscar Best Picture Nominees, and I’m mostly ok with that. Instead I like to watch movies I’ll actually enjoy. On the outside, Pitch Perfect seems like just another Glee rip off (I’m looking at you Smash). Girl goes to college, wants to be a DJ, but ends up singing in an a capella group who likes to compete in vocal competitions and wants to win Nationals. See what I mean? Part of me kept waiting for Vocal Adrenaline to be the next competitor.
However, as the movie progressed, I was surprised to find myself drawn into the story. I wanted the group to sing Beca’s mashups. I wanted the lead singer of the boy group to get punched in the face. It was enthralling. Ok, maybe not…but it was definitely worth a couple hours of my life. Especially since I haven’t come back to Glee this season (gasp!).
If you’re looking for something light and fun and that you can sing along to, pick Pitch Perfect. (It would also make for excellent counter programming to that big sports thing happening tomorrow night.)
Raise your hand if you like the title track to this album. Ok, let’s see…that’s 1…2…4…19…yes, I see you…456…9,689,231. (Man, a lot of people read this blog.) Make that 9,689,232 because I think this is my favorite album of the year.
I was a little late to the game finding Fun. – their upcoming concert at the Ryman was sold out before I even knew who they were. Sigh. They’ve gotten 6 Grammy nominations for this year – including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist. Hopefully, they will perform so I’ll be able to see them play.
Personally, I think the band is kind of a modern day Queen. Their album has an almost operatic opening track. I would call this style Drama Pop. Take a listen…
Isn’t that fun? Some Nights is actually the band’s second album. I may go back and try to find their first, Aim and Ignite from 2009, but I have a feeling if we didn’t hear it then it might not be worth hearing. Time will tell.
Man, I love that drum line. Makes you want to check out the whole album, doesn’t it?
PS This album is not on freegal (sigh) but you can download a knock off version of Some Nights as well as the version heard on Glee, just FYI. Or you can get all three to compare and contrast.
So how many books did you read in 2012?
I read .
Can you beat me? Post the number of books you read in the comments. I love to hear from fellow readers.
We already did a Best of 2012 Podcast that you can hear here. But I do have a couple of other books I’d like to mention…
Longest Read: Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson
What? It was only 1168 pages. That’s why it took me almost 4 months to finish.
Best Book Nashville Public Library Doesn’t Own (yeah Interlibrary Loan!): Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell
I know I work at the library and not a bookstore, but these customers seemed oddly familiar…
Best Series I Finally Got To Finish: The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini (featuring Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance)
Yeah! I did it! I read all 2794 pages. And at least 1789 of them were really good. Woohoo!
Possibly the Worst Book I’ve Ever Read (Ever): One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell
This one was a tough category to pick the worst book because there were several to choose from (Looking at you J.K. Rowling). I just wanted to punch all these characters in the face. Ugh. Read it at your own risk – I’m warning you.
Ok, Nashville…let’s set our reading goals high for 2013. If you need recommendations to help get your numbers up that’s what the library’s here for.
150 books read in one year…here we come!
Who Could That Be at This Hour?
By Lemony Snicket
Why do I keep reading books by such a curmudgeonly author? (Here curmudgeonly means someone who thinks no one should read his books.) How come Lemony Snicket made himself the lead character in his new series? Why could I not put this book down? Who wouldn’t want to read it?
For those of you out there who loved A Series of Unfortunate Events, Snicket is back with a new children’s series called All the Wrong Questions. This is the first book in which we find Snicket setting off on a new quest that almost immediately seems more dangerous and daunting than one would initially expect.
Snicket still has the same witty writing style that has become his signature and he takes self-deprecation to a whole new level. Unfortunately, this book asks more questions than it answers…which may be the author’s completely brilliant (and evil) plan. I can’t wait to see what twists Snicket creates next. These books might be officially for kids, but any kid-at-heart will enjoy them.
PS If you only watched the movie of A Series of Unfortunate Events with Jim Carrey and were not satisfied, definitely give the books a try. They are SO much better.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers
By Katherine Boo
This book has been kind of haunting me. I read about it a couple months ago when it came out, but every time it came up on the hold list for me, I just sent it on to the next reader. I think I was afraid it would be dry and boring or simply too depressing to enjoy. I happy to report, though, that this book is neither of those things.
Katherine Boo tells such a powerful story here that it is hard to remember that these are real people living real lives. It seemed more like a novelization of a stereotypical slum. You really get pulled in by the characters – and the fact that Abdul and Manju really exist makes it even more poignant.
Parts of it were incredibly frustrating – not because of the reading, because of the situation. The amount of corruption at the lower levels of this society is amazing. Medicine isn’t even available in the hospitals. Slumdwellers must first purchase it on the street and then take it into the hospital (!?!?!). This book takes Slumdog Millionaire to the next level. Even with all our troubles, I have never been more thankful to live where I do and have the opportunities I have.
If you’re looking for something gripping that will really make you think, this one will do it easily. The National Book Award folks thought so too, because they just gave it their prize for Nonfiction.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
By Robin Sloan
I think that someday, in my free time, I’m going to build a magic device that will allow me to teleport not only to work instantaneously (goodbye hour commute!), but also lets me visit fictional places. The first place I would go would be Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (the second would be Hogwarts – but the body count there is higher). A place that is open all the time and has floor to ceiling books? I’m so in.
It is nice to finally find a book that lives up to the hype. It’s completely disappointing to read a great review, but then be let down while reading. Sigh. It’s kinda like when a movie preview contains every funny moment from the show. It might be hilarious, but the actual movie is a snoozefest because you’ve already heard all the punchlines. Penumbra’s Bookstore holds many surprises and intrigue. If you’re like me, you’ll probably waver back and forth between wanting to finish the book NOW! to see what happens and wanting to savor every moment because’s it so enjoyable.
What is the big mystery about Mr. Penumbra’s Bookstore? How does it stay open all the time when no one comes in? Why does our main character Clay have to record the minutest details about the customers who do peruse the shop? What is the Waybacklist? Will Google revolutionize mystery novel writing? Why do I like books about smart, nerdy people so much? Robin Sloan will definitely answer most of these questions.
This is probably the third best book I read all year (the other two: Ready, Player, One and Ghost Wave). If you are looking for something that isn’t just a publishing sensation but is actually a good read – start here.