BOOKS. I HAZ THEM. Welcome to a wildly belated report of this quarter’s book-inhalation.
—The Complete Peanuts, 1950-1952 – Charles M. Schulz. Imagine Charlie Brown sassing Lucy, then running for his life, grinning. THAT’S how different early Peanuts characters were.
—The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo. All of your belongings have needs and feelings, until you shove them in garbage bags and throw them away. They won’t mind that.
—Vanity Fair – William Thackeray. Classic for a reason. Recommended, but not as a beach read or pick-me-up.
—Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons. Short and entertaining parody of serious, bleak rural novels.
—Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury. Interesting.
—The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin (audiobook). I am a big ol’ honking Gretchen Rubin fan. Maybe even a fangirl. Still, I’m chiefly a visual learner, and often finish audiobooks feeling that I’ve missed a lot. Will obtain hard copy someday. If you only buy one Rubin book, choose Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.
—Action Philosophers – Fred Van Lente and Ryan. A introduction to history’s great philosophers and their teachings, in comic form. WAY over my head, but even I learned things and the clever humor.
—Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet: What to Eat, What to Avoid, and What to Stop Worrying About – Monica Reinagel. My friend Annie recommended the Nutrition Diva podcast to me years ago, and I ignored her. Who’d want to listen to a nutrition podcast? Annie was right; Reinagel is great, and I’ve listened to a couple hundred of her podcast episodes. This book’s just as good: helpful, practical, and informative, but not too serious or overwhelming.
—The Beautiful and the Damned – F. Scott Fitzgerald. Second-tier Fitzgerald. While he sometimes has wonderful prose and ideas, sometimes… he just drags you along with him.
SPOILER: Early in the book, we learn that BEAUTY ITSELF is coming to America for the first time ever (sick burn, dude) in the form of a human woman. Sounds extremely important doesn’t it? It’s not! Those two or three pages were leftovers from his previous concept for a novel, and he didn’t bother taking them out. Sometimes I’d like to slap that man.
—Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maugham. Equal parts moving and dull, with a unsatisfying ending that left me crankypants. Lovely simple prose and storytelling, but the story meanders. See also D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers.
The Beautiful and the Damned, Of Human Bondage, and Sons and Lovers are all realistic, minute-by-minute accounts of lives and loves. All three wonderfully capture elements of the human experience, and —please don’t hit me— they can drag, and the first two have some transparent Author Fantasies. Not every novel should be action-packed, but some stories could use more story.
—Sew What! Skirts – Francesca Denhartog and Carole Ann Camp – Like many Intro to Sewing -type books, this book teaches you to make simple, beginner-friendly skirts. Sewing takes practice, and everyone’s gotta start somewhere, but you might not want to wear your projects publicly.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE: In early April, I listened to Jeremy Irons read Lolita. So… in just over a month, I read/heard three books by dead white dudes who complained a LOT about adult women being unacceptably unattractive. This was surprisingly discouraging. The Beautiful and the Damned took a dozen potshots at women to underscore the female protagonist’s exceptional foxiness. Of Human Bondage was written by a gay man who clearly found a LOT of women really, really gross. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you how unkind Lolita is about adult female bodies. Between the three, I found myself more and more ashamed and angry. Who knew it would hurt so much?