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Book Report. Fall Edition

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It’s been a while since I last shared what I’ve been reading, so I thought a fall book report was in order before that winter equinox sneaks up on us in a couple weeks. I find summer and fall to be the toughest times to read regularly because all I want to do is spend some QT with the great outdoors. I did manage to find my way through a few books in the last few months.

For this book report, I went back through my Kindle “highlights” to give you a quick glimpse of one line that I loved from each book.

Read:
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee | Unfortunately, hate and prejudice are still too much alive in our country. The feelings behind this book are just as relevant today as they were when it was written. The reviews are right—it’s not as great To Kill… but it’s a quick read.

Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.

Not A Star by Nick Hornby | Warning… this book does have a sexual nature. It’s a funny premise about parents finding out exactly how their son is physically gifted. There are two short stories in this book which was another quick read.

When you get older, it feels like happy memories and sad memories are pretty much the same thing. It is all just emotion in the end. And any of it can make you weep.
 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Johnathan Safran Foer | I’m late to the game reading this heartwarming story about one family’s journey through two horrible tragedies — 9/11 and Dresden. It’s a great adventure that I’d go on with the main character if I could. Tears filled my eyes more than once.

“Oh,” he said, “she died twenty-four years ago! Long
time ago! Yesterday, in my life!” “Oops.” “It’s OK!” “You don’t feel bad that I asked about her? You can tell me if you do.” “No!” he said. “Thinking about her is the next best thing!”

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby | Hornby is one of my favorite writers so I flew through this story of the cast of a Brit sitcom and how one small town girl rose to the top.

I’m a writer. Life is supposed to pass me by, while I watch it.

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant | I honestly had to look back at when I checked this out from the library because it felt like I’ve known this story forever. I admit that I cried through some passages of this book. The stories of mothers losing babies are written in such a tender and real way. I had a hard time putting this one down.

If you treat every question like you’ve never heard it before, your students feel like you respect them and everyone learns a lot more. Including the teacher.

Stephen King on Writing | I’m not a Stephen King fan, but I am a writer, so I dug in. It’s half writer’s how-to, half memoir. There was a lot I didn’t know about King and his journey. The writing tips are mostly a dime a dozen. The takeaway if you want to be a writer (novelist), work your ass off.

The scariest moment is always just before you start.

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead | A story about ballerinas, their dreams, the dreams they leave behind and the interwoven relationships between the dancers themselves. I loved imagining the dancers going through each step the author described and I started staging them in my head. Being a lover of dance, I could see this one turned into a movie.

How strange it was that a dream, once realized, could quickly turn mundane.

Congratulations, by the way: Some thoughts on kindness by George Saunders | I would love to go back and re-read my college graduation’s speaker’s speech. Unfortunately, I cannot even remember who gave the speech. I think if it was Saunders, I would have remembered. Lucky for these grads, they can read it over and over and over. It’s a quick and great read. But, ps, it’s also a video.

So, quick, end-of-speech advice. Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now.

Didn’t finish:
Want Not by Jonathan Miles. | I just couldn’t get into it. I tried. I really did. I even borrowed it from the library TWICE. Just wasn’t happening.

Currently:
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert | Just diving in so this is my favorite highlight so far. I’ve been on the library waitlist basically since this book hit the shelf at the library. Excited to make my way through it over the next week or so.

…we all know that when courage dies, creativity dies with it. We all know that fear is a desolate boneyard where our dreams go to desiccate in the hot sun.

 

All the book links go directly to GoodReads where you can add them to your Want to Read shelf if you so desire. What are you reading now, and what should I read next. Would love a good fiction read for the holidays. Let me know!

Heard, Read, Watched. Spring, 2015.

KindleSpringHEARD
Serial (finally) yes. It took a few months. But I was busy in the fall, letsbehonest. And now that I’ve listened, I’m totally ready for the next story.

Currently: Nate Reuss’s Grand Romantic I’ve been in love with following Reuss since I was in college and he was front-manning The Format while smoking on stage. Last time I saw him live he’d quit the habit and, of course, sounds as great as ever on this solo album.

 

READ
The $100 Start-Up I read this because I’ve seen some solid reviews of the book. It’s a quick read, has some great examples and is a nice baseline of what it might take you to be an entrepreneur. Note, I’m not quitting my day job, just reading a lot of various things.

Lean In Just like Serial, I was late to the party on this one. But I picked it up and read it — the same week Sandberg’s partner died. My heart aches for her. As for the book, I quickly devoured it. Side note, if you haven’t read this post by Sandberg on the end of sheloshim, I suggest you read it right away. So much of what she shares about approaching someone after tragedy is so true. (especially the note on asking, “How are you?”)

The Hive confession. I picked this up off the library shelf because the spine said “Hornby,” the last name of one of my faves, Nick Hornby. Well, you’re not supposed to re-shelf books, so I didn’t and I read it and it was just OK.

#GirlBoss my 22-year-old self would have benefitted from this book a lot more than I did now. There’s some interesting tidbits in there but I would recommend it to my college-aged cousin, not my working-gal-bffs.

Not That Kind of Girl so what if I totally hopped on the femme-mindset book wagon? I enjoyed this collection of stories from Lena Dunham not as much for the content as I did for the writing style.

A Room of One’s Own this is actually where my the whole female reading began this spring. Maybe closer back to where it began. Basically, Wolfe talks about how a woman needs a room of her own in which to write. In which to make. In which to think. It’s more about independence than a physical room though, so the message, while difficult to get through, is still relevant today.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook another confession. I didn’t make it through this. Maybe because this is the stuff I deal in on the daily? Just couldn’t get into it, so I put it down.

Currently: On Writing, A Memoir of The Craft I’m not even a quarter of the way in so I’ll report back later on this summer.

 

WATCHED
Biggest confession of the post here, people. I don’t make time for watching TV and/or movies. I’d rather spend my time with people, cooking, outside, reading, listening, dancing, etc. I do hold a few programs on my DVR. So recently, I’ve watched the season finales of Bates and Gotham. And of course, the series finale of Mad Men, single tear.

Currently: So You Think You Can Dance. My summer’s guilty pleasure.

 

And now, I want to know what you’re reading. Let’s connect on GoodReads. Or leave the names of what I should hear, read, or watch in the comments, yo.

Early Winter Book Report

012015_earlywinterbookreport_kellymcauleyIn December, 2014, I decided that I should be reading more. And in my world “more” means at least a book a month, because I always busy myself reading blogs and news sites, that I haven’t made enough time for books. Actual, real, e-books. So, here’s what I’ve been reading, and a few thoughts on each. Let’s call it my early winter book report (when’s the last time you wrote a book report?!)

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Truth. I had never read this one. But I’m glad I did. Vonnegut is a literary master, of course. Bonus, short chapters keep this story moving. Double bonus, it’s in the Kindle Prime library, which means I didn’t have to buy it, or borrow it from someone, or go to the library or a computer or anything.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
By chance, I was talking with my sister-in-law about what she was currently reading and it happened that we were both reading this book and at about the same point. Again, short chapters keep it moving. The book also jumps from character to character and this murder mystery had me guessing—about who was going to be murdered AND who did it. I’d be up for reading more by Moriarty.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
The entire time I was reading this book I was shaking my head “yes, yes, yes.” I don’t have any quotables for you but this book fit nicely in my fiction/non-fiction/fiction line-up that I’m trying to do. It was nothing new, but it was a quick read, so it wasn’t time wasted.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
Ferris is one of my favorite authors. His writing style captures my attention and entices me to keep reading. He first caught my eye with a book about an advertising agency (And then we came to the end) and he continues to delight in this book about a New York dentist with an online identity crisis.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Again, this fit in my fiction/non-fiction plan I have going. Again, I found myself nodding along and thinking I could incorporate some of the author’s creative-work strategies into my everyday.

The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel by Amy Hempel
I’m thinking I must have a short attention span, because if it’s not short chapters, it’s short stories. This collection of Hempel’s work is a great train read because you can pick it up and put it down in between short stories. Not only that but it’s full of thoughtful yet lighthearted takes on real life.

 

Next up include some of the books from this list along with Nick Horby’s new release, Funny Girl (due in February), The Boston Girl and Creative ConfidenceI’ve got a virtual stack of other books I’d like to make it through over on GoodReads, but I’m open to suggestions too (Leave some in the comments, please!) And speaking of GoodReads, are we “friends” over there yet? I’d love to peek at your bookshelves and see what I should check out.

How the Worst Can Be The Best Gets Me Every Time

I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently. It’s nice to be so easily transported to someplace else these days. To not think about what’s happening in my life, but in the lives of characters instead. I’m in the middle of reading The Collected Short Stories of Amy Hempel, and I just love her keep-you-guessing style of writing. And since I’m reading short stories, I never have to get too invested in any one story. Perfection.

This post is about one of the short stories that really spoke to me called “The Man In Bogota.” It’s only about 3 pages long and I’m not going to spoil it for you (ok, maybe I will), but here’s the long and short of it. A woman tells a story about an old man in Bogota who was kidnapped. His kidnappers had to keep this out-of-shape, aging man alive in order to get their ransom. So he went on a diet and exercised—all at the hand of his captors.

Years later, his ransom was paid. The man was free. What was probably one of the worst things in his life was over. That should be relief enough. What’s better? He went to the doctor who said he’d never been in better shape. Any health problems he’d had were gone. His kidnappers inadvertently saved his life.

This most awful thing in this man’s life turned into something with a great outcome.

The worst, flipped on it’s head. It became the best. From last to first.

In this story it took years. But it happened.

We’re never quite sure why things happen. Me? I like to think they happen for a reason. I know they do. And right now, I’m learning to be OK with having to wait to see why they happened the way they did.