& Review: The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

Book Title: The Divorce Papers
Author: Susan Rieger
Pages: 480
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Crown
Date Published: March 18th, 2014
Date Read: June 20th, 2014
Format: Hardcover, borrowed from work
Cover Love: Cute, clever. A little girly, what with the pink background and twirly font. Interesting, and definitely could have been worse.
Given Synopsis: “Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old line New England firm where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one weekend, with all the big partners away, Sophie must handle the intake interview for the daughter of the firm’s most important client. After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly’s. She is locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology, for custody of their ten-year-old daughter Jane—and she also burns to take him down a peg. Sophie warns Mia that she’s never handled a divorce case before, but Mia can’t be put off. As she so disarmingly puts it: It’s her first divorce, too.

Debut novelist Susan Rieger doesn’t leave a word out of place in this hilarious and expertly crafted debut that shines with the power and pleasure of storytelling. Told through personal correspondence, office memos, emails, articles, and legal papers, this playful reinvention of the epistolary form races along with humor and heartache, exploring the complicated family dynamic that results when marriage fails. For Sophie, the whole affair sparks a hard look at her own relationships—not only with her parents, but with colleagues, friends, lovers, and most importantly, herself. Much like Where’d You Go, BernadetteThe Divorce Papers will have you laughing aloud and thanking the literature gods for this incredible, fresh new voice in fiction.”
What I’d Add: This is a very wordy way to describe this book! I’d subtract, rather than add to this summation of events (we don’t really know how WASP-y the Durkheims are, or how exactly Sophie is swayed to stick with it. You read the book to find out that stuff).
It’s Sorta Like: It’s reminiscent of Where’d You Go Bernadette, but it comes off as far less clever and way less funny. It’s the fun, modern epistolary novel if it were smashed together with the mail room of a law firm.
My Grade: C-
Review: The blurb says this book is “told through personal correspondence, office memos, emails, articles, and legal papers.” The numbers might not come out exactly to this, but it definitely feels like the story is told 25% in e-mails between best friends Sophie and Maggie, letters between family members involved in the divorce, and e-mails (mostly business-minded) between Sophie and her boss, and then 75% legal papers…mind-numbing legalese whom no one wants to slog through. Not even lawyers, I think. There are offers and counter-offers, pages of Narragansett law as it pertains to divorce and division of property, and case studies. Yep, full case studies of past cases that will supposedly help Sophie win her case. And they’re not summaries of these documents, they’re the whole shebang. Sometimes in teeny-tiny print.

There are twinges of plot, of human interest in this legal slog. Sophie’s own parents are strict and divorced. Her best friend, who had terrible parents, keeps her in check in regards to complaining about her parents (which does not stop Sophie from whining about them). Sophie has a couple of love interests, a little drama that runs parallel to her case. I was often (scratch that: always) more interested to find out about Sophie’s flawed friends and boyfriends than skimming through another legal-heavy document. You do a lot of skimming here, which is never what an author wants or a book deserves. Unless you’re interested in the legal system (maybe you’re a part of it yourself or you gobble up cop and lawyer shows like there’s no tomorrow), the legal parts of this legal-heavy book aren’t interesting.

The book also suffers from a lack of story arc. Sure, a divorce starts, a divorce ends, feeling are hurt in between, yadda yadda yadda. But there is no climax. There is no moment where tension ratchets up, where something truly bad is going to happen and someone saves the day. Really, nothing remarkable happens. The Durkheims are privileged. The word “WASP” (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. I’ve always known it’s short code for snobby people, but I always forget it’s actually an acronym for something) is mentioned more than once. Their struggle is disliking each other and wanting a divorce. Sophie’s main struggle is that she has Parental Issues, which differ from Daddy Issues because she also has issues with Mommy. At some bits where there were interesting plot points, they get dropped. There’s a sobering storyline having to do with Sophie’s mother and Sophie’s boss….and it’s never resolved. At one point it’s just never mentioned again. Which is so frustrating, because it’s the personal stuff that gives you a break from reading another legal paper. There’s too much court order, not enough personality.

I normally love the modern epistolary form (I say modern because in the epistolary novels I had to read in college, it was all 17th and 18th century goings-on). Night Film by Maria Pessl incorporates some epistolary form nicely. But it was a narrative first, and the articles/musical pieces just added color to the mood of the novel. Divorce Papers is too padded with law. There’s not a story here, even though the synopsis claims there to be one. The idea is nice – a divorce told through letters – which sounds like it might humanize the legal system, tell the story of the families involved, both on the lawyer side and client side. But it does quite the opposite. By including ALL papers needed in a divorce, all you’re reading is one big court case. As someone who casually watches Law & Order when its showing reruns on TV, I’m not one to pour over legal documents, trying to suss a story from it.

Advertisements

& Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle by Dave Eggers

Book Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Pages: 500
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Vintage
Date Published: April 22nd, 2014
Date Read: June 4th, 2014
Format: Paperback
Cover Love: I’m a sucker for those graphic covers! I much prefer the hardcover design though. It’s just the logo, title, and author. No blurbs. I dislike the assault of praise from other publications – we get it, people like it! Now let me like it too, on my own.
Given Synopsis: “When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.”
What I’d Add: As The Circle expands, and its innovations encroach on more and more of public life, Mae has to decide if she can continue to go along with what the company is becoming.
It’s Sorta Like: It reminded me a bit of The Word Exchange  by Alena Graedon (which I reviewed and didn’t like so much), but better executed, and more chilling/harrowing.
My Grade: B-
Review: I find Eggers to be an intriguing author. I’ve only read one of his other novels – A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – and it was dense. There were great big sections that I just didn’t get, and thus that I felt were unnecessary to the greater story. From what I gather, his works vary greatly – in scope, in topic, in genre. The Circle is a straight fiction piece, a novel that doesn’t break the fourth wall, gives a definitive beginning, middle, and end. And it’s good. Actually pretty dang good. Except for a central flaw with conflict, I really enjoyed this book and its chilling implications.

Let’s start with the good. The story is set up without chapters. Normally it would perturb me to not have a natural stopping place at the end of the night, but the lack of chapters helped the flow of the story. A chapter didn’t fade to black when the protagonist went to sleep. And this is one of those books whose tension comes from something other than threat of bloodshed and danger – I genuinely felt uncomfortable and tense about how the story would resolve itself, in regards to this growing company which seemed to start to control every facet of every life. I loved the conclusion in a way I didn’t think I would (which is all I can really say about the conclusion, without giving everything away).

And now for the lackluster. Mae herself is annoying. She’s what I’d call a “shell” character: someone who can and must be filled with someone else’s opinions. She’s a pushover to a T, someone who nods along with everyone else, seldom if ever forming an opinion entirely her own, and she is obsessed to the point of pain with being liked. It makes you want to get up and shake her, hard, by the neck. Which is kind of Eggers’ point: we should be wanting to shake these people by the neck. But I would have much preferred if Mae had a little backbone, maybe questioned things a little more. She does resist full involvement in The Circle’s culture at first, but is too easily pulled in and consumed. I guess most of us are easily pulled in and consumed by things such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. but it still doesn’t make for a likable character.

Which brings me to my biggest gripe: nowhere, in this story, was there enough opposition for The Circle. Because let’s get real, the internet trolls are never going away. There’s a line in the book that insists that lack of anonymity will cause trolls to forever stop their trolling. And I scoffed. You’ll never cure some of the human race from being jerks just for the hell of it. It’s the same with The Circle’s program to “end crime forever,” or “put an end to corrupt politicians!” that stuff is still going to happen. The Circle introduces these programs and it’s just taken as fact that they work, 100% completely, right away. It’s just…it’s not feasible. And the story would have definitely benefited from the tension that would come from opposition from others. There should have and would have been those within the company who debate it, who question its practices, if only to stir the pot. The couple of times that it does happen – at one point Mae walks into a press conference where a politician claims that the Circle needs to be broken up to avoid a monopoly – and nothing happens. What, nobody believed her? Mae’s ex-boyfriend pipes up a couple of times, verbally and in letter-form, against the dangers of knowing everything about everybody. Mae brushes him off and insults him at every turn.  The Circlers are sheep to an absurd degree. NO ONE on that “campus” wants a private moment to themselves? Not one out of the 10,000+? I don’t buy it.

I understand to a point that this is Eggers’ allegory. If this company existed and if everybody bought it and the world was that malleable, this is what would happen. I’m taking it a little too literally here, applying it too much to the world outside of fiction. But it did kind of irk my reading of the novel, as I kept going “Umm, someone should be fighting this?!” That’s probably Eggers’ point, to get that reaction from me. Well then, well played.

And just one more thing: the sexual encounters were unbelievably awkward and unsexy, even the supposedly good ones. At one point Mae obsesses about a guy touching her sacrum. She says it over and over again, and all I could think was What the hell is a sacrum?! That’s an unbelievably unsexy word. There’s got to be a better way to put that! It turns out that the sacrum is the “triangular bone in the lower back formed from fused vertebrae and situated between the two hipbones of the pelvis.” (says a quick Google search) Oooookay. Touching Mae’s sacrum gets her hot. Who would have thought… The lackluster sexual encounters (because of course Mae has more than one suitor: the guys like ’em pliable!) are worse. You cringe for everyone involved. It’s not a good time, all around.

SO. The Circle is pretty dang good. I loved the arc and how it elicited a worried, even frenzied reaction in me to this breach of privacy and Headed-Toward-World-Domination-Company. When I tried to match its fictional world to the real one, I found some problems. But I’d recommend it to anyone who likes their fiction and dystopian speculative, and anyone who looks at Facebook and thinks what if?

& Review: Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Book Title: Bellweather Rhapsody
Author: Kate Racculia
Pages: 340
Genre: Literary Fiction (with a heavy dose of Mystery, I’d say…)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date Published: May 13th, 2014
Date Read: June 8th, 2014
Format: Hardcover, borrowed from work
Cover Love: It’s different…the hotel, set against an ominous red background, looks like you’re attempting to look at it without your 3-D glasses. The trees and snow are very flat and 2-D, while the piano makes you believe someone is going to go out during a snowstorm to play the piano (they don’t). It’s graphic enough to be eye-catching, and the title stands out for being simply unusual.
Given Synopsis: “A high school music festival goes awry when a young prodigy disappears from a hotel room that was the site of a famous murder/suicide fifteen years earlier, in a whip-smart novel sparkling with the dark and giddy pop culture pleasures of The Shining, Agatha Christie, and Glee.

Fifteen years ago, a murder/suicide in room 712 rocked the grand old Bellweather Hotel and the young bridesmaid who witnessed it. Now hundreds of high school musicians, including quiet bassoonist Rabbit Hatmaker and his brassy diva twin, Alice, have gathered in its cavernous, crumbling halls for the annual Statewide festival; the grown-up bridesmaid has returned to face her demons; and a snowstorm is forecast that will trap everyone on the grounds. Then one of the orchestra’s stars disappears—from room 712. Is it a prank, or has murder struck the Bellweather once again?

The search for answers entwines a hilariously eccentric cast of characters—conductors and caretakers, failures and stars, teenagers on the verge and adults trapped in memories. For everyone has come to the Bellweather with a secret, and everyone is haunted.
What I’d Add: The synopsis covers most of the main characters (Rabbit and Alice, the bridesmaid all grown up), BUT there’s also the concierge, the Hatmaker’s chaperon, and the eccentric Scottish conductor (whose dialogue is only written in brogue once in the whole book, but he’s referenced as being Scottish constantly?), who all get a backstory and POV chapters along the way. That’s a lot of people to keep hear from and keep track of. And that snowstorm isn’t just forecast, it snows everyone in, adding to the suspense.
It’s Sorta Like: I’m sure they only put Agatha Christie and The Shining on there because they are mentioned rather heavily in the book (a character reads and admires Christie, someone has a formative moment during The Shining). And it’s not really like Glee…I’m sure they just put those there to grab people who like those things (although people who like The Shining and Glee equally? I don’t know if I’ve met such a person).
My Grade: B+
Review: This book is wonderfully written. But stops just short of being earth-shattering, overall. Which is unfortunate, because I loved it until the last 50 or so pages. I was prepared to give it an A, a glowing review, a standing ovation, if you will. But the conclusion of the mystery is just a little clumsy, the loose ends tied up a little unbelievably, and the mash of characters just a little unwieldy.

I have a personal connection to a few of the characters and the setting, as I was involved in performing arts in middle and high school. And I was totally nerdy about it; I went to competitions and did singing warm-ups in hallways (just to drive the point home: on the last day of classes as seniors, my friends and I belted “We Go Together” from Grease through the hallways as we left. Yeah. We did). I had friends very similar to the flashy diva, the quiet band geek (we all knew those, right?), and the burned out chaperon. I knew what it was like to have a performance deeply mean something to you, how the beauty of a well-performed song could make you want to cry, and the oft-bad combination of hormones and performance art. Racculia writes about these moments wonderfully. I reread passages again and again because they were so well done.

But I also feel that you don’t have to have been in band in high school or an aspiring soprano to appreciate the prose. Racculia knows how to draw you in and care about an annoying, needy diva child (Alice), and sympathize/root wholeheartedly for the traumatized bridesmaid returned to the core of her greatest childhood trauma. The characters each get their moment to shine. They’re all a little bit heartbreaking, and it makes for some lovely moments.

But it’s when you have to bring all the characters, their stories and their motives, their fears and insecurities and actions both in the past and in the present moment, that things get a little clumsy. In the climactic scene, it’s a little hard to keep track of five key players doing and saying things all at once. And after that scene, you’re left with a lot of questions, whose answers prove unsatisfying and thin by the novel’s close. And even after this scene, there’s a moment that tries to be even bigger, that leaves you scratching your head, going can that even happen?

The problem with this problem is that you cannot eliminate a character from this equation. Every one of the players is key. The solution to the mystery has plenty of implications for every single character. They’re all so vital, that they deserved a more vital, vibrant, perhaps more gradual end.

I did truly enjoy this book. I’d recommend it to anyone. Just pay particular attention to it’s final moments, it’s moments of chaotic action. They can be a bit hard to sort out.

& Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Book Title: Crazy Rich Asians
Author: Kevin Kwan
Pages: 530
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Anchor
Date Published: January 1st, 2013
Date Read: June 16th, 2014
Format: Paperback
Cover Love: Simple and graphic – my hot button words! Reminds me of Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – a mysterious, pop-art style woman, eyes hidden by glasses. And the earring is eye-catching here, which meshes well with a book about money-hungry, money-spending families.
Given Synopsis: “When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.

On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.”
What I’d Add: 
The synopsis makes it sound as if the book is all Rachel’s POV. It isn’t. Kwan tries to let everyone in everyfamily have a moment to narrate. And these families are HUGE. You’ll be hearing a lot of voices!
It’s Sorta Like: An obnoxious Joy Luck Club, plus those chick lit books that mention the designer of every item of clothing a person is wearing.
My Grade: C
Review: The copious blurbs by other authors did let me know what I was getting into (anybody read those, by the way? I get annoyed when the first couple pages in a book are merely plugs from other authors, all saying roughly the same thing). This was going to be a “light read.” A “romp,” if you will. I think someone even called it “sudsy,” whatever that is supposed to mean when describing literature (squeaky clean? Like a bar of soap? A soap opera?). So it was not necessarily meant to be analyzed, probed for a deeper meaning. If you didn’t like a simple, “sudsy” novel every now and then, this one wasn’t for you.

But I like me some nonsense, fun fiction in my life. So off I went.

The first pages are a good indication of the complexity of this family, and thus, this narrative. A family tree gets a two-page spread in teeny little print, outlining names you won’t remember and relationships at a similar convoluted level. There were times I had to refer back to this list: families are connected by confusing marriages, and who is cousins with who again? (whom?) And a complex family would be fine…if the book didn’t try to tell all of their stories.

I’d say there were two main storylines. Rachel and Nick, who grace the book blurb, and whom you think the book is exclusively about. And Astrid (one of Nick’s many cousins) and her husband Michael, who seem perfect on the outside, but have problems of their own. BUT THEN you also hear from the bad egg in the family, Eddie. And Nick’s mother and her crazy biddy Bible group with lots of other crazy mothers. And the couple getting married (Colin and Araminta, how’s that for a name?). And even a girl who recognizes Colin in the States because of his fame in Singapore. That’s a lot of people. That’s too many people.

I’ve read books where the author has done this before: trying to do too much, include too many people. But it’s especially unfortunate in this case, because I really liked those two storylines. Rachel is thrust into an impossible situation, for which her boyfriend does not prepare her at all. And poor, flat Nick. We only hear from Nick’s POV a couple of times. Which is tough, because he could be said to be the crux of the story. He certainly puts all the events in motion. If he hadn’t invited Rachel to Singapore, the story wouldn’t be a story. But even when you do hear from him, it is in small moments, when he looks adoringly at his girlfriend and muses about how beautiful she is, or expresses anger at his family. It’s like those are his only two emotions: love=Rachel, frustration=family. You hear way too much from every one of his family members, and not enough from him! If he’s the “most eligible bachelor in Singapore,” I’d like to know why. Besides his good looks. And family money. Never mind, that’s usually good for a lot of girls in regards to celebrities. But I’d like, as a reader, to see some of his personality.

The book also does this thing where it mentions the brand name of the clothes everyone’s wearing. Which I’ve never really understood. Maybe for fashion mavens, people who know every fashion designer and collection out there, these clothes would be easier to picture. But I have no idea what a Nicholas Kirkwood stiletto looks like. Or a dress from a yet-to-be-released line by insert-famous-designer-here. Those are just words that mean essentially nothing on the page. And unless I look up every designer as I read it, it doesn’t add to the story for me. It’s clutter. I get it: they wear nice clothes. Expensive clothes. But it’s name dropping and it doesn’t turn me on as a reader.

And I’m not sure whose POV the footnotes are from. The author? Nick? I found them rather distracting.

So it is a light story that is needlessly complex. I wanted the scope to be narrowed a lot more. The biggest moment for me that pinpointed the problem was a story that Rachel’s mother tells in the book’s final pages. I found that backstory so compelling, so interesting. Where was the book on that?! Rachel’s mother is made more interesting in ten pages than Nick was in the entire book. And that’s a bummer.

The Review-Machine Speaks!

shelsilversteinquote

^^That right there is my favorite quote and poem of all time. It’s from Shel Silverstein, that marvelous man (even if his author photo on the back of The Giving Tree is a tad frightening…). The book this poem came from, Where the Sidewalk Ends, was one of the first that got me thinking about the power of words and books to make people think, to make people imagine.

I wanted to do a post that wasn’t a review, because I’d like you to know that I am a person, and not just a review-churning-out-machine. This is a total mish-mash of questions, mostly because I couldn’t even figure out how to search for a standard “Personality Profile” type list of questions. So I cobbled together questions from different sites, as well as a few I thought I’d add just because I had good answers to them 😛 Without further ado, hello there!

Name:
Sarah

Siblings:
I got ’em. One. A brother. Younger.

Favorite Color:
Yellow. And Burgundy. Not necessarily together.

Robin Williams is one of my Five. You know: "The Five People You'd Most Like to Meet, Alive or Dead"

Robin Williams is one of my Five. You know: “The Five People You’d Most Like to Meet, Alive or Dead”

Favorite Movies:
Mrs. Doubtfire, Down Periscope, Moulin Rouge, Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing, 
and all the Disney movies I can sing along to. Which is all of them.

Favorite TV Shows:
Pushing Daisies was amazing, and deserved WAY more than two seasons! I should be ashamed about the number of times I’ve seen every single episode of Gilmore Girls. But I’m not. So You Think You Can Dance makes me wish I spent my formative years in ballet class and jazz class just so I can express myself like the dancers on that show can (and just an FYI: my favorite routine is still “If It Kills Me” from Season 5 with Jason and Jeanine). The Big Bang Theory, Criminal Minds, and I love me some binge-watching-Food-Network afternoons.

Hobbies (besides reading):
Writing (long fiction and short stories), knitting, watching awesome TV shows, and BAKING. I LOVE to bake stuff. Cookies, cupcakes, cakes, anything really. I’ve tried my hand at cake pops, brittle, and am getting into bread-making. I love the way a warm cookie makes people happy, and a cupcake decorated a certain way lights up someone’s face and day. So I basically have the habits of an 80-year-old agoraphobic woman…

What Chore Do I Absolutely Hate Doing?
Well, first of all, I know some people love doing chores, but I don’t personally know anyone like that. And I am not one of them. So the chore I actually don’t mind doing is sweeping floors, because you physically see what your doing, the result of your labor aka the nasty dust and chip crumbs that magically appeared there on your kitchen floor during the one measly week between sweepings. I love Swiffering stuff. I’m not a fan of nasty dish-washing (when I don’t rinse something right away, getting peanut butter out of measuring cups, stuck on bacon grease, etc.), or cat box cleaning (‘Nuff said).

If I Could Be Any Fictional Character, Who Would I Choose?
Hermione Granger. Duh!

Just look at that cheesy gnocchi...oops, I'm drooling on my keyboard.

Just look at that cheesy gnocchi…oops, I’m drooling on my keyboard.

What is the Best Meal You’ve Ever Had?
There is a looooong story that goes along with it, but to keep it short, I ate it in Croatia, after an adrenaline-filled day in which me and a friend ran up and over a mountain in five minutes. We hadn’t had lunch, and stopped at the restaurant we’d had dinner at the night before. That four cheese gnocchi, and ćevapi (pronounced “che-vap-chi-chi,” who would have thought?!) sandwich was heaven. Beyond heaven. That and the cold water we guzzled down.

Where is the Favorite Place You’ve Ever Traveled To?
I have been unbelievably lucky and fortunate to have been able to travel several places. I have been to Australia, Hawaii, Europe (on a couple different occasions), and I studied abroad in college in the Mediterranean. My favorite place was an accident – while in Portugal during that study abroad trip, my friend and I heard from a fellow traveler that the city of Sintra was absolutely gorgeous and we had to go there. So we did. And it was incredible. I don’t think I could recreate that experience, even if I travel back there someday. (More on Sintra down there under the “Prettiest Library I’ve Ever Seen” question ;))

Two Things I’d Like to Be an “Expert” In:
Baking without a recipe! And knitting something other than a scarf…

My Million Dollar (Book-Related) Idea:
Struck me once after I read this quote:
“We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading” – B. F. Skinner

There should be a college class that gives students a book budget (gift card to the student bookstore on campus/the local bookstore, etc.) to buy the books they’ve been wanting/meaning to read. There would of course have to be discussions about themes and probably papers and tests, but it’d give people a chance to read what they want to read, even if it’s the symbolism of ab muscles in Harlequin Romances, instead of ones they have to read and that have been taught, analyzed, and picked to death.

The Prettiest Library I’ve Ever Seen (In Person):
The Library of Congress is supremely beautiful. When I took a class trip to Washington D.C. in middle school, my camera ran out of film RIGHT BEFORE we got inside. I was so upset that I couldn’t take pictures of that beautiful ceiling at the time, but I think that I remember it better now because I didn’t get a chance to capture it on film. Funny the way memory works.

BUT it’s a two-way tie between that one and the library in the Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal. Sintra is gorgeous. It’s like walking through a fairy tale, every place you go. There are five, six castles and grounds (complete with waterfalls and wells you can walk down) within walking distance. And every castle is a different mood, a different fairy tale. ANYWAY. At Quinta da Regaleira, the library is a small, dark room, the walls are bookcases from the floor to the ceiling, and at the base of each case is a mirror embedded in the floor, so the shelves look like they repeat into infinity past the floor. It’s AMAZING.

Mirrors in the floor to make the books go on forever!
Mirrors in the floor to make the books go on forever!
Books to the ceiling!!
Books to the ceiling!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Word Would-You-Rathers (No Explanations Allowed!):

Play or Musical? Musical
Theater or a Movie? Theater
Hike or Bike?
Hike
Plane, train, or automobile? Plane
Climbing or zip-lining? ZIP-LINE!
Night out or evening in? Evening in
Facebook or Twitter? Facebook
Go on a free trip/vacation, or win a lot of money? Free trip
Win the lottery or find your perfect job? Find my perfect job
Sailboat or cruise ship? Cruise ship!!

Coming Up: More reviews, of course! AND more about me – in an interview ripped straight from a celebrity magazine 😉