The Writing Diet by Julia Cameron
Meet Mr. Mulliner by P. G. Wodehouse
Lord Emsworth and Others by P. G. Wodehouse
The Complete Verse and Other Nonsense by Edward Lear
The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
A Curtain of Green and Other Stories by Eudora Welty
One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty
Only seven this month! My goal was less than five, but this is still respectable. :) As the above shows, I decided that it’s about time I read some Eudora Welty. I’m trying to slow down a bit on buying Wodehouse – I have plenty to read, but I cannot resist when Strand has the gorgeous Overlook hardcover editions for 60% off. They were only $7.50 each!
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill
The Writing Diet by Julia Cameron
The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
Bad Behavior was an impulse buy at Strand last month. I’ve been wanting to read more short story collections, and have been keeping an eye out for collections that look interesting by authors I’ve never read before. Bad Behavior was pretty good; I really like Mary Gaitskill’s writing style. And she certainly is good at writing about dysfunctional relationships. It was also interesting to read the short story that the movie Secretary was based on. The two are very different. Here’s my favorite passage from the collection, from the story “Trying to Be” –
It was a beautiful Halloweenlike night, and there were exuberant people on the streets. She walked happily, admiring faces and haircuts. She looked at people, dogs, cars and buildings, and everything pleased her. She stopped at a Korean grocery store and looked at the fruit. She was struck by how neat and beautiful it was in its organized, traditional piles. She though of herself coming here every week and buying fruit, vegetables, bread, cereal and milk, and it seemed like a wonderful idea. She bought herself an apple, and walked home eating it.”
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthier (I used to eat a lot of junk, and my cholesterol was getting a little high) and to get in better shape – I’d like to go down one jean size and not be so exhausted at the top of our stairs. I’ve never read any diet/healthy living/fitness book before, so I can’t really compare The Writing Diet to anything else like it. It’s a great starting point though, if you’d like to eat healthier and get in better shape. I really like her suggestion of writing in a journal every morning, your “morning pages,” and I have been doing it every morning. I have combined her book with many other strategies for healthy living – I’ve joined a gym and have been going at least 4 times a week, I use the book Eat This, Not That: Supermarket Survival Guide to help me learn how to read food labels and shop better at the grocery store, and I’ve gone to a nutritionist to help me eat healthy despite my food allergies (I’m allergic to all raw fruits and veggies, which makes healthy, balanced eating a challenge). So I’m not leaning on having read The Writing Diet as the only plan I have for healthier living, but it’s a great motivator and has a lot of great ideas in it that I’ve used with success so far. I figure if the tools I’m using to get healthy continue to work successfully for several months, I’ll write a larger post with more details, for anyone who might be interested. Especially with information from my nutritionist, because that has definitely been the most helpful. I would feel funny posting my entire strategy only 3 weeks in; it seems I should give it more time to evaluate it myself before I recommend anything. :)
I read Coraline in anticipation of the movie adaptation coming out February 6. The movie looks fabulous, and I wanted to have read the book before seeing it. This is the first Neil Gaiman book that I’ve read. Coraline was wonderful – twisted and unusual and exciting. It’s spooky, and I’m glad I read it well before going to bed. It’s a quick, excellent read, and I recommend picking it up and checking it out before seeing what looks to be a fantastic movie. I’m also very excited that Neil Gaiman won the Newbery for The Graveyard Book. I just got that from the library and can’t wait to read it.
I don’t know what my delay was in reading The Tales of Beedle the Bard, considering I read the Harry Potter books within 24 hours of their release. I guess I just wasn’t as excited about it considering it wasn’t a “real” new Harry Potter book. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed all of the stories. The tales are good in themselves, but it’s Dumbledore’s commentary that makes this book excellent. Each story and notes from Dumbledore was a treat, and I decided to make the book last long I’d read one tale and notes before bed each night for a week. They made wonderful bedtime stories.
I love to bake and cook, and have also really enjoyed the few food memoirs I’ve read about famous foodies and reviewers discovering and developing their own love of food. (The others that I’ve read are My Life in France by Julia Child and Insatiable: Tales from a life of Delicious Excess by Gael Greene.) Tender at the Bone is a very fun and enjoyable memoir. The parts that involve her mother in the beginning are especially funny – she often has to save dinner guests from her mother’s cooking – not only is it bad, but her mother frequently used food products of very questionable freshness. I flew through Tender at the Bone, and picked up the sequel, Comfort Me With Apples, from the library.
Wonder Boys is the second Michael Chabon novel I’ve read (the other is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay). It’s a little hard to compare the two, and maybe it’s because it’s fresh in my mind, but I think I liked Wonder Boys even more than Kavalier and Clay. Michael Chabon is an excellent writer. Sometimes during Wonder Boys I’d stop after a sentence and think to myself, “good lord, this man can write.” I can’t really come up with any logical reason why I would have liked Wonder Boys better than Kavalier and Clay, and it definitely doesn’t mean that it’s better. Mainly it’s just amazing how good of a writer Michael Chabon is and how his novels have such a broad subject range. I own several more of his books, and I think I’d like to read his short story collection Werewolves in Their Youth next.
Short Stories Read:
“The Lady With the Little Dog” by Anton Chekhov, from My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead anthology
“Love” by Grace Paley, from My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead anthology
“Appetites” by Kathryn Chetkovich from The Best American Short Stories 1998 anthology
I’m continuing to enjoy all the stories I’m reading from My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead that Jeffrey Eugenides edited, and finally read one of Chekhov’s most famous short stories. Garrison Keillor edited the 1998 BA Short Stories, which is why I bought that particular year. I liked “Appetites” a lot, and I’d like to get a copy of her collection that it appears in, Friendly Fire.
As always, my complete Polysyllabic Spree lists are posted here.
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