An Abundance of Katherines

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm feeling in a contemplative mood tonight dear readers, because I am about to kick off the last month of this project (although not the last month of the blog, as I will be continuing the blog into 2010.) A month from now I will be sitting down to write my final blog entry of the year - and I'm both excited and nervous. I also spent the day contemplating how I need to step up my reading efforts if I'm going to make it to my 100,000 pages goal by the end of the year. I was planning out my books for December - and looking at the numbers - and I've come to the conclusion that December is going to have to be filled with a lot of 500 page books if I'm going to meet the goal by December 31st. Despite the 100,000 pages goal being a really bad idea, that has caused nothing but stress in my life, I have been unable to talk myself out of it no matter how hard I've tried. So it's full steam ahead with a really crappy idea - and you will have a front row seat for the whole hideous mess dear readers (are you trembling with excitement?)

Today's book, "When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun - but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl."

Shallow thoughts:

  • Okay, first we have to deal with the most obvious thought: 19 Katherines? Really? I could believe 19 Jennifers or Ashleys or Haileys, but 19 Katherines? I've only ever met one in my life, and her name wasn't spelled the elegant way with a K (and she would never share her toys with me, no matter how many times I shared my Baby Heather doll with her - in short, she had problems.) So, in order to enjoy the book, I had to slide aside the improbability of the scenario (which I'm very good at doing because I watch really crappy TV on a regular basis) - and then I was able to enjoy most of the book. The first 1/3 was really good, the second 1/3 was good but not really good, and the last 1/3 was sketchy as can be. That was the point where the book got really odd and started to unravel a bit - kind of like that really crappy movie from the 40s with Jane Wyman in it "The Doughgirls," which unraveled so fast at the end that it took on a train wreck quality and I just couldn't turn away.

  • Favorite passage, "Colin has always preferred baths; one of his general policies in life was never to do anything standing up that could just as easily be done lying down." - That passage occurred on page 3 of the book (well technically page 1,which was labeled as page 3 - which is one of my book pet peeves. Is there some reason why all publishing companies can't try the crazy idea of starting page 1 of a book on page 1?) I knew that I was going to be able to connect to the main character. Not because he's lazy (although that does speak to me on a deep level) but because he is honest about his laziness. I can overlook so many flaws in a person or character if they are honest about those flaws - in fact, I find an ability to freely admit to ones flaws to be a very endearing quality in a person.

  • Most annoying passage, "Colin notices she looked different, but not quite how, and then he saw it. No makeup. She looked prettier than she ever had before - Colin always preferred girls without makeup." - Every time I've ever heard a man say that I have challenged them to point out all of the women in the room who aren't wearing makeup, and they always end up pointing to the women who are wearing makeup, but just very subtle makeup. I have yet to see any woman who looks drastically better without makeup - despite all of the efforts People Magazine goes to in order to try to convince us that there are people (read: celebrities) who look stunning without a drop of makeup on. Yeah right People, sell is somewhere else. I will never believe those people aren't wearing concealer when the reporter shows up. But, lest you think I'm the most shallow person on earth, I can assure you dear readers that I am not one of those people who whines about how they can't leave the house without makeup on - I often leave the house without it, but no one will ever be able to convince me that it's my best look.

The Christmas Tree Book: The History of the Christmas Tree

Saturday, November 28, 2009
I couldn't find a picture of today's book because it's out of print, so you'll just have to settle for a picture of a cartoon Christmas tree.

Today was a blogiversary of sorts for me dear readers - one that you are probably not aware of - because it was this time last year, during the annual Wetzel family trip to cut down our Christmas tree, when I wrote my very first blog entry. I confess dear readers, that I did not write last years New Years Eve post on the day I posted it. I was so nervous that I wouldn't be able to pull of writing this blog that I decided to write the welcome post ahead of time to see how it would go. I spent a lot of time today reflecting on last year, when this project loomed ahead of me, and I was filled with such excitement about it. And now I am headed into the final month of this blogging project - and yet, I still feel that same sense of excitement, but this time about what life (and my blog) will be like when this year is up.

So, between reading, blogging, reflecting on last year, and picking out a Christmas tree, it was a full day. Here I am showing my fellow Christmas tree farm customers that any time is a good time for reading!

Today's book - I can't find a description of today's book, but the title is pretty self-explanatory, so today I'm skipping over this part.

Christmas thoughts:
  • I'm on a very bad streak lately with non-fiction. I seem to have read quite a few books lately that have had interesting information in them, that was unfortunately presented in a very boring way. I was really hoping that today's book would help me break out of the non-fiction slump - but luck was not on my side today.

  • Today's book opens with this sentence, "One of the nicest things about a Christmas tree is that it looks good no matter how you decorate it." - Upon first reading that sentence I thought, The author of today's book clearly hasn't lived through the 70s. . . or seen pictures of it. . . or watched Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. But then I flipped to the front of the book and discovered that the book was written in 1976. Whaaaat? Looks good no matter what you say - well, I have two words for you Mr. Author: blue tinsel. I challenge anyone to tell me, with a straight face, that a tree decorated with blue tinsel looks good.

  • Here's your fun - and very odd - fact for the day dear readers: fruit is not the only food that was traditionally used to decorate Christmas trees. In the 1700s Berliners decorated their trees with potatoes. I think someone needs to bring that tradition back - perhaps with an advertising campaign of "Potatoes - they're not just for hash browns anymore." Why isn't the National Potato Council on top of this? (And, in case you're wondering dear readers, there really is a National Potato Council. It felt like too fictitious of a thing to actually exist, and so I looked it up. It exists.)

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Friday, November 27, 2009

Well dear readers, today's reading day began a little early than most. Alissa talked me into going to a Midnight Madness sale at an outlet mall about an hour away from here. So my reading day started at 12:01 a.m. - in between getting those good post-holiday bargains, of course. We arrived back home at 5 a.m. - and then I slept for a few hours before getting up to finish reading today's book. I've never started a book, slept for several hours in the middle of it, and then come back to finish it before - so today was a fun new reading challenge! There was a part of me that was worried that I would completely forget what happened at the beginning of the and have to start all over again when I woke up. But, my memory seems to be much better when it comes to shallow, fluffy books - so I was able to retain the memory of what I read.

And, so you can feel like you were a part of the post-Thanksgiving shopping craziness, my sister took a few mystery pictures.

Here I am getting a little reading done in J.Crew while my sister was replenishing her sweater supply. I got several strange looks for fellow shoppers who, for some crazy reason, thought that taking a picture in the middle of a clothing store with a book in front of my face was kind of odd. They just don't understand me the way you do dear readers.

Today's book, "Becky Bloomwood has a fabulous flat in London's trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season's must-haves. The only trouble is that she can't actually afford it - not any of it. Her job writing at Successful Savings not only bores her to tears, it doesn't pay much at all. And lately Becky's been chased by dismal letters from Visa and the Endwich Bank - letters with large red sums she can't bear to read - and they're getting even harder to ignore."

Materialistic thoughts:

  • I didn't have high expectations from today's book - because I'm not one of those people who picks up a shallow, fluffy book and then complains the whole time because the book isn't deep enough. Having said that, the book was so shallow, mindless and fluffy that it boggles my mind - which I could live with if the book was fun and interesting. But sadly it wasn't. The book seems like the kind that would have been more fun to write than it was to read.

  • Most shallow passage of the book, "Even better, although no one can see them, I know that underneath I'm wearing my gorgeous new matching knickers and bra with embroidered yellow rosebuds. They're the best bit of my entire outfit. In fact, I almost wish I could be run over so that the world would see them." - This passage gave me a childhood flashback to my Mother's frequent lectures about how I should always wear underwear that is color coordinated to my outfit, just in case I end up in a car accident. That makes perfect sense - after all, if the paramedics arrived and saw I was wearing underwear that didn't match my outfit they might refuse to save my life.

  • Favorite sentence, "It's a habit of mine, itemizing all the clothes I'm wearing, as though for a fashion page." - This sentence spoke to me on the most shallow level - because I spent 90% of my time in high school Freshman science class making lists of the clothes I was going to wear the next week. I would list the clothes, the shoes, the socks that coordinated with the clothes (hey don't judge me, it was the 90s - bad clothes were in), the accessories (which sadly usually involved some sort of multi-colored hair scrunchie.) Hmmm, I wonder why I had such a hard time figuring out what was going on during Sophomore science class?

Thanksgiving: An American Holiday, An American History

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Dear Readers

I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday (or for those of you who are reading from outside the U.S., a wonderful day in general.) Thanksgiving here in Wetzel Land was fun but extremely busy - and trying to read an entire book in the middle of it was very challenging. I'm really looking forward to the end of the year when I can blog when it's convenient but not have to write a blog entry on busy days.

Despite my busy day, I did not forget to take a few pictures of the busyness to share with my dear readers.

Here I am attempting to read and cook at the same time. When I was a child I used to love the scenes from Little House where Laura was studying at the same time that she was cooking, cleaning, and feeding the chickens. Today, I got a chance to try those things out . . . except for the part about feeding the chickens, of course.

And now dear readers, I would like to introduce you to my sister, who you've heard a lot about, but never seen any pictures of (past the age of 8, of course.) I'm going to end your suspense and let you see what she looks like. Drum roll please. . . . .

So what do you think dear readers, do you see the family resemblance?

A blogger's job is never done. And neither is the sister of a blogger (who was forced to take mystery pictures, although "forced" might be a strong word because taking the pictures seems to bring out the artist in her) or of a blogger's aunt (Aunt Cindy in this case) who agreed to humor me for this latest mystery picture.

Today's book, "Thanksgiving is as lively as American life - and, indeed, the history of this holiday is in itself a vital history in America. Yet while Thanksgiving is America's oldest and most beloved holiday, it is the country's most misunderstood. Author Diana Karter Appelbaum sifts fact from fancy about this uniquely American holiday. She not only clarifies the times, places and circumstances of the earliest Thanksgivings, but she also traces the evolution of the holiday and its historical parallel to the growth of America."

Today's book was filled with very interesting facts about Thanksgiving - most of which I never knew before (although that's not a very impressive distinction considering I've forgotten everything I ever learned in school and I forget about every book I read two seconds after I'm done with it.) My one complaint is that the book didn't delve into Thanksgiving celebrations on the home front during World War II very much. There was a lot of information about the way Thanksgiving was celebrated on the front lines, and that was interesting but I'm much more fascinated by life on the home front.

Fun Facts:

  • The first Thanksgiving feast, which served 140 people (90 Native Americans and 50 settlers) was prepared by 4 women and 2 teenage girls. - I'm guessing the husbands of those 4 women were looking at the business end of a hissy fit when they found out they would be cooking for that many people. You invited 90 extra people? What is wrong with you? Do you have any idea the extra work that's going to require? Oh that does it, you are making this up to me - I want a new loom for Christmas, and don't even try to tell me that you don't have time to make me one, because if I have to take the time to cook for 90 extra people then you can just find the time to build it. Okay, so it's possible I might be basing too much of this on the fights I've witnessed between my parents over the years. So, suffice it to say dear readers, if my parents had been alive during the first Thanksgiving that's the conversation that would have been going on near the fire pit while dinner was being cooked.

  • Turkey was not always the traditional Thanksgiving main entree. From the 17th to the 19th century the main entree was chicken pie. - Do what you will with that information dear readers. I spent about ten minutes trying to think of something funny to say about chicken pie, but I've got nothing.

  • Pumpkins used to be called pompions. - So, the next time you are at a party and you want to impress someone, ask them if they enjoy Pompion Pie and when they tell you they don't know what that is, you can respond with "Uncultured swine"* - *"Uncultured swine" is a trademark of the Alissa Wetzel corporation. (My sister makes me say that whenever I use an expression she frequently uses. So I walk around saying things like, "Death. Is. Imminent. Trademark of the Alissa Wetzel Corporation," as other people stare at me in confusion.)

And now I have to go dear readers, because I have to go get ready for the Midnight Madness sale that my sister is dragging me to.

Murder on the Orient Express

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's end-of-the-week-count time.

For the week -


PAGES: 2,146


PAGES: 87,150

Today's book, "Thundering along on it's three-day journey across Europe, the famous Orient Express suddenly came to a stop in the night. Snowdrifts blocked the line. Surrounded by the silent Balkan hills, the passengers slept on unheeding. But Hercule Poirot had not slept well. He awoke in the small hours, wondering at the silence and immobility of the train. He was startled by a loud groan, which seemed to come from the next compartment. At the same moment the ping of a bell sounded sharply. Footsteps came along the corridor - there was a tap on a door. Then someone said, "It was nothing, a mistake. . . " Hercule Poirot heard no more and after a while dazed off uneasily. But in the morning the man in the next compartment lay dead; stabbed, viciously and frenziedly, over and over again - and the murderer was still on the train . . . since the snow outside was unbroken."

Mysterious thoughts:

  • I have always wanted to read an Agathie Christie novel - ever since that episode of Full House when the grandmothers showed up (not exactly a lofty reason for wanting to read something, but it's a reason that I'm sure will not shock any of you.) Back then reading an Agathie Christie novel sounded so grown-up and sophisticated. But I was too busy reading trashy novels and pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder back then to take time out of my hectic schedule to read one. So today I decided to cross one more thing off of my childhood "Things I'm Going to Do When I'm a Grown-Up" list and actually tackle reading one. I'm so glad that I decided to read today's book, because it definitely lived up to expectation. It's rare that anything I thought would be fun as a child actually turns out to be fun, so I'm pleasantly surprised.

  • Favorite sentences, "He produced on me an unpleasant impression." - It doesn't get right to the point quite as well as saying that someone is annoying as sin, but it still gets the job done, and in a much more elegant way. I'm always a big fan of saying something mean in a really pleasant way.

  • Favorite passage, "At a small table, sitting very upright, was one of the ugliest old ladies he had ever seen. It was an ugliness of distinction - it fascinated rather than repelled." - I see we have now dispensed with saying mean things in a pleasant way and gone straight to saying mean things in a mean way. Another important option.

I would definitely recommend today's book to anyone who loves a good mystery - or to anyone who has watched the Rugrats version of this story and wants to compare the two.

How to Pick a Peach

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today's book, "Today we enjoy a bounty of produce greater than ever before: apples in June, tomatoes in December, peaches just about any time we have the hankering - a colorful cornucopia at our fingertips 24/7 year-round in the supermarket. Too frequently only one thing is missing, the most important reason to buy fruits and vegetables in the first place: flavor. Russ Parsons has spent a lifetime in pursuit of top-quality fruits and vegetables. Here he gives you all of the answers. With the fascinating insights and genial wit that have made him a best-selling author, he presents a provocative picture of produce from farm to table."

I was feeling overwhelmed by my to-read stacks today, so I let my sister pick a book from the 250 options available in the Angela Wetzel library. I was a different sort of person I would consider reading a book with recipes in it cheating - and one might assume I would skip over the recipes. But one would be wrong, because I read recipes like they are poetry.

I ended up being kind of bored by the book - but unfortunately I can't blame Alissa for it since I'm the one who had the bad taste to pick the book in the first place. It's so much more fun to be able to blame someone else. But, despite the book being Dullsville, U.S.A., I did learn a few fun facts, which I am going to share with you so that I can save you the trouble of having to wade through the entire book.

Fun facts:

  • Bananas have an uneven number of chromosomes, which is why the rarely have seeds. - Yes, that's right, that was one of the most interesting things that I learned from this book, which should give you some idea of why I found the book a bit boring. It was a long, long reading day of slogging through information that wasn't very interesting, when what I really wanted to do was watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special.

  • According to the author of today's book, Yosemite tangerines have an almost candied, Kool-Aid flavor. - I'm guessing the author has never tasted Kool-Aid the way I make it, because I guarantee no one would ever confuse it with fruit. Of course they'd have to wake up from the diabetic coma the drink put them in before they'd be able to make an effective comparison.

  • An ear of corn loses half of its sweetness within 24 hours of being picked. - Haha, finally an advantage to living in Indiana. I jest, there's more than one advantage - we also have that lovely cheese factory that you can tour. . . and we have more t-shirts with farm animals and beer cans on them per capita than anywhere else in America . . . and of course, who could forget about those horse and buggy rides you can take in Amish country. Okay fine, I admit it, we're boring. Nothing interesting ever happens here. We never do anything fun. We suck.

Girl Singer

Monday, November 23, 2009

Today was day one of a very busy blogging week. I have so many things that need to be done over the next few days that I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it. But I am choosing to look at this as a blogging challenge which will add a heightened sense of drama to the project.

Today's book - The description on the back of the book gives away the entire book, one of my literary pet peeves, but I figure an autobiography is pretty self explanatory.

After two days of letting someone else pick my blogging books, I decided that kick off Monday by reading my favorite genre: autobiography. I can only step outside of my reading box for so long before I need to retreat back to the sweet comfort of my favorites. But, I did decide to step outside of the box just a little bit by reading a book about someone that I don't know very much about. Reading an autobiography of someone I know a lot about can be interesting, and comforting, but sometimes I prefer not knowing exactly what's going to happen next.

I have mixed feelings about today's book - and I do realize I'm becoming a bit of a broken record with that expression, I seem to be torn about a lot of books that I read lately. I found the story of Rosemary Clooney's life interesting (and I learned a lot about her, for instance, I originally thought she had no kids but it turns out she has five), but I wasn't crazy about the writing style. So I would only recommend this book to someone who is a huge fan of either Rosemary Clooney or old movies.

Fun facts:

  • Frank Sinatra weight almost 13 pounds when he was born, and had to be delivered using forceps, which is why his face was scarred. - I had several thoughts after reading that: 1. That was definitely more information than I ever wanted to know about Frank and 2. I hope that Frank gave his mother really, really good Mother's Day presents, because she clearly deserved it.

  • When Rosemary appeared in White Christmas, she was paid by the week and not by the picture, as its done today. She was paid $5,000 a week. - Which naturally begs the question, What's to stop an actor in that situation from screwing up all of their lines in order to prolong the movie?

  • Rosemary hated hats. - It's really stretching things to include this in the "fun facts" category, but I am still reeling from reading about that little tidbit. Being lucky enough to live in a time period where people wore hats all the time and then hating them? It's unimaginable. It's blasphemy. It's horrifying.
Not so fun fact from the not-so-good-old-days:

  • When Rosemary and Duke Ellington recorded a duet, the country was so segregated that they weren't even allowed to be photographed on the cover together. Instead, Rosemary was photographed looking at a picture of Duke. - I'll have to remember to whip out that not-so-fun-fact the next time someone is spouting drivel about how life was so much better back in "the good old days."

The Inn at Eagle Point

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I should have called this Mom weekend, because today I'm doing another Mom themed entry. Today was her birthday party and so I let her pick the book again. Although, she wants it noted on the record that she did not actually pick out yesterday's book. She let me pick from a stack of several books and I picked the book that I thought would be the most fun to mock.

Today's book is the official pick, a semi-trashy novel. Or as my sister likes to call it, tasteful smut.

But before I get to today's blog entry, I have a few party pictures to share.

Here I am getting a little reading done while my Uncle Andy acts like the party animal that he is.

And now it's time for the Mystery pictures to get a little bit less mysterious.

Do you like my Jackie Kennedy dress dear readers? Here I am reading a little bit, before practicing my political wave and asking people to vote for my husband Jack.

Today's book, "It's been years since Abby O'Brien Winters set foot in Chesapeake Shores. The Maryland town her father built has too many sad memories and Abby too few spare moments, thanks to her demanding Wall Street career, the crumbling of her marriage and energetic twin daughters. Then one panicked phone call from her youngest sister brings her racing back home to protect Jess's dream of renovating the charming Inn at Eagle Point. But saving the inn from foreclosure means dealing not only with her own fractured family, but also with Trace Riley, the man Abby left ten years ago. Trace can be a roadblock to her plans…or proof that second chances happen in the most unexpected ways."

Shallow, semi-trashy thoughts:

  • I was very excited to finally be reading a book that my Mother picked out that didn't have a picture of half-naked throbbing people on the cover. Although, it's not nearly as fun to mock books that are only semi-trashy. I prefer the really trashy ones that allow me to say things to Mom like, "Read any good smut lately? What are Trisha and Stefan up to anyway?" Mom used to be slightly offended by this, but now she's learned to go with it and respond with, "As a matter of fact I have." This is usually followed by a complete discussion of the entire plot, including a description of how Trisha is "real independent."

  • After reading several books that my Mother has read, I am finally beginning to understand why she loves these books. Of course, in order to figure that out I had to push aside the crappy plot, the bad writing, the annoying characters, to get to the hear of why she loves these books. 1. The happy ending - Mom responds to an unhappy ending the way an eight year old would (I'm saying that with love) with absolute disbelief and extreme sadness and generally the words, "I don't like this. I don't like this at all." 2. The repetition. - Mom believes that if something is worth saying then it's worth saying at least 3 or 4 times, a hallmark of these books. In fact, there is one point in the book where the author lets us know that "this time is different" - and then, just in case we missed it the first time, she lets us know the same thing 6 sentences later. 3. The excessive, totally unnecessary details. - If I ask my Mother how her days has gone, she will respond with, "I got up, I made the bed, I took a shower, I got dressed, I fed the dog, I ate breakfast, I unloaded the dishwasher . . . and on and on. (Reminder to Mom when she reads this: Gentle mocking is a sign of love.) These kind of books are just filled with pointless details that don't relate to the story in any way.

One Night, Two Babies

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Suggestion Saturday has been suspended today so that I could do a special entry in honor of my Mom's birthday. Since today is Mom Wetzel's birthday, I decided to let her pick the book. It's also time for the "Things I Like About Mom List." I made a list for my Dad's birthday, and I certainly wouldn't want Mom to think that I'm playing favorites.

1. When I was in elementary school she would wake us up for school in the morning by reciting what we could have for breakfast. The options were the same every day and yet there was something so comforting about hearing, "Cheerios. . . Froot Loops. . . Toast. . . Waffles. . . Donuts." Yes that's right, she would let me eat donuts for breakfast because the said they had the same amount of sugar in them as cereal like Froot Loops, so if I'm going to eat the same amount of sugar either way, I might as well eat something good. And then she would stand on the front porch as I was getting onto the school bus and wave like a sitcom Mom from the 50s.

2. She left a note in my lunchbox every day of elementary school, written on a napkin, that would either have a happy face and the words "Have a Happy Day" or a stick person who was crying and above the person she would write "I Miss You." At Christmas time she would draw pictures of Christmas trees and presents with a countdown at the bottom "2 Days Until Christmas Break and 6 Days Until Christmas."

3. She walks around saying things like "If I ever stop wanting things, I want to die because there's no point in even being alive." A casual observer would think the "things" she was referring to were dreams and aspirations. But no, she's talking about material possessions. She keeps a list of things she wants, and loves to recite her list the way I used to walk around the house reciting my Christmas list when I was a child. It's just part of the Mom-ness that is Mom.

4. She's a human gift registry. A person can tell her they like something in March and it will appear under the Christmas tree in December. She also somehow manages to buy those things while the person she's buying them for is still in the room.

5. When I was 11, I desperately wanted to dress up like Laura Ingalls Wilder, but since the costume makers don't seem to understand what a great demand there is for Laura Ingalls Wilder costumes for young children, there were no costumes like that available and so one had to be made. So my Mother, with my Aunt's help, spent several weeks making a costume for me, even though she really, really hates to sew.

Today's book, "Heiress Arielle Garnier was pregnant and the father-to-be was nowhere in sight--until he barged into her office. Zach Forsythe, billionaire resort owner, was the same man she'd had a week-long affair with. How could she trust Zach when he'd lied about his name and left her without a word?He hadn't forgotten the auburn-haired siren who'd given him seven days of bliss. Though finding her again...expecting his twins...was a surprise. As was her refusal of his marriage proposal. It seemed Arielle wanted love with her wedding ring."

Trashy thoughts:

  • I let my Mother pick today's book, which naturally means a "Romance" novel since those are the only kind of books she likes to read. She narrowed it down to a stack of books, and then she let me pick from the stack. Naturally, I had to read today's book after seeing the title. How could I turn away from a book with a title as ridiculous as One Night, Two Babies - I just couldn't. And the book turned out to be just as ridiculous as the title. But there is something oddly relaxing about getting to read a book that is mindless, shallow, and devoid of all merit - which makes it the closest thing to a reading break that I will get this year. So I sat down to read, turned off my brain, and enjoyed my reading vacation.

  • I spent the day with my Mother and the rest of the family, at Shipshewana. Ahh, there's nothing like reading a trashy romance novel while surrounded by Amish people. Amish country is probably the only place on earth I can go to and be the most scandalous person for miles around, so I decided to just enjoy the irony of the moment.

  • It's always amusing to read a romance novel where someone gets pregnant by a one night stand, because the author spends most of the book jumping through hoops in order to try to convince the readers that having a one night stand with someone whose name you don't even know is wholesome, reasonable, and tasteful. So the book was filled with excuses, and desperate justifications that rival those coming from the parent of a really bratty child, but instead of He was just overtired and he didn't eat his breakfast very well, it was more like He was going through a rough time in his life, and she was taken in by his charm and got confused.

  • I discovered while reading this book, which was about the fourth or fifth trashy romance novel I've read in my life, that I imagine the characters looking exactly the same way no matter how the book describes the characters. I figure if the author is going to be too lazy to veer from the formula and actually write a new story, then I'm not going to bother to veer from the mental image I use for all of the other trashy romance novels I read.

I would only recommend today's book to people who a) really, really love romance novels or b) really, really enjoy mocking romance novels.

Garden Spells

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dear Readers,
Welcome to the Friday night edition of "Angie Has No Life Because Her Blog is Preventing It," otherwise known as "Angie Is Really Looking Forward to Getting Her Weekends Back When this Project is Done." Not that I am complaining dear readers, because I am back to feeling invigorated about the blogging project. Getting back to reading books that I want to read rather than always thinking in terms of what I should be reading has made blogging fun again!

Today's book, "Two gifted sisters draw on their talents to belatedly forge a bond and find their ways in life in Allen's easygoing debut novel. Thirty-four-year-old Claire Waverley manifests her talent in cooking; using edible flowers, Claire creates dishes that affect the eater in curious ways. But not all Waverley women embrace their gifts; some, including Claire's mother, escape the family's eccentric reputation by running away."

Shallow Garden Thoughts:

  • I'm very torn about today's book. I liked it - I wouldn't say I loved it, but at this stage in the blogging game, after having read about 200 really crappy books, liking something has become the equivalent of loving it. It's like my boring, gross allergy-free food, where gross = not bad, good = great, and great is . . . well that last one is mostly hypothetical. I liked the book, but it was also kind of odd.

  • I should have learned by now to never judge a book by it's cover. But I rarely learn when it comes to this sort of thing. And so I started reading today's book with certain expectations. The cover makes it look like the kind of book a person would get totally swept up in and transported to a place where boring, mundane things are never discussed. Never would have I expected to read the book and come across references to Pop Tarts (which I think are one of the grossest foods ever, expect for the cookie dough flavor) and cell phones.

  • Favorite sentence, "Like every person who had ever fallen in love, Tyler Hughes wondered what the hell was wrong with him." - Ahh, I love a blunt sentence - no dancing around the obvious, no talking around things, just right to the point.

P.S. - Suggestion Saturday will be suspended tomorrow. But be sure and join me tomorrow for a special blog entry in honor of my Mother's birthday.

My First Five Husbands

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Today was day two of throwing out the reading "shoulds" and reading the way I would if I wasn't writing a blog. And it felt great. I feel energized - invigorated - and I'm so glad because I only have six weeks (which truly boggles my mind) left of this blogging project and I want to finish on a high note. So naturally, this meant reading my favorite genre, autobiography. And what better place to start than with the autobiography of an actress from one of my all-time favorite TV shows, The Golden Girls.

Today's book, "The youngest Golden Girls star offers a chatty, thoughtful and effervescent tour of her surprisingly turbulent professional and private life. Like her TV alter ego Blanche Devereaux, McClanahan charts her experiences through the men in her life. After much stage work, she found success in her late 30s on TV's Maude. Later, "languishing in Love Boat limbo," she was rescued by The Golden Girls, which brought her an Emmy and financial security. Fans will relish her sweet and tart memories of friendships and tensions filming that show. A breast cancer survivor, she ends the book happily celebrating an active career and a decade with husband number six."

Shallow thoughts:

  • Well, first things first, I LOVED today's book. But I do feel I should include a disclaimer, I think a big part of the reason why I loved the book was because I am such a huge Golden Girls fan. So, if you are a loud and proud Golden Girls fan, or if you enjoy really blunt people (and you must or you wouldn't be reading my blog), then I think you will enjoy today's book as well. The one downside to it was that the first chapter sort of veered all over the place - but a long and rambling first chapter can have a certain charm to it, so I don't think it really detracted from the book too much.

  • And then there is my favorite part of the book, when Rue uses the expression "dear readers." I cannot find the words to express how much I love it when books use that expression - which is the reason why I started using that in the first place. I instantly like a book better when the expression is used. Well, actually, I love any kind of acknowledgement of the readers from the author. It reminds me of those old movies from the 60s where the entire scene freezes except for one character who then begins talking directly to the audience. It's so corny, and yet I love it!

  • Rue shares a story of how her Mother let her drink out of bottle so long that she was actually sent to the store to buy the rubber nipples for the bottles herself. I hate to act like the parenting police, but really? That seems a bit extreme. And it reminds me of my Dad's reaction to watching those diaper commercials that feature children singing about the diaper they're wearing. The reaction involves him hitting the mute button while bitterly saying, "If you're old enough to sing about your diaper, you're too old to be wearing one." He's so wise.

  • I had a very hard time pacing myself while reading the book because I wanted to hurry up and get to the part of the book where Rue starts working on The Golden Girls. I was really tempted to skip ahead. Okay, I did skip ahead, but not to worry dear readers, I did go back later and read the pages I skipped. And I learned this fun fact about the show: Bea Arthur originally turned down the role of Dorothy. Say what? After reading that, I spent a few minutes trying to imagine what the show would have been like without her, but there are some places too dark to go to, and I just couldn't do it. I'm so glad she reconsidered.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's chapter and page count dear readers (can you handle this much excitement?) -

For the week:


PAGES - 2,146

For the year:

CHAPTERS - 6,578

PAGES - 85,004

Today's book, "Hershey. The name means chocolate to America and the world, but, as Michael D'Antonio reveals, it also stands for an inspiring man and a uniquely successful experiment in community and capitalism that produced a business empire devoted to a higher purpose. One of the twentieth century's most eccentric and idealistic titans of industry, Milton S. Hershey brought affordable milk chocolate to America, creating and then satisfying the chocoholic urges of millions. He pioneered techniques of branding, mass production, and marketing and gained widespread fame as the Chocolate King."

Chocolatey thoughts:

  • I made the same mistake while reading this book that I did when I read Chocolat, I started reading without having a chocolate supply on hand - very, very bad idea. Never read a book about chocolate without a chocolate supply in the house dear readers - it's a recipe for disaster. Other than the way the book taunted me with chocolate descriptions, it was a good book. It provided a fascinating glimpse into Milton Hershey's life and company, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to spend a cozy day reading about one of life's greatest joys, chocolate.

  • My favorite passage came rather early in the book, "And that's before he stops, gets out of the car, and realizes that the air in this Willy Wonka place smells like sweet cocoa. Hershey always smells like this. On a humid summer day when there is no breeze it's so strong you can taste it." - Chocolate air, what a miracle. I'm trying to think of anything that could be better than that, but no I can't seem to manage it.

  • And here's your fun fact for the day dear readers (or not so fun fact as the case may be): President Zachary Taylor's death in 1850 was likely due to a bowl of cherries that contained bad milk. - So first let's stop and explore this cherries and milk concept. Cherries and milk? Really? This does not sound like an appetizing snack. And what a shame that it turned out to be President Taylor's last meal, I mean if you're going to die because of food is should at least be something good like chocolate cake. And now on to the more pressing question of, what on earth does any of that have to do with Milton Hershey. Well, dear readers, I'm not really sure either. The author draws some tenuous connection between that and the carmels that Mr. Hershey improved by adding milk to them, but it ended up feeling like a long and winding trip down a dirt road to nowhere - and because I don't believe in suffering alone, I decided to drag you all along for the ride as well. But, the one upside to this long and rambling paragraph is that the next time you are eating a carmel and feeling guilty about the high sugar content, just tell yourself, Milk has calcium in it. It's all about the calcium. I'm doing this for my health.

The Last Girls

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Today I discovered something truly horrifying. My Mother forces every person that she comes in contact with to hear about my blog. That's right EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. I can't decide if I find this flattering or mortifying. Well actually I guess there's no reason why it can't be both. Today, as I stood and watched her tell the insurance salesman all about my blog, I had a childhood flashback to when she would carrying on for hours (to anyone who would stand still long enough to listen to it) about how much I love to read and I would stand there and feel totally mortified. And today I learned that I have not matured at all since I was eight, because I am still mortified when she does that. Although, there is that tiny little part of me that is actually capable of acting like a grown-up that finds it kind of nice that she's proud of my blog. So thanks for being proud of my blog Mom, but could you please dial the pride back a notch next time you're talking to a complete stranger. Thanks, Love you.

Today's book, "In the brisk and readable The Last Girls, acclaimed Southern writer Lee Smith reunites four college suitemates on a boat tour of the mighty Mississippi. Thirty-five years before, inspired by reading Twain's Huckleberry Finn in class (a detail not nearly revisited enough), the women floated down the same river on a manmade raft; now they are gathered at the request of their recently deceased ringleader's husband. The story unfolds through the eyes of each woman as the old friends weave college memories with their own dramas spanning the three decades since graduation."

Immature thoughts:

  • It seems that I'm never going to learn my lesson when it comes to books about a group of women who have been friends for decades. I really, really want to like those kind of books and so, against all reason, I continue to read them despite the you've-read-one-you've-read-them-all feeling they all seem to have. Today's book was no exception - it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either and I ended up with that "Wait, didn't I already read this book?" feeling.

  • I've forced myself to read a lot of books this year that I felt like I should like, but didn't. And I've avoided reading genres that I love because didn't want to overdo it. But, today I finally realized what a mistake that has been. A bored blogger does not make for really good blog entries, and the blog entries that I think were the best were written about my favorite kind of books. So tomorrow, I throw out my list of literary "shoulds" and go back to reading what I love. I'm excited, and feeling invigorated already.

  • The one good thing about today's book is that they let us know one of the friends is going to die right off the bat - it's right there in the book description. It seems that the authors of these friendship books have all decided that the book is not complete without one of the friends ending up dead (usually from cancer, but today's book deviated from that particular formula.) The worst part of all is that the author seems to think the death is some kind of riveting twist that the reader is never going to see coming, when in reality I begin playing "Which Friend is Going to Die" when I'm only about three pages into the book. I appreciate the fact that the author lets us know right away who is going to die so I could focus more on the plot and not get distracted by my sick and morbid game.

P.S. My sister has challenged me to go a whole week without mentioned a certain TV show on the blog, which I cannot name without losing the challenge (but I'm sure you already know what it is) and today is day one of the challenge. I've only got 6 more blog entries to go.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Today I have a very busy day, so I decided to flake off a little bit with my goal to make it to 100,000 pages and read a shorter book.

Today's book, "Americans are a "positive" people - cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: this is our reputation as well as our self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive is the key to getting success and prosperity. Or so we are told. Barbara Ehrenreich confronts the false promises of positive thinking, tracing it from its origins as a marginal nineteenth-century healing technique to its enshrinement as a dominant, almost mandatory, cultural attitude. With the myth-busting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of positive thinking: personal self-blame and national denial."

Pessimistic thoughts:

  • I was very tempted to title this blog entry "In Praise of Bitterness," but then I thought better of it. But if anyone ever wrote a book with that title I would love to read it. Maybe I should write a book about that - and then I could follow it up with "In Praise of Shallowness."

  • I picked today's book because I have read another book by the author - For Her Own Good - which was very interesting. I have a weird habit of reading that I really enjoy, and then never bothering to read any of the other books by that author. I guess it's partially because I have a hard time believing that I will like the second book as much as the first, and also because I am lazy. There I said it. I'm too lazy to go and look up the other books by that author and read them. But, I've decided to change that and give today's author a second try. And I'm so glad that I did, because I found today's book really interesting. I wouldn't say that it's a book I loved (and I didn't love her other book either) but it was fascinating in places.

  • I had a bit of an obsession with self-help books as a child (I was so weird) so I was happy to see the author of today's book mention one of my personal favorites from that time, "The Power of Positive Thinking." According to that book, if you visualize it, it will come. I spent months trying to control other people's actions by visualizing them doing whatever I wanted them to do. I tried so hard to be the mental Puppet Master, but to no avail. The book did warn about using visualization for evil personal gain, but I figured there was nothing evil about trying to visualize my Mom letting me have that fourth Oreo, so what was the harm?

The Priceless Gift

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Are you feeling the joy and excitement of SISTER SUNDAY dear readers? Or are you a new reader and you have no idea what SISTER SUNDAY even is? For my dear readers, SISTER SUNDAY is when my sister, Alissa, peer pressures me into reading the kind of books that I would normally not read left to my own devices.

And, today she threw me a big blogging challenge in the form of a book that is out of print. So I was unable to find a picture of the book, or a description. So I had to settle for a picture of Woodrow Wilson and his wife Ellen Axson Wilson, whose love letters are the subject of today's book.

Before getting to my shallow thoughts for the day, it's time for my really shallow thought: The spine of today's book was upside down. So I spent the day looking like a four-year-old who was pretending to read. This amused me more than it should, because I'm simple when it comes to that sort of thing.

Now on to our regularly scheduled shallow thoughts:

  • I started out really enjoying today's book. I got swept up into the letters, I contemplated reading more books about Woodrow Wilson, I talked about how if Woodrow and Ellen were alive today they would be on my mental list of celebrity couples that I would be upset if they ever broke up. And then my sister lowered the boom, and informed me that Woodrow cheated on his wife. To say that I was shocked and horrified would be an understatement. Alissa attempted to placate me by telling me that Ellen forgave Woodrow and they repaired their marriage. Well, Ellen may have forgiven Woodrow, but I haven't. I'm still, hours later, unable to look at his pictures without feeling extreme amounts of disgust (and normally I can't stay mad at anyone when I'm looking at a pictures of them.) I think I'm going to need some time before I can forgive him for his transgressions. Healing takes time.

  • Favorite sentence, "It was considered most unladylike to show the least sign of interest until a young man proposed. . . " - So clearly Ellen was a Rules girl (I'm still irritated that The Rules remains the one book I can remember vividly from this year, by the way.) I'm very confused about these proposal rules - so a man just proposes to a woman with absolutely no idea whether she even cares about him in the first place. Sounds like a relaxing situation.

  • Favorite passage, "He was only thirty-one, yet now he felt old, no longer able to capture the boyish high spirits that were a part of his nature, and very despondent about his future." - So basically I have 9 1/2 months left before my life is over. Why oh why do discussions about people my age - or close to it - being old amuse me so much? I just don't understand it.


Saturday, November 14, 2009


Today's book was suggested by Helen'sAngel - so thanks for the suggestion Helen'sAngel.

Don't worry dear readers, the two pictures of today's book that have been posted are not a sign that I am still tired and totally incoherent. I am full rested and wide awake today, so today's blog entry is actually going to be coherent. I'm just feeling a bit indecisive about which cover I like the best, so I thought I would post them both and let you decide.

Today's book, "We meet 13-year-old Briony Tallis in the summer of 1935, as she attempts to stage a production of her new drama "The Trials of Arabella" to welcome home her older, idolized brother Leon. But she soon discovers that her cousins, the glamorous Lola and the twin boys Jackson and Pierrot, aren't up to the task, and directorial ambitions are abandoned as more interesting prospects of preoccupation come onto the scene. The charlady's son, Robbie Turner, appears to be forcing Briony's sister Cecilia to strip in the fountain and sends her obscene letters; Leon has brought home a dim chocolate magnate keen for a war to promote his new "Army Ammo" chocolate bar; and upstairs, Briony's migraine-stricken mother Emily keeps tabs on the house from her bed. Soon, secrets emerge that change the lives of everyone present...."

Shallow thoughts:

  • I spent most of today with the family (I like to refer to us as "the family" because it makes us sound like we are in the Mafia, and it heightens the sense of drama), and so the same thing happens whenever I am reading in front of my family, my Dad makes his standard blogging joke of, "You should just watch the movie and pretend like you read the book." Then he laughs and I can tell by the look on his face that he is trying to saying something that will result in me mentioning him on the blog (the blog that he doesn't even read, by the way.) I suppose I am just playing into his hand, and encouraging future bad jokes by giving him what he wants and mentioning him here. But I guess since he DOESN'T EVEN BOTHER TO READ THE BLOG (not that I'm bitter about that or anything) it doesn't really matter what I say about him. So it doesn't matter if I point out that I think he would be much prouder of me if I cheated than he is knowing that I actually read all of the books. But that stupid conscience had to get in the way and wreck everything, and so I actually had to read today's book.

  • But I'm so glad that I do have a conscience, because I really liked today's book. Normally I am a book wimp, and only like to read happy books that don't remind me of the 3,000 unplesant things going on in the world that I nightly obsess over while trying to fall asleep. But, occasionally a darker book comes along that I really enjoy, and this was definitely one of them. I started reading and I instantly felt like I was getting lost in the book.

  • And then, proving just how self-involved I can be, I still managed to see a reflection of my own life in the life of a fictional character who is 13 years old and living in 1935. The book opens with that thirteen year old, Briony, writing a play. Ahh, the wholesome pursuits of youth, how well I remember engaging in those pursuits myself . . . except wait a minute, I wasn't writing a play, I was writing a script for a crappy TV sitcom that I was convinced was riveting but was really one of the worst things I've ever written in my life. That's right, as a child I would pass the time when I wasn't watching TV by writing about TV. Is it any wonder that I grew up to be a TV addict?

  • Favorite passage, "Freedom was still a novelty. The pace and clatter, the colors of the coats, jackets and skirts, the bright loud conversations of West End shoppers, the friendliness of the girl who served him, the spacious lack of threat - he sat back and enjoyed the embrace of the everyday. It had a beauty he alone could appreciate." - It's a good thing that little scene didn't take place in the 80s or he would have been even more overwhelmed by the flourescene hair scrunchies, the bad perms, the leg warmers. . . he would have been begging for the freedom to end after a few minutes. That's right dear readers, I really went there - I took a well-written passage and drove over it in the sarcasm bus and totally ruined a beautiful moment. You didn't really expect me to write more than one sincere blog entry in the same week, did you?

Too Many Yesterdays

Friday, November 13, 2009

Today was my most challenging reading and blogging day of the entire year. I'm extremely tired today, for reasons which I won't go into because it's a really boring story, and so I spent most of the day trying to stay awake enough to read today's book.

Today's book, "Preparations are in place for Charlotte Chayter's eightieth birthday party. She does not want all the fuss, but her daughter, Glenda, has made all the arrangements befitting the lady of the local manor house. Three of her four children still live in the neighborhood and will be there as well as her granddaughter Elvira, whom she has not seen in 10 years. Elvira was a wild child who lived with Charlotte when not at boarding school, instead of with her beautiful jet-setting mother. Charlotte is looking forward to seeing her prodigal granddaughter, while the rest of the family fumes over the fact that Elvira's mother will not attend. Elvira, 26, has her own reason for returning, and faces the family function with apprehension as she is not the hoyden they think she is. Charlotte isn't the least bit worried about Elvira; it's her own children and the problems and potential scandal surrounding them that concerns her. Hylton offers a glimpse behind the facade of the staid English gentry, steadily drawing readers into her rich family saga."

Shallow - and very tired - thoughts:

  • I wasn't crazy about today's book. It wasn't horrible, but I didn't necessarily like it either. But please take that with a grain of salt dear readers because when I'm tired I become like a toddler, I dislike everyone and everything and all I want is to curl up with a blanket and watch cartoons. I'm going to put today's book on my list of books that I want to read again when the year is up, just so I can be sure if it's the book I disliked or just my mood affected how I felt about it.

  • There was one part of the book that I'm sure I'll still dislike even when I'm rested, and that's the part where one character used the word-that's-not-really-a-word, allus in place of always. I can't stand it when authors use dialect to the point where it becomes cumbersome. That didn't happen too much throughout the book, but just enough to start to annoy me. But, thankfully the author refrained from trying to show us just how a cute a child is by making that character lisp. And for the record authors of the world, that might be cute on a real child, but it is NOT cute in any way with a fictional child.

  • There were several points during the book when my lack of sleep really starting to become a problem. For instance, when I got to the sentence that mentioned a funeral and I couldn't remember reading the part about anyone dying - leaving me thinking, What? Someone died? When the hell did that happen? Needless to say, it became necessary for me to go back and reread some of the earlier chapters. I think medicine companies need to revise their recommendations for medications that produce drowsiness: Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or read a book for your blog while taking this medication.

Fashionable Food

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm sure this will not come as a shock to any of you dear readers, but I'm a totally disorganized, irresponsible blogger. I plan out my books for the coming week (although I only started doing that a few weeks ago) but I never seem to factor in what I'm actually going to be doing that day, and so I somehow always end up reading a book that is over 400 pages on the same day when I have a hundred things to do. So, today was a challenging reading today and there were moments when I thought I wasn't going to get done in time. But, the old blogging magic kicked in around early evening and I was able to make it through the book. And from now on there will be no more long books read on days when I have a lot of things to do. I'm going to try a crazy new thing known as consulting my calendar before picking my books for the week . . . just as soon as I figure out where my calendar is.

Today's book, "Fashionable Food takes you on an outrageous trip through the culinary history of America in the twentieth century. Decade by decade, Sylvia Lovegren details the origins - and demise - of such curious gourmet delicacies as Barbecue Bologna, Baked Beans au Glow-Glow, and Tang Pie."

I found today's book very entertaining, in a horrifying, train wreck, I-can't-believe-anyone-ate-something-that-disgusting, kind of way. There were quite a few disgusting food fads in the past, but for your reading pleasure I have narrowed them down to a few of the most disgusting:

  • Peanut Butter Tea Sandwich - which are made with peanut butter, ketchup, sweet pickles, white bread, and iceberg lettuce - Say it with me now dear readers, EEEWWW. I'm trying to wrap my mind around the concept that someone actually ate that, but nope, it's just not happening.

  • Granola Fondue - which is exactly how it sounds, you take regular fondue and stir granola into it. - Well that makes perfect sense, because every time I try to eat fondue all I can think is, Now if only this tasted crunchy and gritty, then it would be the perfect food.

  • Fruit Cocktail-Spam Buffet Party Loaf - made with fruit cocktail, drained (but don't worry, the syrup will be used in the recipe, because it would be gross to leave it out), unflavored gelatin, vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, Spam, celery, green olives, Miracle Whip, mustard, and salt) - What a delightful sounding recipe. Who would have ever thought that someone could take Spam, the world's most disgusting food, and make it sound even less appealing. Reading about that recipe made me nostalgic for my Dad's fried Spam sandwiches - at least those just contain Spam and bread.

  • Valentine Salad - which contains lettuce, pineapple, cream cheese, guava jelly, white asparagus, pimentos, and French dressing - This is the part of the book where I got pushed to the breaking point, and I just starting muttering under my breath, "I just don't understand. I don't understand at all. How can people live like that?" There are too many good kinds of food in the world to eat stuff like that.

  • Banana and Popcorn Salad - before you start to think, "Maybe it's not what it sounds," I can assure you dear readers that it is. Because Banana and Popcorn salad contains banana, lettuce, popcorn, and mayonnaise. - I want to meet the person who invented that. I want to see the sick, demented mind that came out of. And I want to ask them why? Why was that necessary? Why did they feel the need to inflict that kind of trauma on their fellow man? Why did they have to invent a recipe that would give me the shakes every time I pass a banana, lettuce or popcorn from this point on?

And here's your fun fact for the day: Despite containing sugar, which was rationed during World War II, marshmallows were NOT on the rationing list. - Of course what was the point of even having marshmallows around since chocolate was on the rationing list. Is there any point to a marshmallows existence if not to be roasted, put on a graham cracker and smothered with chocolate? I think not.

The Greatest Generation

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans Day dear readers

Before I get to today's entry, it's time for the chapter and page count.

For the week:


PAGES - 2,237

For the year:

CHAPTERS - 6,489

PAGES - 82,858



Today's book, "Brokaw defines "the greatest generation" as American citizens who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America. The vehicle used to define the generation further is the stories told by a cross section of men and women throughout the country."

Sincere thoughts (I bet you didn't see that one coming, did you dear readers?):

  • For today's entry I've decided to do something that I don't believe I've ever done with the blog, write a sincere entry that isn't buried under three layers of sarcasm (because even I have enough sense to not writing a sarcastic, mocking post about veterans.) But, don't worry tomorrow's entry is going to contain twice as much sarcasm as usual to make up for the lack of it in today's entry.

  • I almost forgot about Veterans Day completely (because I'm so disorganized that I don't even know where my calendar is) and so today's book was a last minute pick, recommended by my sister. Let's just say a desperate e-mail was sent this morning requesting a suggestion. And I'm so glad she suggested today's book, because I loved it. I was only on page 2 when I got totally and completely sucked into the book. I would definitely recommend it. Now I will admit that being a huge fan of the time period could have swayed my opinion on the book a bit, but I think the book would still be interesting even to those who aren't so obsessed with the 40s that you spent waaay more time than is necessary trying to figure out how to make your hair look like you're in a movie from that decade.

  • Reading the book made me feel really grateful for all of the sacrifices that were made by those who fought in World War II. So grateful, in fact, that it made me want to go find the nearest 80 year-old and hug them. And if I was the kind of person who engages in sincere displays of public emotion then that's exactly what I would do.

  • My favorite passage came during the story of Lloyd Kilmer, a combat pilot during World War II who was a POW for 10 months, "Not long after that, an American tank rolled through the German barbed wire. Lloyd Kilmer's ordeal was over. To mark the liberation, the American rescuers went to a nearby church steeple where the Nazi swastika was prominently displayed on a flag. Kilmer says the men of Stalag 7A fell quiet as the swastika was lowered and the American flag was raised in its place. In a way he could not have fully appreciated at the time, that became a defining moment in Lloyd Kilmer's life." - Either my allergies are flaring up or I am actually capable of sincere human emotion, because that passage actually choked me up.

And now I think I'm on sincerity overload, so I'm going to have to go watch a soap opera or two and I promise I'll be back to my usual sarcastic self tomorrow.

So Who the Heck Was Oscar Mayer?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Today's book, "Many of the most famous names in America today aren't names of actors, rock stars, or politicians, but brand names such as McDonald's, Maytag, Brooks Brothers, Chevrolet, and Jack Daniels. We don't summon up faces to associate with those names, all we see is the billboard on the side of the road or the logo on the side of the box. Somebody had to originate these companies and give them the household names they now have. So Who The Heck Was Oscar Mayer? tells more than 200 tales behind those household names."

I have mixed feelings about today's book. I didn't like the writing style at all, and thought that book could have been much more fun than it was, but I found the fun facts that I learned interesting. So it was an interesting subject, presented in a dull way. What a let down.

Fun facts:

  • Chef Boyardee (or as my Dad likes to call himself when he cooks, Chef BoyarWetzel) was started by chef Hector Boiardi. Before starting his now famous company, Hector Boiardi catered Woodrow Wilson's wedding reception. - I'm struggling now to get out of my head the image of Woodrow Wilson, dressed in a tuxedo, eating out of one of those individual serving size containers of Beefaroni. But the image just won't budge.

  • Gerber baby food was originally created after Sally Gerber, then seven months old, began to suffer from illness. Her doctor advised her parents to feed her strained fruits and vegetables, and a company was born. A company, by the way, that does NOT know what field my "baby's" food was grown in, despite the fancy talk they do on the commercial to try to convince me otherwise. And why was Gerber called in the first place? Let's just say that when your Dad owns a grocery store, and you sister works there as a teenager, and she gets really bored one night because there weren't very many customers . . . things happen . . . phone calls gets made.

  • Reese's (the unofficial sponsor of my childhood) were invented by Harry Reese in 1923. - Now the next time I read a book that takes place in the 1800s, I'm no longer going to feel sorry for the people in the book for having lived in that difficult time before indoor plumbing and electricity, but instead I will feel sorry for them for having to led sad, deprives, Reese-free lives. I personally wouldn't understand such a hardship since my childhood was filled with a never-ending supply of Reeses. My Mother used to hand them out like they were daily vitamins. And so, after reading about the history of the Reese company, I decided to share the information with my Mother and see if she was aware that Reeses have only been around since 1923. Her response, "Thank God I wasn't alive before then. I don't think I would have survived."

  • The Fisher-Price toy company was founded in 1930, and originally only made toys out of Ponderosa pine blocks. In 1949 plastic was substituted for the pine blocks in order to better keep up with the demand (and family rooms everywhere got a little bit uglier as multi-colored, clownish plastic toys ended up strewn from one end of the room to the next.) Despite how garish the plastic toys were, I still loved every minute of playing with them. And I was lucky, because I was a child during the golden age of Fisher Price - when they made giant waffle blocks that were big enough to make furniture out of when we played house, and plastic play food like peas that popped out of the pod and plastic cake you could actually frost, and a fake skillet that actually sizzles. Ahh, the good old days.

So there you have it dear readers, I have shared with you the most fun facts from the book so that you can save yourself the trouble of having to wade through the other 390 pages, which were, for the most part, rather dull.

Family Album

Monday, November 9, 2009

I am writing this entry while eating popcorn and an apple, just like a character from Farmer Boy (because there's nothing more fun than writing about a book while pretending to be a character in a book.) Okay that's not really true, watching TV is more fun, but I didn't have time for that today so I had to go to plan B. Balancing duel addictions (books and TV) is just exhausting. I know that I make it look easy, but I can assure you dear readers that it's not. It's a very delicate balance.

And before I go any further with this entry, I want to welcome all of my newest dear readers who have shown up over the last few days. I'm so glad that you have decided to stop by my blog, and I hope you enjoy your stay here (Please forgive me for being corny with expressions like "enjoy your stay here" - I do realize that I'm not running a country inn in New England.)

Today's book, "All Alison ever wanted was a blissful childhood for her six children, with summers at the beach and birthday parties on the lawn at their family home. Together with Ingrid, the family au pair, she has worked hard to create a real "old-fashioned family life." But beneath its postcard sheen, the picture is clouded by a distant father, Alison's inexplicable emotional outbursts, and long-repressed secrets that no one dares mention. For years, Alison's adult children have protected her illusion of domestic perfection-but as each child confronts the effects of past choices on their current adult lives, it becomes evident that each must face the truth."

Shallow thoughts:

  • It's late, I'm tired, and I wasted entirely too much time tonight on Facebook looking up people that I haven't seen in over a decade so I'm just going to cut to the chase, I didn't like today's book. This is the third book I've read by Penelope Lively that I haven't liked, so I think I can safely cross her off my "Authors to Explore" list. I'm now putting her in the same category as Elizabeth Berg and Rosamunde Pilcher, they are all authors that I really want to like, but don't.

  • I tried and tried to care about the characters in today's book, but I just couldn't pull it off. The characters seemed to all blur together, and I just wasn't able to keep them straight by page 200. So I just kind of surrendered to it and didn't even bother trying to sort everyone out. It's like when I watch soap opera's in Spanish (which I swear I don't do that often) and I'm so busy trying to figure out what's going on that I don't even have time to look at the characters faces and figure out who everyone is.

  • The book did get slightly more interesting during the parts that flashed back to the 70s. That part conjured up images of shag carpet, The Brady Bunch, and really bad clothes (which is always fun to mock.) But I really think there's something wrong with a book when I have to bring my own fun to it. Is it wrong that I think the author should be in charge of supplying the fun? Does that make me a lazy reader?