Tuesday, May 31, 2011

book talk: audiophiles

Today, I'd like to talk about a particular kind of book that I've been falling harder for lately: audiobooks.

Yesterday, we started listening to March, the Geraldine Brooks novel that won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I got the audiobook from our library, and we are about two chapters in.

Already, I can see why the book is so lauded. The prose is dense and luscious, yet unflinching in it's handling of unsettling content like war, physical pain, racism and slavery. Plus, the narrator of our copy has the best, gravely voice! 

I've had conversations with some people who say things like, "bah! Audiobooks are not real books..."and I'm never sure how to respond. I think they're just fine. In fact, I've had some fantastic audiobook experiences! It is how I gleaned tips from Stephen King's On Writing, and when we went to the icy coast of Lake Michigan last Christmas, it is how we finished up the Harry Potter series. In both cases, I had such fun reading, er, listening to those stories. Just because I'm not "looking" at the words doesn't mean I'm not ingesting them, absorbing their meaning and being potentially moved by them. Right? 

Then, I heard a great segment on Talk of the Nation last Thursday about this very thing. What do you think? Are audiobooks a boon to reading enthusiasts or destroying the fabric of reading culture? Somewhere in between? Let's talk. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Saturday Snapshot

Ok, so this snapshot is from last saturday...but what a sublime weekend we had! Our little escape to the "edge of the pinky" (Michiganders know exactly what I'm talking about! Non-michiganders, just look at the palm of your right hand, like it's a map...) was splendid. As promised, here are some pics:

Couldn't get enough of my beach-read!

Our friends' son loved the beach--his first experience!

Oh, but Lake Michigan was icy-cold.

Could not get enough of this view! Breathtaking.

The men braved the freezing lake, but not without some--ahem--liquid courage.


even in the sand!

Lots of walks along the beach...

Ah, Lake Michigan...'till we meet again!

a date night with "soul power"

This week, the hubs and I had a rainy-night-date-night-in.

We cooked soba noodle bowls (yum!), kicked back, and popped in this documentary about the Zaire music festival of 1974, which was put on at the same time as the Rumble in the Jungle boxing match:

So good. I can't even handle how fascinating it was, to watch this documentary and think about all the rhetorical moves being made. First of all, there was just a lot of great music. But, beyond that, there were political issues, and socio-economic issues that had us talking well into the night. The great thing was that there wasn't anything too preachy about said issues--they were just there, for viewers to notice. I've actually been dreaming up ways to use this in my composition classes: what arguments are being made here? By whom? For what purposes?

Good stuff, for date night, and for teaching...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

book talk: on chesterton, cheese and francophilia

By jove, if it isn't another Book Talk Tuesday!

On my dream (read: would-love-to-but-already-have-too-many-other-commitments-and-so-don't-have-enough-time-for-these-additions-to-the-list) summer reading list, there are the following books:

The G.K. Chesterton Biography. I mean, who wouldn't want to know more about the man who gave us such witty literary gems as:

"Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." 


"Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously." 


"The word "good" has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man." 


I want to read pretty much every book on Madame Fromage's Cheese-Reading List. She sure knows the way to my cheese-and-book-loving heart!

This book has been mentioned on a couple of other blogs, but it wasn't until I read Jamie's review on Charmingly Ordinary, that I decided I for sure wanted to read it. 

Looking back over today's list, I realize that there isn't any fiction (except for the Bulgakov on Mme. Fromage's list). What do you think--fiction: for or against? (or ambivilant?) I know what our friend Chesterton would say:

"Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity." 
— G.K. Chesterton

 Do you agree?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meatless Monday

Hello, friends!

We are back from our little jaunt up to Manistee, MI. It is kind of magic how even a few days away can refresh mind and spirit...I mean, I have had this feeling of, "aaah..." all day today. Weird, huh? But, it's true. And we've all heard how amazing Europeans are when it comes to things like average vacation days, and how we Americans suck in comparison. But, I just read an article in Whole Living last night about how necessary vacations are, that they even increase overall productivity, motivation and creativity in the workplace...and I believe it. Our trip was nothing special: walks on the beach, cooking food, sitting and reading. Sleep. Repeat. But, those simple, slow, un-plugged activities have recharged me! Hopefully, I'll have some pics to share later this week.

Seeing as today is Monday, and I'm getting back into the groove, I thought I'd share another Meal Plan Monday with you. Except, remember when I shared my summer goals? I'm making it my mission to have one day a week be totally meat-less. Then, I came across this site--sort of a headquarters for such thinking. It got me to thinking about devoting my Monday posts to my meatless endeavors.

Now, don't get me wrong: I love meat. LOVE it. L-O-V-E. I think I'm too French to do without it entirely. I'm too French to give up a lot of things (the reason why I can't ever be vegan, I'm pretty sure).

What I appreciate about the idea of "meatless monday"--or any day--is not only the health benefits of trying to incorporate more veggies and fruit into one's regular diet, but also the environmental benefits of cutting back. This will be our fifth week of going meatless at least one day. So far, it has been easy, and delicious. I try to plan my week's cooking ahead of time, but I'm certainly not bound to a particular day of the week to be "the day." I think that would feel too stifling to me. However, since I usually do my meal-planning on Mondays, I figured I'd share with you, friends, what I'm planning to make, sans meat.

Hence, Meatless Monday.

So, this week, I plan on making:

 Eric Ripert's Baked Eggs and Ratatouille 
(have you seen Avec Eric yet? I love hearing him talk!)

And today, I created a totally yummy sandwich for lunch. Try it an let me know what you think!
How to:  
  • Take 2 slices whole grain bread (I used Oat Nut)
  • Layer on 1-2 slices of baby swiss cheese
  • Toast bread and cheese
  • Spread 1 tbs. Strawberry Preserves on 1 pc. of toast (I used Bonne Maman)
  • Pick 4-6 leaves fresh basil and place on top of preserves
  • Top with final piece of toast


Speaking of "going meatless," what do you think? I've had many lively discussions about the topic--some people are so into it, they kind of make it seem like if you *aren't* a vegetarian, you're not a very good person. Others are totally the opposite and would eat bloody meat in front of a baby to prove a point.  Where do you fall on the spectrum? 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"going to the beach when it's cold" packing

 I've had my fingers crossed for about a week now that it would be warm in the Mitten this weekend. Sigh, it will not be quite the summery-mini-break I'd hoped for--as warm as 70 degrees. Fahrenheit.

So, I'm planning my packing list for our trip, and my mindset has been: "What does one wear to the beach in winter???"

Thus, here is my ideal packing list for this weekend:

a comfy-looking, super-soft, long-sleeve tee

an extra blanket to wrap up in, or spread on the beach for stargazing:

Probably going to need a hat, like this

or this

...and some gloves (or "glovelets," anyone?)

At least that will keep the fingers free to make s'mores...mmmh. 

Throw everything in a practical, yet super cute, beach tote:

and you're good to go.

(speaking of, I'll see you all next week--hopefully with pics of our chilly beach getaway!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

book talk

Hey friends! Sorry that I'm a little late on this---but it finally is time again for Book Talk Tuesday.

I have so much that I want to talk about today, but I'll try to keep it brief ;)

First off, I have to confess something: I'm re-reading. I do this every now-and-then. My dad just shakes his head at me--he'd rather spend his precious book-reading-time covering new territory. But then, he does re-watch his favorite films...so I may have him there.

I am re-reading one of my favorite books on the writing process:

Heather Sellers is just a gem of a writer--the kind of lady I want to take me out for a cup of tea and tell me all of her funny and heartwrenching and warmly human stories. This book is a way to pretend; it has frank advice, humor and honesty about the writing process that is really (in my opinion) hard to find in these types of books. Plus, it has really, really fun writing exercises. 

I'm also re-starting this book of short stories, edited by Alison Swan. I've skipped around in it before, circling around the poignant story "Lake Huron's Tide" by my friend, Rachael Perry. This time, I'm starting at the beginning, and reading through. I already love it. "HOMES: Living with Lake Michigan," by Judith Minty, sucked me right in with its grade-school reference and at turns wistful, harrowing and wise tale. 

This will be, I think, the perfect book to take up north this weekend.

Today, though, a couple of new books caught my eye. There's this one:

The newest from Geraldine Brooks is set in Puritan New England and told from the point of view of a young female narrator, built around a "slender factual scaffold"--much like People of the Book. It was while reading the New York Times review that I made the connection: Brooks also wrote Year of Wonders, about the plague that my sister-in-law was recommending to me at Christmas. Hmmm, Geraldine Brooks, I am intrigued. And I can't wait to read more...

Last but not least, I heard the news that Pete Townshend is writing a memoir. Awesome. 

Monday, May 16, 2011


...of getting rid of this morale-sapping cold-and-cough combo that has got me tired, cranky, and red-nosed today. :(

...of filling one of these darling cups to the brim with tea...or hot water, lemon and honey...and sipping s-l-o-w-l-y

...of snuggling up in a cozy sweater like this

or this

(Maybe the stripes will lift my sorry mood!)

...and then, collapsing into a lovely-looking bed like this, and not getting up until I feel completely, 100% better!!!

hey, a girl can dream, right?!

Friday, May 13, 2011

I am so inspired by her...

Check out this fantastic article about Bel Kaufman. She is 100 years old is an adjunct professor at Hunter College. She teaches a course in Jewish humor called, "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh." (heh, if you ask me, to be 100 and still teaching higher ed. *requires* a great sense of humor!) But seriously, this lady is so inspiring--she dances the mambo for crying out loud! I hope I can be just like her when I'm 100. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

book talk

hello, friends!

Today I'd like to talk books, poetry and all things literacy. What do you say? I'm thinking of making Tuesday "Book Talk Tuesday." It has a nice ring, yes? The only thing is, I might be too flighty to make it *every* Tuesday...but I'm gonna try. We can get together on a Tuesday and talk books--what we're reading, interested in reading, recommending others to read.

Y'know, book talk.

So, here goes:
photo sourced here
How much would you love to go to a poetry reading at the White House? Billy Collins will be one of the poets to read. Here is one of my favorite Billy Collins poems--

Also, here is an article by Christopher Hitchens, beautifully written and sharply bittersweet, reflecting on potentially losing his speaking voice and how that relates to his writing voice. Hitchens quotes a few lines from one of my favorite poems, "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock," by T.S. Eliot. While Hitchens and I do not share the same views about faith practice, he had me at Eliot. Well, he had me at himself, actually. Though we do not agree on theology, I have to appreciate his intellect--sharp, sharp, sharp!  I find his version of the Ten Commandments to be so thought provoking...

...as well as his debates with Douglas Wilson over the question, "Is Christianity Good for the World?" Collision, the film that documents their debate tour, is equally fascinating, no matter what "side" you come down on, or how you answer the question.

So then, Saturday, on my way to hang out with a friend at a bookstore, I heard Demetri Martin on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. 

He was talking about his new book so cleverly (I've enjoyed his humor since his Flight of the Conchords days!) that when I got to the bookstore, I thumbed through it--and chuckled to myself for several minutes. I also saw that he will be performing a reading at this Barnes and Noble this Sunday. Do I want to go? 

Oh yeah. 

But, it's probably lucky that I stumbled upon this hilarious blog post first. I didn't know who Emily St. John Mandel was before reading her tips on what *not* to ask at a reading...but she seems like the kind of chick who'd be awesome to be friends with. Doesn't she?

I'm gonna have to check out her latest

Add it to the summer reading list! Speaking of, what are you planning on/hoping to read this summer?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

A few posts ago, I casually let it slip that we are going up north in...well let's see...less than 2 weeks now!!!


Not that I'm excited or anything. 

I'm currently so *not* excited, that I've already begun compiling a meal-plan for our weekend. Here are some excerpts:

Steak Hash with Eggs (mine will likely not be poached!)

Mmmh. I am getting SO hungry(...and excited)!

 But tell me, friends, what sorts of foods do you like to prepare on vacation? Any easy-to-pack, easy-to-make suggestions? 

p.s. loved this article about packing healthy food for a weekend getaway...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Celebrating Mumma

My sister and I have been sending flurries of texts back and forth for days now. We've been planning our Mother's Day stuff for our mom--the sweetest, most upbeat, encouraging lady.

Well, here's what we've come up with:

A lunch with her darling daughters here
A gift certificate for a mani/pedi here

A set of cheeky cocktail napkins like these...

...to go with the bottle of white haute wine I got her!

Cheers, Mumma! 

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