On the Bookshelf

  Currently Reading: A Feast for Crows is where I’m at with reading the epic Game of Thrones books. These books are a serious time investment with each one pushing 1,000 pages. They are written in the same vein as the Pillars of the Earth with a higher death rate for the main characters and a splash of fantasy (evil forest creatures, dragons, a touch of magic . . .). I’m enjoying the brutal world created in these books but the story is really meandering in this fourth book; too many freshly introduced characters that are difficult to keep straight or care about. All the books are structured by cycling through every character’s chapter, but with so many characters, it gets difficult to pick up story lines wherever they were left last. I’ve only seen one episode of the HBO show based on the books and it was pretty decent but not really my style. I’m more looking forward to the renewal of Downton Abbey.



Currently Reading: In between reading Feast for Crows and/or when I get too frustrated with George RR Martin, I’ve started Gaia’s Garden, a very practical and informative perspective on home gardening. So far, I’m in love. Anytime science is used to explain plant behavior, I figure the gardening book has got something going for it. This book is a system approach to gardening and since I’m hoping to get into the Master Gardener program through OSU Extension Services this November, I’m excited to read something that will give me some more background in permaculture.


On the Bookshelf

Recently Read: A one sitting read, Yellow Star is a haunting example of a holocaust experience rarely seen: a child. The author details her Aunt Syvia’s story of surviving in the Lodz Ghetto. Aunt Syvia’s’s four years old in 1939 and six years later, she is one of 12 children to leave the Ghetto that held over a quarter of a million people at it’s most crowded. There are bitterly sweet moments, such as when young Syvia is forced to be left at home while her parents and sister go to work and she slowly cleans the flat and makes friends out of the dustballs. The prose is stream-of-conciousness and captivating. Highly recommended.


Recently Read: Coming to Stay: A Columbia River Journey is a tender non-fiction story of one family’s long history living and moving around the Pacific Northwest with a heavy emphasis on their interactions and work with the Native American population. I spotted the author on OPB and was immediately interested in the book based on her gentle manner and her overwhelming urge to collect bits and pieces to weave into the baskets she makes. During the OPB interview, while walking and talking, she would stoop over and snag a piece of grass or a root and start to prepare it for weaving.

Currently Reading: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Based on the author’s curiousity about the ever-present HeLa cells in modern science, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks explores the life and death, family and journey that Henrietta Lacks and her cells have taken. So far, the book is just as interesting and investigative as I was hoping for.

On the Bookshelf

Currently Reading: Looking for Alaska is about a socially awkward teen who moves to a boarding school and befriends his roommate Colonel, a boisterous, sexy and ultimately self-destructive young woman named Alaska and a shy Tatukami. They revolve around the energy that is Alaska and they’re pranksters, rule breakers and life-seizers.  The story is separated into two parts: before and after Alaska’s death. It is a poignant look at manic depression and the ways that teens deal with death. Last night I started in on the “after” section and Andy kept looking over at me making sure I was alright as I sobbed and read. It’s emotional for sure but highly recommended.

Currently Reading: It takes a bit of dedication to read Jonathon Safran Foer but Everything is Illuminated is one of my very favorites so I was glad my friend Rachael loaned me Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The proximity of September 11th in the story is almost suffocating so it’s unlike anything else I have ever read. So far, the book has reeled me right in with it’s tender main character but I’m currently lost in the craziness of the grandpa’s story. I’m sure I’ll get pulled back in.

To Read: North of Beautiful was a typical Amazon recommendation based on other things I’ve liked so I swung by the library to pick it up. It looks like it will be a story about misfits who find love and a bit of fun. Sold!

On the Bookshelf

Currently Reading: As someone who is now officially renting an apartment with a south facing balcony, I’m very interested in getting a little container garden growing. To that end, I recently bought a groupon for a gardening store and I’m reading Grow Great Grub by Gayle Trail. The writing is straightforward, if a bit lacking in explicit details, and her anecdotes are a hoot.

Currently Reading: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson has been checked out from the PSU library for the last few months so it’s been on my to-read list for awhile. It’s a young adult book, but as already discussed on this blog, I could care less about that categorization. I checked it out today because I forgot my gym clothes at home and I wanted something to keep me occupied during my lunch break. So far, it’s pulled me straight down into a grimy and oppressive revolutionary war era America.

Recently Read: Night World by L.J. Smith is a blah kinda book. The font is huge so it reads wickedly fast. The three short stories were desperately similar to one another and all based on the idea of an overwhelming connection to your soul mate. I didn’t buy it, didn’t really enjoy it and would not recommend it. I was surprised at how little I liked it. It made me want to gag in parts.

On the Bookshelf

Recently Read: The Scorch Trials is the sequel to Maze Runner by James Dashner. It’s fast-paced, aimed at young adult-ish (It’s violent!) audience and it’s a fun read. I was really looking forward to this book because of the  total cliffhanger that Maze Runner left, but it was a little disappointing; and it was a lot more like Hunger Games than I was anticipating. Based in a world ravaged by disease and desperate for an innovative new generation, the book covers themes of a corrupt big brother, sacrifice and death. Recommended.


Currently Reading: Shadow Moon was a gift from Andy’s brother and it has taken me a long time to get into it. It’s slow-paced and like other fantasy books, it expects readers to just go along with some of the zanier situations. I take a fair amount of convincing on behalf of the storyline, characters and location when it comes to reading and enjoying fantasy, so I’m not loving it. It’s definitely different since it’s an extension of the world created in the movie Willow.


Recently Read: I didn’t read this book so very recently but I did recently buy it at an estate sale for twenty-five cents. Pillars of the Earth is epic in both scope and length, but it still touches on a lot of base human responses: greed, lust, corruption, arrogance and sacrifice. It’s a book best read with someone else to discuss all the themes and characters. It wasn’t nearly as dense as I was originally expecting and I would go so far as to say it’s more of beach reading than difficult reading.

On the Bookshelf

Recently Read: The Complete Persepolis is a graphic novel written by a woman about her firsthand experiences during the Iranian Revolution in the 1980’s. It’s engaging, well-written and extraordinarily creative. Whenever I read a book about a brand-new-to-me subject, I feel like a new window opens up in my thoughts. This was one of those books. I’ve been thinking a lot about present-day Iran how the revolution impacted everyone, especially given that it happened so very recently. I found her drawings of herself especially interesting as her facial features and looks morph while she goes through stages of self-deprecation or happiness. There is a movie adaptation of this book but I haven’t seen it or heard much about it.

Recently Read: I am hook, line and sinker a fan of the Hunger Games trilogy. The finale was highly anticipated and boy did it deliver. It was emotional, action-filled and managed a satisfying conclusion. I can’t really think of anyone who wouldn’t like these books. They’re awesome. Mockingjay was especially poignant compared to the pervious two books. Protagonist Katniss suffers, fights and ultimately . . . . well, you’ll have to read it to find out.

Currently Reading: Originally delivered as a radio speech during World War II, this book captures the emotions of a pivotal moment in time while covering the basic tenants of Christianity. I’ve just begun, but I already feel like this is going to be a great read. It’s logical and sensitive. I’m quickly seeing why so many people consider it a must-read.

On the Bookshelf

To Read: Lolita. This has been on my to-read list ever since I read some survey somewhere that listed it as the top book pick for people with the highest rated IQ. No idea why I remember that odd piece of information. Everything I’ve heard about Lolita has made me even more intrigued. I’m not too sure it will become my favorite book, but I have high hopes for it. The librarian told me it was “just beautiful.”

To Read: The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working was highly reviewed on amazon, which caught my eye, and I’m interested in reading it because it covers a lot of the ground I think about in terms of employees’ relationships with their work. Especially after living in Spain, I think a lot about the role employers play in the US. We’ll see how much I actually get into it, but I think it will at least be entertaining.

Recently Read: The Oracle Betrayed was a quick read picked up from the young adult section in the library. I enjoyed Catherine Fisher’s other book, Incarceron, so I tried out this one. It was nicely paced and I thought the characters were fun. It’s set in an imagined place based on ancient Greece/Egypt. I read most of it sitting in the rose gardens of Washington Park last night after work. Perfect!

On the Bookshelf

Currently Reading: Unwind is an eerie tale of a world  that “unwinds” teens to take their various body parts. It’s a strange idea but a quick read. It hasn’t yet grabbed me emotionally but I find it intriguing to think about. Everlost is another book I have at home by the same author so maybe I’ll like that one better.

Recently Read: The Sweetheart of Prosper County is a quick read about a young woman who decides to become a hood ornament in the “No-Jesus” Christmas Parade in order to overcome her complacency in the face of high school mediocrity. It’s fun and frothy and worthwhile on a rainy June day, which is exactly when I read it.

To Read: Vampire Academy. I know I know. More vampires. The genre has definitely gotten way too much tv/media coverage recently. I’m by no means sold on the vampire genre but I’m on a roll with the young adult books, partly because I can start and finish them after work. I’m not expecting much from this book but it will probably still be fun. Updates to come.

On the Bookshelf

To Read: Andy had only good things to say about Wesley the Owl. It’s currently in my purse and I think I’ll start it on the streetcar ride home from work today. He warned me that it is really sad so I’m a bit nervous about it because I get unduly emotional when reading.

Recently Read: The Handmaid’s Tale is startling in many ways. For some reason, I thought I was reading a totally different book when I checked it out on Friday but I was completely ensnared right as I began reading. It evokes the same emotions as Blindness, The Road, Brave New World and 1984. I really enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s style and the pace which the story moved along. The story is both sentimental and brutal. If you enjoy thinking about a dystopian future, you will probably enjoy The Handmaid’s Tale.

Recently Read: Peaches is a sweet story that those who enjoyed The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants will probably love. I read it in one evening after work and it tells the story of three teens who come together on a peach farm and become friends. It was tender and surprisingly realistic when delving into the pain teens inflict on one another. I enjoy reading young adult lit now so I enjoyed this book.


Recently read: The Luxe – Not recommended. It was a quick and simply written book without any real substance to grip to. It was fun in parts, but overall a fluffy waste of time. I did  enjoy the description of the ridiculous clothes and people. If you want to read it, check it out from the library like I did.

Things Fall Apart – Highly recommended. Great book written from a native Nigerian’s perspective on a traditional culture in transition. Points out the fallibility of men and the impermanence of life itself. I’m already interested in reading it a second time through to think about it again. I was very impressed with the pacing throughout the book. I was interested and invested in the characters even though it took my awhile to recognize the different names. If you have any interest in Africa at all, read this book.

In Defense of FoodReading Now: In Defense of Food

On the shelf: A Fine Balance, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Wesley the Owl