Tag Archives: Books

When ignorance really is bliss.

3 Aug

Whenever I travel, I try to read a book set where I’m visiting. Usually I lean toward a novel and supplement it with guided walking tours so I can get a blend of fact and fiction. In preparation for my upcoming trip to Australia, I picked up something I read years ago, a non-fiction travelogue by Bill Bryson called In a Sunburned Country.

I remembered enjoying it (from the comfort of my couch in DC), so I thought it would be a nice primer.


Oh sure, it’s as funny and educational and telling as I remember. The problem? Bryson is fixated on takes great joy in regaling readers with tales of all the dangerous/poisonous creatures that inhabit the land Down Under. As someone who is a bit of an arachnophobe, this is NOT helpful.

(Separately, what does it mean that I’ve managed to weave phobias into EVERY post this week? I’m scaring myself. Is that a phobia too?)

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News Flash: apparently when I’m sick, I’m cranky.

5 Feb

Admittedly, I was feeling rather sorry for my sick self yesterday when I reported on my recent experience at the library, so my tone was probably a bit more bitchy/whiny than pithy. In fact, it’s hard to be pithy when you’re sick.

Anyway, it wasn’t one of my funnier posts. Unfortunately, it drew a record number of hits, apparently because a librarian stumbled upon it and tweeted it out, presumably to an audience of other librarians. And in case you hadn’t made the connection: librarians read.

The link was teed up as, “These posts make me so sad. Another lost library patron…” which left me scratching my head.

Did the tweet mean that the library had lost me as a patron or that I was a clueless human being? Was my post sad because of how it was written or because of the service I had received?

(I re-read my post and was embarrassed that my self-pity had come across as a mean-spirited assessment of the librarian’s mental capacity.)

Then I saw that this same tweeting librarian was playing with the idea of offering a reward for non-librarians to write something positive about libraries. And the thought that librarians feel like they have to pay for positive publicity made ME sad. Because the truth is, I love libraries.

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Computer says “no.”

4 Feb

Based on the unemployment statistics, it sounds like the market is filled with overly-qualified people seeking work. And yet I continue to run into people in customer-facing roles whose only demonstrable quality is a pulse.

Last night I went to the library to pick up a book I had put on hold months ago. My book club just selected it as our next pick, so imagine how thrilled I was to receive an email notifying me that the book was ready and waiting for me at the library. Awesome timing!

So yesterday, despite feeling like crap (meaning I was coming down with a wicked cold), I hoofed it to the library on my way home from work, anticipating the reward of a hot bath, mug of tea, and escape into the novel’s initial pages.

But the library had other plans for me. If the librarian helping me had had a sense of humor, she might’ve screamed, “You’ve been Punk’d!” and pretended Ashton Kutcher was going to pop out from under the counter. Instead, she just frowned at the computer screen and said, “Computer says it’s unavailable.”

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Review: When fiction jumps the shark.

8 Jan

Because my mantra is generally, “So many books, so little time,” I’ve found audiobooks are a great way to sneak an extra book in during the course of the month. So when we packed for Michigan, I hit the library and grabbed, “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” to entertain us on the drive.

About 30 minutes into it, I lost Alan. In part because his CD player was trying to eat the disc and the stress of its skipping tracks irritated him, but mainly because the narrator of the story is a dog.

Yes, you heard me: a dog.

It’s far-fetched, but I thought it was a fun and clever device… especially enjoyable for dog-lovers who would like to believe their pets are capable of complex thought and motivation akin to a human’s.

So I lost Alan but continued listening to the book after returning to DC. I just finished it this week, and would’ve given it a pretty positive review, had it not jumped the shark in the final chapters.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read this book and are planning to, then stop reading this because I’m about to give away a major plot twist.

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Glutton for punishment, or just plain glutton?

18 Mar

I love meat: steak, bacon, chicken wings… I’m a proud omnivore.

So will someone please tell me why I insist on reading books that flip my stomach and plague me with guilt about environmental repercussions? Before I even crack the cover, I can anticipate 85% of the message. And my intention in reading these books isn’t ever to give up meat.

Yet here I am, reviewing Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, which I just recently finished reading. The horrors of factory farming aren’t news to me… I’ve read My Year of Meats, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and An Omnivore’s Dilemma (not to mention The Jungle) so I’m all too familiar with the cramped the living conditions, the engineered skeletal systems, the unnatural diets, the cruel methods of slaughter and the quantities of antibiotics and growth hormones these creatures are doused in.

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