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Today in My History

2000: Wednesday with I.W.
Tiny Little Men
2002: My Generous Friends
2003: Take Time to Smell the Manure
2004: Coming Clean
2005: Don't Fence Me In
2007: Singing Over Bones
2008:  On the Naming of Things
2009:  Brianna is One
2010:  Tilting at Windmills
2011:  You Want Fries with That?

Bitter Hack
Updated: 3/28
"True West"

Books Read in 2012
 Updated: 3/29
"Cutting for Stone"

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My 70th Year



30 March 2012

It was the best of books.
It was the worst of books.

My project of reading a book a day whenever I'm working at the book store is going well.  The reason I am able to complete a book a day is that I look specifically for books which are no more than about 230 pages, and if it has somewhat larger type and wider spacing between lines, so much the better.  I've read at least a book a day but, with criteria like that, I'm not reading deep philosophical tomes or great literature.

The book I read this week, "Girl Cook" was maybe the lightest of the lightweights I have read since I began this project.  I could see easily that I could finish it in the time I was there and I was intrigued by the promise of a glimpse into what happens in restaurant kitchens.  But I don't, as a general rule, choose chick lit to read and so I really skimmed through it pretty quickly because the story didn't much interest me.

The only real piece of information I got out of it was that salads are mixed by (one hopes) carefully washed hands rather than utensils before being piled on your salad plate.  (I should try that.  It would definitely mix the salad dressing better than salad tongs do!)

On my Kindle, I have been reading "Cutting for Stone," by award-winning author (and physician) Abraham Verghese, a 600+ page book (which is why it has been taking me so long) which traces the lives of twin boys, born under horrific circumstances, and growing up in Ethiopia under the rule of Emperor Haile Selasse.   (aside:  The name  "Haile Selasse" does NOT appear in "Girl Cook"!!)

To attempt to compare the two books is ludicrous.

How do you compare descriptions like:

She's one of those anorexically thin girls who's always making a big public deal about her enormous appetite and constant milk shake consumptions.  I have a bad habit of checking her ass every time her back is turned.  Where is the cellulite? where?


His face and jug ears resembled a figure a child might draw with crayon on butcher paper.  But the details were beyond a child: the fine arbor of blood vessels on his cheeks; muttonchop sideburns dyed boot-polish black; the white ring of arcus senilis around his pupils; gray eyebrows that betrayed his pretense of youthfulness.  She wondered how a man could look in the mirror and not see the absurdity of his own appearance.

It wasn't until I was in the middle of "Girl Cook" yesterday that I realized how much I missed really good writing.  I am a lover of words, an appreciator of the way good writers can twist phrases, paint word pictures, tell a good yarn and hook you in. 

Isn't this just a wonderful word picture?

That very night the wind picked up, the leaves were swishing and rustling and by morning a squall arrived, heralding the long rains.

I want to write like that!  (I even forgive him for writing, "Death is the cure of all disease...No one is prepared for news like this, no matter what.  I'm sixty-five years old. [emphasis mine] An old man.  I have had a good life.  I want to meet my Lord and Savior.")

You don't check how many pages there are to go when you are in the middle of a really good story, the way I did while reading "Girl Cook" yesterday.

(Apologies to author Hannah Mccouch, author of "Girl Cook," by the way. Actually for what it was it was well written  I have certainly read books which were much less literate, books which make me cringe for typos, mis-use of grammar, or just plain boring plot lines.  It's just that this was the very last book I read at the store, so it's still fresh in my mind.)

While I waste time doing lots of things around here during the day, I don't often just turn off everything to sit and read.  I don't know why.  It's certainly a better thing to do than watch mindless television, but I can multi-task while watching mindless TV and so I kid myself that I'm actually doing something worthwhile.   But today, I did just that.

I had taken a few minutes to read a bit from "Cutting for Stone" during my lunch and reached a pivotal moment, about halfway through the book, where suddenly it was impossible to put the book down.  I decided to take the day off and just read for the afternoon. 

What a wonderful indulgence!  I sat there with Polly in my lap, delirious because she actually had me all to herself for the whole afternoon, and I read until about 4 p.m., where, tears streaming down my face, I finished the book.

I'm not going to review it here, but will save that for my book review page but I just wanted to talk about how good it was to sit and to read, especially a book that is so beautifully written that you feel like you are doing something worthwhile, even if you're just sitting in a chair with a dog in your lap.


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A very good day



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