Being a human

Being a human

You know what we don’t talk about enough on this blog?

We don’t talk about BOOKS.

Here are the last four I read:

Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. I love this book! You learn a lot while laughing, what better book can you get? It was my father’s and marked here and there with the comments he liked to write in the margin. Some sentences were underlined, and I would wonder why. Inside the back flap, he had written down a few items he needed to pick up at the store.

Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen. This was also a wonderful book, full of magic and a beautiful thread of romance.

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith. I am eternally delighted by the success of Alexander McCall Smith. It makes me believe again.

And right now I am reading: Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott. Here are my two favorite quotes so far from this book:

“Being human can be so dispiriting. It is a real stretch for me most of the time.”

“These are the words that I want on my gravestone: that I was a helper, and that I danced.”

(They aren’t the words I want on my tombstone. I want something else. However, it makes one think. Because I do not think anyone would put that I was a helper, for example. That I danced, yes. But not the helper part. So that is something to think about.)

Also, I am re-reading Wyrd Sisters again, because my daughter keeps taking all my Terry Pratchett books off the shelf and dumping them in my lap, then climbing in my lap to read one page (the title page–she likes the colors), then climbing back off to put them away again, usually more crumpled than they were before. During this process, I usually sneak a glimpse of a line or two, and then I get hooked, and after she wrenches the book from my bereft hand, I sneak back in the evening and continue reading it again. I try not to do this when she is falling asleep near me, because I start laughing so hard she wakes up again.

That a mind like Terry Pratchett’s has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is another thing that makes you think, isn’t it.

So–what about you?� What are YOU reading?� Is it good?� Would you recommend it?

  • Recently, I have gone off on a Philippa Gregory tangent- not usually my favorite genre (although I don’t really think I have one), but I was given one of her books for Christmas, and found myself not being able to put it down (but not nearly as much as yours, Laura!!!!). 🙂 I read “The Other Boleyn Girl” and it was incredible- can’t wait for the movie (but they never can compare, though, can they? Hope it’s good). Looking into the history of Anne and her sister, Mary, you can almost imagine most of this historical fiction to be actual fact. There are such large gaps in the lives of the Tudor family that historians don’t know the truth about, and this is one imaginative theory that makes for a fun and romantic, and scandalous, read!!
    Now I was given another of her books, “The Queens Fool: A Novel”, and it is not half bad. I love the historical fiction, and was always intrigued by the Tudor family history and scandals (and boy! were there scandals, and back-stabbing, and treason, and heresy, and romance, and infidelity, and… you get the point!!). I liked the Boleyn one more, only because it is more realistic, while “The Queens Fool” is a bit more fantasy with the “Sight” that the main character has about seeing glimpses of the future and seeing angels. But it unfolds the stories of Queen Mary and Elizabeth and their (supposed) relationship with each other. It is hard to discern the truth from the fiction, but that is what makes them fun. You can picture about 98% of it being all true, and it is fun to imagine the world in those days and the people of royalty. will give you a run down of her info and books (sorry, Laura, I should never give out book info unless it is yours!!! EVER!!! Forgive me, but I have given yours out plenty- I promise!) So, you asked, and that is what I have been reading lately to fill the void until another WONDERFUL book from Laura Florand is released 🙂 🙂 🙂

    January 22, 2008 at 10:50 am
  • dharmagirl

    i’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s non-fiction *Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.* I’m only one chapter in but I’m loving it–her dedication to eating well and really creating a food network inspires me. I’m also reading Jane Austen’s *Persuasion* in conjunction with the PBS marathon of complete Jane Austen films…I realize that I’ve never read *Persuasion* or *Northanger Abbey,* the first two films in the series. Now I’ll need to read the latter, as that film was on this weekend…I would rather read the novels first, but didn’t plan well:) And now we’re about to start a new semester and I’m teaching a multi-cultural American lit class so I’ll be reading Morrision, Silko, Esquivel, Ozeki, Lahiri, and Nyugen with my students. All great novels, and all have a food sub-theme (hoorah!) Thanks for sharing your latest reads!

    January 22, 2008 at 11:08 am
  • I used to read Philippa Gregory! I haven’t picked up one of her books in a while, but they are good, you’re right! And it’s perfectly fine to share book info on other books you like! I asked you to, after all. 🙂

    I hadn’t realized Barbara Kingsolver had this new book out. How do I miss some of these things? Thanks for mentioning it, dharmagirl. It sounds like my kind of book!

    January 22, 2008 at 1:18 pm
  • I’ve been having problems reading books lately. My attention span, not so great. I’m reading The Flawless Skin of Ugly People by Doug Crandell right now, and I’m re-reading my way through the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. I’ve read the first two so far, and Farmer Boy is next (I’m getting them from the library, and had a gap there because it wasn’t in). I want to buy the whole series as a set, but for now, I’m borrowing them. I keep saying things to my kids like “Imagine you got ONE TOY for Christmas. And a TIN CUP. And you were HAPPY ABOUT IT!!” and “Suppose you finally found some sparkly beads at a Native American camp and your mother made you GIVE THEM TO THE BABY!!” And Vaughan’s eyes gets big and he says, “Not fair!” and I look around at the toy warehouse that is my home and sound like all moms since the dawn of time as I mutter under my breath about how good they have it. 🙂

    January 22, 2008 at 1:33 pm
  • Anne-Gaëlle

    “Marilyn dernières séances” by Michel schneider is the book I’ve just started to read.It relates the relationship between Marilyn Monroe and her last psychanalist. Actually I decided to read more about her because of one of my favorite book “La malédiction d’Edgar” by Marc Dugain. This book is a fiction based on true documents which deals about the relationship between the FBI and all the American presidents from Roosvelt to Reagan.Of course, it speaks about Marilyn when it’s question of Kennedy…
    …may be confusing, sorry, I prefer reading than writing…;)

    January 22, 2008 at 5:02 pm
  • I LOVE the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I used to read them over and over. Except Farm Boy, I only read that one a couple of times, what with it having a BOY as the main character and all.

    My house is a toy warehouse as well. And we haven’t even been doing it as long as you!

    Sounds fascinating, Anne-Gaëlle! I don’t really know a whole lot about Marilyn Monroe–not as you must, after all that reading!–but I’ve always enjoyed her over-the-top persona in her films.

    January 22, 2008 at 7:41 pm
  • I put all of my books up on GoodReads with reviews after I read them – I’d love to have you gals as friends on GoodReads, too, if you’re there. My profile can be found at

    Anyway – right now, I’m reading 3 books: Dream of the Blue Room by Michelle Richmond (which is bizarre and heartbreaking and enchanting – I’m loving it so far!), Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (this is slow-going, I’ve been reading it for months, but that’s just because I need time to digest after each chapter – it’s so intense!!), and Zuleika Dobson or An Oxford Love Story by Max Beerbohm (which I’ve also been reading for months, because I dislike the main characters so it’s hard for me to get into the story, but I refuse to give up). I’ve recently finished Jumble Pie, a very cute e-book from Melanie Lynne Hauser of the Super Mom books fame – this is a book she wrote before the Super Mom books, and it got her signed by her agent, but it’s never sold. She loves it, and still hopes to publish it someday, but for now, she’ll e-mail you a PDF of it if you want to read it. Yay for free books! And right before that, I finished Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence, a memoir from Paul Feig, the creator of the awesomely fabulous TV show Freaks and Geeks that was on about 10 years ago.

    Laura – I have the Bill Bryson book in my to-read pile; I think it will be my next nonfiction book after I finish Reading Lolita in Tehran. I’m glad you liked it – I’ve been excited about reading it for a while!

    January 22, 2008 at 8:11 pm
  • Ooh I love Alexander McCall Smith! I’ve read, I think, 4 of the Ladies’ Detective Series. I have to get more. I’d also love to read that Anne Lamott book–sounds fabulous!

    Right now I’m reading the Italian version of “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, “Understanding Iraq” by William R. Polk, which is fascinating, “In the Land of God and Man” by Silvana Paternostro about growing up in Columbian high society and fighting against gender stereotypes (among other things), and Resistance by Anita Shreve.

    I hardly want to do anything else other than read these, they’re all *so* good.

    January 26, 2008 at 6:44 am
  • Well let’s see – Several of these I started before the turn of the year but this January I have read:

    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – a beautiful story of a man seeking redemption and of course humanizing a part of this globe that so many people have demonized. I handed it to hubby, you know, the SKIMMER, and he’s actually enjoying it too.

    Words in a French Life by Kristin Espinasse – it’s just like her website. Sweet vignettes. I only wish she’d added pronunciations for all the French words and not just the main ones.

    The Spiritual Gifts of Travel – this was a compilation. Eh. There were a few gems in it but not enough for me to recommend it.

    Murder with Puffins by Donna Andrews – a cozy mystery and southern humor to boot. One of my favorite new authors and this second in this series was as silly fun as the first

    A Writer’s San Francisco by Eric Maisel – I adored his A Writer’s Paris, which I bought, like your book Laura, because someone mentioned it on another blog. Tiny snippets of inspiration and love of place. I enjoyed this one just as much but I couldn’t pace myself and read through the whole thing way too quickly. It was like eating a dozen desserts a day instead of savoring one at a time each evening. San Francisco was the first city I learned to love, and I’ve always suspected (I can’t say I know since I haven’t been to every large American city – yet) that it’s the most European of all U.S. cities. Since I lived for almost two decades just north of the Golden Gate, I have a personal history with many locations and events in the city, but I was surprised at how much more there was of it for me to still discover.

    Murder in Montmartre by Cara Black – I’m now all caught up on this WONDERFUL series and have to wait for the hardcover to come into paperpack, I think in March (and Joshilyn’s new book comes out in March too!), I’m going through Aimee Leduc withdrawals. Weep.

    Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen – I just finished this last night. Or rather, at 4-something this morning. I probably wouldn’t have read this one but it’s the February choice for a book club I finally found in town. From the very first page I have been in awe of this author’s ability to spin a tale and bring such incredible voices to the page, not only her own but to each of her characters. These are characters I will NEVER forget. Walter and Queenie. Rosie laughing. Rosemary’s compassion. This is one of those books I want to shove into everyone’s hands and said “You MUST read this.”

    We actually have a couple of Bill Bryson on our shelves, both books I bought for hubby and never thought to read myself. I might have to rethink that. Oh, the toppling TBR pile! Garden Spells was recommended by another friend, so I bought it on sale hardcover and keep forgetting to read it but it’s something I’ve wanted to get to sooner rather than later. Being about green growing things, maybe it will be a good choice for dreary gray February. I’ve got Alexander McCall Smith’s first book in her mystery series, two copies in fact accidentally – anyone need a copy?) but haven’t read her yet. I loved Annie Lamott’s Bird by Bird and I’ve read two more of her books before that – no, maybe three? One nonfiction of her first year as a mother and one (or two) fiction. I thought then that she was a gem but too much of her and she started to sound preachy to me. I might give her another try one of these days. I love Wyrd Sisters. The scene in the beginning with the three “girls”, makes me laugh just thinking about it. I know it’s fiction but I think Pratchett comes closest of all to pegging real witches. It’s all about the headology, with a bit of synchronicity thrown in for pizzazz. I love the image of your daughter bringing you books and then putting them back on the shelf. So sweet.

    Okay. I’ll stop now. It’s probably bad manners to make one’s comment longer than the orginal post!

    January 26, 2008 at 5:02 pm
  • Laume, you can post as long as you want! That’s fine by me! Great recommendations. I DEFINITELY have to try Cara Black. I trust your taste! I love Bill Bryson; probably anything you have by him would have you in stitches.

    Songatrice (bleeding espresso), thanks for the recommendations! That “In the Land of God and Man” sounds particularly fascinating!

    January 30, 2008 at 3:21 pm

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