Books read in December

Some good and not-so-good (cough*Twilight*cough) went on this month. Yay for spending more of the month at home rather than at work.

Finished
Map of Ireland. Stephanie Grant
Hard to read but lovely (and short) fictional story of a girl (who likes girls) from Southie during the busing crisis of the 1970s.

Twilight. Stephine Meyer.
Wow. Probably the worst writing I’ve read this year, and I don’t consider myself a picky reader. The story line was interesting and kept me reading to the end, but the main characters’ real ages (17 year old girl and 90-something man) was a bit pedophilistic for me. That said, I may read the second book to see 1) if the writing improves, 2) if the plot line gets worse or better.

CatSpeak. Bash Dibra with Elizabeth Randoph
How you cat talks to you and you can talk to your cat. Good advice on training and good illustrations.

The Whole Pet Diet: 8 Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats. Andi Brown.
I’ve been reading a lot about creating your own pet food and I really like this book. In it, you spend eight weeks making small changes that supposedly make for a much healthier and happier cat. Or dog.

In the Woods. Tanya French.
After reading The Likeness I eagerly looked forward to this book which is the first book. There was quite a long queue at the library for it. I wasn’t disappointed. I enjoyed the main character, to my surprise not the main character from The Likeness but instead her partner. The plot line moved rapidly and I enjoyed not only figuring out whodunit, but also the main character’s relationship with his partner. A book I made time to read.

Shutter Island. Dennis Lehane.
After I finished this book I really hated it. I felt manipulated by the plot and annoyed about all the tension I had built up in the process of reading it. It doesn’t help that I tend to absorb books while reading and dissect them later so I never saw the plot twist coming. Still, creepy setting, good main characters, clever plot. This is probably an average book but I didn’t like it so it gets one star.

New Moon. Stephanie Meyer.
In the second book, I figured out my main problem with this series. I find Meyer’s writing style incredibly distracting, but in New Moon I discovered that when Edward is around, her writing style gets worse. Without Edward, her writing style is the annoying drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet. But when Edward appears the pipe breaks and bad prose gushes onto the page. I also realized that I DON’T LIKE EDWARD CULLEN! He’s moody and arrogant and boring. Yay that he is very smart and incredibly good looking etc. etc. etc. Despite those very surface things, he ultimately bugs. I think Meyers still hasn’t fleshed him out as a character unlike Bella or (the vastly superior to Edward) Jacob.

It may have to do with temperature preference, but I would choose a hot-blooded werewolf over a cold-marble vampire any day.

Midway through the book I thought, “Dammit, she’s got me again. Her interesting plot line has triumphed over her bad prose.” But by the end I was so annoyed with the bad prose I had no interest in the rest of the series.

The Road. Cormac McCarthy.
When your life is pared down to a survival level–shelter, food–what would your days contain? Like other McCarthy books the prose was easy to read, but the story itself was hard. One of those books I will be thinking about for the next week. There is a movie, but I will not see it. Some images were hard enough to view in my head. I don’t need to see them in their cinematic glory.

I Capture the Castle. Dodie Smith.
I saw this movie when it came out in 2003 and enjoyed it. As I was buying books this summer for my trip, this was remaindered at Powell’s and I grabbed it. However, I only recently picked it up and what a treat! The narration is absolutely sparkling and there are many funny scenes. The plot does an excellent job of chronicling family life–although this family is a bit odder than others–and also falling in love for the first time. The prose does an excellent job of painting pictures of an English village, a manor house, and 1930s London. The characters are well developed and likable through their quirks. Recommended.

Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon. Brad Hudson.
Not really a book for beginning runners, but for people who have some idea what their 3K, 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon and Marathon pace is. I am not one of those people, but I like his message about not being a slave to your training plan. He also discusses how people are built to run many miles, but not super fast, or are super fast, but don’t run many miles as well. The book includes many training plans.

Started but did not finish
Real Food for Cats. Patti Delmonte
Recipes for your cat’s food that don’t come from a can.

Think Like a Cat. Pam Johnson-Bennett

Lamb in Love. Carrie Brown.
I enjoyed The Rope Walk earlier this year and was sad that yet another of Carrie Brown’s novel didn’t move me. I couldn’t get in to the main characters and set the book down.

Not quite dead. John MacLaughlin Gray.
Normally I like a nice historical fiction about real characters you think wouldn’t meet. However, I did not like this, and gave up on it.

The Woman Warrior. Maxine Hong Kingston.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I haven’t read this and even more embarrassed to admit that I started it and put it down early on. I just slogged through the grim landscape of The Road and I wasn’t ready for the opening scene. I’ll pick it up later.

Did not even start.
The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness and the Creation of Roget’s Thesarus. Joshua Kendall
Did you know that, among other things, Roget invented the log-log slide rule? I was researching the slide rule and checked this book out thinking it would have a bit about that, and that is exactly what it had: two paragraphs.

Homecoming. Bernhard Schlink.
Sometimes the sentence “translated from the German” doesn’t really pull me in. I never even opened this, though it sat near my chair for three weeks.

Letters written in December

I want to say that I went out with a bang, but here is what happened: I got tired. The first two days of December I wrote two letters to go in my packet to be mailed off to LEX. Then I decided to count my Christmas Cards as part of this project, even though they were more of an assembly line project than actual letter writing. There were 25 cards, so that brought me to December 28-31. Only four more letters were needed to complete the year. I didn’t write them.

So the month breakdown looks like this:
December 1. LEX.
December 2. LEX
December 3-27. Christmas Cards.
December 28. No one
December 29. No one
December 30. No one
December 31. No one.

Alas.

Highlights of Books read in 2008

I present to you the
Patricia Collins Read This Year Books Award.
These awards are brought to you by me and by Goodreads, who not only gives me an electronic place to store a list of the books I read this year, but also shows me a handy picture of each book’s cover (and so much more.) Without further ado–

Most “literary” novel I loved:
The History of Love: A Novel.

My favorite book of the entire year:
The Monsters of Templeton

Best enchanting plot with a friendship I am jealous of:
The Rope Walk

Best guilty pleasure with long, long paragraphs:
10 Days in the Hills

Best obsession, as well as characters I want to marry:
Dennis Lehane’s
Patrick Kenzie/Angie Gennario Novels

Best painter of graphic pictures with least amount of words written:
Also
Best book that made me afraid to go to sleep:
The Road

Best trip back to hormone-fueled early love:
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Best chronicle of the thoughts and motivations of the minds of college students:
Also
Best book to get lost in the writing style:
I Am Charlotte Simmons

Best premise:
The Likeness

Best futuristic sci-fi feminist novel:
He, She and It

Best surprise and delightful story, recommendable to your eldest aunt and mother:
I Capture the Castle

Best two books about eating that everyone should read:
In Defense of Food
Real Food

Best “oh wow, cool!” book.
Also
Best, “hmmm, I never knew that” book
Body Drama

Best hope for those of us who were never “wunderkinds”
My Life in France

Best book used to plan my DC trip
Washington in Focus

Best book edited by my radio boyfriend:
New Kings of Nonfiction

Worst book I read:
Also
Series I will most likely read all of, even though it annoys me
Twilight

You can find my reviews, as well as the names of the authors by clicking on the “books” link in the tag cloud.

Dear Multnomah County Library,

Hi there. I know you are pretty busy being the most utilized library of cities our size and everything, but I have a small wish that I am hoping you will fulfill. I’m sure you probably think it is helpful to package entire TV series as one multi-disk package for people to check out. After all, it is easier to check out and watch an entire season of, say The Office Season Four over a three week period than it is to try and reserve say, disk one of The Office Season Four, watch it, return it, and reserve disk two.

But here is the deal. When handed all four disks of Season Four at the same time, I tend to want to watch all four disks right away. I have no self control. It’s like in Old Yeller, when the boy who doesn’t like Old Yeller ties the hunk of meat low enough so Old Yeller could eat it, but Old Yeller is Old Yeller and the next morning hasn’t touched the meat thus gaining the boy’s esteem and further winning our hearts? Except I’m not Old Yeller. Were I the dog in that situation, the morning would find the rope hanging slack and me sleeping off the meat food coma. With an entire season of a DVD that I can have for three weeks I will inevitably finish it before the first week is out.

I’ve recently checked out the series Sports Night, which I remember reading was good when it was playing on TV (where they only air one episode per week if you are lucky) but I wasn’t really watching a lot of TV at that time. It turns out that the buzz I heard lo those 10 years ago was right on. Likable characters, snappy dialog, zany-but-real situations, and every episode some character manages to bring up some random obscure topic to become obsessed with. I’m enjoying it tremendously. And therein lies the problem. The Sports Night DVD is not just one season, but the entire series. Six disks! 40-something episodes! I know my lack of self-control isn’t your problem but if only you would just give me one disk at a time I would be so much better off. Netflix operates that way. So do the movie rental stores. But you, oh generous library. You give me everything at once.

So think about it. More packaging, I know, and more checking in and out etc. But if all your various television series were packaged individually, just think of the boost in circulation numbers.

Sincerely,
Patricia Collins.
Proud Multnomah County Library Patron.

Whew. Thank goodness for the guidlines.

Okay, these are probably the most boring posts ever, but they are really keeping me in line. This morning, after not sleeping well last night, I really wanted to just go back to bed. But I couldn’t do that because I would have to mention it in the guidelines report. Also, as you will see below, I didn’t really meet my work requirement or my exercise requirement yesterday so I have already made plans to come closer to meeting both of them today. I’m on day 11 or so of these guidelines and I haven’t collapsed in food coma yet, nor have I lost a whole day doing nothing. I’m finding a good balance between work and leisure. So thank goodness for posts about guidelines.

  • Up and dressed to the shoes. Did it.
  • 1 hour study math test. I did
  • 1 hour blogs. I did.
  • 1 hour exercise. It was pouring when I got up and I put it off. Which means I didn’t do it.
  • 4 hours work. Hmmm. There was a good half hour or more of picking up. And, if you count doing my laundry I totally met this guideline. However, in doing my laundry what I was really doing was watching multiple episodes of Sports Night. So I didn’t really meet this goal.
  • Keep up with dishes and picking up. Yes
  • Nap maximum time 30 minutes. No nap.
  • Eat when hungry stop when full. Yep
  • Plan food the day before. Yes
  • Fruit and vegges watching movies. Yes.

All in all, not a bad day. And Sports Night is a great show.

Three sentence movie reviews–City of Ember.


It has been a very long time since I have watched a science fiction/fantasy movie. Though a little long near the end, this was a delightful, suspenseful, well acted, well designed movie. Perfect for families.

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2008/city_of_ember_ver2.html

Sunday and guidelines.

Watching TV on DVDs = crack. Especially when it is a half-hour sitcom. I sit down to watch two shows and four hours later I’m still sitting there. This was a mildly unmotivated day.

  • Up and dressed to the shoes. Did it.
  • 1 hour study math. Did it.
  • 1 hour blogs. Did it.
  • 1 hour exercise. 45 minutes riding my new bike home. Plus some walking to and from the train. Did it.
  • 4 hours work. I probably got an hour and a half in. It could have been more, but see above for my excuse.
  • Keep up with dishes & picking up. Nope. See above.
  • Nap maximum 30 minutes. I did not nap today. Surprisingly as I went to bed very late last night due to the joy of Contra Dancing.
  • Eat only when hungry, stop when full. Did it.
  • Plan food the day before. Did it.
  • Fruit and veggies while watching movie. I used my virtual “one free popcorn” coupon tonight. Then I had two oranges. We’re sort of awash in fruit right now.

Overall, not bad. I get a goodly amount done during the morning. I’d like to say that I am going to limit my TV viewing today, but I would be lying.

Three sentence movie reviews–Tully


An understated story about the sometimes-rough transition from adolescence to adulthood set on a family farm in Nebraska. Sometimes I find a movie and I can’t imagine how I and the movie could have existed at the same time for so long and I wasn’t aware of it. Excellent acting all around and filled with many tiny moments of joy, I highly recommend this.

poster from: http://moviegoods.com/movie_product_static.asp?master_movie_id=34256

Guidlelines and Saturday

A bit of a weird day…

  • Up and dressed. Did this
  • 1 hour study math. Did this
  • 1 hour blogs. Did this. Mostly prepping pictures for posting. That takes a bit of time.
  • 1 hour exercise. I jogged for 26 minutes and also did two hours of contra dancing.
  • 4 hours work. I had about three hours. I kept fooling around on the computer and also, see Nap.
  • Keep up with dishes/picking up. I unloaded the dishwasher and hand-washed the dishes by the sink. When it is just me and I’m not doing a lot of cooking, it makes more sense to wash them by hand.
  • Nap maximum time 30 minutes. I set out to do this, but failed. I set my timer for 30 minutes and feel asleep on the couch. I awoke an hour later and checked to see how much time was left on the timer. Inexplicably, there were almost 13 minutes left, but the timer was not running. I hit start to see if the batteries were wonky, but it ran just fine. I concluded that during my sleep, I turned the timer off. Having already exceeded my guideline, I rolled over and slept for another hour. That cut into my work time.
  • Eat only when hungry and stop when full. I had a bigger lunch than planned and thus wasn’t hungry for dinner. So I fulfilled the first half of this after not fulfilling the second. Not ideal, but better than not fulfilling either.
  • Plan food the day before. Food was planned. Sadly, I did not stick to the plan.
  • Fruit and veggies while watching movie. No movie.

Overall, aside from the nap fiasco, this was a good day.