Read in May

“In an era in which everyone has a truth and the means to fling it around the world, an era in which knowledge is increasingly broad but seldom deep, maybe that’s the ultimate act of sedition: to pick up a single book and read it.” Leonard Pitts.

Let’s call this the month of reading books that have been made into movies…

Atonement. Ian McEwan.

The Hatbox Baby. Carrie Brown

Persepolis. Marijane Satrapi

Gone, Baby, Gone. Dennis Lahane

Lucky. Alice Sebold

The Painted Veil. W. Somerset Maugham. (25 May)

Started but didn’t finish.
I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company: A Novel of Lewis and Clark I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company: A Novel of Lewis and Clark by Brian Hall

My review

rating: 1 of 5 stars
I really, really wanted to like this book. Really. As a former history major, I should welcome such well-written first-person historical fiction about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. But I didn’t like this book. I didn’t like it 10 pages in and I didn’t like it after reading 50 pages. Hall wonderfully creates his characters: Lewis, Clark, Sacajawea and eventually Sacajawea’s husband, though I didn’t get that far. The language painted vivid pictures in my mind. The plot pacing was good. I just did not like it. I tried, but I didn’t.

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Rodale Book of Composting: Easy Methods for Every Gardener” src=”” border=”0″> The Rodale Book of Composting: Easy Methods for Every Gardener by Deborah L. Martin

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
All you need to know to get started composting. I skimmed this book and found it handy. I especially liked the many different plans that one could use to build home composers.

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Enneagram at Work” src=”” border=”0″> Getting Your Boss’s Number; And Many Other Ways to Use the Enneagram at Work by Michael J. Goldberg

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
A good “how to get along with people at work” sort of book, it also included interesting information about the nine Enneagram types. For instance, when I tell stories about my childhood my mother always says, “Why do you always remember the bad things?” Whichsurprises me, as I don’t think the story in question is particularly “bad”. It turns out that “eights” (of which I am one) have a whole narrative structure based on overcoming struggle. So while I’ve just told a great story about my triumph over whatever, my mother hears me complaining about my childhood. That was well worth the price of the book alone. (Although, full disclosure, I got it from the library and didn’t pay anything.)

A great book if you are at your wit’s end with dealing with someone at work, or in your life in general.

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Didn’t even start.
In America. Susan Sontag.

The Way West. A.B. Guthrie, Jr.

Open Me. A Novel. Sunshine O’Donnell


Police Officers. Lunch Ladies. Park Rangers. Nurses. Only some of the professions where people wear uniforms. And now: Administrative Coordinators at The Emerson School. Yes, that’s right, I’ve decided to assign myself a uniform.

It all started with one of my LEX friends. We write topic letters back and forth and one of her topics was, “do you dress for yourself or others?” In answering that question, I said that if I had my druthers, I would just wear a uniform to work every day. I’ve had several jobs that require a uniform and I’ve really enjoyed wearing them. When I wore a uniform, I would get up in the morning and I already know what I was going to wear.

“Hey!” I thought to myself a few days later, “I could just wear a uniform.” And so I did.

So this is it:
I have three pairs of Dockers black pants, four shirts from Eddie Bauer in “deep basil” and–what I am most excited about–I now own two cute black sweaters that I really like wearing. I bought some clogs, too. We shall see how we get along. I already have a few black skirts that I can wear when I feel like it.

When the weather turns colder, if I still like wearing the uniform I will buy some long-sleeved shirts and sweaters. I’m pretty excited about this venture. I’ve told my co-workers at work and they are amused/supportive. We shall see how long it takes before any of the parents or children at school say anything.

Also! I treated myself to some new Keen shoes. I really, really love them. And I’m allowed to wear them with the uniform, too.

Review of the Painted Veil

The Painted Veil The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Not only was jury duty fun, but in chatting with one of my fellow jurors we got to talking about books made into movies. We discussed Atonement and she asked me if I had seen the Painted Veil. I had, but hadn’t read the book and so the next day she gave me her copy.

I didn’t seek out the book after seeing the movie, because, as mentioned before I’m a lazy reader and don’t like to work while reading. For me, many authors published before 1950 require more attention that I’m willing to give. Not this one. This was a very readable book and the internal thought process of the characters were fascinating. My favorite book/movie difference was the “did you leave your toupee?” question as the lovers were hoping to avoid detection. I also found the descriptions of the babies in the Chinese orphanage interesting. More than once they were described as “not quite human” I hope that we have evolved to the point where we find babies around the world darling, rather than “not quite human.”

Once again, the book does a much better job illustrating the internal shifts in the main character. Not surprisingly, this was a much better book than movie.

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Things neglected because of my Math class.

Well, the blogs, as you may have noticed. But also reading the entire paper. Every morning I arrange the paper in the following order: “How we live” section (formerly known as the Living, this section has the very important advice columns and the comics as well as the “fluffy” parts of the paper, including my TV review boyfriend Peter Ames Carlin.) After the Living section comes the Metro, then the Business section and after that the Front Page. That way, I can read my way from inconsequential (my favorite) to the local news to the national and international. But because of the Math class, some days I don’t even make it through the local section, much less to the international. That’s annoying because two days later I don’t understand what half of the letters to the editor are talking about.

I also don’t have as much time to garden, or read. The math class is necessary, but it’s not exactly pleasurable. But non-Math class things have been happening. I just don’t get to post about them. Alas. Maybe soon I will get to at least tell about the books I have been reading. And the movies I’ve seen. I’ve just watched three especially good ones. Not to mention the fact that I’m still writing letters and getting letters. Why today, I just got three postcards from one Sara Sterner. And I just spent 2 1/2 days as juror #4 on a civil case. That was fun. And Matt graduates June first.

So that’s what’s going on now.

Until later,

Review of Lucky

Lucky Lucky by Alice Sebold

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
A hard book to read, but an important one. Sebold takes us through the journey that began when she was raped at the end of her freshman year of college. The moment-by-moment description of the rape was particularly fascinating, though not pleasant to read. I made the mistake of starting the book right before bed and it kept me awake for awhile. It was disheartening to realize that Sebold was the “perfect rape victim” and still had a tough time getting a conviction.

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Jury Duty!

I’ve been waiting my whole adult life to get called to Jury Duty. You could say I’ve been chomping at the bit to do my civic duty. Way back in 1997 I was called. It was a perfect time to miss a day of school; my classes had just started and there wasn’t much going on. But all I was required to do was call a number the day of and see if I had to come in. Which I didn’t . So that wasn’t any fun.

10+ years later I get called again. This time: Jackpot! I not only got to go down to the courthouse and sit in the big room with the comfortable chairs, but my name got called and I got to experience voir dire and then! I got to be on the jury! It wasn’t the most exciting case–a civil case where we had to decide if the injuries the plaintiff sustained in a motorcycle accident in 2005 were limiting her activities today–but I enjoyed the entire experience. We had a great judge and it was fun to see how an actual courtroom compared to what happens on t.v.

In my case a lot of the procedure was the same, but what the lawyers said wasn’t quite as polished as in the movies. It makes sense, though. In the movies the actors get to memorize lines that someone else has written. Actual lawyers have to actually talk off the top of their heads. Also, when one lawyer objects and both of them and the judge go into chambers to discuss the matter? We don’t get to find out what they are talking about. The most surprising thing to me was that the jury could ask questions of the people on the stand. There was a whole procedure involved, but all the questions that were submitted by my jury were asked and answered. It provided extra insight into the case we wouldn’t have had.

For the deliberations portion, I got to be the Presiding Juror. That’s what they are calling the Jury Foreman these days. I got to help run deliberations and to write our findings on the official sheet of paper. And then I got to hand that piece of paper to the clerk so the judge could read it. I enjoyed deliberations and thought that people were fair and thoughtful. Afterwards, the judge came back to the jury chambers and we got to ask him questions about the case, which turned out to be very enlightening.

Overall, it was a fabulous experience and I’m glad I was picked.

This house.

This house is down the street from where I live and I love it. Big porch, huge back yard, right on the Max line. So why does no one live here? When I moved to this street in 2007 I assumed that the absentee owners were getting ready to put it on the market. The house was painted, it got new windows and a new roof. Someone comes once per week to keep the yard up. I waited for the “for sale” sign to go up, but it never did and the house has remained empty.