When the night falls.

It’s been five days and 17 hours since the clock (well, Congress, really) bestowed its yearly gift: an extra hour of “daylight savings” time.

(Actually, I suppose it’s just letting us borrow that hour for the next six months. Or giving back what we borrowed then? Hmm, chicken or egg.)

This “fall back” doesn’t usually discombobulate me as much as the “spring forward,” but I’ve still been a little off kilter this week. Continue reading

Playing book club catch up.

I can’t remember if I told you, but I joined a book club back in March. It was actually an item on my life to-do list, though luckily the invite just came my way without much effort.

My grandmother was in a book club for years in her small, southern town, and I always idolized it. Once a month, they dressed, hosted a ladies luncheon and discussed what they’d been reading. Their book club was organized a bit differently than I’ve ever heard:  the 12 members each selected a book at the beginning of the year, one per month, and then passed them around through the year so that everyone read all 12 books, but not at the same time. I think they discussed more than books too – like current events and, inevitably, the goings-on about town. We are more traditional. We choose a new title every month, one member at a time, and then we all read the same thing. It’s not as cost-efficient, but our discussions are centered on just one book. And we meet at a wine bar. Continue reading

A book I just can't stop talking about.

2012 is shaping up to be a banner year in the reading department. In the last month alone, I have burned through five full novels, a food narrative/cookbook and two unabridged audiobooks. Now I’m furiously working my way through a sixth novel before a book club deadline next weekend. I’m sure that pace can be attributed to my recent downtime, but also to a pent-up, post-school need to voraciously consume words, characters and stories.

Some of the selections have been enjoyable, some not so much. But one title was so special that I’m going to have to add it to my top 10 of all time, if not top 5. It is Ann Patchett’s “State of Wonder.”

I can’t always explain how I find the books I read, though Julie’s theory that books find you when you’re supposed to read them usually holds up. In that vein, I somehow came to reserve “State of Wonder” at the library. I know friends have posted it on Goodreads in the last year, and perhaps I also saw it on a “top” list from an email newsletter or newspaper book review. No matter its delivery, I haven’t been so engrossed in a book in quite a long time.

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On the road again.

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2012 has been treating you well so far.

My past several weeks have been spent relaxing, communing with family and friends, baking, clearing out the DVR and being generally productive during my days off. As is always the case at the holidays, I’ve also spent most of that time on the road. I’ve crisscrossed the Carolinas several times to see a friend’s new baby, to stay with family at the holidays and this weekend to recuperate at the beach after one week back at work. (Because, wow, it was a slap in the face after so much vacation.) Those are roads and routes I regularly drive, and I’ve usually been content to call friends or listen to whichever radio station is in service to help pass the time. Until now.

My friend Angie is an avid consumer of audiobooks, and frequently buys or rents them when she makes long trips. While I’ve always been a book reader, I was never all that interested in audiobooks. When I flew for work a couple of years back, I did take advantage of some free Audible selections and sporadically listened to them on my flights or on walks to work. But I was never hooked. There’s just something about a real book, holding the paper in my hands, absorbing the words on the page and completely concentrating on the story as I build it in my head. I viewed audiobooks as unnecessarily expensive, intangible, listened to while multitasking and, worst of all, abridged.
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Letting it flow.

Sometimes I get really bored.

It’s not that I don’t have a TON of things to do:  working full time, finishing my MBA, exercising my puppy, attending meetings and volunteering. Trying to pay attention to all of my loved ones. Dishes. Laundry. Sleeping. But I can find myself in a rut, trapped in endless days of running and routine. Boring.

My friend Melanie once told me it’s my restless Gemini nature, that we’re prone to boredom and need constant intellectual stimulation. That was after I complained of being so bored one Saturday that I put together a puzzle. (Yes, it was that bad.) And I was living in NYC of all places, home of continual sensory overload.

I do love learning new things, having thought-provoking conversations over wine or coffee, being in school (though not the homework), reading interesting articles on the web. But sometimes I’m just so exhausted by my own schedule that I’m only capable of laying on the couch staring blankly at a television for 12 hours. It’s then that I realize I need a jump-start, and soon. Keep reading »

Like an alcoholic in a liquor store.

I stopped by the library’s Friends of the Library book sale at lunch today, which was nerd-o-rama to say the least. Men and women who looked like they hadn’t seen the sun in a few weeks were running through the aisles with red eyes and crazy hair, stuffing books into their NPR tote bags. Luckily my crowd reflexes are still sharp, and I dodged a few of them before it got ugly.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m also a book nerd of the highest order. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of waking early on Saturdays and heading downtown to these enormous warehouses to spend the day book spelunking with my parents. I think we filled all the bookshelves in our new house that way.

When I moved to New York, I introduced both of them to the Strand. Big mistake, since I come by my bookaholism quite genetically. For us, just visiting that store is like being an alcoholic in a liquor store, a dieter in a chocolate shop, an addict in a pharmacy. I know my dad ordered their books online, and I made several car trips down with a boxload of special requests. I think that’s technically called trafficking. Luckily, in NYC you have to purge as much as you bring into your house, otherwise you’ll soon be sleeping on it. That curbed my “problem” for awhile, but now I have 2,000 square feet to fill. Be worried, very worried. Keep reading »

Reading List: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

During school, I read for fun at a snail’s pace. But luckily I was able to knock out a big chunk of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” during my recent beach escape.

A few weeks ago I finished “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” which was amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I was up until 5 a.m. one night reading it (on a weekend, thank goodness). I was initially engrossed by the general suspense, but then once I read “the scene,” I had to turn on all the lights and tv until I passed out from exhaustion. Keep reading »

There are signs everywhere.

Many of you know my “Eat Pray Love” story.

I have a habit of ignoring all signs that point me in a certain direction until they become so numerous that I say in exasperation, “Okay, fine!”

In the summer of 2007, I was fed up with my job, my city, life in general. Someone I know had read a little book called Eat Pray Love and raved about it …  then Oprah did a show on it … I saw an online ad on Facebook … there was a review in People. It was the beach read of the year. I’m sure I was thinking, “yeah, interesting,” but I went about my business.

Then one day I was shopping in the Barnes & Noble on 66th Street. I don’t even remember what I was buying, but I was in a hurry. As I made my way up to the checkout line, I turned around … and there was a full-wall display of Eat Pray Love.

Okay, fine.

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Obsessions: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Here’s what I’m obsessed with this week:

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson.

I’m sure you’ve heard about it – it’s quite the rage right now … well, maybe I’m a little late to the game. A coworker lent it to me, and I nonchalantly stuck it in my bag to Australia. I think I read about 4 pages during my 40+ hours on planes during the week. But then I picked it up one night and haven’t been able to put it down.

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