Sunday, June 28, 2009

Would you believe "T is for Trespass"?

Seriously, this series by Sue Grafton has always been a beachside, no deep thinking required read, not literary and not particularly noteworthy. Yes, I am a book snob. I've usually read each title over the last ten years purely because the setting is local and I like picking out the locations I know (her character's residence is the same street as my favorite place to stay in the world).

So, to get the new one for ten cents at the used book sale was a treat, and I tucked it away. My mom grabbed it and raved. How could that be? An actual rave? THAT good? No way.

I read it yesterday, start to finish. It IS that good. No spoilers but seriously the best of her entire series. Sort of a anticlimactic ending but her eye for details and personality types and traits was uncanny. Really, really good.

It still doesn't require any deep thought, but it's a fun read. What's with deep thoughts anyway? Additionally, it's about elder abuse and scams on the elderly, which leads to some shocking revelations on how easy it is to manipulate the elderly. Sad. True. Read!

Monday, June 22, 2009

sweet sleep, some favorite words

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. Victor Hugo

These is only one thing that people like that is good for them: a good night's sleep. Edgar Watson Howe

A good laugh and a long sleep are the doctor's best cures. Irish Proverb

Life is too short to sleep on low thread count sheets. Leah Stussy

A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow. Charlotte Brontë

It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it. John Steinbeck

I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does. Jorge Luis Borges

For the happiest life, rigorously plan your days, leave your nights open to chance. Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know? Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fun Stuff!

Great websites for a laugh: exactly like it sounds check out the headlines. terrible mistakes in photos, news, etc:
such as a cotton ball display in a pharmacy that says "Celebrate Black History month" cats are taking over the world, one lolcat at a time sometimes raunchy, but sometimes funny eavesdropping hard to explain photos and captions

Some killer new CD's (bet you've never heard of them!):
Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear (sort of a Jeff Buckley-Queen-late Beatles sound)

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by Phoenix: sounds like indie rockabilly with pop bounce...happy music! Sort of like if Paul McCartney/Wings (don't mock me!) and the Stray Cats met up with the Indigo Girls and jammed.

Baroque Guitar by Julian Bream (want to pretend you're at Starbucks while stuck at home? this is sort of atmosphere music)

Day & Age by The Killers (modern but sounds a bit like Thompson Twins but less techno)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Breathe, by Tim Winton

I just finished this yesterday...I won't review it. It's too complicated and too personally relevant for me to comment on.

I will say that this is the first Winton novel that I have read (pub. 2008) that is a simple story, start to finish, with no flashbacks or alternating viewpoints. Of course it's set in Australia, and touches on surfing, friendship, mentors, and how new insight can affect your judgment of a person's value and meaning in your own life.

It also challenged my own preconceptions on what constitutes abuse, and the factors that can alienate us from our own individuality.

'Nuff said.

Giorgos Seferis quote

"Don't ask who's influenced me. A lion is made up of the lambs he's digested, and I've been reading all my life."

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

This book sat on my shelf a shamefully long time before I decided to read it. I was afraid it was a self-help book, that all important promise on how to be happy. I hate self help books. Either they are painfully obvious or leave you racked with guilt. And apparently, it's a uniquely American trait to constantly analyze if we are happy or not, and constantly question what would make us happier.

In either case, I put this one off. I wish I hadn't.

This is most definitely NOT a self help book on how to be happy. It's a study of the world's happiest places, by country, and the author, a correspondent for NPR, explores the regions and tries to assess why these places are noted for their happiness (he also visits places that rank low on the happiness scale). He visits, in which must be the coolest job ever, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Qatar, Bhutan, India, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, the UK, and finally the US.

He goes out, meets people, explores their culture, and really gets into their real life. He doesn't stay in hotels, he tries to room with people he either knows or friends of friends. I have yet to find other books by this author, but I'm going to look. His style is breezy, sarcastic, and much of his research is backed by studies that he quotes extensively. Lots of insights on what makes people happy, and it's definitely not money.

He surmises from his experiences that it is the culture of a locale, the history that the residents exist in, that make their lives happier and more meaningful. Being aware of their place in history, the significance of their architecture and geography, and a pride in their language contributes much towards personal satisfaction (which he explains by the example of Qatar that has money but no culture to speak of). Interaction with each other rather than isolation accounts for much of the happiness they experience (again, so much for my hermit-like theory of happiness!). This is really a must read book, if not for the insights on joy, at least for this man's entertaining writing and wit.

One insight that he has is my favorite quote of the book, something he discovered in Switzerland: "Trusting your neighbors is especially important. Simply knowing them can make a real difference in your quality of life. One study found that, of all the factors that affect the crime rate for a given area, the one that made the biggest difference was not the number of police patrols or anything like that but, rather, how many people you know within a fifteen-minute walk of your house."