Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle

Although I've heard of L'Engle, I don't recall ever reading any of her books, even the more famous Wrinkle in Time. I got this book on a whim and now it's one I won't part with.

Circle is book one of the Crosswicks Journals. I had, wrongly, assumed this was fiction but found that this series of books are pulled from L'Engle's personal journals. Judging from the journals alone, what a fascinating, intelligent, and insightful woman! I ended up writing in this book quite a bit and have already went back and re-read passages. She speaks of living out at Crosswicks and co-owning, with her husband, the local general store in a small village. She's a writer who teaches and she does a great deal of teaching in this book, but it feels more like great conversation with a friend. L'Engle also details her failures, the times where her books were rejected by as many publishers as they were sent to. If someone like that has trouble getting published....

While she has been deemed a children's author, she takes a more practical approach and claims she's just a writer. If she feels a subject is too harsh or complicated, she will make it a children's book because children are more open and not yet close-minded to ideas. One of her main topics is how to help children be children and how to not keep trying to "save" them from the world. Very interesting ideas are put forth that make a lot of sense.

Looking forward to reading the other journals in the series.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gunn's Golden Rules by Tim Gunn

This is an instance where my Kindle is the best thing ever. I pre-ordered Gunn's book and boom! there is was on the day it came out. Love that.

This book is subtitled Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work. Naturally. As an avid fan of Project Runway, I often wish I had a Tim Gunn in my life. With this book, I kind of do. Gunn is a huge advocate of manners and I'm a somewhat less huge advocate of manners. We both agree that technology is getting in the way of people interacting with each other. People now live in their own little bubble that they forget there are humans around them and whoops, that was a human they just ran into without so much as an "Excuse me". Gunn realizes that he probably sounds like a schoolmarm and I do too. It's not that hard to just pay attention to the people around you, although it obviously IS that hard now.

Gunn shares many many behind the scenes stories, not just of PR, but of the fashion world. God bless the dishy man. He talks about his family, about how Make It Work came to life, and how to navigate the world ... nicely. While most of me agrees with him, I recognize that I suffer no fools and have no filter on my mouth. I have gotten much better at taking the high road in life, but I'm still apt to take the low road on occasion. A lot of Tim's advice I knew to be true. Yes, things would function so much better if people did have manners. Things would function better if I had better manners (although in today's society, I'm probably a schoolmarm too).

Tim is very frank about his past relationships and current single status. As one perpetually and happily single person, I want to give him a hug. Like he said, it's perfectly fine and normal to be happy and single. I've been preaching that for years!

I love fashion but often look like a clown dressed me, so I admire it from afar. Gunn is my mentor into the fashion world. May he keep writing books and being on my television to make this middle of Indiana girl feel like she can be fashionable and polite.

I Know I Am But What Are You? by Samantha Bee

The Daily Show being one of my favorite shows, this was a no brainer to read (or listen to, in my case). Bee read the audio book herself and, much like on the Daily Show, I ended going eh... or laughing hysterically.

Comedians are hit and miss with me for some reason. Bee IS funny, but I don't laugh out loud at, say, half of her work. I can chuckle, say "That was cute" and move on. But the other half has me laughing like a fool. When listening to an audio book in the car, without tinted windows, and laughing like a nut....well, I'm not surprised at the stares I get.

Bee illustrates her childhood in Canada and growing up trying to be an actress. Her stint as the lead in Sailor Moon, where she met her husband, Jason Jones, was funny and easily visualized. She runs us through her crazy cat lady period, her forced camping excursions with her dad and stepmom, and her trying times with gift giving. The funniest part was the Dude Ranch present for her husband. That part made me cry with laughter.