A Month of Reading – Day 11, Negative Space

This is the eight post in “A Month of Reading

December eleventh.  I’ll tell you what I’m NOT reading.  Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown.  It’s a self-helpy, creative inspiration book that focuses on helping you break through your fear and shame.  It’s less touchy-feely than it sounds, and many people recommended it to me, and I’ve already had a breakthrough or two reading some of it, but I got to a certain point and put it aside.  I think maybe it stirred things inside me that were, in fact, daring, and I got too scared of those things, and so now I avoid the book.  It’s still on my nightstand, under Night Fall (turns out that title is two words, not one, which shows you how much I care about it) and a biography of Dorothy Parker, which moved from the bathroom to the nightstand when it started to get more interesting.

I haven’t been reading shopping websites, which is notable because it is now 2 weeks until Christmas and I have thus far NOT done any Christmas shopping.  I did pick up one gift today at Rite Aid, but the bulk of what I need to get and prepare consists of Amazon and Target purchases.  I’m going to make this post short tonight so I can get to that before I pass out.

I also haven’t been reading the Shutterfly website to figure out how to start a special page for a flag football team.  That is a job for which I volunteered and I have failed, daily, in favor of errands and writing blog posts and dicking around on Facebook.

So, tomorrow I won’t be dicking around on Facebook.  I have presents to order and elfin mischief to arrange and clothes to fold and children to form into kind, smart humans.

Here’s what I did read today:

Book Talk: *Flight Behavior* by Barbara Kingsolver

I love Florinda’s open-minded approach and I’m totally getting this book.

A Month of Reading – Day 7-10, Club

This is the seventh post in “A Month of Reading

December tenth.  Turns out I didn’t have time to write daily over the weekend. I was reading though, of course.  I even attended book club last night, where we discussed “wild,” and it was very interesting to hear the very varied opinions among a group of ten well-educated adult women.  Some of the members actively hated it.  I was quiet for the first part of the discussion because I loved it so very much and I didn’t want to argue my case.  That would have felt like a betrayal, I thought.  Or I would have cried, which is dumb.  There’s no crying in book club.

Instead I drank my wine and kept an open mind as one after another of my friends made fun of Cheryl Strayed and how stupid she was when she was 26 and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail by herself without preparing adequately.  They admitted that the passages about her mother’s death were powerful, and the section about putting her mother’s beloved horse down was incredibly disturbing, but at least one woman intimated that the writing was not good, and she wished that we would choose better-written books.

I tried not to be insulted by her comments.  In fact, I think I succeeded.  She’s entitled to her opinion, and an honest discussion of the book is what book club is all about, right?  I have certainly been very critical, even vocally so, about some of our past choices.  (Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?)  This experience is making me realize that maybe there was someone in our group who really LOVED that book.  Who felt like it changed her perspective.  Who was so moved that she contacted the author to express her thanks.

I think I’ll be changing the way I express my disapproval.  I am sure I won’t be able to disguise my disdain for poor writing, or the way my life is wasted by reading it.  But that’s my opinion.  YOU can like a book that I hate.

That is actually the beauty of book club.  Our club meets monthly.  We take turns hosting at our own houses/apartments all over Los Angeles.  Most of the time the host chooses the book and the rest of us can suck it.  Most of the time the book is not something I would have chosen otherwise, and that is wonderful.  Every now and then there is a gem.  We all loved “Gone Girl,” which was our November choice.  My feedback was that I wouldn’t want to be friends (or enemies, more importantly) with the author, because that woman has a crazy/dangerous mind.

On the night before book club I brought my pristine copy of “Gone Girl” to a different group of women.  There were 11 of us.  It was the annual holiday party of my mommy group friends, the same ones who saved me from insanity when Kyle was first born.  I see them rarely now, and I wouldn’t have missed this holiday party for anything.  We do what we call a “Yankee swap:”  bring a wrapped gift under a certain dollar amount.  Pick a number.  Go in numerical order to either choose an unwrapped gift or “steal” one from someone who went before you. There are other rules, but that is the basic sense.

When numbers 1 through 10 had taken their turns, my gift, the obviously-a-book wrapped rectangle, was still under the tree.  When someone finally picked it up and unwrapped it, ten educated, adult women looked at it and blinked.  “Gone Girl?” they said, tilting their heads.  “I never heard of it!  What is it about?”

Oh, it’s only been on many bestseller lists for quite a while…

What are YOU reading?

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A Month of Reading – Day 6, Subjective

 This is the sixth post in “A Month of Reading

I continued reading “Nightfall” last night because I was in a snit. My 7-year-old son Kyle had a project due today. He’s had the assignment for 3 weeks. My husband, Stewart agreed to help him with it. I went out to two parties last night, leaving them to do the assignment. When I got back home, everyone was in bed, and the papers for the assignment were still tacked to our family bulletin board, untouched.

I was disappointed in both of them and mad at myself because I knew that if I didn’t do it myself it wouldn’t get done.  I think that’s probably another post.

Anyway, “Nightfall” continues to be pretty awful.  I knew I wanted to tell you that but I feel kind of bad saying it in a public forum because it’s so critical.  Obviously De Mille has had some success at publishing so it’s not like everybody dislikes his writing.  Look at “Fifty Shades of Grey,” or even “The Da Vinci Code,” for that matter.   I thought those books were dreadful, but the bestseller lists show otherwise.  Either way, what’s true is that “Nightfall” is awful…to me.

And yet I’m still reading it because I’m stubborn, and because at least it helped me fall asleep last night.  I suppose that’s more healthy than, say, heroin.

I also read this article about a local chain of grocery stores that will most likely shut down next year:  Tesco may sell all Fresh & Easy stores

If Fresh & Easy is put on the auction block, its smaller-format stores, which average 10,000 square feet, would not tempt a traditional grocery store to bid, analysts said. But a drugstore company or a bargain supermarket chain may be interested.

Ugh.  Just like my neighborhood doesn’t need another Target, it also doesn’t need another Rite-Aid.

And I re-read more of my own work because it just got published today: The Moral of the Story Is Stop Reading Magazines

Reading about the latest body image flap created by Seventeen magazine makes me thank God I don’t have a girl. Really, what I’m thanking Him for is that I don’t have a 53% chance of dealing with a daughter’s body issues starting at age 13.

 What are YOU reading?


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A Month of Reading – Day 5, Stolen

 This is the fifth post in “A Month of Reading

Today I read in stolen moments.

I had a deadline for my weekly advice column at Mom.Me (Here is the latest post, about breastfeeding and going back to work after your baby is born and guilt.  It’s a comedy!), and a last minute giveaway on the hyperlocal blog (if you live around here and want to see a movie, there’s one more pack of tickets up for grabs at the time of this writing), and a dentist appointment, and early school pickup.

Yes, it’s Wednesday, otherwise known as Wacky Wednesay because our school dismisses all kids at the same time, and early because of…well I’m not sure why.  All I know is that the parking situation there is out of control, and I have to get there 30 minutes early to get a parking space so I can walk to my Kindergartener’s classroom to meet him.  Once he’s in first grade, it’s pickup line all the way, baby!

I read this article this morning with my breakfast in lieu of a morning paper which only comes on Sundays:

It’s nature’s way—­children have to be cute for 18 years (an unusually long span, in the mammalian world) so parents are motivated to shoulder their care; dogs and cats need to give us affection so we’ll feed them; adult companionate relationships depend on the commerce of gratitude, which in the past has come down to the exchange of care for money.

Sandra Tsing Loh is addressing the idea that there is a growing number of households in which the wife out-earns the husband.  Frankly, I took almost the whole thing with a grain of salt because the idea of that much pressure makes me tired.  I have clearly gone in the opposite direction, and I already feel like I’m failing at it.  So much so that when she quoted a book about housekeeping I put it on hold at my local library.

I love Tsing Loh’s writing style and I forgive her for seeming to rationalize her lifestyle choices by citing perceived trends and other people’s books.  I usually ignore the comments on big sites like the Atlantic, but I happened to scroll down and catch a few.  It just reminded me to never read the comments.

I read some more of “Nightfall” during my wait at school.  I arrived 30 minutes early, found a parking space, rolled down the windows, turned on The Dave Ramsey Show on the radio, rifled through today’s mail, ate a sandwich and a package of nuts, drank a Diet Pepsi, and then read a couple of chapters.  Whatever, it’s fine.  It’s not going to keep me so riveted that I forget to get out of the car and pick up the kids.

Every time I ducked into the bathroom I picked up “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg, flipped to a random page, and read a paragraph or two.  It’s like spinning a globe and putting your finger down anywhere to dream about where you will travel someday.  I read her thoughts on selling your work, on finding your voice, and on trying something new to get a different perspective.

The rest has been poking around the internets, reading Facebook.  I think I’ll save that for its own post.

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