Category Archives: books

books I’ve read recently

dude.

Hi. My name is Lindsey and I’m a bibliophile. I have a book problem. [scattered applause]. It’s been 3 days since I last bought a book and about 27 minutes since I last read one. [more applause]. It’s nice to be here in such good company.

Dude. You know your love of books has crossed the line into “problem” when you realize you have 8 weeks to pack your whole life to move across the country and one of those weeks is dedicated solely to packing kids books. Not all books, not really even most books. Just non-essential children’s books. Wait, what? Yeah we are moving from Las Vegas to North Carolina…to a house we’ve never seen in person, in a town we’ve never been too, in a state we’ve been too twice for a total time of less than two weeks. Yay the internet! But I’ll back up.

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In about 2 hours these papers will make us the legal and lawful owners of this place:

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(Yes, that is a swing on the porch.)

What the picture doesn’t show you is the 4.6 acres of beautiful North Carolina that will eventually become our new Angry Dwarf farm. It also doesn’t show how perfect for our family the actual house is or the tree back down a lush path that will host our first tree house (with swing) or that the soil ph is amazing for growing blueberries or the brush in the back that will entice fireflies to come play every summer or the plot for Naomi’s butterfly garden. Not to mention the woods that will house our pigs and the back lot with room for bat boxes, apple trees, and blackberry brambles. And bee hives! Did I mention the bee hives!?

So yes, I figured with the New Year and the new house my husband and I gave each other for Christmas (and the lovely messy adventure it will bring),  it was time to get back blogging. I’ve missed it.

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P.s. When it occurred to me how much I hate assimilating new stuff after Christmas, I got the brilliant idea to give our kids a trip instead. The picture is terrible and I promise our kids actually are excited…In T – 9 days and counting…we are going to Disneyland! [Squee!]

 

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Highlights

You know how life is either amazingly fantastic or really not? There is always that period of just meh, between the highs and the lows. That’s kind of where I’m at, but I’m pretty sure I’m my way up which is a happy thing. Here are some highlights, though, that I thought I’d share.

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New friends are everywhere! And those thighs…mmmm….baby thighs…

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Old running shoes and a new MP3 player to usher in a new season of running. It’s slow and it’s not very long/far, but I’ve been consistent and for the first time ever I’m not running to punish myself but because I actually enjoy it. Definite highlight.

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Bunnies that are starting to not hate me. Hopefully we should have some beautifully colored babies in the early fall…which means I get to watch them get it on around August and laugh hysterically each and every time. My inner 12 year old, what can I say?

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This almost 8 year old who can not for the life of him smile naturally in a picture. He either looks like he is drunk (but very happy about it) or like he is in pain. Sigh. Also Little Girl’s hair on the side of her face is growing out from where she cut it…we have less mullet everyday!

[http://thesilverswan.blogspot.com/2013/08/girl-of-limberlost.html  <–where I got the picture]

I finished reading A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter. It was one of those sweet and wholesome classics that restores your faith in humanity. However, for me right now, in this exact time in my life, it was more than that. It was one of those books that for reasons totally unrelated to the main plot or characters or any thing that makes sense, made me sigh with my soul because it felt like “that is what I want to be when I grow up!” Not that I want to become a moth expert who haunts a backwoods swamp in a state that has winter temperatures that would kill me, I just need more books that make me feel at peace with myself. Books that have people and settings and life rhythms that somehow codify what I want to become. It has been a pretty cool thing to get my reading mojo back. Reminders and glimpses of myself are so helpful when I’m wearing two babies’ lunches and one just smeared my leg with poop and I’m needing to wash the dishes to pretend to combat the fruit flies that are invading my kitchen when all I want is a shower. But you know the funny thing about all that? I actually just laughed typing that because it just about sums up most of my days. But like I said before, I’m on my way to a peak. Motherhood is weird.

 

 

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Dinotopia

I’m a reader. Well, at least I was until baby #4 kind of shook up my world a little bit. In the 6 months since she was born I’ve struggled with a lot of stuff and resolved most of it…except for the reading thing. Saying this is disconcerting is an understatement. I mean, being a reader, saying I love to read (and really meaning it) is one of the things I’ve used to define myself for as long as I can remember. But now I just can’t get into any books…even books that for all intents and purposes are a perfect fit for me. My time is limited of course but even when I do sit down to read, it feels more like fulfilling an obligation than enjoying a beloved pastime. Oh well. I honestly don’t know what’s wrong and don’t know how to fix it. I’m hoping that with time and maybe life calming down (ha!), I’ll fall in love with reading again.

In the mean time my Little Man is picking up my slack with a vengeance. I can’t even begin to keep up, but he made me a list on my white board of books he really wanted me to read…The Dinotopia series.  How do you say “I don’t feel like it” to that? You don’t. By the way, thrift shops are a bookoholics heaven/dealer. I found some of these books on a thrifting excursion and smiled at the memories they brought up. When I was a kid we lived down the street from the most beautiful library and I would go hang out there and read and then come home with a small mountain of fantasy young adult novels. And for the record the young adult genre when I was a teenager was less angst filled and way more fun that what fills the shelves now…sigh. Anyways.

The Dinotopia books are awesome and I really have enjoyed reading the ones I never read and revisiting the ones I had. More than anything I’m reading because my baby asked me too and it is a happy coincidence that the books are fun and easy and have nice, happy, resolved endings. Also dinosaurs in all their scaly glory feature prominently, so it’s a winning combination. The original book was more of a travel journal (and when I have tons of money to spend on rare books, I want a first edition signed copy of that book to casually leave on a coffee table). The books I’ve bought for the boy are written by several different authors and take place in that same world. They are geared towards kids and really are a nice balance of excitement, values, and decent writing. And dinosaurs. Did I mention the dinosaurs?

My plan is to finish these books, and move on to previewing books for Garyn. I’m kind of a mean mom and am very picky about what he reads, but as he gets older and outgrows the kids classics I’m familiar with I need to know what books to hand him. First on the list is the first book from The Beyonders, then the first book in the Percy Jackson series followed by Fablehaven, Inkheart, and Eragon. I’ve already got books I’m very familiar with that I’m just waiting for him to mature a little bit first, like Harry Potter, Enders Game, and most of Garth Nix’s books. I’m reading my munchkins The Never Ending Story (so much better than the movies! read this book now!) and next is The Swiss Family Robinson. I’m super grateful for a good friend with fabulous taste in books (she is a mean mom too) and a library I envy who will keep me supplied when I get through these…She also is a fellow gardener so kind of my favorite on many levels.

I laugh at myself thinking back a few years ago when I was going to read The Odyssey (still on page 10) and a few new Shakespeare plays, and a whole list of equally daunting titles. It’s ok. I’m working on giving myself permission to let go of expectations that don’t serve me. But here’s to start to find my way back to reading with small baby steps and lots and lots of Fantasy.

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The Scarlet Pimpernel

There is a good reason why I am part of a book club. Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and (to a lesser extent) historical fiction have been my comfort genres. My book club has forced me to read pop-fiction which I generally don’t like (reading it more hasn’t changed my opinion of it, but at least I’m more well rounded, right?). This book was, however, brought to me by my Husband…the main force in my life for kicking me outside my comfort zones (anime anyone?).

Of course I knew of the book. I’m a literary snob and more importantly I grew up on Loony Tunes. Which means of course that I have always been very familiar with Daffy Duck’s The Scarlet Pumpernickel. So when Husband Guy found the unabridged version of the book at target for $3, I laughed at him. But he got it and read it and loved it. Having just finished it, I’m so glad he is more willing to go outside a rut and explore classics.

Obviously the book is nothing like the Daffy Duck version or the most popular film version (which I’m almost done watching and actually do like. The casting is perfect and it’s awesome to see Magneto/Gandalf as a strapping young lad.) I had a similar feeling when I read Sherlock Holmes. Modern detective stories are very graphic and gruesome, so I was expecting more blood and gore albeit wrapped in a cunning plot. Nope. For the most part they are fun and are logic puzzles with out the sensational violence. I was expecting this story (set during the Reign of Terror) to be much darker than it was. There are lots of allusions to beheadings and bloodiness and the work of the Scarlet Pimpernel is to prevent all that, but it’s just context for the main story not a focal point in and of itself. Sir Percy and his relationship with his wife are the main focal points and I love his character. Not to ruin anything if you haven’t read it, but I’m so glad when all is said and done he still likes over the top, nice clothes and expensive toys and high quality snuff. The fact that The Rich Fop isn’t completely an act and The Scarlet Pimpernel still has an inane laugh makes the character much more three dimensional and I really appreciated that. His wife was a great character, I just didn’t care for the melodramatic, fatalistic romantic she turned out to be. It was sweet and made for a great romance, but I wouldn’t want to have tea with her. I love happy and resolved and this fit that beautifully. Don’t know if I’ll be diving into the 16 sequels…but this book is very well worth a read.

Favorite Quote: A woman’s heart is such a complex problem– the owner thereof is often most incompetent to find the solution of this puzzle.

Mostly it was so reassuring to know that I’m not the only highly emotional and confused female on the planet. Us women folk have been crazy for a long time. Thank goodness for finding good men who can work with our particular flavor of crazy and (gasp!) even love us for it. I enjoyed all the phases of their relationship, especially knowing that they were both coming from such a human place of misjudgment and miscommunication. Marguerite was very well written and I think the author, as a woman, fully understood that there is something indescribably attractive about what we can’t have. It was so nice to see them find closure and reconciliation when nowadays that is very much not the typical theme.

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Wheat Belly

Bet you thought I stopped reading, huh? I’ve actually read a ton since my last book review, just nothing that prompted anything worth saying. This, however, was a very thought provoking read. To review it though, I need to tackle it from two different perspectives: what he said and how he said it. And to be confusing I’m doing it in reverse order…ha!

How he said it. In his attempt to make the dry science palatable he filled the book with flat sarcasm and jokes that weren’t that funny because he was trying too hard to be funny. It left the book sounding very unprofessional which was a shame because he had decent points to make, which were substantiated with data. Also he was so biased it was off putting at times, because that bias came out as snarky. And not even “ha ha, that was good” snarky. It was just childish. You can be passionate and have a strong bias (why else would you write a book about it?) without coming off as the mean, weird kid on the playground that no one can talk to. The paragon, in my mind, for a nice balance of readability, professionalism and raw information is The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Everyone who cares about what they put in their mouths should read that book. Period. I wish I could give such a broad, unqualified recommendation on Wheat Belly, but I can’t. It was a quick read and he was interesting. Lots of good information, but he came off as being kind of a snot.

Now onto what he said. If you like wheat or can’t imagine life without one of it’s myriad byproducts, this book will be a rough read. He talks in depth about what wheat/gluten does to all the body systems and the chemistry and physiology behind what he is saying. Frankly, it is scary stuff. That’s why as soon as I can get myself sorted out, the kids are going off wheat too (husband guy joined me January 1st). To anyone who gets the GAPS diet, or the Paleo Diet, or is diabetic this is old news. For most people this is shocking and that is, of course, the point of the book. There is a lot of helpful stuff here, if you are struggling with health issues or are just interested in your body. I would recommend it to everyone, poor writing tone aside, because most people now a days should know what they are doing to themselves. However, it has been painted as very controversial which is why I don’t blanket recommend it to anyone who will listen. As far as his other diet recommendations (no sugar, few fruits, high fats and high amounts of quality meat and dairy) it is “dangerous” to some but nothing new. These ideas have been gaining traction over the last 10 years so really it’s nothing too far fetched.

Personally, it was helpful for me to understand a lot about why I feel so much better since I went off wheat/gluten 9+ weeks ago. It’s a long story but the short version is that I was having funky mood swings and was exhausted all the time (beyond normal “mom-life is hard” and “I chase active munchkins all day”). Finally I got to the point where I decided my cyclical meltdowns were not normal and around the same time I was muscle tested by two different professionals who both said, “Yeah, you and gluten…not so much.” So off I went and I haven’t been tired or had a weird meltdown since, despite getting pregnant at almost exactly the same time I went off wheat. For those of the Latter Day Saint persuasion, this can also be difficult because not only do you most likely have bags/cans of wheat in your house somewhere but we are taught that wheat is “the staff of life.” For me this was an easy reconciliation…my body doesn’t do well with wheat, so it’s not something I should have. And I don’t miss it. Honestly, the only reason the kids aren’t totally off of it is because tortillas and bread are convenient. As soon as I’m over morning sickness junk, shifting our diet is my top priority. Read it and draw your own conclusions as to whether or not this feels right for you and your body. I totally buy it, and have seen huge improvements. Who knows what will happen for my kids, especially my Layna? I know for sure that going off wheat certainly won’t hurt anything and there is enough to be gained that it is worth the inconvenience. Now to actually make it happen…stupid wheat being easy!

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My Book

It all started a few years ago when my then very little man wanted a bedtime story about a dragon. I made one up on the spot and from that first introduction, many adventures followed. Then with the rise of the homemade photobook, I thought, “Hey! I should totally illustrate this and make it into a for real book!”

More money than I thought, a whole education in water color, 2 years, and a lot of overcome artist blocks later…I finished it and gave it to the monkeys for Christmas. They loved it, but it is reassuring to know that they will really, really love it in about 20 years.

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Sorry the color/lighting/photography skills are a bit sub-par. But meh. It’s done and that’s really what is making me dance around and turn cartwheels in my PJ’s while I type this. Oh, I’m good.

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So it’s about a dragon who has a good life but is lonely and soon he becomes friends with a lizard. Simple and fairly basic but it’s what I had late that night years ago, and happily my babies don’t need sophistication in their literature just yet. Plus Little man asked for new adventures or retellings nightly for 3 years straight, so something about it worked for him. Now my girls are enjoying it too, which makes me smile.

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This is Thurp. This is Thurp having to tell Bill his real name, which is kind of embarrassing.

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The final pages. There is a whole series of these books somewhere in my head, that I’d love to make happen some day. I mean, you should hear about how they help Santa Claus one year. That was a favorite for a long time. We will see if I can do it or if it will be a project I finish for grandbabies. Either way, big fat check on my life’s to-do list. WOOT!

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The Phantom Tollbooth

Go read this. Please. Right now. If you love language (and the English language specifically) you should really stop reading this post and go read The Phantom Tollbooth. I’ll wait.

I loved the movie adaptation of this as a kid (and it was pretty good at capturing the feel of the book), so I decided that I needed to read it and thought that my son would enjoy it too. I read it to him out loud and I can’t wait for him to read it in 10 years and actually get it. At first glance it seems simplistic and even cheesy. But when you actually think about how he basically wrote a novel that is a play on plays on words…you realize that our language is a beautiful, complex beast, worthy of admiration and a throuough making fun of. It is really clever and since you will be reading it in the near future (if you didn’t listen to me earlier, go now) I’ll just give you some of my favorite lines to convince you that this book is so worth the little time it will take you to read it.

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“Oh dear, all those words again,” thought Milo as he climbed into the wagon with Tock and the cabinet members. “How are you going to make it move? It doesn’t have a–” “Be very quiet,” advised the duke, “for it goes without saying.” (Talking about the car that is taking them to the banquet)

“The Mathemagician nodded knowingly and stroked his chin several times. ‘You’ll find,’ he remarked gently, ‘that the only thing you can do easily is be wrong, and that’s hardly worth the effort.”

“Now and then, though, someone does begin to grow differently. Instead of down, his feet grow up toward the sky. But we do our best to discourage awkward things like that.”
What happens to them?” insisted Milo.
Oddly enough, they often grow ten times the size of everyone else,” said Alec thoughtfully, “and I’ve heard that they walk among the stars.” (Alec, a boy who grows down and can only see through things…so he keeps walking into trees.)

“Since you got here by not thinking, it seems reasonable to expect that, in order to get out, you must start thinking.” (said by Tock, the watch dog [literally. his body is a clock and the great tragedy of his life is that he ‘ticks’ but doesn’t ‘tock’ and is thus misnamed] who is responsible for putting an end to the killing of time.)

“Have you ever heard a blindfolded octopus unwrap a cellophane-covered bathtub?”

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This book made me laugh and it made my head explode and it made me smile. It made me want to hug the world and be a better person in the world. It made me want to gift wrap the book and give it to all the Milo’s that I know, that they might aspire to understand it or at least be inspired to understand something.

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