Monday, August 3, 2015

Slice of Life Books

I've always had a weakness for what I call slice-of-life books, and by that I mean book that drop me into a world I have little or no experience of myself. This includes diaries and first person career-oriented books.

One of my favorites from a long time ago is Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey (which I've mentioned here before).

Another book I read about a year ago, Heads in Beds, by Jacob Tomsky is an insider's look at the hotel industry.

Then, last week I read Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica. 

Another book I read years ago was Letters of a Woman Homesteader (the movie Heartland, again going way back, was based on this book).

Other books that would fall into this category (some discussed here in prior posts) would be books by Janice Holt Giles about living in Appalachia, Tom Groneberg's books, The Secret Life of Cowboys (about his move from Illinois to the west where he became a cowboy/ranch hand), Margaret Powell's books about being a servant in England back in the day, Miles from Nowhere by Barbara Savage (about a couple who bicycle around the world), A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentleman Farmers, The Scent of the Missing (about a woman and her search and rescue dog),  and the list goes on and on.

I love reading about worlds I'll never inhabit. I like the whole "secrets revealed" aspect and I have several more on my "to read" list (Concierge Confidential and Wild, just to name a couple). It's one of my favorite types of books (I also like the fact that I can read short snippets, as opposed to fiction where I tend to read books in one big gulp). Because of that, they're books that travel well. I love reading them, but I don't get so engrossed that I can't put them down when other activities beckon.

Are you a "slice of life" reader? If not, what types of nonfiction do you prefer?

Have a great day!


Friday, July 31, 2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Commercial Book Clubs

I wonder how many people still belong to book clubs. I don't mean the kind where you get together with your friends and discuss books. I mean the kind where once a month or so the "club" sends you either a book or a pamphlet detailing their newest books (or, in this computer age, an email touting their newest offerings). There's usually a tempting initial offer (4 books for $1? or maybe today it's $5 or $10), followed by an obligation to buy x amount of books during a specific amount of time. Have you ever belonged to one of those?

National Geographic Magazine Advertisement

When I was young, I joined the Doubleday Book Club for a brief time, then later the Book of the Month Club (also briefly) and later still, another club which I belonged to for more years than I can recall, until yesterday when I dropped my membership. My reason for doing that (and the reason I'm not naming the club) is because it was taken over by another well known book club, and I didn't like their policies. 

What I never liked about book clubs was the way they were run. They would either send you a book and you had to send it back if you didn't want it, or they would send you a notice that they were sending you a book, and you had a certain amount of time to tell them you didn't want it. After that, they sent the book automatically and charged you for it. (This was the reason I quit my book club. I had--years ago--fulfilled my introductory obligation and had requested that I move into a program where I simply perused their catalog and bought when I wanted to without any monthly reminders or obligations. Staying with the new company was going to throw me right back into that old program, or at least something similar, and I just couldn't see why I would want to do that again). 

On the other hand, belonging to a book club enabled me to find books I might have never been exposed to otherwise. The books were carefully chosen, and that's how I found the author Fredrik Backman (I posted about a book by him a few weeks ago). 

In its heyday, there were a number of book clubs, including specialty clubs for crafts, history and religion, and many of those book clubs still exist, although, as in many other areas, companies have consolidated until many of them (maybe even most) are owned by the same company. 

Many of them have become irrelevant. With the advent of online shopping as well as ebooks, buying books has never been easier, and most of the online stores are less expensive than the book clubs can afford to be. Moreover, with the consolidation of clubs and employees, things don't always run as smoothly as one would like (I'll forgo my most recent complaint. Suffice it to say that errors were made and never corrected). 

Still, I'm going to miss belonging to a book club and having those hand-picked choices delivered to my inbox. It feels like the end of an era.

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Books Versus Movies

I was on Facebook and there was a link to this piece titled Ten Appalling Films That Were Adapted from Great Books. It's on The Literacy Site, and while I'll link to the article and include the video, I"ll also list the books in case you don't want to sit through an almost eleven minute video (the video is over a year old, so apologies if you've seen it before).

Here's the list:

Gulliver's Travels
The Time Traveler's Wife
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
The Bonfire of the Vanities
The Scarlet Letter
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The Cat in the Hat 
The Golden Compass

And honorable mention was given to:

The Da Vinci Code
All the King's Men
The Lovely Bones
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Congo the comments, a number of people mentioned:

The Clan of the Cave Bear
The Lightning Thief
Ella Enchanted

and many others.

I haven't read all of those books (although I've read many) and I haven't see all the movies. Furthermore, I'm not going to comment about which movies didn't live up to my expectations, which books were better, which movies were better or even which books I'd like to see made into movies. What I find most interesting is how strongly people feel about this topic. If you read the comments that accompany the article, people feel very strongly about which of their favorite stories fell flat (or worse) when brought to the big screen.

More importantly, I found reading the comments a great source of future reading material. Lots of books I've read, but also lots I haven't gotten around to. With people feeling so strongly about their choices, I'm planning to pick up a few of these books. I might even watch some of the movies I haven't seen, at least for comparison's sake. 

Do you have any movies (or television shows) that disappointed once they were translated into another venue?

Have a great day!


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

If You Had Kids Who Liked Goosebumps Books...

Or if you read them yourself, or...even if you like Jack Black or humorous horror movies, you might like the Goosebumps movie. This trailer has been out for over a week, so my apologies if you've already seen it. It looks as if it might be fun.

Friday, July 17, 2015

If You Want to Know if a Product Really Works...

I have to admit that I keep coming back to the YouTube channel, Does This Thing Really Work? (That's not the actual name of the channel, but that's part of what she discusses). This is a longer video than I usually post, get the idea about what you can find on this channel.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Remember Encyclopedias?

I still have an old set. They're good for looking up historical figures and...I'm just slightly sentimental about them, even though I rarely use them. Here are some teenagers giving their views on encyclopedias:

Do you still have encyclopedias in your house?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mural Art and the Walldogs

Recently I was in Delavan, Wisconsin during the week when the Walldogs were there. If you're wondering what Walldogs are, historically (dating back to around the 1880's, I believe) they were (are?) people who paint signs or advertising on buildings or barns. Coca Cola famously began hiring artists to pay businesses to let them paint advertising on their buildings beginning around 1895 and continuing through the mid-twentieth century.

The trend gave way to other types of advertising, but in recent years this type of mural painting has returned and become a movement. From my somewhat limited perspective (this was my first time to see these), the Walldog experience is something that brings a community together, attracts tourists, and is simply fun. The Walldogs spend several days in a town, and at the end of the week, there are all these awesome murals which remain for people to enjoy (these days they're not about advertising, and from what I could see, they're more about commemorating the history and highlights of the town.

Delavan, Wisconsin is known for numerous things. It has a lovely lake, There are six Frank Lloyd Wright houses and a boathouse on the lake there, and there are many vacation homes. But (besides the lake and vacation fun) two things that Delavan is probably most noted for is The Wisconsin School for the Deaf (founded in 1852) and circus history.

Between 1847 and 1894 circus performers from over 26 circuses called Delavan their winter quarters (the pastures and water available there were good for the circuses' most valuable assets, their horses and other animals). The P.T. Barnum Circus, known as The Greatest Show on Earth was founded here in 1871. There are several colorful statues of circus animals in the middle of the town to commemorate this bit of history, so when the Walldogs came to town, it was clear that at least one mural would be circus-oriented.  But there was more, as you can see from these few photos we managed to take.

There were a number of others we didn't get to see (there were a total of 18 murals, and we had to leave early, so we didn't get to see the completed projects, either), but we'll be back another day. They're going to add a clear finish to them to make them last, and I've been told that with luck, they'll be good for 25 years. In the meantime, here's a link to an image gallery with more of the process and the completed murals. We spoke with people who have become Walldog painters (whole families are involved) and it looks like fun!

Here's a video of some of the artists at work:

And here's the Walldogs site where you can read more about the movement, find out how to get the Walldogs to come to your town, and locate some of the other places they've been where the murals are still there for people to enjoy.

Right now I have an urge to visit more of the towns where the Walldogs have left their mark.

Monday, June 29, 2015

What a Wonderful Love Story!

This will make you laugh and smile and might even bring a tear to your eye. What an amazing couple! I love stories, I love to watch people draw, and you can't beat a satisfying and happy love story. Enjoy!

More Books on My List

I just got hold of a copy of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman, so I can't tell you how much I like it yet, because I have yet to open it.

But it sounds good. Here's the description from the Simon & Schuster website:

From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a charming, warmhearted novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s internationally bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and an ode to one of the most important human rights: the right to be different. 

I'm also happy to say that Maggie Osborne's Silver Lining is now available in ebook form. This is a reread for me, so it's like an old friend. I was sad when Ms. Osborne retired from writing. I especially liked her historical romances.

Enjoy your day! I hope you find a good book to settle down with (in a comfy chair).