Thursday, May 24, 2007

8 Things Meme

Okay, so now I've been tagged twice for this meme: first by the Literary Acquisitionist and then by Amy at Books, Words and Writing. So here are the rules:

1: Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2: People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3: At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names.
4: Don't forget to leave them a comment and tell them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

My 8 random facts/habits:

1. Although I have this image of being very clean and neat, I take a perverse pleasure sometimes in letting my house get really messy. And then it gets too messy, and I freak out and have to clean everything.

2. I absolutely HATE grocery shopping. Seriously, I will wait until all I have left in the house is some peanut butter and maybe a few questionable eggs before I shop again. But I am deliriously happy when I have food in the house again. I agree it makes no sense.

3. Finally, at the advanced age of 41, I've discovered that I'm a pretty light sleeper. We had some early warm weather a couple of weeks ago; not enough for the A/C but enough to for me to pull out my table fan. I suddenly found I was sleeping much better. Now I run it just for the white noise.

4. I have a confession to make: For all my love of Victorian literature, I have read Wuthering Heights only once. And I really didn't like it. That was, like, 15 years ago and I haven't been persuaded to pick it up again and give it another chance. And I feel guilty about that.

5. I am in deathly fear of finding out about the end of The Sopranos and what happens in the last Harry Potter book. I don't have HBO and my sister is the one with the HP book on order. I figure by July, I'll need to go into serious news blackout. I have suggested to my sister, only half-kiddingly, that I take the day off, she can ship the kids to Grandma's, and we spend the day reading the book out loud to each other until we're finished!

6. I have an embarrassing amount of yarn for the actual amount of knitting that I do.

7. According to LibraryThing, I have 649 books in my library (there is a small handful I haven't cataloged yet.)

8. I am very glad to be done with this meme!

I've seen nearly everyone do this. But I'm tagging Nose in a Book and So Many Yarns next.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Although it really didn't take me long to read it, I can't tell you how glad I am that I am done with Mao: The Unknown Story. It's really the only time I can remember being so happy to finish a book -- in the sense that I don't ever have to pick it up again. Mao was a thoroughly evil tyrant who cared for nothing but himself. The author estimates that 70 million Chinese died while Mao was in power -- the vast majority of that in peacetime. I don't even really want to think about it too much more. It was interesting and I learned a lot. But I need to move on to something else.

I've been tagged by the Literary Acquisitionist for the "8 things" meme, which I hope to get to later this week. I'm getting busier at work and I started grad school last week. It's been a long time since I had to fit homework into my schedule and it's going to take a while to figure this out. More to come soon, I hope!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Educational, but Depressing

Haven't posted in more than a week again, but I have been reading. Currently in bed with me at night is Mao: The Unknown Story. It is one of the most unrelentingly depressing books I've ever read. Now, I don't know as much as I should about communism. But I don't think what Mao was doing had anything to do with communism.

Mao was easily more evil than Hitler and Stalin combined. He seems to have been a complete sociopath who cared only about his own comfort. He sacrificed millions of his own countrymen to amass personal power. Seriously, I haven't read one good thing about him yet, and I'm more than halfway done with the book. I haven't even come to the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The author's parents were killed in the Cultural Revolution, so there may be some bias there. But it appears to be well-researched with ample sources. I'm waiting until I'm done with the book to read some reviews (I generally like to make up my own mind before reading reviews).

I suppose I'm getting a better background in world history. But I may have to cheat on Mao with something with no literary value whatsoever. I can't take this much longer.

Friday, May 04, 2007

100th Post!

Woo hoo! My 100th post. Happy anniversary to me. Considering I've had this blog since last summer, it's hard to believe I'm just reaching my 100th post -- some bloggers could do that in much less time. But it's been fun and I'm sincerely grateful to my very, very small group of regular commenters.

On to the reading. Just yesterday, I finished The Introvert Advantage. If you are an introvert (and you know who you are), GO BUY THIS BOOK! If you are an extrovert (and you definitely know who you are) and know and love an introvert, GO BUY THIS BOOK! I really can't think of any other book I would recommend so highly. Even though I know I'm an introvert, there were several "aha" moments in the book for me. The section on brain chemistry was fascinating: Did you know that in some people (usually introverts) it actually takes longer for the brain to access long-term memory? That's why we take so long to answer a question sometimes -- or even get completely tongue-tied. And I now totally understand why I hate returning stuff in stores.

What I really liked is that the author (an introvert herself) takes pains to make sure you understand that there is nothing wrong with you. Being an introvert is like having brown hair or fair skin. It's just as normal as anything else -- except that we are outnumbered by extroverts by 3 to 1. She also talks about ways to handle stress and how to break out of your shell just a little bit to live a fuller life. Really, just go buy it and read it.

I've moved on to another biography: Mao, The Unknown Story. When I was an undergrad, everyone at my university was required to take a class on another culture. I chose China -- and was fortunate to have one of the best professors I've ever had in any subject. I am fascinated with old cultures; America is still such a young country that it's always intriguing to read about cultures that are thousands of years old. The bio is supposed to be the first in-depth look at Mao from someone whose parents were killed in the Cultural Revolution. The book is unsettling -- Mao's almost total lack of empathy develops early on -- but it's also hard to put down.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What I've Been Reading

Kind of fell off the wagon for awhile there, didn't I? Well, at least I have been reading that whole time, though I haven't been blogging. So there's lots to catch up on.

The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason was great fun. As I'm sure many of you have discovered, it's very weird to read the novel of someone whose blog you read on a regular basis. And who lives in the same state that you do. I love books that have such strong heroines -- and it's amusing watching Victoria trying to be the proper Englishwoman that she is, while at the same time saving the world. And the next book in the series, Rises the Night, comes out in less than a month -- yeah!

I also made it quickly through E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime. I'd never read him before, so I wasn't sure what I was expecting. I would describe his writing style as staccato -- and I don't mean that in a bad way. Short sentences, sometimes just sentence fragments. The way the plot was laid out reminded me a little bit of Pulp Fiction. It was these seemingly disparate stories that all kind of melded together and made sense. It was an interesting take on turn-of-the-last-century America.

Then I finished the Lindbergh biography, which was fantastic. I'd wanted to read more about Lindbergh after he played such a central role in Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. Lindbergh was a fascinating character; he really was the first celebrity, yet he hated the attention. It was interesting to read about his famous flight across the Atlantic; today, air travel seems such a burden and inconvenience. It's nice to know that at one time it really was something amazing. What particularly interested me was Lindbergh's actions around World War II and the taint of anti-Semitism he carried his entire life. The bio did a great job of putting Lindbergh's actions in perspective; I felt better about him after I'd finished the book.

I'll save current reads for my next post.