Baby Dumpling is 2 months old! Now she
Smiles on purpose
Makes cooing noises when happy
Is distracted by dark objects and movement
Sleeps 6 or 7 hours a night (can I just say "WOW!"-none of the other baby pies did that)
In the last month I've read:
Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Austenland by Shannon Hale
The Story of My Life by Hellen Keller (condensed)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Scarlet Sails by Alexander Green (translated from Russian by Thomas P Whitney)
Heaven is for Real by...Todd Burpo
My Sergei: A Love Story by Ekaterina Gordeeva
and half of The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
There are perks to being the Stay-Home Mom, and nursing a new baby is one of them.
For those of you who are interested in my opinion of what I read, (because I'm witty and brilliant and you wish you were in my book club)
Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy--This is at least the 2nd time I've read it. It is not my favorite by Hardy, but still good. I read it first when I was 13 or 14. I was in love with Diggory Venn and couldn't believe that Hardy had originally not allowed Thomasin to marry him in the end. However, reading this book profoundly influenced my teenage years.
#1 I learned to braid my hair in 4 strands--Thomasin braids her hair by the calendar. 3 strands for regular days, 4 strands for Sunday, and 7 strands for her wedding day.
#2 I promised myself I would never be so prideful as to refuse to explain my innocence to the man I love--none of this "If you loved me, you would never suspect me; I refuse to answer your accusations" silliness.
#3 I was completely enthralled by the beauty of Eustacia Vye and her power over men. I wanted to be so beautiful that a boy would think holding my hand to be the supreme experience of his life. When I read Return of the Native this time, I remembered my wish and I remembered a time in high school when it was fulfilled--but at the time, I had forgotten my wish and despised the boy as much as Eustacia despised hers--so I got no satisfaction at all from the experience.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer--very interesting, thought provoking, and fun to discuss with the Man of the House. (I never would have read it, if he hadn't been) Jon Krakauer is arrogant and judgemental and skews his writing so you'll agree with him, but he is a good writer and a persuasive one. I've also read Into Thin Air- his book about the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest. I read 3 books by others who were also there. Krakauer is so smooth and persuasive and so good at quietly turning good people into villains. Lucky for Chris McCandless (the boy whom Into the Wild is about) Krakauer likes him. Greg Morgenstern was not so lucky.
The Story of My Life by Hellen Keller (reader's digest condensed)--This is one of those books I've always felt that I SHOULD read and just never got around to reading. I felt uplifted and inspired to be better after reading it.
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo--a true story about a little boy's near death experience. Interesting perspective.
Austenland by Shannon Hale--I've absolutely adored all of Hale's young adult fiction. This is her first novel for adult women. It was okay. I was in the mood for love and this book satisfied that wish better than some of the others I read in the last 2 weeks. A single 30-something obsessed with Mr Darcy is bequeathed a 3 week vacation to Pembrook Park, a.k.a. Austenland, to dress and live like Jane Austen's characters. The part I liked least about the book was that the heroine didn't immerse herself immediately in the experience (as I would have done).
Just like in Eclipse, where Bella totally ruins the scene where Edward proposes to her by being all freaked out and not wanting to get married. How am I supposed to really enjoy that delicious marshmallow fluffy romantic proposal with Bella freaking out and saying no all through it?
But I loved the middle and the end of Austenland and forgave Jayne for being such a worry wart by the time I'd met those last few boyfriends of hers. I'm pretty sure I would have been
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins- a page turner for sure, but I was disappointed in the end. I read a great deal of young adult fiction because it isn't raunchy like much of "adult" fiction. However, I've become tired of the love triangle plots that include 2 amazing boys and a girl who can't figure out which one she loves. If Kat is going to break Peeta's heart in book 2 or 3, I wish he would have died in the games instead. (I haven't read them yet.) The plot reminded me a lot of Uglies and Pretties and Specials by Scott Westerfield, so that was disappointing too. I really dislike girl characters who have feelings but never stop to figure out how they feel. All that time Kat spends hunting food and she doesn't have time to think about how she feels? I don't buy it. I dislike that I am more interested in finding out who Kat loves than she, herself, seems to be.
This is the way modern young adult novels get rid of feelings--the characters just refuse to think about them. It is only slightly better than adult fiction, where feelings are completely eliminated. **warning, rant ahead.
My biggest pet peeve about "adult" books is that so often the characters don't seem to care about themselves. They act, they don't feel. At least they don't think about how they feel or act in a way that I can understand how they feel, even when the book is written in first person narrative. Examples: The Stranger by Camus, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by ...a writer I don't like..google..Gregory Maguire, The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. hm, funny how those last two are both about painters.
How am I supposed to care about the characters if they don't care about themselves?
How am I supposed to understand them if they don't understand themselves?
How can life (or a book) be beautiful if no one in it notices the beauty?
When you take all the feeling out of a story, it seems coarse, raw, and dirty. It's the modern style, I guess, but I don't like it.
Scarlet Sails by Alexander Green (translated from Russian by Thomas P Whitney)
Ah, a fairy tale of a novel full of beautiful things and the appreciation of them. The idea that mysterious beauty is attainable and that we can make our own fairy tales come true. I picked this book up in a library book sale years ago and have loved it ever since. And here is the thing. I think Gregory Maguire and Tracy Chevalier would have you believe there is no beauty in the world, only selfishness and lust and regret. Art is the only beauty and real life is a dissappointment. I, on the other hand, along with Alexander Green, believe in beauty seen and unseen.
I've wandered through the forest imagining magical things. I've walked round a fat cedar tree completely sure that in just a moment I would find the doorway to Narnia. And not finding it didn't discourage me or diminish my belief at all.
My Sergei: A Love Story by Ekaterina Gordeeva--Anyone who grew up watching Gordeeva and Grinkov skate will love the story, as I did. One thing I found especially interesting was Ekaterina Gordeeva's perspective of her life. She says she had an idyllic childhood with no hardship or sadness. Then she describes her father--a dancer with exacting perfectionism, which perfectionism he required of his daughter. She was so afraid of displeasing him and felt that even her Olympic gold was barely satisfying to him--yet she is genuine in saying her childhood was idyllic. You can feel it. Jon Krakauer would have hated this father (in fact he did hate his own father for a long time.) I think most people would have found much to complain about. But Ekaterina knew her father loved her and that was enough. She did not think his requiring her to work hard was abuse, the way many people would. It was interesting to read about the life of someone who grew up behind the Iron Curtain--interesting to read it from someone who was not writing for political reasons. I loved her writing voice. It reminded me of my Grandma Hansen's personal history--her voice is similar.
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler: THE MOVIE WAS BETTER