Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Category: New Reads Page 2 of 15

New Read: The Devil in the White City

What made me pull The Devil in the White City out of the great book collection giveaway last December? I’ll make a list!

The Devil in the White City book cover on a desert background.
  • “Devil”
  • Scary cover
  • History
  • “Murder, Magic, and Madness”

What’s not to love?! History in story form is one of favorite genres and apparently, it’s everyone else’s too, judging by the shows popping up all over Netflix!

I don’t know anything about the book other than its intriguing cover and I can’t wait to read it this week!

Holy…ok, I just jumped over to the interwebs and did a quick search…in my mind I was thinking, “I wonder if they’ll make a movie of this.” And then BAM! There it is! Freakin’ Leonardo DiCaprio…swoons…and Martin Scorsese?!

I just lost my mind. We just finished watching Shutter Island (shout out to my awesome son for recommending it). We both were floored…what’s this? A real movie? With a plot? And dialog? Oh, my heart. You need to go watch it! And this book looks like it will be along the same lines, a great story based in history with deep characters.

…breathes deeply…

It looks like the movie hasn’t been released yet and now I’m worried that a movie that I didn’t know was being made, about a book I haven’t read yet or even knew existed until just now, won’t be released and I’ll have missed out! That is my mind, my friends. It’s always a fun ride in here.

At least I already have the book in my hot little hands!

Well, this should be fun and now I have another movie to look forward to (hopefully, looking anxious)! April is looking to be a SWEET month!

Have you read The Devil in the White City? Do you want to read it with me? Run over to Thriftbooks and get your copy. Let me know what you think in the comments below!


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Green Mile by Stephen King

The Green Mile by Stephen King book cover on a desert background.

I grabbed The Green Mile off the big library redistribution pile simply because it was King, and The Green Mile was one of my favorite movies. I love this edition because it has “Soon to be a major motion picture!” on the cover. The movie came out in 1999 and the book form came out in 1997. Twenty year old paperback. Win!

I have a goal in my life…to read every book Stephen King wrote. No, not really. I was a huge fan of him in high school and college, but the more of them that I read, the more I feel like many of his books are wonderful but a little predictable. They are comfort stories.

Here’s something I learned from reading both of the introductions. (I know…who does that?) The book was originally a series of shorter books which he wrote as they were published. He didn’t know where the story would take him when the first one was published. I’m imagining writing for THAT kind of deadline and getting nauseous. That’s a rare author that can do that. And the story ended up great! Surprise!

In the introduction, he talked about how Charles Dickens did the same thing but the story lasted years and how he used to read serial stories in The Saturday Evening Post.

“…I liked it because the end of each episode made the reader an almost equal participant with the writer – you had a whole week to try to figure out the next twist of the snake. Also, one read and experienced these stories more intensely, it seemed to me, because they were rationed. You couldn’t gulp, even if you wanted to (and if the story was good, you did).”

It reminds me of why you don’t ration things. It makes people want more of it, even if it’s not good, healthy, or productive. Telling others (or yourself) that you can only have a little makes it scarce and something to hoard. Your brain goes into active collecting mode regardless of how it makes you feel. Crazy.

One of the things I didn’t do with my kids was limit foods that most would call treats. All of the food was in reach and available. I made what I called “healthy” snacks just as easy and available as candy and cookies and over time they learned on their own when not to binge and when to indulge.

This book was written before we could binge watch tv shows. I’ve found the same level of satisfaction there as well. Shows that were fine to watch one episode a week were terrible tv when watched back-to-back for hours one Sunday afternoon. And then there are shows that I can’t get enough of, ones that feed my soul instead of waste my time.

I’m wondering what this book will be? I can’t know if it would have been better to read it one book at a time as it was published, or can I? Probably won’t. I know myself. I tend to be a page flipper and rush to get to the end so that I know what happens. If I deem it worthy, I read it again for more depth.

We shall see. I do know that I’ll be watching the movie after I finish reading this, if I can find it on Netflix. Probably won’t. They never have the movie I’m looking for when I’m looking for it.

If you want to read it with me, go pick it up at Thriftbooks.com and let me know what you think in the comments!


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

Love & Friendship by Allan Bloom

Love & Friendship book cover on the top shelf almost out of my reach.

Love & Friendship by Allan Bloom called to me from the top shelf of my TBR pile. It’s just the kind of book I need right now, a long and intellectual treatise type of book on sex and relationships.

Snug in the middle of a stack of books far over my head, I didn’t have the patience to go get a step ladder to reach it. Instead, I stood on my tippy toes and pulled a few books off the stack with my fingers outstretched while my husband watched from his office chair.

I could hear his thoughts as I struggled, “Should I get up and help her? No…let’s see what happens.”

I didn’t drop them, not even a single one. So, there! I thought I would. Several times the thought of pausing a moment and getting some kind of help did cross my mind. But what can I say? I’m childish and impatient in most things, so I kept reaching and pulling books down a couple at a time until I got to the book I wanted.

This one is going to be fun. I read Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind, at the beginning of our homeschool career fifteen years ago. Seeing the author’s name is what made me grab this one out of the free book pile back in December and add it to my TBR shelf to read this year.

Looking for a new book to read this week, my eye was immediately drawn to Love & Friendship because it’s a subject I’ve been agonizing a lot over the past couple of years. The past few weeks of having an empty nest have brought it even more to the forefront of my mind.

Once I had the book in my hand, I flipped it over for a bit more information. Is this the book I need to read right now?

“Allan Bloom argues that we live in a world where love and friendship are withering away. Science and moralism have reduced eros to sex. Individualism and egalitarianism have turned romantic relationships into contractual matters. Images of sexuality surround us, but we are unable to deal with the hopes and risks of intimacy.”

Yep. That sounds exactly what I need to be reading right now.

I read the introduction this morning and realize this will be a slower read than usual. My competitive spirit made me hesitate for a moment. If I read this, I may not read anything else this month. My number of books/pages will go down.

Screw statistics! This is where I need to be.

“Isolation, a sense of lack of profound contact with other human beings, seems to be the disease of our time.”

This was published in 1993, ladies and gentleman. Thirty years later, are we any closer to a solution or are we moving further from the sense of intimate community we once created to help us move out of the world of animals?

I’m looking forward to reading this in depth, but I’m also worried that it will depress me further to dwell on how far away from the ideal we have traveled. I’ve spent my adult life attempting to create a better world (in my home and personal relationships) for the people around me. I continue to try to make that circle a little larger, a little more intimate and emotionally close. Is anyone else out there making these efforts?

Have you read any of Allan Bloom’s work? Have you read Love & Friendship? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Draft No 4 – On The Writing Process

Diving into Draft No 4 – On the Writing Process by John McPhee this morning. I’m pretty sure books about reading and writing are my favorite!

“NEXT!”

Sometimes I wonder if I move on to new books too quickly. Maybe I should linger a bit? Take my time? Spend some quality time digesting the little gem so that I may fully incorporate all its goodness?

Nah! Who’s got time for that?!

I think I’ll stick to my system. I read, I make notes, I blog, I move on. Blogging this way has helped me make more connections between books though, so that makes me happy. I’m still longing to make connections with actual people over books, but that will come someday. I must be patient. I’ve laid my traps with plenty of bait. Now we wait.

Draft No. 4 book cover on gardening tools.

This morning I picked up, Draft No 4 – On the Writing Process by John McPhee. I’m very excited about this one. Thomas C. Foster mentioned it in his book How to Read Nonfiction Like a Professor which I read back in December. When I was browsing Barnes & Noble (swoons at the memory), I found it and brought it home with me.

Ok…I wasn’t exactly browsing. It was more like a deliberate search for books I already had on my handy dandy wish list, but I went there with the intention of browsing and maybe picking up some nice new novels.

Any who…

The back of the book says, “a master class in the writer’s craft.” Yes, please! In lieu of actually being in a writing class, this will do nicely. One of my deepest, darkest desires…shut up…is to take a real class. You know, with people. But I was too insecure and shy to move forward on that idea BCB (that’s before covid bullshit) and now…forget it. The virus scares me a mere fraction of how much people do, so I’m steering clear of the herd until it settles.

But I can read a book! Right?! So here I am. This one looks fun.

Have you read it? Have you ever taken a writing class? Do you know of any online ones that are good? What about writer’s groups? I’ve been thinking about joining one of those for a long time, but haven’t gotten up the nerve.

If you’d like to read this with me, you can find Draft No. 4 at Thriftbooks.com. If you do read it (or you have already), leave me a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Mr. Feynman’s book “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!”

The Mr. Feynman book cover on the couch with the dog.

“Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!” is another used book from the 2020 book stash! Yay for free books!

I love memoirs and biographies, so I saved it based on that and because it sounded familiar, like I should know the title. I don’t know why and since I’ve looked it up a little before I started reading it, I still don’t see why it sounds familiar to me.

On my quick internet search, I found out that he is relatively famous, a Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist. Maybe I’ve heard the name in a movie or tv show?

It doesn’t matter. Like I said, I love memoirs and biographies, so that’s why I picked it up. I learn so much by reading about other people’s lives. It’s an addiction. No matter who they are, famous or not, and from any corner of the earth, short or long, reading memoir is like living multiple lives.

Reading history, I learn the framework of the past, the who, what, when and where. Reading historical fiction helps me get some perspective, adds details, the skin, hair, and nails to the skeleton framework of time.

Reading memoir, I step into a person’s thoughts and begin to add the muscles and tendons to that skeleton.

Everyone on this planet has their own personal perspective. If we could see the world through everyone else eyes and thoughts, instead of just our own, we’d have a better idea of what the world really looked like. Life would become far more multi-dimensional and less flat!

That’s why I read memoir and biography, to experience more than one life a time.

This one looks like it’s going to be fun. The man worked with Einstein! And if we learned anything from “The Big Bang Theory,” it’s that theoretical physicists are fun people to learn from.

Do you know of Richard Feynman? If you’d like to read it, you can find “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!” at Thriftbooks.com. I’d love to know what you thought of the book. Make a comment and we’ll talk!


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

Grendel by John Gardner

Written in 1972 and apparently made into an animated movie, but it’s new to me! The story of Grendel by John Gardner through the monster’s eyes.

Grendel by John Gardner book cover on a desert background.

Judged a book by its cover, you did. -Yoda

That’s exactly what I did, Yoda. I know the basic story of Grendel. Something about a monster that comes to the hall each year and attacks the warriors inside. They always try to keep it out but it always wins. It’s from Beowulf, which I read a million years ago, probably in a English Literature class.

I picked Grendel by John Gardner out of my friend’s book hoard simply because of the cover. The creature looks so sad, not so horrific and mean like other renditions of it. I wanted to find out why.

Thirty pages into it this morning and I see why. This is its story. The book isn’t about the monster from someone else’s point of view. It’s told from the monster’s point of view. Why does it do this? What motivates its monstrous behavior toward the human world? I was sucked in this morning, already feeling sorry for it, wondering what will happen.

I looked up the book title and found (of course) a Wikipedia article about Grendel. I didn’t want to read too much of it for fear of spoilers, so I quickly moved over to the John Gardner’s Wikipedia article and read some there. It looks like he created a bit of controversy back in the 70’s, but who didn’t? I found that he had also written a few books on writing that were popular, and you know how much I love books about reading and writing! I’ll be adding those titles to my wish list.

Do you know this author? Sometimes I feel like I’m late in the game. I find something new and exciting, coming running in to share it, and everyone else just looks at me like I stepped out of time machine from the past. If you’ve read it, or want to read it with me, shoot over some comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

“The Gods Themselves” by Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov book cover on a desert background.
“The Gods Themselves” by Isaac Asimov

I saw an Isaac Asimov book in that massive pile of books to be re-homed, and immediately picked it up. I have loved him ever since I read the Foundation books a few years ago. His sci-fi is unparalleled.

Do you like sci-fi books? If someone asked me, I’d say I’m not that much of a fan, but I do love the old classics. I love Star Trek. I’ve seen them all. I’ve read Dune and several Heinlein books. And the old movies? Love them!

But I’m not a sci-fi fanatic. I know people who are WAY more into it than I am. Maybe just an enthusiast?

Now I’m sitting here wondering if you could put people into personality classes by what book genres they love most. What kind of people like Fantasy? Romance? Historical Fiction? YA? Modern? Dystopian? It would be fun to work that out like a zodiac of sorts. Maybe I will! (adds idea to the list)

I especially love classic (AKA old) sci-fi because, even though the science is sometimes laughable (run this report up to the bridge!), the human struggle is still there, still relevant to our own time. Asimov has a great way of writing the science so well, that even I can follow along. Maybe someone who understood more science and math would think it was a deal breaker, but I can imagine what his worlds would look like, how things work.

And then there’s the underlying part of sci-fi, humanity. This book was written in 1972, so power supply is the focus. That’s what I love about sci-fi. You can see what people were worrying about when the book was written. If you know some history, sci-fi is even better to read. It’s fun to see what they predicted wrong, what became a non-issue and what we are still working on.

Here’s my favorite line from the first few pages.

“My facts are correct. And since they are, how can I be wrong?”

Craziest thing ever? Yesterday morning, while I was doing the dishes, I stopped and wrote this in my journal.

“We don’t all come to the same conclusions with the same information. There are infinite variables. It’s not math, it’s predicting the future. Even if we did come to same conclusion, it may not be at the same time. We need to give each other more space to grow.”

It’s an idea I was planning on spending some time on in the coming weeks. A few hours later, I need a break from the housework, so I randomly picked up a new novel out of my TBR pile to start reading. “Hmm…sci-fi sounds like fun right now.” Within a few pages, that idea boomerangs back to me from the universe.

And that’s what I love about the way I read. It’s like life. Follow your instincts, keep an open mind and an open heart, let go of attachment to outcomes, and see what happens. Not very science-minded, but it works for me.

Have you read any Asimov? Tell me what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

You can find “The Gods Themselves” by Isaac Asimov at Thirftbooks.com if you want to read with me!


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

“Wild Mind” by Natalie Goldberg

"Wild Mind" book cover on a the bed background.
“Wild Mind – Living The Writer’s Life” by Natalie Goldberg

“Wild Mind” looks to be a Zen book about writing! …swoons… We should be living the same way this author tells us how to find our writing inside of us and let it out for others to experience.

Pulled this down from the overflowing TBR stack yesterday morning and was immediately sucked in. How does a book find just the person that needs it? That’s what I want to know! Wow!

From the very first pages of the book…

“The mind is raw, full of energy, alive and hungry. It does not think in the way we were brought up to think – well-mannered, congenial.”

“When you are done with it, you know the author better. That’s all a reader really wants…”

Strange…isn’t that why author’s write? To explain themselves, their thinking, their desires, to you and to themselves as well. To share another point of view in the world, in the hopes of connecting with another human.

When you read, is that what you get from the article, essay, or novel?

When you write, do you find yourself thinking more clearly about who you are and what you want out of this life?

I’m looking forward to reading this. The chapters are short and there are “Try this:” pages to work through. I think I’ll take my time reading and work on creating some new habits.

I’ve never read anything by Natalie Goldberg. I didn’t go looking for this book. I just saw a book about writing with the word “wild mind” on the cover and was pulled to it. I listen to those voices that speak quietly to my heart now more than I ever have. I’m only fifteen pages into this book and I’m glad I did!

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can find “Wild Mind” by Natalie Goldberg at Thriftbooks.

Read my afterthoughts and more quotes from this delicious book at, Looking For Inspiration for Writing Your Story?


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

“A Man Without a Country” by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut book cover on a desert planter background.
Old Books Smell Good

I’m not a fan of Vonnegut. I know! Everyone likes him! But I find him funny in a negative way, not an uplifting one. Like…we’re all going to die, everyone is horrible, ha ha…kind of way. It makes me sad. And, according to my astrological sign, that’s intolerable to me.

And it is, really! That’s what’s so strange to me. I know not why, but I looked it up yesterday. My squirrel brain was overly active, so I decided to let it run free and follow it, much like I’m doing right now.

I’ve always been fascinated by horoscopes but a little skeptical, but then something comes up that is so right, and I think, “The stars know me!” Yesterday was one of those days. I swung all the way from “This is ALL SO much bullshit!” to “I’m basing every decision from here on out on what my stars tell me!” in a matter of minutes.

Where was I?

Oh, yes!

Kurt Vonnegut makes me sad, so I make him go away. But his stories are good, I’ll admit that. This book, specifically, is another one I picked out of the redistribution library back in December, “What Did My Blog Accomplish in 2020?” Why did I pick up a book by an author I’ve already read but don’t enjoy? Because I’ve heard of it and if I’ve heard of it and haven’t read it, it goes in the TBR pile!

So here I am reading it, laughing, and then then thinking, “Geez, Kurt. Way to be a downer.” I don’t always agree with him. Our politics are different and so are our personalities and outlooks. I’m giving it a chance because even if we have NOTHING in common, I can still find something to enjoy about a book by another human that lived on this earth.

Do you like Kurt Vonnegut? Have you read his books? Watched the movies? You can find his books at Thriftbooks.com! Leave me a comment and tell me what you think! Hell, leave me a comment and tell me what your sign is. I’m a Sagittarius, but you probably already know that.


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

“Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink book cover on a desert background.

I’ve been looking forward to reading “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell since I pulled it, and a couple of its brothers, out of my friend’s personal library redistribution project back in December. I redistributed those babies directly to the top of my TBR pile! If you’re curious, I wrote a bit about that adventure at the beginning of January, “What Did My Book Blog Accomplish in 2020?”

The first book I read by Malcolm Gladwell was “Talking to Strangers” and it was far more than I expected the book to be. “Enlightening” doesn’t begin to explain it. He writes about complicated human behavior in a way that makes you feel like you’re discovering it yourself. You know you’re being led somewhere, but you don’t know where. When you begin to arrive, you feel like you’re the smartest kid for finding it. And at the end of the book, you’ve incorporated what he’s said into your thinking without feeling like you were hit over the head and dragged there.

The subtitle to this one is, “The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.” It looks into all those snap judgements that we make, why we make them, and how can we harness that understanding. Those unconscious decisions we make so many times a day aren’t useless!

I’m only a chapter in this morning and I’m already thinking, “Whoa…THAT’S what’s happening!” It’s already confirming a few things for me, like why it was a good idea for me to stop watching the news and leave social media. It’s made me think about how I get my best writing done. And made me begin to rethink a few things that I’ve taken for granted.

“All that from the first 80 pages, Michelle? Really?”

Yes! He sets things up in an amazing way, expands on them over the bulk of the book, and then brings them all together in fascinating and useful way at the end. Like the Stephen King of psychology books!

Intrigued? You know you are! You can read more about Malcolm Gladwell and his books at his website. And if you decide to read the book, leave me a comment! As usual, I’ll be posting some quotes from the book along with my thoughts in the coming weeks. Be sure to subscribe to get them!


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

Page 2 of 15

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: