I've fallen very behind with updates about the last few books I've read, so here's a quick recap before I'm off on vacation tomorrow. Living on the Edge of the World is a collection of essays by writers from New Jersey. I enjoyed it, as would anyone from the state would.
I picked up The Light in the Piazza by Elizabeth Spencer at the library. The title caught my eye because it had been a Broadway musical a few years ago. The library copy I borrowed was so old that it had a 1968 check-out date written in the back! Really more of a novella, it only took me a couple of hours to read.
Finally, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain De Botton piqued my interest when it was reviewed on The Daily Beast a few months ago. The author devotes each chapter to covering a different field of occupation, ranging from manufacturing to aviation to accounting (which I surprisingly found to be the most interesting). He spends part of the book describing different aspects of each field, then delves into more philosophical musings about the nature of modern work in general, like how increased specialization has created a disconnect between a worker's daily tasks and a fulfilling end result. It's partially my interest in economics that made me like this book, but it's also partially the author's voice. He sounds very upper-class, educated, and British, but somehow it's not off-putting. He occasionally veers into a mocking tone toward his subjects, but only equally as often as he adopts a mocking tone toward himself.
Now I'm off on vacation, leaving both work and New Jersey behind until Saturday. When I come back I'll have more pictures and updates on the (hopefully) many books I've read.
The Jackie Kennedy biography was interesting and I'm glad I read it, although aside from a few random facts, it wasn't that earth-shattering in terms of things I didn't already know about her. I did think the author was stretching some of the biographical facts a bit. Jackie liked to read as a girl...does that necessarily lead to the assumption that she read Jane Eyre and imagined that her school's headmistress was secretly insane like Rochester's wife in the attic? I'd like to see the documentation behind that fact.
Julie & Julia was such a cute movie. Nothing overly dramatic happens to either of the characters, but it's just so charming watching them go through all of the little things in their lives. I walked away wanting to a) read My Life in France by Julia Child and b) wear my pearls more often!
While this is definitely a worthwhile read, I wish I had read it as part of an English class instead of as a summer reading choice. It's actually more interesting that you would expect a book about two missionary priests in 19th century New Mexico to be, but it just wasn't what I was in the mood for right now.
The other night I made the quickest, easiest blueberry crisp ever. You just mix the topping ingredients (oats, flour, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon) in a bowl, pour over the berries in a baking dish, and microwave. That's it.
The microwaving time can be estimated. I think about 8 minutes for a large size pan. Although it looks big in this picture, I actually made mine in a small, personal-sized pan, so 4 minutes in the microwave was more than enough time to both cook the crisp and make a bit of a mess when the berries burst and overflowed the pan. After the cleanup, the end result was very yummy.
My expectations weren't that high going into this book, mostly because it’s had such mainstream success (sad, I know). Luckily, it exceeded my expectations and I really can’t say enough good things about it. The story is relatively traditional and you pretty much know where the plot is heading, but in a way that’s comforting, not stale. The characters are charming and well written. It’s such an overall enjoyable book that I sunk into a state of gloom when I finished it and was left without any more of it to read! I might even include this among my top 25 books of ALL TIME. Speaking of which…I may have to think about compiling that list for a future post.
Side note: I also just finished Spiral Hunt by Margaret Ronald. It’s a fantasy/ sci-fi book that I read because the author is a hometown neighbor of a friend. It blended real life with magical elements in the same way as books like Harry Potter or Twilight and made good use of Boston as it’s setting, which I enjoyed. It’s not enough to turn me into a sci-fi fanatic, but it was an entertaining read, especially for the summer.