September 28, 2008

Dewey Readmore Books

Today I watched the most adorable segment on CBS Sunday Morning (which really was CBS Sunday Afternoon here in New York, pre-empted on the tele for the Tunnel to Towers Run). It was about Dewey Readmore Books, the resident cat at Iowa's Spencer Public Library. Dewey (named after Melvil Dewey of Dewey Decimal fame) became the library's mascot after being shoved in the overnight book return by some heartless {very nasty word redacted by author} on a very cold January night. Dewey not only brought smiles to visitors' faces in his 19 years, he took a vested interest in their literary selections and often swatted at the titles he'd prefer to see them read. Can I get an, "Awwwwwwwww....."?

So now that summer's officially over here on the east coast, I thought I'd share my summer shore house reading. I used to read a LOT more, but less commuting and responsibilities of the new home (along with a subscription to the New Yorker...which just keep coming week, after week, after week...) have whittled down my books to just a handful. I should be logging these on Good Reads like my friend the voracious reader does, and I promise j. cro I'll get around to it one of these days!

I started Woody Guthrie: A Life in the spring...and it literally took me months (pick it up; put it down; repeat) to read. No two ways, Joe Klein did his homework when writing this book (and I felt like I was doing mine reading it!) -- it is well researched, well written, and proof that there were rebels in music who knew how to rock and write long before Bob Dylan. I really did enjoy this book...it's just the level of detail packed into its 48o pages *maybe* could have been edited a small bit. (This coming from someone who has the attention span of a gnat, so take it with a grain.) The flip side is that the book provides an amazing look into a time in America's history that they just don't teach to kids today ("kids today"...I sound like someone's grandmother!).


I wanted to like I Was Told There'd Be Cake more than I did. The subject matter of the short stories -- woman "coming of age" in New York...her experiences giving it a go on her own -- and the comparisons to David Sedaris had "Laura" written all over it. Maybe the stories were a little too "young" for me; maybe I'm just too jaded (no quote marks there -- I'm pretty jaded!). I liked it. Quick, fun stories to read on the beach. But not the gut-busting laughter I was hoping for across the board. Although the story about being cast as the Virgin Mary at summer camp was one that had me laughing out loud.

Wow is right! The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was this year's Pulitzer winner, and I was a bit surprised. Kind of in the same way I was a bit surprised when No Country For Old Men won Best Picture (The language! The violence!). But this dark and gripping novel is incredible -- the sharp language, the vivid imagery, the shotgun-like delivery of the narrator's Spanglish-laced tirades. I've read quite a few books (fiction and non) that deal with the American immigrant experience, and this is one of the best.


This is a good, good book. Sy Montgomery tells of how her life changed the fateful night she rescued the runt of the litter from one of her New Hampshire neighbors. "The Good Good Pig" almost read like a journal, and I loved how Montgomery wove in pieces of her life as a well-traveled nature writer into her stories of home life with Christopher Hogwood (yup; that's the pig's name). Full disclosure: I became a vegetarian shortly after reading Charlotte's Web as a kid, so this book sort of catered to me. :-)

I'm just finishing this up and I'm totally enjoying it. If you liked Eat, Pray, Love, you'll like this, too. Author Kathleen Flinn finds herself in her late-30s, laid off from her job overseas, and no prospects (career or otherwise) on the horizon. An acquaintance reminds her she's always wanted to go to the famous Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris -- wouldn't now be the ideal time? Each chapter journeys through another lesson -- in the kitchen, and in life -- with recipes ending each (seems to have "book club" written all over it). The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry is the sweet story of one woman's journey...and I'm dangerously closer to packing it in and studying to be a pastry chef with each page I turn.

11 comments:

heidi said...

I LOVE the cover for the "cake" book. It would have totally begged me to buy it. On your rec, I will get the piggy book next.

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

The piggy book is very good...I mean, Christopher Hogwood. How can you not love, right? ;-) If I didn't already give it away I'd pop it in the mail to you. I'm all about keeping books circulating.

Magpie Interior Design said...

OMG! I loved "I was told there would be cake"!! I read it on my summer vacation and was rolling on the floor. I could totally relate.

Each his own I suppose, right?!

Thanks so much for the comments on my blog!

~Stacy

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Stacy...maybe I was cranky?? I did read it in July, and it was pretty hot out. :-) There were a bunch of stories I did love...And the Virgin Mary did have me laughing out loud on the train.

Maureen said...

Oh, I am so very envious. I finally finished a book this weekend... Pete Hamill's most recent one. Thanks for the suggestions.

j.cro said...

Thanks for the book suggestions. I've added them to my Powell's wish list and my goodreads.com "to read" list. That's a REALLY loooong list.

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

maureen...Hamill's book is on my (never-ending) "to read" list. By the way, I laughed out loud at your "book club" post. :-) You all will get a kick out of this…

http://maureen0608.blogspot.com/2008/09/my-new-book-club.html


j. cro…I can toss the “cake” book your way. It’s at the shore house. You’ll read it in like one round trip commute!

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Laura, I know..he just doesn't know the price of furniture. It's def. a good deal & you are SO right, the bookcase is going in that black/white room. That's the only place I can sqeeze it!

Susan said...

Thanks for the link to the oh so sweet story of Dewey ... and also the great book selections. I've just gone to my online library site to order "The Sharper your Knife ...". Thanks also for stopping by Black Street and for your lovely encouraging comments re: my upcoming etsy shop wares

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

rhoda -- he's just wrong on this one. WRONG! ;-) I can't believe what a great deal - especially if that piece is Hooker!

susan -- Dewey's story is *definitely* up your alley! And I think you'll quite like "The Sharper Your Knife..." Quick read and good recipes, too.

Pat said...

Hi Laura
I love the CBS Morning show too! I missed it this weekend but I think the library cat story was a repeat as I think I saw that segment before.

I love your reading list! Any one of them would be a book I'd pick up from the library. Now that the nice weather is fading I have to get back to my cozy chair, with my cat on my lap, and get reading again!