Friday, September 4, 2015

We Were On a Break

So I was on vacation last week and it was glorious. Very limited wi-fi meant I pretty much popped onto Facebook, posted a picture, and popped off again. A quick read of my USA Today app and one e-mail check per day and I was done. During my vacation, I managed to read a bit. I would have read more, but it turns out that while ignoring your own children is perfectly acceptable, ignoring your niece and nephew (and subsequently your BIL and SIL) is frowned upon. The few times my SIL and I actually tried to read, some damn kid always interrupted. The nerve!

Anyway, I am also off-list as the moment. I’ve got a few books to go but I am busy hunting them down and besides, I was on vacation! I wanted to live free and pick my own reading material. Here’s what I read:

Fly Away Home – Jennifer Weiner

                Breakfast in five-star hotels was always the same.

Surprisingly, I owned this one but had not read it. It wasn’t even on the right shelf. Nor was it stamped. (Of course I have a personalized stamp for every book once it is read. I’m a nerd. Have we met?) A friend strenuously recommended it and the discussion she and I will have will be private. The one I have with you will be much more succinct – I liked it, but didn’t love it. I felt like the entire book was one giant first act, half of a second act, and then no third act at all. I also felt like a pivotal and important scene that would have changed the entire book was blatantly ignored, and considering the author is a proud feminist, it was a scene I really wanted her to sink her teeth into, not pass over in a blip. Bummer for me when the damn writers don’t write what I want! However, it’s a good light read and if you are a fan of her oeuvre, then go ahead and pick it up. If not, skip this one and start with Good in Bed or Little Earthquakes, the two books of hers that I love the most. (I have noticed that her books are very personal to each reader, more so than with other authors, so you might want to read the synopsis first to see which one sings to you.)

The Martian- Andy Weir

                I’m pretty much fucked.

Get thee to a bookstore immediately and buy this book. Please. Those of you who are technically minded will absolutely adore this book about a man stuck on Mars who must figure out how to survive using nothing but his brains and the stuff he has on hand. It is an epic case of McGuyvering with a truly fantastic narrator. He’s smart, funny, whimsical, and basically everything I expect Matt Damon would be in person if we ever met. Oh, wait, did I mention they are making a movie of this very book starring Matt Damon. Now, I dare you to read this book and not hear his voice. Honestly though – this is a fantastic book. While it is science fiction, the author tried really hard to make the science real. If you have an engineer in your life, or a botanist, or any space geek, this is the perfect gift book. Trust me. And if you failed chemistry, never made it to physics, and have a black thumb (cough cough), then you will still love this book because the writing is so sharp. Don’t you dare even think of seeing this movie without reading the book first!

Desperate Networks – Bill Carter

As the 2004-2005 television season hit its first benchmark, the close of the November sweeps rating period, Bob Wright, the NBC chairman, sitting at his desk in his big office on the fifty-second floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan, found himself troubled.

I picked this up at a used book sale. I have a soft spot for books about television and movies and this author has written two excellent books about the battle for late night TV. I like to see what is in the sausage, so to speak, when it comes to how a movie or television show is made. I am always shocked how little actual creativity is called for and how much “art” is made by committee. This book was about how NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox battled for ratings and viewers over the course of the time between when Friends ended and Lost began. There are a bajillion names and everyone is always leaving one company for another and it is light on gossip and heavy on process, but it was still interesting. The snark, when it does appear, is worthwhile. (The section making fun of the Friends cast for deigning to work for a million per episode was great.) I imagine any true insiders already know all of this and the book is a decade old, but it was still a solid read.

And now, my friends, it is time. I have put it off long enough. I have bargained my way out of reading more of it. But this was the only book the library had in stock and it is time to pay the piper. Heaven help me. I am about to read Cormac Bloody McCarthy. 

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