Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Salon: April 27, 2014

The Sunday

The Scene: Post Readathon - on the couch, coffee in hand. Yesterday was the readathon - here is my post event summary (I didn't answer all the meme questions):

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? I got tired at about hour 14 but it wasn't very daunting because I just went to bed :)
  2. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Maybe a mini-challenge focused on comments/interactions among participants?
  3. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? Balancing movement with reading - I got my 10K steps in and think it helped with energy
  4. How many books did you read? Finished one and read part of a 2nd plus part of an audiobook
  5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Assuming my schedule permits, definitely! 
pages read: 165
minutes listened: 120
books finished: 1
steps walked: 10258
$$ raised for ASPCA ($.10/page or minutes read + $.25 for every comment) = $29.75 (I will round to $30 and my company will match for a total of $60)

Prince - my trusty readathon buddy! 

Reading: I spent most of the readathon enjoying Delicious! by Ruth Reichl - I am about halfway through and the book is excellent! Part celebration of food and NY and part historical fiction - the books has so much to offer! This week I finally gave up on my last audiobook - Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen. It just wasn't holding my attention and I found myself listening to anything else while I walked. I am disappointed because I know so many like her books but it just wasn't working for me.  I have moved on to Americanah

Blogging: This week I posted my review of The Last Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin. I listened to this last year but had not reviewed yet. I was reminded of it as I listened to story of Easter at Mass on Sunday.

Watching : I am hoping to catch a film as part of the Tribeca Film Festival today.  I say I am going to see something every year but somehow it never works out.  Hoping to change that today! 

Looking Forward To: Continued good weather - after getting a taste of sunshine and warmth in Florida last week, I am ready for summer! 

Grateful: For the chance to see my parents last weekend in Florida and spend some time catching up and relaxing. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Readathon - Kick-Off and Updates

It's almost 8 am on the East Coast and time to start the Readathon! I will be doing the first hour "on the road" with my audiobook because Prince needs his walk and we usually do a long one on weekends. After that I will be back on the couch ready to crack open my book.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Probably Family Life - since seeing the author speak 2 weeks ago, I have been dying to get into this one

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
My food choices are still pretty limited post surgery so I think the junk food snacks are out :( But maybe I will try a new smoothie mixture

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I adopted my little pup, Prince, the night before the last readathon and he will be by my side throughout these 24 hours.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?
Definitely more movement.  I have my Fitbit on and plan to hit at least 10K steps today!

Hour 6 Update
Prince and I started off the day with a nice, long walk and I listened to my audiobook for about 90 minutes.  We picked up fuel for the readathon in the form of coffee and fresh raspberries from the farmer's market.

I started strong by finishing a book I was almost done with - On the Rocks by Erin Duffy and now I am about 50 pages into Delicious! by Ruth Reichl.  Although it is making me hungry, I am thoroughly enjoying it! 

pages read: 65
minutes listened: 90
books finished: 1
steps walked: 4826
$$ raised for ASPCA ($.10/page or minutes read + $.25 for every comment) = $15.75

Best of Your Reading Year Challenge:
The year is young but at this point, my choices are: 
Best Book of your Reading Year: Glitter and Glue (links to mt review) by Kelly Corrigan (a great Mother's Day pick too) 
Best Non-Fiction of your Reading Year: Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink - gripping and reads like a thriller
Best Setting of your Reading Year: Newport, RI beaches from On the Rocks by Erin Duffy - brings back memories of summer beach houses and welcome warmth after our long winter.

Mid Event Meme
1. What are you reading right now?
Still working on Delicious! and Americanah (audio)
2. How many books have you read so far?
Finished one, two in progress (see above)
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
I may not start a new book in the 2nd half - it depends on how long I stay up!
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
Fortunately, I had a pretty free day
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
I really haven't had many interruptions and have been able to pace myself well
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
How much reading I am getting done - usually I am easily distracted and find it hard to settle down to read during the event
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Nothing yet! 
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
Nothing to change right now - my formula is working well this year
9. Are you getting tired yet?
I had a brief nap this afternoon so feeling pretty good! 
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
Others have probably already discovered this, but I have found working in some walking throughout the day has really made a difference in my energy! 

Hope you are having a great readathon! 

I will update this post throughout the day with my progress.  You can also follow me on Twitter (@booksnyc) and Instagram 

Friday, April 25, 2014

24 Hour Read a Thon: April 26, 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is taking place tomorrow and I excited that I have the day free and can take part. It's a fun event and brings camaraderie to an reading which is generally a solitary activity. I have selected some book candidates for the day and am just going to let myself pick what looks good in the moment. I also have Americanah on audio for when I need a movement break, dog walk or just break to do some things around the house.

As I have done in past readathons, I will be reading for charity again.  As many of my blog readers know, I adopted a dog, Prince, from the ASPCA in October. As I looked back over my posts from last year, I realized that I adopted Prince the night before the October 2013 Readathon.  In honor of that and all the happiness he has brought to my life, I will be donating to the ASPCA for this readathon.

One thing I hope to do a bit differently this year (and some of this will be mandated by Prince) is to walk at regular intervals throughout the day. I am addicted to my Fitbit  and don't want to drop my step count for the day!  I think the walks will help break up the day and keep me reading longer.

Good luck with the readathon if you are participating! You can check my progress on Twitter , Instagram and of course, this blog.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Audiobook Review: The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin

In The Testament of Mary (3 hours, 7 minutes; narrated by Meryl Streep), author Colm Toibin gives voice to Mary, mother of Jesus. Now elderly, Mary remembers the crucifixion of her Son and retells it in grim detail. She also provides her perspective on his followers - and it is not an exalted view. In much the same way, she is cynical about her Son's death; she does not share his view that He will rise again and questions whether His violent death was "worth it". Her bitter, resigned tone is in stark contrast to the portrait painted of her in Bible as a long-suffering but gracious martyr who sacrificed her only Son for the greater good of humanity.

In this novella, Mary is a grieving mother, mourning the loss of her only Son. With mourning, comes anger - anger at those that killed him, at herself for not doing enough for him on his path to crucifixion and anger at his zealous followers and what she sees as their celebration of his death. To them, he was a leader of a movement and he has left a legacy they must carry on by telling his stories in Gospels and starting the Church. To Mary, however, he was her son - completely human, cruelly executed and his death is nothing to be celebrated. His supposed legacy does not bring her comfort. Rather, she is suspicious of His disciples, questions their motives and finds their efforts to care for her cloying and overbearing.

My Thoughts
This book fascinated me not only because it provided a provocative view so contrary to everything I learned in Catholic school but also because the author executes the narrative with such artistry. In typical Toibin style, the language is spare but beautiful. The spare narrative only emphasizes the raw grief experienced by Mary and brings that to life. Mary in this tale is, first and foremost, human. She experiences grief you would expect from any mother but it is still shocking as it runs counter to all we have been told about the martyr Mary who gave up her only Son to save the world. Even though the events of the story - walking to the cross, His death, and the discovery of the empty tomb on the third day are well known by those familiar with the New Testament, this novella is gripping because we hear it from the perspective of someone who cannot celebrate the miracle but rather mourns her Son and questions how there can be any value in his cruel death.

The audiobook is narrated by Meryl Streep and her performance is exemplary. I felt as if I was sitting in a theater listening to a Broadway performance.  She imbues each line with such emotion that I actually had a heavy heart listening in places as Meryl as Mary describes her overwhelming grief. As beautiful as Toibin's written words are, I think they were made all the better by Streep's performance.  Highly recommend this provocative but beautiful novella.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Salon: April 13, 2014

The Sunday

The scene: Noon on Sunday morning reviewing pictures from a trip to New York Botanical Gardens yesterday.  It was the PERFECT day - the weather was amazing and the flowers were gorgeous. The orchid show is featured there now and they were stunning.

Reading: On the Rocks by Erin Duffy  - I really enjoyed this author's first book - Bond Girl so I am glad to  be reading her second book. It also has a beautiful beachy cover which is very appealing these days.
Earlier this week, I heard a review on NPR of Family Life by Akhil Sharma. I was very excited to see that the author will be at Center for Fiction tomorrow night - I will definitely be picking up a copy of this book there to read soon!

Blogging: This week I posted my review of Four Friends by Robyn Carr . Although not all the women resonated for me, it was still an enjoyable read and had more substance that I expected.

Watching : I am looking forward to the season premiere of Nurse Jackie tonight. I love Jackie's flawed but down to earth character and am glad the show is back.

Looking Forward To: The trip to Florida later this week - after the winter we have had and being cooped up while recovering from surgery, I am ready for some warm weather and sustained sunshine. The beach - here I come!

Grateful: That the weather has turned a corner here - I think we are finally out of winter - yay!.

Have a great week!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: Four Friends by Robyn Carr

In Four Friends by Robyn Carr, we meet Gerri, Andy, Sonja and BJ who all live on the same block in Mill Valley. As the book opens, there are really three friends and the outsider, BJ. Gerri, Andy and Sonja meet every morning for a walk and marvel as BJ speeds by on her daily run. One by one, each of the walkers experience turbulence in their marriages and lean on each other for support far greater than accompaniment on a morning walk. Even BJ breaks down her walls and is drawn into the circle of women and offers support.

The first marriage to crumble is Andy's; it is her second marriage and she grieves more about being twice divorced than the loss of her second husband. Her contractor, Bob, offers companionship as he finishes up the kitchen renovation in the wake of her depositing her husband's belongings on the front lawn. Bob is different from the young, pretty boys Andy has generally dated and she is surprised at her feelings for him. While Andy is moving on with Bob, Sonja's husband George abruptly informs her he is tired of the clean living, zen lifestyle she has imposed upon him. Sonja, a practitioner of yoga and meditation, becomes undone at the break-up of her marriage and plunges into a deep depression. Surprisingly, it is BJ who sees the seriousness of Sonja's condition and presses Gerri and Andy to intervene. Her leap to help Sonja breaks down the wall she has put up and the women begin to learn of her difficult history.

The main story, however, centers around Gerri and her marital issues. Married to Phil with three adolescent children, Gerri believes her marriage to be solid and considers Phil her best friend. They are so focused on keeping everything moving with their two demanding jobs and children with the usual assortment of crises that Gerri has lost sight of the fact that there is little romance in their marriage. It is brought to her attention when she learns that Phil had an affair a number of years ago. Gerri is shaken to the core by this news and promptly moves Phil out of the house while they attend counseling and try to salvage their marriage.

My Thoughts
This book was an easy, enjoyable read and it was fun to sit in on this group of friends as they managed through their trials. The character that resonated the most with me was Gerri - her feelings for Phil and the future of their marriage were multidimensional and believable. Her story was also the best developed and was really the centerpiece of the novel.  The other women and the friendship between the four was a supporting cast to Gerri and Phil's story. Most readers will be able to see themselves or their friends in one or more of the women.