November 30, 2009

November Reads

I'm blaming T's birthday extravaganza and Thanksgiving travel for getting through only two books this November. And I'm not ashamed to admit it!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This book breaks my heart. It raises some very probing questions about life and its value and whether there's a point to it all. We live, we learn, we suffer, we love, we fail, we succeed and for what? For Kathy H., life is pretty idyllic at the boarding school where she and her friends live in the English countryside. It is there that she and her fellow students are educated, told they are special and are perfectly nourished and sheltered from the outside world. But they are not like the people on the outside. They are brought into this world for a specific purpose, one that could change the course of human history and science and the world as we know it. The premise is startlingly fascinating, and even though I was initially thrown off by the colloquial narration and the incessant shifts in time, my mind was reeling by the time I turned the last page. I imagine it would do well in a heated book club discussion.

Literacy and Longing in L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack. I came upon this book at the exact time when I felt like indulging in something a little lighter than what I've currently been into. I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but unfortunately it left me feeling very much disappointed. A book-obsessed female living in west Los Angeles leans on her towering piles of books for comfort when times are tough and embarks on a sort of literary odyssey to get her through it. Sounds like my cup of tea. But that's where the book should have ended. At about page 24. Because after that an aimless, uninteresting plot and poorly-developed characters I couldn't care less about take center stage, and I found myself finding joy only in the odd sentence or two where the protagonist offers an opinion (and one I usually don't agree with: how could you NOT like Jane Austen!?)
on a book I've either already read or haven't read that makes me subsequently want to read it. Even if you're a self-professed book FREAK, don't bother.

I'm plugging through a few challenging books at the moment that I quite ambitiously aim to finish before 2009 is over. Famous last words....

November 22, 2009

Santa Barbara Sunsets

Here are a few snapshots from T's birthday getaway. We drove up the California coast to spend a few nights at the stunning Four Seasons in Santa Barbara. As is evident in these photos, we drank in many a sunset, as well as quite a few flutes of sparkling wine.

More to come in a later post....

November 16, 2009

"The sweet serenity of books"

I came across this really interesting article from the Guardian (via the always enlightening perfume blog Now Smell This) about the mustiness of old books, why they smell so fantastic, and how the complex chemicals in a book's scent can aid the efforts of conservation. Pretty cool.

In case you're curious, the title of this post comes from a Longfellow quote I happen to cherish: "The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books."

{Photo and article via the Guardian}

November 12, 2009

Birthday Getaway

Today is T's birthday and in celebration we're heading up the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara for a few days. We both are in dire need of a little rest & relaxation and, perhaps, an opportunity to try something entirely new....

It's always an adventure with you, T. Happy Birthday!

November 11, 2009


Thinking about all the brave men and women who served their countries and sacrificed their lives this Rememberance Day (or Veteran's Day or Poppy Day or whatever incarnation you use), and listening to the podcast featuring Tim O'Brien's incredibly poignant The Things They Carried. Listen here.

When I lived in England a few years ago, I noticed that men and women would wear poppies on their lapel or coat on this day in a beautiful tribute to members of the armed forces. A very simple, albeit powerful, gesture.

November 1, 2009

Lazy Sunday

I stayed home all day doing an assortment of things: reading in bed, doing some laundry, vacuuming (oh, the glamour), baking pumpkin and chocolate chip muffins (pretty fab they were), and writing. All while wearing my pajamas--God bless the end of Daylight Savings Time and that extra hour of sleep! I finally caved in around 6 and made myself decent for an impromptu date night with T. We started off with oysters and sparkling wine, followed by some tapas and Spanish red wine, and ended with an apple tart and cappuccino (at three different venues, no less). Alas, I didn't have my camera with me, so I had to make do with my blackberry camera. Still, not a bad way to conclude the weekend.