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Recent Reads

[A re-read of a book I originally read and enjoyed in 2014.]  Hard Time by Cara McKenna (2014). Romance blooms through letters between an inmate and the public librarian who spends a day a week working with the prisoners. What happens when their relationship has the chance to become more than just one on paper? Steamy, excellent read about two imperfect people unexpectedly finding each other.

The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (2010).  Definitely worth reading for all Americans, Alexander gets to the heart of current and historical race relations and institutionalized racism.  Alexander shows that the epidemic (yes, it’s an epidemic) of black men in prison, or with criminal records, is in part due to the fact that they’re more likely to be stopped for questioning (think DWB—Driving While Black), more likely to be charged, more likely to be convicted, more likely to be given harsher sentences—always “more likely.”  

One, among many, of my favorite quotes from the book:

“When we think of racism we think of Governor Wallace of Alabama blocking the schoolhouse door; we think of water hoses, lynchings, racial epithets, and "whites only" signs. These images make it easy to forget that many wonderful, goodhearted white people who were generous to others, respectful of their neighbors, and even kind to their black maids, gardeners, or shoe shiners--and wished them well--nevertheless went to the polls and voted for racial segregation... Our understanding of racism is therefore shaped by the most extreme expressions of individual bigotry, not by the way in which it functions naturally, almost invisibly (and sometimes with genuinely benign intent), when it is embedded in the structure of a social system.”

The Ascent of Nanda Devi by H.W. Tillman (1947).  Tillman writes about the successful ascent of Nanda Devi in 1936.  I guess I expected more adventure, controversy, or something because the book left me feeling pretty bored.  I kept reading in the hopes that the adventure would improve after the build-up of just preparing and reaching Nanda Devi.  Nope.

As an aside, why is it difficult for me to say that I didn’t really enjoy something written by someone who is now dead?
Are you reading anything interesting--or funny or boring or whatever?


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If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor

The May selection for my work book club is Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (2002). The novel follows various individuals in one neighborhood on a particular day, an ordinary day that ends with a terrible tragedy.

Here's the short set of questions I e-mailed to book club members yesterday, along with my own responses.

Did you have a favorite character, or one that spoke to you the most? Who and why?
The father with the burned hands is the one who stayed with me the most after reading the book.

Did you notice that the day on which the events unfold is actually the same day that Diana, Princess of Wales, died? Does knowing that make any difference in how you see the story? I wouldn't have made the connection if I hadn't just watched some of the coverage of the Royal Wedding. To quote the author, he chose this particular day because his novel is about how ". . .everyday miracles of life and death go unwitnessed in favor of celebrity and sensati…

Current Little Pleasures

Girls' weekend in Omaha with Maya and her friend.

Happy Buddha:  Sweet Orange and Cedar Shower Foam from RITUALS

Time for iced or blended peppermint mochas.

Shopping for little gifts for Maya's Japanese pen pal.  They were matched through their schools, and we're hoping she can stay with us for a few days this summer.

The flock of wild turkeys, foxes, and other assorted wildlife entertaining us this fall.

Thanksgiving plans to visit my sister.

Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas is back!

Current Little Pleasures

Christmas Keepsake Week, July 14-23, filled with Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.

Sending Christmas (in July) cards with a Peace greeting to some of my favorite people.  Why not??

Scott Tube Free Toilet Paper--nothing to recycle.

Haagen-Dazs Coffee Ice Cream--always!

Baby Driver movie.

Seeing photos from my sisters and niece on Facebook during their Italy trip.  I can't imagine they will want to come back home!

What are your current little pleasures?