Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #137


13. The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage by Daniel Mark Epstein. The best of the lot. Abraham and Mary Lincoln -- two extraordinary people -- are viewed the prism of that most ordinary institution -- marriage. It's beautifully written and compassionate. They both come to life and by the end of the book, I missed them.

12. The Cat Who Went Up the Creek
by Lillian Jackson Braun. An oldie (2002) but a goodie. From Shelfari, "Qwill and the cats -- Koko and Yum Yum -- are at the Nutcracker Inn in Black Creek when a drowned guest puts a damper on their stay." It's not a thrilling thriller, there's not a lot of action, but it moves at a good pace and the characters are charmingly eccentric.

11. Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell. A new Scarpetta! This time with Kay back narrating! From Shelfari, "A young man drops dead, apparently from a cardiac arrhythmia, eerily close to Scarpetta's new Cambridge home. But when his body is examined the next morning, there are stunning indications that he may have been alive when he was zipped inside a pouch and locked insider the Center's cooler."

10. Bright Lights, Big Ass. The subtitle says it all, "A Self-Indulgent, Surly, Ex-Sorority Girl's Guide to Why It Often Sucks in the City, or Who Are These Idiots and Why Do They All Live Next Door to Me?" A funny memoir by Chicagoland's own Jen Lancaster. It's my least favorite of the three I have read, though, because it's so mean-spirited. She has railed against those who compare Bush to Hitler, yet makes it clear that she would like to "pee" on the campaign signs for a certain "socialist" candidate displayed on her neighbor's lawn during the 2008 Presidential campaign. She thinks it was funny that she and her husband (both admittedly overweight) knocked small children over while hurtling downhill on a sled. By the end of this book, I thought the "she-could-be-a-gf" vibe I got from her other books was by mistake.

9. Between a Rock and a Hot Place by Tracey Jackson. A woman deals with menopause by any means necessary, and shares her experiences. She has a great sensitive of humor and an accessible writing style. She also has a lot more resources, alas, than most women do as we struggle through this.

8. Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster. Now this is the funny one. This is the Jen whose voice you like having in your head when you're at the grocery store or the gym. It's about her struggle to lose weight, and it's both inspirational and a riot.

7. Robert Redford by Michael Feeney Callahan. An in-depth look at a very private, very stubborn, very smart man. In a way, like Gatsby (who he rather unsuccessfully portrayed in the 1970s), he's not well understood, nor does he seem to be wish to be.

6. Sixkill by Robert Parker. From Shelfari, "On location in Boston, bad-boy actor Jumbo Nelson is accused of the rape and murder of a young woman. From the start the case seems fishy, so the Boston PD calls on Spenser to investigate." I don't know how I felt about it. It's not a great Parker effort, but it's the last Spenser he finished himself before his death, so I savored it.

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It's a good book. It's not a great book. It's not To Kill a Mockingbird or any of the other classics it's been compared to, but it's an example of spellbinding storytelling. These are women you care about and root for!

4. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. It's slim and superficial. But so what? Even a mediocre Carrie Fisher memoir is a witty thrill ride.

3. Mommy's Little Girl by Diane Fanning. A chronological retelling of the Caylee Anthony murder. There's little that's new here, but having the story laid out in this way is chilling.

2. The Ultimate Weight Solution by Dr. Phil McGraw. I'm not Dr. Phi fan -- not by a long shot -- but this book is so full of common sense that I had to respect it. Once my current health problems are behind me, I look forward to putting them into practice

1. Against All Odds by Senator Scott Brown. Yes, I'm reading a book by a Republican. A really hot Republican. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that his looks make his politics easier to take. But it also must be said that he's had an amazing life. And he's an independent (if not especially deep) thinker, not an idealog, and his decisions are informed by life experiences and compassion.

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This is rich

Look what my self-centered kid sister just posted on Facebook:

BREAKING NEWS: The Pity Train has derailed at the intersection of Suck It Up & Move On, and crashed into We All Have Problems, before coming to a complete stop at Get Over It. Any complaints about how we operate can be forwarded to 1-800-waa-waaa . This is Dr. Sniffle reporting LIVE from Quitchur Fussin'. If you like this, re-post it. If you don't..suck it up cupcake, Life doesn't revolve around YOU. (HA.)

Pardon me as I try to think of a single bad thing that has happened in her life that she's taken remote responsibility for … Nope. Can't think of a one.

Not MY Jackie!

While I hope the rumors of her affairs are true, I cannot believe she ever discussed them with anyone on tape. No way did she blame LBJ for the assassination. And most insulting of all -- NO WAY WOULD SHE EVER HAVE SUCH LIMPY-ASS HAIR!

Now, sit back and enjoy!

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 16

Calendars for Christmas! The Border's Going Out of Business Sale includes 2012 calendars that they are just now putting on the shelves! I got page-a-day's for my friend Mindy (Jeopardy!) and my oldest friend (Film Fanatic's Trivia) and a Beatles wall calendar for my nephew -- who not only is, in his words, "a massive Beatle fan," but is also switching rooms with his older sister soon and will have more wall space going into the new year. That was $46 worth of Christmas presents for $20.40! I'm trying to find ways to economize and so this makes me very happy. After all, I don't want to cut down the quantity or quality of what I put under people's trees this year, just the expense.

And, since I felt ghoulish being so ecstatic about a sale that springs from neighborhood jobs being lost, I took care to make an economical karma-protecting purchase. There was a book about that old standby, Barbara Millicent Rogers (aka Barbie Doll) that came with a real-live fabric tote, made of official Mattel/Barbie-brand fabric (aka the same crap they make Barbie Doll clothes out of). I know that, at 6 or 7, I would have found this staggeringly cool, and I assume another little girl will, too, so I picked it up for my Toys for Tots box. Another smile and happy holiday memory for someone for just $2.40!