You Are What You Read

You Are What You Read!


Greetings and welcome to the Finally Friday Edition of You Are What You Read. This week’s housekeeping: We send thanks to the Always Charming Diane H for the Taffy Offering of the week. This taffy hails from Rhode Island where they, to my knowledge anyway, do not make it from cactus parts.  Thanks again Diane!  I have no news on Animals Run Amok.  It would appear that the Animal Kingdom is behaving itself and our lives are not overlapping.  I believe this to be a good thing. 

As you can see from our image this week, The SoNo Loft is BACK!  The message is a gentle reminder that sometimes we have to break free of that oh so comfortable comfort zone and try something that’s scary.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”  A couple of years ago there was a book written called My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock.  You may remember how much we all enjoyed it.  Anyway, the author was at a crossroads in her life and she did just that.  Every day she forced herself out of her comfort zone and did something, that to her, was scary.   Grab one of our copies for the weekend read.  I promise it will not disappoint.  Just make sure that your scary thing isn’t a stupid thing, like sticking a fork in the toaster. 

This week we have some sarcasm (no surprise there), an explosion, a muse and some guts and grit.

The Playlist?  Yes is the answer.  And you know that for sure!  (Happy 70th John Lennon!)

Let us begin!

Kaitlin from the Rock is BACK this week with her print and listening.  “Sooooo--I'm still reading Go Set a Watchman. But I'm now listening to Bossypants, by Tina Fey. The good news is that it's hilarious--her stories are relatable, her delivery is sarcastic and witty, and I feel like I'm getting to know someone I always enjoyed watching on TV. The bad news is that I look like a fool laughing out loud and gasping for air as I run around the Rock.”  If you knew the characters that live in our neighborhood you would doubt this as much as I do!

Sweet Ann has just finished Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg. “This a well written novel that follows a group of people reacting to an explosion that occurs on the eve of what was to be a joyous wedding day.  Four people were killed, the bride and groom to be, the father of the bride and a much younger man who is dating the bride's mother. While it made for an interesting story to follow the different points of view, at times it became a bit confusing to figure out their relationships to the deceased. But, it did all become clear at the end of the novel.   Did You Ever Have a Family is a story of forgiveness.  I thought it was a well written book and I would recommend it.”

Abby has just finished Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. “I always appreciate a book that feels totally original and consider it compliment to say a book reminds me of no other and this is true of Fates & Furies. When Lotto and Mathilde are newly married, they are completely immersed in one another. Lotto has personality, charm, and rumors of a grand family fortune.  Mathilde is a beautiful and mysterious woman, striking in her height and hard edges. Together, they are a force. Mathilde fills the classic role of muse to Lotto by paying the bills, ensuring he is surrounded by loved ones, and allowing him to work. But when we hit the midpoint of the story, Groff turns the second half of the novel into a revealing study of Mathilde, and what we see is far from what was initially depicted. There are some lovely passages and images that have stayed with me, but ultimately, I was unable to buy fully into the stories of the characters.”  

The Always Delightful Pat S has turned the last page on Can I Go Now: The Life of Sue Mengers, Hollywood’s First Superagent.  "Can I Go Now? is an intriguing look at a woman who steamrolled her way into an exalted position in a Hollywood that was run by an old boys network, as well as an up close examination of the American film industry in the 60’s and 70’s. Sue Mengers may have started off as a receptionist at a talent agency in NY but she knew in a second that she could and would be a dealmaker to and for Hollywood stars. In ten years’ time, through sheer guts and grit, Mengers had bullied and cajoled her way to California, and along the way, become the highest paid talent agent in the world. While Mengers passed in 2011, Kellow has stuffed his book full of anecdotes from Michael Caine, Ryan O’Neal, Barbra Streisand, Jack Nicholson, Candice Bergan, Ali McGraw, Tina Fey, Peter Bogdonovitch and Robert Evans. While these tales tell much about Sue Mengers as agent, friend, enemy, collaborator, they also speak to the heady times defining the film industry in the last quarter of the last century with an excess of money, drugs and creativity. It was a time when all bets were off-with one exception: growing old. Aging was the one thing that Hollywood could not countenance. In spite of all the success and countless accolades which marked her career years, her last years were sadly somber.

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from SUN with the final musings and of course The Playlist.  What’s good Pats? "This week The Loft is BACK! In the midst of their rooftop construction, I thought about the words hanging off their balcony. We increasingly live in a world where the word, “YES” is used less frequently. I don’t know about you, but as a gal with a glass is half-full viewpoint, I could use a little more ‘yes’ in my life that doesn’t involve interweb searches for cute baby animals to soothe my soul. So this week I highly recommend Yes, Please  by Amy Poehler. I understand the value of improvisation and how it relates to everyday living and the potential for classroom education. The four C’s of improv are creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. Although this curriculum exists at some high schools as an elective, wouldn’t it be transformative if we added this to our elementary schools.  Yes, it would!! This week is all about the yes."

DL YES AND... 2015

You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the First Storm Watch Edition of You Are What You Read.  This week’s housekeeping is thusly:  Thanks to Karyn A for the Prickly Pear Taffy from Tempe, AZ. Yes this is a Thing.  Who knew? Oh, and by the way?  It’s rather delicious!  The roof work on The SoNo Loft appears to be over with a brand new railing all white and shiny and awaiting the first banner.  Let’s hope that happens soon.

In Nature Run Amok News, did you hear about the monkey that made the break for freedom in Florida?  If not, here is where you can get the 411 on that.  Please feel free to listen to the 911 call.  I am especially fond of the part where the operator asks the caller to describe the car that the monkey is sitting on.  Well Ms. Operator, it would be the car with the MONKEY on the roof.  In all my trips to Florida I have never seen a monkey on a car roof so I am pretty sure that this is a Rare Thing, not a Thing and fairly easy to spot.  The other disconcerting part of this call is hearing the bystanders pronouncing the monkey ‘cute’ as the monkey grabs mail out of a mailbox and eats it.   Obviously they have never read The Hot Zone.  There is nothing cute about a monkey on a spree of destruction.  At any rate, officers were able to get Zeek the Macaque back to its owner and restore order.  Rest easy People!

The big question this weekend is lay in the bottled water and canned goods? Or should one take a chance and hope for the best.  I would like to take this opportunity to make my pitch for being prepared.  People! We live in the Northeast.  The weather can turn on a dime and when you factor in Global Warming?  It’s always best to have your ducks in a row.  For me this means a loaf of bread and some nice bacon in the freezer, a dozen eggs, some pasta, a nice piece of hard cheese and adequate wine supply. With this in your universe and a gas stove you may make any number of meals to tide you through. Have a gas grill?  Be sure the propane is filled.  Make sure your batteries are fresh, devices charged, flashlights at the ready (one for each family member) and cars are gassed up.   And of course the most important part of this list is a nice stack of books to see you through.  We can help you with that!  Don’t panic, People. We’ll all be fine. 

This week we have some schlepping and flashbacks, Issues, feelings, whoa, whoa feelings, sobriety, and self-control.

And The Playlist!  Wouldn’t feel like Friday without it!

Let us begin!

Introducing Kaitlin!  She can be found on the Help Desk and occasionally up on the KLS Desk. She lives around the corner from me and shall henceforth be known as Kaitlin from the Rock.  Here’s what she’s making time for. “I'm a slow reader (a consequence of having two jobs and being in grad school), but there are sooooo many books I want to read. So I've started listening to audio books while I run, and I read a physical book at night before bed.  I just finished listening to Wild, by Cheryl Strayed and I loved it. Listening to it rather than reading it made her experience more real to me, in particular the physical struggles she had on the trail (like running out of water in the desert) as I schlepped along St. Mary's.
I'm reading Go Set a Watchmen, by Harper Lee. I definitely prefer To Kill a Mockingbird, which I just reread,  this book has a lot of long flashback sequences and side story explanations that sometimes leave me scratching my head, but I'm keeping an open mind that this was an initial draft, and not a true sequel.  And it's fun to be back in Maycomb with Miss Jean Louise. 

Barbara M is feeling uncertain this week. “ I’m not sure how I feel about Isabel Allende’s latest book, The Japanese Lover. I couldn’t finish her last book which was a mystery, but because I think she is an incredible writer I decided to give this one a try. I liked her coming-of-age novel Maya’s Notebook,   I loved The House of the Spirits and her non-fiction book Paula.   In this new offering, the story opens with Irina, an immigrant from Moldova, getting a job at a nursing home. She is befriended by Alma, a resident who hires her as a personal assistant. Alma had also come to the United States as an immigrant from Germany just before World War II. Their complicated, fascinating lives are revealed as the book unfolds. This book lacks the magic of her earlier works but, that being said, it kept me interested. The characters are very well developed and I felt like I knew them very well.  My reticence may be because the book deals with so many issues; the holocaust, the internment of Japanese citizens in the United States, sex slaves, child molestation, homosexuality and AIDS. Read it for yourself and make up your mind. It is a well written story and it did keep me absorbed until the end.”

Steph!  What’s happening this week? "“F*ck Feelings! That’s the title of the best self-help book to come out this year. Authors Michael Bennett, MD (Harvard-educated shrink) and Sarah Bennett (his daughter, a standup comedian) have put together a book that tackles every tough mental health issue under the sun without ever losing its sense of humor. Warning: as you may guess from the title, the language is strong. And the advice may also come across as strong or even harsh to those who are used to the more palliative approach of TV psychiatrists. But whether you’ve got an ex you can’t get over, a suspicion you have an anxiety problem, a kid who’s turned into a stranger, or a trauma that still haunts you, the Bennetts have compassion and realistic advice that can help. The back cover calls this the last self-help book you will ever need, and I believe it."

The Always Fabulous Babs B has just finished Blackout by Sarah Hepola. “This is a memoir that is heartbreakingly honest about addiction.  Sara was a successful writer in Manhattan who turned to alcohol at night.  After too many nights of falling down staircases, sleeping with men she didn't remember the next morning and many other near disasters, she finally fights her way clear of addition.  It wasn't easy, the first time she was sober for 18 months and then one innocent glass of wine started her spiral into drinking again.  Now at the age of 35 Sarah has been sober for 4 years and actually likes the face she sees in the mirror.  This is a must read for recovering addicts and for anyone who has had a difficult past and wants to heal.  Alcoholism is a tough subject to tackle, but Sarah does so with grace, honesty and humor.”

Pat T is, as always, listening.  Here is what she likes this week. “I am listening to The Road to Character by David Brooks. It is fascinating because it weaves together the subjects of sociology, psychology, biography, history and explores how morality is shaped by the cultural changes in society. The decades of the 1960's and 70's saw a great deal of societal shift with the women's movement, civil rights, and free love, but this change really began in the 40's & 50's. People had endured 16 years of deprivation starting with the Depression, and then World War II, so they were ready for a more upbeat lifestyle. The author explores some interesting characters that I had heard of, but knew little about.  People such as Francis Perkins, the only woman in FDR's cabinet and the ‘Woman Behind the New Deal’,  Dorothy Day who became a Catholic worker for the poor, living among them and sharing in their suffering, and George Marshall who was not a very bright student, but with determination, self-control and organization he achieved extraordinary success. Each of these characters rose above their own inadequacy to serve a nobler cause. The last chapter of this book really sums up the whole premise of Brooks’ development of character and he writes ‘People do get better at living, at least if they are willing to humble themselves and learn.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is settling into her new home in That State Up North and has some final thoughts and The Playlist.  What’s good Pats?  “It should come as no surprise that this week is one of my favorite times of the year. Banned Books Week is a wonderful time that allows us to celebrate the freedom to read what we want. Last year, I celebrated this week by reading a lot of YA books. My goal was one book a day. I was successful and honestly, I had a hard time trying to find things that would upset folks enough to insist they be banned. This year finds me in the midst of a move. So, I’ve decided to return to a classic by one of my favorite authors, Mark Twain. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn remains as controversial now as when it was first published in 1885 and any book that gets folks talking and then keeps them talking about banning it for 130 years is a great thing. When we find subject matter or language either offensive or objectionable do we have the right to forbid others to read it? This is a fascinating discussion that I particularly enjoy. Writers practice their craft with care and when they use a word or create a situation that makes us uncomfortable they do so with purpose and with intent. Music is another art form that gets folks all riled up. Remember Tipper Gore and family values in the 80’s? 
I thought I’d be green this week and recycle last year’s playlist that includes a history of musicians who have weathered their own share of the burn.


You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Full Harvest Moon Edition of You Are What You Read.   The Full Moon on Sunday is indeed not only the Harvest Moon but also a Super Moon, a Blood Moon AND a Full Lunar Eclipse. You can read about that here. The moon is busy and you should be too.   It’s time to get those crops in People.  Get on that.  Thanks to Work Wife Sally I (her real name) for that heads up.  Isn’t that what Work Wives are for?  There were no offerings this week and The SoNo Loft is still quiet. 

It would appear that The Pope isn’t the only visitor to New York this week.  There was a very charming piece in the Times this past week that can be read here about a seemingly unlikely city visitor.  And no, I am not talking about Pizza Rat.  I am still puzzled as to the fascination with that. How is this even A Thing?  Let’s be real here People. New York has Pizza, and New York has rats.  The two are bound to cross paths. Nope, according to the Paper of Note it would appear that this is the perfect time to spot of all things Hummingbirds!  These tiny aviary masterpieces are hanging in some Hoods as they make their way toward warmer climes.  Hummingbirds fascinate.  They are the tiniest birds on the planet and yet! their brains are 4.2% of their body weight, the largest ratio in the Aviary Kingdom.  Their metabolism is so insane that they spend the day eating anywhere from half their body weight to eight times their body weight.  So be on the lookout for the Migrating Hummingbirds!  It’s probably easier to spot one than getting to see The Pope and it’s a whole lot more pleasant than watching a rat drag around a slice.

This week we have some donuts, strife, and a hen party.

Of course The Playlist is with us in all its glorious colors!

Let us begin!

Of course Sweet Ann is reading 100 Hundred Days of Happiness by Fausto Brizzi.  What else would Sweet Ann be reading?  “This is the engaging story of Lucio Battistini and his final days, to be exact, the last one hundred days of his life.  This is not a sad, drawn-out story of a man who knows his death is imminent but joyful in the telling  of his life story and planning to spend his last one hundred as well as he can.  As a reader you can picture Lucio with his friends, his father-in-law with whom he shares donuts with every morning, and his wife and their two children.  Lucio is a man that lives and loves passionately.  When he arrives in heaven he is told he can pick whatever age he would want to be for the rest of eternity.  It is an interesting question and one you can also ponder.   You might be a bit sad at the end of the book, but you will be smiling about the life Lucio shared with us. “

Laura is watching this week. “The Honorable Woman, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal is a heavy experience.  Like the Israeli/Gaza conflict the story is complex, tense, surprising, and disheartening.  Ness Stein, played by Gyllenhaal is an idealistic business woman that believes her family company’s communication venture will be the answer to end the bitter strife of the region.  What she finds instead is the riveting tribal back-story that pervades the “surface” politics that the world is given to see.  International intelligence agencies of Great Britain, the United States and Israel circumvent, through the shadows revealing the cat and mouse games between agencies and within their own agency ranks.  All of it spills over into the maelstrom of the peace process in the Middle East.  All the players have secrets and no one is safe.  The series is compelling to watch, and ambitious, taking all sides of this painful conflict. 

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is reporting in with In a Dark, Dark, Wood by Ruth Ware. “Ten years ago, Nora left high school and never looked back. She created a new life for herself as a successful writer in London.  As far as she sees it, her life is in a comfortable routine, and she doesn’t ever want to think about that period of time. But as we all know, you can never really escape the past, and Nora’s comes knocking in the form of an unexpected invitation to her childhood best friend’s hen party.  On impulse, Nora accepts and heads to the country house in the woods. From the start, the party seems off to her, with the house feeling menacing and the other guests having hidden agendas, but she would never have guessed the weekend would end in murder.  In a Dark, Dark, Wood by Ruth Ware is a fantastically fun thriller, which kept me guessing until the end.  This book is what The Girl on The Train should have been.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from her new home in The State Which Shall Not Be Named with paintbrush firmly in hand.  What’s good Pats? “In preparation for our big move, I’ve been busy painting walls all week. The kids chose their bedroom colors and let me just say that these were not easy colors to paint. Dark colors show wall imperfections despite meticulous spackling and sanding. After a week of non-stop painting, I am happy to put down my own brush and check out some of the vibrant public art scene that’s happening here. Murals in the Market is a project in Detroit’s Eastern Market. Public art has always been part of the experience of the market and this year 45 artists, both local and international, have been invited to create murals on specific buildings surrounding the market area. We will also be trekking out to Grand Rapids to vote on Art Prize . This art event lasts 19 days with displays of public art at various locations three miles around Grand Rapids. It’s a radical contest for artists. The winner is chosen by the public who cast their votes via an app. It is described as ‘unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and public alike’. Frankly, I’m just geeked to be able to share such unique public art experiences with my children. Art is everywhere but a whole, heaping lot of it is happening here right now. “


You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Last True Summer Weekend Edition of You Are What You Read.  There are no housekeeping chores this week.  No Taffy/Fudge/Cheese love and The Loft remains silent due to roof work.   This coupled with a sunset that will occur tonight at 6:58 just is too tragic.

Autumn arrives on Wednesday at 4:22 a.m. so this is truly our last summer weekend for 2015.  The Ancient Greeks believed that this was when the Goddess Persephone returned to the Underworld to be with her husband Hades.  Those of you, who remember your Greek myths, remember that her story is an explanation of the seasons.  Persephone was the beautiful daughter of Zeus, the Head Dude of all the Gods and Demeter, the Harvest Goddess.   While playing in a meadow with her nymphs, she was seized by Hades, who had a wild crush on her and forced her to live as his wife in the Underworld.  Demeter, like all mothers who have their kids messed with, got beyond peeved.  And when she learned Zeus had a hand in this?  Forget it. She refused to let the earth bear fruit until her daughter was returned to her.  Zeus, like all husbands everywhere, realized when caught in a stellar screw-up that Happy Wife=Happy Life relented.  But because Persephone had eaten 6 pomegranate seeds which was  the fruit of Hades (Pomegranate!  Who can blame her?) she was forced to spend six months of the year in the Underworld (our fall and winter). Her return in the spring is marked by flowering meadows and fertile fields.  Here’s hoping that Persephone’s journey to the Underworld is a slow one and that her return is swift.

This week we have applications, tragedy, death, a villain, an Alaskan cruise and Moses.  Robert Moses that is.

We are not so cold-hearted that we would forget The Playlist.

Let us begin.

The Always Fabulous Babs B has finished reading The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore.
“This is a hilarious, compelling novel about college applications, suburban scandals and a Big Secret.  The Hawthorne family of Marin, CA seems to have it all and the eldest daughter is a senior applying early decision to Harvard, her father's alma mater.  The plot takes some entertaining twists and turns when family secrets and lies are revealed.  Readers who love books filled with dysfunctional characters should enjoy this book!”

Barbara M is passionate about a new one that is nominated for The Booker Prize. “I’ve just finished reading The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma and wow, what a powerful book. I generally don’t read first novels but this one is noteworthy. It has been a long time since a book made me cry and this one did which makes  it is so very hard to write about. It is raw. It is poetic. It is akin to a Greek tragedy in which you want to stop what is inevitable. . The story is about a family living in Akure, Nigeria. When an accidental murder occurs it sets off a series of disastrous events and what unravels is predestined and tragic. The characters are real and the writing lyrical. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year.”

Pat T can be found listening as usual. “I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audio book, Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande.  Dr Gawande writes about the disconnect between doctors and the aged population. Until recently, most medical schools did not even offer courses on gerontology, and many doctors are ill-equipped to deal with aging and dying   Dr. Gawande takes a refreshing look at innovative people who are offering alternatives solutions, such as hospice/palliative care, geriatric clinics and nursing homes that embrace life.  This book is so thought provoking and will appeal to families who are caregivers to their aging parents, those that work in the health profession and baby boomers who are fast approaching this stage in their life when they will have to have the hard conversation about their quality/quantity of life.”

Miss Lisa of the CL and artist in her own right is excited about a graphic novel this week.” I finally read Nimona, the graphic novel by Noelle Stevenson. I got the nudge (the tickle had been there a while) after seeing it on the YA National Book Award Shortlist. And it was totally awesome. Words of praise on the back say “Irreverent” and “vibrant” and all those words are true. The art toes the line between elegant and playful and reflects the strength of the story. Sir Ballister Blackheart is a villain, and Nimona is his eager sidekick. She is a shapeshifter of incredible power and mysterious origin, who is also a sassy teenager with a sensitive heart. Blackheart has a bone to pick with the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics, who cast him into the role of villain after a tragic accident. So who’s the villain and who is the hero? I read it twice in a row!

The Always Delightful Pat S is here with one of my favorites of the year,   This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison.  “Told by a second person narrator with the enthusiasm of the old This is Your Life MC, Harriet Chance begins as a tale about a quirky older widow exploring life on her own on an Alaskan cruise. Boarding the ship with her luggage and a letter from her soon to be ex-best friend Mildred, the life that Harriet believed she had lived is soon to be uncovered as a big lie. Visited intermittently by Bernard, her dead husband, Harriet begins to troll through memories of Harriet the child, the young career woman, the new bride and mother-to try to find how she has wound up here. Harriet is a very likable character-an ‘every woman’  who comes to see that the course of one’s life can change by virtue of a single choice. This is an incredibly touching story.”

Steph is here with a book she is, as usual wild about.  So wild this is what she did when she was done doing all that wedding stuff.  “Jen is right, I did do something momentous with my time away--I started reading The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro. Of course this book is outstanding:   it won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1975. But what’s astonishing is that forty years after publication, it is every bit as potent and relevant as the day it was published (aside from some vocabulary choices that have not aged well). The writing is vivid and the research he and his wife did is undeniably masterful. Moses, who was the most powerful man in NYC government for decades, comes to life as a driven and complicated man. Reading it while commuting is like living in the middle of a book, as you pass over bridges built by Moses and drive down roads that he begged, borrowed, and stole in order to pave. Who knew municipal bonds could be exciting? It’s a doorstop, but every page is worth it. I’m in the last 150 pages and don’t want it to end.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from Meat Chicken with The Playlist and some exciting news.  Mazel Pats!  And what’s good? “Our eighteen months of communal condo living has come to an end. This week and next we’re on the move. Literally. We played the real estate game, rolled the dice and bought a house. The time has come to pack up our things again, bust into the off-site storage unit and move our things a mile and a half down Woodward Avenue. Soon, my son will walk to school and my daughter will bike to the high school.  Me? I’ll be busy turning a house into a home and I couldn’t do that without my jams. May you have smooth moves of your own.  “


New eBooks from OverDrive

Here are the new books available from OverDrive.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America by Dick Cheney

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff 

House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure

On the Move by Oliver Sacks

Rising Strong by Brené Brown 

Sisters in Law:  How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World
by Linda Hirshman

New eBooks from 3M.

These are the new titles available from 3M.

New eBooks from 3M.

These are the new titles available from 3M.

You Are What You Read!

You Are What You Read
You Are What You Read

Greetings and welcome to the Short Week Edition of You Are What You Read.  There is no housekeeping this week.  No taffy, fudge or cheese.  The Loft may have changed its message or it may not have.  I can’t tell.  I have to sit on the wrong side of the train these days because it is so packed by the time we hit Westport that all the middle seats are taken and I hate being in a full three seater.  I understand that this is ridiculous behavior but we all have our quirks and that is one of mine.  And really?  That the train is that sort of packed and they will not add more cars is what is really ridiculous here.  So listen up Metro North!  The 7:52 out of Fairfield Metro needs more cars. 

This week I have been musing on some things recently found.  We have our newest ancestor, Homo Naledi that has been found in a cave in South Africa.  The bones come from at least 15 individuals ranging from babies to children to grown-ups to some oldsters.  They appeared to be a small, thin people no more than 5 feet tall and they had an odd mix of features never seen before. What I found to be the most interesting was the challenge of bringing these bones to light.  They were found by cavers in 2013 in a place so inaccessible that the call had to put out to “skinny scientists who are not claustrophobic” because you had to descend down a crack 30 feet long that is only 7 ½ “ wide.  This is something I don’t like to think too hard about.  Interestingly enough six women are the ones who got this gig.  If you would like to learn more about this here is a rather nice article on that.

Also, I learned this week that there is more to Stonehenge than meets the eye. Apparently there are a lot of chapels, burial mounds and shrines that no one ever dreamed were there buried in the area surrounding the site.  It seems that they were found because of a faulty sprinkler system.  When brown patches began to appear on the landscape, the maintenance crew discovered that they created a circle around the remaining stones. This caused researchers to survey the area surrounding where the buried structures came to light.  You can read about that here

Isn’t it kind of cool to think that we are still learning about these things? 

This week we have a ghost, a spunky teen, NYPD, a famous newscaster, and a belligerent drunk.

We’d be buggy not to have The Playlist!

Let us begin!

John B just finished A Sudden Light by Garth Stein. “I read it because I loved and related to Stein’s  Art of Racing in the Rain. This is a very different type of novel, an unapologetic ghost/haunted house story. The ghosts take on more of a character role rather than a plot device, however, and the story delves into family trauma and reconciliation. While this book doesn't have the raw edge and driven passion of Racing, it does show how Stein's writing is becoming more refined and his storytelling more crafted. I'll continue to read his novels.”

Amy of the Double One Triple Two Zip Code is here and is unabashed in her love of what she herself calls ‘cheesy Young Adult Lit.  Here’s what she’s fired up about on that front. “I’m a fan of the overly-emotional, sometimes weepy, always sensational genre of Realistic YA Fiction with a side of something unusual, such as The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. When a copy of debut author Nicola Yoon’s book Everything Everything graced my desk earlier this summer, I pounced at the chance to read. It tells the story of spunky teen Madeline who has a compromised immune system and a rare disorder in which she is basically allergic to everything, so she lives at home in a sterile environment , behind an airlock that keeps the outside world at bay. Cue a new family moving in next door complete with a teenaged boy with the name of Olly, who falls in love with Madeline by gazing at her through his bedroom window, and then through pithy emails and late-night Instant Messages (a nod to modern day online dating? Well done, author Yoon!). Will they be able to overcome the literal door keeping them apart? A twist ending does not disappoint. Those of you that have a secret soft spot for YA romances will find joy in this sensational debut.”

Abby has another crime series she wants to make us aware of. “The Alexandra Cooper Series from Linda Fairstein is usually a safe bet as solid crime fiction but with a light touch. In the Devil’s Bridge, Fairstein felt the need to shake things up a little so she plays around with the narrative voice. When Assistant DA Alex Cooper disappears, Fairstein starts exploring things from other points of view. While the detectives and other members of the NYPD are searching for clues as to Alex’s whereabouts, the characters are allowed to share their thoughts about some of Alex’s less charming character traits and with Alex’s life on the line, everything must be explored.  I’m not sure Fairstein’s narrative experiment was successful, but she does push her characters out of their comfort zones and provide the reader with a little more insight,  warts and all.

Sweet Ann can be found bombing around listening this week to A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope by Tom Brokaw. “Although not read by Mr. Brokaw his words came so alive as I listened, I felt as though it was him and I was hearing a friend. This memoir deals with Tom's multiple myeloma diagnosis and his treatment course, as well as the strength of his family life and moments of history that he reported on such as the Berlin Wall coming down, 9/11 and the 70th anniversary of Normandy.  As a celebrity, as he readily points out he was able to be treated by the best doctors and had the money to travel for treatment.  But this did not spare him from problems in his treatment. Two well-known physicians thought his back pain was due to exercise, not the beginnings of cancer, and another doctor scheduled further surgery that could have ruined his mobility. Tom is not bitter and relates  it to us because all need  to be an advocate for our care or the care of a loved one.  I loved the part of this memoir when he spoke of the love of his life, his wife Meredith, his daughters and grandchildren I have always thought Tom Brokaw was just a nice man from the Midwest and this memoir confirms that image. It is a great audio book.” 

The Always Entertaining Mallory is here with something she has been begging me to read. I’ll let her beg you all now. “Set in the affluent, beachside Connecticut town of Little Neck Cove (cough,Greenwich,cough), The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak, follows middle-aged Cheryl and her college-aged stepson Teddy. Despite living in an active, privileged community, both Cheryl and Teddy find themselves dealing with extreme loneliness and isolation. Teddy, recently kicked out of college, is bored and battling with substance abuse. Cheryl struggles with an absent husband and the need to feel wanted and desired.  Both characters are as infuriating as they are sympathetic, and the novel has a bit of a Kate Chopin The Awakening feel to it as you watch both characters destroy themselves. As believable as Cheryl and Teddy are, The Invaders’ real highlight is in its anti-hero: a drunk, crass old man who rides around on his dilapidated bike and shouts profanities at neighbors, a tertiary character you’ll love to root for.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Up North with some final musings on something you most definitely don’t want to find and would quite happily lose.  What’s good Pats? “This week marked curriculum nights held in schools across the country. Yes, it’s that time when teachers get to meet their students’ parents and run through classroom routines, share curriculum and testing schedules. My fourth grade son will have FIVE mandated testing periods this year and while that news makes me itch and twitch, there’s something else that has parents bugging out. If you read or watch the news you might have heard about the new Super Lice. These mutant bugs are not in fact new, but have been getting around since the late 90’s. Blame it on selfies, blame it on our obsession with being squeaky clean, blame it on whatever helps you sleep at night, but please don’t blame it on kids or teachers or school nurses who have to deal with this nuisance every year. It’s lice folks. No one is going to die. It’s time consuming to deal with but it’s just a bug. Having dealt with this a few times, I have some advice. First, take three deep breaths. Next, check your kid’s hair daily then talk to your kids about NOT sharing hats and hoodies. Finally, just relax. I promise you, it’s possible to get through a case of lice and besides it makes for some great jokes after a little distance from the experience. Need a book to read to the kiddos about it? We’ve got you covered. There’s even a playlist to scratch along to. There’s always a playlist.”


You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to The Labor Day Weekend Edition of You Are What You Read.  This week’s housekeeping is as follows:  Thanks to Karyn A for this week’s taffy and to Diane H for the chunk of cheese.  Diane, Steph is off the next two weeks doing some sort of wacky, not at all life altering thing like getting married. I cannot guarantee that this cheese will still be alive when she gets back, but I’ll do my best. The word/wish from The SoNo Loft is ‘You are Fearless”.  The deck is still being worked on and they have to hang it vertically now.  Here’s hoping the railing comes back soon. People, go out and be fearless please.  The Loft commands it! 

Here we are at the end of Summer 2015.  This summer was unusual in that Memorial Day was on the earliest possible day and Labor Day is occurring on the last possible day giving us a full 15 weeks of summer.  The next time this will happen is 2020, and I am looking forward more to the promise of a full 15 than the candidacy of Kanye.  Although there are possibilities in that; I mean if Kim can make the cover of Vogue?  The sky is the limit for those two. Anyway, this weekend will find me and the Traveling Companion hopefully on my favorite beach in town, soaking up the last rays of summer like a snake on a rock.  It’s a small secluded beach that is just that.  It’s a beach.  There are no concession stands, no playgrounds, no volleyball nets, just surf and sand and rock. What makes this appealing is the utter lack of screaming children, the smell of old grease in the air and college students with dubious taste in music. Because the parking lot is small, occasionally you will get turned away.  It’s a chance I am always willing to take because it’s that kind of peaceful.  Of course there will be a few more weekends to pack the cooler with contraband and Solos and a lovely lunch, but there’s something about the finality of Labor Day that will make that final pack up on Monday afternoon feel bittersweet.  Thank goodness college football is starting back up.  That makes things a little better. Let’s go Bucks! We wish you a lovely long weekend and remember we won’t be here on Monday so neither should you.  We’ll see everybody on Tuesday.

This week we have a widower, New York, Paris, and an Island.  Long Island if you please.

The Playlist? Of course!

Let us begin!

Pat T is revisiting something from earlier this summer; Our Souls at Night, by Ken Haruf. “A widow living in a small town in Colorado makes a very unusual proposition to a neighboring widower. When Lou takes Addie up on her offer they soon settle into a comfortable friendship, enjoying each other's company during the day, as well as during the evening! However, their new arrangement is threatened by the interference of Lou and Addie's adult children who see the arrangement as improper. What happens to their friendship left me stunned and disappointed! This story reinforces something that we intrinsically know but fail to recognize all too often; the human spirit is fully alive only when we feel connected to one another!”

The Always Fabulous Babs B just finished House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure.  “This is a great historical novel that sees New York's Gilded Age with an architect's eye. Familiar figures like the legendary Mrs. Astor and Stanford White help set the scene, and the author embarks on a splendid page-turner as a respectable family discovers its criminal side in old New York.  Since Belfoure is an architect, his knowledge of the craft enriches his portrait of the main character, John Cross. Readers of the Paris Architect will love this book!”

Barbara M is asking questions this week. “What is the cost of courage? For the Boulloche family the cost was a father and a mother and a son. The Cost of Courage by Charles Kaiser is a tribute to a family who was part of the French resistance during WWII. In 1940 the Boulloche family was living in the fashionable 7th arrondissement when the Nazis occupied Paris. Three of their children; Christiane, André and Jacqueline became active in the resistance movement. They never talked about their war experiences with their children until the author, Charles Kaiser, investigated and asked them to tell their story. This is an amazing story of conviction, patriotism and courage. It reads like an exciting thriller. Pair this with The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, a fictional story of the resistance.”

The Ever Delightful Pat S has a new obsession in The Affair, Season 1.  “The Affair explores the painful and wide-reaching emotional effects of an affair between two married people. Noah, fulltime teacher and fledgling author, is apparently happily married to Helen, mother of his four children. Living in New York City, they are spending the summer in Montauk with Helen’s wealthy family. It is here in Montauk that Noah finds himself in a chance meeting with Alison, a waitress at a local diner. Still awash in grief from the death of her only child, and trapped in a marriage that probably died the day her son did, Alison is desperately seeking a way out; from her grief, her marriage, from Montauk. And this is only the first episode! The story is told from the viewpoint of both Noah and Alison, which is an interesting device that reels the viewer in. Initially, I didn’t expect much but I will admit to binge-watching the entire first season in a weekend. The acting by Dominic West, Maura Tierney and Ruth Wilson stands on its’ own and just this morning I found myself trolling to find out when Season 2 begins. Definitely take a look.”

Here is DJ Jazzy Patty McC who I can happily report is not in The State Which Shall Not Be Named this week.  What’s good Pats and where are you?  “Today we are hitting the highway for our final road trip of the summer to attend a wedding. Our friend, whom we’ve known since high school, is having a BIG traditional Indian wedding smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania. We couldn’t be happier to celebrate these two wonderful people and their love for one another. Saris, kurtas and fabulous Indian jewelry will be worn over the course of the next three days. Feels like an auspicious time to be wed as this weekend will also mark the wedding of our dear Stephanie. So the next time you see Stephanie, stop and congratulate her on her new nuptial bliss. Happy Wedding Weekend!”


You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Full Sturgeon Moon Edition of You Are What You Read. Apparently, this is an excellent time to score some Sturgeon.  Who knew? This week’s housekeeping involves a mystery.  I am not sure who dropped off the North Carolina Taffy on Monday night because you left no name with Sue S.  But I thank you for it, and if it was your husband who I horrified with my Beach Self on Ocean Isle please pass along my most heartfelt apology. Honestly, I will never learn.  It is NEVER safe to go out thinking no one will ever see you in your natural state.   Oh, they’ll find you, trust me on this. They will find you with your naked face, dirty salt crusted hair, a baseball hat, and a bathing suit cover-up.  They’ll find you and they will physically recoil.  Trust.  The SoNo Loft has no message for us this week. I think that they are waiting for the work on the roof to be done already and the railing to go back up.  Here’s hoping that happens soon.

This week I sent an alert on Facebook to my brother and sister-in-law in New Jersey about those bears that were cavorting in a pool.  My brother and his family dwell in the Jersey and seem to have a never-ending parade of wildlife traipsing through their yard.  It feels as though Peter is constantly driving around the state with creatures ripe for relocation in the Have-A-Heart Trap in the back of his car.   For those that missed the Beach Blanket Bears here is the link.  My cousin Suzanne S who lives in Ohio chimed in with the thought that the Mama Bear may have been just Baby Bear Sitting some of those cubs with the way she was tossing them around.  I had to break it to Suzanne that seeing as this is the last week in August, and if you are a mother this is what your heart desires.  You want to throw your progeny out of stuff.  It may be a pool, it may be your house, but those kids are on your last nerve and it’s time for them to go already.  In fact, you want to toss them the gusto that an Australian saves for a Dwarf in a bar.  So Happy Back to School, Work, whatever it is that means the end of summer to you. The signs are all there People!  The mums and grasses are out next door and across the street and when I left Pilates on Monday night at 8, I was walking home in what can only be described as dusk.  It made me want to sit on the sidewalk and weep.  It’s simply a matter of time before we are all stuck behind that fume spouting, stopping every 3 feet school bus, with that annoying kid who is waving at you and making faces while we curse our 9-5 existence. So enjoy these last dregs of summer.

The Playlist? Yes! Yes!  Of course we’ve got that for you times two!

This week we have some defiance, Africa, a priest, and some aliens.

Let us begin!

We kick this week off with Virginia the Tall Cool Texan.  Here’s what she’s been up to.  “Irresistibly charming, poignantly funny, and heartbreakingly sad is how I would describe Anna McPartlin’s beautiful book, The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes. I started crying two pages into this book, and by page three I was laughing through my tears. Rabbit Hayes is dying, and the novel starts with her being checked into hospice.  The young mother has only a few days to say her goodbyes, and tell her family and friends how much she loves them. Most of all she must make sure her young daughter feels safe and loved. I know, it sounds horribly bleak, but it isn’t. Her family and friends rally around Rabbit in the most beautiful ways; with defiant laughs, loyalty and inspiring strength. The story is told with a multi-perspective viewpoint so the reader can understand how Rabbit’s illness impacts each major character with flashbacks that contain a whirlwind of memories. The book is bittersweet, nostalgic and brave.  It is about a close-knit, boisterous, wonderful family wanting to make the most of every single moment they have left with their loved one, and not just with tears but with laughter.  And trust me, you will laugh.  You will cry, but you will also laugh. If you loved Me Before You and The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, then this book is for you.”

Abby is enjoying some African thoughts this week. “Alexandra Fuller captured my imagination with her memoirs recounting her time growing up in Africa.  As a child of British ex-pats who chose to live in an Africa stricken by civil wars, her writing is rich with wonderful storytelling. Fuller’s eccentric parents made life a big adventure for Alex and her siblings. The first two memoirs are Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness. The Fuller’s feared living a mundane life at anything less than full-throttle. There is both great joy in how they choose to live, but also tremendous loss and pain.  Is it any wonder that as an adult, Alexandra realizes the chaos in which she grew up in is very much a part of who she is? Leaving Before the Rains Come deals with this issue. Married to an American with a passion for Africa, Alexandra begins a new life in America. As her marriage falters, she begins to look more closely at the chaos that ruled her childhood. Fuller is one of the best memoir writers working today and I appreciate her willingness to go deep inside all the corners of her life.”

Sweet Ann has just finished A History of Loneliness by John Boyne. “ This is a book I found while shelving here at the Darien Library.   This is the story of Ordran Yates, a man of faith who becomes a priest in the 1970's in Ireland.  The book travels back and forth in Ordran's life, from childhood, to the seminary, Rome, and as a chaplain of a boy's school in Ireland.  He entered the priesthood because his mother felt he had a calling.    You follow Father Yates from the beginning of his priesthood where priests are revered to the scandals that hit the church in the early 2000's where the whole church was rocked by the transgressions of certain priests and the higher church authorities who so wrongly protected them.  Father Ordran Yates is a believable character from the beginning. He loves his family, especially his sister Hannah and his two nephews, his church and his school.  He does question his faith at times and you are right there with him.  This is a very well written book and I recommend it highly. “

Steph is here and she is EXCITED!  “Hooray for Cixin Liu! His novel The Three-Body Problem won the Hugo Award for Best Novel this week, given annually to the best work of science fiction or fantasy for the previous year. It just happens that this week I read the sequel to that work this week, The Dark Forest. And it was just as good as his first book, except on an even grander scale. Three-Body focused on the effects of the discovery of an advanced alien civilization on China (both modern China and during the Cultural Revolution). Broadening the story, the sequel focuses on how learning that this civilization exists and is coming to destroy humanity affects the entire global community, starting now and heading by leaps and bounds 400 years into the future. Liu’s imagination has turned the classic alien-contact story into something new and enchanting. These are a real pleasure to read, even for those who don’t usually read hard sci-fi.  There’s a reason these were instant classics when first published in China.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC!  What's good Pats? "Like those bears playing in the backyard pool, I’m still celebrating summer. Sure we’ve been doing those necessary back to school tasks like buying school supplies, purchasing new shoes and getting haircuts. I’ve filled out numerous forms (I must say the online computerized school forms make me VERY happy) and the kids have attended the back to school events and even a high school football game. We’ve got one more road trip scheduled before resuming the routine of daily lunches and the chilly morning trek to the bus stop. There’s still a little time left for us to swing on the play set and take a dip with a floatie. I encourage you to take full advantage of it. I know we will."


DL Back To School 2013 

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