Greetings and welcome to You Are What You Read. This edition has no fancy name to it. This week’s big news is that there are absolutely no housekeeping chores to be done. There were no offerings of taffy or fudge. The SoNo Loft has nothing to say because it literally disappeared over night rendering my commute even more charm-free than it normally is. I am hopeful that this is just about roof repairs. Of course when I know more, so will you. A world without The Loft is just too sad to think about.
This weekend promises to be hot and humid and that can only mean one thing. Afternoon thunderstorms could be in the making. There was this fascinating piece on NPR this morning about how deaths by lightning strikes are way, way up. The 411 on this is as follows; July is the most dangerous month for death by lightning, most of the victims are male and the body count is at 20 so far this summer. So while most people are oddly freaked out by the recent shark attacks, you are more likely to be hit by a lightning strike (1 in 12,000) than you are to have a run in with Mary Lee Shark (1 in 11.5 million). Back in the day, there were many more fatalities, usually 300-400 per year. Mostly because of using a corded phone (an aside for The Young out there, that was the only way phones used to come; actually wired to the wall.) and because tractors were uncovered, should you be a farming type. These days, most of the fatalities happen while people are outside playing, not farming or talking on their Nana’s phone, and the majority of these are mostly at the beach or on boats whilst fishing. The experts think that there is something about the roar of the waves dulling the sound of the approaching thunder. As a dedicated beach-goer, I kind of find this hard to believe. Anyone who has seen a storm roll in over the water and with an ounce of common sense knows when it’s time to head in. Which brings us to a nice mantra to use and share with family and friends: When thunder roars, go indoors. And when you do go indoors, make sure that you aren’t blowing dry your hair or holding on to anything that plugs in the wall, think back to that phone thing. In fact, why not use it as an excuse for some lovely late afternoon lolling. Let’s be safe People!
This week we have a brush with fame, a mysterious tome, a nosey neighbor, justice, and some dip-in, dip-out. The only Paris we can offer is this week’s image. Sorry.
This week is more of a Gift than the usual Playlist.
Let us begin!
Miss Claire has just finished reading Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. “I swore that I wouldn't buy a book on vacation, but I just couldn't resist purchasing this one. Comedian Aziz Ansari, who is also the star of NBC's Parks & Rec, writes about love in the 21st Century. Warning: Although you will be in pain from laughing so hard, this book is not a memoir, or collection of essays like other examples comedy writing. Ansari takes his own experiences with dating in places like New York and LA, and couples them with research (actual research) about how dating has changed in this modern age. Ansari and his friend travel to Tokyo, Paris, Buenos Aires, and even Doha to compare dating in various cultures. What's an herbivore man? What's a chongo? These and other international mysteries will be solved in the book. By looking at dating and communication over the generations, the author ponders whether or not we are really better off. Ansari provides a fresh perspective on the challenges of meeting Mr./Ms. Right. He does his homework, while also adding his witty charm to the mix. Fun Fact: I was his RA at NYU in London, so loved this fun break from my summer list of kid lit.”
Sweet Ann is reading a little dark this week. What’s doin’ Ann? “I read reviews of Disclaimer by Renee Knight and thought I would give it a try. Catherine Ravenscroft, a documentary film director, is happily married and has a young adult son with whom she has a slightly strained relationship. She and her husband have recently moved and she is adjusting well until one evening she finds a book on her night table which she does not remember purchasing or seeing before. As she begins reading it she recognizes herself in the story, a devastating story she has shared with no one. This novel is told in Catherine's voice and the author of the book who is out for revenge. This was a good thriller although I though it got a bit long. I definitely enjoyed Gone Girl and the Girl on the Train more than this one, but it is a quick summer read.”
The Always Fabulous Babs B has finished a quiet staff favorite, The Stone Boy by Sophie Loubiere. Here’s what she thought. “This is a suspenseful psychological thriller but also a story of a passionately loving grandmother who more nosey than Miss Marple! Madame Preau is a retired headmistress when she returns to her own house outside Paris after several years spent in a convalescent home. She is not taken seriously when she reports an abused boy in a neighboring home. Beautifully written (and translated) with just enough suspense to keep the reader wondering; is there an abused child or is Madame Preau imagining him? “
Steph! Not reading Go Set a Watchman! “There’s been a lot of buzz about the return of Atticus Finch this week, and rightly so, but the book I read this week is about a real-life Atticus who deserves just as much attention. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson, is part-memoir, part-courtroom thriller. Stevenson is the founder of legal non-profit the Equal Justice Initiative, which works in Alabama on death row cases, as well as cases where people are given life sentences for crimes committed as minors. As you’d expect, many of the stories are heartbreaking, and put a human face on issues of crime and punishment, as well as illuminating how region and race play a large role in determining the fate of many prisoners. Despite the difficulty and sorrow behind many of the cases Stevenson discusses, there is also a strong sense of hope and redemption. He’s a remarkable lawyer and writer, and even more so, a remarkable man. This is reminiscent of the very best of John Grisham, but 100% true. Go on hold for this in addition to (or instead of) Go Set A Watchman.”
Laura is here with a reading style just right for a summer afternoon . “Summer is a time for lazy. What better way to enjoy a lazy, hazy summer afternoon in the hammock than with a book that we call the dip-in, dip-out. This is the sort of book that you don't have to commit to, can open at a different page every time, and close without a book mark to save your page. These easy reads are more informational fun fact books like The Secret Museum by Molly Oldfield a unique illustrated listing of intriguing artifacts hidden away in some of the world's most venerable museums: such as Van Gogh's sketchbooks, Nabokov's butterfly genitalia cabinet, or the Diamond Sutra. Or perhaps Atoms Under the Floorboards, by Chris Woodford which explains scientific reasons for everyday phenomena such as squeaky floors, gurgling pipes, and why skyscrapers don’t sink into the ground or blow over. Not necessarily cocktail talk but interesting all the same for the curious mind. “
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named. Earlier this week she sent me a pic of one of her progeny standing on a Big M on location in Ann Arbor. Patty! Get your kid outta there! Don’t you know what they say about Ann Arbor?! Aside from that, what’s good Pats? “We’re back from the Nation’s Capital and I’m pleased to report that we had a great time. Five days was not enough time to see and do everything but we gave it a valiant effort. Now it’s back to the local summer routine of Farmers’ Markets and Art Fairs. My son and I headed out to the Ann Arbor Art Fair yesterday.Some of the other, lesser-known festivals around us include the Old Town Scrapfest in Lansing where 20 teams had one hour to collect up to 500 pounds of scrap metal from the Friedland Industries’ scrap facility and then spent two weeks creating masterpieces that will culminate in the unveiling of their creations during the festival this weekend. There’s also a Pig Jig Pig Roast and Street Dance for those who enjoy a sidewalk sale with a little dancing in the streets and a side of pork. The artist, Nick Cave will have his first live-dancing event of his Soundsuits this weekend in Detroit. It would seem as though there is something for everyone right now. And if that isn’t enough, the band Wilco, surprise dropped their new album, Star Wars yesterday. The album is available for free for a limited time so give it a listen now and don’t forget to get out and support your local art scene this weekend.”