Greetings and welcome to the Christmas in Cali Edition of You Are What You Read! This week’s housekeeping is as follows. There were no Offerings this week. That’s fine. Christmas is coming and I am sure you all will make your love known. In Animals Run Amok News there was this video of a cat taking down a toddler. The Traveling Companion refuses to believe the feline had malice in its heart. I maintain that cats are just waiting for their chance to kill. Discuss. Also in Mississippi, there was an 18 wheeler that overturned and let out its cargo all over I-20. The cargo just happened to be 100 cows that then proceeded to shut down the road with their shenanigans. You can read about that here.
Steph passed along a disturbing news item this week. Some demented magician in London dressed up two ten-year-old girls in Victorian costumes, placed giant doll heads on them and posed them in and around London. You can read about that here. Really, aren’t we all on edge enough? Do we really need to add Weird Doll Twins to that mix? I’ve never hear of this dude but frankly I think he should be ashamed of himself. Did he not see The Shining?
It’s hard to believe that two weeks from today we will be on the Christmas Downswing. It’s hard to feel all sorts of Fa-La-La when it’s 60 degrees and sunny. Frankly I find it hard to feel all sorts of Fa-La-La most of the time. Add that crazy morning fog to the mix and it feels a whole lot more like Halloween than Yuletide. I have a confession to make. I am feeling partially responsible for this unseasonable warmth. I finally broke down and bought myself a down coat and it arrived this week. As you all know by now, I commute via train and this involves a mile walk to the stations on both ends. Last winter I braved this in my little cloth coat. It was a long winter. This year I am determined to make an unpleasant situation (winter) bend to my will. So I have purchased a down coat, and I will be investing in a 6 month parking pass for the station on my home end. Get ready for the mildest winter ever People! And feel free to pass this information on to folks in Paris chatting Climate Change. They may be interested to know that I have a hand in this.
This week we have abduction, the dump, some Gingers, a little book, and a faith healer.
Playlist? You know it!
Let us begin!
Sweet Ann has just finished up The Lake House by Kate Morton. “This is my first Kate Morton novel and I can't wait to go back and read her earlier work. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the story, writing style and setting. The main story takes place in Cornwall, England in 1933 but also travels to the present and years before 1933. When the novel opens baby Theo is abducted from his crib while his nanny dozes as a large party is taking place outside on the grounds of the family estate. Many years later a young detective staying with her grandfather after having a bad incident at work stumbles upon the estate that has fallen to ruin. After hearing the history of the house and the disappearance of the baby, the detective decides to investigate the baby's disappearance in 1933. Two elderly siblings of the baby are still alive each holding a secret as to what happened that night in the nursery. Their deceased mother's journals are also found to contain some startling new information. This is a book about a family, family secrets and the consequences of protecting oneself and others. I loved it.”
John The Wizard of Minecraft is here with what he’s been diving into. “This past weekend, I finished up John Irving’s latest, Avenue of Mysteries. It’s a bit of a departure from his previous novels while also seemingly more autobiographical. It’s a book about a Mexican ‘dump kid’ and his mind-reading younger sister who can only be understood by her brother. The story flips between their childhood in the basurero (dump) and the brother, Juan Diego, as an adult as he travels to the Philippines to fulfill a promise he made to a draft-dodging hippy as a boy. Irving elaborates upon religious themes that will be familiar to his devoted readers. He also adds a subtle mix of supernatural that feels a little like A Prayer for Owen Meany. As a lifelong Irving fan, I was not disappointed, but it does feel like Avenue of Mysteries was winding down the author’s career and I'm left wondering, will this be his last?”
Barbara M who it should be noted is not a Ginger is here with Red: A History of the Redhead.
“Because my grandmother and a cousin were carrot tops I was drawn to Jacky Colliss Harvey’s book Red: A History of the Redhead. As the author says; for many red-heads the color of their hair is ‘…the single most significant characteristic of their life.’ Red hair is rare, it is a recessive gene which occurs in only 2% of the population, and rarely goes unnoticed. There are many myths and misconceptions about red-headed people and the author explores many of them. Harvey debunks the rumor that they are about to become extinct and examines some of the physical abnormalities found in red heads. For example, they need about 20% more anesthesia than the rest of the population and they may be more sensitive to pain. She also traces the red-head through history, art, and folklore. This is a well-researched, fascinating book.”
Pat T can be found, as always, listening. “I listened to Jason Gay's debut collection of essays, Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living, and it is a book with a powerful message. The author wants the reader to understand it is not a self-help book, crash diet book or how to succeed book. It's just a book to make you laugh and who doesn't need a little laughter in their life?! Some of his stories are poignant; when he talks about his Dad's illness, and his own cancer diagnosis, while other stories are laugh out loud funny. Such as when he talks about new age parenting in NYC, joining a gym or his take on technology in our everyday lives. The author's message is that we are more apt to find happiness by taking pleasure from our daily life experiences, rather than trying to measure happiness by the one big accomplishment we hope to achieve. Sit back, relax and enjoy the holidays with this delightful book!”
Steph is here talking about one of our most favorite prizes, The Costa! For those not in the know, the Costa is an English prize that celebrates not only Good Writing but also a Good Story. “It’s Costa season again…and I’ve kicked it off with a nominee for the Costa First Novel Award, The Girl in the Red Coat, by Kate Hamer. Told in two voices, the story drifts about for a few chapters and then really begins when dreamy, sweet eight-year-old Carmel Wakeford goes missing while out with her mum at a local fair. In alternate chapters, the book follows Carmel’s journey with a faith healer all around the United States, as well as her mother Beth’s anxious searching and grief. After a certain point, it’s almost impossible to put down, because you simply must know—will they see each other again, and if they do, will they know each other? Perfect for fans of Sophie Hannah and will even delight those who generally like their thrillers more gory—the tension is just that strong. This book doesn’t technically come out in the US until February, but we have sneakily imported a few in from the UK, so you can read it before anybody else!”
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from the State Up North, a state that has not seen a win over OSU in 1476 days, with some final climate change musings. What’s good Pats? “Honestly, this year feels a little like when I lived in California. It never really felt like Christmas until I boarded the plane and disembarked into the cold, frozen snow banks of Michigan. Now don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled that we are having wonderful, mild weather this time of year but this warm, foggy weather has been a challenge for me to get into the spirit of the season. I was reminded last night by one of the cousins that in two weeks we will be celebrating this Pagan holiday around a tree moved indoors and that I need to motivate because a menu is needed for 30 people pronto. So, in order to remedy my lack of enthusiasm, I shall begin baking holiday sweets and planning elaborate menus for the impending feast. I couldn’t do it without a playlist and neither should you. I’m hoping this will put us all in a merry, jolly mood. I recommend that you listen to this nine-hour playlist on shuffle as it contains some of the best, classic Christmas albums of all time. ‘Tis the season, now enjoy!”
DL GETTING IN THE SPIRIT 2015