Posts Tagged ‘Powell’s Booksellers’


Emma by Jane Austen Bevy of Books

 

 

 

Emma – Jane Austen  RR

I love that the year started with Jane Austen.

 

Jack of Kinrowan – Charles de Lint  RR

I read this because I was talking to my son about books – he recently started reading for pleasure at the ripe old age of 24. This was one of the few (non-school, non-Harry Potter) books he’d ever read.

Dreams Underfoot – Charles de Lint  RR

Debt: the first 5000 years – David Graeber NF

This is a mind-altering book. It’s not a finance book, it’s an anthropology book about the human process of money and how we’ve used debt or money or whatever to share goods and services between ourselves. Completely changed how I relate to things like economic news and saving money. I read this for a book club I was in briefly – it lasted 3 months after I joined, coincidence?

Anil’s Ghost – Michael Ondaatje  RR
Speaker for the Dead – Orson Scott Card (audio)

I liked Ender’s Game, but I loved this sequel. Much more about communities of people rather than individuals.

Telegraph Avenue – Michael Chabon

New Chabon!  Does not disappoint. It was a great year for new books from some of my uber-favorite authors

The Last Colony – John Scalzi
Zoe’s Tale – John Scalzi
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou (audio) NF MM

Ms. Angelou’s first memoir. I liked the second one more, maybe because she’s my age rather than a young girl, as she is in this one. Still a great read.

Towers of Midnight – Brandon Sanderson/Robert Jordan RR
Memory of Light – Brandon Sanderson/Robert Jordan

Finally! The conclusion of the Wheel of Time. Did not disappoint, but I was sad to see it end.

My Life in France – Julia Child RR NF MM

This woman was living the life I’m looking for – traveling while working on something she was passionate about. Learning about herself while she learned about new places and new skills.

Kicking and Dreaming – Ann & Nancy Wilson NF

Their autobiography! Was wonderful, read more than half of it while sitting in the jury duty room in Portland.

Xenocide – Orson Scott Card (audio)

Also, good, but didn’t knock Speaker for the Dead out of first place.

Tapping the Dream Tree – Charles de Lint  RR
The Rules of Inheritance – Claire Bidwell Smith NF MM

Memoirs are my new thing – I blame Lidia Yuknavitch & Cheryl Strayed. This one is the story of an only child experiencing the loss of her mother as a young woman, and then her father a few years later.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver Bevy of BooksFlight Behavior – Barbara Kingsolver
The Round House – Louise Erdrich

Seriously – new Kingsolver followed by new Erdrich – does NOT get any better. And these two are quite possibly the best that either has written. Incredible.

Fault of our Stars – John Green (audio)
Blue Desert – Charles Bowden RR NF

I had to re-read this because I was headed to Arizona with my sister. Just as powerful and well-written as I remember.

Z : A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald – Therese Anne Fowler

This book made me hate Ernest Hemingway, and colored my opinion of F. Scott Fitzgerald forever.  The fictionalized account of Zelda Fitzgerald’s life (based on the real facts, with the empty spaces extrapolated). Now I see things like Midnight in Paris (a great flick) and think NO!! She was robbed! I was sitting by the pool in Arizona and PISSED at the way she was treated.

Traveling Mercies – Anne Lamott NF MM
Wizard Abroad – Diane Duane RR
So You Want to be a Wizard – Diane Duane RR
Deep Wizardry – Diane Duane RR
High Wizardry – Diane Duane RR
Wizard’s Holiday – Diane Duane RR
Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert RR NF MM
Children of the Mind – Orson Scott Card (audio)

Didn’t finish this one… just seemed to go on and on.

Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi NF MM
The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg (audio) NF

Another life-shaking book. How we develop habits, how we can substitute new ones for old ones. How data mining is allowing big business to use our habits to send business their way. Fascinating for anyone who likes psychology or wants to revamp their life.

Girlchild – Tupelo Hassman

This one read like a fantastic memoir. The writing was impressive.

Redshirts – John Scalzi (audio)

Redshirst by John Scalzi Bevy of Books

Every sci-fi geek seriously needs to read this. The ‘extras’ on a surprisingly-similar-to-the-Enterprise spaceship start to question why (for instance) the Captain goes on almost every away mission, but the only people who die are those wearing red shirts. Smart and funny.

Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal?  – Jeanette Winterson NF MM
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell (audio) RR NF

Somehow, his analysis never gets boring.

Un Lun Dun – China Miéville RR
The Summer Prince – Alaya Dawn Johnson

The first book of hers I’ve read – powerful writing and fantastic feminist speculative fiction.

Panopticon blog – Franklin Habit NF

Okay, it’s not a book – but it’s hella long and I read every post. 892 posts going back to 2005. A knitting blog written by a gay man in Chicago – I don’t knit, nor am I a man, or gay – but it is wonderful. I always seem to find awesome blogs just as their taking off and the bloggers are too busy to post any longer.

Chronology of Water – Lidia Yuknavitch RR NF MM
The Scar – China Miéville RR
The Magician – Lev Grossman (audio) RR
Yes, Chef – Marcus Samuelsson NF MM
Without a Summer – Mary Robinette Kowal

Jane Austen + magic. Seriously.

Kraken – China Miéville RR
Finding Your Way in a Wild New World – Martha Beck NF
Zoo City – Lauren Beukes RR
Manhood for Amateur – Michael Chabon (audio) RR NF MM
Shades of Milk & Honey – Mary Robinette Kowal
Glamour in Glass – Mary Robinette Kowal
Sleight – Kristen Kaschock

Another book that sucked you into a world you wanted to move to. Sad, powerful, a little trippy.

Wonder Boys – Michael Chabon RR
The Big Meow – Diane Duane
Beatrice & Virgil – Yann Martel
Eliza’s Daughter – Joan Aiken
Broken for You – Stephanie Kallos

Oh, oh yeah. My friend at work recommended this one – not knowing I had a thing for mosaics. Really great novel about healing what is broken without hiding the scars.

The Human Division – John Scalzi
Cooked – Michael Pollan (audio) NF

More Pollan goodness.

Sense & Sensibility – Jane Austen RR
Fearless: One Woman One Kayak One Continent – Joe Glickman NF

Fearless by Joe Glickman Bevy of Books

Impressive story of a woman who circumnavigated the continent of Australia in a kayak. Alone. With almost no support team. And broke the record.

A Visit to Highbury – Joan Austen – Leigh
Persuasion – Jane Austen RR
Death Comes to Pemberley – PD James RR
Among Others – Jo Walton RR
The God Engines – John Scalzi

Possibly my favorite Scalzi. Most of his are good sci-fi, this one is more trippy and mess-with-your head. I like that.

Love Medicine – Louse Erdrich RR
Later Days in Highbury – Joan Austen-Leigh
A Wizard Alone – Diane Duane
Beet Queen – Louise Erdrich RR
Pilgrimage – Annie Leibovitz NF

Had to read this because of something Lidia Yuknavitch said on Facebook. A book of amazing photos and essays.

Last Report of Miracles at Little No Horse – Louise Erdrich RR
Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again – David Foster Wallace NF

His reputation is not hyperbole, no one writes like this guy could.

My Foreign Cities – Elizabeth Scarboro NF
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

I picked this up in a fowl mood and headed for bed – read half of it before I could put it down.

A Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

Hated it. Only finished it so I could say that with no equivocation. Didn’t like it one bit.

Idoru – William Gibson RR
All Tomorrow’s Parties – William Gibson RR
Graphic Canon pt 1 – Russ Kick
Dirt Work – Christine Byl NF MM

Memoir of a woman who worked for the Park Service in Glacier National Park in Montana (just down the road from my sister’s house) and Denali National Park in AK. Woman working in a man’s world and kicking ass.

Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter (audio)
Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

Ocean at the end of the Lane Neil Gaiman Bevy of BooksNEW GAIMAN. And possibly better than American Gods, though very different. Loved this muchly.

A Dance of Dragons – George RR Martin RR
Growing up Female in America: Ten Lives – Ed. Eve Merriam NF MM
The Beautiful Struggle – Ta-Nehisi Coates NF MM

Again a book where the language transports you into this man’s world. He’s a columnist at The Atlantic and knocks me out with his analysis and his writing.

The Dragon Reborn – Robert Jordan
Eye of the World – Robert Jordan
Knife of Dreams – Robert Jordan
Tower of Midnight – Brandon Sanderson/ Robert Jordan

Had this idea for a blog comparing the rampant sexism in the Song of Ice & Fire to the much more progressive Wheel of Time – got lost in the research and never finished it. Have three or four drafts somewhere that maybe I’ll get back to one day.

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel

Another book I picked up and couldn’t put back down. Was really glad Bringing up the Bodies was waiting for me when I got home. Read this in Alaska while I was there in August.

The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes

Trippy time-travel horror fiction. I liked Zoo City better, but this was a great read.

King Rat – China Miéville

Early Mieville. Didn’t like it, didn’t finish it. Or maybe I was just in a hurry to get to Bringing up the Bodies.

Bringing Up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel

Just as compelling as Wolf Hall.

The Shelter Cycle – Peter Rich

An interesting little book about two kids who grew up in a weird cult and their very different experiences as adults after it falls apart.

Memory of Light – Brandon Sanderson/ Robert Jordan

Gathering Storm – Brandon Sanderson/ Robert Jordan

Population 485 – Michael Perry NF MM RR
Truck: A Love Story – Michael Perry NF MM RR

This is the first book of Perry’s I read, and I fell in love. He came to Powell’s, signed my books and he was great. He’s the perfect blend of the blue-collar people I come from and the high-falutin’ lit people I call my own.

Warbreaker – Brandon Sanderson

As the writer who did such a good job of finishing Robert Jordan’s masterpiece, I wanted to check out his own stuff. Loved this book a lot.

Coop: A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good EggMichael Perry NF MM RR
Tracks – Louise Erdrich RR
Bingo Palace – Louise Erdrich RR
Dial H for Hero – China Miéville
Pattern Recognition – William Gibson RR
Spook County – William Gibson RR
Drowned Cities – Paolo Bacigalupi
A Year in the World Bevy of Books
A Year in the World – Frances Mayes NF MM

This book might be the reason I quit my job and run away. She spends a month in different countries – a small-boat guided tour of Greek islands, Portugal, Spain, Fez, more I can’t remember. She has a thing for tile & mosaics like I do, and she likes to experience her locations through food. Want.

The Rice Room – Ben Fong-Torres NF

The autobiography (not really a memoir) of the editor of Rolling Stone. I mostly picked it up because he’s portrayed in the movie Almost Famous and I loved his name. The story of a second-generation Chinese immigrant made good (with lots of info on San Francisco in the 60s and 70s).

Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan RR NF
Thud – Terry Pratchett RR
Yiddish Policeman’s Union – Michael Chabon RR
Benediction – Kent Haruf
Persuasion – Jane Austen RR
Sandition & Other Stories – Jane Austen

My last unread Austen. And now there is no more.

Possessing the Secret of Joy – Alice Walker RR
Grass – Sheri  S. Tepper
Vicious – Victoria Schwab
Singer From the Sea – Sheri  S. Tepper
Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin
The Water Rising – Sheri  S. Tepper
David & Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell NF

New Gladwell! Not my favorite, but still all kinds of interesting things to think on.

Gate to Women’s Country – Sheri  S. Tepper
The Companions – Sheri  S. Tepper
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood RR
Serenity comic series – Joss Whedon
Little Country – Charles de Lint RR
Beauty – Sheri  S. Tepper
The Memory Palace – Mira Bartok NF MM

Another gut-wrenching and powerful memoir a la Yuknavitch and Strayed. A woman who must hide from her bi-polar mother to protect herself.

Up Against It – MJ Locke
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

Because I’d never read it. Got more than halfway through before I started liking it, turned out to be a pretty good book. Still have issues with him.

Mythago Wood – Robert Holdstock

Picked it up because William Gibson recommended it on Twitter. Liked it a lot.

Diving into the Wreck – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Paint it Black – Janet Fitch

I bought this for $4 at least five years ago (based on loving White Oleander). Don’t know what took me so long to read it, but it was great.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – Michael Chabon RR
Fuzzy Nation – John Scalzi
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronté RR

Was jonesing for Austen but read them all recently, so I went with Bronte.

Uglies – Scott Westerfeld

I was at my sister’s in Montana and didn’t like any of the books I’d brought with me, so I was trolling the house for something to read and my niece handed me this. I stayed up until 2am on Christmas night finishing it in one go. YA post-apocalyptic fiction. Just finished book four, Extras, last night.

Tough Customer – Sandra Brown
Rise & Shine – Anne Quindlen
Moxyland – Lauren  Beukes

139 books
RR – re-read  47
NF – Non-fiction 32
MM – Memoir 18
Audio – 12

So, a few months ago, someone contacted me through this blog and ASKED ME TO REVIEW THEIR BOOK.  Here. On my tiny little blog on the interwebs. (I imagine they missed the fact that I haven’t posted for 5 months!) Can you guess what I said? Of course you can.

On my own, I would never have picked up 150 Pounds by Kate Rockland. My Advanced Reader Copy has a cover just like the one above. The color scheme, the font, the blurbs – everything points to ‘chick lit’, a category that pisses me off for existing (since it lumps anything written by a woman that is actually about women and not manly pursuits together in one big ‘hey guys, don’t even look at these lame books’ category) and – at its worst – bores me to tears with its mindless girl-power attitude.

Thankfully, this book is not one of those I feel I need to throw across the room. This book is well-written, compelling and – most important of all – has great characters. Rockland does a great job of making these women real – their lives, families and emotional complexities leap off the page.

Alexis spends every day counting calories and working out.  Shoshana spends her days taking care of everyone but herself, and treating herself to food when she feels down. Both are bloggers who write for and about women – from opposite sides of the war on weight.  When they are scheduled together on a segment of Oprah, their encounter is the beginning of important changes in both their lives.

We’ve all had friends much like these women. You love them, and they frustrate the hell out of you because they can’t see how wonderful they are.  One of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known spent more time worried about her looks than anyone I’ve ever met.  She truly believed that all those manicures and hair appointments and new clothes were necessary to keep her looking decent enough to be seen in public.  Still breaks my heart to think of her, living her life buried in self-loathing.

This story is interesting and believable, and realistically hopeful for women in the real world.  I like that it included writing from both blogs, and discussions of media portrayals of women in relation to their weight – one of the all-too-prevalent influences on women’s relationships with their bodies.  I think some of the pieces in the book could have been shorter, and there were maybe a few too many stereotypes in play, but overall this was a good read and a positive portrayal of American women today. I have several friends who hate every book I send them – so I might just send them this one next time.

 

*no, I did not receive compensation for this review, unless you consider a review copy of the book compensation. And it is true I can take that review copy to Powell’s and maybe get a few dollars toward another book, but that’s hardly enough to get me to perjure myself. I really did like the book.

 

The fiction that William Gibson writes now cannot strictly be called Science Fiction (or, if you prefer, speculative fiction). The world in Zero History (and the rest of the Blue Ant trilogy, Pattern Recognition and Spook Country) contains nothing that is not currently available in the world today. Sometimes, you have to make an effort to remember that he’s made none of these facts up. Of course the plot and people and details of their story are fictional – but all have been created by things that really exist. The world in the Blue Ant trilogy is our world, we live in it. And seen through Gibson’s eyes – it’s a crazy, freaky, fabulous place.

The difference – the thing that makes him incredible and amazing and worthy of homage and envy – is his ability to translate a unique viewpoint into prose that puts the reader firmly behind his eyeballs (real or metaphorical) so that they see the world new and different. He seems to have ‘created a new world’ out of the real world that surrounds us. I imagine that he developed this skill by building ‘fake’ worlds inspired by what he saw in the real world, until the world morphed and the reverse was now more interesting or inspirational or what-have-you.

The plot is slightly less labyrinthine than many previous Gibson novels, but no less satisfying. And (spoiler alert) the meeting between Hollis and the never-named Cayce had me jumping for happy-joy.  These characters echo much of my own personal world-view, and I’m sure that Hollis and Cayce and I would be friends.

I feel I should mention (for those who’ve not read Gibson) that he writes fantastic female characters, without it ever feeling like he’s trying to write a strong female lead character. All of his characters are nuanced and real and convincing, and many of them happen to be female – females recognizable as fully human and in no way singled out as unusual in being so. This is certainly true for the Blue Ant trilogy, and if memory serves, is true for previous works. Chevette from the Bridge Trilogy (Virtual Light, Idoru, All Tomorrow’s Parties) is a favorite, and I’ve loved Cayce since the first page of Pattern Recognition.

I went to see William Gibson at Powell’s in September (day two of his book tour – yay living in Portland!) to hear him read from Zero History. And truly, to be in the same room with him and get a feel for who he is. Again, as with Chabon, it was everything I’d hoped it would be.  I’d recently listened to Spook Country on audio (not read by him) and so it was easy to slip back into that world.  The descriptions sound even more odd when you are listening to them rather than being on the page, where you can go back and read them again to figure out what familiar object he’s describing in such unfamiliar terms. I’d read Spook Country several times before hearing it, so I was simply being reminding, not told for the first time.

I am super-focused on getting my debts paid off right now, and don’t usually buy hardback books anymore, so I didn’t buy a copy that day. I’d had Zero History on hold at the library for more than a month the day the book was released (I think I was something like #26 on the list) and was ever-so-patiently waiting for my turn. It finally came the day before I left for Alaska for six days of child- and friend-bonding. Perfect! There’s nothing better than a highly-anticipated read on a trip with many plane rides and days spent waiting for people to get off work. I almost started it again as soon as I’d finished it (which I don’t believe I’ve ever done). And I was sad to give it back to the library – but of course did so quickly after returning home, since my book-receiving karma must be kept in tip-top shape at my only current, dependable source for new reading material. I’m tempted to put it on hold again right now so I can read it again soon. Though not too soon – currently 135 holds on 44 copies. It makes me happy to see how many other people appreciate fabulous writing and a unique world-view. Go. Read it. Start with Pattern Recognition. You won’t be sorry.

I’ve once again broken the list of books I read into two posts – scientifically separated into ‘those I’ve typed up’ and ‘those I haven’t finished typing yet.’ Only 13 books read in June, and that’s including two audio books and two I did not finish. In my defense, I was on vacation for almost half that time, so I actually had a social life (but also time to read on airplanes. hmm)

Avram Davidson Treasury. I only read a few of the stories in this collection of horror stories (unsurprisingly recommended by Mr. Gaiman). Not bad, but not really my thing.

The Child that Books Built by Francis Spufford. Most definitely my thing. Spufford examines the books he read as a child – after confessing that he is a devourer of fiction and an addict. Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, most of the books he discusses are books I also loved as a child – and he looks at how they shaped and fed him as a human being and helped make him the person he is now – while never being boring once. Loved it. Need to own this one and read it all the way through in one shot, instead of reading the first half in one week and then the second half two weeks later after returning from vacation.

The Scar by China Miéville. The night before I left on a multi-city, 12-day vacation, I was horrified to discover that I had no books to take with me. And by ‘no books’, I mean only one or two that looked interesting. Unbelievable. I was so worried about making sure I didn’t get fines for overdue books while I was gone that I forgot to stock up!

And then I remembered another of the great things about living in Portland – the bookstore at the airport is POWELL’S! And knowing that, I was able to sleep peacefully. Going to the airport early, as recommended by TSA, is no hardship when you can spend that (unnecessary, in this case) time browsing a good bookstore – with practically a mandate to buy something, since you have exactly two books to cover three days of flying in your 12 day trip. The Scar is one of the two books I bought that morning (Dune being the other – no, I’ve never read it. Yes, I know they can yank my sci-fi card for that) and the one I decided would be good Portland-to-Chicago reading material. And it was. Science-Fi-Fantasy-Otherworld fiction at its finest. It was strange to find that – while I didn’t really like or dislike the main character, Bellis, I could  not stop reading it. A convoluted, elaborate world – that apparently resides in a few other novels by Miéville – full of well-drawn human-people and nonhuman-people – and some very NON-human-nonhumans as well. This book rekindled a desire to read more sci-fi that I have yet to really indulge. But every time I see The Scar on the bookshelf, I want to go to the store.

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathon Saffron Foer. This is the first novel by the fabulous JSF (who I heap praise on here, and who can be heard here) which I bought at the bookstore* closest to my big Sista’s house in New Hampshire – not realizing that I’d read it before (but thankfully did not actually own. Of course, if I’d owned it, I’d likely have remembered that I read it). Not as utterly fantastic as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but still crazy-good by any other standard.

This novel is the story of a girl in an old picture as imagined by JSFoer, and the story of someone, coincidentally, named JSFoer, who travels to Ukraine to do research on said girl, as told by the very-much-not-a-professional tour guide he employs while there. Amazing in its ability to fashion a beautiful story in such a strange way.

*Four books are still not enough, duh. And the Big Sista asked what we wanted to see/do, and I wanted to see and most definitely do the bookstore. It was a pretty good bookstore considering the very small population in the area. It had a big touristy focus that didn’t take away from the other sections, and even a small used-books section that I totally missed on our first trip there. (Second trip was because Little Sista had to return her broken booklight. For reals. Not my idea.)

Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones, III. In the category of ‘the strangest way in which Gaiman has materialized in my life without my seeking him’, I present the appearance of the graphic novel, Preludes and Nocturnes.

After a significantly-less-than-pleasant and not-even-close-to-timely trip from Chicago to New Hampshire, I arrived with both Sistas and one niece at Big Sista’s house at something like 4:30am (scheduled arrival: 11pmish). We were variously tired and lagged and hungry and trying to ready ourselves mentally for sleeping. I wandered into the kitchen because hungry was something I could probably remove from the list rather easily – and what do I find sitting on a side table in the hall? Preludes and Nocturnes – the first eight books of Gaiman’s Sandman series. Belonged to Big Brutha-in-Law, bought for him by a co-worker not long before that day. Trust me, at 5am it was a freaky coincidence. As a bonus, it was a book I had not read (having confused it with Endless Nights, which I had read). People wonder why I’m a little strange on the subject of Neil Gaiman.

This book is the set-up of the character and world of the Sandman (also known as Dream, Morpheus and many other names in time and space). I think I went online and reserved Absolute Sandman 1 after reading it, but it may have been before that. This books is also the reason I was cranky (here) when I finally got AS 1, because I’d read the eight of the 20 stories already and had to wait forever again for AS 2.

The Lonely Polygamist by Barry Udall. Reviewed here.

Avram Davidson Treasury – I only read a few of the stories in this collection of horror stories (unsurprisingly recommended by Mr. Gaiman). Not bad, but not really my thing.

The Child that Books Built – Francis Spufford. Most definitely my thing. Spufford goes through the books he read as achild – after confessing that he is a devourer of fiction and an addict. Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, most of the books he discusses are books I also loved as a child – and he looks at how the shaped and fed his as a human being and help make him the person he is now. Loved it. Need to wont this one and read it all th way through in one shot, instead of reading the first half in one week and then the second have 2 weeks later after returning from vacation.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was a huge bestseller a few years ago. Everyone seemed to be reading it or talking about it. By everyone, of course, I mean people who read. Not really everyone, since there are people who don’t read. Not that they can’t, you understand. They just don’t. Truly. They are out there.

Because of this hoopla, I didn’t read it. Too many people gushing about how it was wonderful/life-affirming/mind-altering blah blah blah.

Not that it didn’t look like a good book, you understand. I just didn’t want to be a part of the crowd, following blindly behind whoever was telling me it was a ‘must-read’.  (I hear some of you laughing at my predictable reaction – stop that!).

Not that I never intended to read it, I just wasn’t going out of my way. I mean, the story of a woman who tries to find spiritual happiness by travelling the world and eating lots of pasta (among other things) – it sounds like a book I would chose to read. So, now that the furor has died – and it was on the sale rack at a certain fantastic local bookstore – I picked it up.

There are a hundred reviews out there to tell you who, what and where, and probably how fantastic/trite/incredible/mind-numbing it is.  But here’s why I liked it:

It reads like a memoir, the retelling of an interesting year in the life of Elizabeth Gilbert. I love memoirs.

It’s written by a master observer of the human race, who is fearless in revealing her own failures while refusing to go for the easy shocking-anecdote.

It emphasizes the spiritual exploration as a personal journey, not a beaten path.  Even if you believe (for instance) that Jesus Christ is the only path to God and salvation, you cannot argue that everyone finds/invests/believes/comes to that truth in a very particular and individual way.

It contains the perfect explanation of how I often see the world that I’d never articulated before. Gilbert talks about the differences between her and her sister, and while her sister is a master of detail, she is always only interested in the story of a person, place or thing.  So – like me – she wouldn’t notice that maybe her bathroom contains 6 different colors, none of which really go together. So, while I’ll probably notice if the bathroom is decorated nicely vs. not, it won’t occur to me that it matters. I only notice if – for instance – all the sinks are hand-painted porcelain and the bathroom stalls are labeled with the names of poker hands (royal flush, full house, etc.. Real Example) – then I’ll want to know the story of why they did that. And if it’s a good story, I’ll never forget it.

It does not try to tell you that you can revamp your whole world in one year, as long as you do this, that, and the other. The book covers a particular year in Gilbert’s life, but she was laying the foundation for her experiences for years before she embarked on this adventure. And she’d done many things to heal after her painful divorce, each of which helped her get to the place where she was ready to jump in with both feet like she did.  There are no quick fixes, there is no perfect answer. Pertinent quote:

You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.

She’s not blind to the instances where what she experienced sounds like a cliché, but neither does she shy away from it. Rather, she treats it with both seriousness and humor.

I wish half the things I’ve read about improving your life and finding happiness were so credible and entertaining.