I have tons of exciting stuff to post about and I don’t know where to start! I guess I’ll leave the baby blanket and exciting package for later and for now, post about 2 things:
One. Norwegian purling is just about the coolest thing ever. Kalani taught it to me last night at knitting night and I was so excited about it! It was like magic! I felt like a baby watching the finger trick. ZOMG WOW LOL!1!!! (cause that’s what babies say when they’re amazed.)
Two. Hilary at The Yarniad tagged me with a fun book meme. I share the same problem as her–lots of my favorite books have been favorites for a long time. I seldom discover a new book I really love; I tend to enjoy them briefly, then kind of forget about them. Sometimes I can’t remember a single thing about them. For example, we had this discussion about Gregory Maguire books last night. I knew I’d read at least one of his books other than Wicked but could not tell you for the life of me which one it was. I can’t really tell you anything about Wicked, either. There was something in it about a witch or something. Or maybe some stepsisters? Yeah.
1. What book are you currently reading?
Here are the three I’m currently reading. One is in the living room, one is in the bathroom, and one is by the bed.
1. Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Eating Alone. An excellent collection of essays running the gamut from depressing (the one I’m currently reading has a woman telling tales of how she was well rid of her snobby gourmand ex-husband, who used to wag his finger at her in restaurants to get her to take her hand off the bowl of the wineglass and hold it properly, by the stem) to hilarious (an extended recipe for a delicious-sounding grill-curried shrimp quesarito with avocado raita that includes the line “I’d love to escort you to the Oscars, Paris, but I’ve got a lot of shucking to do.”)
2. No Sweetness Here. This book is for my book club (we still haven’t met!) and I still haven’t finished it. It’s a collection of short stories about life in Ghana, and it makes me feel kind of uncultured and boorish, because in some of the stories, I’m having a terrible time figuring out what’s going on, and then once I’ve figured that out, I can’t figure out what the point of the story is. My mind keeps wandering. It’s probably making really cutting, subtle observations about the role of women in postcolonial African society, but it also kind of makes me want to put it down after five pages and go to sleep. Too bad it’s not actually the bedroom book.
3. Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood. I just started this, but it’s pretty interesting so far. I really like pop nonfiction books about history or science. I’m a little turned off by the personal narrative aspect of this book–the author is a gay man whose partner is HIV-positive, and he’s not–because I prefer reading about the subject at hand rather than the author’s personal odyssey through it. (In Bad Taste was a book I read where the author’s personal narrative kind of ruined it. The author is a food scientist, but not particularly adventurous, worldly, well-informed, or a gifted writer in English, so there’s a lot of him going “People eat really weird stuff! Can you believe this? I couldn’t believe it. I was scared to eat it. But I ate it anyway. Then we went shopping and this is what I bought. It’s a good thing, too because I only packed long pants and it turned out to be unexpectedly hot blah blah blah”) At the same time, though, it makes sense in this book because the subject is so intimately bound up with the author’s personal life. There’s a scene at the beginning of the book where his partner cuts himself, and when the author rushes to help him, his partner won’t let him near until the author puts on latex gloves to protect himself from the blood.
2. When you think of a good story what are the first 3 books that come to mind?
Here are three that I thought of immediately. All of them are set in historical San Francisco (and environs).
1. Swing: A Mystery. Starts with a woman plummeting to her death from a tower on Treasure Island at the 1940 Golden Gate International Exposition, then the mystery goes on from there in an impressively clever and fast-paced period adventure with clues embedded in the jazz music the author wrote for the book (CD included).
2. Carter Beats the Devil. Way better than The Prestige. Sleight-of-hand, fateful love stories, the death of President Warren G. Harding, and gorgeous little cameos from everyone from Philo T. Farnsworth to the Marx Brothers, back when they were doing vaudeville. And I loved all the references to the Bay Area. Carter meets someone very important while walking a lion around Lake Merritt, for example, and his family’s mansion was up in Pacific Heights, where I used to work.
3. Locked Rooms. This is probably not actually my favorite out of the Mary Russell books, I mainly picked it to stay in theme, since it’s set in San Francisco, but the whole series is wonderful. (She’s Sherlock Holmes’s wife, and equally brilliant.) I’m a sucker for any Holmes pastiche, and this is no exception.
3. Which 3 books would you recommend for summer 2008 beach reading?
1. The Beach. It has a beach in it, so it must be good for summer reading, right? Especially the part where they all get food poisoning and people are vomiting and having diarrhea everywhere. This book is one of those ones I don’t remember much about except that it was much more entertaining than I would have expected. I found it for free at a youth hostel or something. I didn’t see the movie.
2. A Tale of Time City. One of my favorite Diana Wynne Jones books, about a girl who gets kidnapped from the WWII children’s evacuation of London into a city that circles outside time. Time City is so imaginative and weird, and I love the mysterious little glimpses into other times, like the Mind Wars.
3. Hot and Heavy, a time-traveling Viking meets Navy SEAL romance novel by Sandra Hill. I am not kidding. I actually read this book, and it really epitomizes fun, fluffy summer reading. I picked it up at the library one day and was fascinated. Let me sum up the plot for you. It’s kind of amazing.
A feisty Viking woman with big boobs time-travels from 1013 A.D. to modern-day Iraq, where she meets a handsome young Navy SEAL with rippling muscles, who’s on a mission to take out a high-value Iraqi target. He thinks she’s the Iraqi’s lover, so they capture her. Then they realize she’s not really an insurgent, they get married in a marriage of convenience (I forget why–green card, maybe?) that they plan to annul later, but what they didn’t count on was the strength of their mutual attraction, due to their both being extremely sexy. So they stay married. Or maybe they get it annulled and get married again. In any case, they wind up together at the end, and have a lot of sex, and then the time-traveling Viking discovers that her Viking relatives have also time-traveled to the present and established families, so she doesn’t have to miss her dead relatives in the past anymore. Also, people in this book say “Hoo-yah!” a lot.
There is an entire series of these time-traveling Viking and Navy SEAL books! There are SO MANY of them. I looked at, like, 10 of them trying to figure out which one it was I had read, and I hate to think what my Amazon recommendations are going to look like next time I log on. Here are some others you might enjoy: The Very Virile Viking. My Fair Viking. Truly, Madly, Viking.
4. Any knitting book(s) you care to share?
I just got Knitalong, by Larissa Brown, from the library today, and it has a lot of great patterns in it. The Meathead hat is cute, though I’d like to know why it’s named that, The Pillow of Sei Shonagon is a thing that makes one’s heart beat faster, and I have an inordinate fondness for Adrian’s Entomology Mittens and Hat. Those are just a few of the lovely patterns–there are also felted peace cranes, a felted bird’s nest, a beautiful leaf scarf, and a feather and fan baby bonnet, among other things, and those are just the things I enjoyed from looking at the pictures; I haven’t even gotten to reading any of the writing about the book’s main subject, knitalongs.
So I have to tag three knitters for this meme now. I hope they all have recommendations as good as Truly, Madly, Viking.
And anyone else who wants to do this meme, consider yourself tagged! I know a lot of you have good taste in books, so I’m going to be keeping an eye on your blogs for some good summer reading recommendations.