Monday, April 29, 2019

A Month In The Life: April 2019

With tomorrow being the last day of April, that means we're 1/3 of the way through 2019 already, which just does not seem at all possible. It was another busy busy month, since we're still in session and this was the month the first major deadlines started cropping up but of course, I still managed to read books.

In Books...

  • All The President's Men: This book is a legend of political journalism, and I couldn't believe I hadn't read it yet. Honestly, though, it was so dry and seemed to be assuming that I had a lot of context around Watergate that I don't have. There's an amazing book to be written about this triumph of the free press, but the reporters were too far inside it to tell it effectively.
  • Princess Masako: In just in a few days, Emperor Akihito will abdicate the Japanese throne in favor of his oldest son, Naruhito. Which means Naruhito's wife, Masako, will be empress. Her story is quite sad: a highly educated, accomplished woman, she's widely reputed to be miserable in her tightly constrained life as a royal. This book means to examine her life, but the quality you can expect is right there in the subtitle: "Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne". Thinly sourced and inflammatory, but not without entertainment value.
  • The Last Romantics: This is the kind of long-ranging family-dynamics drama that I tend to enjoy, so it should come as no surprise that I really liked this book. Tara Conklin's writing is lovely and insightful, and the tensions that drive the plot arise from skillful character development. There were a few things that didn't quite work for me as plot points that kept it from being a true standout, but mostly this is a solid, engrossing read. 
  • Lilah: I hadn't read biblical fiction in a long time, and this didn't exactly encourage me to read more...Marek Halter did some decent characterization of Lilah, but the focus seemed strongly on the world-building and I thought the book, though short, dragged through the first half and rushed the second. 
  • The Fever: When one pretty teenage girl has a sudden seizure in class, it's a mystery. When a second does, though, and a third, it starts to feel like an epidemic. The entire small town starts to fray at the seams, and Megan Abbott's thriller keeps the tension high. I did find myself feeling like the three points of view was at least one too many, but this is a very readable, compelling book.
  • The Lowland: This book tells the story of two brothers in India whose lives take divergent paths as they grow up, and a woman who they both marry, weaving through the course of their tragedies and triumphs over a lifetime. It is an elegant, accomplished novel with deft prose styling and layered characterization, but I never quite connected to it. There's a sense of remove that blunted its impact, for me. 

In Life...

  • I was on Jeopardy!: Honestly, a lifelong dream. Even though I didn't win, I'm proud of my performance. I accomplished my make sure "Nevada" was pronounced correctly and getting to play Final Jeopardy! 
  • Session continues: We're now about 2/3 of the way through, just a little over a month to go! It'll be a pretty grueling month and change though, but then there will be some nice down time over the summer.

One Thing:

Instead of linking to something outside I'm going to write a little bit more about my Jeopardy! experience. I'm of two minds about it: on the one hand, I watched James play four shows before mine since I was on the last show of the day and knew what I was getting into...not that I was intimidated, per se, but his performance on the show has been of the sort where I don't feel bad that I lost. Lots of very smart, capable players have lost to James. I didn't lose a squeaker where I'd be kicking myself over one blown answer. On the other hand, I wish I'd gotten the experience of playing a "regular" show...getting your one chance to ever play be against such a dominant player is unfortunate timing but that's how life goes sometimes. For those of you, who (like me!) love to watch from home and shout out answers, know that buzzer timing is SO much of the game and WAY harder than you think it is. I never quite got the hang of it. But I am (I think) the first person from my hometown to ever make it on, which is pretty cool, and I will never forget that Edward is the other British king's name (along with Henry and George) to be used more than five times ever again in my life.

Gratuitous Pug Picture:


  1. Very cool that you got to appear on Jeopardy. I just bet that buzzer is harder than it looks from the living room TV screen! Yikes. Big virtual high-fives for you for making sure Nevada was represented correctly. I still haven't forgiven either Bush brother for mispronouncing it on campaign stops, LOL.

    1. There were plenty of clues I didn't know, so it wasn't just the buzzer, but my inability to get into a rhythm with it didn't help matters. And UGH it is especially unforgivable for politicians when they can't say the state's name correctly!

  2. It’s so cool that you got to be on Jeopardy! I bet being on the show is a lot harder than shouting out answers at home. Have a great May!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. I am SO good at shouting out the answers at home! I was very disappointed that having to buzz in salted my game. And thanks, you too!