Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Month In The Life: October 2018

October has always been my favorite's peak college football season, the weather is usually delightfully crisp, and it's my birthday month! Besides celebrating both mine and my husband's 33rd birthdays this month, we also just got back from a trip, so it's been a pretty fantastic October around here.

In Books...
  • The Things They Carried: This book of interconnected short stories follows a platoon of Vietnam War soldiers before, during, and after the conflict. It's fairly short but very powerful and the writing is incredibly good.
  • Flip: The first half of this book was very solid...Alex, a 14 year-old boy in England, suddenly wakes up one morning with 6 months missing and in an entirely different body: that of another English teen called Phillip, or "Flip" for short. The confusion and terror Alex feels is well-rendered and compelling, but then when the second half rolls around and it gets into the explanation for what happened and Alex's attempts to "fix" it, it all falls apart. 
  • The Fly Trap: I'll admit, I was not excited when my book club's pick this month was a memoir from a guy who lives on a Swedish island and collects flies. But it was charming and delightful, even if it didn't really go anywhere. An easy, enjoyable read. 
  • The Library Book: This nonfiction book about libraries, focusing on the Los Angeles Public Library and a fire there in the 80s, was a little meandering and unfocused. But Susan Orlean's writing is wonderful, and her genuine fondness for libraries and books so clear throughout, that it's an enjoyable reading experience overall.
  • Prep: This book about an Indiana teen who goes to a fancy east coast boarding school was well-written, but also difficult to sit down and read for any long period of time, because Sittenfeld so perfectly captures the experience of being an agonizingly self-conscious adolescent girl that it made me anxious to spend too much time in her head.  
  • We Are Not Ourselves: This is the kind of character-based family saga that should be right up my alley. It traces the life of Eileen Tumulty from her hardscrabble childhood through her marriage to the handsome, smart Ed Leary, the birth of their son Connell, and her determined chase of the American dream...only for that dream to come crashing down when Ed becomes seriously ill. Unfortunately, Eileen is deeply unpleasant to spend time with, so a whole book's worth is way too much. She's not even unlikable in an interesting way, just a garden-variety social-climbing racist asshole. Some lovely prose, but not at all a good book. 
  • Detroit: As the daughter of a woman who lived in Detroit until the late 80s (we moved out when I was about three), I was really interested in reading about the city's downfall, but this book wasn't quite what I expected to be. It's as much about author Charlie LeDuff's personal relationship to the city as it is the decline of the city itself, and while it's good, it's not great.
  • Bringing Down the House: This book about the MIT blackjack team card-counting in Vegas is an entertaining enough story, but fails to really go anywhere or say anything. The kind of thing that makes for great airplane reading, but doesn't hold up under any real thought. 

In Life...
  • Birthdays!: Both my husband and I celebrated our 33rd this month (we're exactly two weeks apart). Given that we had a trip coming up, we decided to forgo our usual dinners so we could do a nice one when we traveled, but we did do some presents and I gave away a copy of Americanah (my favorite book I've reviewed on the blog over the past 12 months) to celebrate! Congrats to AJ for winning!
  • Trip to Minneapolis: My husband has always wanted to see a home Vikings game, so we made it happen this year! We spent five days in the Twin Cities and saw dinosaurs, drank a bunch of great beer, and I wish we could have seen the team win, but it didn't work out that way. It was super fun!

One Thing:

I love this kind of thing, and do honestly wonder what music will stand the test of time. Many of their choices make all kinds of sense ("Hey Ya!" is beyond obvious, and "Wonderwall" also has that kind of timelessness that makes me think kids will be asking what a wonderwall is decades from now), but I don't know about "Hotline Bling" and think it'll be Rihanna's "Umbrella" that will make it, not "We Found Love". What recent music do you think will be the golden oldies 25 years down the road?

Gratuitous Pug Picture:


  1. The Vikings are a very cool sports team. I can't imagine how special it must be for you to be married to a loyal fan of theirs.

  2. I ended up liking We Are Not Ourselves, but it took me forever to get into the story and I think I would've DNFd it had I read it now...since I'm much more impatient with books than I used to be!

    1. If I DNF'd, We Are Not Ourselves would have been an easy one. The only thing redeemable there for me was the prose quality...Thomas is a talented writer, but it never hooked me at all.

  3. Thanks for hosting the giveaway. I’ve wanted to read that book for years. Happy birthday! I’m glad you had a good October. Have a great November!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!