Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yeas and Nays of July through December 2010

It's been another excellent six months of reading, and I only have two "nays". So, as I've done in the past, rather than giving you six yeas and six nays, I'm giving you 10 yeas and 2 nays to add up to 12.

Yeas (alphabetical by title)

American Pastoral by Philip Roth
I don't care what you say. You must read it. It very well might be The Great American Novel of the late 20th century. It's the only Roth I've ever read, and I'm afraid to read anything else by him because I can't imagine it would measure up to this. I owe you a TBR challenge blog post on it, which I hope to deliver soon.

Beowulf by Garth Hinds (well, and also by "unknown")
I was skeptical about reading one of my all-time favorites in graphic form, but Hinds won me over. His illustrations still haunt me, and I love how faithful he was to the epic.

The Bhagavad Gita ascribed to Vyasa
It took me forever to read it, but I loved it, found it fascinating, especially all the parallels between it and The Bible.

Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham
I already waxed poetic here.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I have to reread it every decade or so just to make sure it's still one of my all-time favorites. Rest assured: it is.

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
Nobody writes contemporary, scathing satire at its British best better than Pratchett. Oh, and he cleverly disguises it as fantasy. And, here, he gives us dragons.

The Haunted Looking Glass: Ghost Stories Chosen by Edward Gorey
I wish the ghost of Edward Gorey would come down and pay me a visit. He can bring along M.R. James if he likes.

The Likeness
by Tana French
I don't care at all if elements of her plot are completely unbelievable. The woman can flat out write, and she keeps me turning pages way past my bedtime.

Othello by William Shakespeare
(You may have guessed this might be here from my last blog post.) The Duke in James Thurber's The Thirteen Clocks notes that everyone has talents, and his is being wicked. Iago's talent puts that duke to shame. And has any female character ever been more heartbreaking than Desdemona? Tragedy just the way it should be.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
by David Sedaris
He's David Sedaris. He can do not wrong. Probably a book that ought to be read once a year. I'm sure I missed a lot on the first reading; his brilliance is often hidden in the subtlety missed while laughing. You can read more thoughts I had here.

Bel Canto by Ann Pratchett
Unlike Tana French, I did care at all that elements of her plot were completely unbelievable. Readers ought to be forewarned that a book requires suspension of all disbelief. Otherwise, we might feel duped. Again, more thoughts here.

Death Rites
by Alicia Giminez Bartlett
Still hoping something got lost in translation, as I noted here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bob and Emily Talk VIII

It's an extremely hot night in August (hard to believe, but maybe imagining such a night will help keep you warm in this unusually cold December we've been having). It's also somewhat late on a Sunday night. Bob and Emily have spent the evening playing board games (also hard to believe, in December, that Bob and Emily ever have time to play board games) and splitting a bottle of wine (not so hard to believe). Now, they are reading. Bob: the Sunday comics. Emily: Othello.

Emily: You know, Iago is one of the most despicable characters ever created.

Bob: Oh yes. Evil. He was a Republican, you know.

Emily (ignoring that comment): That's the brilliance of Shakespeare. He created a true sociopath before anyone even talked about sociopaths. The man had no feelings.

Bob doesn't respond. He's laughing at something in the funnies. There's silence for a while.

Bob: You know, if someone were to ask me, I'd say that, after an exhausting weekend and drinking half a bottle of wine isn't exactly the best time to be reading Shakespeare.

Emily: Well, I'm enjoying it immensely.

Nobody asked him, right? Obviously, though, this is not the time to have a deep conversation with him about Shakespeare's views on women as argued by one of the notes she read from this 1903 The Modern Reader's Shakespeare edition, a note that stated " ought to be considered a very exalted compliment to women, that all the sarcasms on them in Shakespeare are put in the mouths of villains." That will have to wait for some other Bob and Emily talk.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dog and Cat


Ohboy!oh boy!ohboy! You've come to listen to my story. I'm just so, so happy about that! Wait a minute. Before we get started, will you give me a belly rub? Oh, thankyou!thankyou!thankyou! You are just terrific!

Anyway, a little over a week ago, I came to live with these two people. It's been great fun so far! I have my own crate where I sleep at night. I have my own bed, where I sleep and chew things during the day. They take me outside for walks, and there's so much to sniff and see and do. It's so exciting! Really, I promise you.

There's only one problem. The house is haunted. Every so often, I encounter this strange, orange, striped beast. Oh, it's horrible! It growls at me and makes this very odd noise that sounds like it's having trouble breathing. It's a sort of a "ssssssss" sound. But I won't tell you anymore. You wouldn't want to hear it. I'm putting up a brave front for the humans, though. If they would only let me, I'm sure I could chase it away.

Oh well, that is the only bad thing about this really, really awesome place. I've gotta run now, so I can go outside and eat some sticks and acorns.


This used to be a safe haven, a place where I could sleep 18 hours a day. The only things I had to protect everyone from were dustballs, moths, and the occasional stray hair tie. But not anymore. No sleeping for me. Now, I have to remain ever vigilant, and the only way I can get any sleep is to hide under a quilt.

You see, we have been attacked and are being held hostage by this horrible beast that makes whining and yipping noises and races toward me whenever it sees me. Somebody, please help! I am afraid we will all die from lack of sleep and relaxation if this goes on much longer.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Music Monday/Lyric Lundi

(Posting a day early, because I'm sure most won't read it till Monday, and I happen to have time today.)

Merry Christmas, everyone. This is one of my all-time favorites (not played nearly enough on the radio, as far as I'm concerned, this time of year. Why is it that all these Christmas stations pop up all over the place in December, and all we get are 47 different versions of "White Christmas" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" instead of classics like this one?) If I'm in the right frame of mind, this song can still get me teary-eyed. It's hard to believe it's over 25 years old. It's also hard to believe that, even back in the eighties, a time I consider to be the beginning of the decadence decades Americans have been living through for the past 30 years, we seemed to have more compassion and concern for others than we do today. I may be wrong, but my guess is that an effort like this in 2010 would be nowhere the success it was in 1984.

I love the original video for this song, but I particularly like the version I am posting here, because it combines two of the mega rock star efforts at the time, Band Aid and USA for Africa. Look at all those cool 1980s pop stars coming together. Oh, and look how incredibly young they all seem! Sting looks like a teenager, doesn't he? (And, yet, I thought he was so manly and good-looking back then. Little did I know he was to become even more so -- just as I have become more womanly and good-looking myself, of course.)

Saturday, December 04, 2010

God Bless the American Health Care System

It's that wonderful time of year at my company known as open enrollment. This means:

a. We get to waste an hour and a half of precious working hours attending mandatory HR benefits meetings explaining our health insurance options to us, even if we are planning to opt out of them.

b. We get to spend precious working (and nonworking) hours comparing options, trying to figure out what our best choice is, and praying we've made the right one. (In fairness to the company where I now work, this process isn't anywhere as nightmarish as it was at the last company where I worked.)

Luckily, I am freed from "b," because I get all my medical benefits through Bob. The Presbyterian Church USA very generously provides these free to all ministers and their wives for life. But let's say I weren't so lucky. Here's what would be happening.

My employee co-pay would be going up yet again. This has happened every year, everywhere I've worked, for at least the past eight years or so. Note: no one has gotten a raise anywhere I have worked for the past three years. Still, we are expected to pay higher insurance co-pays every year. This means everyone I've worked with who has opted into the medical benefits plans offered by these companies has actually been getting pay cuts for three years.

I would have to pay $400 a month for medical, dental, and eye insurance for Bob and me. (Oh, and if Bob could get insurance elsewhere, say from The Presbyterian Church USA, but we chose to put him on my plan, we'd have to pay an extra $50). We'd also each have to pay a $500 deductible before anything other than a routine office visit (each of those for a primary care physician would cost us $20. To see a specialist would be $30) would be covered. That's $4840 in medical expenses in 2011 if all Bob and I do is each visit our doctor once for a physical, don't get sick at all otherwise, and have absolutely nothing unusual show up in those physicals that requires other tests.

Now, let's say Bob is fine and doesn't need to see a doctor the rest of the year. However, something odd does show up in my physical, and I have to go see a specialist ($30) who prescribes some tests. Let's say those tests cost $500 (not at all out of the realm of possibility). We now have to tack on $530 to that $4840 for a grand total of $5370 (because, of course, my deductible has to be met, so I'm responsible for that full $500). Now, let's say I need some sort of treatment, and let's pretend the treatment costs $3000. We'll be kind and also pretend the insurance company agrees to pay for it. They will only pay 80%. I have to pay the other 20%. Tack another $600 onto my health care costs for 2011. We now have a total of $5970.

All that is if I stay within the network of doctors who participate in this particular insurance plan. I will have to pay way, way more if I visit a specialist who doesn't participate. My insurance company will only pay 50% of the average cost of a particular procedure, no matter what the doctor charges. That's just great, isn't it? Let's say the doctor charges $3000, but the insurance company tells me that the average cost of that procedure is $500 (and how am I going prove otherwise without spending hours and hours doing research?). I'm stuck paying $2500.

That's just medical plans. Let's not talk about dental plans. Bob and I do have to pay a little for one of those, again offered through the PC(USA). Most dental plans have annual caps of about $1500-$2000. Anyone ever have a root canal and a crown? Poof! There goes $1500+ right there. God forbid you get that toothache in January. You're basically without insurance for the rest of the year, despite the fact you're still paying for it.

And then, there's eye care. If you happen to be a contact lens wearer, you can get either glasses or contacts, but not both. Despite the fact every eye doctor I've ever seen has insisted contact lenses correct vision better than glasses do, insurance companies still think of them as "unnecessary." Come to think of it, most dental insurance companies also think of bridges and implants as unnecessary -- we're all just supposed to go around toothless, I guess.

Luckily, as I said, I don't have to worry about paying for medical insurance. However, let's look at something that happened to me this past year despite the fact I'm insured. I had an annual mammogram that indicated something was not quite right, and I needed to have another mammogram and possibly an ultrasound. I went and had both this second mammogram and an ultrasound. Who wouldn't? We're talking about breast cancer here. I don't see this as some frivolous procedure, something like Botox injections.

(Thank God) everything was okay, but then, about a month later, I received a huge bill in the mail from the hospital. The bill indicated that none of the charge was being covered by my insurance company. Bob called to see what was going on. He was told that our insurance company only pays for one mammogram a year. Again, so sorry if you've got cancer, and it's only June. You'll have to wait till January to find out, by which time your tumors will have had a chance to grow. As far as I'm concerned, that's not just outrageous: it's criminal. It's also stupid. The insurance company would be far better off, if it is cancer, paying for early detection and treatments than having to pay for the sorts of treatments and hospital stays they might have to if the cancer gets to more advanced stages.

Again, I am lucky. I could afford to pay for that second mammogram, but I am very aware of the fact that many in this country can't. And that's why, I don't care what you say, you will never convince me that we have "the best health care system in the world." Well, actually, it may be the best, because it certainly seems like it might be the best system for getting the rich richer while depriving critical care to those who need it.

I wonder what would happen if every American were to decide not to buy into health care insurance. If no one supported the insurance companies, would things finally have to change? Unfortunately, of course, it will never happen, because too many have been duped, often by false fears, into believing it's a fine system, that the insurance companies all have our best interests in mind. Still, I can fantasize...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

And Another Reading List Meme

Okay, so when I commented on Thomas's list that I stole (which came from Facebook, and, supposedly, the BBC), he suggested I really ought to take a look at this list from The Modern Library. So, I give you, yet another list of "reads" and "unreads." (I promise this is the last for a while.)

Blue = read
Italics = partially read
Bold = Will never read
Red = been in the TBR tome forever

I've commented when felt moved to do so (especially on those titles not included in the BBC list).

1. Ulysses - James Joyce. I plan to start with more accessible Joyce when I eventually do (supposedly in 2011. We'll see) and decide if I'm brave enough to move onto this one or not).
2. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald.
3. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce. See #1. This is the one I plan to read first.
4. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
5. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
6. The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner. The book that convinced me what a genius Faulkner was.
7. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
8. Darkness at Noon - Arthur Koestler. Is it terrible for me to say that it just sounds too much like a "boys' book"?
9. Sons and Lovers - D.H. Lawrence. No interest.
10. The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck. It just wasn't the right time when I started it, but I know it's a brilliant work and will return to it one day.
11. Under the Volcano - Malcolm Lowry. Has just always seemed too depressing, which is a ridiculous reason not to read something. I mean, like the Hardy I've read isn't depressing?
12. The Way of All Flesh - Samuel Butler. Read it in college. Remember absolutely nothing. nothing. about it.
13. 1984 - George Orwell
14. I, Claudius - Robert Graves. I've been pulling it from shelves and putting it back for years. Maybe I just ought to give up on the notion of ever reading it.
15. To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf. An all-time favorite.
16. An American Tragedy - Theodore Dreiser. I think I've said before that I couldn't get through it, but scenes from it have stuck with me all these years, a friend of mine recently read it, and I've been thinking about revisiting it. We'll see...
17. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - Carson McCullers. And I've got a nice biography of hers to read when I finally get around to reading this one.
18. Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut. Believe it or not, I haven't read any Vonnegut.
19. Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison. Powerful stuff.
20. Native Son - Richard Wright. Devastating stuff, very much like An American Tragedy.
21. Henderson the Rain King - Saul Bellow. I tried to read Bellow when I was too young, couldn't get into him, and have never really given him another chance. At this point, I doubt I ever will.
22. Appointment in Samarra - John O'Hara. Don't know anything about this one, so probably won't ever read it.
23. U.S.A. (trilogy) - John Dos Passos
-- The 42nd Parallel
-- 1919
-- The Big Money. Just never been interested.
24. Winesburg, Ohio - Sherwood Anderson. Another one I never seem to get around to reading.
25. A Passage to India - E.M. Forster. Want to reread.
26. The Wings of the Dove - Henry James. I haven't read as much James as I would have liked.
27. The Ambassadors - Henry James. See #26.
28. Tender Is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald. Tried but just couldn't get into it.
29. The Studs Lonigan Trilogy - James T. Farrell
Young Lonigan
The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan
Judgment Day. No real interest.
30. The Good Soldier - Ford Maddox Ford. Ditto.
31. Animal Farm - George Orwell
32. The Golden Bowl - Henry James
33. Sister Carrie - Theodore Dreiser. Despite my experience with An American Tragedy, I really do want to read this one.
34. A Handful of Dust - Evelyn Waugh. Have seen the movie...
35. As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner. Like James, I haven't read as much Faulkner as I would have liked.
36. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren. Loved it. A masterpiece.
37. The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Thornton Wilder.
38. Howard's End - E.M. Forster. Another one that went in the TBR tome after seeing the movie when it came out (so you can see how long it's been in the TBR tome).
39. Go Tell It on the Mountain - James Baldwin. As a multicultural studies editor, I really ought to be more interested in reading James Baldwin, but I'm just not.
40. The Heart of the Matter - Graham Greene. I've never read any Graham Greene, although I want to, but this isn't the book of his that's been in the TBR tome forever.
41. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
42. Deliverance - James Dickey. I haven't seen the movie, either.
43. A Dance to the Music of Time (series) - Anthony Powell
-- A Question of Upbringing
-- A Buyer's Market
-- The Acceptance World
-- At Lady Molly's
-- Casanova's Chinese Restaurant
-- The Kindly Ones
-- The Valley of Bones
-- The Soldier's Art
-- The Military Philosophers
-- Books Do Furnish a Room
-- Temporary Kings
-- Hearing Secret Harmonies. Never even heard of these (she notes, while polishing her ignorance badge).
44. Point Counter Point - Aldous Huxley. I probably ought to read Brave New World first.
45. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway. I will read Hemingway one day...
46. The Secret Agent - Joseph Conrad. Just loved it!
47. Nostromo - Joseph Conrad. But have no desire to read any other Conrad.
48. The Rainbow - D.H. Lawrence. Okay, so should I read Lawrence?
49. Women in Love - D.H. Lawrence. I mean, three of his books, and we haven't even gotten to 50 yet? (Actually, I may have read this one. I can never remember if we read it and saw the movie in one of my classes in college, or if we just saw the movie.)
50. Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller
51. The Naked and the Dead - Norman Mailer
52. Portnoy's Complaint - Philip Roth. Until this year, this probably would have been bold. Stay tuned to this blog for more on Roth in the not-too-distant future (I hope).
53. Pale Fire - Vladimir Nabokov. Sadly, the only thing I've read by Nabokov is Lolita and I'm not sure I'll ever read anything else.
54. Light in August - William Faulkner. See #35.
55. On the Road - Jack Kerouac
56. The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett. It actually hasn't been in the TBR tome all that long, but I'm hoping to be reading it soon.
57. Parade's End - Ford Maddox Ford
58. The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton. After I saw the movie (big mistake. Read the book first, if you haven't and haven't seen the movie).
59. Zuleika Dobson - Max Beerbohm
60. The Moviegoer - Walker Percy. This one probably holds the TBR record. We ran out of time in the course for which we were going to read it in college, and so it got dropped from the reading list, and I've been wanting to read it ever since.
61. Death Comes for the Archbishop - Willa Cather. I highly recommend reading it on your first visit to Santa Fe, NM.
62. From Here to Eternity - James Jones
63. The Wapshot Chronicles - John Cheever. I hope to get to this sooner rather than later.
64. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
65. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess. A mistake that this one was assigned in high school. I didn't understand it at all (having not studied behaviorism in much depth). Went back to reread it in my twenties after seeing the movie several times. It's a masterpiece (but you must read the original, English version, not the first version that was published in America that omitted the Epilogue, which ruined Burgess's scathing attack).
66. Of Human Bondage - W. Somerset Maugham. The book that sold me on Maugham.
67. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
68. Main Street - Sinclair Lewis. I love Sinclair Lewis and think it's a shame that he's sort of gone out of style.
69. The House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
70. The Alexandria Quartet - Lawrence Durrell.
-- Justine
-- Balthazar
-- Mountolive
-- Clea. They're even better if you've read Gerald Durrell's takes on "Larry."
71. A High Wind in Jamaica - Richard Hughes. Just discovered this one last year and absolutely loved it.
72. A House for Mr. Biswas - V.S. Naipaul. Maybe, one day, I loved the one Naipaul I have read (even if, right now, I can't for the life of me remember the title. It's somewhere in this blog. You can look it up if you're really curious).
73. The Day of the Locust - Nathanael West. It's too much of a "should," so I'm assuming I never will. (Of course, why I pick on it and not the billions of other "shoulds" out there, I can't fathom.)
74. A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway. When I get around to reading Hemingway, I think I'll start with this one.
75. Scoop - Evelyn Waugh. Read it in one night when I was suffering from insomnia. It was a great thing to do when suffering from insomnia. I loved it.
76. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
77. Finnegans Wake - James Joyce
78. Kim - Rudyard Kipling
79. A Room With a View - E.M. Forster. Another one I read in college that I don't remember at all. And suddenly, blogger denies me the ability to reformat (brown italics are not mine).
80. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
81. The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow
82. Angle of Repose - Wallace Stegner. I definitely will one day, because I so love Stegner.
83. A Bend in the River - V.S. Naipaul. Ahh! That's the one I read, and I'd highly recommend it (despite my inability to remember the title).
84. The Death of the Heart - Elizabeth Bowen. I was supposed to read that one this year for my own TBR challenge. Stay tuned to see if I get it read in 2011.
85. Lord Jim - Joseph Conrad
86. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow. After reading my first Doctorow this year, I'm much more interested than I've ever been, so it might be about to turn red.
87. The Old Wives' Tale - Arnold Bennett. Another swipe of polish is needed for the ignorance badge.
88. The Call of the Wild - Jack London. I love dogs. I love wolves. I love nature. Why am I not interested?
89. Loving - Henry Green
90. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
91. Tobacco Road - Erskine Caldwell. Another writer I wish hadn't gone out of style. I love Caldwell.
92. Ironweed - William Kennedy. No interest.
93. The Magus - John Fowles
94. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys. Don't watch the movie, though. Horrible. Nowhere near as good as the book.
95. Under the Net - Iris Murdoch
96. Sophie's Choice - William Styron
97. The Sheltering Sky - Paul Bowles
98. The Postman Always Rings Twice - James M. Cain. We maybe ought to read this one for the CT mystery book club.
99. The Ginger Man - J.P. Donleavy
100. The Magnificent Ambersons - Booth Tarkington

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ian and Cara's Wedding

So, my brother Ian got married the weekend before Thanksgiving in Dublin, VA (a place I'd never heard of, but which was very appropriate, seeing as he and Cara nearly got engaged in Ireland when they were over there last summer). This was an extremely exciting event in more ways than one. First, it was exciting because he has chosen a wife who fits right into the family. As he's noted, he's finally found his match when it comes to humor. They can most definitely go head-to-head on the humor field (although I wouldn't put it past her to outwit him on occasion. That's quite a feat!).

Second, it was exciting because they honored Bob by asking him to officiate. (We have learned not to say "marry them," as those who aspire to be humor pros like the bride and groom keep telling us, "That's not legal.") This honor turned out to be quite a lot of work. We should have guessed, being Presbyterians, that for a minister to leave the state of Pennsylvania in order to officiate a wedding in the state of Virginia would be about as easy as swimming from Manhattan to San Francisco. However, we didn't, which means Bob didn't finally have the document that allowed him to perform the ceremony until the day before the wedding. (No matter. Ian didn't have his tie -- ordered six weeks earlier, to match the best man's and the ushers' ties -- until the day before the wedding, either.)

Third, Ian had asked my father to be the best man. This was another honor not taken lightly. My father was nervous about dropping the rings and having them roll through some sort of crack and disappear (they got married in this very cool converted barn that is part of the Rockwood Manor Bed and Breakfast). I was more worried that our 81-year-old father was going to fall going up and down the stairs to the riser. Luckily, Cara's sons were ushers and offered him helping hands.

Fourth, this was the first time my entire family has been together in four years (by entire family, I mean my parents, two sisters, brother, and two nieces. I have to clarify this because one of my English cousins who came over for the event had informed us that her sister has recently discovered that we're somehow related to Hugh Grant. When we were talking about how it had been four years since we'd all been together, one of my nieces, without missing a beat said, "Define family. I mean, I want to know: are we talking Hugh Grant here?"). Believe it or not, we made it through the whole weekend without a single disagreement or argument (if you ignore my parents' typical bickering, which we all do). That's rare in my family. Either we have finally all matured (highly doubtful), or we were just all so happy and having such fun, nothing seemed worth arguing over.

Finally, I got to see people I haven't seen in years. And I actually got to talk to them, not just wave to them from across a room while someone I didn't know at all bent my ear for hours. It's amazing, though, how we've all come to resemble our parents. How did that happen?

All-in-all, it was a great success. Bob did a beautiful job (not to brag, but I will anyway and say that my husband really has a knack for things like weddings and funerals -- the latter of which caused us to have to race home, so he could be with a grieving family and officiate the day before Thanksgiving). One of our friends said to Bob, "If my daughters ever get married, I'm calling you." My father held onto the rings until they were masterfully exchanged by the bride and groom. And then we all ate the best. wedding. cake. ever (BTW, if you want really, really fantastic food at a wedding -- not that typical, bland, tasteless stuff that always seems to be served, no matter how fancy the caterers -- make sure the groom is a former chef) and danced the night away (helped along by a secret stash of moonshine, or as my English cousin called it "homegrown." After all, it was a Southern wedding. As if all the other booze weren't enough. Like I said, after all, it was a Southern wedding. It was also a Scottish/Irish wedding).

Most of my pictures of the actual wedding didn't come out all that well, but I share a few here with you.

The beautiful setting in Dublin, VA.

The minister, the groom, and the best man await the bride.

My immediate family with the newest member.

Cake cutting (that's the bride's son taking a picture).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Reading Lists (A Meme)

I got this one from Thomas. It's been a long time since I did one of these reading list/what-I-have-and-haven't read things. What I love about this one is that it's a list sure to make us book bloggers (note that I am referring to myself as a book blogger. Hope you real book bloggers out there aren't offended) feel great (as opposed to those that make us feel like we will never, in this lifetime, read everything we should have read). You see, apparently, the BBC (and, no, I have not researched this to see if it's a fact. My guess is that it very well may not be, since this started on Facebook. I mean, one need only ask the question, "Who, exactly is 'the BBC?'" to start wondering about the validity of this claim) believes most people have only read 6 of the following titles. Book bloggers, rejoice! I can guarantee that you have all read more than six of these titles. Aren't we a superior lot?

Anyway, here you go. (In true Queen o' Memes fashion) I'm turning this into a meme. Here are the instructions:

Thomas put the titles he'd read in blue, so, please, follow his lead and put the titles you've read in blue.
He put into italics those he'd partially read.
He crossed out those he never intends to read. I prefer (due to ease when using blogger) to put those in bold.
Put in red those that have been on your TBR list (or, if you are like me, "in your TBR tome") since The Fall (you know, the one described in Genesis?).

Comment as you see fit (which you don't have to do, but I can't help doing -- as all my long-time readers know).

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen. And I will probably read it again soon.
2. The Lord of the Rings. This one really ought to be bolded, but I keep hemming and hawing over whether or not I ought to bite the bullet.
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte. And one of my favorite rereads of 2010 (as an audiobook version). A book that ought to be read every decade or so of one's life.
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling. I've read the first four and will definitely read them all eventually, although I am not the huge fan most are and think there is much better stuff out there for kids.
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible. Still think it's a foundation for so much literature that has come since and is a fabulous description of the evolutions of western civilization, law, and psychology.
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte. Read it too late in life but can still understand all the hoopla, despite despising most of the characters.
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell. The verdict is still out on whether or not I've actually read it. Maybe I should put it in red, because I've been meaning to read (or reread) it forever.
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman. I've read the first two. Loved them. Am saving the last one (God knows for what, but thus is the life of a "savorer" as opposed to a "gobbler" of books/authors.)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens. Why have I not yet read it? I can't, off the top of my head, think of anyone who hasn't recommended it.
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott. So many times I've lost count.
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy. Really ought to reread, since I go on and on about how it's been one of my greatest influences.
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller. The fact that my local library's copy of this is missing is a lame excuse for not having read it, isn't it? Especially since I was first told I had to read it 24 years ago (long, long before I had any idea I'd be living here, where the local library's copy is missing).
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare. I took two Shakespeare courses in college, but I still don't think I've read everything he's written. Almost everything, but not everything. Yet.
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier. One of those books I wish I hadn't read and could read again for the first time.
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien. It does count that my fourth grade teacher read it out loud to the whole class, even if I spent most of that time writing my own stories and drawing pictures and not paying much attention, right?
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk. Okay, back in 1997, some English friends recommended this one to Bob and me. Bob bought it and read it. He loved it, wanted me to read it. I've been meaning to do so ever since.
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger. I'd like to reread this one, too. Although I did enjoy it, I was not as impressed with it as most the first time I read it (at age 20), but I read Franny and Zooey in the past year and think I might have a new appreciation for Salinger.
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger. Completely, unexpectedly loved it! Recommended it to (a.k.a. thrust it upon) all kinds of people without thinking. I should have known better (those of you who have read it and know her, think: my mother). Now, I recommend it to a select few. Can't quite help wondering, though: why is it on this list?
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot. Oh my God, did I love it. Why I have not read more by George Eliot, I will never know, but I haven't.
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell. Yes, everything it is cracked up to be, but please put it in its time and place if you are going to read it and complain about racism, sexism, etc. Almost all books written in that era can be accused of same.
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald. Another one I have been meaning to reread for years.
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy. I read it on my honeymoon. Forget it's reputation for length. It's extremely romantic, which makes it a great honeymoon read.
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams. Maybe I didn't appreciate Catcher in the Rye, because I read this one the same summer?
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky. On that same list of most influential/greatest reads of mine. I have to admit, though, to anyone who has found it rough-going, it wasn't until I tried it the second time that I got it (a.k.a. fell into it, abandoned all else in life till I'd finished it, rhapsodized about it, told everyone they must read it, immediately dismissed anyone I knew who didn't like it, etc., etc., etc.).
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck. I WILL finish it one day. It just wasn't the right time when I tried to read it.
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll. I plan to reread it soon, too (my reread tome seems to be almost as long as my TBR tome).
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my father reading it aloud to me.
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy. I don't need to tell most of you how Bob and I met, do I?
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis. I'm not sure if I read all of them. All I know is that I read a good deal of them one summer as a child and was not as impressed with them as everyone else I knew seemed to be.
34 Emma -Jane Austen. This is my favorite Austen.
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen. Then again, I haven't reread this one. Maybe it's my favorite...
36. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis. Now, you see, this is what makes me wonder about that whole "BBC" claim. I mean, don't those employed by the BBC know that this happens to be one of the Chronicles of Narnia? (If not, I have lost all respect for the BBC.)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini. But really wish I hadn't wasted the time.
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres. Okay, now I know the BBC can't be involved. Those who work there surely must know that the title of the book is Corelli's Mandolin. The movie was Captain Coreli's Mandolin. Anyway, loved, loved, loved the book. The movie was a waste of time.
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne. Over and over and over again. As any child should.
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell. Well, wouldn't it be in your TBR tome if you hadn't read it?
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown. If I were stranded on a desert island with nothing else to read, maybe...
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Loved, loved, loved it! Abandoned everything else I was supposed to be reading for all my other courses in college until I'd finished it. Time for a reread, don't you think?
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving. So far, my favorite Irving.
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins. I bought a new edition last year, so I can read it again.
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery. But not as a child.
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy. It's not in my TBR tome, but it probably should be, as I am sure I will read it one day.
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood. Have read other Atwood but not this one.
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding. Couldn't get through it. Maybe ought to try again?
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan. You'd probably be better off just seeing the movie (which I haven't seen). This one was very disappointing.
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel. Finally read it and loved it.
52 Dune - Frank Herbert. Dragged myself through the tedium for a course I took in college.
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons. Enjoyable to a degree, but why does everyone rave so about it? Something must be wrong with me, because I just don't get that.
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen. So much Austen on this list...
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth. But it's just so...long...isn't it? Especially for a book that doesn't take place in America or England. (I know, that highlights my biases...)
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Since I've never heard of it, I doubt I'll ever read it.
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens. I just haven't read that much Dickens. I think I'm afraid that once I start, I may be stuck reading him for the rest of my life (I mean, he was so prolific, and I'm such a slow reader...)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley. I know. I know. Please don't tell me I must read it.
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon. Why is this on this list? I mean, really? Did someone decide, "Well, we must have something written in the 21st century," and this was all he/she could think to include? It's already practically forgotten. I doubt people will be talking about it fifty years from now.
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Even better than One Hundred Years of Solitude. Put a gun to my head and ask me to name one of my all-time favorite books. This one would probably pop to mind before most others.
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck. Devastated me at the age of fourteen.
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov. Love it. If you haven't read it, listen to the Jeremy Irons audiobook. Perfection.
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt. The editor was out to lunch, which ruined this one for me. If you want something similar that is far better, read Tana French's The Likeness.
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold. Read it because it made Bob cry. It made me cry, too.
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas. This one has been in the TBR tome since I saw the movie in 1997. I know. I know. I must read it.
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac. Read it when I was a twenty-something and idealized Kerouac, the Beats, San Francisco, long road trips, etc., etc. I know: what's changed? Perhaps I need to reread.
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy. Until this past year, I'd only partially read it. Now I've read the whole thing. Typical Hardy: extraordinarily depressing, but somehow hopeful in that there was an author at the time who knew how bleak it all was due to society's decrees.
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding. Laughed my head off when I read it, but if I hadn't seen the movie not too long ago, really wouldn't remember a thing about it (a.k.a. Swedish-fish-reading). Again, though, why is this one on the list? Is it to help give those who never read a chance at achieving six read?
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie. Can't say why, but I probably won't ever read any Salman Rushdie. Just not interested.
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville. This book is my nemesis, which means I can't bold it, because I plan to conquer it one day, but I can't put it in red, because it hasn't been in the TBR tome all that long.
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens. But I read it when I had strep throat and a fever that had me seeing stars, so I can't attest to what was actually there and what I invented.
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker. Often contemplate making it a Halloween ritual to read it every year, but then get distracted by other stuff. I do love it, though.
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett. Loved as a kid. Loved when I reread it as an adult.
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson. Am reading his The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid for a book discussion group. Meh. Not sure what else of his I might read after this experience.
75. Ulyesses (hmm...looks like "the BBC" can't spell, either) - James Joyce. Hasn't been in the TBR tome forever. Is sort of making an appearance in the Afterward, though...
76. The Inferno - Dante. Nope. Can't answer your question as to why this one goes unread year after year after year...
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome. Never heard of it, so again, doubt I'll ever read it.
78 Germinal - Emile Zola. Haven't yet, but Mandarine gave me a copy, so I will.
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray. Never got through it, but have been meaning to try ever since I set it down sixteen years ago...
80 Possession - AS Byatt. No desire at this point.
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens. A wonderfully spooky ghost story.
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell. Again, no desire.
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker. I love Alice Walker.
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro. Twice. Perfection.
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert. Everyone knows I read it three times and hate it, right?
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White. Couldn't get through it as a child. Finally read it as an adult. Brilliant.
88. The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom. Life is way too short...
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The man who started my fixation with the mystery genre.
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton. Wasn't interested in Enid Blyton as a child. Can't see suddenly becoming interested.
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad. So shoot me. I'm just not that interested (despite love, love, loving The Secret Agent).
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery. What's better: the illustrations or the story?
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks. Again: why is this here?
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams. But I was thirteen. I'm sure I missed so much. I want to read it again.
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole. Yes, if you haven't read it, do.
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute. Maybe, one day...but it hasn't even made it into the TBR tome. Someone convince me.
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas. I saw the movie, which bored me to tears.
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare. And seen it performed probably more than any of his other plays.
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl. I still can't eat my chocolate bars the way Charlie managed to do in the beginning of that book.
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo. I really ought to read it. I mean, how many years am I going to keep responding to lists like these, having to talk about how I've been meaning to read it forever?

So, there you have it BBC (or who/whatever). I've read 58, well above the 6 predicted. I'm trying not to wrench my shoulder patting myself on the back.

What about you? How many have you read? I'm tagging you to do this on your own blog.