Showing posts from 2018

The Ultimate Book Geek Challenge, Part Six

Category 35, Set in the summer: Idaho by Emily Ruskovich The main event of the book happens during the summer, I think. Or it could be fall, but it felt like summer when I was reading it. There's also a lot of winter in the book. It's really good. Set in Idaho. Part mystery, part family drama. Very well-written. Category 36, A book that will make you smarter: Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour Well, I think it made me briefly smarter, anyway. It's hard to remember what I learned from it when confronted with a bratty teenage girl. Not that any of my teenagers are bratty. Category 37, Bestseller: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones This is a very good book, but it didn't move me like others have. I always wonder how much my response to a book depends on my current place in life -- maybe it would have been more moving and meaningful at a different time. It is worth reading. Category 38, Reader'

The Ultimate Book Geek Challenge, Part Five, Or, An Aside about My Sisters and Me in New York

Category 34, About a city: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser Here's the story of how I came to read this book. Six of us Jacobsen sisters went to New York in September so we could go to my brother Colter's art show opening at Callicoon Fine Arts Gallery in Manhattan. We had a great time being tourists in the city. One day, after visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we were walking away from Central Park down 81st street on the Upper East Side and one of my sisters (I think it was Leah) saw a book that was trapped on top of a wrought iron gate about ten feet above the ground. Apparently it had been dropped from above and lodged there. Leah jokingly said to Cammy (the athletic sister), "Hey, Cammy, climb up and get that book!" And the next thing we knew, Cammy was scaling the gate and had grabbed the book. It was a hardback copy of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street . It had been there for a little while before Cammy rescued it but w

The Ultimate Book Geek Challenge, Part Four

Category 18, Short Story: "Novostroika" by Maria Reva This was quite an entertaining story published in The Atlantic in December of 2016. (We had a subscription to The Atlantic for a year around then and have kept the old issues around for leisurely perusal. It's a good magazine with well-researched, good writing.) The story is about a man in Ukraine who tries to get the heat turned on in his apartment only to hear from the official that his building doesn't exist. I'd say it's funny and tragic in a way similar to A Confederacy of Dunces . Category 19, Graphic novel: El Deafo by Cece Bell I like that these memoir-type graphic novels kind of expose the immaturity and self-centeredness of the pre-teen/early teen protagonist. This one's about a deaf girl and was interesting and fun. Category 20, About an animal: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket or The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo 🎧 The first has various reptiles in it, incl

The Ultimate Book Geek Challenge, Part Three

Category 10, Vintage mystery: The Bookman's Promise by John Dunning 🎧 I admit that this isn't really vintage mystery, but I'm justifying it because 1) there were too many mystery-type categories in this challenge (next year's categories are an improvement), 2) the protagonist/detective guy was kind of old himself ("vintage," you could say), and 3) there is a lengthy flashback to 1860 or thereabouts because the mystery involves a lost or unknown manuscript by explorer Richard Burton. I liked that the detective is a retired detective who is now a bookseller. I didn't like as much that he is yet another older man who has romantic flings with younger women. But that's everywhere, I guess. Category 11, Historical: Our Town by Thornton Wilder I'm sure I read this long ago, but I didn't remember much of it. It's a lovely and sweet play, though pretty heartrending at the end. The passing of time isn't my favorite thing to think abo

The Ultimate Book Geek Challenge, Part Two

I have finished my fifty books for the year — in fact, I’m up to fifty-six, I think — and this is a surprise to me. I had been reading less in the last few years, so I wasn’t sure I’d make it to fifty. I think I succeeded because tracking things tends to improve performance (so I’ve heard) and because I’ve started listening to books, which I had not done very often before. Thanks to Jim Dale and the Harry Potter books for showing me how enjoyable listening can be. Category 2, Snow: The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking This is indeed a little book, which was something I was looking for at the beginning of the Challenge, because I was worried that fifty books would be ... uh ... challenging. Anyway, I liked this. Lots of good ideas about making your surroundings and life cozy and happy-making. Kinda makes you want to go live in Sweden or Denmark or Finland. Category 3, Fairy Tale: Dornröschen auf Deutsch ( Sleeping Beauty in German) 🎧 I li

The Ultimate Book Geek Challenge, Part One

Our local library (where I'm lucky enough to work part-time) is doing a program this year called The Ultimate Book Geek Challenge. The challenge is to read 50 books in 50 weeks and they have to fit into a list of 50 categories supplied by the library. I didn't think I'd do it because I don't read as much as I used to and I wasn't that interested in the category idea. But I started keeping track of my books, found that I was reading more than I would have expected, and thought it would be good to support my friend and fellow librarian, Rasheil, who is running the program. She said I could be kind of creative with the categories, too. Plus, if you succeed at the 50 books in 50 weeks challenge, you get a sweatshirt! And Rasheil said I could get one that zips in the front. So I'm going for it, and at this moment in August of 2018, I've read 33 of the 50 books. In this post, I'll write about five of the books I've read and the categories they fi

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie

I thought it would be fun to read this series, since there is a British TV show based on it that looks interesting. But after reading the following, I'm done: Hildegard Staunton was paler than he remembered from her husband's funeral. Her short hair was blonde and curly; her eyes were large and green. Her eyebrows were pencil-thin and she wore no lipstick; as a result, her face looked as if her feelings had been washed away. So, it's only possible to read feelings on a woman's face if she's wearing lipstick? I had no idea! If the book had been written in the '50s or something, I probably could have overlooked this, but no, it was published in 2012. I may be overreacting, but there's a lot of good stuff to read and this time, I choose not to spend my time on something that implies that women absolutely must wear makeup or they can't get along in society.

More of Chad's photos of the eclipse, 21 August 2017

These are small, low-quality versions of the photos. If you're interested in high-quality files, you can contact Chad directly. His email is included in a link at the bottom of the post. Stepping to Totality, Chad's composite of photos throughout the eclipse. The center photo, during totality, is without any kind of filter. The blue filter shows sun spots really clearly. The orange filter looks like what we saw through our eclipse glasses. Photos without a filter during totality, which lasted over 2 minutes. Check out the sun flares! The Diamond Ring, which appears at the beginning and end of the total eclipse, as the sun starts to appear again. This is kind of what it looked like during totality. These are the two prints that Chad has available. You can email him here for info.

Total Solar Eclipse, 21 August 2017

Photo by our good friend Chad Roberts .* This is what I wrote in my journal not long after we saw totality in our front yard for about 2 minutes 19 seconds: That was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. I’m afraid that I’m so tired my brain is going to forget how it looked – black circle surrounded by glowing white flames, sunset colors along all horizons around us, very bright red planet to the south, very bright white planet above, dim star next to the sun, nearly dark, shadow bands along the sidewalk just before and after, the diamond ring as the totality ended. It was awesome and beautiful and amazing. When it hit totality, everybody started exclaiming and shouting like a much louder response to fireworks or something. The response almost seemed involuntary. Everyone said the animals would freak out, but it seemed like it was just the humans who freaked out. Really, it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. So beautiful and awesome and