I just heard something really interesting on the radio when I was standing in the kitchen making a batch of cookie dough. Sheila Rogers was chatting with someone whose name I didn’t catch, and one thing they said in that conversation was that short stories are like palate cleansers. They’re perfect to read between novels to clear your mind, especially if you’ve just finished an exceptionally good book. I never thought of short stories like that, in fact I’m not that fond of them, but I think I’m going to try some and see if this works. Often, if I’ve just finished a really good book I can’t settle on the next book because I can’t get the previous out of my mind. Usually what I have to do is not read anything for a week or so. They recommended Madeleine Thien’s Simple Recipes, and I just happen to have this book, so I’ve plucked it off the shelf and it’s at the ready. … now – must go continue with the cookies…
Archive for December, 2010
Way back when I first started this blog I recommended The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. I just saw it’s still on the best-seller list… 77 weeks later! I told you it was an amazing book.
And now for something completely different. I never recommend any kind of “self-help” book, but if you’re like millions of others out there who suffer from any kind of back problem, and even if you don’t and just want to keep your back healthy, you might just like to take a peek at The Yoga Back Book by Stella Weller. She’s a registered nurse who has taught yoga and stress management to people of all ages. It’s a yoga book, but it’s not just about yoga poses. She discusses everything - essential back exercises, strong legs for strong backs, abdominal support, as well as breathing techniques, and even relaxing for a pain free back. It’s illustrated, well written, and not difficult to follow. She even shows alternative poses if you’ve got back issues already and find the traditional poses too difficult. Even if you never do a single sun salutation it’s worth reading for all the other stuff. Winter’s here, and I’m positive people have more problems with their back at this time of year than any other. Before you shovel – read this first.
I love it when someone recommends a book to me and it’s bang on. Thanks Andrea! Family Album: A Novel (published by Keyporter Books) is Penelope Lively’s 16th novel. There’s something really appealing, to me anyway, about a disfunctional British family. Somehow they’re more quirky and fascinating than off-putting. And the Harper family, with their enormous, old house they call Allersmead, fits the bill perfectly. There’s Mum Alison (overbearing but a gourmet cook), Dad Charles (a writer ensconced in his study clueless to family situations) and 6 kids – Paul, Katie, Roger, Gina, Sandra and Clare. Plus Ingrid, the au-pair who’s been with the Harper family for 40 years. Every character is interesting, and Lively weaves memories with the present day easily. It’s not at all hard to figure out where the reader is in time. That doesn’t happen often in alot of books I’ve read. Usually you have to stop a minute and think where you are, past or present. She is such a good writer that the story flows perfectly. Alison’s “family at all cost” kind of life that she provides under very strange circumstances is reflected upon by all the kids later in life. And sharing stories of their past makes them wonder… was their family really as weird as they thought it was, or is every family out there just as strange in their own way. It’s a great book, and I think it would make a good choice for a book club. Family dynamics always provoke great discussions.