Archive for Musings

Nora Ephron

I was really sad to hear that Nora Ephron died this week. Most people don’t know that in addition to writing the fantastic screenplays for When Harry Met Sally and the phenominal Julie & Julia she wrote some amazing books as well, my favourite of which is I Feel Bad About My Neck. I wrote a review for it years ago, and I think it’s time to pick it up again and have a Nora moment. If you’ve never read it, search for it. It will give you an insight into a wonderful woman, who was an exceptional writer, who died way too young.

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Reading Retreats

Who needs a spa when you’ve got this…

Twice annually Bill Gates packs it all in and schedules a week-long ‘reading retreat’ (not only does he have gazillions of dollars – but he’s got his head screwed on properly!). During this time he does nothing but pore over the books and papers he’s set aside during the year. And this kind of retreat seems popular in the U.K. You can sign up at London’s School of Life (?) and get a customized book list plus lodging at one of several modern country houses. Now who would want a pedicure when you could have this! No mention of food though… I M H O you’ve got to have good food to go with this.

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Guess Who’s in Hot Water? … and he’s not making tea!

Author and humanitarian Greg Mortenson is in the news these days. There’s lots of contraversy involving his best selling book Three Cups of Tea. Well, it seems some of it might have been fabricated or inaccurate. What!!… you mean I can’t believe everything I read… shocking!  :)

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Thought Du Jour

From the column Social Studies by Michael Kesterton in The Globe & Mail a wonderful quote:

When I was 10, I read fairy tales in secret… Now that I am 50 I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things including the fear of childishness.”

British author C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Read this daily column if you can find it online. It’s a potpourri of interesting info that is a welcome diversion from all that nasty news out there. And his “Thought du Jour” is always good.

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What’s your favourite book of 2009?

I’m curious to know what you think is the best book you read this year. My vote, hands down, is The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. It was the first book I wrote about when I started this blog and is #1 on my list of favourites.

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Sarah’s an author! Sort of.

Did I see right? Sarah Palin got a $1.25 million advance for her book Going Rogue!  She didn’t even write the darn thing. She used a ghost writer. Apparently she doesn’t have very many good things to say about everyone involved in her recent campaign when she was running for Vice. Sarah sweetie… don’t burn all your bridges – you just never know when you’ll have to cross that darn river again. Gosh, golly, gee,  you of all people should know that, living in Alaska and all. :)

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Does contemporary fiction disappoint you?

A comment by Robert J. Wiersema in my local newspaper caught my attention recently. He said “The drawback to being a rapaciouis (now there’s a word eh – my comment, not his) and insatiable reader is that it becomes increasingly difficult to be surprised by a book. We’re not jaded, exactly, but we are realistic about the seeming conformity of the bulk of contemporary writing. Yet we keep trying, pinning our hopes to the next book. And the next.” I’m definitely in his camp… I read so much I’m often disappointed after the first few pages, same old theme, same tired characters, same old, same old. It has to be a really good book to catch and hold my attention. Like The Book of Negroes. His comment was in a review of  the book Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk, which by the way, he highly recommended.

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Book or Movie, or both?

When they take a great book and turn it into a movie, do you go see it? If you’ve read the book and liked it, are you tempted to see what they’ve done with it? Or do you stay away, knowing that it just won’t be like the book and you’ll be disappointed?

I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a movie based on a book and liked it. Often they make a total mis-mash out of it, and there’s no similarity to the book, or they’ve left out so much stuff that you realize it’s a good thing you read the book first. Remember what they did to Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun. What about The Da Vinci Code. There was a lot left out in that movie. Snow Falling on Cedars – another great book. But the movie was so dismal.  The only instance where they did a great job was probably the Harry Potter series. But I am intrigued enough to  go check out Angels & Demons.

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New or Used?

Do you like second-hand bookshops? Are you one of those people who can roam around for hours, checking every shelf, looking for a buried treasure among the ruins?  Or do you find all that chaos and clutter unbearable?

I can’t stand books that have been mangled or damaged in any way. And when people write in them – oh, I really hate that. When I buy a book I examine it thoroughly before I’ll take it to the cash. I can’t even stand library books that are tattered or showing signs of age. Deal or no deal, I am not the least bit tempted to wander around second hand bookshops. But Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, that’s definitely the exception.

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Good for a giggle

The Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year has just been awarded to : The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais by Philip M. Parker. Now there’s a book with a select audience.

Runners up are : Baboon Metaphysics, Curbside Consultation of the Colon and the Large Sieve and its Applications, and Strip and Knit. Curbside consultations?!! … of the colon! … where? … at a bus stop?

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