REVIEW: My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber

my life and hard timesFormat:  Paperback
Genre:  Short Stories
ISBN:  9780060933081
Published:  1933

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Back of the Book Blurb:

Widely hailed as one of the finest humorist of the twentieth century, James Thurber looks back at his own life growing up in Columbus, Ohio, with the same humor and sharp wit that defined his famous sketches and writings. In My Life and Hard Times, first published in 1933, he recounts the delightful chaos and frustrations of family, boyhood, youth odd dogs, recalcitrant machinery, and the foibles of human nature.

My Thoughts:

I love James Thurber, and I especially love that this book is autobiographical. His stories are hilarious, partly because they are so absurd, but perhaps more so because of Thurber’s exquisite command of the language. He tells the stories perfectly, with no extraneous words, and it is as though you are a fly on the wall watching an utterly unbelievable event.

What is also great about this collection is the essay that precedes it. Certainly written by a literaty critic who has accurately assessed Thurber’s body of work, he is also an unabashed fan of Thurber – the man and the writer – which makes it the perfect preface for this book.

If your only experience with Thurber is “The Night the Bed Fell,” as mine was, you will not be disappointed.

Top Ten “Gateway” Books/Authors in My Reading Journey

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish. They love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list  that one (or more) of their bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

All of us readers have those books that really started us on our way to becoming book lovers. It could be something we read as young children, or it could be a book we picked up in adulthood after years of a reading drought. Or, it could be an author or book that introduced us to a new favorite genre. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday puts a spotlight on those books and authors that we credit with our bookishness.

These are my Top Ten…ok, Top Fifteen… “Gateway” Books/Authors (in somewhat random order):

  1. My Bible Friends – Etta B. Degering
  2. Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories – Arthur S. Maxwell
  3. The Ugly Duckling – Hans Christian Andersen
  4. A Girl Called Tommie, A Nurse Called Tommie, A Wife Called Tommie – Thelma G. Norman
  5. Little House in the Big Woods (Little House #1) – Laura Ingalls Wilder
  6. My Sister Mike – Amelia Elizabeth Walden
  7. The Witch of Blackbird Pond – Elizabeth George Speare
  8. Now – Merikay McLeod
  9. A Little Princess, The Secret Garden -Frances Hodgeson Burnett
  10. Unblessed – Berneice Lunday
  11. Unleashed – Leon Orr
  12. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
  13. Johnny Tremain – Esther Forbes
  14. Nancy Drew Mysteries – Carolyn Keene
  15. Biographies of everyone from George Washington & Thomas Jefferson to Paul Revere, Louis Pasteur, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart, George Washington Carver…you name it, I read it.

Amazing that a list like this does not include The Chronicles of Narnia, anything by Dr. Seuss, no Maurice Sendak, barely anything in the traditional canon of children’s literature.  I am thankful that The Witch of Blackbird Pond made it into my hands, as it was one of my few reading experiences outside the narrow sphere of denominational sanctioning (as a young adolescent, anyway), and it lit a spark.

Book Reviews | Review: A Year Of Biblical Womanhood – The Gospel Coalition

A Year of Biblical Womanhood

Rachel Held Evans | Review by: Kathy Keller

Rachel Held Evans. A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master.”
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012.
352 pp.

Rachel Held Evans had at least two stated goals for writing A Year of Biblical Womanhood, according to the promotional material accompanying my advance review copy. Under “Why She Wrote the Book,” Evans says:

I’ve long been frustrated by the inconsistencies with which “biblical womanhood” is taught and applied in my evangelical Christian community. So . . . I set out to follow all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible for a year to show that no woman, no matter how devout, is actually practicing biblical womanhood all the way. My hope is that the book will generate some laughs, as well as a fresh, honest dialogue about . . . biblical interpretation. (emphasis mine)

Evans wants to show that everyone who tries to follow biblical norms does so selectively—“cherry picking” some parts and passing over others. She also says she wants to open a fresh, honest dialogue about biblical interpretation, that is, how to do it rightly and well. Rachel, I tried twice to get in touch with you when you were in New York City on the talk shows but wasn’t able to connect. So here’s what I would have said if we could have gotten the chance to open that dialogue.

Read more…

via Book Reviews | Review: A Year Of Biblical Womanhood – The Gospel Coalition.


101 Books To Read This Summer Instead of ’50 Shades of Grey’ |

101 Books To Read This Summer Instead of ’50 Shades of Grey’

This epic flowchart goes to great lengths to help you help yourself put down the trashy erotica.

Share it if you know anybody who’s reading “50 Shades” right now

via 101 Books To Read This Summer Instead of ’50 Shades of Grey’.

REVIEW: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Paperback, 334 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by Penguin (Non-Classics) (first published February 16th 2006)
ISBN: 0143038419 (ISBN13: 9780143038412)
primary language: English
original title: Eat, Pray, Love

2 stars 

Goodreads Synopsis:
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want–husband, country home, successful career–but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

My Thoughts:
Not keen on her definition of God, or Christian for that matter, but she is a good writer, and despite her shallow understanding of Christianity, I am enjoying her journey of self discovery so far.

UPDATE: Not so keen on her India section – she seems to take a rather superior attitude about her approach to spirituality, which is quite off-putting.

I QUIT! The only reason this book doesn’t get one star is because I enjoyed the Italy section. Her self absorption was tempered by the focus on food and friends, which was enjoyable. However, moving into India, she became so focused on herself and her “higher” state of enlightenment that it truly overshadowed anything rewarding about the setting. I found her overblown sense of self-importance so off-putting that I quit. Blech. No more for me.

REVIEW: Lucky by Alice Sebold

Paperback, 246 pages
Published September 16th 2002 by Back Bay Books (first published August 4th 1999)
ISBN: 0316096199 (ISBN13: 9780316096195)
primary language: English
original title: Lucky
4.5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
Enormously visceral, emotionally gripping, and imbued with the belief that justice is possible even after the most horrific of crimes, Sebold’s compelling memoir of her rape at the age of 18 is a story that takes hold and won’t let go.

My Thoughts:
Sebold’s story is wrenchingly, brutally sad, but thankfully it is not hopeless. She writes an honest and unflinching account of being violently raped and her existence in the wake of it. She does not shy away from describing the weaknesses in her family, including her own weakness of needing to prove time & again that she was fine, that she had surivived (even thrived), and that she was not the emotional basket case people expected her to be. When she had to deal with her closest friend being raped, she took the lead – at first – in helping her friend through it. She was experienced in this arena…she had done this before…she could shepherd her friend through the legal process. And this is the point where she begins to fall apart.

What Sebold didn’t realize at the time was that she thought she had moved on, but she had really allowed herself to be defined by her rape. She was the girl who pressed charges against her rapist and one. She was the one who was the good rape witness. She was the strong one…the savvy one…the survivor.

We don’t typically think of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as something that affects those who haven’t been to war, and yet it is very clear that Sebold does (or did) indeed suffer from it. She was functional in her day to day life, but not without the crutches of alcohol, drugs, men, the bravura she felt in “surviving” in New York City. It was only when she reads a self-help book in which she was quoted that she finally began to come to terms what the realities of her life, because she was finally able to truly see herself, to see the damage she lived with (and nurtured) for ten years, and to see that she defined herself in terms of before and after her rape. This is also when she began to make substantial and substantive changes in her life…and truly began to heal.

I loved this book, not only because it was well crafted, but because it lent an additional level of understanding to Sebold as an author. It’s obvious, having read her own story, that the fiction she writes is cathartic and hopeful both for her and for her readers. I look forward to reading more from her in the coming years.

REVIEW: Watch Your F*cking Language by Sterling Johnson

Paperback, 112 pages
Published November 3rd 2004 by St. Martin’s Griffin
ISBN: 0312318715 (ISBN13: 9780312318710)
original title: Watch Your F*cking Language: How to swear effectively, explained in explicit detail and enhanced by numerous examples taken from everyday life
2 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
Let the squeamish beware!
Watch Your F*cking Language takes a no-holds-barred approach to taboo words and expressions. It shows you how to use them to your advantage — and have fun doing so. Building on the lessons learned in English as a Second F*cking Language, this book emphasizes traditional English swears as well as powerful (and hidden) expressions from other cultures and languages.
Through numerous examples, it puts the real language of real people into context:
FLOYD: I just heard a Dan Quayle speech. It was really f*cking confusing.
RUBY: I just got back from a Mongolian cluster f*ck. It was really confusing f*cking.
The name of the game is communication, and Watch Your F*cking Language shows readers how to hammer home their messages with confidence and gusto.
Among its features:
*Numerous examples of proper (and so-called improper) usage
*An Idioms section that emphasizes the niceties of swearing
*A “Need to Know, “Nice to Know,” and “Forget It” system for identifying swear words
*A Final F*cking Exam

My Thoughts:
There were some nuggets of awesomeness throughout what was largely a mediocre – and relatively nasty – book. After having read his first book, I expected this one to expand in a good direction…i.e. creative and magnificent swearing. Well, it did expand, but mostly in areas related to crass & vulgar slang for various body parts and sexual acts. THAT might be “swearing,” but I’m more inclined to call it nasty language. A good swear does not make you throw up a little in your mouth at the mental picture it creates. If done well, it is magnificent to the point of awe, and should rightly elicit a response of “WOW!” or utter speechlessness. The tripe that Sterling Johnson discusses in this book is for people who can do no better than parrot gross language about their anatomy and bodily functions.

This was (again) a great idea executed very poorly. It’s base…and gross…and except for the occasional goodie, mostly definitely not funny. Especially…ESPECIALLY…if you have read the likes of Geoffrey Chaucer, Shakespeare, and myriad other phenomenal authors, whose awe-inspiring swears are worthy of any top ten list. Listen to George Carlin, a man who could swear with enviable ease. There are certainly others, but Sterling Johnson is most assuredly not among them.