Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Best and the Worst and Summer Reads

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of reason, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going directly the other way--in short, the period was so like the present period that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

We all know where this comes from, right? It is brilliant. I can never forget it.  

Especially when, from time to time, I feel we have come to one of those times of insistence upon the superlative. People see it either one way or another, and we are all waiting for the ax to drop and only hind sight will probably prove both sides wrong. Probably. 

I can't even begin to answer those questions, and I don't want to.  It is the age of information, and you all believe what you believe. So don't worry, I'm not going there. 

Instead, I'm thinking of the infamous opening sentence because I'm officially an Empty Nester. I've made it through the best week and the worst week, the happiest week, the saddest week, the strangest week, the coolest week.  Ok, you get it. 

I find I have free time to just . . . waste.  And I have.  Point in fact, I have just wasted about three hours creating a Bitmoji, and playing with Snapchat, and more.  Lord, I hate myself for having so much fun doing absolutely nothing.

I guess it is a good thing, but it is also a weird thing.  I almost know what it is like to be a kid with my phone-friend and no other worry than whether it is charged and I am not cut off on data.

Anyway, I'm back!  I'm officially back to blogging, since I've done a big part of my duty (not done yet, and duty is somehow the wrong word. I've met the desires of our hearts, that is more like it. We love our babies, we love the people they are growing up to be, we take consolation that they are happy and thriving, and that we are only a phone call or car drive, (or snap chat) away).

The highschool vortex is done, and I'm free to blog again.  Here are a few of the fun pics I created which also show you some of the fun books I've read and enjoyed this year.  


This book on "Grit" is AMAZING, for adults, parents, teachers, and students.  It has so many tips on what Grit is, what it does, and how you get (or foster) more of it.  I'll probably be writing about this one next in The Book Snob Column.  I came to it because it has stayed on the best seller list for so long, and I am glad of it.  (Also, Don't you love my BitMoji?)  



"The Nest."  I resisted this one for awhile, but its a fun rompy voyeuristic view of sibling love and dysfunction.  Tricky author because she writes sneakily well, so the shades are definitely appropriate.  Thumbs up.


I'm a sucker for all things "Pride & Prejudice," especially this year since I'll be Directing the play at PCT in the spring. (If you think P & P is beneath you, I challenge you to sit down and just write out the dialogue.  Pretty tight, right?)  So, P & P is coming to Paris, and I'm asking you to brush up on it, anyway you can.  "Eligible" is a fun modern take on it, re-pleat with Skyline Chili and everything, which I only know about because The Paris News publisher is from Ohio and has cooked it for us.  Being Texan, we politely ate it. It's good, but it ain't chili, folks. It's pasta. Pasta tipped on its head with some good old Southernish chili with a hint of cinnamon.  
Cool, but weird, a little bit like this fun book.

Ah. "Homegoing."  Pure, pure gold.  This is the book I just wrote about in my column that is out this week. It is definitely a book club book. The stories quickly get under your skin and hook you, and though it is about slavery from both guilty coasts (America and Africa), the stories of all the descendants are told in a way that you can take it.  Don't miss this one, book club or no.  



Yes, I know, I'm so behind the curve here.  I just didn't think I could stomach it, so it took one of my book clubs to make me do it, and I'm glad.  This is the purpose of book club. (Ok, I freely admit that wine and laughter are the purpose of book club night, so what you do building up to it is up to you.)

"Room" is another story about something really awful that doesn't look at the awful from the camera lens.  Instead, the story is told in the voice of the child who is the product of the crime.  He's such a sweetheart that you just wanna love him  home. It is still devasting, but not gut wrenching.  
The audio book is stellar, and fully narrated by multiple voices.


So I made it through the best and worst week.  And though I played on my phone, I'm still advocating reading.  Parents, I can't say this enough:  let your kids see you read.  And read to them.  Make them put that phone away, turn the TV off, and build vocabulary, empathy for others, and knowledge of other worlds.  I promise you won't regret it. I don't. 

Did you guess it?  Thank you Charles Dickens, for your wise words in this book about a true time of Terror.  We will make it through, one way or another.


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