February Reads

fall leaves winter longs syracuse

Nothing feels longer than the Syracuse winter

You guys, February is over! That means I get to start getting my hopes up about spring, even though it won’t really be warm enough to wear cute sundresses and lounge outside with a book until May. A girl can dream, though, right? I’ll settle for the snow melting and putting away my heavy boots.

February was pretty uneventful. However, I did have an excellent Valentine’s Weekend visit with the boyfriend! There were crepes and fancy Italian food and my first ever Sabres hockey game, and all of it was excellent (bar the Sabres losing). Also, I learned to knit this month! So far I’ve made a hat for the boyfriend and a cowl scarf, and I’m working on some boot cuffs! Continue reading


Book Review: Portrait Inside My Head by Phillip Lopate

Book Review: Portrait Inside My Head: Essays by Phillip LopatePORTRAIT INSIDE MY HEAD: ESSAYS
by Phillip Lopate

Non-Fiction: Essays
Free Press, Feb. 2013
Hardcover, 304 pages
Source: Provided by publisher for review

Portrait Inside My Head is a compilation of personal and critical essays by acclaimed author, film critic, poet, and essayist Phillip Lopate. Although the essays in this collection span a wide variety of topics, they are divided into four categories: The Family Romance, The Consolations of Daily Life, City Spaces, and Literary Matters. The pieces included provide an interesting cross-section of Lopate’s writing over the years, including stories about family life, literary and film criticism, and reflections upon Brooklyn, his hometown. Continue reading

Book Review: Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson

Book Review: Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill BrysonNEITHER HERE NOR THERE: TRAVELS IN EUROPE
by Bill Bryson

Non-Fiction: Travel Memoir
Harper Perennial, 1992
Paperback, 245 pages
Source: Gift

Twenty years after backpacking across Europe as a young man with his (rather unlikable) friend Katz, Bryson retraces his journey across the continent. Now middle-aged and somewhat less wild and spontaneous, he travels from the northernmost town in Europe through Scandinavia, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Continue reading

Taking on Chunkster Books

I like big books and I cannot lie

I started reading Les Miserables about a week ago, and tackling this nearly-1500-page tome got me thinking about chunkster books: how to classify them and methods of reading them.

What is a chunkster book? According to the rules for the Chunkster Reading Challenge, books over 450 pages are considered “chunksters.” I’m not sure this is the standard I would use, as most of the books I read fall in the 250 to 400-page range; 450 pages is a bit on the long side, but I don’t know if I would call a 450-page book a chunkster. Another measure I’ve heard is 500 pages, which seems a bit more fitting to me, even though it’s merely 50 pages longer than the CRC metric. It’s all perception, though, I think. Continue reading

The Classics Spin

the classics clubThe Classics Club is running a fun game for members called the Classics Spin. Here are the rules:

At your blog, by next Monday, Feb 18, list your choice of any twenty books you’ve left to read from your Classics Club list.

This is your Spin List. You have to read one of these twenty books in February & March. So, try to challenge yourself. For example, you could list five Classics Club books you are dreading/hesitant to read, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favorite author, rereads, ancients — whatever you choose.)

Next Monday, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by April 1. We’ll have a check in or something in April, to see who made it the whole way and finished the spin book.

Continue reading

Book Review: Lunch with Buddha by Roland Merullo

Book Review: Lunch with Buddha by Roland Merullo
by Roland Merullo

AJAR Contemporaries, November 2012
Paperback, 392 pages
Source: Bibliosue giveaway

Following the death of his wife, middle-aged Otto travels to Washington State with his two college-age children to spread Jeanie’s ashes at a site special to the couple. After an emotional gathering with his family, he embarks on a road trip across the American West with his sister’s husband, Volya Rinpoche, a world-renowned spiritual man and teacher of Buddhism.

As on the pair’s previous road trip a few years before, Otto tries to teach Rinpoche about American culture and Rinpoche bestows spiritual lessons upon Otto. The two men experience the beautiful bounty of the untamed West while Otto struggles with the loss of his wife and searches for peace of mind through the teachings of the spiritual master. Continue reading