Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Year-End Wrap-Up 2009

We are back in town after a little Christmas jaunt up to my parents' house in Northern California. We had a lovely time. I took my daughter to see the San Francisco Ballet's production of The Nutcracker, which was magical. I'm not sure which I enjoyed more, watching the dancing, or seeing the scores of little girls in the audience, all dressed up in their holiday finery. My daughter loved it all!

I always hesitate to do a year-end reading wrap-up, because I usually haven't read that many books actually published in the year I'm wrapping up. This year I have a few books from 2009 to recommend, so I will. I'll also throw in my cousin's favorites of the year, since he's a voracious reader, he reads mostly new fiction and non-fiction, has good taste, and his favorites include a bunch of things I want to read!

Some of my favorite reads of 2009, published in 2009:

The Anthologist: A Novel, by Nicholson Baker
The Lacuna: A Novel, by Barbara Kingsolver
The Believers: A Novel, by Zoe Heller
A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

Lit: A Memoir, by Mary Karr
Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman's Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker by Gesine Bullock Prado

My cousin's 2009 favorites include:

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned: Stories-Wells Tower
The Believers-Zoe Heller
Sag Harbor: A Novel-Colson Whitehead
Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It-Maile Meloy
Juliet, Naked: a novel-Nick Hornby
A Gate at the Stairs-Lorrie Moore
A Good Fall: Stories-Ha Jin

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon-David Grann
Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir-Christopher Buckley
The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter-Jason Kersten
True Compass: A Memoir-Ted Kennedy
Lit-Mary Karr
The Hunger: A Story of Food, Desire, and Ambition-John DeLucie
Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour"-David Bianculli

What does your year-end wrap up look like this year? Do you make an accounting of what you've read in the year?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Still on the jury...

I'm on a jury. The trial is supposed to last two weeks, but we hear it might go a day or two longer. Which means it will get dangerously close to Christmas.

We celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas in our family. At home, we've been lighting our candles nightly, and it is quite beautiful. Then next week we plan to head to my parents' house, a six-hour drive away, to enjoy their Christmas tree and lots of presents and food. I was hoping to drive north on the 22nd, but...I could still be in court. I'm thinking the judge won't like it if I skip town...

I've barely cracked a book during the trial, because I've had no time to do any of my part-time work, regular errands, Christmas shopping, or kid stuff during the day. Due to the trial, I'm missing one child's family history presentation at school, and another's teacher-appreciation party. My third is in the middle of finals week, so in honor of that, I thought I'd post a little list of vocabulary words for y'all to ponder.

My eighth-grader (13-year-old) read To Kill a Mockingbird this semester in his English class. This is the list of vocabulary words, mostly gleaned from that book, that he has to know the definition of for tomorrow's exam. I thought it was a pretty good list for a 13-year-old to know. You can quiz yourself on how many you know :)


Friday, December 11, 2009

Doing my Civic Duty--which means a Blogging Break

I am on a jury, for the first time in my life. I've had jury duty before, but have never been picked for a jury, until now. I was hoping that I would have time to blog while being in court all day, but that was a fantasy.

So I'm going to take a blogging break for the next week, and get back to it after the 18th.

Every day I take two books to the courthouse with me, both of which were birthday gifts from my sweet husband: Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna: A Novel or Francine Prose's Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife. However I try to parcel out the minutes, I have no time to actually read them.

And then I'm too tired to read when I get home at night. I'll let you know if I've made progress once I'm back! In the meantime, I'll try to check in with all my blogging friends, but doubt I'll have time to write much. We'll see!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Book Bloggers Unite...

...and have lunch!

The antidote for a crappy week: getting together with book blogging friends in real life at the charming Aroma Cafe (which houses the cute Portrait of a Bookstore) and having a lovely lunch and book gift exchange.

It's been one of those weeks. I had jury duty, and got on a trial. And it will be a long two weeks in court. If I'm lucky.

So I was cheered to meet up with Ti from Book Chatter, Florinda from 3 Rs Blog, Jill from Fizzy Thoughts, and Amy from My Friend Amy.

Sweet Jill drove the farthest, and brought us special CDs of Christmas music. And we each brought a wrapped book for a holiday book exchange. Lamebrain that I am, I forgot my gift, but fortunately we were right next to the lovely little bookstore, so I quickly picked a favorite and had it wrapped. We ate, drank, chatted about books and life, and browsed in the tiny but cute bookstore at the back of the cafe. All in all, a very nice day.

Here's Florinda with her book exchange book.

And here's Ti with her new book.

Amy (left) and Jill (right)
I'm looking forward to seeing them all again at this year's LA Times Festival of Books in April, if not before.