Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Salon--Oscar day in LA

The Sunday

Here in Hollywood, the Academy Awards takes over for almost a week. The Kodak Theater, where the award ceremony is held, is really close to my kids' school. They block off the streets nearby for days beforehand, for security reasons I suppose, and also because they have to build red carpet and bleachers and all sorts of temporary structures for the event. So my kid carpooling is messed up for about a week, grrrr.

This year they put up all sorts of extra tents around the theater, as we have been having really cold and rainy weather, for LA. Gotta protect those celebs from the rain. Last night, there were actual flakes of snow falling in the hillier areas around town. This prompted a flurry of Facebook posts about the snow, if you'll excuse the pun--there were probably more pictures of hail and snow on Facebook than there were actual snowflakes.

I sound like a curmudgeon about it, but I actually really enjoy watching the Oscars on TV. It's the only award show I like--most of the others seem like johnny-come-latelys to me. I like to throw popcorn at the dresses I don't like, and at the bad plastic surgery. I love it when someone rambles on in an acceptance speech, or even better, when they cry, and I hate it when the powers that be cut them off with that annoying music. Ah, the Oscars. TV doesn't get much better than that.

This morning, while picking up two kids from sleepovers, I saw three limos, one a Hummer. Prepping for tonight, I suppose.

My prep for tonight includes getting the snacks ready, and reading. It's a wonderful day to stay inside and read. I don't need to get stuck in all that limo traffic anyway.

I'm almost finished with Dave Eggers' novel What Is the What, about a Sudanese "lost boy" caught up in the violence of a civil war. I've enjoyed the voice of the novel, and admire Eggers' talent. Reviewers have come down on the book because it is a fictionalized memoir, but I haven't been bothered by that--I think it's a well-told and powerful story, and it has made me want to read more on the subject.

What are you reading this weekend?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Booking Through Thursday--Something Old, Something New

Here's today's Booking Through Thursday question:

All other things being equal–do you prefer used books? Or new books? (The physical speciman, that is, not the title.) Does your preference differentiate between a standard kind of used book, and a pristine, leather-bound copy?

Hmmm...I guess if I'm honest with myself, I prefer new books--and pristine, leather-bound copies--to battered used books. But that being said, I really don't have anything against used books.

I like cracking open a brand new book, but there is also something to be said for reading someone else's much-loved used book, and wondering where else it has been. And there is also something wonderful about beautiful old books, the aforementioned pristine, leather-bound copies, especially of favorite classics.

The only kind of used book I really don't like is one where the condition renders it difficult to read--the binding is cracking and pages are falling out, or where it's clear the whole book has been submerged in water at some point, and it's now warped and brittle. I don't mind a used book, as long as it's in good condition.

How about you? Would you rather have a new book or used?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Post Valentine's Day Reading Update

We don't really celebrate Valentine's Day much around here. I gave my husband a funny card, and he brought me a beautiful bunch of tulips. I gave the kids chocolate, and forced them to share.

I finished the anti-Valentine book on Valentine's day. I bought The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, by Brian Moore, because I was looking through the recent releases of NYRB classics and the description was intriguing--and the NYRB Classics catalogue is a great resource for interesting books. This is a novel about a spinster in 1950 Belfast, and her sad and steady decline, and while I enjoyed the writing, the book was a little depressing for the traditional day of love. So I ate some chocolate.

I also recently finished Jennifer Egan's novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, for my book group, which meets next week. This is the first of Egan's work that I've read, though I've been meaning to read The Keep forever. I really enjoyed her writing. This book is a linked group of short stories that make up a novel, centered around two characters, record producer Benny Salazar, and his assistant Sasha. The book skips around in time and place, among loosely-linked characters, and the writer deftly switches up styles and voices. The big theme here is growing up, getting old, facing mortality--as time is the goon mentioned in the title. I wish I liked the characters better, or rather, was more able to immerse myself in their lives, but I found the book to be an enjoyable read. I'm looking forward to discussing this one with my book group. And eating more chocolate.

Did you read anything special for Valentine's Day? Did you eat any chocolate?