Friday, December 5, 2014

Click and Read and Listen

It was Oliver that pointed to the billboard that you see above and noted the grafitti on it. What the hell? the three of us thought, quite rightfully. Even the Special Olympics isn't immune to slur, evidently. Because it's all too much sometimes, why don't we talk about books or things that we're listening to? Have you heard about Serial? It's a podcast produced by Ira Glass of This American Life, and it's utterly addictive. My eons and aeons in the car on the Ventura Highway have never been more enjoyable. It helps, too, when the skies are a brilliant blue, a near-full moon rises and the clouds are a bank of fluff.

Even Beverly Hills, that absurd suburb of luxury cars, plastic surgery, boutiques and paparazzi looks downright cheerful if you're listening to a murder mystery in your sexy Mazda.

Yes, that's Santa and his raindeer flying right over Wilshire Blvd. Or do you like this shot better?

I haven't been too entertaining over the last few days, and if I've offended anyone with my rants -- well -- I won't apologize because it's nothing personal. I'm just trying -- albeit in a very public way -- to work through a lot of conflict, both external and internal.

What are you reading? I'm immersed in Tana French's Into the Woods, recommended to me by the great writer Brittany of Vesuvius at Home fame and fortune. If you haven't read her blog or book, you have no idea what you're missing. Despite my aversion to the detective/mystery genre, I so respect Brittany that I dutifully downloaded the Tana French, and you know what? I really, really like it. That doesn't mean you should now tell me to try those Swedish detective series. I tried Henning Menkell and couldn't stomach it. Don't get me started on those bestsellers that were made into movies, about rape and murder or being skinned. I know, I know, I know. They're very well written. Hated them. I read my fair share of Agatha Christie as a teenager and a bit of P.D. James, but to tell you the truth, it's only one slot above science fiction and fantasy, my least favorite of all genres. This might be a bit negative, but here are five genres that I can't abide:

  1. Anything by Dan Brown (it just depresses me that such schlock even exists)
  2. Lite Fiction/Airport Bestseller/Those dreadful soft core porn books about S&M
  3. Mystery/Detective
  4. Fantasy  (except The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Rings the books, NOT the movies)
  5. Science Fiction

Here are the top five books that I've ever read that I can come up with on the fly to balance things out:

  1. Middlemarch
  2. The Brothers Karamazov
  3. The English Patient
  4. To the Lighthouse
  5. A Little Princess

So, between the murder mystery podcast and the Tana French detective novel, I'm really branching out of my comfort zone --

Here's a poem about a different kind of violence. Click and read and listen.



  1. I'm reading "The Wrath and the Wind" by Alexander Key. It is horrifying and educating me. Both. I don't know that anyone who isn't in love with this part of the country would like it at all.
    "A Little Princess" will always and forever be on my top ten list. At least.

    (And in a note about that graffiti- I'm speechless.)

  2. I think Middlemarch is one of the best English novels. No science fiction or fantasy for me. I haven't read Dan Brown. I do like Tana French. My just finished read was The Boys in the Boat which I enjoyed. Also liked Shadow Divers which was not my choice but my book group's. I liked it very much. If I ever win the lottery, I'm going to rent a Rolls Royce and shop on Rodeo Drive. I'll treat you to lunch--and, even pick you up.


  3. I forgot to comment on the graffiti. Actually, I'd just like to forget having seen it. Awful, really awful.


  4. LOL! Thoroughly enjoyed some Dan Brown books. Perfect light, fluffy reading to keep dark thoughts at bay. Find those Hobbit books tedious in the extreme. My daughter and I joke about "those British novels". Reading Eva Kittay right now. She is my personal goddess. It's all a matter of taste in the end. As long as we keep on reading...

  5. So... Is Adnan guilty? Everyone... You missed the most important part of this post. Serial. Listen.

  6. I generally read nonfiction, but a few weeks ago when I was looking for something to read on a long flight to NYC, I came to your blog for suggestions and discovered Elena Ferrante. I am on her second book now and can't thank you enough for introducing me to her!

    Unfortunately, I can't do audiobooks since I'm a very visual person and the words seem to flit in and then right back out of my head when I listen to someone else read them. Sad, really.

  7. Just finished rereading Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson (first read in the 70's) so not well remembered. Loved it. Now reading Euphoria by Lily King. Best recent listen--a YA book, Wonder by RJ Palacio--highest recommendation. I like to listen to YA and short stories (Bark was terrific) Because I don't listen that often and it's easier to manage. Enjoyed Into the Woods and I've heard her others are good too.
    Thanks for all your book recommendations. I especially liked Leaving Tinkertown.

  8. I may have recommended her before, but here again. KD Miller, All Saints. A fabulous book.of.short stories. Contemporary. Just excellent.

  9. My boss has talked about "Serial" but I haven't given it a listen yet. It's on my list of things to do.

    I like some Sci-Fi, and although I loved "Middlemarch" I must say that I did not get "To the Lighthouse" at all. I'm reading "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" by Karen Joy Fowler, and I like it a lot, though it's far more disturbing than I expected it to be.

  10. Re: Serial: I just have to ask, do you think he did it? I am obsessed.

  11. I can't abide the same genres you can't abide. And thank you for the podcast recommendation. I have not heard that before, but enjoy Ira Glass.



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