Friday, April 23, 2010

I'd Rather Be...Reading

Sorry all. I didn't mean to drop off the face of the earth for the entire week. It's odd for me to go three or four days without posting. It just feels strange. But I've been otherwise occupied. Work has been busy, so busy in fact that I haven't even really had much of a lunch hour to write a post. And once I get home I fall in my favorite evening pastime...reading.

I've been reading like a madwoman recently. It's been incredible. I had Monday off as you know and decided to sit down with Andrei Codrescu's New Orleans, Mon Amour. Codrescu, for those of you who don't know, is a writer and a regular contributor to NPR's All Things Considered. This book has been floating around my family for weeks and I finally picked it up. I instantly fell in love. The book is a series of essays describing Codrescu's life in New Orleans and his love for his adopted hometown. I was instantly charmed by a city I've never been to. In fact, a city that I've never expressed an interest in visiting. Suddenly I wanted to sit at Jean Lafitte's blacksmith shop bar and drink whiskey. I want to walk through the old cemeteries and soak up some of that New Orleans mysticism. I wanted to sit at the Cafe du Monde with a rich cup of coffee and beignets. I devoured the book, starting at 3 and finishing it at 9 that night. I don't think I left the couch, even for dinner.

As I was climbing into bed Monday night I picked up a new book. I wanted something completely different from the book I just finished. I tend to read that way. I like my next book to have a different flavor than the ones I just read. In this case I went with a bit of the West Coast, Shopgirl by Steve Martin. Now I have to tell you that if you have only thought of Steve Martin as an actor, you have done yourself a disservice. This was the third of his books I've read and all of them have been wonderfully quirky and thought provoking. For those more movie inclined, check out Roxanne or L.A. Story to get a sense of Steve's writing style. I would highly recommend L.A. Story. Shopgirl follows Mirabelle, a shy quiet girl who sells gloves at Neiman Marcus, who is swept off her feet one day by a much older man looking for a fling. We see the different sides of the love affair, her falling madly in love, him trying to keep it strictly about the sex and fun. And throughout the whole book we see the shifting dynamics as each grows up a little. It was a wonderfully entertaining book which left me thinking about how we learn about relationships. I started it Monday night and finished it Tuesday evening (it's a novella so that's not as impressive as it sounds).

As typical after I finished Shopgirl I immediately picked up something new, this time a classic. I've never read Bram Stoker's Dracula and decided I needed a little classic horror in my life. I've seen a film adaption or two but as is typical, the book was so much better. The classic story of Count Dracula and the men (and woman) who attempt to stop him was creepy in parts and fascinating enough to keep me on the edge of my seat all the way up to the exciting ending. The book might tend to be a little verbose for modern readers but I quickly became caught up in the story. Stoker writes the books in a series of journal articles, letters, and news-clippings making it a bit disjointed. But this actually works in his favor. We can only see what the character sees and that makes it even more creepy. Without knowledge of where Dracula is at ever moment, gives you the impression that he could be anywhere. I was fascinated with the characters of Van Helsing and Mina Harker. Interesting story and quite a creepy little read.

I finished the book last night and picked up a new one that I've just started. This book might be classified as horror to some, comedy to others. I just consider it interesting. I'm reading Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. As the daughter of a pathologist I've been exposed early to the dead and the industry surrounding the dead. But Mary's book takes a look at what happens to bodies after the pathologist and the funeral parlor are done with them. I'm currently reading about the Gross Anatomy labs which use human cadavers to teach medical students their anatomy. Mary talks about the history of how cadavers were treated along with the present day treatment. I have to admit that I've laughed out loud numerous times throughout the book. It's got the wonderful dark sense of humor that I love along with being a fascinating look at what happens to some of us after we die. I haven't finished it, and I'm chomping at the bit to read this weekend, but if the first couple of chapters are any indication, I'm going to love this one too. A great week of reading and some fantastic books.

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