Water for Elephants
My book club is going through some changes, and this was our first pick to get it up and running again. This is a wonderful book. There's this guy who almost graduates from college, but he runs away and joins the circus. (This is during the Depression.) The story goes back and forth between his circus days and the present, when he's reliving his memories in a nursing home. It's at times beautiful, at times heartbreaking. It's the first book we've read that I was able to say, without hesitation, that I really liked it.
Noel, by Josh Groban
My sister and brother-in-law are
I am no sewer. I like to knit, it's true, but I don't like thinking about things like seams or hems, etc. But I think that sewing is great FOR OTHER PEOPLE. And they are always sewing on Project Runway. This is a reality show that does not eliminate people based on luck or personality, but relies on talent alone; I appreciate that in reality shows. I don't know much about fashion, I guess, because some of the outfits that the judges adore are what I call, in my house, BUTT UGLY. Stuff like leggings and bubble skirts and skinny pants. Still, they do manage to turn out some fairly awesome stuff in two days or less. Most of all, the show does not always focus on the DRAMA, but instead focuses on the challenges.
I find it difficult to listen to the radio in the car. The only station I really tune in to on a regular basis is NPR; I haven't the slightest notion of who the latest artists are, or what the newest songs are and, frankly, I don't think I'm missing much. But I have to listen to SOMETHING, so I download audiobooks from iTunes and listen in the car. I enjoy doing something (sort of) educational while I'm driving; it takes my mind off the fact that I HATE DRIVING.
I'm done with my Christmas shopping, with the exception of one person (JOON) who has yet to give me any ideas for presents. I did all my shopping online this year, ALL of it, and it has increased my joy in the holiday season. Not having to go to the mall or fight traffic or get up early for the good sales has made me love Christmas this year. Plus, finding packages on my patio is a little bit like a private Christmas for me, even though the gifts are actually for someone else.
No Fear Shakespeare
I teach Othello and Much Ado About Nothing in my theater class, and I have to teach Romeo and Juliet next semester, and I am using these books to do it. One of the major flaws in our literature books is that they provide little to no annotations, so it really is like the kids are reading in a foreign language. NFS has side-by-side text--the original words on one side, an updated version on the other--so we not only know how Shakespeare wrote the words, but also what they really mean.
Every time I say, "We're going to read ____ by Shakespeare," my students groan, because somewhere in their past, someone has forced Shakespeare upon them, but hasn't taken the time to TEACH it to them. My goal is to help my kids enjoy Shakespeare, because you know I do.
And speaking of my boyfriend ...
Interred with Their Bones
I am probably one of the few people who will admit to enjoying The DaVinci Code (the book, not the movie). I read it in a day--on a bus tour of Ireland--and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't research its historical accuracy, nor did I over-analyze it and change my religion because of it; it was just a thriller with an interesting twist.
So this book, Interred with Their Bones, is like The DaVinci Code, except it's about Shakespeare. Specifically, it deals with the search for one of Shakespeare's lost plays, The History of Cardenio. The main character is a scholar/director, and she goes on this trail and people are trying to kill her and all kinds of exciting stuff. The book deals with all the unknowns: Was Shakespeare really Shakespeare? Did he have an affair with that guy? Who is the Dark Lady?
It was a great story; I listened to it in the car, but I kind of wish I had the actual book, so I could reread some things.
Shakespeare: The World as Stage
This biography by Bill Bryson is fantastic. I'm listening to it in the car on my iPod, and it's so interesting that sometimes I drive around the block an extra time so I can keep listening. There's lots of information about the period as well, and what was going on in the theatrical world, so it's not just Shakespeare. Anyway, as Bryson states, there's very little information about Shakespeare that's available, relatively speaking; while there's more than that of other playwrights of his time, it's such a small amount in an age when we all know every move our current celebrities make.
Also, I need to take a minute here to talk about how much I love Bill Bryson. I first discovered him this summer, when I read Notes from a Small Island, the story of his last trek through England before he returned to the States. What I especially enjoyed was that he--like me--had a disastrous trip to Dover, which leads me to believe that maybe Dover needs to sit in a corner and think about what it's done. Next, I got the audiobook for I'm a Stranger Here Myself, in which he talked about how America had changed during the time he lived in England. Finally, I'm currently reading The Mother Tongue, which is about the history and development of the English language; it's a nerdy book, I admit, but I find language fascinating. The book itself is very informative, but a bit outdated, as it was first published in the early 90s; you must admit that English has grown and changed at least a little bit in the last fifteen years or so.
Legally Blonde, the Musical
I TiVo'd this when it came on MTV a couple months ago (the first thing I'd watched on MTV in I-don't-know-how-long). While I enjoyed the movie, I had a couple of complaints about it, not least of which are these: 1) There is no chemistry between Reese Witherspoon and Luke Wilson; 2) There's no explanation of their relationship at all; 3) Elle Woods graduates as the valedictorian, has a job waiting for her at a prestigious firm, and the most important thing that's happening to her is "He's proposing tonight."
Well, the musical takes the time to develop the characters further, and the relationship makes a lot more sense. The songs are infectious and cheery, the colors of the set and costumes really add to the story as a whole, and there's less of a vibe of "Oh, she's getting married? NOW she's made it." I like it better than the film.
I like his songs. His voice isn't that strong, but he makes it work with his arrangements. Plus, he has a unique writing style, a real way with words, not just in his music but also in just-plain-writing. I'd kind of marginally liked his music, but I'm getting more into it because I started listening to the words, recognizing how he puts his phrases together, and ... well, I'm just impressed is all.
The Vicar of Dibley
I browsed British television shows on Netflix and caught this. It stars Dawn French as a vicar in a small village (Dibley, duh). Obviously there was some initial prejudice, but after the first episode, nobody brought it up again. It's a comedy, and very very funny in that dry, British way. French is not your regular tv-sized woman (that is to say; she is not a dried twig of a woman), and the way she gets herself into and out of scrapes is both believable and unbelievable at the same time. I've watched two seasons so far and have the rest in my queue, and I can't wait to see them.
What recommendations do you have?