Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Salon: Reading in recovery

The Sunday It's a gorgeous Sunday afternoon here in Oregon, the crocuses are in full bloom, the trees are budding, and part of me yearns to frolic in the fresh air. Unfortunately, that part of me is unequivocally connected to the rest of me, which is recovering from a flu-ish thing that rendered me immobile Thursday and much of Friday. I feel okay now, as long as I don't eat too much or too fast, or think too hard about vigorous things such as mopping the floor.

While I was sick, I got caught up on blogs for the first time since summer! And, by caught up, I mean I only have 1500 unread messages in my feed reader. (Don't worry: it makes sense to me).

I also finished reading Adele Barker's memoir, Not Quite Paradise: An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka. I was really excited to read this because I've had a couple of friends who were raised in Sri Lanka, and I was eager to learn more about their homeland. I did learn a lot, and enjoyed reading about Barker and her son's adjustment to life on the island. The book dragged for me in the middle, though. And, Barker had a habit of randomly switching tenses that mystified me, causing me to have to reread sections to try to figure out whether it was me missing some subtle purpose behind the tense change, or the author missing the not-so-subtle purpose behind generally sticking to either past tense or present when writing a memoir. So, this turned out to be one of those, "Glad I read it; glad I'm done with it" reads. (LibraryThing sent me this book and the next one as part of their Early Reviewers program).

With that finished, I turned to something lighter (I thought): a YA book that's coming out this June called The Secret to Lying, by Todd Mitchell. Suffice it to say: Todd Mitchell has earned himself a new fan.

It took me a while to warm up to The Secret to Lying. It's John Green's fault--the set-up was too reminiscent of the set-up to the delightful Looking for Alaska. This is a completely different book, though, especially after the first few chapters, and by the end, I loved it (dare I say it?) more than either of the John Green books I've read.  Todd Mitchell, come visit Portland. I want to shake your hand.

And now, I'm reading Generation Text, written by psychologist Michael Osit, about raising kids in this digital era. The potential impact of current technology and expectations on our children is well-researched by Dr. Osit, and eye-opening. Though this book came out in 2008, this is the perfect time for me to be reading it as my oldest just got his first cell phone last month. I'm glad to have Dr. Osit's insights for guidance as we tread this new territory as a family. (I think I found this one on the new books shelf of the library).

Whether you're reading in sunshine, snow, or rain, I hope you're having a relaxing Sunday!

by Alison Jakel


  1. Sorry you've been under the weather! Cell phones for kids are a double edged sword, aren't they?

  2. So sorry you've been sick and not able to enjoy this gorgeous Oregon weather. The coast was amazing today.

  3. The thing that got me about Not Quite Paradise was the author's tendency to toss in things like her son was from Peru. Which would make me stop and think for a minute...and totally take me out of the story.

    Hope you feel better (although I would argue one is never well enough to mop).

  4. Thanks, Kathy. Yes, they are a double-edged sword. In our case it's been almost 100% a good thing, so far, but it's good to be aware of the potential downfalls ahead of time.

    Zia, I'm so glad you were able to get out there and enjoy the coast today! It looks so pretty in the picture on your blog.

    Jill, overall, I wanted to know more about Barker's son--both his history and his adjustment to Sri Lanka. Actually, it took me a few chapters to even figure out that he was a teen. I get that his story wasn't her purpose in writing the book, but she would tease with little things and then drop them, which was disappointing.

  5. Got to keep up with technology...somehow. We gotta.

  6. Readerbuzz, it's keeping up with the technology faster than the kids keep up with it, that challenges me!

  7. Glad you're feeling a bit better. I'm reall looking forward to your review of Lying if it beats John Green's books.

  8. weather is terrible here in NJ thank you, cold and

    when I was sick in January, twice my Google reader got to over 1000...and I deleted them all and started fresh. ;-)

  9. Generation Text is right up my alley right now. We're having a rocky time getting our 13-year-old to be responsible in cyberspace. Hmmphf!

  10. That Sri Lanka book sounded interesting, until you mentioned the tense changes. That drives me INSANE, so I think I'll pass. ;)

  11. I know how you feel about your feed reader - I feel a sense of triumph whenever mine falls below a thousand.

    Meanwhile, I am intrigued to hear more about "Generation Text" - nothing has made me feel so ancient as teaching college students from this generation and being driven crazy by their utter inability to turn their phones off and be (!!) out of texting contact with their friends. I am also surprised to see groups of older teenagers out to dinner around town, sitting at a table of six or eight in total silence, as they all stare at the screens of their phones. And my own shock at these sights makes me feel suddenly old and wizened and out of touch. Sigh.

  12. Jodie, I hope I'll be able to write that review soon. Though, the book doesn't come out until June, so I'm probably okay for a day or so. ;-)

    Caite, My reader is almost always over a thousand, but I have different categories of blogs, some of which (not book blogs) I rarely read. (And, we've reverted to cold and rainy here now, too, by the way).

    Andi, I'm right there with you. Generation Text might have some ideas you could use.

    Eva, you would probably still like the book, or certain aspects of it. But there are so many amazing reads out there, that if it's going to drive you nuts, why bother?

    Pour of Tor: Ancient. Yes. I can relate!

  13. Hi, Ali, I was reading all of my March 2009 posts today and ran across a comment from you, so I decided to come over here to your blog for a little while. I used to think I was a reader, but I can see that I am not. I am still trying to get to the library to check out Pat Conroy's Beach Music because what I really want to read is his South of Broad and I don't want to read them out of the order in which he wrote them, not that they have anything to do with each other.

    You must read more in a month than I have read in the past ten years. I say this to my shame.

    It's not that I don't read; it's that I seem to have stopped reading books. Perhaps I should remedy that.

  14. Rhymeswithplague, Thanks for stopping by. I've gone through phases of not reading books, too. After my first child was born I think I read nothing but parenting books and magazines for about a year, because that's where my head was. It was exciting when I realized I was mentally in a place where it was time to start reading books again. Maybe you're in that place now, too. If so, I'd love to hear about what you're reading.

  15. Yay, you're feeling better. I wasn't feeling up to speed a week ago and it is the worst. I need to get a system like you have. High number freak me out, so I get very uncomfortable when I see unread counts like that.

  16. Nicole, I put my blogs into different folders and keep them in order of which ones I feel most compelled to stay caught up with. So when my top 3 folders were all read, I considered that caught up, even though there were tons of messages still unread in my low-priority folders. Works for me! (Though right now I'm way back in the hole again--I haven't even looked at my Bloglines since my computer stopped connected to the internet).