Friday, November 23, 2007

Book Confessions

After looking at the list of books provided by Suzanne and Cindy (better known as Cynthia these days) I tried copying the list on my computer printer - which due to some glitch known only to my printer resulted in 20 pages of stuff being printed, none of which was the comments section of the blog that I was trying to print. So I hand wrote out the list of books and went off to the bookstore, only to realize once I got there that 1. I left the list at home and 2. Because I was relying on a list I could only remember 1 of the books from memory (and they did not have that book). So, I settled on a book written by the author of one of the recommended books that I have already read and I am hopeful.

But while I was in the bookstore I was thinking about when Cindy asked me what my top 10 books would be. Sometimes I feel like I don't know what that list would be. I think it changes sometimes right after I read something that I really like. There are the books I really loved while I was growing up; Brave New World, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird. If I had to pick just one book I love the most, it might be To Kill a Mockingbird, though Catcher in the Rye holds a very dear place in my heart. I liked 1984 very much and Brave New World. I adored Jane Eyre. Lately, I have loved Life of Pi. For something to end up on that all time favorites list it has to really resonate with me on a personal level and I have to feel that I want to devour the book and have a hard time putting it down and I have to hope the book will never end and I have to want to read it again, even though, this time, I know how it all ends. I've read Catcher in the Rye more times than I can count.

But to tell you what books I've learned to like, or that interested me in the past few years, new books I've read and really liked, other than Life of Pi, it gets a bit tougher. Mainly, it gets tougher because sometimes, they are hard to confess to really liking. But if I am being honest, these books spring to mind when I think of books I've really enjoyed, books that have really gotten inside my skin or inside my head, books I've thought about a lot after I've read them. And I realized today when I was perusing the aisles at the bookstore that all of these books have characters who are either unstable, mentally ill, or plain out crazy and in some cases, crazy and violent.

This isn't something I am really comfortable recommending to other people frankly. But it's honest I guess. And maybe, this is a list that appeals to someone who want to be a therapist, more than it appeals to anyone else. But here it is:  

This crazy, joyful Louisiana family has its share of secrets--from alcoholism to incest--that are slowly revealed as each person has his or her say. Readers will be most interested in the oldest daughter, Siddalee, whose sheer irreverence and consuming curiosity propels the plot until she finally discovers how to forgive her family. Wells's keen sense of character and superb ear for voice unify the loose assemblage of tales of a family with disfunction and mental illness.

Dolores is a class-A emotional basket case, and why shouldn't she be? She's suffered almost every abuse and familial travesty that exists: Her father is a violent, philandering liar; her mother has the mental and emotional consistency of Jell-O; and the men in her life are probably the gender's most loathsome creatures. But Dolores is no quitter; she battles her woes with a sense of self-indulgence and gluttony rivaled only by Henry VIII. Hers is a dysfunctional Wonder Years, where growing up in the golden era was anything but ideal. While most kids her age were dealing with the monumental importance of the latest Beatles single and how college turned an older sibling into a long-haired hippie, Dolores was grappling with such issues as divorce, rape, and mental illness. Whether you're disgusted by her antics or moved by her pathetic ploys, you'll be drawn into Dolores's warped, hilarious, Mallomar-munching world.

Myla Goldberg gives us the eccentric Naumann family where Saul sees in Eliza the potential to fulfill the teachings of the Kabbalah scholar Abulafia, who taught that enlightenment could be reached through strategic alignments of letters and words. Eliza takes to this new discipline with a desperate, single-minded focus. At the same time, her brilliant but removed mother succumbs to a longtime secret vice and begins a descent into madness, and her brother joins the Hare Krishnas. Goldberg's insights into religious devotion, guilt, love, obsessive personalities and family dynamics ring true, and her use of spelling-as-metaphor makes a clever trope in a novel populated by literate scholars and voracious readers.

The Bell Jar tells the story of a gifted young woman's mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. The real Plath committed suicide in 1963 and left behind this scathingly sad, honest and perfectly-written book, which remains one of the best-told tales of a woman's descent into insanity.

Featuring soap made from human fat, waiters at high-class restaurants who do unmentionable things to soup and an underground organization dedicated to inflicting a violent anarchy upon the land, Palahniuk's apocalyptic first novel is clearly not for the faint of heart. Mayhem ensues, beginning with the narrator's condo exploding and culminating with a terrorist attack on the world's tallest building. Writing in an ironic deadpan and including something to offend everyone, Palahniuk is a risky writer who takes chances galore, especially with a particularly bizarre plot twist he throws in late in the book. Caustic, psychotic, outrageous, bleakly funny, violent and always unsettling, Palahniuk's utterly original creation will make even the most jaded reader sit up and take notice.

In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

Now that I have you completely disturbed and worried about my (sometimes) choices in books, I will remind you that, I also very much love Jane Austen's novels.  Particularly Emma.  Which I highly recommend, the rest, read at your own risk! 

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Book Titles Wanted

As I've mentioned before, I love to read. I totally forgot about one of the books I read this year that I really, really, liked. It was "Water for Elephants" I totally enjoyed reading this book. (Am I saying 'totally' too much...I am a child of the 80s, but this might be totally too many totally's)

I'm finished with all my current titles and I've asked for the remainder of the Barbara Kingsolver novels I have not read yet for Christmas (on Suzanne's recommendation that she liked some of her other novels even better than the two I've read and liked, which were Prodigal Summer and The Poisonwood Bible).

But - for my own sanity I really need something else to read besides the gigantic book about Joseph Smith I've been trying to get through lately.

Please leave a comment with your best suggestions!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


A few years ago Kirk and I went to Sedona for the weekend. It rained almost all weekend and I ended up needing some reading material. I almost never buy Rolling Stone but I think there was some article that intrigued me so I got it. Inside there was a review of a documentary (I am one of those people who read a magazine cover to cover, for whatever reason, saving the article I bought the magazine for, for last). Anyway I read this review and I kept looking at this black and white photo by the director - his name was Sam Jones and it looked ...familar somehow. The director couldn't possibly be a guy I knew when I was at BYU back in the 80s could it?

In 1987 I headed off to BYU with about $100 to my name to go to BYU. I lived on the top floor of a run down house shouting distance behind a larger apartment complex and behind a Crest gas station close enough we could have climbed on top of their roof if we wanted. Through our walls we could hear a band practicing across the expanse in the apartment building next door. We started shouting out our window to them and struck up a friendship of sorts that partially included actually liking the band, and partially was because the guys who lived there were pretty cool buys. The band was "Second Thoughts". They let us hang out with them and they hung out in our apartment sometimes and we watched them skate in the parking lot outside our house.

One of them, Sam Jones, was just there for the summer. He was attending Cal State Fullerton but decided to hang out with his friend Eric for the summer. He sort of started dating my roommate Nannette, although Nannette had lots of dates that summer and somehow managed to keep 3 seperate boyfriends during that time - dating all 3 at the same time with each one thinking they were the only boy she really liked. At any rate we got to know Sam pretty well. He was the one who told me I should read Catcher in the Rye, which ended up being one of my favorite books and Sam was a sort of quasi-philosophical skinny skater kid who gave me some fairly sage advice for a 21 year old. We did not keep in touch much after the summer, mostly as a result of Nan's 3 boy at a time dating experience blowing up in our faces by the time fall was to begin.

Sam was a photographer and he had these awesome black and whites that I thought were really cool. He wanted to be a professional photographer. I thought that sounded completely crazy. Who does that for a living - come on Sam, you don't get to pick something cool like that as a profession. And if you do you aren't going to be able to make enough money to survive. But Sam just had this idea that it was something you do and that he would. For whatever reason he just had faith in himself. He had this really casual attitude towards life where he seemed to have this basic philosophy that you should do what you love and everything will work out. He was always broke when he was there that summer but he never worried very much about it. He relied on the tuna fish from our cupboards a lot. I seem to recall his dad getting irritated that Sam was spending so much time playing in the band and not looking for a summer job. He worked as a telemarketer for about 1 day. He came home and declared with a smile on his face some philosophy similar to the Lloyd Dobbler philosophy in Say Anything about not wanting to Buy things sold or processed, or Process things bought or sold, or Sell things bought and processed and that was the end of that.

I always remembered Sam because he was just a cool kid and likeable as hell.

Well, that Sam Jones it turns out is the director from the Rolling Stone article and as it turns out, over the years I've been admiring his photography on the cover of many magazines. I've been watching some of his commercials on tv. One of my favorite photos of John Cusack in Vanity Fair is Sam's. My favoite photo of Dustin Hoffman is Sam's. (which is extra weird becauseI watched The Graduate for the first time with Sam). Who knew? For me, it's a testament to doing what you love.

So good for Sam. He was on TV this morning on CBS this Morning promoting his new book of celebrity photographs. Most of Sam's photos online are protected from being used on other websites but I managed to find a few I could copy. Enjoy.

Even better, check out his website HERE

One of my best memories is of the time Nannette and I drove up to Salt Lake with Sam and took him to temple square. Sam wasn't LDS but he liked mormon's just fine - he was interested in our beliefs and asked a lot of questions - but he was a firm believer that no one under the age of 25 should pick a religion, he had some idea that you didn't know enough about life yet to make those kind of decisions. I'll never foget Sam doing a handstand on temple square. That's just the kind of guy he was, always doing handstands.

[Photo Credits top to Bottom: Photo of Sam Jones, Sam Jones Rolling Stone Cover Heath Ledger, Sam Jones Rolling Stone Cover Keifer Sutherland, Wilco Band Photo by Sam Jones, Wilco Album Cover Sam Sames, Chris Rock Vanity Fair photo by Sam Jones (that's not photoshop, he's suspended and blowing that water all over), Skater Photo by Sam Jones, Steve Martin by Sam Jones, Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson by Sam Jones, Jessica Lange by Sam Jones, Richard Gere by Sam Jones, Joaquin Phoenix by Sam Jones, Nicholas Cage by Sam Jones, George Clooney book cover by Sam Jones, Tom Cruise by Sam Jones, George Clooney by Sam Jones.]

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dream House

Recently, Kirk mentioned something about my lack of desire to move from our house. He is less content with our house than I am. He wishes we had more storage room in the closets, a bigger floor plan, larger master bedroom, dining room (since we gave it to Holden as a bedroom, we no longer have one) big garage - well, the list kind of goes on. I have no desire to move at all. I realize the house has it's short-comings. But it's a more emotional attachment for me. We slaved over this property - let us not forget it was once known in the neighborhood as the "crack house". It wasn't really a crack house, but it was a mess. We've moved walls, added on, changed the configuration, put in a pool, added an awesome garden tub that I love, painted, painted and painted some more, made the fireplace a working fireplace, ripped at least 10 dumpters worth or debris from the house and property and generally, made it more than liveable, it's loveable. In short, without waxing too poetic about it, I love our house. I love our neighborhood. I perfectly content right where I am. Maybe this is because when I was a little girl I dreamed of living in an older house, fixing it up, and staying put. I used to imagine a house built somewhere between the late 1800s and the 1950s. And our house was built in 1951. The home below is what I imagined. It's a Salt Lake Rambler and it seemed like the perfect little house. Sure, I did have fantasies about mansions and maids and butlers (what little girl doesn't?) - but in my reality based fantasy, this is what the house would look like.

Does that seem boring? Because it never seemed boring to me, it seemed homey, and satisfying somehow. It seemed like a place where I would feel content, which is how I feel about my house now.

So where would I move? Or what could entice me enough to make me move? Well, when I think about it, very, very little. Certainly not a taco bell house in the burbs (that's what we like to call them, because they all look like a variation on the theme the taco bell architect came up with). If I think about where I would want to live in Arizona, I think it would have to be a house on mummy mountain if I were to move from where I am:

I could be talked into that - and I might even seriously consider it if Kirk ever won a big contingency fee on a case.

Also, a San Francisco Loft. I could be talked into living in San Francisco very easily. I think it's my favorite U.S. City.

I've never particularly liked the idea of living in the country. But a few times in my life I've seen these big glass box-like houses out in the country, overlooking a small lake or a large field in all directions with tons of light streaming in and a house like that in the country is very appealing. Like this house in New York state - it's totally cool, and I can move in tomorrow if the owners want to give it to me.

I love, love, love, the beach so a beach house like this one in Jamaica would be just fine. If we could figure out a way to bottle the beach, no one would need prozac. But I am afraid if I lived on the beach, I'd never get anything done. I have a tendency to want to sit in front of the water for hours doing nothing but being happy.

Or wouldn't it be totally cool to live in the french countryside in La Petite Chateau?

Ultimately though I can't think of anything better than a really awesome modern apartment like this one, overlooking Holyrood park in Edinburgh Scotland. Part of me would really love to live in Scotland someday. Kirk and I joke around about going on a "mission" to Scotland. This would not be the kind of mission where you let the church decide where you are going to go - this would be the kind where we would move where we wanted to go and then call up the local Stake and let them knowo we are there and available to help. Scotland is perfect for this plan. We joke, but someday, we might just do it.

But even after all the fantasizing about what I would love, I'm still attracted to the little red brick homes. And perfectly content to stay put.


Related Posts with Thumbnails