This month I was both overly busy and lazy. I wore myself out by putting in a few 60 hour weeks (between teaching ESL and working with refugees) and then I crashed for a week. So my nightstand is a bit sparse. Never mind. I’m refreshed and excited to get reading again.

We Meant Well. It took me forever to write this review but go read it, if you haven’t already. A very important book.

Stasiland. Another review that took me forever to write. When I really like a book, it’s harder to review. I don’t know why. I loved this book, and gave it my first 5-star review. It combined fascinating subject matter with excellent writing. This is one you want to read. I admit I don’t actually know you, probably. But I still think you’ll like it.

Self-Portrait with 7 Fingers. This is a delightful book. It’s the sort of book you should buy if you have small children. If you don’t, you should buy it “for when friends when small children stop by” and keep on a high shelf, because children often have inexplicably sticky fingers and a propensity to tear pages. Basically, it’s a sampling of Marc Chagall’s paintings and original poems by Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis about the paintings, along with some biographical information about the painter. And it’s just really fun and gorgeous.

The Last Dragon. Why yes, I have been cheating by reviewing books that can be read in 45 minutes. But this is another really fun one. It’s a graphic novel, a fairy tale about heroism and what makes a hero and how using even simple methods can have big dividends. The text is well written and the illustrations beautiful. All my teens liked this one and I did too.

Also, when I collapsed for a week and was sleeping ridiculous amounts of time like 14 hours a day, in between naps I read a lot of mindless library books. I read Wyndham Case and The Bad Quarto and Unnatural Causes. Enjoyed them all. Also some Agatha Christies. I like how her name has become a noun.

Currently Reading:
Amazing Adventures of a Nobody This is pretty fun. Leon Legothetis was bored with a safe life in which he earned lots of money and had little or no risk or personal interactions, so he swung the pendulum pretty hard and decided to travel America from New York to Los Angeles depending entirely on the kindness of strangers. He basically asks people to buy him train tickets, feed him meals and put him up for the night. I wouldn’t have thought it would work, but so far he’s gotten to Colorado and hasn’t slept on the streets yet. He’s attempted, and failed, to rap for his supper, and persuaded a frat house to put him up if he streaked to the center of campus and kissed a statue. He’s also met a woman who is convinced “they” are trying to kill her, but she buys him a hotel room, and had another woman hand him her keys and tell him if he can make it to Chicago, he can stay at her place. It’s quite the adventure.

The Time In Between. An epic novel dealing with the events in Spain and Morocco during the 30s through the eyes of one woman, a poor uneducated seamstress who catches the eye of an unscrupulous con-man and ends up being swept off her feet. She ends up in Spanish-controlled Morocco, penniless, in debt to a nice hotel, and threatened with jail. It’s a long book, and I’m quite sure she’ll land on her feet. I’m also enjoying the fact that I’ve been to the places she’s describing, although they are very different now.

Baking with the Cake Boss: 100 of Buddy’s Best Recipes and Decorating Secrets: Ilsa is very excited about this. From paging through it, I’d say it’s a great book. Lots of instructions, explanations, etc. But I think I need to go shopping before I can turn her loose on it.

And now I need to get going–Thanksgiving Party for my Iraqi ESL students today! Not to mention we are having a fine winter storm, lots of wind and rain and threatened flooding and all. What are you reading? Anything good?

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