So it's half term which means I'm running family art and craft sessions, and it's busy and I'm tired... it's so nice to be home with Bert - we tidied and cleaned and then cooked dinner together - salad, corn on the cob, home-made coriander and lemon hummous and ja ja tofu. (If you want to know how to make ja ja tofu - see my former link.)
We are on a bit of a coin theme in work. How cute are these?
So, this is what I've been reading through May. May was quite a slow month reading wise as I was finishing off Eros the Bittersweet by Anne Carson and tackling the Clarice Lispecter book through most of it. It was really fascinating, but also a little bit sad and strange.
After all that factual stuff, I was happy to get back to some fiction, and really enjoyed Jennifer Egan's 'A Visit from the Goon Squad'. It was quite a page-turner and had loads of different characters and time periods.
The Ned Vizzini was also great, but have already written about it here... and then I went on to 'Close your Eyes' by Amanda Eyre Ward which I love, love, loved. Everything I've read by her has been great, again, a page-turner but also great complex characters - I've already got another of hers to pick up from the library.
After the Amanda Eyre Ward I didn't know what to read next, and started a few things and just couldn't get into them. Bert said I needed to get out of my comfort zone and said I should try The Blue Room by Georges Simenon...
...and, yeah, he was right (my comfort zone by the way is pretty much contemporary american women writers), as Simenon is great (and I wouldn't have picked it up, partly because it says 'Crime Masterworks' on the front - euch) and this book is really compelling, and insightful and interesting. It's about an affair and a murder in case you are into those kind of things.
I wrote about I Capture by Dodie Smith the other day, and I thought I'd add some pictures of the beautiful edition that I was given by the manager of the bookshop I used to work in.
I Capture the Castle was Dodie Smith's fist novel which she wrote aged 52. Smith was a well known British playwright who moved to America with her husband and dalmations (101 dalmations was published in 1956) and wrote I Capture the Castle while feeling a bit homesick for England.
I wrote about books for teenagers a little while ago, and the post gets lots of visits, so I thought I'd write about even more good books!
(Maybe I should add that I used to look after the children's and teen section in a bookstore and read loads of teenage books to keep up to date.. and then I got hooked! I don't read so many teenage books as I did, but I always check the section in bookshops and look out for new books and authors on line, and am always ready for suggestions!)
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
This one's about depression and a psych ward and sorting out your problems with shrinks, meds and help. It's a great book for any teenager (or adult) who is suffering from similar issues, or for people who know others who are in the same situation. But, it's also a really good read even if you are not affected by the subject matter, it's got lots about relationships and general growing up stuff. I really really enjoyed it, it isn't as bleak as it might sound and has a great voice.
Now, apparently it's also a film. I haven't seen the film, but would like to. It has Lauren Graham (Lorelai from Gilmore Girls) in it, which is a mark of a good film I reckons.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
When my niece turns 13 this is the book I am going to get her for her birthday. I think it's a book that could get missed because it was written in the 1940s and set in the 1930s and possibly looks a bit dry if you just look at the cover and synopsis.... but DON'T MISS OUT!! really, it's romantic, bookish, smart, quirky and really wonderful. I love the opening paragraph
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board,which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea-cosy. I can't say that I am really comfortable, and there is a depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left. And I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring - I wrote my very best poem while sitting on the hen-house. Though even that isn't a very good poem. I have decided my poetry is so bad that I musn't write any more of it
...it has also been turned into a film, and it's great too. Read the book then watch the film. x
I Was a Teenage Fairy by Francesca Lia Block
Ahh, Francesca Lia Block is the most unique writer. She has this wonderful style that is sort of gritty and magical. Perhaps she is most famous for the Weetzie Bat series of books, but I Was a Teenage Fairy is my favourite.
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
I realise that I've written a lot about 'voice' when writing about books for teenagers, that's because I find it the most important part of teen books. You need the voice to feel real. Sloppy Firsts feels real - it's told in diary form, and is totally great and authentic, lively and fresh. There are five books in the series, and I have read four of them (although really need to get the fifth), if you read them you will definitely fall in love with Marcus Flutie - he is delicious.
A Hole in my Life by Jack Gantos
Hole in My Life is autobiography aimed at teenagers. It is wonderful, the author did a drug deal, got caught and then went to prison. You may know Jack Gantos from the Joey Pigza series....
...they are aimed more at the 8-12 age range and they are charming and bittersweet. I haven't read them in a while and yet they are still really clear in my mind. If you are looking for books for boys which aren't fantasy or adventure, then you probably need to start here.
That is it for now. Anyone else got any favourite teen reads?
Last Sunday was my niece's fifth birthday party and I went along to help (although I am not sure how much help I was..). I did manage to pick up the stomach bug that was going round the five year olds like wildfire and therefore had Tuesday off work to lie and shiver a bit on the sofa. Last night we went to Susie Wild's reading of her new Kindle 'single' Arrivals... (I just nipped over to Susie's blog to get a link, and found out that she had already linked to me! ha!) and today I went on a course to learn how to be a scribe. Unfortunately we didn't look like this at the end...
Then I had to do a bit of shopping for playdough ingredients for children in work. Our theme for next week is money - what colour should my playdough be? grey? green? yellow?
And now I've just made soup, hurray!
It's carrot and coriander with a bit of smoked paprika on the top.
My recipe is just to fry an onion in olive oil for a few minutes and add a little sugar and soy sauce.
Add chopped carrots (think I used about 8 large carrots) and one clove of garlic and let it sweat for a little while.
Add a bit of turmeric and stock and cook until carrots are soft.
Then blend it with a nice bunch of fresh coriander and add some soy milk too until you get your desired consistency. yumarama.
well, it was my first day back in work after my week off. It was good to be back... I checked all my emails, organised things, read some pre-school education blogs, looked at the Crafty Crow for ideas and then ordered materials for our half term art workshop which will be about coins.... I have therefore ordered about 300 paper plates, 100 metres of foil, packs of silver and gold paper and 2 rolls of string. Will post photos to show what kind of things those crazy materials can make after half term.
Yesterday I made tofu fritatta - it's one of my favourite quick and easy snacks to make. Tofu is amazing and I think these pictures prove it.
I love Sarah Sze's work. It's so beautiful and strange and otherworldly.
I saw some of her work once in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and it was so delicious. Every exhibition I have seen there has been fantastic, I also saw a Yoko Ono retrospective which was just fabulous, Ono is an amazing artist who doesn't get the recognition she deserves...
Bert cut my fringe for me (and put on an accent while he did it) and I also dyed my hair dark dark brown. I am a bit iffy about my hair at the moment as last November a whole chunk of it fell out and I now have a bald spot at the back of my head. It's growing back, but it's doing it super, super slow... I'm hoping it will be all grown in by the Green Man Festival (in August), and am looking forward to be able to wear my hair down again.
Yesterday was so lovely... it was the last official day of my holiday (although I have this weekend off too, then back to work on Monday) and Bert was off too. We went to the library, and to Chapter for coffee, in the shop at Chapter I bought a new sketchbook and a nightlite woodland bunny.
and then we watched bad movies (all chosen by me...), ate sweet potato, chili and coriander mash and drank wine.
I've just been looking at etsy and found these gorgeous things fromThe Oak Leaves
Hope you all have a lovely weekend. I have to go Zumba... last class I went to I thought I was going to pass out.