Tag Archives: books

Home Alone

Bethany went to a concert yesterday and stayed the night with our other sister, leaving me home alone. I planned to surprise her by cleaning. Or surprise myself by doing homework. Or, you know, have a productive Saturday.

Instead I read 4 books, stayed in my PJs all day, and ate canned soup.

It has been an amazing weekend.

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke

(Wrote this review a few weeks ago but honestly it is this or my rambles about the evidence quiz I just completed. Consider yourself fortunate.) 

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke – 2/5 stars

I struggle with giving this book a low rating: I mean, it is Dick Van Dyke! He is classic. He is defining. We all cheered loudly when he appeared in Mary Poppins Returns because he is, simply, an icon of multiple generations now. Picking up this book, my question was not if it would be great but how great.

The thing is…there is not much of interest here. Oh, I suppose as a recap of Dick Van Dyke’s life it is interesting enough. He worked hard, embraced many cool opportunities, and overcame quite a bit. But it fails to satisfy in any regard.

  • As a look at life in Hollywood, it provides very few details besides a list of people he met, worked with, or particularly liked.
  • As a narrative of his varied acting experiences, he gives very few (almost no) details besides how much he loved the Dick Van Dyke Show. (Did you know everyone thought his co-star was his wife? He will remind you of it. Often.)
  • As a story of his life, it provides the facts but often with little more than you would expect from a Wikipedia page. His wife’s early miscarriage, his own alcoholism and affair, the loss of a granddaughter…none of it gets more than lightly brushed over.

If there is one reoccurring theme, it is his seemingly deistic perspective on “love” and “good works.” In short, his worldview boils down to everyone should be the affable, non-confrontational person that Dick Van Dyke is. And really, what this book is.

It is a very bland, very polite, very grateful, but altogether uninspiring story. Which is too bad. It didn’t need lots of Hollywood gossip. But it did need a little more vulnerability to make it more than an informational, and yet somehow uninformative, story.

Old Reviews

It throws me for a loop every time someone likes an old review of mine on Goodreads. Even if it was a review I wrote earlier in the year, I feel surprise. Obviously I know they are out there. I re-read them myself semi-regularly. But I still go, how did you find my review? Why this one? Is this what fame feels like?

Take today. I got likes for My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke, American Panda by Gloria Chao, The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek, Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean, and Sapphire Blue by Kirsten Gier. So random! And not one like for the book review I just posted. (You can see my real disgruntlement.) 

My review of Sapphire Blue is my big claim to fame, actually. I wrote it in 2012 and it now has 70 likes! Don’t ask me why. I certainly put more thought and articulation into other reviews before and after. But that’s the one that consistently pops up!

My Brush With Fame

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know my favorite form of social media is Goodreads, AKA Facebook for books. 

A few weeks ago the most exciting thing ever happened on Goodreads: I got a friend request from Jennifer Kloester. 

AKA the woman who literally wrote the biography about my favorite author, Georgette Heyer. 

AKA arguably the foremost Heyer fan, or at least Heyer expert.*

Then a few days ago, I got a friend request from Rachel Hyland. 

AKA the editor of Heyer Society: Essays on the Literary Genius of Georgette Heyer and author of Reading Heyer: The Black Moth. 

AKA arguably the second most famous Heyer expert.*

I am in the company of geniuses

This is really one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to me. Like, even more exciting than when I got the friend request from Suzanne Allain. And that is still pretty high on the list. 

Here is my dilemma, though. I feel like I need to put more care into the books I read or review. Never mind that I will probably never interact with them. They still sent me (ME!) a friend request! Surely this comes with a special responsibility to not read lousy books..


*To be fair I have no backing for this claim except that to my knowledge these are the main people to be published about Heyer. The third is Jane Aiken Hodge but unfortunately she passed away. 

Buying Books For Others

I found the perfect career for myself: buying books for other people! Who wants to pay me to do that? 😉 

More seriously, I had a fabulously fun weekend with my cousin and I dragged the poor girl to easily 5 bookstores. And I bought books! Mostly for her or for her siblings which I discovered comes with an amazing plus: 

I get all the fun of buying books and spoiling some of my favorite people and none of the books go home with me so no one can yell at me for having too many books already! 

Truly a win win.

Whatcha Reading…? 9/20/2019 Book Update

If I cannot tackle a book in one evening, I will probably start another. Hence why I occasionally like putting together these “Whatcha Reading…?” posts. It helps me keep track of everything I’ve got going! Currently I’m reading 6 books: King Lear by William Shakespeare (technically a play but whatever), The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Wicked Fox by Kat Cho, Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart, and A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. 

I was inspired to pick up King Lear after finishing Hamlet. For some reason, I marked it to-read in high school along with As You Like It (and only those two. No other play made the cut on Goodreads!) I’m enjoying it so far but not as much as Hamlet

The Cost of Discipleship, meanwhile, is one of those books I feel like I am eternally reading. I’ve been at it for almost 2.5 years now. It isn’t bad, quite the opposite. I find it so profound that if I read more than a chapter a day I feel like I am missing something. So I read a chapter one day, forget about it the next, and read another chapter a month later when I stumble upon my copy again. And then forget about it the next day. Slow and steady, I guess. 

Wicked Fox is, in theory, a Korean drama lovers dream. It involves Korean mythology and modern day Seoul. But I won’t lie, I’m finding it super disappointing so far. The author does a lot of telling but not a lot of showing. Characters are profoundly psychological in ways that feel at odd with their age. And by golly, I’m over a 100 pages in and nothing is happening. I am not sure I will make it through all 424 pages. 

On the flip side, I’m finding Only Ever Her surprisingly enjoyable. I heard about it on a blog I follow and picked it up on a whim. It is supposed to be a thriller but so far I haven’t found anything that scary. Just good character build-up. The first person present narrative style does get a little annoying but I’m hooked. 

I’ve fallen hard for Mary Stewart’s novels so there was no way I wasn’t going to like My Brother Michael. I’m not very far into it but I can already tell I am going to love it. Be warned: her books are going to overwhelm my end of the year 5 star reads blog post. 

Out of all the books I’m currently listing, however, A Curse So Dark And Lonely has taken me the most by surprise. It presents yet another Beauty and the Beast retelling and I’ve read enough of those to last me a lifetime. But so far, this one is really, really good. It hits the right note of familiar fairytale while simultaneously presenting enough ‘new’ to keep the reader hooked. I hope it can keep it up.  

Office Hours

As a TA, I keep office hours. When I first learned of this requirement, my fellow TA simultaneously informed that no one would come. I sort of took him at his word but didn’t really expect no one to come. 

But seriously, no one comes to office hours.

The bright side is that I have my office hours in the department library so I’m surrounded by great books on politics, economics, philosophy, and literature. 

Today I read Hamlet. Good stuff. 

Next week I think I will tackle Sophocles.