August 2008


As you know, this month we read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, a graphic memoir about her childhood in war-torn Iran. However, this month I’m going to try something a little different to see if we can get more participation in the comment section. Today I’m going to post a couple of questions to see what you all thought of the book and you can feel free to ask your own questions as well. Then tomorrow I’ll post my review of the book. So, here goes:

What did you think of the book?

Were you surprised by the ending? Were you hoping for more?

If you saw the movie, how did it compare to the book?

What do you think of Satrapi’s decision to write this book as a graphic novel?

How much did you know about the history of Iran before going into this book?

What did you think of the illustrations? Were they what you had expected?

Do you plan to read the sequels? Also, do you think you’ll read other graphic novels?

What were your favorite parts of the book? What surprised you most?

Feel free to answer only a couple or all of these questions. The idea here is to get you thinking and talking about the book. I want to know what you thought and felt as you read this book. Also, please let me know if you’ve already reviewed this book so I can link to it in tomorrow’s post.

Thanks!

One of my most favorite book bloggers, just became even more dear to me. Natasha over at Maw’s Books has been reading a lot of nonfiction lately about major social issues lately, one of which is the genocide happening right now in Darfur. Those of you who have been reading my personal blog for the past few years know that this is an issue I’ve personally been following for some time. It’s also something I think is very important and that is not being addressed well enough within the main stream media. I commend Natasha for her ongoing efforts to learn about this issue and bring it to people’s attention. And I love that she’s not just talking about (as I often do), she’s doing something to help.

Natasha has dedicated her book blog (which is quite a popular one) to reading and blogging about Darfur for the entire month of September as a way to raise money for the many aid organizations working to help the Sudanese displaced by this war. For each person who posts about her, she’s giving a small donation to the cause. In addition, she’s asking her readers to commit to making donations in the form of one penny per page she reads during the month of September, or 50 cents per blog she writes. In addition, she’s going to be encouraging her readers (that’s me!) to read and review books about the crisis in Sudan – and for each one, she’ll be donating $1 to the cause. This is by far my most favorite part of her month-long project. I love that Natasha isn’t expecting her readers to just take her word for it. Instead she’s encouraging us to get involved and educate ourselves on this issue. And by doing so, I think more of us will be motivated to give, not only our money, but our time to the cause.

Please check over at Maw’s Books Blog for more information. You can also click here to see a list of books Natasha has recommended to get yourself informed about Darfur. And best of luck to you Natasha! I can’t wait to see how much money you raise!

It’s been a long time since I’ve said I’m out of shape, but the time has come to acknowledge it. Being out of running shoes for the past 8 weeks has put a real damper on my energy level and motivation to exercise. I’ve gotten out a couple of times for random cross training, but my heart hasn’t really been in it. And the lack of movement really showed today when I rode my bike to my Grad School Orientation today. The ride, which only took me about 15-20 minutes when I tried it out last month, took about 25 minutes this morning. I was WINDED. And sweating profusely after barely making it up the MANY hills I hadn’t really noticed the first time around. Remember all that complaining I did about how biking really isn’t that great of a workout? Well, apparently it is – you just don’t notice it when you’re a full-time runner.

Now that I know that I’m actually getting a good workout with these rides, I’m feeling more motivated to get with the program. I’m also getting pumped up because grad school starts next week, which means two bike rides a day, four times a week, along with two one-hour swim sessions per week. Hopefully this will strengthen my supporting muscles an finally get me out of the shin splints funk.

I was also wondering how many of you signed up for the Nike+ Human Race this weekend. I signed up for it and my leg has been feeling better (not that I’ve tried to run on it to test that theory) so I think I’m going to go for it. It’s only¬† a 10K so I think I can get through it. But don’t worry, I won’t run through pain (thanks to the dreaded advice from my doctor). But if it’s feeling good, I’m going to go for it. Then I’m planning on doing the cross training and slowly working back into a real running schedule. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to at least walk that half marathon in October…

I’ve read a couple of Sedaris’ books and I think When You Are Engulfed In Flames is now one of my favorites (previously, it was Naked). As always, it’s a collection of essays about the author’s life, but this time I finally got why he selected these specific stories in this order. In some of his other books I haven’t understood how the different stories were connected, but in this one it somehow made sense. Perhaps this was because I read them in a more spaced out period. Most of his books I read straight through, but this one really took me about a month. I would read one essay and then come back to the book a few days later. That’s the one plus to reading essay-style books: You don’t have to worry about losing the momentum of the story if you put it down for a few days.

While I had read a number of poor reviews of this book and I think that may have been part of the reason it took me so long to get through it, I personally enjoyed the book. I envy Sedaris his ability to find humor in everyday interactions with people. I particularly liked the last section of the book when he described his stay in Japan. His accounts of the Japanese people were not cliche and I felt he was able to really give a glimpse of what life would be like there.

Toward the end he describes a scene that unfolds one day when he’s riding the train with his boyfriend, Hugh. A Japanese couple is riding with their young child, who insists on standing up to look out the window. The mother removes the child’s shoes and places a towel on the seat where the child will stand. The child proceeds to leave handprints and smears all over the window as it looks at the scenery. But rather than leaving the window all smeared up at the end of the ride, the mother cleans the window before leaving, puts the child’s shoes back on and folds up the towel. It’s this respect for other people that I think Sedaris conveyed well in his stories about Japan.

And, of course, I’m always a sucker for his stories about Paris and Normandy. I love that Sedaris doesn’t sugarcoat his experiences in France the way many authors do. He acknowledges the Parisians’ disdain toward him and his accented French. His realistic stories of living in Paris give readers a taste of what it would be like to be an expat. And I love that Hugh is often in these stories. He’s one of my favorite characters to show up in Sedaris’ books.

If you’re a Sedaris fan, you’ve likely already read this book. If you haven’t picked up one of his books before I’d suggest this one or Naked. I enjoyed them both.

Over on Melanie Lynne Hauser’s site she’s giving away free downloads of her new book Jumble Pie. I downloaded it yesterday and it only took a few minutes. I’m not sure how I feel about reading 347 pages on my computer, but it will be something new at least.

Melanie Lynn Hauser is the author of Confessions of Super Mom and Super Mom Saves the World. Her newest book, Jumble Pie, was actually the first book she wrote, but she was unable to get it published at the time. She’s still hoping to publish it someday, but in the meantime she’s giving it away for free here.

From her site: “JUMBLE PIE is the story of the elusive nature of friendship, sometimes clinging, other times liberating; a story for any woman who has ever lied to her best friend just to make her feel better – and who has been brave enough to tell the truth, even when it hurts. And of course, it’s a story about the remarkable healing power of pie.”

The drawing for a signed paperback copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin is now closed. The winner was selected using random.org’s list randomizer. And the winner is windycindy! Congratulations! If you’d please e-mail me (bexadler at yahoo dot com) your mailing address, I can get it to Mr. Henkin and have the book sent to you.

Matrimony was released today in paperback with this new fancy cover. For more information about Matrimony you can check out Joshua Henkin’s Web site here, read an interview between him and I here or read my review of the book here.

I just wanted to remind you all that tomorrow is the release date for the paperback edition of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin, which means it’s also the day I’ll be giving away a signed paperback copy of the book! So be sure you’ve left a comment here for your chance to win.

Good luck!

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