Month: March 2013

Movies have a rating system to help guide the consumer weed out adult/violent/inappropriate kinds of films. Video games do, too. Do you think BOOKS should have a ratings system? – BTT

No. I was just talking with a couple of friends about this and how we started reading adult books at around age 12. I remember one of my first was Judy Blume’s adult books, and just the strange transition of reading “adult” situations after having only read young adult books. I did not find it illicit or daring, but I did like the newness of it and the freedom of choosing the book. No one stopped me from going to the adult section of the library.

I feel there is something very universal about books. I still read young adult fiction and children’s lit. I enjoy them a lot as well. The industry already categorizes age groups for books. I’m not against ratings for movies or video games either, but the graphic and visual nature can be more disturbing. Still, I think ratings are very subjective. In American cinema, I find it baffling how simple nudity even without sexuality can be rated R and a lot of violence is fine at PG-13. I think part of what I like about books is exploring them, and I think ratings could limit that experience for book lovers.

America Again by Stephen Colbert

This was a fun book. I didn’t review Colbert’s picture book, and reviewing a humor book is not easy. Still, I smiled my way through this book.

I adore Stephen Colbert. Sadly, I have not watched “The Colbert Report” on a regular basis for a couple of years now. It use to be part of my morning routine from 2006-8. I think Colbert is very funny and clever. I enjoyed the last book, but I think this was even funnier.

The audiobook would probably be hilarious too. I couldn’t find it near me and I wouldn’t have been able to wear the provided 3-D glasses.

Part of what I like about Colbert is that he and his team are clearly very intelligent. The humour that comes with that is smart, but also sometimes very random. It is sometimes a bit sad when you realize how many people actually believes the things he satirizes, but Colbert finds humor in that sadness. That’s what comedy is for to be honest.

I also feel he writes some of the best Canadian jokes by a non-Canadian comic:

Sourry for my superfluuous Canadian u’s in words like “flavour” and “colour”. Up here you gotta layer the extra vowels to keep the consonants warm.

Colbert also has a way with words as in, he uses puns, vocabulary and diction a lot. My kind of comedian. All of this just reminds me that I need to watch TCR more again.

Even though this is pure satire, I think humor counts as nonfiction especially considering how this book touches on so many current affairs issues. I recommend it for all Colbert-Stewart lovers, but also people who like political satire more broadly.

Read March 24-25th 2013.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

This is my fifth Barbara Kingsolver book. My first of hers was actually her memoirs Animal,Vegetable, Miracle. I absolutely love that book as it is a dream of mine to have a small holding farm like she does. As a result, I like Kingsolver as a person; we share similar interests and philosophies with respect to nature, the environment and more.

I liked her novels Prodigal Summer and Lacuna. Surprisingly, I was less enthused by her most popular work The Poisonwood Bible. I definitely think it has some of the most disturbing and provocative images of her novels, but I found myself a bit cut off from the characters. I was more invested in the leads in her other novels.

Flight Behavior is set in rural Tennessee with a female lead who is intelligent but drained from her life as a housewife with a man she does not love. Kingsolver also writes about rural life in American with respect. She actually reminds me of Thomas Hardy with the way she describes certain nature and farming scenes. Sheep farming is featured heavily in this novel, but the butterfly aspect is also well described.

This book was most like Prodigal Summer, but slightly more somber. As I do not know any one from the rural South, I can not really attest to the veracity and nuances of Dellarobia’s (what a great name too) story. I think Kingsolver also writes her characters with such respect and it is humbling at times to read things in this book.

There is a plot in this novel, but it’s a character study as much as an environmental one. This book does feature the issue of global warming and climate change. While I liked most of the book, my attention seemed to waver a bit towards the end. The ending was unsurprising and sort of just there. It was not deeply profound, but nice.

This novel is not the most exciting read, but for those fans of Kingsolver, I would recommend it and any others who enjoy meditations about climate change in the Americas.

Read March 17-18th 2013.

Sunday Salon

Hello, everyone!

This week, I read Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (review up tomorrow). I posted my finished Buttercup sweater and my usual Booking Through Thursday post.

Today, I plan on reading Stephen Colbert’s America Again. I went with my family to get some maple syrup and have a nice brunch. I have an alumni meeting this afternoon, but I hope to come home and do some reading.

I didn’t post last weekend as I was tired and recovering from my birthday drinks . Also, I haven’t been reading very much lately. I have been out and about everyday trying to be more social. It does not always work, but it’s been interesting as I am an introvert by nature. I am glad Easter weekend is coming up because I plan on reading Walden and other books in my large TBR pile.

This week, I made a filing system in my home office, and I am still not completely done spring cleaning. I’m rather pleased with my organisation and productivity this week.

Physical activity wise, I go to yoga at least once every other week and I am trying to run at least 1-2x a week now that the pavement is relatively snow free. I ran 6km yesterday, and I’m a bit knackered from it and my very active social week. Knitting and fiddle are on the back burner now that I am working out more. I am hoping to try rock climbing soon too.

Spring is not really here, but it’s not below -10 anymore and there is not so much snow so small victories.

Life is good, but busy as I am exploring new things. I just need to make sure I read at least one book a week until my schedule is more fixed and balanced.

How is everyone’s March?


This project used the frogged yarn from Paris. I wanted something with positive ease for this yarn with lots of nice drape. I also wanted something with a good neckline. I must admit my neckline is a bit bigger than in the pattern, but it’s within reason and I can wear a tank top underneath. It is warm and light.


Buttercup, started January 24th 2013, finished March 13th 2013.Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Buttercup by Heidi Kirrmaier Ravelry Pattern Page
Size: Small.
Sleeves: 17cm/7”
Underarm to hem: 42cm/16”
Bust: 40cm/15.5”
Neckline: 22cm/8.5” W x 15.5cm/6”
Yarn: Inca Gold Baby Alpaca by Susan Andrew Collection – 100% baby alpaca – 200yds/50grams – used 175g or about 4 skeins out of my 6
Needles: #4/3.5mm long circ for body and #3/3.25mm long circ and DPNs for sideways garter rib and neck
Modifications & Notes:

  • Cast on front piece with Cable Cast-On
  • No waist increases.
  • As PiPiBird’s variation on Ravelry: Knit “k4, k2tog” in the penultimate round of body. Knit another round and then did sideways garter rib: CO 14 sts on 3.25mm and knit last stitch with one stitch from the body.
  • Lengthen sleeves to about 36 rows and knit “k2, k2tog” for penultimate row. CO 12 st 3.25mm for sideways garter border for sleeves.

Lessons Learned: Sideways garter rib.
Cost of Project: Around $20-25 for the 4 skeins I think.
Would I knit it again? Doubtful that I would need 2 of these, but this pattern is easy, attractive and appealing especially as written as the sideways garter was fiddly. I recommend it.

Have a good weekend! For more FOs, go to Tami’s Amis.

Happy Spring Equinox, everyone! What book are YOU choosing to celebrate with? – BTT

Actually, I’m still on Walden by Henry David Thoreau which is quite natural. I haven’t had a lot of time to read lately. I did finish Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver this week and that is also very springy.

What is everyone reading this first week of spring?

Does your current mood affect your reading? Affect your choices? I know there are plenty of books I enjoy, but only if I’m in a particular kind of mood–or books that can lift me out of a bad mood without fail. Surely I’m not alone? – BTT

Sure, my mood can affect my reading choices. I’m quite an emotional person at times. I think most people are this way as we don’t always want to read textbooks or big long chunky books (and I love my 1000 page novels). My reading choices are less affected by my mood than my film choices though. In general, I’m less persnickety about what to read next if it’s already in library or TBR pile. It’s just a matter of due dates, authors, reading challenges, etc more than anything.

How about you?

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Regular readers of Beaton’s blog Hark! A Vagrant will be familiar with the content in this book, and if you haven’t seen the blog, please check it out. If you like what you see, you can read this lovely book containing comics about literature, comics, history, and often times, Canadian history! In sub categories, there is a fair amount of Feminism and Political History. A few times, her comics are just random out there humor which I also love.

Beaton and I have the same interests in all the above. I get and understand almost all of comics in the book and their allusions. It is funny and apt. Here are the subjects she tackles in her comics in this book: Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Crime & Punishment, Nancy Drew, Batman, various works of Shakespeare, The Great Gatsby, Sherlock Holmes and Watson, and much more.

Her commentary is very insightful and intelligent not only in the comics, but in the few times she explains her work. You learn things such as the following:

  • H. G. Wells allegedly called Jules Verne an “old fusspot”
  • General Montcalm was very romantic
  • Brahms fell asleep at a Liszt concert

It is whimsical, fun and educational!

Read February 26th to March 5th 2013.

Sunday Salon

Hello, everyone!

This week I posted my review of The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark, finished reading Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste by Carl Wilson, and Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant (review up tomorrow).

The snow has really begun to melt, and I can already begin to feel the warmth of the sun. I went on a 5-6k run yesterday for the first time in a long time. I don’t remember the last time I ran that much. As a result, my legs are a bit sore today. I am going to try to run once a week if not a couple of times a week. I’ve done yoga again too, and I got some of the Jillian Michaels exercise DVDs. It wouldn’t hurt to lose a couple of pounds and inches. The warmer weather is when I get motivated to exercise and not any new year.

Even though I am reading more books, I do feel I am falling behind in my giant library book stack and I have not touched Walden at all since I started it. It’s going to be a busy week too so I doubt I’ll have much time for reading.

How is spring in everyone’s neck of the words?

Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste by Carl Wilson

Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste by Carl Wilson

This little book is more than a book about Céline Dion. It is a discourse and meditation on art, aesthetics, taste, and culture generally. It covers much ground in such a small package, and I really would read it again. I recommend it for those of us who question why we like the things we do and why others do the same or not. It’s a book about being open and about being human in culture. It’s about perception, sociology and individuality.

This was another book from Nick Hornby’s column, and I love that we love the same things. Anyway, the premise is that Wilson, a Canadian music critic, wanted to explore the fame of and backlash against Céline Dion. Doing so, he explored how we feel about our art, cultural assumptions and personal taste.

Personally, I am mostly indifferent Céline. I do not really like her English music, and I had one of the worse experiences with restaurant service at her Nickels chain, but I have nothing else against her really. Her existence does not perturb me as a human being so much as war criminals or intolerant people do. I have never really liked how much people have hated her. It seems over the top. As Wilson described, a lot people could not stand her and she became this a symbol of trite and overproduced music. People disliked her without really knowing her and articulating why they disliked her.

As a Canadian like Wilson, I have grown up with Céline in the media, but not being Québécois, I have not been as exposed to her as they are. I do admit my Dad loves the Titanic soundtrack and to my knowledge does play the album at least once a year just for “My Heart Will Go On” which is not fun. I have seen her on Quebec TV singing to Montreal concert goers in French. Her voice and songs are completely different in French. She is much more soulful and that is the

I do think the author understands why Céline is successful. He also how her success is largely attributed to the smart business sense of catering to various cultures: singing their languages, being open, and generally being Canadian abroad. She and Shania Twain seem to share this view of wanting their music to be enjoyed by others, but not putting too much of themselves in it. Still, Céline’s work is full of raw sentimentality and it makes us wonder how that viewed down upon by society . Wilson also conducts interviews with some of her fans which were somewhat interesting, but the core of the novel is the wider discussion of taste.

While writing about Céline’s career, Wilson also discussed musical genres, history, philosophy and more. This part feels a little more dense and serious, but I think he brings up many different perspectives about taste and aesthetics. It was provocative, and I enjoyed this book’s scope.

Read March 2nd-4th 2013.

Clocks change this weekend here in the US, which means one less hour to read … does anybody else begrudge that hour like I do? Wish the Powers That Be would just pick a time-frame and stick to it instead of inflicting clock-driven jet lag on an innocent public twice a year?
(Yeah, so not a question so much about reading … except, of course, you do need to use your electric light to be able to read, so the hour it gets dark IS relevant!) – BTT

Time, how I want more of thee! Of course, we technically get the hour back in the autumn. I have too many hobbies these days, and I’m sad that I must manage my time between them, work, and being generally social. I do look forward to summer and it’s longer days. June 21st is one of my favourite days of the year.

I do read a lot in the evenings which is not great, but my new Otto Lamp helps. Still, there is a reason why I read much more in the summer. Not only out of habit, but all that daylight!

I’ll try to get to bed earlier on Saturday so I can save as much as that missing as I can.

The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark

This was a different and strange short novel. Nick Hornby was reading more Muriel Spark in his last compilation noting her ability satisfy with her short novels. Having read The Prime of Miss Brodie, I decided why not.

I started this in the queue to get my passport renewed and it was appropriate because it is about a woman who takes a journey to Italy on a mission. Early on in this story, the reader knows the outcome of Lise the protagonist so there is a certain amount of mystery, suspense and tension on how she gets to the ending.

The story was published in 1970 and the events and even Lise reflect the 1960’s. The book has a dark, violent and cruel ending. It is not precise and does not give you a sense of closure, but it’s memorable with its unique protagonist and Spark’s writing.

I was quite surprised by how dark it was. I was less surprised by the derangement exhibited by the protagonist because I am learning that delusion is a feature of Spark’s characters. Characters in the novel seem to talk at each other than with each other.

This is a story where I didn’t relate to anyone or any concept, but I did like the writing and found the plot provocative and the characters odd. I won’t likely forget Lise for awhile. I’m not surprised this was shortlisted for the Lost Booker Prize as it seems like a Booker story too.

Read March 1st-2nd 2013.