beautiful ruins

i wasn't happy when i began reading jess walter's beautiful ruins. It's set in Italy, near cinque terre. i have been suffering from some serious wanderlust the past month or so, daydreaming about trips we've taken, trips we'd like to take. so, cinque terre has already been on my mind and now i was aching for it.

the mere mention of monterosso al mare early in the book and I was there in my head, holding hands with shawn while running down the train platform to meet friends from chicago. before we said hello we told them we were going swimming. Immediately. and we did. we'd been there a few days before our friends' arrival and had found a totally deserted beach just a quick, steep hike down from the town center in cornigila. we'd swam every day since. it was paradise.

i remember eating swordfish cooked in lemon and tossing the bones to a nearby clowder of cats trying desperately to make sure that everyone knew the drill. we did and so they ate good that night. 

the alleys smelled like rotting grapes. that sounds gross but it really wasn't. It was mid-harvest and everywhere we looked, grapes were strung up in doorways and between buildings, and piled high in buckets and tubs. i loved walking through town around 5:00 pm, the setting sun would hit the hung grapes, intensifying their smell and making them glow.

i remember drinking jug after jug of blood orange juice because shawn discovered there was such a thing as blood orange juice and that it was quite tasty. blood orange juice, bread and cheese. every single day.

so, i wasn't happy. because although we will be taking a Trip this year it probably won't be to cinque terre. so, heartache. then, i remembered that week we spent there ten years ago and i was happy. blissfully so.

also, the book is good and that always makes me happy. 

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wednesday words

i loved this book. the main character, wren, survives a car accident in which her boyfriend dies. she struggles with how to move on and retreats to her father's house deep in the woods of the northeast to try to get a grip. its a quiet book, much like the forest in winter, but packs a punch. 

occasionally, my inner 13 year old forces me to read a true crime novel. they are almost entirely unsatisfying. when i first read about people who eat darkness, i was certain this book was different. it was. a page turner from the introduction on, it tells the story of lucie blackman, a young woman who disappears in tokyo in 2000. i don't know that i can recommend it just because true crime really isn't for everyone but i definitely enjoyed it (but was glad when the book was over.)

flappers, the supernatural, speakeasies, murders, and the museum of creepy crawlies. i loved this book. kind of a lot.


i started this last night and stayed up way too late reading. 20 years after tara martin disappears, she knocks on her parents door on christmas day, looking barely a day older than when she left. those she left behind, particularly her brother and her ex-boyfriend, wrestle with her story that she rode off on a white horse and all the accompanying emotions her reappearance creates. i really can't wait to see how this ends.

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wednesday words

"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."
 - Dolly Parton

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wednesday words

things i'm reading both on and off the internet:

LOVED IT. next up: all the days and nights by william maxwell and what there Is to say we have said: the correspondence of eudora welty and william maxwell

the equals record - this was the first post i read from this site. i put it in my reader and have enjoyed the writing a lot.

stories about prince - its exactly what it sounds like and if you like prince at all, you'll love it!

the reconstructionists - all sorts of awesome.

valentine's day for under achievers

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O, she says

O, she says

by Hailey Leithauser

O, she says (because she loves to say O),
O to this cloud-break that ravels the night,
O to this moon, its mouthful of sorrow,
O shallow grass and the nettle burr’s bite,

O to heart’s flare, its wobbly satellite,
O step after step in stumbling tempo,
O owl in oak, O rout of black bat flight,
(O moaned in Attic and Esperanto)

O covetous tongue, O fat fandango,
O gnat tango in the hot, ochered light,
O wind whirred leaves in subtle inferno,
O flexing of sea, O stars bolted tight,

O ludicrous swoon, O blind hindsight,
O torching of bridges and blood boiled white,
O sparrow and arrow and hell below,
O, she says, because she loves to say O.

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the fault in our stars

in 2002, we went to the anne frank house in amsterdam. it was heavy, as you'd expect. i climbed tiny staircase after tiny staircase and i felt like i'd be crushed by the weight of what i was feeling, or maybe i was just hopelessly out of shape. either way, i was having feelings and they were pouring out of my eyes, like feelings are sometimes prone to do. i cried silently as we moved from room to room and each time shawn looked at me, he held my hand just a bit tighter. at the end of the museum, there is a room with hundred of copies of anne frank on display, in every imaginable language and there was a quote on the wall that pushed me right over the edge. it was something about diary of a young girl being the most optimistic story of all humanity. i think it was octavio paz. i was too shaken to have the presence of mind to write it down. also, people were staring. i was sobbing, audibly and uncontrollably.  so many feelings - and not all of them bad. i believe those hours spent at the anne frank house changed me, the same way reading it did when i was much younger. i wanted to be better, to do better. 

on sunday, i started to read the fault in our stars by john green. i knew when i picked it up from the library that it was going to be a heartbreaker. i mean, come on, a young adult novel about teenagers with cancer. "cancer books suck." - it says so on page 48 of this cancer book. for a good time read ANYTHING ELSE, right? but no, that wasn't the case at all. this book was a fantastic time. i laughed, a lot. but i'm not going to lie - i also cried a lot.

there were so many great sentences in this book, like this one (which describes pretty much everyone i know): "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecented you are."  or this one: "Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together again unless and until all living humans read the book."

its gotten under my skin in the best possible way. it reminded me i want to be better; DO BETTER.

i keep thinking about the book, about our trip to the anne frank house and about the Mary Oliver poem, The Summer Day:

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

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wednesday words

"there are some things, after all, that sally owens knows for certain: always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. keep rosemary by your garden gate. add pepper to your mashed potatoes. plant roses and lavender, for luck. fall in love whenever you can."

- alice hoffman (practical magic) 

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the current lineup

currently on my night stand:

the element of lavishness by sylvia townsend warner & william maxell. this has been on my ist for years. i'm not sure why i decided now was the time but i'm so glad i did! it is a delightul book! its the personal correspondance of syvia townsend warner, a novelist, and william maxwell, her onetime editor at the new yorker and longtime friend. these are two people i'm loving spending time with.

1 dead in attic by chris rose. this has also been on my list for years. chris rose is a new orleans write whose post katrina columns had me weeping on the regular back in 2005-6. so, this has been on my list because honestly, i didn't know if i was ready. what with the cheerful title 1 dead in attic and all. i'm reading a bit from this in between sylvia & williams letters. its working quite nicely. i am glad to finally be reading it though.

above us only sky by marion winik. i'm not sure how i missed this one. i love her and thought i had read all her books. this was a happy surprise. 

chasing the rising sun by ted anthony. i heard the author interviewed when the book came out and was completely fascinated but it was during a period when i was doing little to no reading so it just went on the list.  the book is about the author's search for the origins of the song the house of the riising sun. 

romeo spikes by joanne reay. so, i'm not sure about this one. i often take pictures of the covers of books when i'm browsing powell's if i think it looks interesting enough to read but not to buy, or if i really want a book but i've already reach my books per visit limit (2). so, this was in my pictures on my phone and the cover caught my eye. i reall don't know much about it. wish me luck.

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noun. refers to either; long-winded dialogue full of rhetoric or a line of conversation that one participant no longer wishes to follow; slang for bullshit, nonsense.

i'm not sure why but i can't get jibber jabber out of my head. i've now written it down and pinned it to my bulletin board. JIBBER-JABBER. its fun to say. its also fun to imagine it in mr. t's voice. 

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wednesday words

“We're making it up. The world, the universe, life, reality. Especially reality.”

- Tom Robbins 

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