Books I Read in June

Another one of my new year’s resolutions this year was to read more books. Last year, I was so swamped with work and school that I was lucky if I read a book a month. This year, I have made sure to carve out time for reading every day, and I am pleasantly surprised at just how many more books I’ve been able to read! Here are the books I’ve read in June, in no particular order:

Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome: I thought this would be a nice and short introduction to Edith Wharton. Ethan Frome is written as a series of flashbacks from the point of view of a visitor who sees an old and decrepit Ethan Frome. He slowly finds out more about Ethan’s unfortunate background from neighbors and Ethan himself. The book is depressing, but has some lovely descriptions of winter and snow. There is a heated debate online about whether Edith Wharton was a feminist or an anti-feminist. I haven’t read anything else by Wharton, but I’ll be perusing these discussions and adding more of Wharton’s books to my to-read list to try to come to a conclusion for myself. Have you read anything by Edith Wharton? What do you think: feminist or anti-feminist?

Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red: I’ve already written a little about this book in an earlier post here. One of my favorite passages is:
“Geryon was a monster everything about him was red
Put his snout out of the covers in the morning it was red
How stiff the red landscape where his cattle scraped against
Their hobbles in the red wind
Burrowed himself down in the red dawn jelly of Geryon’s
Dream.”

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Honey Pot Book Club: Starting a Book Club

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to join a book club, but I wasn’t sure where to start. A lot of googling later, I sent out an email proposing a book club to twenty girlfriends and waited to see if anyone would bite. Half a year later, we just had our very first book club meeting! I’m still getting the hang of it, but I wanted to document and share the journey with y’all. I’ll be posting little tips and ideas, stories and anecdotes along the away.

First up, here are few things that I think are worth discussing at your very first book club meeting.

  • How often will you meet? We decided on once every two months.
    • Pros – people in New York City are so busy, and it’s always hard to try to find dates that work for everyone.
    • Cons – if you read the book earlier, it may be hard to remember all the details two months later! There may be a bit of strategic planning and timing involved.
  • What kinds of books will you read? We decided on mostly new fiction, with a mix of other things thrown in!
    • Pros – reading new fiction makes it easier to guarantee that no one’s read the book yet
    • Cons – new fiction means hardcover books and that can get so expensive! Our solution was to try to do a combination of new fiction and old plays and nonfiction – afterall, we are a group of girls that don’t read a ton of plays and nonfiction. How much fun is it going to be to read plays out loud with your best girlfriends?
  • Who’s going to lead the discussion? Who’s picking the next book?
    • I think these go together – the person who picked the book can lead the discussion! We decided on the next book at the end of our first meeting as well as determined an order of who will be picking next. (Next up is Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant.)

And a few tidbits I’ve been thinking about:

  • One of the girls mentioned that she loves trivia and so we may try to find some fun trivia questions and facts to kick off our next meeting.
  • Is it just me or are so many people bad at following through? Of the ten girls that seemed excited and committed, it was ultimately only four of us. I’m trying not to let things like that bother me, because we ended up having a great discussion and time regardless. At our next meeting, we probably won’t even bother to invite the people who didn’t show up the first time. After all, you can lead a horse to water… right?

Our next meeting will be in two months – do you want to read along with us? I might try to start an online read-along book club to go with our in-person club. I’m going to call it the Honey Pot Book Club! Are you in a book club? Do you have any tips for me?

Photo Credit: WeeWonderfuls

This Week in Review – 06/19/2015

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Whether I’m going somewhere or reading a book, I constantly research the things going on in my life. I read a stack of gallery reviews, author interviews, and recipes every week. This week, I thought I would share with you the things I’ve come across while preparing for my first book club meeting (more on that later!), a pot luck I’m attending tonight, and two exhibits I visited. I arranged this week’s links by event.

Book ClubFirst, let me tell you that our first book was All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, so you’ll understand all of the Doerr related links. 

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PotluckI’m meeting a few girlfriends for a potluck dinner tonight. As you may know, it’s Ramadan, so I will be breaking fast and celebrating with one of my friends. I’m so excited to get to spend this very special time with her! 

Exhibits – I visited the Dominique Levy gallery last week, as well as the Museum of Biblical Arts (on the very last day it was open!)

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Cafritz Fountain, Alexander Calder, 1966

  • The Dominique Levy gallery had an Alexander Calder exhibit that I visited on my lunch break last week. It was a very well put-together show and I have been thinking a lot about it. Read more about it here: Multum in Parvo 

For me, Calder is the only artist who’s been able, over and over again, to go from the miniature to the monumental, and the monumental to the miniature, to the point of wondering, “is miniature not monumental”? – Levy on the Calder exhibit

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Prophet, Donatello, 1435

What is considered one of Donatello’s most famous sculptures, Prophet was on view at the Museum of Biblical Arts in a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the United States! I tried my best to find a picture of this sculpture dressed as the Statue of Liberty and was sadly disappointed. Come on, Internet!

“Woe betide him who says to the wood, ‘Wake up,’ / to the dead stone, ‘Bestir yourself’.

How ironic is it then (or brilliant?) for Donatello to do the very thing that his Prophet warned him against?

PS – I know all I’ve posted recently are This Week in Reviews, but we have a great batch of new posts and series coming to you starting next Monday! I’m so excited to work all weekend to show you!

This Week in Review – 06/05/2015

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A Note from Jessica: Welcome to the very first This Week in Review! Every Friday, we’ll be sharing the best things we’ve discovered and g-chatted about over the past week. Anything goes, from etsy shops to current events, political manifestos to music videos. What are some of the best things you’ve discovered this week? Leave a comment if you have something you’d like to see on this list next week! Without further adieu, here goes! 

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“So many of us are hungry for stories with more racial diversity, more truth in representation, and I am anxious to help tell those stories in the future.” – We’ll hold you to it, Cameron!

Tell hesitant campaign donors that you only expect 78 percent as much money as they would give a similarly qualified man. If you’re African-American, only ask for 64 percent.

  • I’m currently reading All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. In it, Marie-Laure learns about violet snails from Dr. Geffard in the Museum of Natural History.

“Now that shell, Laurette, belonged to a violet sea snail, a blind snail that lives its whole life on the surface of the sea. As soon as it is released into the ocean, it agitates the water to make bubbles, and binds those bubbles with mucus, and builds a raft. Then it blows around, feeding on whatever floating aquatic invertebrates it encounters. But if it ever loses its raft, it will sink and die…”

Are you intrigued? I was too, so I present to you, National Geographic on How Bubble-Rafting Snails Evolved

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Photos by Ambivalently YoursDenis Riek, Wilfried Hoesl