25 February 2015

Review of I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron

Title:  I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections

Author:  Nora Ephron

Publishing Information:  November 2010 by Vintage

How I Got This Book:  I purchased it at a bookstore.

My Thoughts:  I've already mentioned my love for Nora Ephron.  She was truly amazing.  So funny and intelligent and relatable...even though aside from being women who love to write, we really don't have much in common.  She inspires me to look at life and see the humor in the situation because there is almost always humor in any situation.  Some notable exceptions, of course.  I mean, think about her novel Heartburn, which recounts the break-up of her marriage to Carl Bernstein (I always have to check because I never can remember if it was Woodward or Bernstein she married!) and has plenty of moment of humor.

For those of you who don't know, my grandfather passed about a month ago.  That explains most of my absence from the world.  After we got home from the hospital that morning, I couldn't sleep, but I knew I would be heading to my grandparents' house later in the day, so I started packing.  I didn't know how long I would be there.  I grabbed some clothes.  Then I walked around my bookshelves several times grabbing books that seemed remotely interesting.  I think I grabbed close to ten books that time.  When I came home and headed back up the next day, I did the same thing again.  I had about twenty books total that I packed.  Then I went to the bookstore and bought some more.  While at the bookstore, I spied this collection of Ephron's writings, which I purchased even though I had brought her larger collection with me.  I finished reading within a couple of days.

It was especially apt because it was the last collection she published before her death in 2012.  Her death came as a surprise for many because she had not disclosed her illness.  Upon looking back at this collection, one must wonder whether she purposely left clues or hints that her time was short with the inclusion of essays "What I Won't Miss" and "What I Will Miss."  Both essays are lists of big and small things--she wouldn't miss dry skin or funerals, but she would miss her kids and butter.  These essays provided me with a lot to think about.  I haven't yet composed my lists (for the record, nothing is wrong with me)...emphasis on the "yet."

The collection also included the titular essay, "I Remember Nothing," about how she knows that she's experienced a lot of big moments, amazing rock concerts and whatnot, but all she remembers about the experience is that she thought about whether she would eat afterwards, where she would eat, what she would order, and so on.  I could TOTALLY relate to that.  There is so much of life that I am worried I have already forgotten.  It's not even so much about living in the moment, though that is kind of part of it.  Recording things as soon as they happen is an important thing I got out of this essay.

She included several essays about food.  This is a topic she wrote about quite a bit, though she was never known amongst her group of friends as a cook, in that no one really asked her for her recipes on anything.  She writes some fun and interesting things about food.  Some I disagree with--I actually prefer egg white omelets to regular and I don't eat them for health reasons--but most I am just so enamored with, like everything else she wrote.

Five stars.  For sure.

Now I am off to pick up another of her collections as I recover from a major book hangover.

24 February 2015

Top Ten Favorite Heroines

Another Tuesday, another list.  This week The Broke and the Bookish is looking at our favorite heroines.  I contributed to the post.  :)  Here are all of my picks--

1.  Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind  What list of mine would be complete without her?  Yes, she's frequently described as an antihero because she mostly acts out of self-interest as opposed to out of selflessness.  Personally, I find her will to survive to be inspiring.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  

2.  Nora Ephron  My new girl crush.  I think she's just fantastic.  She was honest and funny in her writings about...well, everything from marriage to aging to her career to her purse.  She is that fun aunt who speaks my language.

3.  Anna Karenina from Anna Karenina  Maybe she's another antihero, but I really like Anna.  She was so starkly rendered in Tolstoy's novel, especially at the end, that I felt what she was feeling.  I got breathless as I raced through the pages of her despair.  I love that she bucked society's expectations and demands to follow her heart, even if her path there wasn't totally cool.

4.  Alma Whittaker from The Signature of All Things  Alma truly defies social conventions of her time.  She lived during the 1800s.  She married late in life.  She devoted her life to her work and had a truly fantastic career.  She shouldered a lot of burdens that women didn't ordinarily take on at the time.  She was an admirable character.

5.  Mame Dennis from Auntie Mame  I love her!  She's the inspiration for my blog's name.  She inspires me to be more fun with my friend's kids who call me Aunt Lori.  I love how she marches to the beat of her own drum.  Things go hilariously wrong for her, but she always pulls through.  Beyond that, she went on some pretty awesome adventures.

6.  Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn  Francie is just the best, but also super heartbreaking.  I want to hug her so hard.  She went through a lot and sacrificed a lot and came out a better person.  She saw a better more beautiful life through books.  I was just thinking of picking up this novel to re-read again the other day!

7.  Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's  Another fighter who does her own thing, even when it's not 100% on the up and up.  I'm noticing a theme.  She was chic.  She was kooky.  She did what she had to do in order to survive.  She's a totally different person in the novella than she was in the film, but both are amazing characters.

8.  Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice  She's the best of both worlds.  She reads and is intelligent and doesn't entirely think that a woman's happiness is tied up in marriage (in that she would rather marry the right man as opposed to a man), but she makes snap judgments on people and learns her lesson.  It's something, someone I can definitely relate to.

9.  Viviane Walker from Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood  Vivi was one of the first characters I read that I really related to.  She had a good life growing up, but she always dreamed of more...and was sometimes disappointed by how her life turned out.  But she put on a good face to the world.  I don't know.  It's hard to explain exactly if you know the story.  But I love her.

10.  Everyone from Fried Green Tomatoes  I just couldn't decide who was the true heroine here.    Ruth with her quiet strength.  Idgie with her strength of force.  Evelyn with her progression as a character.  Mrs. Threadgoode with her friendship and guidance in the midst of it all.  Let's just give a loud, hearty "TAWANDA!" to the whole cast of female characters here and call it a done deal.

There you have it.  My list of ten heroines or antiheroines whom I love.

Who are your favorites?

17 February 2015

My Top Ten Bookish Problems

It's Tuesday!  That means that over at The Broke and the Bookish, we're talking about a bookish topic.  This week it's bookish problems.  I think I can contribute!

1.  Buying all the books!  I don't know how many times I've written a post about my inability to just buy one book or buy books at a reasonable speed.  My life is the embodiment of the Erasmus quote "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes."  Like most book junkies, I view books as a good investment.

2.  Finding time to read all the books!  I used to have so much time to spend reading books.  But now there are things like work and NCIS marathons and family stuff.  Eventually, there will be a husband and kids demanding my attention.  There are only so many bubble baths you can take before people will think you're avoiding them!

3.  Storing all the books!  They have to go somewhere.  I'm not a huge fan of leaving my books piled on the floor, though that has been known to happen.  The resulting avalanches signal a pressing need to do some shelf maintenance.  I have no more room for bookshelves.  The ones I have are all differently shaped and sized.  One day I will have nicer bookshelves that look rather similar...though I will find them hopelessly lacking in character.

4.  Short story collections.  I just haven't ever really gotten into short stories and not for a lack of trying buying options.  I don't know--I just can't ever get myself to pick up the short story collection by the author whose novels I really like.

5.  Poetry collections.  Similar to short story collections (see above) I just can't get into poetry.  I like it.  But then I get frustrated because I am not as enchanted by it as I am by paragraphs.  I don't know.  Dorothy Parker poetry is awesome, but I can't just read several of her poems in a row.

6.  Sticking with one book all the way through.  I flit from book to book.  It may take several tries over several months before I actually finish a book.  I rarely DNF a book; I just kind of set it aside because something else is more interesting and I fully intend on picking this one back up again.  Possibly even soon.  Some books, like the missing wife books, force me to not be able to put the book down until I finish.  But they are in the minority of the books I read.

7.  Two copies of favorites.  My mom refuses to understand this.  I write in my books.  OK, I write in my paperback books.  Not so much my hardcovers for some reason.  Anyway, if I have a favorite book, I want two copies--one that I have marked to death and one that is just lovely and pristine.  I have no explanation for this.

8.  Culling.  I've got three containers of books I no longer want.  But I can't get myself to actually get them out the door.  Part of the problem is deciding what to do with them (I've decided that I want to sell what I can and donate the rest to a library).  Now I just have to find the time to go through the boxes once more and actually load them into my car and drive to the used bookstore.

9.  Employee discount.  I have a new job at a bookstore.  The employee discount is awesome.  I've only worked four days.  Of those four days, I made money one day.

10.  Leaving town.  Whenever I leave town, no matter for how short a period or what I am actually going to be doing on said excursion, I can't help bringing along a few choices.  And by "a few," I mean anywhere from three to ten books.  Even when realistically I know I'm not going to have much time to read, the possibility of having a few hours with nothing else to do is just too real for me to not prepare for.