When you grow up…

When you grow up and have your own home, you can do what you want.

Show of hands.  How many of you heard the above pearls of wisdom when you were growing up?  I know I did.  And when I finally did have my own home, I took full advantage of my newfound independence.

And so it was with my reading choices.  For some reason, I never forgot the titles that were deemed inappropriate for teen reading  eyes — and read them all.  And I never blushed once.

Written in 1944 by Kathleen Winsor, Forever Amber was banned as pornographic in 14 states. The novel tells the story of Amber St. Clare, who conquests her way up 17th century British aristocracy ladder by sleeping with progressively influential men.

In 1956, Grace Metalious wrote Peyton Placea novel that would sell 10,000 copies in the first 10 days of its release.  It was followed in 1957 by a motion picture and in 1964 by a prime time soap opera on television.  Set in a New England town, the novel focuses on small town gossip, hypocrisy, teenage rebellion, class inequity — and a few other social maladies.

A Summer Place was published in 1958 and written by Sloan Wilson. The title was released as a major motion picture fim in 1959 starring Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee. The story tells the tale of two adults who rekindle their teenage summer romance. Their children from other spouses fall in love, with unplanned and unfortunate consequences.

All three titles were published long before I learned to read. But they were popular and considered racy for many years following their releases.  In my opinion, and the opinion of many reviewers more qualified than me, the three are not great works of literary fiction. But the titles are excellent examples of the taboos of social life during different historic time periods and offer a guaranteed, entertaining reading escape.

All opinions and reviews aside, it felt rewarding to open the Pandora​’s Box and finally have the choice and the freedom to read Forever Amber, Peyton Place, and A Summer Place.

 

I’m sorry. I can’t. Don’t hate me.

In my last blog post on December 25, 2016, I said, “sometimes life strangles you with challenges you never in your dreams would expect to encounter.”

I love challenges.  They keep boredom at bay and fuel my resolve. But Lord — it would be perfectly acceptable if sleep, or lack thereof, would not be part of your plan for me.  Finding time for sleep seems to be my greatest challenge.

Thrawn-1And here is the best aspect of my challenges.  I have been offered more responsibility and projects in the workplace and have become more familiar with terms such as “procurement” and “guaranteed energy savings” and “HVAC setbacks.”  I find it unreasonably intriguing.

Despite the life-encompassing challenges, reading is still a high priority, with many non-fiction titles being devoured, such as Call the Midwife, Hidden Figures, and Under the Tuscan Sun.  Star Wars titles are also is high on the 2017 reading list with Rogue One and Aftermath: Empire’s End.  Currently, I am reading Thrawn by Timothy Zahn, which follows the rise to power of one of the most ruthless and guileless villains in the Galactic Empire.

What of the 100 Half Project?  It’s still on and I’m at crest the of reaching half marathon #85.  But my promised goal to reach 100 half marathons in 2017 will linger into 2018 — and reality has forced me to borrow the infamous Jack Berger post-it note line.  I’m sorry.  I can’t.  Don’t hate me.

 

 

The 100 Half Project

Sometimes life is a bed of roses.  Sometimes life throws you lemons.  And sometimes life strangles you with challenges you never in your dreams would expect to encounter.  Such has been 2016.  Never a quitter and always with my eyes on the road ahead, I look forward to 2017 with newly imagined dreams and a profoundly stronger sense of self.  Carpe diem.  I am one with the force, the force is with me.  Just do the damn thing. 

What is The 100 Half Project?  With the new year on the horizon, I have set a personal goal to reach the completion of 100 lifetime half marathons by the end of 2017.  Currently my half marathon tally is at 81.  Achievable goal?  Maybe.  Insane goal?  P100half-2robably.  Personally satisfying goal? Absolutely.

The biggest challenge of The 100 Half Project will be to find the time and the 19 half marathons that will fit into my career and personal schedule.  Several of my scheduled half marathon races will be on the road.  But to save $$ and time, the bulk of the races will need to be close to home.

So what does The 100 Half Project have to do with The Petulant Reader?  Very simple.  I have written in the past that much of my training and most of my races are conducted while listening to audiobooks.  It is a practice that helped me achieve my Goodreads Challenge in 2016.  During The 100 Half Project I will  train and race while listening to audiobooks and will simultaneously share my books and my 100 half progress in this blog.

On your mark.  Get set.  Go!

 

Evil Tree. Bad Apple?

What is it like to be the descendants of Disney’s most nefarious villains?

Stripped of their powers and banished to the Isle of the Lost, all of the evil villains we loveisle to hate now live in complete isolation with their teenage children. Mal (daughter of Maleficent), Evie (daughter of the Evil Queen), Carlos (the son of Cruela DeVille), and Jay (son of Jafar) are on a search for the Dragon’s Eye.  It is the key to true evil and the ticket to the villains escape from the island. But when the four teens work as a team to find the Eye and win favor with their parents, they discover that being good really isn’t so bad.

Isle of the Lost is the first in the Descendants series by award-winning author Melissa de la Cruz, and the prequel to the movie on the Disney Channel.  The book is not among my list of favorite reads, but I did appreciate the creative plot twist and the references to characters from a variety of Disney films (Gaston has twin sons named Gaston Jr. and Gaston III).

Watch for the second title in the Descendants series, Return to the Isle of the Lost, in May.

Julie and Julia

Don’t you just love cookbooks? Reading one creates an unabashed opportunity to savor all of the glossy photos of delicious dishes without absorbing all the calories.  At least that’s the strategy I will stick with.  Or you can follow Julie Powell’s example and cook every recipe in your favojuliarite cookbook.

Julie and Julia is the story of Julie Powell, who challenged herself to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days.  The book follows her year-long culinary adventure tackling lobster, aspic, pate, duck, beef bourguignon, and many other tasty treats.

I have watched the movie adaptation of Julie and Julia at least 25 times.  Unlike the book, the film offers more insight into Julia Child’s life in Paris with her husband, Paul Child.  I very much enjoyed the symmetry of the character story line.  And Meryl Streep as Julia?  It was simply, “Bon appetit!”

 

 

The Martian

In 1969, at the cusp of man’s race to land on the moon, I read Marooned by Martin Caidin.  It was a science fiction thriller about a manned spacecraft stranded in Earth orbit, which at the time was a bit too realistic for anyone’s comfort. Flash forward to 2011 when author Andy Weir self-publishes The Martian, the story of an American astronaut stranded on Mars in the year 2035. Both books are science fiction, both involve NASA scrambling to organize a viable rescue plan during a space mission, and both novels have movie adaptations.

But while both novels were dramatic in their delivery, The Martian adds a modicum of humor to the story line to offset the fundamentally dangerous situation faced by the characters.  While still a thriller, main character and astronaut Mark Watney is martianunflappable, as well as a wizard with a roll of duct tape (“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped”).

In hindsight, I did enjoy reading both Marooned and The Martian, but the former is now a technologically dated novel (been there—done that).  In fact, I found the technical details in the Weir novel to have enough detail to bring a smile to the face of the most hardcore science fiction fan.  And I won’t reveal the outcome of The Martian.  But I will say that it is satisfyingly gripping.

 

Making a Difference

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When people ask why I chose librarianship as a career, I always say it was because I wanted to make a difference. And here are some ways librarians make that happen…

For many patrons of the library, I am the only person they’ve spoken to all day.

Libraries are the gateway to 21st Century Skills and help to bridge the digital divide.

They like to be creative and think big—really big.

They provide the tools to end illiteracy.

Librarians help those in need to transform and improve their lives.

They like to share their services in improbable places.

Libraries are a mark of what we, as a country, stand for.

Librarians help start children on the path to success by encouraging family reading engagement.

They are leaders in technology, creativity, and innovation.

Because libraries and librarians make a difference in the lives of people.