October 2008

“The Secret Life of Bees” By Sue Monk Kidd (2002); 302 pages

Started reading October 19, finished reading October 25.

This book has been sitting on my bedside table for close to a year, but last week our friend Isa was here, babysitting for Ben. She had brought this book with her and mentioned that the movie was coming out this week. I admit it: hearing that a book is being released as a movie was enough motivation for me to push the book ahead in the queue and read it next. But a good suggestion from Isa, because as she promised, it was a fast read and really good, too.

Many of you who are in book clubs or who read a lot of current fiction have probably gotten to this one already. If you haven’t, you should. And if you read it years ago, it’s not a bad idea to pick it up again this week. You may already know it’s a coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old white girl who finds herself living with a trio of black sisters in 1964 South Carolina. Reading this book – with its horrifying but accurate (I imagine, anyway) descriptions of 1960s race relations, all I could think about was the fact that less that 45 years ago, African-Americans could barely register to vote, and here I am about to cast my vote for the man who should be (and hopefully will be) our first black president. There are about a million reasons why I love Barack Obama that have nothing to do with race, but as I read this book–even as I enjoyed the parts that had less to do about race, and there were plenty of them– I pretty much could not stop thinking about the election. This book made me really, really excited to be a part of history*.

(*See a somewhat related blog post here. You’ll see where I got that last line from.)


“Traditional Construction Patterns” by Stephen A Mouzon (2004); 293 pages

Began reading Sept 25, finished reading Oct 17.

OK, I admit it. It maybe was not such a hot idea to include this book in my blog. From the first time that I mentioned to anyone that I was reading a non-fiction architecture book for the week (um, weeks) I heard complaints. I realize that many of you don’t think you have much interest in reading a book about construction, but 1) you may be wrong and 2) I truly thought I’d be able to read it in a few days and move on to the next thing, keeping all of us happy. Little did I know I was going to stall the whole blog for 4 weeks. Sorry about that.

But here’s the thing: I am using the principles covered in this book for a project I am working on, so I’ve been looking through this book for months. I’ve been wanting to read the whole thing from cover to cover, so I decided to include it here. And for anyone who is even the tiniest bit of an architecture buff (come on, I know at least some of you out there– people tell me all the time that they always wanted to be an architect!) you will enjoy this book. And learn so much! It’s readable and humorous, and it’s a terrific history lesson about classical and traditional architecture. If you ever wonder why all those McMansions look kind of awkward, or why some of the “best loved places”– like New Orleans or Charleston– are totally appealing, this book will explain it perfectly.

And do not be put off that this took me weeks to read. It really had very little to do with the book. First of all, I’ve gotten busy with a voter registration project that has significantly cut into my reading time (Not registered? There’s still time– but hurry!! www.voterforchange.com) and second of all, by the time I fall into bed and do have some (a little) time to read, I am usually too tired to stick with it for long. Many apologies for the delay- I will make it up to you soon. I’m picking a quick read next, I promise. And for those of you wondering if the entire 50 books premise is in danger… I don’t think so. Not yet, anyway.

I promise I will be back very soon with a new post – I am pages away from finishing my current book.

So come back soon to read about what I’ve been up to! And the lessons I’ve learned from picking a non-fast read the same time that I am working on a big voter-registration project….