January books

I’ve read three really great books this month.

Books in Jan

The half brother by Lars Saabye Christensen is a a huge story, both figuratively and literally, that focuses on the lives of a family in Norway. It’s really well translated and probably the best thing I’ve read in a long time.

I can’t really think of how to describe this book in a way that will do it any sort of justice. It’s a story about four generations of family. It’s a story about strong women, about weak men and about interesting relationships. It’s also a story about so much more.

If you’re looking for something meaty to sink your teeth into, this is a good one.

Cleaving, by Julie Powell is the book she wrote after Julie & Julia made her a bit famous. It’s mostly about her apprenticeship as a butcher but she also touches on the (many) affairs she had while married. 

I detested the way that both her and her husband were so disloyal to one another. But I was weirdly fascinated by her tales of cutting up animals. The art of butchery really is dying, with meat factories now replacing this old skill.

I started to think that maybe I too wanted to become a butcher. Then Ian reminded me of my inability to enter a butcher shop without gagging. Also, despite my love of cooking, I’ve never EVER touched raw meat. So there’s also that.

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy is a tale of a father and his son, set in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s somehow a terrifying scenario written in a really beautiful, warm way.

Husband recently read this book and was surprised to find himself crying at the end of it. In the 19 odd years I’ve known Ian, I’ve only ever seen him get choked up a couple of times. I knew that if a book could make him cry, it was a book worth reading.

I loved the tenderness between the father and the son. Despite living in a terrible world, they share the most beautiful of relationships. And for me, that’s really what life is all about.

 

 

 

 

 

January online reading

I’ve been reading some really great stuff lately. I’m nothing if not a sharer so I thought I’d give you a few links to peruse.

But first, let’s start with a pretty picture to give you a little mind break before we begin. I love paper cranes.

Paper cranes

Leigh linked to this great article that I recommend you read too. I loved this writer’s perspective about being a stay at home mum and the simultaneous joy and horror it brings.

The crux of this article though is about the type of questions we ask each other. The writer suggests that a caring question is like a key that can unlock a room inside the person you love. Generic questions are kind of like generic gifts, whereas caring questions are more like thoughtful gifts.  If we really want to know each other, if we really care about people, then we need to ask them better questions and really listen to their answers.

I want to try and be better at asking the people I love good questions and really listening to how they answer. New goal!

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I came across this funny post by a food blogger about the 10 food blog trends she think should stop. It made me laugh. In particular, I love her comments about people trying to ‘paleo-ise’ every recipe. Guilty!

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I thought this article about how birth order can affect you personality was interesting. I wonder if my niece, despite being the 4th child in her family, will actually behave more like a 1st child because of the big age gap between her and her siblings. If you’re the eldest child in your family, do you have the traits described in this article? I think I do.

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I have always been a fan of quizzes. Back when I used to buy magazines, they were one of my favourite parts! I’ve done a few online lately that were fun including this one, based on the Harvard Dialect Survey. It guesses where you come from by the types of words you use. It’s US based but was interesting none the less. Apparently I sound like I’m from New York, Providence or Honolulu! I’m actually not sure whether that is good or bad!

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You can do this quiz to test the extent of your vocabulary. I recognised a lot of words but I couldn’t define them all so overall I was a bit disappointed in my score. Do it and tell me how you go! But no cheating!

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In this test, I was very happy with my score! It’s about seeing how well you can read people’s emotions. The theory behind this piece of research is that people who read literary fiction rather than popular fiction are generally better at reading emotions. Apparently this is because literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity. Fascinating!

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And then there’s this little personality test. It consists of just one picture and confirms for me that I am most definitely an introvert!

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If you have time, read this long, but amusing article about the radical honesty movement. I always thought I liked honesty until I saw that Jim Carrey Liar Liar movie. It terrified me! So did this article! I think I’d actually prefer a world of white lies over radical honesty.

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And for all the wanderlust out there (that’s me!), here’s the New York Times list of 52 places to go in 2014. It’s so nicely written. On the list, I’ve been to only 6 places; Christchurch, Scotland, The Vatican, Athens, New Caledonia & Vienna.

Having read this list, I think a third trip to Scotland is in order so I can do the 8-12 day walk across the country!  I also like the look of Indonesia, Iceland, Serbia, the Seychelles and the Faroe Islands.

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I also liked reading about how the travel writers pick the places for the list above.

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Have you read anything lately that you can share with me? Add your links below!