Books I Want to Read in 2013

OK – here is a new intention I am setting for myself. Do whatever is necessary to read at least a handful of good books this year. So far I think I want to give these a try, I’ve ranked them in my order of preference, for my own future reference):

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

NW by Zadie Smith

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Dear Life by Alice Munro

Phantom by Jo Nesbo

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

There that is MORE than enough to get started. If I get through half of these, I will be amazed.

Good Books in Bad Times

Based on the premise that “books are friends, therapists, healing tonic, and … ‘life-affirming'”, HarperCollins has started a new blog called  I learned about it today from the Christian Science Monitor, one of my favorite papers.  There are all types of categories of books you can look through, so check it out if you don’t know about it already.


OK, it looks like I am quickly becoming something of a knitnut. Maybe it’s because most of my life I wished I knew how to knit and now that I am actually doing it, I can’t believe it. Or maybe its the pace and rhythm of knitting that is so appealing to me. Maybe it’s because I find knitting to be a completely absorbing and totally relaxing hobby. Maybe it’s just the sparkle and shine of a new toy, a new infatuation. Perhaps it’s some undecipherable combination of all of the above. Whatever it is, I’m pretty much hooked. H said to me something along the lines of “Is it good to have 5 projects all going at once when you are only a beginner?” A valid question, to be sure. But since when I have always taken the most rational approach?

Last night my friend Anne came over after work and we had dinner together and she and I took off to check out the Yarn Cafe in Maple Grove. The web site looked so interesting. Sadly, the store, for the most part, left me unimpressed and uninspired. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the staff lady was very nice and very helpful. But, for instance, we were there to buy some double-pointed knitting needles because my friend was going to show me how to start making socks. They didn’t have the first pair of size 1.5 or 2s in the whole store. They had a few 0s and 1s, but then most of their stock jumped to size 3.5 or 5. And the selection of sock yarn? In a word, disappointing. No, that’s not emphatic enough. Dismall – that’s better.

We soon left and after calling and making a few wrong turns, ended up at Amazing Threads which completely lives up to the expectation implied in its name. I saw at least two dozen things I really, really, really wanted to buy. And the most scrumptious, delicious, feasting-on-color selections of yarns I’ve encountered. Never mind how far away it is from me (and it’s not that bad since it’s a straight shot up 169), I am craving to go back to this shop again. Two of the nicest and most helpful salespeople I’ve encountered lately combined with the stunning collection to create a true experience. You can rest assured I will be back there to shop the next time I need yarn. I will still shop at Needlework Unlimited in Edina simply because they are close, convenient, have a huge selection, and I have their frequent-shopper card.

Meanwhile, in for a penny, in for a pound. I’ve contacted The Knitters Guild and plan to attend their September meeting and maybe even join – especially now that I am re-upping with my fiber groups like Minnesota Quilters. Yesterday my copy of this book arrived and I’m enjoying reading it and getting ideas for future patterns. iPod cozy anyone? I’m still waiting on Debbie Bliss’s Baby Knits for Beginners to arrive after looking at my quilt buddy Karen’s copy last weekend on the quilt retreat.

But I really need to get back and finish those three scarves I have going on, the Einstein Coat from Sally Melville’s book and the socks I got started last night.

Oh, and how could I forget. Three news sites to report are now in my favorites.


Men Who Knit


But I’m not obsessive-compulsive about this knitting thing, right?

Next Up On The Bookstand

Now you knows I loves me some salty food. Yes I do! Sometimes I just crave something salty, like some hot french fries or potato chips. And, of course, I have an unhealthy love of salting my food gently. Now those of you who know Harald know that he can’t stand salty things, for the most part. Well, at least one of us has made that particularly healthy decision. But I’m finding this particular book, Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky and fun and interesting read. As Anthony Bourdain says, this book is “a must have for any serious cook or foodie.”

From the publisher’s web site comes this: “Mark Kurlansky, the bestselling author of Cod and The Basque History of the World, here turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions. Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Kurlansky’s kaleidoscopic history is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece.”

Next On The Bookstand

I don’t think you have to be either religious or questioning religion to enjoy reading this memoir. If she preaches anything like she writes, then I know why Barbara Brown Taylor was once selected as one of the top 12 preachers in the English language by Baylor University. Even on my best days, I very rarely approach the kind of personal insight that Taylor seemingly accomplishes with ease in this book. It’s a very good and fast read, her story of how she came to immerse herself in the ministry of the church, and how and why she left that same ministry to pursue teaching.

On The Bookstand

I’ve gotten my large shipment of summer reading from Amazon. I have so much that I must read during school year that when summer comes, it seems a pure luxury to me to read what I want, when I want, as slow as I want. I’ll periodically post here about books I’m reading.

First up is a book on a subject very close to me. You all know that I was adopted at birth and that in 1998 I reunited with my birth mother, Barbara, after a blessedly short search. Although Barbara and I have spoken some about what it was like for her during her pregnancy with me, I really didn’t have an accurate understanding of what it must have been like for her. One book will crack your heart wide open with compassion for those women who relinquished children to adoption. It is “The Girls Who Went Away : The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade” by Ann Fessler. It’s a gripping book, every page full of poignancy, based on over 100 oral histories of women who became pregnant and placed their children for adoption in the 50s and 60s. See what The New York Times, National Public Radio, Mother Jones and other well respected journalists are talking about.

Finished Reading

Yesterday was my last final in modern European history from 1789-1949. I like this professor so much, but because of things happening around me I wasn’t able to be as prepared as I wanted to be. I think I did OK on the objective and short answers part of the final. The last cumulative essay question – I don’t know. Since the final is only 20% of the grade and I did really well on the other four portions of the grade, I’m hoping to still pull an A out of it.

The last book we read and which I finished only hours before the final was Gerda Weissman Klein’s “All But My Life,” the justifiably famous Holocaust account of her years in Polish labor camps where she was spared from certain death because of her abilities as a textile worker. I always find these Holocaust memoirs a gut wrenching read, but in a way they carry a stubborn hope within them, given as they naturally would be only by those who survived. There is a part of me that feels like I have to read them to bear witness to the lives whose stories could never be told in the first person. For purely personal reasons, I identified with Klein when she wrote that survival is at once an exalted privilege and a terrible burden. I understood that feeling. All I can say is that if you haven’t read this book and have any appreciation for reading Holocaust memoirs, please pick up this book and read it. It won’t be easy, but you’ll be glad you did.

If you don’t know about Gerda & Kurt Klein and want to learn more, these sites will help:

There are many more. I’d suspect that you would find material at the Yad Vashem web site in their archives and in other places as well.