I read five books this month. Most memorable are:
–Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld.
A couple Sundays ago, I got to church bleary-eyed, and the glass of wine I had with friends at lunch nearly put me to sleep. I was tired, so tired. Why? Not because baby was up a bunch that night, but because I stayed up late to finish this book. Or at least, tried to finish it. I finally had to admit defeat right before midnight and finish it in the morning.
Eligible is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, part of this series of Austen retellings. The Bennets–all but Lizzy and Jane–live in Cinncinati, Ohio: Kitty and Lydia are Crossfit enthusiasts this time around, Mary is a perpetual student, working on her third master’s degree, and Mrs. Bennet is obsessed with online shopping and marrying off her daughters. When Mr. Bennett has a heart attack, Lizzy (a magazine writer) and Jane (a yoga instructor) come home for the summer. There, Chip Bingley and his friend Fitzwilliam Darcy enter the story…and the rest is (retold) history.
Sittenfield incorporates many of the details I loved so much in the original, but adds some additional twists. One thing I liked is that Sittenfeld took the meanness out of some of the characters, adding some redemption to Kitty and Lydia, who are both shallow, vain, and frankly unlikeable and unredeemable in the original. (Luckily she leaves Caroline Bingley alone–who doesn’t want to see that bitch taken down?) Highly recommend this book if you’re a P&P fan.
–Artemis by Andy Weir.
I loved Weir’s first book, The Martian, with a fiery passion. It’s nerdy and geeky and about growing potatoes on Mars, for crying out loud. So I was very excited about this book, especially since I love heist stories, and this is one. It doesn’t disappoint. Weir is known for his incredibly detailed world building and exhaustive research, and it shows. Artemis is set on the moon and in a tourist economy, welding plays a huge part, and the protagonist is a female Saudi-turned-moon-resident. Go read it if you like space fiction, or science fiction (with the emphasis on science).
–The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.
I read this one mainly because it kept popping up on my Goodreads and Amazon profiles. Sara is a Swedish recluse of sorts, who goes to a tiny town in Iowa called Broken Wheel to visit an internet friend/pen pal of sorts. But when she gets there, her friend has died. She stays on, opens a bookstore, and sets about accidentally revitalizing the town. It’s kind of a bookish chicklit, and I liked it mainly for the way it unabashedly celebrates readers and reading.
A Feminist Advent (Or: That’s What Advent Always Is) by Laura Jean. Advent starts on Sunday, and I have conflicted feelings about it. Advent is both my favorite season in the church year and one that reminds me how male-centric the church still is. I actually have a post planned about Mary and Advent and the way we tell her story: it probably isn’t a surprise to you that I think we sell her short in so many ways.
Several highlights from the linked post:
“It is a woman who proclaims the first Christmas message. It is a woman who cries out that God has not forgotten the poor and the hungry, that God has not ignored the violence of the wealthy and the powerful, that the Kingdom of God is on its way and it is literally growing inside her.
One of the most radical things about the Magnificat is that a woman sings a universal song. … Mary’s song is a fierce, unapologetic, and hopeful battle cry to the coming of the Kingdom of God for all people.” Amen to that.
–The Daily on Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts
I was intrigued by this because I would have totally chosen the Boy Scouts over the Girl Scouts when I was growing up. Much in the same way that I ended up quitting baseball once girls had to move to softball–looking back, I think I would have enjoyed softball, but the mandate that girls had to move to their own league as teenagers frustrated me enough to quit. Well, that and the tendon I tore which led to multiple surgeries and all that. But mostly the other thing.
Anyway, the episode interviews two sisters, one who joined the Boy Scouts, one who stayed with the Girl Scouts, and why they chose what they did. It’s a very kid-focused interview and it’s great.
–Fresh Air did an interview with Patton Oswalt, talking about his career, the loss of his wife, and comedy in general, and also talked to Father Greg Boyle, who works with gang members and ex-convicts in LA (to great success, I might add).
–Pop Culture Happy Hour did an episode on Murder on the Orient Express and cozy mysteries–my love for cozy mysteries knows no bounds so I was all over that.
Black-ish. There was a Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast about it, and I was intrigued enough to finally watch an episode. (Yes, I know I’m several seasons late to the party.) I’m now in season two and loving the Johnson family.
Thor: Ragnarok. My sister babysat while L. and I went out to dinner and then to the movies, and I loved every minute of it. (Well, except the sexualization of the Hella character. Seriously, can we stop doing this thing where women can only draw power from their sexuality?) But the fight scenes were epic and frankly, that’s mostly what I’m looking for in Marvel/superhero movies.
Dissertation writing (almost done!) and playing with this little girl, who is the light of my life at almost four months old. She’s learning new things every day and it fills me with delight to see her grow. Balancing taking care of her and writing my diss is a little hard at times, but I feel so lucky I get to be with her all day, every day.
Getting outside more. I’m still not fully healed from the fourth-degree tear, but I’m slowly getting back to exercising. We went on a hike with friends on Black Friday (#optoutside, thank you REI), and although I was in significant pain that weekend, it felt totally worth it. Mostly because we saw a banana slug eating a banana (so meta!) although the views at the top were great too.