Law and Conversation

February 15, 2013

3 wonderful website reasons why I don’t always read a book a week

One of my goals for 2013 is to read at least 52 books. In 2012, I averaged just under a book a week. That is a fair amount of reading, though it’s only fair to note that most of my choices were not 500+ page epics. But for this year, I’d like to achieve the congruency of 52 books in 52 weeks. Plus, I’m always looking to improve on my past performance.

With a substantial chunk of commuting time available every day, why didn’t I read more books last year?

Surfing the ‘net may have a bad name, but there’s a LOT of wonderful writing in cyberspace, and mobile devices facilitate finding it even in transit. Here are three great websites that I found only toward the end of 2012, on occasions when I was a bit too tired to decide to focus on a nice, old-fashioned book: A colleague told me about this wonderful site that aggregates long form journalism from publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, New York magazine, Esquire, Outside, The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books,….I could go on and on, but why not just click on over and check out the 300+ pages of article links for yourself? Jodi Ettenberg is a lawyer from Canada who quit her BigLaw job in New York in 2008 to travel the world and she’s still going. She explains how she made her decision here. She loves food, too, and has learned how to enjoy wonderful international cuisine, especially from street vendors, even with celiac disease. Like Ettenberg, Angie Orth, whose background is public relations, quit her job in NYC to travel the world. That was in 2010. She, too, is still going. She describes how she maintains her globetrotting life here. Bottom line: she works her behind off and loves it. Her writing, like Ettenberg’s, has a strong, positive, and well-grounded voice. The photos on both blogs are gorgeous.

True, I’ve found a certain amount of junk along with the gems, but it doesn’t take long to hit the X button or delete. I count as well spent the time I’ve enjoyed reading and learning from posts and articles on each of those sites, as well as posts on other sites I found through them, not to mention assorted other interesting folk I follow on Twitter who write on matters other than travel. I don’t keep track of those articles, nor of the print journalism or short stories I read, but it’s a lot!

Screens lure many of us, including me, away from books. But one of my 2013 resolutions is to meet the book-a-week goal. So far I’m keeping up with it, possibly in part because I haven’t visited any of those wonderful sites above since the winter holidays. Here’s what I’ve read in the way of books so far:

A Widow’s Story—Joyce Carol Oates (memoir)

Cleveland—Harvey Pekar (graphic novel)

Peeling the Onion—Gunter Grass (memoir)

The Enchanted April—Elizabeth von Arnim (light classic)

My Brilliant Friend—Elena Ferrante (modern lit, Europa Editions)

The Caliph’s House—Tahir Shah (travel memoir)

My Berlin Child–Anna Wiazemsky (modern lit, Europa Editions)

I’d recommend all of these very different books without reservation and hope to post about most of them this year.

My #FridayReads is a return to Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall,” which I started and set aside after a couple hundred pages. What’s yours, and what are your reading goals this year?

August 24, 2011

3 summer reads about Paris, and a giveaway

Earlier this week I recommended Anna Gavalda’s “French Leave” and posted a link to my review of the novella on The Europa Challenge Blog. As summer draws to a close, here are three more light, fun books with Parisian settings for the lawyer who needs to look up after hours from deadly serious briefs and cases, or for anyone else looking for something that’s not extra work to read:

1) “Le Divorce,” “Le Mariage,” and L’Affaire,” by Diane Johnson, a US Midwestern-born (Quad Cities, USA!) writer who now lives in Paris. It’s been a while since I read these interrelated novels, but I remember them fondly for their twisty plots, engaging characters, and entertaining descriptions of French and US cultures meeting at odd angles and what seemed to my US eyes the arcane French laws respecting property. “Le Divorce” was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Awards.

2) “French Milk,” by Lucy Knisley. This graphic memoir about the young author’s monthlong trip to Paris with her mother is charming without being cloying.

3) The City Of Lights has inspired many memoirs. Of those I’ve read, the most evocative and beautifully written has to be Ernest Hemingway’s “The Moveable Feast.” A new edition came out two years ago, somewhat controversially. Though I’ve read the original edition, also posthumously published, several times, every time I think of it I want to read it again.

Europa Editions is doing a book giveaway over on The Europa Challenge Blog, and I get extra entries for blogging about and linking to it! Please click on over and enter yourself, and while you’re there, read some of the reviews of the wonderful books that Europa publishes.

Are you reading anything fun these late summer days?

November 24, 2010

3 graphic travel memoirs

Filed under: Books and writing,graphic novels,memoirs,travel — Helen Gunnarsson @ 10:23 am
Tags: , , ,

A week after I decided to dedicate Wednesdays to posts recommending three stories linked together by some common theme, I noticed that NPR is doing the same thing.  There are some great themes:  gossip, family secrets, and France, to name just a few.

To continue my recent series of posts on graphic novels, I’m focusing on graphic travel memoirs today.  Each book below is beautifully drawn and enables you to see the country as the author did.

1) Pyongyang, by Guy DeLisle.  Account of the author’s trip to the North Korean capital.  DeLisle blogs here in French.

2) Carnet de Voyage, by Craig Thompson.  Travel diary of the author’s trip to Europe, with a side trip to Morocco, to promote his graphic memoir, Blankets.

3) Burma Chronicles, also by Guy DeLisle.

What travel books, graphic or not, do you recommend?

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