Monday, July 28, 2008

Book Smart

I've been a fan of body+soul magazine for a while now, even though it sometimes tends to get a little too granola for me. But I really do end up with a few takeaways from every issue. One of my faves was a recipe for roasted asparagus and poached eggs. YUM!

This weekend I came across an article on a subject I honestly haven't thought about before. While I try to consider myself environmentally friendly; I recycle, bring my own bags to the grocery store and get very angry with people who cut down trees, I never thought about all the trees that were lost to make one of my favorite things: books. Currently, I get most of my books from the library or borrow from friends because I just don't have the space for a wonderful collection. But I aspire to have a killer library of my own someday.

I tried to find this short article online with no luck. But it's good enough to share, so here it is, word-for-word:

"The United States consumes an average of roughly 30 million trees a year to make books. Some smaller publishers offer eco-options – a recycled paper Bible from Thomas Nelson, for instance – and now major publishing houses are following suit. Scholastic, which printed the last Harry Potter installment on 30 percent recycled paper, has teamed up with the Rainforest Alliance, committing to use paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for up to 30 percent of its pages by 2012. Random House has pledged to produce at least 30 percent of its pages from recycled material by 2010, a move that will spare an estimated 550,000 trees per year. Not to be left out, Simon & Schuster recently committed to boosting its recycled-paper content to 25 percent or more by 2012, and to ship its merchandise to retailers in cartons made from 100 percent recycled material."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Abstinence Teacher

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta. Great title. Book jacket drew me instantly. I borrowed this one on 9 CDs from the library. And wow, it really started out great.

Ruth is a sex ed teacher who doesn't hold back her views that sex is OK. Unfortunately this is constantly getting her in trouble with the principal and The Tabernacle down the street. Her daughter is on a soccer team that is coached by Tim, a member of the evangelical Christian church. When they win an important game, Tim encourages the girls to kneel down and pray with him. Ruth goes completely ballistic, stops the prayer session and later tries to get Tim fired from the team. Tim is a very likable yet extremely flawed character. He is a former stoner guitar player who turned to Jesus to save his own life. The preacher of the church more or less convinces Tim to marry another member of the Tabernacle, and Tim does so, but is now filled with doubt and regret. The first half of the book is spent setting up the characters and explaining the lives of both Tim's and Ruth's exes. The sexual tension is high and I was eager to find out where all this would end up. But a little more than halfway through, I was not nearly as interested in what was happening as I started out. The plot almost started to fall apart. When Ruth's children decide they would like to learn more about religion and attend church with some friends, her attitude bordered on irrational and I completely turned against her. She was a mess. Tim on the other hand got more interesting as he began to stray from his faith. The two had an obvious attraction, but I didn't want to see them together. The end also left quite a few loose ends, but I didn't continue to think of the possible outcomes after I was finished listening to the last CD. I don't normally love books with big bows around the ending, because it gives me a chance to formulate my own opinions, but I guess when it came to the end of this one, I didn't much care.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008


I have to first start out by saying how sad it is to me that since I returned from vacation nearly eight weeks ago that I've only read two books. I have to keep in mind those glorious mornings is Mexico when I woke up and headed straight to the pool with a book in my hand. What could be better?! I can also dream of the next time I have nothing to do all day but read, read read.

Secondly, since I don't always think my reviews are very informative, I am going to start rating each book. Most of the time I just want to share my opinion to get others intrigued to read, but I'm not necessarily giving the best overview of the plot. Maybe the rating system will be another persuasive touch.

On to Taft published in 1994 by my one of favorite authors, Ann Patchett. Somehow this one slipped under my radar, as it appears to be her first novel. So with that said, I can feel comfortable with saying that this was my least favorite of her works. John Nickel is an ex-jazz musician who runs a bar in Memphis. He has a 9-year old son with a woman he never married (and who now refuses to marry him) and they have moved away to Miami. John's life seems to be full of regret, although his love for his son is written clearly and plainly. John hires a too-young waitress named Faye and it isn't long before he is fully involved in her life. Faye's father is dead and she and her younger brother live with their aunt and uncle. Carl is 11 months younger than Faye; they are both still in high school (a fact she initially lied about to get the job). This is where the story starts to take an unpleasant turn for me. Faye begins to fall for John. I can't say that this part is unbelievable since young girls fall for older men all the time. But when he reciprocates feelings for her I get annoyed. His life is somewhat of a mess and falling for a 17-year old seems too far-fetched for me.

Carl is a drug addict and a dealer and throughout the whole story does nothing but disappoint and hurt John. Yet John still feels this displaced loyalty to him and continues to bail him out of trouble. Carl is so unlikeable that I really wanted to see John kick him to the curb. The compassion he felt for these kids was not understandable to me at all.

Woven in between the chapters is a flashback of sorts of the kids' life with their father, Taft. At first it's unclear whether this is really the truth or if it's John's imagination bringing the story to life. I have to admit that I wasn't too interested in either scenario and it was almost too confusing and disruptive to the story to be of enough interest.

Like I said, Patchett is by far one of my favorite authors. But that doesn't mean I have to love every single thing she writes. Being her first novel, I'm completely fine with saying I read it and move on. Mainly because I have beautiful novels like Bel Canto and The Patron Saint of Liars to remember as two of my favorites.

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