Friday, December 26, 2008

Road Trip??

Holy cow, what an opportunity!

I just went back to the website for Eat, Love, Pray to read a bit more detail about and by the author, Elizabeth Gilbert. And guess what? She is going to be within reasonable driving distance in February.

Here's the scoop: as part of the Portland Literary Arts Lecture Series Ann Patchett & Elizabeth Gilbert will be speaking on Tuesday, February 10th 7:30 p.m.

Tickets cost $12.00 - $28.00

This is what the info on the website says:

"The two writers will share our Portland stage to discuss friendship and the writing process. Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Gilbert met a few years ago at a writers’ conference and have since developed a friendship, primarily through letter writing. This very special event brings these two authors on stage for the first time to engage the audience and each other in an exploration of creativity.

Ann Patchett’s books include The Magician’s Assistant (1998); Bel Canto (2002); Truth and Beauty (2004), a memorial tribute to her friend and fellow writer Lucy Grealy; and Run (2007). Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of the short story collection Pilgrims (1997); The Last American Man (2002); and the New York Times best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love (2006).

All single tickets are sold at the PCPA Box Office and are general admission.

Reserved seating is only available through Portland Arts & Lectures with a series subscription. Portland Arts & Lectures: 224 NW 13th Ave. Ste.306; (503)227-2583;"

Then Gilbert will be following that appearance with a solo gig in Seattle on Feb 12 - but that one is considerably more spendy (Tickets for that event at University of Washington are $30-$60).

HMMMM... I have gone to book readings and signings in the past and NEVER paid for a ticket to be there. I'm not sure how typical this is in the book world.

Still, I'm sorely tempted to go to the event in Portland. Rozel, any chance you could come? Pat? Mimi? Andrea?

Let me know if any of you have any interest. It could be one blast of a road trip. Food for thought anyway.

Diving In

When entering a swimming pool some folks tentatively dangle their toes, then SLOWLY inch their way in with many a sharp intake of breath as the water hits tender places. Others just dive right in. Which are you? With me, temperature makes all the difference. In cold water I'm reticent, forcing myself into submersion inch by excruciating inch. In warmer water I take the sudden plunge.

Likewise, with reading, some books seem to invite me to just jump into them with wild abandon, immediately immersing myself into the world between the pages. Other books I wrestle with, fitfully starting and stopping, initially holding back my full engagement. But what makes the difference? What criteria establishes the "temperature" for how I relate to the printed word?

Part of it, I suppose, is WHY I chose the book. Is it something that will be good for me, like vitamins and a high fiber diet? Something I SHOULD read? (ugh!) Part of it is basic style of the book.

I will admit I was feeling a teensy bit reticent about starting our January book - Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It would not have been my first choice. But I had the book on hand, so I agreed to begin there. What was the source of these niggling reservations I had about this book? Well, some of the people who I had heard rave about the book in the past were...let's just say a little bit OUT THERE metaphysically speaking. That gave me pause. And I really wasn't sure how interested I would be to read about one woman's ongoing navel gazing as she tries to find meaning and balance in life after a messy divorce.

But I have a few days off for the holidays so I decided I'd go ahead and jump in.

I'm about 45 pages into the book so far, and suprisingly, I am finding myself positively DELIGHTED by the pace and tone of what I am reading. Some of the sentences are positively delicious. Some of the passages so closely describe some of my own private feelings and fears it is as if the author had been rooting around in my underwear drawer. Clearly, this is a book I can relate to.

These are some of the tidbits I have particularly savored:

"I could remain totally celbate except for keeping a pair of handsome twenty-five-year-old Italian twin brothers as lovers. Which was slightly reminiscent of a freind of mine who is vegetarian except for bacon." (Gilbert p 8)

"Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it's what you want before you commit." (Gilbert p 9)

"he was still my lighthouse and my albatross in equal measure. The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying." (Gilbert p 12)

Where I really found myself smacked between the eyes with self recognition comes over on the 14th segment - page 42-43. Man, oh man, did I see myself in those words...

So ladies (or gents, as the case may be) any of you who are reading this with us, let's get going cause I REALLY want to talk about this with some of you and get your perspective.

Go ahead, Dive right in.

Hi, My Name Is:

So I guess this is the part where I introduce myself. I hate introductions. I always feel like a deer in headlights, or worse, like a deer in taillights. I always feel like I am the most uninteresting creature to ever be given breath. Boring. Uninspiring. Inconsequential. I usually toy with the idea of lying, creating completely bogus tidbits of information to tantalize my audience's imagination (think Nobel Peace Prize-type accolades). Then I remember that I'm not in grade school anymore, so I needn't worry whether or not I'm interesting enough for the other kids to want to pick me first for kickball. But still, it would be nice to come up with one original thing to say about myself that would leave listeners (/readers) with the feeling that they know me. Instead, it usually goes something like this:

Hi, my name is Andrea. I am twenty-__. I am married with three kids and an 84-year old. In my former life (as in before kids/responsibilities) I loved art, learning, creating, and reading.

Boring, right? Well, now I can add this:

I participate in an online book club!

This year I resolved to re-explore my former (and much-neglected) interests, which has proven quite satisfying so far. I am hoping that this book club will be just the motivation I need to magnify my reading experiences, and spur me to try new genres. Oh, and if it means I can "talk" through my thoughts in blog format, I'm all in!

Cause, if this post isn't enough to convince you, I like to write. And write. And write. See me on the street and just TRY to elicit a response, but give me a keyboard and I won't quit!

Looking forward to getting to know you all!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love

The first book that Page Nibblers will be taking on is Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Ok, I must admit - I can hear some of my friends groaning with rolled eyes to say "OH, it's going to be one of THOSE kind of book clubs. A bunch of women sitting around getting all new age touchy feely. No thanks."

To which I say - now wait a minute, put your stereotype bat down for a minute. I do understand there are many genres of books. Over time we hope to sample a diverse selection. We just happen to be starting with this one. It is my HOPE that when it comes time to read Larry Niven (who I adore) no one will say "I don't read science fiction" and close the door. The whole point of this group of readers is for us to go out of our usual pattern of reading and sample OTHER kinds of book and then talk about what our experience of them was. Fair enough?

For starters, as I begin to read this book I like to know a little bit about the author. If you are interested, you can read her Bio HERE. I was intrigued to learn that the movie Coyote Ugly is based on Gilbert's memoir written for GQ based on her experiences tending bar.

I was also impressed to see she spent over five years trying to break into getting published, kept going and going like the energizer bunny despite all those rejection slips.

I had to stop and wonder what accomplishments I have not had because I quit when the going got tough. HMMM. Maybe there is something I can learn in the pages of this book.

So what is it supposed to be about anyway? Well, the good folks at have this to say:

"In what could be construed as a coming-of-age story for thirtysomethings, Gilbert leaves behind an excruciating divorce, tumultuous affair, and debilitating depression as she sets off on a yearlong quest to bridge the gulf between body, mind, and spirit. Part self-deprecating tour guide, part wry, witty chronicler, Gilbert relates this chapter of her life with a compelling, richly detailed narrative that eschews the easy answers of New Age rhetoric. In the book’s early pages, a flashback finds the smart, savvy, successful Gilbert on her knees on the bathroom floor of the Westchester house she inhabits with her husband, wailing and wallowing in sorrow, snot, and tears (“a veritable Lake Inferior”), awkwardly embarking on her first conversation with God."

Uh, ok. I admit this does NOT make me think oh goody this book is going to be great. It's not the type of stuff I typically read. (Which may explain why it has been sitting on my shelf for MONTHS now and I haven't started it.) But I'm game. I am going to read this book, and then try to look at it with an open mind to decide if it has value for me or not. If not, WHY not? If so, what parts do I savor?

I am going to THINK as I read, I am going to ANALYZE, I am going to COMPARE, I am going to consider this book in ways that go beyond the brain candy distraction I embark on with most espionage novels or murder mysteries.

I might like it. I might not. But I am going to taste it completely, and then make up my mind AFTER I see what it is all about, not make up my mind going in.

So join me if you care to. Get the book at your local library or bookstore and read along with us here. Give your honest opinions of what you liked or didn't like. Remember, I'm just getting started on this, so no spoilers please. But let's talk about it. No matter what you think of the story, discussing WHY you thought that could be fun. So if you are up for it, come along for the ride.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Three Things

When the movie The Bucket List came out, it became very cool to have your own bucket list. As most fads, I tried to stay away. However, the idea intrigued me. So I caved. I wrote my bucket list. On my bucket list was to join a book club, which I did. After two books, the club fizzled. A year later, I revisited my bucket list in order to cross things off and add some newly found desires. I realized that I could not cross "join a book club" off because I was no longer part of one.

I used to LOVE to read. My mom would have to force me to stop reading and go outside and play. Somewhere between then and now my reading has slowed. Some of it I blame on college- who has time to read what you want when you are busily reading a text book? (Or at least reading the bold sections and the summary of the chapter.) Most I blame on the lack of time and these adult things called responsibilities. I am out of college (for now) and my brain truly feels like it is dying. It is mush. I need to expand my horizon. I am more aware, now than ever, that I know nothing. If I read, it is possible that I may learn a little more than nothing.

I am excited for other people to give me something to read because TODAY I realized that I have been stuck in a nonfiction rut. I did cave to a second fad and read the Twilight series. I was surprised how FUN fiction is. I look forward to other suggestions that will surprise me.

In summary: Please don't fizzle, feed my brain, and introduce me to different books.

So Many Books...So Little Time

My dear pal Rozel recently mentioned on her blog that the reading club she had joined up with had fizzled. For a long time now I have been longing to get back into a reading club again. I had a wonderful group that I met with monthly when I lived in Ohio. Alas, that was 20 yrs ago. Where does the time go?

I have allowed my life to get over busy and not carved out enough time for the sweet delicous luxury of reading for fun. I listen to books on CD nearly every day during my commute to and from work, which helps fill the niche somewhat. But it is not the same as curling up in a blanket with a cup of herbal tea with no other distractions, allowing myself to get lost in the language of characters and plot. Or, just as important to me, is to take time to dig deep into a good non-fiction read with the freedom to fully focus, reflect, and consider WITHOUT having to look out for other cars and pay attention to where I am going.

One of my goals for the coming year is to make more time for meaningful reading. But the reality is my life IS very busy. The chances of me meeting on a regular basis with people in the physical world is not likely.

Besides - there are people I know and love who share my passion for reading who do not happen to live where I live. And there are people I have never met who might have something WONDERFUL to contribute to discussions. So Rozel and I decided the best approach would be to fire up a new blog to begin a sort of virtual bookclub.

Obviously we could each just read what we want to read on our own. But both of us enjoy the sharing / discussing part as much as we do the reading itself. I used to work with Rozel at a college we both have left for other options. I miss her. This will be a way we can continue the quirky conversations we both so valued when we were colleagues there. This will also give us both a chance to meet some new friends to kick around thoughts about what we are reading.

We will be reviewing some books, and talking some about general issues related to literature, literacy, genre, and whatever else comes up. It will be interesting to see how it evolves.

Rozel will invite a few of her friends and I'll invite a few of mine, and of course the comment section will be open to anyone who wants to put their two cents in.

We are still kicking around ideas for which books we will be reading for 2009. We've decided to start with Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (mostly because we both have the book and neither one of us has read it yet.) We want to do a mix of different kinds of things...

These are some we are considering:

They Poured Fire on us From the Sky: The Story of Three Lost Boys From Sudan by Benjamin Ajak
Dark Horse: A Political Thriller by Ralph Reed
We the People: A Story of Our Constitution by Lynne Cheney
Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
Escape by Carolyn Jessop
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis


The Wednesday Letters by Jason F Wright
Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Heart is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Ringworld by Larry Niven

This is just a start - the list is deliberatly open for suggestions.
We'd like to mix it up between light and dark, meaty and fun. This will give us each a chance to read books we might otherwise have overlooked.

So here we go on our maiden voyage of the Page Nibblers. I'm most definitely looking forward to it.