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Subject:"March," Geraldine Brooks
Time:09:37 pm
So this is a book club book that I read at least six months too late. No biggie. It's very intense! Mostly it made me feel incredibly ignorant about the Civil War. This I think is a very bad thing, given how important it is for our history, and especially since it's so easy to be very high-minded about it because of where I live. The book gives an incredibly detailed picture of life in the North and the South wrapped around the literary context of "Little Women." It's a lot, but it's very very good.

Are there any two words in all of the English language more closely twinned than courage and cowardice? I do not think there is a man alive who will not yearn to possess the former and dread to be accused of the latter. one is held to be the apogee of man's character, the other its nadir. And yet, to me, the two sit side by side on the circle of life, removed from each other by the merest degree of arc.
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Subject:"The Little Lady Agency," Hester Browne
Time:09:24 pm
Okay, after reading the third installment in this series that left me feeling really conflicted, I had to at least try the first one. And I do have to say, I feel that I understand the characters a lot better, and was a lot less offended. It's the story of how Melissa founds the Little Lady Agency and puts her own life in order while she's in the process of helping other people. Cute! Although, a little anti-climactic, since I'd already read the most recent installment and knew who she would ultimately end up with.

"No," spluttered Gabi. "He's basically just the new London manager. He's about as much fun as the clap and half as sociable."

"I only recognized you because of that ridiculous wiggle you have when you walk," he admitted. "Especially in that skirt. It's like watching two big men wrestling in a small sack."
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Subject:"The Class," François Bégaudeau
Time:09:07 pm
I have not yet seen the movie this book is based on, although the book is very interesting. The movie, at least, has a reputation as being an unflinching look at socioeconomic divisions, so I was surprised by how aloof the book turned out to be. It's very spare, almost stream-of-consciousness without actually exposing anyone's emotions, with the classic French willful ignorance of ethnic distinctions (no students' backgrounds are explicitly stated, but there are a number of references to the bled and a lot of excitement around a Mali-Morocco soccer game). I think I was expecting a sociological analysis, when really it's a portrait.

"What's that mean, surcummstan, m'sieur?"
"It's a country. There are people who live in Sicrummstan."
"You're always kidding around m'sieur, that's not right."
"'In this circumstance' means in this case, in this situation, here and now, within these walls--in these circumstances, on that wall there."
From the start, Aissatou was listening without joining in. Directly under the full sun, her ears cocked, she concentrated on all the terms of the debate. My whole life I will remember Aissatou.


Mad props to the translator, Linda Asher, by the way. She gets double-billing on the back of the book and she absolutely deserves it.
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Subject:"Certain Girls," Jennifer Weiner
Time:08:56 pm
Okay, so Jennifer Weiner's oeuvre is not one that I'm a huge huge fan of, although I do appreciate how she gave lots of women a voice (while also regretting how some people assume her characters speak for all women). So I figured this would be pretty run-of-the-mill chick-lit, and turned out to be oddly disappointed, at least at first, by its emphasis on mother-daughter relationships. But I found myself extremely interested in the characters, especially the mother, so the book turned out to be decently rewarding, for what it was.

The two of them are always super-polite to each other. They say please and thank you and oh, of course, that will be fine. I suppose it could be worse. Last year Tara Carnahan's mother called her father a rat bastard during parent/teacher conferences, then threw her cell phone at his head, which was a double offense because at the Philadelphia Academy we're supposed to use respectful language at all times, and cell phones aren't allowed.

(and yes, Philadelphia, a pleasant surprise - I recognized some of the street names and landmarks.)
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Subject:Hee. Thanks caitrin, I think ;)
Time:06:43 pm
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Social Nerd
 

You're interested in things such as politics, psychology, child care, and peace. I wouldn't go so far as to call you a hippie, but some of you may be tree-huggers. You're the type of people who are interested in bettering the world. You're possible the least nerdy of them all; unless you participate in other activies that paled your nerdiness compared to your involvement in social activities. Whatever the case, we could still use more of you around. ^_^

Literature Nerd
 
Drama Nerd
 
Artistic Nerd
 
Gamer/Computer Nerd
 
Science/Math Nerd
 
Anime Nerd
 
Musician
 
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
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Subject:"The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts On Reclaiming the American Dream," Barack Obama
Time:06:26 pm
So I finished this a while ago, and mainly I was surprised by how unsurprised I was. By this point I've heard enough of Obama's speeches that none of these ideas were new to me. Way to stay on message, Barack! Maybe all politicians should write books outlining their ideas before they come to the national stage.

Republicans no less than Democrats often asked the courts to overturn democratic decisions (and campaign finance laws) that they didn't like. Still, I wondered if, in our reliance on the courts to vindicate not only our rights but also our values, progressives had lost too much faith in democracy.
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Subject:"When We Were Romans," Matthew Kneale
Time:06:10 pm
This book was sad, sad. It's written from the point of view of a child - I'm still not sure how old - as a child, so there are lots of misspellings and errors, that make it read authentically. The ending is predictable, but that doesn't mean I wanted to see it happen. Imagining hearing it all in the voice of a nine-year-old English boy made it seem that much more real, and so more tragic.

Oska was very thin with black hair and he only played his guitar a bit sometimes, so it was like he was talking with it actually, it said "oh yes" or "no I don't think so" he was a smiley guitar ferrit. Marther said "your all staying in Oskas' room actually, he's sleeping down here on the sofa, we so wanted to help you" and mum said "that's so kind, Oska, I really don't know how to thank you" and he didn't say anything, he just smiled and made his guitar go "pling pling pling" like it was saying "thats ok" which was funny.
So I thought "actually you new people are quite nice after all I suppose, even greedy Gus and Marther special monkey" I thought "I'm glad I'm giving you your animals."
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Subject:"An Arsonist's Guide To Writers' Homes In New England," Brock Clarke
Time:05:59 pm
Maybe the best book club book ever. I read the first half while being tattooed, and I still let a good number of giggles out. But there's a lot to think about, and I'm sure we'll have a lot to discuss at book club in a few days!

There is something underwhelming about scholarly hate mail -- the sad literary allusions, the refusal to use contractions -- and so I didn't pay much attention to those letters at all.

The whole house smelled like a perfumed dog, even though my parents had never, to my knowledge, owned a dog, and my mother, to my knowledge, had never worn perfume.

With Thomas and his surprise visit, it had taken me a few minutes to locate my anger, but with the bond analysts and their surprise visit, I'd fallen right into it. I figured that if I kept getting surprise visits, I'd start getting angry beforehand, that the anger would in fact announce the arrival of the surprise visitor and not follow it.
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Subject:"Ransom My Heart," by Princess of Genovia Mia Thermopolis with help from Meg Cabot
Time:05:50 pm
Finally! A cheesy romance with a strong heroine where the heroine doesn't have to grotesquely compromise her identity in order to be able to spend her life with the man she loves. Sure, there were only two sex scenes and it was mainly plot-driven (not a bad thing, just unusual for the genre), but overall I thought it was great! (contrived Princess Diaries links notwithstanding.)

Perhaps it was only that his head was entirely too large for his small, wiry body. Now that she had such a fine specimen of a husband to compare him to, Finnula found Mellana's lover sadly lacking in both muscle tone and body hair. It pained Finnula to think that her sister was forever wedded to such a physical inferior.
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Subject:"The Little Lady Agency and the Prince," Hester Browne
Time:05:42 pm
On the one hand, this book was really fun to read. On the other hand, I think every time I turned a page, feminism died a little bit. There were a lot of chick lit clichés to ignore (about the heroine's figure and her attitude toward it/ignorance of its true appeal, to say nothing of which guy she would eventually end up with), but it was so amusingly written. Few books have left me feeling so conflicted. I know this is one of a series; maybe I'd feel more resolved about it if I'd actually started at the beginning?

I wondered if he'd once been told never to interrupt ladies in conversation or that women liked a listener, or something. You never know what strange male quirks are the result of a misinterpreted magazine article, read in a guest bathroom somewhere at the age of fifteen.

However, when I woke up on Monday morning, the very thought of going into work pinned me to the pillows. The Elephant of Depression wasn't just parked on my chest, it was relaxing there with the Walrus of Gloom and the Hippo of Bleak Friday Nights in Alone. They had beers. They were settling in.
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