Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Dog Stars

I first heard about The Dog Stars by Peter Heller in an interview with Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven. It was one of the books that inspired her. I thoroughly enjoyed Station Eleven so I thought I would give The Dog Stars a chance and I am so glad that I did. 

It is a heart breaking book with sweet tender moments about loss, love, and the ties we form with people. One of my favorite little bits of the book Hig, the narrator describes making up constellations. There is something romantic about that to me and it seems like it could be fun.
Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. His wife is gone, his friends are dead, he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, his only neighbor a gun-toting misanthrope. In his 1956 Cessna, Hig flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life—something like his old life—exists beyond the airport. Risking everything, he flies past his point of no return—not enough fuel to get him home—following the trail of the static-broken voice on the radio. But what he encounters and what he must face—in the people he meets, and in himself—is both better and worse than anything he could have hoped for.

Narrated by a man who is part warrior and part dreamer, a hunter with a great shot and a heart that refuses to harden, The Dog Stars is both savagely funny and achingly sad, a breathtaking story about what it means to be human.
-Amazon Description

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Neat Combophotos

This Neatoram post shared the simple collages by Stephen McMennamy known as  #Combophotos. They are simple, silly and fun.
The van roller skate combo tickled me. There is a whimsical element that I love about the photos. Check more out on the #combophotos instagram

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Parfum de la mort

Scent is a strong thing, it can evoke a memory, make you hungry, feel safe, or attracted to someone. To this day when I smell scotch tape it reminds me of Christmas. It always brings me back to a specific Christmas taping lights in a window. Sometimes when I smell something and it tickles a memory that I just can't place. It will bug me until I wake up in the middle of the night and finally remember.  The smell of my boyfriend makes me feel relaxed, loved and safe. I would miss that smell if something were to happen to him.
A woman who lost her husband kept his pillowcase to smell him, gave her daughter, Katia Apalategui the idea to bottle a person's scent. She got together with Le Havre University and they have worked out a technique to do just that.
Read more here.

Read about another interesting study on smell and political leanings here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
 An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
-Amazon Description

One of my favorite style of story to read is post apocalyptic/dystopian. One of the things that separates Station Eleven is it's overall sense of hopefulness unlike most stories in that style, a la  Cormac Mccarthy's The Road (straight up heartbreak). While it does have its hard moments they are not over whelming to the spirit of the story and it was filled with small moments of beauty. 

 On Day Five they broke into the gift shop, because some people had no clean clothes, and after that, at any given moment half of the population was dressed in bright red or blue Beautiful Northern Michigan T-shirts. They washed their clothes in the sinks, and everywhere Clark turned he saw laundry hanging to dry on the backs of benches. The effect was oddly cheerful, like strings of bright flags.
I was reading by electric light in air conditioned room and still I missed the conveniences the older characters reminisced about before the Georgia Flu. It made me really think about how it would be without all the little things we take for granted everyday. At one point in the story a couple characters debate whether it is worth teaching children how life was before. Is it? 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

6/11/2015 Five Interesting Books that Crossed My Desk

Find Me by Laura Van Den Berg
  After two acclaimed story collections, Laura van den Berg brings us Find Me, her highly anticipated debut novel--a gripping, imaginative, darkly funny tale of a young woman struggling to find her place in the world.

Joy has no one. She spends her days working the graveyard shift at a grocery store outside Boston and nursing an addiction to cough syrup, an attempt to suppress her troubled past. But when a sickness that begins with memory loss and ends with death sweeps the country, Joy, for the first time in her life, seems to have an advantage: she is immune. When Joy's immunity gains her admittance to a hospital in rural Kansas, she sees a chance to escape her bleak existence. There she submits to peculiar treatments and follows seemingly arbitrary rules, forming cautious bonds with other patients--including her roommate, whom she turns to in the night for comfort, and twin boys who are digging a secret tunnel.

As winter descends, the hospital's fragile order breaks down and Joy breaks free, embarking on a journey from Kansas to Florida, where she believes she can find her birth mother, the woman who abandoned her as a child. On the road in a devastated America, she encounters mysterious companions, cities turned strange, and one very eerie house. As Joy closes in on Florida, she must confront her own damaged memory and the secrets she has been keeping from herself.
-Amazon Description

The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley

Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author Jane Smiley’s The Greenlanders is an enthralling novel in the epic tradition of the old Norse sagas.Set in the fourteenth century in Europe’s most farflung outpost, a land of glittering fjords, blasting winds, sun-warmed meadows, and high, dark mountains, The Greenlanders is the story of one family–proud landowner Asgeir Gunnarsson; his daughter Margret, whose willful independence leads her into passionate adultery and exile; and his son Gunnar, whose quest for knowledge is at the compelling center of this unforgettable book. Jane Smiley takes us into this world of farmers, priests, and lawspeakers, of hunts and feasts and long-standing feuds, and by an act of literary magic, makes a remote time, place, and people not only real but dear to us. -Amazon Description

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
(I love the name.)
In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart. –Amazon Description

Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck by Thug Kitchen

Thug Kitchen started their wildly popular web site to inspire people to eat some Goddamn vegetables and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Beloved by Gwyneth Paltrow ("This might be my favorite thing ever") and named Saveur's Best New Food blog of 2013--with half a million Facebook fans and counting--Thug Kitchen wants to show everyone how to take charge of their plates and cook up some real f*cking food.
Yeah, plenty of blogs and cookbooks preach about how to eat more kale, why ginger fights inflammation, and how to cook with microgreens and nettles. But they are dull or pretentious as hell--and most people can't afford the hype.
Thug Kitchen lives in the real world. In their first cookbook, they're throwing down more than 100 recipes for their best-loved meals, snacks, and sides for beginning cooks to home chefs. (Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos? Pumpkin Chili? Grilled Peach Salsa? Believe that sh*t.) Plus they're going to arm you with all the info and techniques you need to shop on a budget and go and kick a bunch of ass on your own.
This book is an invitation to everyone who wants to do better to elevate their kitchen game. No more ketchup and pizza counting as vegetables. No more drive-thru lines. No more avoiding the produce corner of the supermarket. Sh*t is about to get real. -Amazon Description

What if? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
 (book, audiobook, and DAD player available)
Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe’s iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following.

Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there was a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?

In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, complemented by signature xkcd comics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion.

The book features new and never-before-answered questions, along with updated and expanded versions of the most popular answers from the xkcd website. What If? will be required reading for xkcd fans and anyone who loves to ponder the hypothetical. –Amazon Description

 All of these items are available to be place on hold here.