Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ROADTRIP RECOMMENDS: The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree is a straightforward ladies garden club mystery, although the setting -- early 1930s Alabama -- is an interesting departure from the usual. The cast of characters is wonderful, the story easy to follow, but with entertaining twists. Although some sensitive subjects are addressed (adultery and... sugar daddies), they are done well -- and talked about as 1930s Alabama ladies would talk -- and shouldn't be any harm for kids listening. Great first book in what looks like a promising series. *Check your local library for holdings in your area.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ON THE RADIO: Stuff You Should Know

Ever wondered how stuff works? There's a website for that, and this podcast is one of many derivatives. Everything from the ninja to the sun is covered in a fun, entertaining way by hosts Josh and Chuck. They are especially responsive to young fans, so this is a great listen if you are roadtripping as a family. And on the rare occasion there's something not so family friendly (ninja ARE assassins, after all), the hosts are great about giving a heads up. Make sure to take a look at the other offerings from How Stuff Works as well.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Travel writing

My Kindle battery died during a wonderful Walk in the Woods with Bill Bryson, and instead of trying to read a PDF book on my laptop (my laptop is annoyingly old, and the battery no longer works, so I tend to think of it like our family's first VCR, which had a wired -- not wireless -- "remote". I use the word "remote" in quotes because it was more like a really, really close. Only unlike that VCR, I still have to use this laptop), I picked up Eat Love Pray again.

As a person who's now a self-imposed-on-you travel writer, I'm looking at a whole new genre I never really paid much attention to before: of course, travel writing. Even though it's become almost a cliche now, I very much enjoyed Eat Love Pray when I first read it a couple of years ago. And, to be honest, the movie as well. I read the book as part of a mom's book club, and I always remember the woman who led the book club saying she didn't believe the book was a real memoir because who wouldn't just TELL their husband what she wanted (assuming, in her way, that then it would be so). I instantly felt sorry for her husband, but I didn't expect to learn a lot about myself through the book, and I didn't that first time.

Today, I came to the part about each city having a word that describes it. And Elizabeth Gilbert concludes that she'll feel at home where her word matches the city's word. What a fun game. One of the characters asks, What is your town's word? What's your family word? STRENGTH, I think immediately. In my family, strength is everything.

But then my thoughts turned to the only city in which I have ever truly felt at home, and a different word pressed itself on me so immediately and so crushingly, I could have been Kevin Bacon sitting alone in a darkened movie theater.

Instantly, the tears and emotion, the exhaustion, of that word overwhelmed me. I realized my family word -- my word -- is not STRENGTH, but ENDURE.