Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The week or so in books and some whining

It's slowly dawning on me that I'm probably going to be too lazy/busy to compile the 13 things I'm thankful for today/tomorrow, and the old blog has been a bit light on content the last few days, so I bring you a recap of my week in book acquisitions and a special bloggish Dear Abby letter.

I gave up on The Alienist. I'm not proud of it, nor am I proud of the exboritant amount of money I then I had to put out to ship said initially free book to the fair country of Australia (almost $10 - and that's not as bad as I thought it was going to be). I read about 150 pages trying desperately to become interested enough to want to continue, but being a spoiled instant gratification-craving modern American I couldn't help repeatedly thinking that I could get the equivalent of this story minus the historical atmosphere (which I found to include not quite enough gentle shaping of the environment and a little too much boring info-dumping on the part of Carr's narrator) on this week's or any week's episode of Criminal Minds. Criminal Minds is one of the two TV shows on of late that I would say is a "can't miss," for me, at least. So off The Alienist has gone to Australia, with nary a regret from me except for the the regret that comes with emptying my bank account.

This week's reading includes a copy of After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell which I've heard much good about, interspersed with a few sparkley ARCs from Elle Magazine. Last year I had the privilege of taking part in their Reader's Prize program and read a few great books as a result, and, of course, a few duds, too. Happily, when I came crawling back asking to play again, they said yes and sent me three of the above-mentioned sparkly ARCs with the promise of 5 more sparkly brand new hardbacks come next summer and the potential to be published on the shiny pages of Elle magazine which is always a nice rush. My joy and happiness at receiving these books in the mail was slightly tempered by the fact that the first of the books I've deigned to read appears to be bona fide chick lit. I guess I lucked out last year by not receiving any really real chick lit. And I loathe really real chick lit - which can be defined as any chick lit that can't make me feel like I'm not reading chick lit. Loathe it. The shallow characters! The name dropping! The superficialty of it all! Argh! I will try to get a grip and give it a fair shake, but I'm sure it will be a bit of struggle if it continues on as it has begun. Speaking of struggles, in order to not anger the fine folks at Elle who send me shiny books and on occasion put my writing and my name in their magazine, I probably should withhold my reviews from here until they've published the March magazine. Which is why I'm attempting the reading of two books at once, which I've done before but with dubious consequences. Stay tuned to see how and if it turns out.

In other exciting book news, I managed to end up with The Book Thief in a BookObsessed historical fiction swap last week. I've heard so many great things about this book, and can't wait to get my hands on it! Also, I managed to win one of the raffles at Love of Reading during their online book fair, which if I were a decent sort of blogger I really would have gotten around to posting the link before it was over instead of I'll pause here for a moment so you can throw rotten vegetables at me, and then will gleefully announce that I'm expecting a copy of Ask Now the Beasts to arrive on my doorstep thanks to them sometime in the nearish future.

Of course, all the happiness wrought by books in my life is overshadowed by the struggles of this thing we call real life where distant relatives are passing away causing funerals and memorial events to coincide with major holidays, pets are sick, and Thanksgiving lurks over my shoulder. Thanksgiving, yes, that brings me to the next part of my lengthy post of randomness which will take the form of a Dear Abby letter. I'll expect all of my readers' wise responses within the next few hours so that I'll still have time to solve all my life's problems before sitting down to enjoy my turkey dinner.

Dear Abby,

I am really close to my family and as tradition dictates, when holidays come around we have fantastically large and tantalizingly awesome family get-togethers. Thanksgiving is hosted by my very own mother in our very own house which, is, I'll have you know, not all that large. I also have a friend whom I view as practically a sister who I have kept close in touch with for something like the last 10 years. Having been invited to and attended Thanksgiving dinner with my family once, she now makes it a point and a tradition to come to dinner every year. This is fine. As a matter of fact, at first we were honored to be her second family and be graced with her presence as we were giving her something she hadn't experienced in her own family. However as the years have passed, this has become increasingly burdensome as she views herself as even more a part of the family than we have given her license to be. This year, having sold her car, she has prevailed upon her boyfriend of a year to bring her to my home from Massachusetts for dinner. So, not only do we have to feed and keep happy all of our own family members, we also have to cater to the whims and needs of my best friend and her boyfriend who, while a decent guy, doesn't really fit in with our family and was never actually invited to Thanksgiving dinner. All this difficulty is compounded by the fact that she stays in my grandmother's house when she comes to visit - leveling great amounts of stress on her as she prepares for their 4-day stay. And today, my friend says to me that she wants to invite her brother along to dinner as well so he won't be alone on the holiday. All of this puts a strain on my family whose kindnesses are being abused which then puts a strain on me because I want everybody to be happy with each other and with me. I want her to keep coming because I love her, but I don't want to cater to or be judged by every virtual stranger she decides she wants to bring along without ever asking if it's okay. So, how do I tell the "sister" who has made herself a bit too much at home the stress she is putting on all of us and the bitterness she is engendering in much of my family by taking this all a bit too much for granted without seeming like a jerk who doesn't mind her glomming on to our holiday tradition but couldn't care less about the rest of her loved ones and where or how they spend their holiday? Please help!


Ticked About T-Giving


  1. Too late to offer advice for this year, sorry. Next year you should tell her Thanksgiving is at someone else's house and they simply didn't have to room to invite more than a certain number of people. But tell her well ahead of time so she can make other plans.

    Best advice I can offer, sorry.

  2. This friend/sister has some boundary issues, huh? How did it work out?

  3. Kookie, thanks for trying! I managed to get through this year's debacle quite successfully. It's hard because I *do* want her to come, I just *don't* want her to bring everyone she knows without so much as asking if that might be all right.

    Dewey, it went all right. Thanks for asking! It wasn't as bad as I had imagined it would be (somehow things never are!), so I guess I can't complain...too much. =)