bad husband! bad!

I know, I start this blog with Beckie and then I don’t blog. I had a weird thing a few weeks ago where I meant to write a chirpy post over here about how I was going to be blogging more, but I messed up the WordPress account, and accidentally posted over on my sociology blog, where I hadn’t posted in over a year and thought I was done. But, for whatever reason, this caused me to actually start blogging over there, and I’ve been on a kick of trying to work myself out of occupational exile.

So I have been blogging but not here. I’m not sure how I’m going to do it going forward, but: I do love Beckie’s photos, so I hope they keep coming up. And we should still be able to find time for the 42-word book reviews!

Beckie listens to The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Why did you read this book? I think it won some awards. Another one on my “to read” list for a long time.

Has Jeremy read it? No.

42-word review: Grace survives a shipwreck, only to be put on trial for murder. Finally an audiobook I enjoyed! Despite knowing that she survives, the tense situation and strong personalities in the lifeboat provide plenty of suspense, and Grace is an intriguingly unreliable narrator.

Overall rating: 4 pieces of hard tack (out of 5)


Beckie reads The Parallel Apartments by Bill Cotter

Why did you read this? Jeremy handed it to me in Shakespeare and Company in Paris and asked me to read page 65 (our standard method of choosing books to read). It seemed well-written and interesting.

Has Jeremy read it? Just a few pages before he gave up.

42-word review: A complicated story about a multigenerational family of women. Clever use of imagery and themes, but too full of horrible things happening to unlikable people for me. If I’d seen the humor compared to Confederacy of Dunces, I wouldn’t have read it.

Rating: 2 murder attempts (out of 5)

Tournament of Books catch up and predictions

Yesterday’s match up was The Good Lord Bird vs. The Tuner of Silences, neither of which I’ve read. The former, which is on my library holds list, won, so to avoid being spoiled, I didn’t read the judgement.

Today was the first competition for which I’d read both books. I gave The Signature of All Things 4 mosses and The Dinner 3 wine glasses, so my winner is obvious. Happily, the official judge agreed with me, so you can just read his judgement, instead of my explanation of why he’s wrong.

I’m posting this using the wifi in Singapore airport, on our way to start a Mediterranean cruise, so I probably won’t get a chance to read the tournament write ups until the semi-finals. Here are my picks for the rounds I’ll miss:

The Lowland v. Eleanor & Park: Eleanor & Park

The Son v. At Night We Walk in Circles: The Son (I’m haven’t read The Son, but I’m in the middle of At Night We Walk in Circles as an audiobook, and it’s not that interesting)

The Goldfinch v. Long Division: The Goldfinch

Life After Life v. The People in the Trees: Life After Life

Hill William v. A Tale for the Time Being: A Tale for the Time Being

The Good Lord Bird v. The Signature of All Things: The Signature of All Things

(possibly) Eleanor & Park v. The Son: Eleanor & Park

(possibly) The Goldfinch v. Life After Life: Life After Life (The first tough one! I would pick Life After Life, because The Goldfinch’s ending was flawed enough to rule it out.)


Check this out

There are four full-time employees at BuzzFeed who only work on cute animal photos. But, how do you write a 5000-word piece on cute animal curation without mentioning Cute Overload?

In anticipation of our stay in Paris, here are some tips for French travellers in America that can be inverted to create tips for American travellers in France.

Here’s a different view of Sherlock Holmes.


Tournament of Books Round 1: A Tale for the Time Being vs How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

Today I have less to say because the book I read and enjoyed (but which didn’t quite make it to my favourites of the year list), A Tale for the Time Being, won over the book I haven’t read. After reading the judgement, I’m probably more inclined to read How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, but probably only enough to borrow it from the library, if it becomes available.

I was trying to read as many of the tournament entries as possible, but there are still only two first round match ups for which I’ve read both books (and I’ve even written 42-word book reviews of all four!).

Tournament of Books Round 1: The Luminaries vs Hill William

The Tournament of Books has begun! I actually missed the play-in round, in which Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (one of my favourite books of last year) beat Woke Up Lonely. I haven’t read Woke Up Lonely, and the judging commentary didn’t make me regret that.

There was some controversy in the comments, where it was revealed that the author of Hill William had tried to withdraw from the competition by means of a cryptic facebook post. Luckily for him, the ToB organisers don’t care what the authors think, so it stayed in the tournament.

In the first round, the 200-page, indie-published Hill William, took on the 834-page, Booker-Prize-winning The Luminaries.

Surprisingly, Rachel Fershleiser chose Hill William over The Luminaries, although she didn’t sound that enthusiastic about either book. Fershleiser saw The Luminaries as just another Dead White Guy novel, and it is certainly an homage to that kind of book. She didn’t appreciate the understated writing of the characters, claims erroneously that it wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test (two female characters isn’t a lot, but they certainly discuss more than just a man), and can only muster half-hearted respect for the structure. Somehow Hill William gets points for being “real” because it describes violence and abuse in ugly language.

Sometimes when reading ToB judgements, I get the impression that the judge enjoys the power of unilaterally knocking out a favourite book. In a case where you don’t really like either book, why not give the win to the more ambitious and skillfully crafted book, otherwise? In his commentary, Kevin Guilfoile contrasts the judging with the Sochi men’s figure skating, where the gold medal went to someone who fell 3 times while attempting a difficult routine. But this is like penalising the skater who gave a technically impressive and ambitious performance for not being graceful enough and giving the gold to the amateur skater who stuck it to the establishment by performing to punk rock or something.

Unsurprisingly, Jeremy was also outraged by the decision:

My winner: The Luminaries

we apologise for the interruption in service

We just spent 6 days in Hong Kong and Macau, which was great (I was hoping that this week would be Hong Kong Week, but I’m still going through the photos), but it’s hard to blog while travelling. We leave next Monday on a much larger adventure involving 8 countries (or maybe more!). So we’re a little caught up in trying to get organised and get some work done in preparation. Maybe we’ll get the hang of doing trip reports from the road this time (except for when we’re on a cruise ship with no internet…).