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351st Friday Blog Roundup

I have been double-fisting Jon Ronson’s books this summer, which sounds far dirtier than is actually the case.  What happened was that I really wanted to read The Psychopath Test after downloading the sample from Kindle.  But I got squeamish over the idea of reading about psychopaths and having the book in my house (Ronson thinks he’s neurotic, but he obviously has nothing on me).

I knew I liked his earlier book, Them (I used it in a sociology class I taught), so I decided to get The Men Who Stare at Goats for the beach, feeling that it was a less-scary alternative to the more current The Psychopath Test.  But midway through the paper version of Men Who Stare at Goats, I got an electronic version of The Psychopath Test (which isn’t as scary as I feared).  So now I had two Ronson books at the same time — one that I could read on the beach (paper) and one that I could read in the hotel room (electronic).

And both are fantastic.

He’s first and foremost an excellent writer with a knack for choosing subjects that with very little work become infinitely interesting.  An article about Al Dunlop in a newspaper may not hold my interest.  A chapter about Al Dunlop in Ronson’s very capable hands becomes fodder for dinner conversation as you relay what you just read.  Both were literally the type of books that (1) you want to read with others so you can all talk about it and (2) make you forgo other activities so you can read another chapter.

Really really good reads.

Well done, Mr. Ronson.

So that is my beach read recommendation: something you can jump in and out of effortlessly because you always remember where you left off.  What are your beach read recommendations for anyone looking for a book?  I mean, beyond Life from Scratch.  Which, I heard, rocks.


Plans are underway (thank you, Kristin!) to grab lunch/dinner at BlogHer.  If you’re going to the conference or will be in the San Diego area, go over and let her know so you stay in the loop.


And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

Still Life with Circles has a lovely series of snippets about her Beezuz, Thor, and Lucy, and I thought the simplicity of jumping from thought to thought really showed her reach as a writer.  The snippet that particularly got to me was the one about the unacknowledged waves to the pigs.

Are You Kidding Me gets to the heart of the matter with life on the Internet, with a word of helpful advice: if it bothers you, get off of it.  It’s as simple as turning off the computer.  But I do love her unpacking of blogs and social media sites.

I LOVE this post by Edenland about the sign next to her bed.  You will need to click over to see what it says, but I think it’s something everyone should post in their eye-line upon awakening (or your own variation).  And it’s this piece of honesty that I makes this post brilliant: “I battle with severe – and I mean HUGE self-esteem issues. My thinking can get all warped and slide into paranoia, delusions, extreme fear. It’s really bad, and sometimes I spiral down so very low. Like that fucked-up dreg from a piece of soap that nobody wants to wash themselves with.”

Lastly, Finding My New Normal had a dream about rainbows and explains how this ties in to her current donor egg cycle.  She writes: “So what started as dates on a piece of paper has turned into something that may actually happen.”  The words are infused with her excitement; her nervousness, her happiness, her embracement of hope.  Cheer her on for this leg of the journey.

The roundup to the Roundup: My beach read book recommendations — what are yours?  Will you be at BlogHer and do you want to get together?  And lots of great blog posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between July 22nd and July 29th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.


1 loribeth { 07.29.11 at 1:37 pm }

I’m on vacation & am currently on my fourth book in a week & a half. LOVE having loads of uninterrupted time to read!! (I suppose the fact that my computer time has been limited hasn’t hurt — erk.) And they have all been great. : ) Started off with “The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag” by Alan Bradley (a sequel to “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie,” both featuring a precocious 11-year-old chemist/detective in 1950s England named Flavia de Luce), went on to “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett and then “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. Right now I am in the middle of “One Day” by David Nicholls. Movie versions of both “The Help” & “One Day” will be out shortly and I always like to read the book first whenever possible (which is why I’m way behind on Harry Potter).

2 BigP's Heather { 07.29.11 at 1:45 pm }

I just finished The Pillars of the Earth and the sequel World Without End. Neither would be something I would pick off the shelf normally but the first one was an Oprah Book Club one when I worked in a bookstore a few years back. We got a free book each week so I got it but never read it until now. I COULD NOT put it down. Then I ran out and bought the second one. So good.

3 loribeth { 07.29.11 at 1:53 pm }

Mel, I can receive e-mails but I’m getting error messages whenever I try to send. Wanted to say that I’m midway through “One Day” (page 160) & so far, so good. The only thing is, knowing about the movie, I keep picturing Anne Hathaway & Jim Sturgess in my head as I read. I like to do my own casting first, if I can. ; )

4 Keiko { 07.29.11 at 2:13 pm }

I totally never realized “Them” and “The Men Who Stare at Goats” were written by the same author. I read “Them” YEARS ago… as did my husband, who is now a Freemason. We both loved the book. I have been known to be occasionally be a tinfoil hat sympathizer, so it was right up my alley.

*insert Jewish/Freemasonry conspiracy theory here*

Beach reads:
Oldies but goodies, I still love the Bridget Jones’ Diary series. Funny as hell (especially The Edge of Reason). I have also had a hankering to go back and re-read the young adult books of my youth, namely RL Stine, Dean Koontz, and the Babysitters’ Club.

5 Keiko { 07.29.11 at 3:06 pm }


Whitney has just suffered a miscarriage this week and will no longer be continuing treatment after this. As heartbreaking and painful as this experience has been, she’s trying to find the positive. Her post is a visual reflection as she searches for clarity and peace: http://www.whitneyanderick.com/?p=3217

6 andrea { 07.29.11 at 3:10 pm }

my fave book right now: BONK! by Mary Roach — the silly scientific history of sex. After years of infertility and intervention by western medicine, it’s great to have a good laugh about it!

the book I want to read: STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett. I loved her book Bel Canto. This new novel is about a woman who goes into the Amazon looking for (guess what?!) … an infertility drug.

happy summer to all,

7 Keiko { 07.29.11 at 3:14 pm }

And another: from Suzy at Not a Fertile Myrtle – a moving post on Finding Her Sight and why even in her 40s, she wouldn’t take back her infertility: http://www.notafertilemyrtle.com/2011/07/finding-my-sight.html

8 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.29.11 at 3:21 pm }

Just requested “Goats” from the library, thanks to your recommendation. And I’m now reading “Stretch” by Neal Pollack, which had me laughing out loud last night in bed.

My Second Helping is again Kym: http://thesmartness.com/smartone/2011/07/balance.html

And also this one from Sideshow Barb, about some particularly bitter and bilious emotions brought on by both infertility and adoption: http://www.sideshowbarb.com/blog/2011/07/27/bile/

9 Kathy { 07.29.11 at 5:06 pm }

I have read two very good books this summer for the BlogHer Book Club “The Beach Trees” by Karen White and “A Good Hard Look” by Ann Napolitano. I recommend both and think they would make good beach reads.

I will not be at BlogHer, but look forward to reading about your, Kristin and everyone else’s experiences. Maybe next year?! I so enjoyed getting to meet you here in Chicago 2009, even though I didn’t actually attend BlogHer that year.

Here are my two posts for this week:

1) This was technically written on July 21st, but I didn’t read it until yesterday and thought it was so awesome that I hope it is okay (just this once) for you to make an exception and allow it to be part of this week’s crop in the Round Up, since I missed the deadline for last week’s… The post is called “The Power of Our Love” by Kristin at Dragondreamer’s Liar http://thefertileinfertile​.blogspot.com/2011/07/powe​r-of-our-love.html and I am sharing it because she has such a big heart and is an inspiration to our ALI Community. What an awesome gift to give someone who so needed to be wrapped in the love of those who appreciate what it means to want something more than anything and then lose it. I know that Kristin didn’t do this alone, but I am so moved by this act of kindness that she had such a big part in making happen.

2) The other post I am sharing this week was written by Lori at Write Mind, Open Heart. It is called “Unexpect fallout”: http://writemindopenheart.​com/2011/07/intentions-gon​e-awry.html I appreciate Lori’s insights from the uncomfortable experiences she shares about. I do really believe that intentions matter and know first hand how frustrating it is when we have good intentions and yet people still are hurt by our actions. The discussion going on in the comments is very interesting too!

10 JustHeather { 07.29.11 at 6:01 pm }

I read The Men Who Stare at Goats because the guys at work were reading it and I thought I’d try to bond. I couldn’t stand the book (Sorry!) and the guys loved it. But I did finish it as I hate to leave books unread once I’ve started them, even if it takes me 4 years to finish it (yes, I have done that).
As for summer reads, I just read what I normally read. Lots of sci-fi, fantasy and fiction.

11 Kymberli { 07.29.11 at 8:40 pm }

I just read a piece of YA that was fairly fascinating and has been getting a lot of buzz. It’s has the feel of a ghost story, which my daughter is into these days. I read it just to preview before letting her read, and I ended up enjoying it so much that I can’t wait for the next book in what I hope will be a lengthy series. It’s called “Miss Peregirne’s Home for Peculiar Children.” Loved it.

12 a { 07.29.11 at 10:26 pm }

I agree – Kym’s Balance post was wonderful. Bring tissues.

And Lori’s Intentions Gone Awry post – I totally identified with that one.

Bookmarking this so I know what to read next! I just finished dragging myself through Last Call, which was a very slow read about the rise and fall of Prohibition. It was good, but so packed with information! It’s amazing how many things are tied to liquor! Next I’ll be reading The Chief by David Nasaw, because we just visited Hearst Castle, so it’s time to learn about the guy who built that.

13 gingerandlime { 07.30.11 at 6:00 am }

I just read “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” by David Mitchell. David Mitchell is definitely one of my desert-island authors, and while this one wasn’t as good as “Cloud Atlas” (how could it be?) it was still excellent and works through some of the same themes — colonialism, technology and mysticism, and traveling through mental, physical, and cultural space. I do think he gets a little precious in some of his descriptive prose, but I can live with that.

I also recently read “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane,” which is more like beach reading as it’s much lighter. The author is …. um … Katherine Howe. It’s a reimagining of witchcraft in Salem MA and it is very Alice Hoffman-esque.

14 Angie { 07.30.11 at 11:22 am }

Thanks for the blog round-up shout-outs. I read Them by Jon Ronson when it first came out. (http://www.amazon.com/Them-Adventures-Extremists-Jon-Ronson/dp/0743233212/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_3) I don’t think until this post I put together that he wrote Men who Stare at Goats.

I read Ann Pachett’s State of Wonder, which is an awesome book, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which is peculiar and interesting. And I am currently reading the Paris Wife, which is about Hemingway’s first marriage. It is pretty good. I love these book threads, because I am always looking for the next one. xo

15 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 07.30.11 at 11:15 pm }

Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy has an amazing post about IVF sometimes providing more information than you want.

16 Just Me { 07.31.11 at 11:29 pm }

I blew through Gayle Forman’s “If I Stay” and the sequel “Where She Went” last week while I was away. I especially really enjoyed them as a pair.

17 loribeth { 08.01.11 at 7:00 pm }

For Second Helpings, I just read a great post by The Misfit that includes a dead-on reference to The Matrix:


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