Ulysses Readlong: Part 1

Thursday, February 8, 2018

I went into this readalong thinking it was going to be a complete slog and I would hate it. But honestly, I wanted to know why was considered a classic. I love Ireland and this is one of the most famous pieces of literature from the country. I think I built it up as being so difficult and horrible in my mind that the reality isn’t that scary. So far (don’t hit me) I’m actually liking most of it.

I can’t say enough about the importance of pairing the audio version with the print. I love doing it that way. Instead of fighting through every single line, I hear a lyrical Irish voice reading the conversations to me. It brings them alive. When one person rambles on about some idea, it feels like I’m listening to a long-winded friend. Then I go back to the print version and find passages that I loved. I look at the layout of each chapter because the styles are unique. 

After I finish a chapter, I’ve been reading this guide which provides very short little summaries of what happened. Also, the incredible Adam at Roof Beam Reader is posting his in-depth thoughts about each chapter on his blog. Here’s the link. They are wonderfully detailed and make connections I never would have caught. I love that he highlights the parallels with Greek mythology as well.

Combination of all these elements is really working for me. I’m not a huge fan of every single chapter and of course it is a strange book with a lot of meandering and stream of consciousness thought, but I was expecting that. I wasn’t expecting the beautiful language or profound reflections of life and death. I particularly love the references and discussions of Shakespeare’s work in chapter 9.

I think approaching the book with an open mind and an understanding that it was not going to be an easy read has really helped me enjoy it. I am NOT a Joyce scholar and I’m not reading it with the goal of understanding every single reference made. Instead, I relaxing into the novel and hoping to not become completely overwhelmed by it.
“I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry, and one livid final flame. What’s left of us then?”

“Here also over these craven hearts his shadow lies and on the scoffer’s heart and lips and on mine. It lies upon their eager faces who offered him a coin of the tribute.”

Dinner: A Love Story

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Dinner: A Love Story 
by Jenny Rosenstrach 

This was one of my favorite books of 2017. Jenny created a blog with an emphasis on making family dinners a priority. This book is the culmination of that project. I had never read her blog, but you definitely didn't need to. My favorite thing about this "cookbook" is that her personal stories and experiences are sprinkled throughout it. You feel like you're getting to know her as you read about her recipes. I love how simple and straight forward most of the dinners are. Her philosophy is clear: use good ingredients and make food you love and your idea of what "dinner" should be will change.
(Making the chicken pot pie, left, the finished flatbread pizza, right)

So far we've tried three of the recipes and they've all been great. We made the chicken pot pie, the arugula and prosciutto flatbread pizza, and the kale, white bean, and sausage soup. I love that there is room to get creative with her recipes. If you know you love a certain ingredient, toss it in the soup or on the pizza. You don't have to worry about messing it up.
(Making the kale, white bean and sausage stew, left, finished product, right)

The book has already gotten me excited about meal planning again. I've bought the ingredients for some of her other recipes (pork ragu, creamy tomato chicken, and tomato and white bean soup) and can't wait to try them out.
Jenny includes lots of tips for getting kids to eat good food, which was so helpful!

If you've read this one, let me know if you've tried any of the recipes!

American Writers Museum

Thursday, January 4, 2018

 This place is amazing! This fall I visited the American Writers Museum in Chicago and I was so impressed. The museum had so much to see and was completely interactive. There was a children's section that featured Goodnight Moon, Charlotte's Web, and Dr. Seuss. Any young readers would be thrilled to see their favorites.
 There are beautiful quotes from authors decorating the walls. There are musical sections. When I was there, the entire Kerouac scroll was on display. I easily could have spent half a day there exploring the whole place. Unfortunately, I was attending a conference and so I only had a few hours, but I'm so glad I took the time to visit on that quiet Thursday afternoon.
 One of the main area is a giant timeline of American authors. It's broken up by different periods and includes details about what was happening during that time (like the Civil War or a medical advancement). Make sure you turn the text block beneath the author photo for more info. I didn't realize they turned until I was halfway down the hall. 

I loved discovering new authors alongside old favorites.  Seriously such an incredible place to visit. If you're in Chicago, even for a day, I hope you'll stop by. It's right downtown and worth every second you spend there!