Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Sunday Salon

My reading life has been undergoing a transformation these days - and quite frankly, I hate it.  I know it's a temporary change as our family deals with this transition that involves The Husband being six hours away during the week and back home only for 48 hours on the weekends.  Fortunately, it seems that we're coming into the home stretch of finally having the house ready to be put on the market.  We're doing a big push this weekend and hopefully it will be able to be listed this week. 

Compared to other real problems in the world and in people's lives, this doesn't even merit a gripe session, I know. I sound like a whiner and an ungrateful bitch, but it doesn't change that I can't stand having even a fraction of my books packed away and limiting the number of library books I allow myself to check out.  I'm a visual person; I like seeing all my books on full display and I like knowing that they are accessible - neither of which is the case now.
So far, for all of the 17 days that has been the month of April, I've read exactly one book.  ONE!  And we're not talking a chunkster either.   It's Peter Lovenheim's memoir, In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time. Ironically, it does tie into the idea of moving and transitions as it explores the idea of community in our neighborhoods and how we as a society changed from one where we knew the people living next door to one where we don't know our neighbors' names. 

In the aftermath of a murder-suicide on his quiet, suburban Rochester street and the breakup of his marriage, Lovenheim realizes that he and his neighbors are "living as strangers."  The book, then, chronicles his attempts to truly get to know his neighbors - really know them as individuals.

(The sleepover part of the title refers to how he did this, which was by asking them - after an initial conversation or two - if he could sleep over their houses for a night.  Which, if you know me and The Husband, you know there's no way in hell that we are the sort of people who would agree to have a neighbor we barely know sleep over at our house, just for the sake of becoming better acquainted.)  I go into a bit of discussion in this with my review - which I'm thinking might be up sometime this week - and also take a stroll down Memory Lane of my own neighborhood growing up, which was the type of neighborhood where everybody knew your name.

Yesterday I took a break from the packing and decluttering to see if I liked Tawni O'Dell's Fragile Beasts enough to keep it checked out from the library.  Not only do I like this one, but I'm finding myself engrossed in the story. From the book jacket:  "When their hard-drinking, but loving father dies in a car accident, teenage brothers Kyle and Klint Hayes face a bleak prospect: leaving their Pennsylvania hometown for an uncertain life in Arizona with the mother who ran out on them years ago. But in a strange twist of fate, their town's matriarch, and eccentric, wealthy old woman whose family once owned the county coal mines, hears the boys' story.  Candace Jack doesn't have an ounce of maternal instinct, yet for reasons she does not even understand herself, she is compelled to offer them a home."

Again, it relates to the idea of home and family and moving. (And it's set in "the muted, bruised hills of Pennsylvania's coal country - the very area where our family is moving to, no less!  That Pittsburgh-area connection was one of the things that sold me on this book even before I opened the first page.) 

One final announcement (a happy one in this somewhat downer of a post):  this week I decided that in the midst of this moving craziness, I'm treating myself to THIS:

Plus one day (which I know is not enough, but it is all I can do this year) at BEA (Book Expo America)! (This will be my first time at BEA!) I absolutely loved being at the Book Blogger Convention last year and honestly wasn't sure if it would happen this year for me, which was starting to make me a little bummed.  I'll have more to say about this in the coming weeks.

Are you planning to be at BEA or the Book Blogger Convention? 

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


bermudaonion said...

You know I'll be at BEA! I hope to see you there!

Heather J. said...

Yay Melissa! I'm so glad I'll get to see you again this year in NYC! If you're still looking for a roommate, I have space for one more in my room. :)

Svea said...

Oh how I want to go to BEA! Have a wonderful time; can't wait to hear all about it :)

Here is my version of the Sunday Salon: Suddenly Sunday

Melissa said...

Whoo hoo ... I'm thrilled that both of you are going! Heather, thanks so much for thinking of me! I'm planning to room with Florinda again, but otherwise I would have loved to hang out with you. Hopefully we will be able to catch up in NYC at some point!

nomadreader said...

We just moved across town, and I can relate! I'm glad you're treating yourself to BEA and BBC. I won't be going this year, but I'm looking forward to hearing about it!

Florinda said...

Yay BEA and BBC - I'm glad you were able to work that out, and I'll bet they'll be a nice break!

I think I read an excerpt from In the Neighborhood via last year, and it sounded kind of interesting. I'll be interested in your thoughts on it.

And I know what you mean about liking to have all your books accessible - that's one reason packing them up for moving bugs me, too.