wirt

“X” is for Xingu

DO NOT google "xingu" and forgive me for going off-topic.

XHello peeps, and welcome to the fourth installment of What I Read Tuesday (WIRT) where I write about my latest read as I work my way through 2015 Around the World Reading Challenge, the PopSugar Reading Challenge, and complete my personal Goodreads Reading Challenge of reading 50 books this year (I am so behind).  You can imagine how worried I was when I realized that my monthly WIRT would fall under the letter “X” and you can now imagine how happy I felt when I found “Xingu” by Edith Wharton. What a great short story (it should take less than 90 minutes to read) and it is available free through Project Gutenberg. Click here for Xingu.

 xingu

Meet the ladies of the Lunch Club, a book club composed of several (apparently) high-society ladies in Hillbridge, a small town. The aim of the club, as described by one of them, is to “concentrate the highest tendencies of Hillbridge – to centralise and focus its intellectual effort.” They “aspire to be in touch with whatever is highest in art, literature, and ethics.” Sounds good, right? The problem is that most of them don’t really seem to know whatever all that means.

This is a really funny story about the Queen Bee(s) of the time. Edith Wharton (1862 – 1937), a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, short story writer, and designer was known for her humorous insider’s criticism of America’s privileged classes. Xingu is no exception and in under 50 pages gives us social and psychological insight into the snobs of the time (some which are very much relevant today).

It’s easy to give the punchline away so I will only ask that you read it yourself. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this short story. For book club members it is a must. I’m sure you know (or are) one of the ladies in this group.

Favorite Passage

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#burn

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March’s WIRT: The Husband’s Secret

Hello peeps! It’s that time of the month again, time for What I Read Tuesday (WIRT), when I share my latest reads as I complete 2015 Around the World Reading Challenge and I tie them into the blog’s theme.

I started this world tour in Japan with 1Q84. Last month I returned to The United States and read Heft. This month we travel to Australia and I share my thoughts on The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.

Liane Moriarty is a prolific australian author. Her six novels are all international best-sellers but I hear that this is one of the best. I have not read her other books but friends who have swear that this one is the juiciest.

thehusbandssecretThe Husband’s Secret is set mainly in Sidney. However, there’s not a lot of talk of major landmarks. Most of the stories take place in a suburban area. The Pacific Highway is mentioned as a line that divides the city and at the time that metaphor makes little sense but it does later on.

This is a story about family secrets. The secrets we intentionally keep from each other, the secrets we may never even know are secrets, and the havoc they wreak.

Here’s the description from the author’s website:

“My Darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret – something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . .”

This is the beginning of a story of a myriad of characters that look otherwise not connected but whose lives are about to crash (sometimes literally) into each other. Most of the characters are very relatable and it will make you wonder… “what would I do?”

There is a somewhat smaller character in this story that really got to me. Her name is Felicity and she is the cousin of Tess who is married to Will. Felicity used to be obese. She used to be bullied in school and called a “baby elephant.” She and Tess are super close; so close that the two along with Will now co-own and run an ad company in Melbourne. Felicity has been Tess’s eternal third wheel. When their story is introduced (chapter 2) we are told that Felicity, who had grown into a fat adult, ‘a big girl with a pretty face’ had now “joined Weight Watchers, given up Coke, joined a gym, lost forty kilos [88 lbs] and turned beautiful. Extremely beautiful.” It looks like she’s about to steal Will from Tess. I’ll stop there and offer no more spoilers.

Although Felicity’s story is not central to the plot, it is central to my blog and issues with body image. I have to admit that it upset me that Felicity doesn’t get to have a life until he’s dropped weight. She was the character that I identified the most since I still feel that way many times… I still feel that I can’t really demand what I want… I have to be “not fat” first. It’s an everyday struggle. Anyway… I can’t really add more without spoiling it but I do recommend this book and you can read the rest of my review here.

Favorite Passage

downloadSo there you have it… we just need to be a bit ‘benty’. 😀

FYI - Tomorrow starts April AtoZ Blogging Challenge. Tomorrow will be easy: "A" is for April and I'll do a regular post on things I am looking forward to this coming month. The remainder of the month will be mostly related to weight loss, dieting, and overall about choices made throughout my weight loss journey. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful... here we go... 30 days of blogging.

February’s WIRT: Heft

Hello peeps! Welcome to the second installment of What I Read Tuesday (WIRT) where I write about books I have read as I complete 2015 Around the World Reading Challenge and I tie them into the blog’s theme.

Last month I started in Japan with 1Q84. Since then I have read I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou, The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger (PS. read the book and skip the movie), and Heft by Liz Moore.

heftFor my Around the World Reading Challenge I go from Japan (1Q84) to The United States with Heft by Liz Moore.

Here’s the description from the author’s website:

Former academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away, in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career – if he can untangle himself from his family drama. The link between this unlikely pair is Kel’s mother, Charlene, a former student of Arthur’s. After nearly two decades of silence, it is Charlene’s unexpected phone call to Arthur – a plea for help – that jostles them into action. Through Arthur and Kel’s own quirky and lovable voices, Heft tells the winning story of two improbable heroes whose sudden connection transforms both their lives. Like Elizabeth McCracken’s The Giant’s House, Heft is a novel about love and family found in the most unexpected places.

I was surprised of how much I identified with Arthur. Like him, I know what it’s like to “eat my feelings” although I have never put it into words as well as Arthur does. I realized through reading this book that what I liked about food and the act of eating was that food didn’t judge me and eating became dangerously comforting.

I cried so much with this book, with Arthur and Kel. I loved the reality of this book. It was not condescending and it treated the characters and their flaws with a lot of compassion. I can’t really say more without spoiling it but I do recommend it.

I gave this book 4/5 stars on Goodreads.

Favorite Passage

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January’s WIRT: 1Q84

Hello peeps!

Welcome to my first WIRT (What I Read Tuesday). This will be a monthly feature where I blog about books I have read as I complete 2015 Around the World Reading Challenge and I tie them into the blog’s theme.

1Q84Let’s begin in Japan with Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84This was my Book Club’s January pick and both author and book were completely unknown to me.

It is a fictional story based on an alternative world in the year 1984. Since the heroine of the story, Aomame, is sure to no longer be in her world, she names her new home 1Q84 (Q stands for question mark). In this new world there are two moons, a religious cult with “little people” who mostly say “ho ho,” and an air chrysalis (literally… a chrysalis made of air).

The book is also filled with Japanese cultural elements, from their love of brand names, their traditional meals, and funeral customs, among many others. This I found very interesting.

This is the most convoluted star-crossed lovers story ever… also, it’s a book about books, movies, art, and music. Not suprisingly, the author refers to Orwell’s 1984 but I am not sure I was able to connect this book with that one. Perhaps other readers have made the connection. I was introduced to Janáček’s Sinfonietta, which is supposed to express courage and determination to fight for victory, which makes sense since the protagonists are doing just that. I am sure that all the references the author makes have a deeper meaning but I have to admit that most I didn’t get. On a separate note, the author did inspire me to read Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. One day.

 

On a note more in line with this blog, Aomame, the heroine of the story is a personal trainer and super healthy eater (she’s also an assassin). At some point in the story she must go into hiding and develops a plan to stay fit and healthy. I found it pretty good:

Aomame’s Regime (in hiding)

  • Get up at 6:30 am and have a simple breakfast.
  • Spend an hour or so doing house chores.
  • Exercise 90 minutes.
  • Lunch: green salad and fruit.
  • Afternoon activities: reading, tv, nap, etc.
  • [There’s no mention of dinner but I suppose she has something]
  • Enjoy the sunset.
  • Bed at 10:30 pm.

I wish I had her self-discipline… but I did get some ideas.

Overall, I gave this book 3/5 stars on Goodreads. I didn’t love it but I did like it and I will definitely try another one of Murakami’s books since I did enjoy his writing.

Favorite Quote

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This really shut up all my questions 😆