“But are they the right sort of peo…” zzzzz

a room with a vew

 

I should start out by saying I am NOT a fan of Jane Austen or the whole “comedy of manners” oeuvre. The only book in that genre that I’ve ever really liked is The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton which takes a decidedly darker turn than Austen or Forster. Needless to say that this book, while only about 150 pages long felt like a slog through a War and Peace sized book. But instead of the Napoleonic wars, I got some silly girl’s search for a husband.

I think my main complaint about this book is that I just couldn’t be bothered to care about any of the main characters. The ones that weren’t downright awful were shallowly written. Our protagonist, Lucy Honeychurch, was raised to be a proper girl with a proper husband but seems to long for something more and sees beauty and things that aren’t conventionally beautiful. That’s nice but we don’t get anything beyond that. Her love interest, George Emerson is a middle class (gasp!) young man who seems sad and feels out of place in society. I suppose it’s a spoiler to say they both find their way to each other in the end despite the relatively minor obstacles put in their way but it seems pretty obvious from the beginning that the book was heading there.

Perhaps if you’re into a more Austen-y type read, this is a book for you but it was definitely not my Edwardian cup of tea.

I’m breakin’ through, I’m bendin’ spoons, I’m keepin’ flowers in full bloom

stiff

 

This book was book club read and it really wasn’t something I would have picked up on my own. Ultimately I’m glad I did. I’m not particularly sentimental about my remains so I’ve always said I’d either be cremated or donate my remains to science. Being less than halfway through my life (if the women in my family are any indication, I may live to be over a century) I didn’t think much about it beyond that. Reading Mary Roach’s book is a detailed an engaging account of our lives after death and some of the strangest things humans have done with the remains of their fellow man throughout history

Though this should go without saying, one should probably avoid reading this if they’ve recently lost a loved one. My grandmother passed while I was reading this book and while I’m not typically squeamish I found the chapter on embalming and prepping a body for a funeral rather unsettling. Otherwise it was a great read about a subject most people would rather avoid speaking about. What I found most interesting was the many uses for human cadavers. The most obvious would be in anatomy labs, but they are useful in the study of forensics, auto safety and investigating the causes of plane crashes (to name a few). If you can get past the idea of your loved one’s remains being hit in the head with a hammer or left to rot in a field, the idea that they are aiding mankind after death is pretty cool (at least I think so).

The biggest hurdle in reading this book is getting past your squeamishness about human remains. Once you can do that, it’s really fascinating. It also gave me some really great advice in dealing with a loved one’s funeral arrangements: regardless of their wishes, you are the one that has to live with it. So maybe have the memorial even if they didn’t want one. Funerals are for the living.

Come to my Cocktail/Garden Party y’all!

the drunken botanist

 

I come from a long line of German farmers who emigrated to Missouri. As such I feel strongly compelled to grow things in the dirt and turn those growing things into tasty consumables. Conversely, I love drinking and spouting nuggets of alcoholic wisdom. The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart was right up my alley. She guides us through many of the plants, and parts of plants that make up our favorite cocktails. As I read this book I was simultaneously planning a backyard garden and a fancy cocktail party.

Stewart’s writing is engaging and doesn’t read like your average Botany text. Despite the somewhat repetitive nature of the subject matter, the book rarely drags or feels overly long. It’s a nice blend of botany and mixology with a little bit of history thrown in for good measure. I only wish I’d purchased it as a paper copy rather than a Kindle book. I’d highly recommend it.