Tag Archives: travel memoirs

[TSS] Reading Breaks

I am nearing the end of a very big indexing assignment – it’s been taking up most of my work time for the past two weeks, and I’m scrambling to finish in time for the Tuesday morning deadline.

One thing I’ve been learning about working productively is the value of taking breaks. And since I’ve been missing out on reading, especially this past week, I’ve decided to make all of my breaks today and tomorrow “reading breaks”.

The only thing is, it’s hard to find books that I can easily consume in ten-minute chunks of time!

So I’ve decided on non-fiction and cartoons.

In the line-up:

This is Going to Be Tougher Than We ThoughtNever a Dry Moment, a Baby Blues book by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott. I saw this at the library last week and knew it would come in handy. I also plucked This is Going to Be Tougher Than We Thought from my own shelves – the more Baby Blues the merrier.

I love this comic strip; after I had Dylan, I had a bit of the post partum blues, and the Baby Blues collection really helped me out. if you have kids, trust me, read Baby Blues and you’ll be nodding your head in total agreement, and laughing. Hard. And as I hit the last stretch of work on this assignment, I’m definitely going to need some laughter to keep me going!

Writing Down Your SoulWriting Down Your Soul, by Janet Connor. I have been journaling daily for the past month. Some of you may remember my past struggles with committing to journaling (it appears I’ve asked, “Do you keep a journal” twice so far in this blog!).

It turned out the answer to my journaling dilemma was quite easy: one day I realized journaling required me to open up to myself. It was something I used to be reluctant to do, but on that day, I had reached a turning point in my life. And ever since then, it’s been easy.

I make it even easier by slotting it into my morning ritual. So now it’s a full-fledged habit.

I’ve read the first few chapters of Writing Down Your Soul, and it’s been very interesting so far. So I’m eager to take of my break time to dive a little bit more into the book.

The Adventures of Tintin, Volume 1The Adventures of Tintin, Volume 1. I was passing by one of my bookshelves and saw this, so decided to add it to my reading break pile.

It definitely brings back memories; while not exactly the most politically correct of reads, despite the stereotypes, the Tintin adventures are still rollicking good tales.

And I guess one could say these books were my own first introduction to graphic novels, way before they were actually called graphic novels.

How to Be, Do, or Have AnythingHow to Be, Do or Have Anything: A Practical Guide to Creative Empowerment, by Laurence G. Boldt. I’ve had this book for ages; it’s one of the scores of non-fiction books I keep meaning to get around to.

I began dipping into this book the other day, and found it quite inspiring. It gave me a “why haven’t I already read this” moment, which I then answered with, “well, obviously I wasn’t in the right moment at any time in the past and I am now”.

(This happens to me a lot – asking myself this particular question, and yes, holding this kind of internal dialogue.)

Boldt is also the author of Zen and the Art of Making a Living, another book I actually did read, which I have kicking around here somewhere as well.

Every Day in TuscanyAnd in case I feel like traveling a bit in my ten-minute breaks today and tomorrow, there’s also Every Day in Tuscany, by Frances Mayes, although I’m slightly afraid to dip into this one, because it might have the power of turning those ten minutes of break time into a much longer break than I intend.

I’ve enjoyed Mayes’ previous books, so I’m definitely looking forward to this one. I have to hurry with it, though, because it’s from the library and there’s a wait list for it, so I have no renewals to fall back on.

I’m wishing I had this one in audio, because it’s a book I might actually be able to listen to while working at the same time.

Bird by BirdAnd last but not least, there’s Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, which I’m reading for the writer’s reading group I started up a few weeks ago. This coming week we’ll be reading the “Shitty First Draft” chapter, along with two others, and that chapter is one of my favorites from the book.

I’ve been doing well with my 20-minute daily writing goal (adding it to my morning ritual was obviously the right thing to do), and I think this week’s readings from Bird by Bird will be extremely helpful.

So these are my picks for those ten-minute reading breaks I’m promising myself for today and tomorrow.

Have you read any of these books? I know many of you are fiction readers mostly – what nonfiction books do you have up your sleeves, if any?

A Parisian Holiday: French Milk, by Lucy Knisley

French MilkI moved on from reading Eye of the Crow to something completely different: French Milk, by Lucy Knisley is a memoir, written in graphic novel format, of a month-long holiday the author took with her mother in Paris, France.

I came across this novel when I was reading around the blogosphere (when I do this kind of surfing around, it’s extremely dangerous for my TBR list, which grows at an astronomical rate); I immediately put in a hold request for it from the library (I’m not sure whether my librarians actually like me all that much anymore, because I’m always putting things on hold).

This was a lovely, quick read; what I liked most about it were all the descriptions of the food that Knisley and her mother ate, accompanied by Knisley’s charming illustrations.

Interspersed throughout are black and white photographs from the trip; the photos are a nice accompaniment to Knisley’s drawings.

The preface to the book talks about the self-discoveries Knisley made during the trip, as well as similar revelations about her relationship with her mother, but I didn’t feel this to be the book’s strong point; it’s not so much about the author’s fully coming into adulthood while in Paris, as it is about all the wonderful sights and experiences she had while there. Her mother accompanied her, true, but I didn’t get much insight into their relationship. If anything, I got more of a feel for the author’s relationship with her father, who joined them for a few days of the trip.

French Milk is at its heart a wonderful and charming travel memoir – a fun, quick read that will leave you dreaming of leaving regular life behind for a few lovely weeks in Paris.

Want to buy French Milk? Support MsBookish by purchasing through one of these links: Amazon.com) | Indiebound | Chapters Indigo | Amazon.co.uk

Incoming! The Memoirs Edition

Incoming! is a regular feature at Ms. Bookish that chronicles some of the recent new book arrivals at the Ms. Bookish household.

Initially I had planned these posts to focus on one book at a time, but have just realized that writing up individual posts for each book was just too overwhelming – in some cases, by the time I got to the Incoming! post for a book I’d either already read it, or had to return it to the library (in the case of library books)!

So I’ve decided to group books related in some sort of way together for each of my Incoming! posts. Today, I bring you: memoirs!

Passeggiata: Strolling Through Italy, by G. G. Husak

Passeggiata: Strolling Through ItalySynopsis (from the back cover):

Ms. Husak’s memoir of travels to Italy with her husband will appeal to those who love travel in general and Italy in particular. Their journeys are both personal and universal. From their first shared trip to Italy in 1993, which marked the first of their empty nest years, their annual passeggiata reflects the shift in their lives through the next decade.

On their spring pilgrimages to major tourist centers, Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Naples, they develop appreciation for Italy’s art, music and architecture. Wandering together along out of the way paths in tiny hill towns and seacoast villages, they explore breathtaking scenery. By traveling light and learning the vagaries of Italian life, they have become Italian in spirit. The book provides many practical hints on how to travel like the locals, reminding us that even novice travelers can learn valuable lessons from immersion in another way of life, and that one’s companion can be an essential part of the pleasure of a journey.

First line(s): We left Houston on a sunny spring day in March. Al had been working long hours, which was nothing new, and I was ready for a break from teaching. Although pulled between the excitement of visiting one daughter and the worry of leaving our younger one behind, we were energized by the anticipation of our Italian adventure.

Where I got this book: Sent to me by the author.

Format & Pages: Trade paperback, 355

Ms. Bookish says: Travel memoirs are among my favorite types of memoirs. In Passeggiata, I’m looking forward to exploring more of Italy; I’m hoping there will be a lot of talk about food, too!

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Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography, by P. D. James

Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of AutobiographySynopsis (from the back cover):

Taking to heart Samuel Johnson’s advice that at age seventy-seven it is “time to be in earnest,” the much-loved and internationally acclaimed author of mysteries undertook a book unlike anything she had written before. Beginning on her 77th birthday in August 1997 and ending in August 1998, P.D. James engaged the daily events and reflections of the present as a springboard into her extraordinary, sometimes painful and sometimes joyful, past.

Here are vivid accounts of school days in 1920s and 1930s Cambridge, of the war, of the tragedy of her husband’s mental illness, and of her determined struggle to support a family alone. Along the way, with insight and warmth, she offers views on everything from author tours to the problems of television adaptations, from book reviewing to her obsession with Jane Austen.

First line(s): I am writing this sitting in an almost empty first-class compartment of the 3:32 train from Newton Abbot to Paddington, and staring out at the red Devon Countryside, now blurred and seeming to dissolve in rain; even the eagerly awaited stretch of coast at Dawlish and Teignmouth failed in its usual magic.

Where I got this book: Library

Format & Pages: Trade paperback, 259 pages

Ms. Bookish says: Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will know that P.D. James is one of my favorite mystery authors. I’m really looking forward to sitting down with this one!

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Don’t Call Me a Crook!: A Scotsman’s Tale of World Travel, Whisky and Crime, by Bob Moore

rook!: A Scotsman's Tale of World Travel, Whisky and CrimeSynopsis (from the back cover):

In your hands is a lost literary treasure and a tribute to one man’s triumph over the police, morals, and sobriety.

The 1920s didn’t roar for this Glaswegian: They exploded. Sailing around the world seven times as a marine engineer (among other, less honorable vocations), Bob Moore was in the thick of high-society orgies, ship disasters, and pitched battles with bandits on the Yangtze. Cheeky, charming and larcenous, Moore “swiped” (but not stole) whatever he wanted, drank like a fish, and always kept one step ahead of the law, Prohibition, and the women he conned. Clearly, he loved life.

Originally published three-quarters of a century ago, Don’t Call Me a Crook! is an overlooked gem. Just a few seem to have known of it. What became of its author after its release is uncertain. Don’t Call Me a Crook! is a lost confession of a youth lawlessly lived that will be crowned a classic.

First line(s): It is a pity there are getting to be so many places that I can never go back to, but all the same, I do not think it is much fun a man being respectable all his life.

Where I got this book: Sent to me by the publisher.

Format & Pages: Trade paperback, 255 pages

Ms. Bookish says: Moore sounds like quite the conman charmer, doesn’t he? This will be an interesting read, I think.

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French Milk, by Lucy Knisley

French MilkSynopsis (from the back cover):

Through delightful drawings, photographs, and musings, twenty-three-year-old Lucy Knisley documents a six-week trip she and her mother took to Paris when each was facing a milestone birthday. With a quirky flat in the fifth arrondissement as their home base, they set out to explore all the city has to offer, watching fireworks over the Eiffel Tower on New Year’s Eve, visiting Oscar Wilde’s grave, loafing at cafés, and, of course, drinking delicious French milk. What results is not only a sweet and savory journey through the City of Light but a moving, personal look at a mother-daughter relationship.

First line(s): During January of 2007, my mother and I lived in a small rental apartment in Paris to celebrate my mother’s turning fifty (and my turning twenty-two). The following is the Drawn journal that I kept in the course of the trip.

Where I got this book: Library

Format & Pages: Trade paperback, 193 pages

Ms. Bookish says: A travel memoir, in graphic novel format! I discovered this gem recently on another blog (I can’t remember whose – I really must start keeping track) and knew I just had to read it. I was in luck – my library had a copy, so I put in a request for it right there on the spot. Now that I have it in my hands, I have a feeling I might want to buy myself a copy, too. For those of you in the States who are interested in this book, it looks like Amazon has it on right now as a bargain book!

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Confessions of a Bad Mother, by Stephanie Calman

Confessions of a Bad MotherSynopsis (from the back cover):

Read Confessions of a Bad Mother … You have nothing to lose but your guilt. Are you a super-duper, totally fulfilled mother 24 hours a day? Do you give your children home-made risotto, help them with their homework, read them a fairy tale and sing them to sleep? Or do you give them chicken nuggets in front of the telly, herd them into bed and slump down exhausted with a drink?

Do you feel that other mothers are Doing It Properly while you’re getting it All Wrong? Do you wish there could just, please, be a little less pressure? If you try your best but frequently feel a failure, if you – or your children – are in any way imperfect, then join the club: the Bad Mothers Club. Stephanie Calman has broken every rule and done it All Wrong. From giving birth with her pants on to making her kids watch more telly, she has persistently defied all accepted wisdom and professional advice. Outrageous, funny, and hideously true, Confessions of a Bad Mother is her story. Read it, and know – at least – that you are Normal.

First line(s): I wasn’t going to have children. I was too frightened to have them, and I was sure I was physically and emotionally incapable of looking after them. Following the terrifying assault of birth, it would be one long, ever-repeating loop between the A&E department and the washing machine. And anyway, I wasn’t the Maternal Type.

Where I got this book: Bought this one at Costco.

Format & Pages: Trade paperback, 306 pages

Ms. Bookish says: I ask you, how could I resist?? Obviously, I couldn’t. And in case anyone is wondering, Costco also sneakily had a copy of Confessions of a Failed Grown-Up, the sequel, right next to the copies of Confessions of a Bad Mother, and yes, I picked that one up, too.