There is a special place in my heart for well-written page turners, and Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, which I just finished, has neatly found a spot in that corner. But unlike The Goldfinch, Cider House Rules or Ng’s debut novel Everything I Never Told You, which continue to turn themselves over in my mind long after I’ve closed their back covers, LFE will sit still in the well-written-page-turners corner, collecting dust. The characters were believable: equally likable and flawed; the setting was well-painted and one of my favorite types (I love critical examinations of suburbia); and the plot moved forward at an agreeable pace, with just enough surprises to keep me eager to return to reading after a day of work or night of sleep. All of these qualities made the book well worth the read (inexpensive and engaging entertainment, after all, is one of my primary reasons for ever reading), but the book isn’t memorable.
I’m 76% percent of the way through Middlemarch, which, according to the Kindle app on my phone, means that I have 5 hours and 36 minutes left to go. A few years ago, back when we were still dating, Caleb bought me a gorgeous copy of George Eliot’s classic, which I love to look at on my shelf. Go figure that I’ve read the book entirely on my phone, in the first few minutes after waking, when the room is still dark, and I depend on a backlit screen to do my most favorite activity of reading in bed.
I’m listening to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle on audiobook. With it’s one part educational, one part motivational, and one part entertaining, it’s my ideal cocktail for a non-fiction book. Barbara Kingsolver knows how to tell a story! (And she reads it well, too, which is a plus; an audio book can be ruined with the wrong narrator.) I’ve been shocked to learn that our “refrigerators” consume as much gasoline as our vehicles (i.e. It is estimated that the average meal in the United States travels about 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate) and that if every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. Now that’s onvicting!
My two podcasts of choice continue to be Happier, hosted by sisters Elizabeth Kraft and Gretchen Rubin, and Jesuitical, America Media’s podcast hosted by three young, lay editors. They both get put on the back-burner when I’m immersed in a top-notch audio book, but I’ll listen to an episode here or there when I’m cleaning or taking a solo-walk to run an errand. Liz and Gretchen’s approach to New Year’s Resolutions this year inspired part of mine (18 things to do in 2018). I have a backlog of Jesuitical episodes.
Last night, we watched the Coen brothers’ most recent film, Hail, Caesar!, which was both bizarre and entertaining, as it followed a single day of a movie producer in the Golden Age of Hollywood. It heightened my appreciation of the role of producers — they are the receptacle for complaints, the fire extinguishers, and the magical thread that holds the various elements of film production, from the acting talent to the directors to the set-designers to the gopher staff, together — as it also warmed my affection for the film industry at large. The vibrant portrayal of a thriving production studio made me want to become much more of an avid movie-goer than I currently am.