Sunday, October 12, 2008

Retail Therapy!

I made a truly shocking discovery today: I had a leftover B&N gift card from last year with MONEY ON IT! A pretty significant amount, actually. Since TheOtherFeminist and I were off to Dallas to eat yummy Indian food at Clay Pit and have a day of fun and frivolity, I figured it was a good idea to take the card.


I picked up three books that I've been lusting after for ages...

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, by A.J. Jacobs. I actually first discovered Jacobs when I happened upon The Know-It-All in North Carolina while I was browsing one day. I put it on my wishlist and before I'd even gotten around to it, this book hit the market and blew up! I'm excited to finally have my hands on a copy because I feel a non-fiction urge coming on soon (as evidenced by this and my other purchases today).

The Partly Cloudy Patriot, by Sarah Vowell. I'll just give you a blurb for this one since there's no way I can describe it as well as Publishers Weekly:

Looking for insight into why she prefers Little Bighorn and Gettysburg to Martha's Vineyard, Vowell (author of the witty Take the Cannoli) calls her friend Kate, who works as a counselor for survivors of torture, who says, "That's how we try to make sense of the worst horrors. We use humor to manage anxiety." If Kate's right, then Vowell is managing her anxiety very well. Her best short, personal essays (anywhere from about two to 12 pages) focus on her ambivalent relationship to American history and citizenship: no one in recent memory has been as insightful on the direct pleasures and perils of voting, the misuse of Rosa Parks as a metaphor, the appeal of Canadians (who "ha[ve] this weird knack for loving their country in public without resorting to swagger or hate") and the relative merits of presidential libraries. Further undone, perhaps, by her devotion to such topics, Vowell also offers an eloquent defense of being a nerd...

While I find it grating and damn near impossible to listen to Vowell on Chicago Public Radio's This American Life, I do find her quite funny and insightful, so I hope beyond hope that I can get her voice out of my head as I read this collection. With America (myself included) embroiled in political hoo-hah, this sounds like the perfect humorous fix. I voted last week, by the way. Absentee is a wonderful thing. Now I've really got to get my car inspected and my Texas license back!

Finally, and I've probably wanted this book the longest, is I Was Told There'd Be Cake, a book of essays by Sloane Crosley, Associated Director of Publicity at Vintage/Anchor books. Another pre-fab blurb for ya:

Wry, hilarious, and profoundly genuine, this debut collection of literary essays is a celebration of fallibility and haplessness in all their glory. From despoiling an exhibit at the Natural History Museum to provoking the ire of her first boss to siccing the cops on her mysterious neighbor, Crosley can do no right despite the best of intentions-or perhaps because of them. Together, these essays create a startlingly funny and revealing portrait of a complex and utterly recognizable character that's aiming for the stars but hits the ceiling, and the inimitable city that has helped shape who she is.

I've heard every imaginable comment about this book, from "Crosley is mean!" to "Crosley is hilarious and honest!" I became interested when I heard her interview on The Bat Segundo Show, and I knew I had to have it.

It's been a long day, so for now I'm off to settle in with Jennie Shortridge's Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe. Hopefully my eyes won't get droopy too fast.


  1. I really liked The Year of Living Biblically. I got it from the library, but I wish I owned it :)

    Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

  2. I think I saw Sarah Vowell ages ago on Letterman as well. Either that or David Sedaris mentioned her and that's why I bought Take the Cannoli years back. And boy, that was fun to read :)

  3. Yay for retail therapy! :D

  4. Can't wait for your review of Living Biblically. Enjoy your loot! :)

  5. Awesome! I freaking love Sarah Vowell. I want to be her friend. I hear she has a new one out already. And I've been meaning to get I was Told There Would Be Cake forever. It is always checked out! Can't wait to hear what you think of it. I wish my name was Sloane.

  6. Hey which B&N did you go to? Was the layout all screwed up like the one I went to (on Beltline & Montfort)?

    Enjoy your reads!

  7. I just found $5 in pants I wore last winter - it was awesome.

    The Jacobs book is amazing, and I adore Sarah Vowell. Just saw her on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - so funny!

    Enjoy those great books.

  8. What a good discovery! Hope you'll enjoy your books... I'm curious about the Sarah Vowell one. I tried reading one of her books before and I don't know if I wasn't in the right mood or what but I had a hard time with it. Now the other book, I was Told There'd Be Cake is one I've had on my wish list for a while. That title is just too good :)

  9. AWESOME! That is the best surprise, when i come across a forgotten gift card WITH money on it!! Let me know how you enjoy your new purchases. If you haven't noticed, I've been reading a lot of your goodreads fave's lately. They've been yummy!

  10. The Sloane Crosley book is hysterically funny! I guess I "get it" because I'm of about the same age and live in the same city as she does, but this book is fantastic.

  11. Finding a gift card with credit still on it is such a treat! It sounds like you spent it well.

    Sometimes when I pass by the gift card rack at a bookstore, I think about buying one for myself and then hide it away so I can find it another day. I think I'd have trouble forgetting about it though since I'd know that is what I wanted to do.

  12. I love Jacobs- his previous book was a very entertaining read, and I Was Told There'd Be Cake was very funny. It almost lived up to the cover blurb comparing it to Sedaris

  13. That is THE BEST when you find $ like that. Hasn't happened to me in a while, sadly. I've got The Year of... on Mt. TBR and one of these days I'll actually read it. I mean it. Really.

  14. Hi, Kim! My library has a deplorable collection of essays, so I figured it was my obligation (since I had the gift card) to go ahead and buy it. If I don't want to keep it I can sell it to the used book store, give it away, or BookMooch it. That's how I convince myself it was the right thing to do, anyway. lol

    Lightheaded, I'm glad to hear that Take the Cannoli was a winner! I hope I love this one as much as other seem to. Can't wait to dive in!

    Amen to that, Eva! I also did some clothes shopping on Saturday (2 cute jackets, a shirt, and 2 pairs of shoes). Wheee!

    Thanks, April! You were part of the reason I got so interested in it!

    LOL, Kristen! Isn't Sloane the greatest name? It's like built in cool points. And Sarah Vowell is a very friend-like person isn't she? I could handle having her, David Sedaris, and Haven Kimmel on my speed dial.

    JEN, that's the exact one I went to!!!! I did miss the squishy chairs and such. And you're right, the layout was very...nonsensical!

    Andi, I haven't ever seen a vid of her talking, and I would imagine she would be hilarious even if I can't stand her voice. I'll have to YouTube her and see what I come up with. And yay for the five-spot in the pants! Score!

    Iliana, isn't that the greatest title?! Wish I'd thought of it myself. As for Vowell, I'll keep ya posted!

  15. Funkay!!! You've been reading my Goodreads faves?! That's so nifty! I'm glad they've been yummy. If you hated them all I would be really embarrassed. lol

    Katherine, when I heard her interviewed on Bat Segundo I was really surprised and slightly annoyed that so many people seemed to NOT GET IT. It seems like she's just a normal 20/30-something with some snark like so many of us. Go figure!

    Wendy, that is such a temptation isn't it? To self-gift with the gift card. I wouldn't be able to forge it either. hehe

    JRH, well I suppose *almost* living up to the cover blurb comparing it to David Sedaris is still a really big honor. I would love to have even a teensy drop of Sedaris funny in my little finger. :D

    Tammy, I'm right there with ya! All the forgotten and deserted books sitting on my Mountain are annoyed at this point and staring at me with malice in their spines.

  16. If that isn't the coolest thing that can happen to a gal, I don't know what is. Have a blast reading, Andiloo!

  17. Thanks, Nancy!!!! I can't wait to dive in. If I don't get these papers graded it's never going to happen though!

  18. Shoot! I was going to send you my copy of Year of Living Biblically!


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