Monday, August 1, 2011

Things I haven't been reviewing, 2011 edition

I just realized it's been exactly one year since I did my summer roundup of interesting things I'd recently read/seen. So I thought, why not make it an annual event? Thus, here is my list of things I have enjoyed in the past few months, in no particular order:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer - I had to read this one for book club, and it's one of the few book club books that I've really enjoyed. (I'm working on overcoming the trauma of Still Alice and trying not to freak out when I can't remember something). I can totally see this book as a movie. I love the character of Juliet, and stories written in letters. I wish I belonged to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society!

The Adams Chronicles (PBS, 1976) - I haven't seen the new John Adams movie, and I didn't know anything about John Adams, but it was on sale for $10 at a store last Christmas so I picked it up. I'm not done yet, but I love this series! Such a bargain for ten bucks! Abigail Adams is my hero. I'm so mad I never learned about her before this. She was a feminist AND she was opposed to slavery AND she has her own mystery series! Which makes her 200% awesome. I love her and John as a couple, and how they were so smart and affectionate and loyal to each other. Plus, I really just enjoy the late 18th century as a time period. As much as I love the 19th century, there's something about the 1700's that I think is also great, especially in North American history. I'm not as big a fan of the ostentatious Marie Antoinette-style dresses, but I love the simple ones worn by women of the period - here's an example I found online.

Also, tricorn hats = win!

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See - A really interesting look into 19th century Chinese women's lives. I had no idea footbinding was so brutal. After reading this book, you'll realize how little women were valued in that society and how restricted they were. Although I enjoyed this, I found the ending to be a real downer because everybody dies.

Victorian London by Liza Picard - My love of Victorian London never ceases. I'm fascinated by all the little details, reading this book with a giant map of London by my side so I can locate the places the author talks about. Victorian London is like a vacation spot to me, a place I never get to go to but know so well just from the descriptions. I'd visit in a second if I had the chance, but the smog and cholera would probably kill me after three days.

Manor House (PBS, 2001) - Yes, I'm ten years behind on this one, but I'm enjoying it as much as 1900 House last year. I was glued to YouTube for the few days I watched this show (what would I do without YouTube movies?) This one is set in the Edwardian period and shows just how miserable the lives of servants were. The people playing the rich people, though, loved being waited on hand and foot and didn't want to leave at the end of the three months. Hmm, I wonder why?

The Once and Future Giants by Sharon Levy - I don't talk a lot about my love of science and all my science reading on this blog, but as this is an "anything goes" list and I loved this book, I thought I'd throw it in here. It's an account of what our world looked like at the end of the last Ice Age and how our ecosystems have gone haywire without the megafauna that are supposed to be roaming our landscapes. Some people have even proposed inserting African elephants and other large animals back in North America as replacements for their extinct cousins. All I know is, I want to be the first to sign up to have a wooly mammoth as a pet. They're like elephants, only fuzzier!

Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition. My guilty pleasure reality TV this summer. There's just something about weight loss shows that draws me in. It's three parts inspiration, one part horror at seeing how other people eat. This show is great, because it doesn't just chronicle people losing ten pounds (big deal), but actually hundreds of pounds in one year. Every time I watch this show, I want to immediately go to the gym afterward.

That's it for another year - unless I go wild 'n' crazy and do another one at Christmas or something. In the meantime, lots more good book reviews ahead, as always!

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