More Wordless Wednesday here.
Photo by moi.
Our October road trip to Alabama was just fantastic. There’s so much to see there, who knew? I’ve included a few fun photos from the trip and a brief description of what they are below. Seriously though, road trips are the best. You never know what you’ll find along the way.
- The National Annual Shrimp Festival on the beach in Gulf Shores (which we just happened to stumbling upon)
- Noccalula Falls, a 90 ft. waterfall in Gasden
- A Japanese moon bridge in the Asian section of the Bellingrath Gardens
- The wall separating the lots of Truman Capote and Harper Lee’s childhood homes in Monroeville
- Mini golf at a cheesy putt-putt place with The Huz (it’s his favorite)
- Lots of seagulls on our ferry ride from Dauphin Island
- Margaritas, essential to any good trip
- The Alabama Booksmith bookstore in Birmingham
- The courthouse in Monroeville that Harper Lee based To Kill a Mockingbird on (it’s now an awesome museum)
- The Huz at the Parthenon in Nashville, TN (There are almost no photos of him, because he hates having photos taken, so unfortunately I end up in every picture).
- The Irondale Café, the inspiration for the Whistle Stop Café in Fried Green Tomatoes
- F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s home (now a museum) in Montgomery
- Dreamland BBQ in Birmingham (tangy deliciousness)
- Our tiny tent and such at one of our camping sites
- The Civil Rights Museum in Montgomery
It was a great trip and if you're ever headed to the Alabama area, I'd be more than happy to give you a few suggestions of places to stop. I still think that ever single state has so much to offer if you're willing to do a bit of research and exploring.
*All photos by moi or the Huz
This week's Top Ten from The Broke and the Bookish asks for Ten Books That I Read That Were Outside Of My Comfort Zone (whether you liked them or not)
I don’t read a lot of memoirs, self-help books or books about politics or economics. I don’t read these because I’ve learned that I usually don’t enjoy them. There are a few exceptions, but usually books about modern politics/economics bore me. Memoirs seem self-indulgent and gossipy and self-help books just aren’t my thing. Sometimes though, you stumble into new territory and you’re thrilled with what you find.
1) Freakonomics – I was expecting this to be really hard to follow and dry as toast, but it was surprisingly entertaining.
2) Watchmen – My very first graphic novel. A friend convinced me to try it and I was skeptical. Aren’t graphic novels basically just comic books? Nope, they’re amazing.
3) The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court – I do love learning about new things, but I might not have picked this one up if it hadn’t been for my United We Read committee. It was a wonderful read.
4) The Sparrow – A priest in space, doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, but it was SO good!
5) Cesar's Way - Cesar Millan’s books were really valuable to me this year as a brand new dog owner, but they definitely aren’t something I normally would gravitate towards.
6) Ender’s Game – The book that made me realize Science Fiction could be so incredibly fantastic. I love this book.
7) Twilight – Vampires, teen drama, swooning and such, not my style. But I got completely hooked on these, even though they are fluff books, and read the whole series.
8) Glenn Beck's Common Sense – A family member talked me into this one. It’s just not for me.
10) How Starbucks Saved My Life – My book club picked this one. It was fine, but it falls it reminded me that I don’t really like those books to begin with.
Image from here.
The Marriage Plot
by Jeffrey Eugenides
When I read summaries of The Marriage Plot it doesn’t sound that interesting to me. Three Ivy League college kids in the ‘80s graduate and try to figure out what to do with their lives. First there’s Madeleine, a clever girl, except when it comes to love. Then there’s Leonard, the passionate, but troubled man she falls for. Finally we have Mitchell, the intellectual who struggles with the question of faith and his unrequited love for Madeleine. It just doesn’t sound to original. Then I remember who the author is: Jeffrey Eugenides, who wrote Middlesex, which I loved! Suddenly the book is a must read and I know that however simple the plot sounds on the surface, they’ll be a whole different level of depth reached by the end. I’m so glad I Brenna at Literary Musings sent her copy my way!!!
So here’s the things about the summary, it doesn’t capture anything about why the book is good. It misses all of the nuances when you smack a “troubled twenty-somethings” label on it or reduce it to another love triangle book. Sure, there’s a love triangle, but the reason it is interesting is because it’s not really about the love or the triangle, it’s about the people caught up in it and what they’re thinking about life in general, not just love. You’re doing the book a huge disservice if you try to put a simple label on something so complicated. Imagine calling Middlesex a coming-of-age story and thinking that covered it!
The book rotates between all three characters’ lives. I particularly loved Mitchell's parts, where he's traveling and trying to figure out what he believes. I’ve found that when I travel on my own I learn a lot about myself. You have so much more time for internal dialogue and you’re put in situations outside of your comfort zone that test you in different ways. His experiences rang true for me. I also loved reading about Madeleine’s literary pursuits. Eugenides manages to weave dozens of references to classic books and to make those century old plots relevant in the story.
I didn’t love this one as much as Middlesex, but I loved so many aspects of it. I also love reading a book that gives me something to chew on. There were a few parts that became repetitive or lagged a bit, but the amount of literary eye candy I got was enough to balance it out for me. After just reading Middlemarch and The Portrait of a Lady this year, I loved reading a book that paralleled those in some ways.
The book doesn’t have the same epic scale or sense of humor as Middlesex, but it also doesn’t have the same disconnected aloof style of The Virgin Suicides. It feels like a book written by an author who may have found his groove. He can capture characters beautifully and lay them out in a way that is both interesting and accessible. In The Marriage Plot he has created a world that is easy to connect to, but also gives you so much to ponder. His story is about trying to figure out who you are, both in relation to other people and to the world at large. It’s about the unexpected paths your life can take and the people who you didn’t know would one day be important. I know that I’ll be reading whatever he writes next, even if it takes another decade.
"She thought a writer should work harder writing a book than she did reading it."
“There were some books that reached through the noise of life to grab you by the collar and speak only of the truest things.”
p.s. On a side note, I wish the book had a different title or cover because I read this on vacation and it looked like I was reading a marriage self help book. I was reading it while we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant and a waiter came up and asked what I was reading. I told him and he said the title made it sound like a Disney movie about kids trying to keep their parents together.