Wednesday, February 27, 2008

more babbling...and hopefully a book review or two

I think I'm going to have to quit reading, so I don't have to write these book reviews anymore. It wouldn't be nearly so agonizing if I could just do a decent job at it. But then again, if I had to be good at something to do it, I wouldn't be left doing much at all. Ooooh...I think that thought just triggered my 6 Word Memoir.

Finding acceptance and contentment in imperfection.

I was so glad Becky tagged me with this one. Ever since I first heard about these 6 word memoirs on NPR a few weeks back, I've thought I'd like to write one. But I never actually took a minute to stop and really think about it. Turns out I didn't really need to stop and think about it though...seems as if when it was ready, it just popped out on its own.

Boy, I am really babbling here, aren't I? I guess now I should maybe go ahead and post the meme, huh?

6 Word Memoir

1. Write your own six word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.
4. Tag five more blogs with links
5. Remember to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

So, there you go the official blog-meme version. But now I'm pretty much going to blow off the tagging others part. I do hope EVERYONE will do it...they are so much fun to read!

Well, that was a nice diversion. But here I am with that darn book review still to write. Okay, let's just get this over with...

Notes from a Small Island: An Affectionate Portrait of Britain, by Bill Bryson. One of the reasons I've been dreading writing this review is the amazing mix of feelings I have about this book. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. Or more appropriately I should say, at times I loved it and at times I hated it. I gained nothing magical from this book, and I don't suppose it really has left me with anything lasting.

But I do now understand why Bryson is such a popular guy. (This is the first book of his I've ever read.) The man is funny. I'm sure to tally the number of times he had me laughing out loud, I'd have to use a few toes to go along with all my fingers. But even while I was laughing, I was beginning to get annoyed. By about half-way through the book, I just got fed up with his bitching and complaining. It wasn't even that I disagreed with him. And some of his rants were actually quite hilarious. But I just started feeling like at times the tone of the book was leaning too heavily to the negative...I mean his subtitle is "An Affectionate Portrait of Britain" after all. And in Bryson's defense, it really does come through quite strongly how much he loves Britain and the people who call it home. In fact, the last couple of pages left me a little weepy.

I guess I should have explained the basic "story" here first...Mr. Bryson, born and raised in the U.S., moved to Great Britain as a young man. He lived there for 20 years, marrying and starting a family. He and his family decided to move to the U.S. But before he left, he wanted to travel the through Britain one last time. So he sets off on a 7-week journey through England, Wales, and Scotland, visiting sites and cities he's seen before and many he hasn't. He travels by train, by bus, very occasionally by rental car, and by foot. This book is the story of this journey.

Okay, now back to my rambling thoughts. It was wonderful to hear about each city's unique flavor. It was wonderful to learn a bit about each city's history. But inevitably, Bryson found himself voicing the same complaints. Mostly to do with the loss to "progress" of the historical sites and buildings and overall feel in each city. As I said, it's not that I disagree. I find that a horrible loss as well. But it got to be like the proverbial broken record. Go to another city, walk around, complain about the horridly ugly new buildings.

In a way, I feel like I'm not being fair. Because there was so much about this book I really did enjoy. But then again, as I got farther and farther into the book, I found it harder and harder to make myself pick it up and read it. Yeah, I know, this is far from a helpful review, huh? Sorry about that. I guess it does say something that I still would really like to read A Walk in the Woods (which was the book I'd meant to read in the first place, but couldn't find it in our myriad of bookshelves when the time came).

Hooray! Along with filling in my "N title" for Joy's A-Z Challenge, this also finishes up Ariel's Unread Authors Challenge. I really enjoyed this challenge a great deal...for one thing, it got me to finally read some classic authors that have been embarrassingly absent from my previous endeavors. My list included The Halloween Tree (Bradbury), The War of the Worlds (Wells), A Christmas Carol (Dickens), I Was a Rat (Pullman), Animal Farm (Orwell), and Notes from a Small Island (Bryson). Thanks, Ariel, for hosting such a fun challenge!

By the way, and this has nothing to do with anything, but we didn't get the predicted amounts of snowfall. Ended up with 10 inches, so I can't complain too much (though 16 still sounds like more fun...oops, that's sort of complaining, isn't it?).


Jean said...

Yo! Do you know how many years it's been since we've seen even 10 inches of snow at the same time here in Virginia? Consider yourself lucky!

Ana S. said...

There is nothing wrong with accepting imperfection - after all, we are all imperfect in some way or another. But it makes me sad to see you say such self-depreciative things, Debi. You are a highly competent and intelligent person, and I really admire your ability to handle all the things you have going in your life AND still find time to read and blog. I wish you weren't so hard on yourself. You ARE good at the things you do!

I have never read anything by Bill Bryson, but the idea of a book about 7 weeks spent travelling in Britain does appeal to me. I know what you mean about too much negativity getting tiresome, though, even if we agree with the thing the person in question is complaining about.

Jean said...

My six-word memoir just came to mind based on a blog post I'm incubating. Here goes ... "She very rarely acted her age." Yeah, and that's a good thing, too.

chrisa511 said...

First of all, no one's I'm glad you accept that and are content with it ;) But like Nymeth said Give yourself some more credit!! :D You write such great reviews! Just the kind of book reviews that I like to read actually.

And congrats on finishing the challenge! I seriously need to get to work on finishing some of these's just not gonna happen!

Debi said...

Point well taken.

You are always so incredibly sweet, and you have such a way of making people feel good about themselves! Truly you do. And I'm sorry, I don't mean to be so self-deprecating...I think it's partly a self-defense mechanism. And partly I just find it easy to laugh at myself, but in a good way.

I know what you mean about spending 7 weeks traveling around Britain. I'd sure like the opportunity to try it and write my own version, wouldn't you? :)

Debi said...

Oh, that's brilliant! I love, love, love your memoir! I earlier thought of "At 44, I am just beginning" and while I sort of liked it, it just wasn't quite on the nose.

Thanks, and are you sure you and Nymeth aren't related? You're both too sweet for words, you know!

Melody said...

I echo Nymeth and Chris. You might be a little too hard on yourself, Debi. Regardless one is perfect! Hope that makes you feel lots better. *Hugs*

And congrats on completing the challenge! There you go... I didn't even complete mine! ;P

Kim L said...

10 inches of snow is pretty freaking good! I'm in MN and we haven't had snowfall like that all winter!

I liked your review of that book. I agree, too much negativity turns me off to a book. Even though I can rant with the best of them if I'm in the mood. I have to work hard at not spending too much time and energy on negative things in life. Blogging has been great, because most book bloggers are very nice and they are always encouraging each other. (you are a perfect example!! You always find something positive to put about my weekend fiction breaks)

I always admire how you manage to find time to blog and read on top of homeschooling! Most of the homeschooling moms I knew growing up didn't do any of that kind of stuff.

Debi said...


Well, thank you all so much for all your kind truly are too sweet! But gosh, I'm sorry...I swear I didn't mean to sound so hard on myself! Yes, I do accept that I'm loaded with imperfection, but honest, I am okay with that. It's so much better than that unrealistic striving for something unattainable.

gail@more than a song said...

I've seen the 6 word thing passing around, but I haven't done it yet because I'm terribly uncreative! Haven't thought of anything yet, but who knows, it might hit me out of the blue.

Dewey said...

Becky tagged me too, but I haven't gotten around to a 6 word memoir. At least I think it was Becky! I love yours, though. We are all imperfect, so imperfection is the only state in which we can find contentment or acceptance, really.

Anonymous said...

i love your 6 word memoir! reallu succinct and meaningful.

i totally agree with you about "notes from a small island". there were quit e a few points that i enjoyed too, but i got incredibly annoyed with all his bitching.

i guess, for me what bothered me about it wasn't so much the bitching in itself, but this... tone of righteousness in it somewhere... as if he knew better or was better or something.

that bothered me. did you get that from his tone? or is it perhaps something else?