Saturday, October 31, 2015

10 picks for a book club reading list you can't resist

 Book Club (courtesy of
Maybe some of you could resist my list if you really tried, but why deprive yourself of delectable reading material just to spite my love of rhyme? Hang with me; the payoff is in the pages.

One of the hardest parts of any book club is selecting novels all the members will love every single month. While you're about as likely to find that as a unicorn, what you can find are wonderful books that most members will enjoy and the disenchanted few will at least be able to appreciate for some aspects (like gorgeous writing) and find topics to mull over.

I think of book club choices in terms of heavy and light. Alternating between the two strikes a balance to meet members' differing tastes and lets you temper that beautiful yet complex book one month with a breezier read the next. My heavy choices aren't really *that* heavy (War and Peace didn't even come close to making my list), but they weigh more in both effort and impact than light options. That doesn't mean they're suffocating or boring, but it does mean they should be masterfully written and leave you feeling like the time invested to read them was well spent.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Book review: "Just Kids" shares a rapturous look at art, love and friendship

How did I not read this beautiful, lyrical, infatuating memoir before now? Just Kids waited silently on my Kindle for nearly three years, bought on a whim thanks to a sale price and lush reviews. But with almost no knowledge of Patti Smith or her work, I foolishly let it languish along with so many other titles destined to collect digital dust.

The swell of articles and interviews for Smith’s recently released follow-up M Train rained down more praise of the preceding book as well as the new, reminding me that I really should see what the fuss was about. Already in possession of Just Kids, it was easy enough to get started. The hard part, I discovered, was to stop thinking about it.

The book details her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe that spanned from the late ’60s until his death from AIDS in 1989. Smith made her bold arrival in NYC at age 20 with only one suitcase, little cash and no fixed residence. She met Mapplethorpe the first day, and they soon forged a close bond that left them emotionally entwined and dear friends long after their initial romance ended. Just Kids focuses primarily on her early years in New York with Mapplethorpe before they both gained artistic renown, and before their lives and loves took them separate ways – physically, at least. They always maintained an emotional connection, one that Smith lovingly and eloquently recreates for readers.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Patti Smith drops some knowledge on us, and it's awesome

I've recently been reading the wonderful Just Kids by Patti Smith, and in searching for more information about her came across the video below. It's inspiring life advice for the young, the artistic, the human. Anyone, really.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Streaming video picks worth a click

Streaming options that entertained me over the summer months but I was too lazy to write up until now:

-Peaky Blinders: Love, love, love this drama about a criminally inclined family in Birmingham, England, set after World War I! Based on the real life Peaky Blinders gang, it includes an awesome and appropriately gritty soundtrack. It took me a few episodes to really get into it as I don't always care for harsh, gritty tales of crime and such. But once it pulled me in, it had me. It's kind of a British Boardwalk Empire. Two seasons are available on Netflix. Check out the oh-so-perfect for the mood theme song below.

-Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel: This sci-fi comedy features the adorably clumsy charms of both Chris O'Dowd and Anna Faris. It's fun, silly and pleasant. That may not sound like a ringing endorsement I suppose, but a good comedy is hard to find and this is one you'll enjoy. And it's streaming free on Amazon Instant Video for Prime subscribers.

-Catastrophe: This sitcom about an Irish schoolteacher and an American ad exec unexpectedly finding themselves in the family way after some casual hook ups is loads of fun. It's often surprising and just ever so occasionally a bit disturbing (I think that's unintentional -- the male lead has a layer of menace behind his words a couple of times, and I think it's just his expression and the way he says the lines that may be adding more than is meant. Otherwise, this could turn into a show about a serial killer and that would be a bummer). This also streams free on Amazon Prime.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Affair recap: Season 2, Episode 1

Helen sitting on her stoop, having a vape, not giving AF. Nothing to see here folks, move along. The Affair is back on Showtime, and it's got us hooked at the Choco household. Again.

Now that we already know the characters so well from season one, you fall into the first episode of season 2 like your comfy old bed -- with a dirty, dirty lover waiting in it.

The first episode shows us the viewpoint of Noah first, then his soon-to-be ex, Helen.