Audio Book · nonfiction

Non-Fiction Friday! Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik

I have a great love of unusual facts. Like most people who enjoy trivia I also live to bring it up randomly in conversation. So, Mark Miodownik’s book Stuff Matters, about the origin, history, and possible future use of everyday things is an ideal book for me to gather tidbits to later regurgitate.

stuffmattersAs a materials profession Miodownik is well versed in the subject and understands how to communicate the information in a consumable manner. His writing style is beautiful but easy to comprehend. And, I appreciated that the explanations of the chemical makeup was understandable even when it veered into the anatomical explanation of materials. More importantly, Miodownik clearly loves materials and enthusiastically shares their uniqueness.

In each of the eleven chapters, Miodownik covers eleven different materials that make up ordinary items. Some chapters have an anectode or a personal pondering that introduces the material. All the chapters give the history, original uses, modern application and possible future form of the material. Whether he was talking about china, concrete, titanium, or paper I was riveted.

The only chapter I struggled with was the one on plastic. Here, Miodownik tells the story of a plastic candy wrapper at the movie showing of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He found himself in an argument regarding the appropriateness of plastic at the movie theatre. The information and delivery of the information would have been superb but he used Butch Cassidy’s storyline to deliver it. This meant that the delicious clipped British accent of narrator Michael Page took on the drawl of a movie cowboy. Also, I have never seen Butch Cassidy so many parrellels made to the story were meaningless for me. Still, I learned much about plastics and this chapter was not bad, at all, just the only less than perfect one of the eleven.

Mark Miodownik has been fascinated by materials his whole life. He ponders them in a way I would never have before listening to his book. But now, when I hold my china teacup, you can be sure I will be telling anyone around me about its origins in China and the humble lifecycle of its cousin, the mug. Oh thank you Stuff Matters for the wealth of ridiculous information I now have at my fingertips.


Tell me, please!

Do you wonder about the materials in everyday objects?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday August 8, 2018

WWW

Sam from Taking on a World of Words is back from her vacation! If you are curious about what she read for the past few weeks make sure and check out her site! If you want to participate, simply answer three questions: What are you currently reading, what did you just finish and what do you plan to read next. Or, if you are into chronology (like myself) you will go in order.


What Did I Just Finish Reading?

Ummm….not much. The upside of reading lots of books at the same time is that some weeks you finish 10 and other weeks you finish a measly little two. This week was a small finish for me with only Black Panther, The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith and Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid landing in my finish pile.


What am I currently Reading?

Oh Lord. Look what I have done. I am still working through The Two Towers and I started Daughter of the Pirate King and The Last Unicorn. I have had an erratic schedule this week and that means books all over everywhere and audiobooks in between. So, I have Homey Don’t Play That running while I commute and exercise and Hans Christen Andersen’s Fairytales playing while I clean, fold laundry, etc. I lost track of The Sandman for a few days and relocated it yesterday morning so that should be finished soon. As for the rest, we shall see what the schedule allows!


What Will I Read Next?

front cover

The only book I know for certain I will be reading next is Front Cover, Great Book Jackets and Cover Design by Alan Powers. We all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but we all do it anyway. This book goes through the history of the art that catches our eye.


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW list?


fiction · humor

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

I always enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s books. I have even featured her in an Author Obsession spotlight. Most people know her for her Shopoholic series but I vastly prefer the books she has written outside of Becky Bloomwood’s insatiable thirst for things. I didn’t even know Kinsella had a new book coming out until I ran across it in the Indigo bookstore in Montreal. It is the lone fiction book I purchased in my Canadian travels.

surprise_meSurprise Me is the story of Sylvie and Dan. They have been blissfully coupled for ten years, they have twin girls and they are so in sync that they can predict each others meal choices and finish one anothers sentences. All is idyllic. Except, of course, it can never stay that way. After a visit to their doctor they are told they could live another sixty-eight years. The realization that they will be eating together and sleeping together for that much longer fills them with panic. They decide (well, mostly Sylvie decides) to embark on Project Surprise Me to shake up their predictable routine. But not all surprises are fun.

The magic of Sophie Kinsella lies in her ability to redeem her character from the tailspin of poor choices they make in the first half of each story and present you with a reformed character that you adore by the end of the book. This may be a predictable formula but it never stales since Kinsella always manages to make me cheer and applaud as the characters eventually climb out of the mess. This particular story went a step farther and I found myself gasping aloud in surprise at one of the plot points. I went so far as to make a friend read the book so we could have the following conversation.

Me, “(Character redacted to avoid spoilers) was the absolute worst right?!?”

Friend, “The worst.”

Me, “But could you believe…???!!!??”

Friends, “NO.I.COULD.NOT.”

I admit that there were moments I wanted to strangle or slap Sylvie. It is difficult to explain why without spoiling some of the finer moments, but she just struck me as too fragile to be a true fictional friend. Dan had his moments with me as well. And just when I wondered how this was going to end, Sophie Kinsella worked her magic and gave me another fantastic read.


Tell me, please!

Have you read Sophie Kinsella’s books?


Audio Book · funny · nonfiction

Canada by Mike Myers

trudeau_cabinent

It was this picture from Justin Trudeau’s first cabinet that caught my eye. Much like spotting an extremely attractive person, I scrolled past it at first and then did I double take. Look at this magnificence! There are fifty percent women, minorities and a person with a visible disability all right there representing a whole country. Wait. Maybe that isn’t how legislation works in Canada. I had to look it up. My Canadian crush had begun.

Recently I returned from my Canadian adventure.  I spent ten wonderful days traveling by car through the province Quebec starting in Quebec City then up to Tadoussac and around again to Montreal before heading home. By the time I arrived back at my own house I was making promises to myself to never go outside again. But, after one good night of sleep in my own bed my crush roared to life again. Luckily, Mike Myers has a 2016 book entitled Canada and my library even lent me to audiobook. Good on ya library!

Mike Myers only lived in Canada until he was 20. Now, at age 53 his comprehension and eloquence on the subject of his native land is akin to hero worshipping. Or, as he says, “There is no one more Canadian than a Canadian who no longer lives in Canada.” With a straight delivery that I didn’t really expect from Mike Myers he tells the tale of growing up in Canada with two British immigrants for parents and how his family and his country made him who he is today. He added loads of delicious Canadian inside information that I ate up like it was covered in maple syrup.

I delighted in hearing about the morbid sense of humor most Canadians enjoy. Myers fascinated me with the different accents across Canada and the words and phrases unique to Canadians. When he started immitating the rising linguistics employed by most Canadians I was rolling with laughter. You see, I lived in Minnesota for three years before my Canadian crush. Minnesotans are similar to Canadians in only a few ways (to my untrained eye) but they absolute use rising linguistics. On top of all of this, Myers gave me plenty of little Canadian tidbits that I can use to be extra annoying when talking about Canada.

If you don’t have a crush on Canada but you are interested in Mike Myers he spends quite some time talking about how he found fame. His story is intertwined with Canada but he shares a number of personal anecdotes. The most interesting was how he created and popularized Wayne Campbell.

I was initially drawn to the notion of Canada and the ideals put forth by Trudeau before our tumultuous election and subsequent further division in America. It is difficult to explain how upset you become watching your country lose its morality and ideology. Listening to Myers talk about Canada, especially in the final chapter, gives me hope.


Tell me, please!

Have you ever been fascinated by another country?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday August 1, 2018

WWW

It is time for WWW Wednesday, my favorite meme! The gracious Sam from Taking On a World of Words continues to host even when she is on vacation! So, without further adieu, I give you…


What Did I Just Finished Reading?

 

I had a doozie of a week! Thanks to the Dewey’s 24 Hour (Reverse) Readathon I had a fire lit under me and I made reading a priority all week long. If you want to see how very poorly and erroneously my participation was you can read about it here. The above are the physical fiction books I read this week. The standouts are, hands down, Circe by Madeline Miller which I gushed about here and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin which I reviewed here. I also enjoyed Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella and that review will be up on Saturday.

As for audiobooks, I finished Stuff Matters by Mike Miodownik and loved it. If you are looking for a non-fiction book narrated in a crisp British accent that uses everyday objects to explain quantum mechanics this one is for you. I will give this gem a more thorough review in my Non-Fiction Friday segment soon.

I am also on the hunt for more Graphic Novels for my Sunday Comics section. I read The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell. It was a sweet short story graphic novel about accepting yourself and others through cosplay. I checked out Robot Dreams by Sara Aaron. And, finally, I got my hands on the second in a children’s series I love called Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke.


What am I Currently Reading?

 

This week I continue to journey through The Two Towers. I am approximately one-third of the way through the book and still enjoying it. Those Ents, even though they are a favorite of mine from the movies, take forever to make a decision and that passage slowed me down. But, I plan to get back to around 20 pages a day.

I am also in the middle of both the graphic novel The Sandman Vol 1, Preludes and Nocturns by Neil Gaiman and the middle-grade book, Black Panther the Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith. Finally, just this morning I started listening to the audiobook of Homey Don’t Play That: The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution by David Peisner.


What Will I Read Next

 

I need to read a western for my Read Harder Challenge and instead of a cowboy perspective I thought I would go with the Native American viewpoint. Yesterday I saw a post by Amanda from Literary Weaponry raving about Daughter of the Pirate King and since I have it waiting on my shelf I decided it was up next.


Tell me, please!

How is your reading this week? You can list your books below or, as always, feel free to link to your WWW post.