What is an Honest Woman, Anyway?

I'm a book monogamist. With the exception of being able to listen to an audiobook while also reading a paper or digital book, I usually read one book at a time. Here lately, though, I've been slinking around with multiple books at once.

Here's how it happened: I was reading Edith Hamilton's classic Mythology as preparation for the fall. This is a good thing since I have assigned it as required summer reading for my classes. But I've read it before, though years ago, and am already solid on my mythology foundation, so everything was familiar. Dare I say it was a bit boring? (For most of my students, it will be their introduction to these myths, so I'm crossing my fingers. My son loves it and wants me to read him more from it, so there's hope). But it's true. I was bored by my own selection. So, I found myself wanting something else to read at night before bed and chose Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses, which someone recommended to me a life ago. It is good. Quiet and good and chewy and thoughtful, and I will have a full set of thoughts on it soon. That's just two, totally manageable books. One for day/work; one for night/pleasure. All was well.

But then, during our recent travels, I was exploring Oyster some more (lots of good stuff there, y'all.) and found Mark Bittman's Food Matters. It's something I could read while the extended family watched TV in the evenings, and though it is not nearly as well-written or inspiring or ... anything as Michael Pollan and others, it does a fine job outlining some basic concepts, and I will try several of the recipes he includes. In fact, I will probably share more on that front as part of Trish's Cook it Up: A Cookbook Challenge. When I finished that, I needed something I could read on my kindle at night because my better half was getting up ridiculously early to volunteer at the Greenbrier Classic PGA tournament, and I didn't want to keep a light on any later than necessary. So, I turned to my most recent download - Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. I knew AKR only as a picture book author, so this book was a surprise to me - on so many levels. Let's just say this book made an honest woman out of me. I dropped all other possible reading options to devour this one whole, and I highly recommend it.

Laughter is a key component in any relationship I embark on, so the fact that I was laughing out loud at the Reader's Agreement before the book even began was a very good sign indeed. And I just kept on laughing - to the point of tears at times. Isn't that feeling tremendous? When you're cheeks hurt a little, and you're trying not to be loud, and your stomach is all tight, and the edges of your eyes get wet? I love that. I also loved the encyclopedia-style brief entries of this book, which still manage to hang together in a thoughtful and cohesive way. AKR creates an odd and comforting intimacy here, and I'm betting I'm not the only one who now feels like Amy (yeah, I call her Amy now) and I could be friends. We have so much in common! We both get anxious about Vending Machines! We both feel strongly about Busy! We both get weird about Clapping along at a concert or other large group event!

But don't take my advice on it. Do what Sherman Alexie suggested and buy this book for your friends. I know I will.

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