Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer Links


 

Oh, happy late July, dear ones.

We actually own our own tubes, which makes this activity #1 on the free thrills chart. Also: good beer in a can has changed my river life forever. Photo courtesy of the amazing Chris Perry, of deviled-egg photography fame.
I’m posting some summer links—the quick version because we are (seriously) tubing again today. 

 

Judith Frank’s big, beautiful novel All I Love and Know will make you laugh and cry. And I mean laugh in big loud snorting gasps, and also cry in the choking, snot-everywhere kind of way that makes your partner say, “What are you reading?” (Full disclosure: when I read this book, it was in manuscript form and was called “Noah’s Ark.” Because Judy’s my friend in real life.) The book has become weirdly, sadly timely, given that it starts with a terrorist act in Jerusalem, and a couple, Matt and Daniel, on their way to Israel; Daniel’s twin brother and his wife have died in the bombing, and they’re going to fetch the baby and 6-year-old they’ve inherited. It’s a political book in an excellent, stirring way, but of course the part I loved the most was the domestic: these two hip, young people returning to Northampton, Massachusetts with a pair of messy, grieving children. The kid scenes are completely hilarious and heartbreakingly real. Every detail is perfect: "At night, the upstairs hallway was lit up like an airport runway with night-lights." Perfect.

 

I also want to recommend one more to the grown-ups: Rufi Thorpe’s The Girls from Corona del Mar. (Full disclosure: I don’t actually know Rufi Thorpe!) I reviewed it for More magazine, and this is what I said: This is a ravishing, stay-up-all-night-reading kind of novel—a sad, funny, almost impossibly good debut about a decades-long friendship that spans decades and continents, teenagerhood and motherhood, unwanted pregnancy and addiction, dark secrets, fate, and, almost improbably, joy. How well we can ever know another person? The book seems to ask. How known can we ever be ourselves? This is rousing, high-impact prose: every sentence is like a ringing buoy or a slap in the face. Rufi Thorpe can write. Let’s just hope she can write quickly so we can read more soon.

 

Birdy wants to recommend Cammie McGovern’s absolutely magnificent YA novel Say What You Will. (Full disclosure: Cammie is our neighbor and one of the loveliest human beings on the planet.) “I liked the characters and the way the plot keeps changing,” she says, in what is not, I’ll admit, the most sparklingly worded review ever. That said, she basically lay in bed with the book, reading frantically and breath-holdingly, until she had finished. And then I read it too, and loved it almost as much as she did. Heads up: grown-uppy things happen in this novel about friendship, love, and ability.

 
Birdy also wants to recommend This Book Was a Tree: Ideas, Adventures, and Inspiration for Rediscovering the Natural World, by Marcie Chambers Cuff (a stranger!). It got the full Birdy Post-it-note treatment, and she got very busy making a terrarium, ASAP. 


She has plans to tackle many more of the lovely, sweetly illustrated projects. Meanwhile. . .

Is this too visually confusing, with the Munchkin lid? Note: you don't need the lid from Munchkin to play Qwixx. 
Our number-one game of the summer, for when we don’t have time for Catan, is the easy card/dice newbie Qwixx. It is somehow the perfect mix of strategic and untaxing, like Yahtzee crossed with Shut the Box crossed with Blackjack. We have played in clam shacks, at home, in our tent, and even at the Laundromat while we were waiting for our bedding to dry after a campground thunderstorm. On the very off-chance that the rules confuse you, here are the two issues we clarified (geek alert): 1) The active player can take the initial white dice. 2) The active player can take only one combination of white and colored dice.

Happy reading and gaming, friends! Please do weigh in with your current favorites. I can't tell you how much of your advice we've taken over the years.

39 comments:

  1. "One Summer" by Bill Bryson is an oxymoron. A history book that is a page turner.

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    1. Oh, awesome. Would that be a good listen-to in the car?

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    2. I just requested it from the library. . .

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  2. I'm a little goosebumpy over here - the Jerusalem connection feels incredibly powerful, and I sent the link to my sister who lived there for a year with her husband and two small children. And the Girls from Corona del Mar touches on a topic I feel passionately about (and am extremely slowly writing about) - the power of those blazingly intense female friendships from high school and college, and the way they can shape who we are. Thank you!

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    1. So many connections, Lindsey. Sending love. xo

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  3. Emily T10:18 AM

    Oh Catherine, that pic of you tubing is so joyful!

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  4. I just read "The wind is not a river" by Brian Payton. I picked it up randomly at the library but then couldn't put it down. It's about a journalist who is caught behind enemy lines during WWII and his wife who joins the USO to go look for him.
    Also I read Railsea by China Mieville. It's a YA book but I was totally engrossed. It's a steam-punk/sci-fi retelling of moby dick, but instead of hunting whales they are hunting giant moles. I know it sounds absolutely ridiculous but it was really enjoyable.
    http://stumptowncrafter.blogspot.com/

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  5. tracyp12:24 PM

    The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove. A tween book, but so engrossing. my kids have no interest in reading it, but i loved it. They might have no interest because it is a very difficult book to describe. I keep saying, "but it's so interesting. There's this Disruption which happens a long time ago, and makes the world different. So that different Ages are the countries and continents. And then it's about maps, but not just paper ones, glass, metal, and they have memories in them? and, it's really interesting." Apparently, I cannot review a fiction book to save my life! But, trust me. It's a really neat, original book. And, guess what? Not a vampire in sight!

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  6. Francine12:57 PM

    I read "Le lièvre de Patagonie", Claude Lanzmann memoirs (not translated in English yet?). Resistance, trips to Germany (s) and Israël after WWII, partnership with de Beauvoir, war of Algerie, the making of his great documentary. I learn a lot and read the news with a different (if little) understanding.

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  7. steph5:17 PM

    oh how I loved this summery, happy post. thank you for sharing!!

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  8. Anonymous12:02 AM

    We love a Gamewright card game called "Gubs." By "we" I mean my 11 year old son (who likes most games but loves this best), my 9 year old (who generally doesn't like games that have rules), my husband (who generally doesn't like games of any sort) and me. It's a funny little game, involves both strategy and luck and you never know who will win until they actually do win. We alway end up laughing.

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    1. Anonymous10:46 AM

      GUB! We love Gub and have made all of our extended family infected, we play it all the time and it is so great for mixed ages, since you never know who will win. And it can be quick or slow, perfect after-dinner-before-bed game. And portable, just a deck of cards. GUB!

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    2. I bought Gub based on this recommendation and we played it for the first time this weekend. Huge hit! My kids (8 and 6) love it and they caught on really quickly. My husband played with us last night and he was surprised by how fun it is.

      Definitely a game that can be fun across age ranges. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  9. Flapjacks and Sasquatches for endless card/dice fun. Can be played joyfully with kiddos (and, I think, was actually invented as an alternative to Candyland, which is deadly boring), but doubles as a drinking game for consenting adults.

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  10. Heads up - the link to Say What You Will is missing its "h." Not too hard to figure out but I'd hate for anybody to get frustrated and give up because it sounds like such a great book!

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  11. Favorite summer reads: Will Grayson Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green (yes the John Green that wrote No Fault in Our Stars also great my sis-in-law knows him - my own brush with fame). The Bone Garden - Tess Gerritsen (recommendation from blogging doc friend wonderful historical fiction). The Devil in Silver - Victor Lavalle - just finished this the other day on a five hour delay with kids in Atlanta on way home to AR from Boston. It was indescribably amazing.

    We have two terrariums in our house. Love them. Didn't know I could make one myself. Exciting! Thanks for the book recs. Looks like your fleeting summer is as wonderful as ours.

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  12. The game of our summer is Menu Mash Up, which is Apples to Apples with food. Great for laughs. It can be adapted for vegans, gluten-free, etc.
    http://www.chroniclebooks.com/titles/menu-mash-up.html

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  13. We've been playing a lot of Hanabi, a cooperative card game in which logic and clear communication are paramount. I adored the YA novel Code Name Verity, which is YA in the "I'm a history geek" way, not the "some mature themes" way, although any novel about the French Resistance is likely to contain some brutality. I liked it because of its fierce female friendships, but also because it has a bibliography with resources that sounded so interesting I had to put them all on reserve at the library the day I finished the book.

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    1. I love Hanabi, though it is so hard not to cheat. xo

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  14. Oh, and thanks for letting us all know that Judy Frank's book had been published. Can't wait to read that one.

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  15. Anonymous10:43 AM

    Wondering where you go tubing in the Valley.... the Deerfield?? If so, WHERE on the Deerfield, exactly?

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  16. Have you read J.K Rowling's book Cukoo's Calling, (published under psuedonym "Robert Galbraith"? Holy sh*t, she is crazy good.

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    1. Robin4:37 PM

      There's a sequel to the Rowling, also under the pen name, called The Silkworm. Also very good!

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  17. Our current favorite game is Ruckus. It is so easy that a kindergartner can play (why does the box say 8+? We think it is because the names on the cards require reading - but once you memorize them - which took our 6 year old exactly two hands of play - the reading is immaterial to the play - and you don't need the "official" names anyway!!) but it is fast paced and hilarious - and ANYONE of any age could win! Elsiroomom

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    1. I will look into it! Yay.

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  18. Oh, we are huge HUGE Munchkin fans, over here. And how do I not know Qwixx? And tell me you know Puerto Rico? Less brand awareness than Catan, but our Epic Civilization Building/Fictional Colonial Dictatorship Game of choice!

    Reading Johnny Tremain (really, I know) with my eldest, his summer school read, and have found myself up past one more than once, having fallen deep into its plot. I had no idea. Also: Beyond the Beautiful Forevers. Not yet finished. But, gah. Gut punch.

    Finally: your crisp. Game changer. So good. Have adapted and made many times, this summer. May post a re-mix here, shortly. Even better than Johnny Tremain. And that's sayin' something.

    Happy almost-August!!

    xo,
    M

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    1. Puerto Rico, yes. A favorite. And the card version San Juan is out of print but so distilled and good. And Molly, Beyond the Beautiful Forevers is so haunting. Please keep us posted on the crisp. . .xo

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    2. Both my children (12 and 10) have read Johnny Tremain. My 12 year old could be seen each morning in our rented RV for several days running - window open to let in light without waking us - reading away!
      Elsiroomom

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  19. PS: The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson. YA fiction, of the fantasy ilk. Crazy read. Son read it, loved it. I read it, surprised myself by loving it. He loved it so much he went on to read the first two volumes of Sanderson's ten-volume saga. At 1,000 pages each. I drew the line, there. But The Rithmatist comes in around 300 pages. And fine ones, at that.

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  20. Francine3:33 PM

    Oh, and yes, we play the game "vache intello" (hum: the intellectual cow, nobody remembers why it is called that). You need nothing to play it but, if you feel like it, your most perfect accent from any country. You ask a silly question, let say "why is a tick talking in the mustard pot" and the other person has to invent a long plot that, eventually, answers the question. I realize it is like a game from nothingness but we laugh a lot playing it. :-)

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  21. Have you read (or mentioned? maybe?) The Miseducation of Cameron Post? Which is fantastic LGBT teen fiction that I only requested and read (and adored) because a nearby school board removed it from our local summer reading list and caused a huge hubbub in the paper and the blogosphere, resulting in a super response from the author, emily danforth, and a giveaway sponsored by afterellen.com. Anyway, after I read it, I officially thanked them for the recommendation. Hee hee hee. Anyway, it's good. :)

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  22. Anonymous12:22 PM

    I bought "This Book Was a Tree" for my 9-yr old daughter and she has not put it down since the package came, she LOVES it! Thank you so much!

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  23. Anonymous1:28 AM

    I always love reading your blog, but I do have to say, by comparison I feel very lame. I would like my children to have more cerebral, nature-y interests, but at the end of the day I'm plumb exhausted and just want to let them watch cartoons while I get dinner ready. Then I panic that they are wasting their minds with mindless stuff. It's a constant re-evaluation for me. But it's inspiring to read your words and those of your fans who seem to have similar practices.

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  24. Caitlin1:01 PM

    Sigh. Anyone have a Canadian source for Qwixx?

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    1. Caitlin, this is the same game, only in German:
      http://www.amazon.ca/Nurnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag-4015-Kuu%7Eikkusu-Qwixx-import/dp/B00AAULB4O/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1411654522&sr=8-2&keywords=qwixx
      Buy it, then download the instructions in English from the Gamewright site.

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