Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book backwards of sort a.

Every once in a while Peanut asks us to read to her backwards. At first I thought it was really odd but then I realized that maybe it is her way of focusing more on the words, since I tend to read more slowly that way and use my finger to follow along with the words.

La Bete Humaine is not backwards word for word the way that Peanut likes us to read her books. But the premise is kind of backwards. A murder happens pretty early on in the book and there is no disputing who committed it. The rest of the book deals with the fallout from the murder and basically what happens next in the perpetrators' lives. The book also centers around a French railway line and a lot of the activity occurs in train stations and on trains.

Although this book was written in 1840 there are some pretty modern themes in this book and the construction of it seems way ahead of its time. I really, really liked it. This is one of just a few that I highly, highly recommended to Mike that he read. I think he will find it super interesting.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Really tasty chicken.

I just didn't get Berlin Alexanderplatz at all. Here's this guy, released from prison, going about doing stuff in 1920s Germany, and it just wasn't that interesting, and I really didn't care. I'm sure the book has lots of meaning and significance but I wasn't able to find it at all. Oh well.

So this is how my mom makes these really tasty chicken thighs.
Chicken thighs
Bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
Poultry seasoning
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350, and place pan you plan to cook chicken thighs in oven so it gets hot. Meanwhile, in a ziploc bag place equal parts flour and bread crumbs, plus a dash of salt and pepper and some poultry seasoning. Put each chicken piece in the bag individually to coat with the mixture.

When oven is hot, remove pan and immediately place about a tablespoon of olive oil on it, tilting it to coat the whole pan. Place seasoned chicken thighs skin side up in pan and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and turn chicken pieces over and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Anna Karenina discs 1-15, or WHY TOLSTOY WHY?

I got Tolstoy's Anna Karenina on CD to listen during my commute. It's thirty discs long. THIRTY. Makes sense, since the book is gigantor, but it's the most I've ever tackled. Luckily it's split into two sets of fifteen. I finished the first set last week, and let me tell you, Tolstoy likes words. Also, everyone has a super long name. I thought I was going to be bored out of my mind, but it's actually a compelling story. Levin likes Kitty, but she refuses his proposal because she's waiting on Vronsky. Meanwhile, Vronsky and Anna fall in love and Anna cheats on Alexei Alexandrovitch and he's mad. Anna is Stiva's sister, and Dolly is Kitty's sister, and Dolly and Stiva are married but Dolly is upset because Stiva is sleeping with the governess. Kitty realizes that Vronsky will never propose and she's sad because she could've been with Levin, and she gets sick and goes abroad to drink special waters and rest at a spa. Anna gets pregnant with Vronsky's child and Alexei Alexandrovitch debates on what to do regarding their marriage. Kitty comes back, Levin gets over himself and re-proposes, she says yes, and at the end of this set of discs, they are going to get married.


Throw in various political asides, lots of trips from Moscow to Petersburg and the country, carriages, troikas, Levin's life in the country and his idealization of peasant life, and that's my summary of the first chunk. Epic. I am really liking it! Also, the reader on the audio book is fabulous which makes a huge difference. She's got a slightly different tone for each character without being cheesy. There is so much drama and family goings-on. I'm kind of irritated by Anna, to be honest, and I like Kitty and Levin a lot. We'll see what awaits in the next fifteen discs (I'm actually on disc 18 right now but there's still a lot!).


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Oh, Africa.

A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul was one of those books on the list where it is a novel, but it is also intended to teach something. It wasn't heavy handed or annoying though - I really was interested to read the story set in a post-colonial African city. I knew nothing at all about this topic before beginning the book. The main character is not from the city and goes there to set up a little shop and witnesses all the changes and troubles that people have there. The main character is not necessarily likeable (I'm mainly referring to the fact that he beats up a woman at one point).

Another interesting point is that his family (who lives on the coast of Africa) had slaves dating from a long time ago but it has become way different from US pre-Civil War slavery. The tables have kind of turned on his family and they can't do anything about the slaves. The slaves (which have now multiplied and become numerous) are entitled to the family's care and support.

This was generally pretty interesting, if a little slow at times.