gone girl hardback IMG_5228I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be doing my first ever book giveaway for one lucky For the Love of Bookshop reader. And the book is … Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn! If you haven’t already been swept away with Flynnvy, let me just tell you: Gone Girl is a sneaky, page-turner of a psychological thriller that some are calling the book of 2012. Flynn immerses the reader instantly into an intriguing missing person plot — Amy Dunne vanishes from her home on the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary and all fingers are pointing to husband, Nick. The only problem? Nick is one of our narrator’s and he swears he’s innocent. Told in two different voices — Nick’s in the present and Amy’s from seven years of past journal entries (all disturbingly sentimental despite the years of marital hardship they describe) — we piece together a picture of a young couple whose relationship goes awry when both lose their journalism jobs in New York and are forced to move back to North Carthidge, Missouri to take care of Nick’s ailing parents. Neither narrator is particularly trustworthy, both being adapt storytellers and, you soon discover, expert liars. So whose version of the story is correct? And in any case, where’s Amy?

Flynn is the master of trickery, throwing in new twists and turns just when you think you’ve figured out what’s going on. With unpredictable characters, the reader’s task isn’t just to guess whodunnit; that’s the easy part. The real task is understanding how and why, and unraveling the complex psychological case studies that make up the Dunne family. It’s a ride, y’all, and perfect for a summer read.

If you’d like a chance to own my hardback, good-as-new copy that I’ve owned for exactly one week (because it’s that good!) please leave a comment below with an email address and the name of your favorite indie bookstore. Since this is my first giveaway and I want to include as many readers as possible, I’m making it open to anyone in the US, Canada or Europe. I hope to continue these book giveaways as a way to show my appreciation to you, my wonderful readers, and because, selfishly, I’d love to talk to you about the books I’m reading.

IMG_5232I will choose a winner on Friday, August 9. Until then, Gone Girl will sit on my shelf looking at you all with big puppy dog eyes (“Someone wants to take me home?”). Good luck and happy reading!

BTFPoster0809WEB2SM papersculpture EJExplainingTechniqueCan I confess something?

I suck at math. Growing up I was never the least bit interested in it, which didn’t bode well for me ever being good at it. Blame it on the school system for never (or not soon enough) furnishing us with energetic math teachers, or blame it on my right brain propensity for words, images and stories. Or just blame it on me giving up way too early. The fact is, I don’t remember a single time I ever enjoyed math class. I even remember not being all that wowed at those interactive kids museums that all the other kids seemed to love. You know the ones where they had exhibitions that tried to show math in action, math in real life? You know, the ones that tried to show how math could be fun? If anything, they made me more suspicious. “I see what you’re trying to do here. You’re trying to make math fun. Well it won’t work because I know better.” That generally was and, I’m sorry to admit, is my attitude toward math.

Until last night. (Actually, that’s a bit dramatic. My attitude hasn’t changed that drastically, but it has changed a little.)

Poor Luke. As the maths guy in our small family, he often has bursts of intellectual discovery of the mathematical variety and is just brimming over afterwards wanting to describe it to me. But unfortunately, as soon as that kind of talk enters the room, my survival instincts kick in and I shut down. Try as I might to stay with him — attempt to ask some intelligent question or some such — before long my eyes glaze over and I withdraw. So it was really quite brave of him to suggest we watch a documentary about origami last night, which he admitted, would probably have a math angle. And if I do say so myself, it was really rather brave of me to concede to watching it.

Origami really is pretty mathy when you come down to it. And yet, I find that it’s a visual representation of geometry and physics that’s distracting and disarming enough that you can talk to me about mathematical theories and I don’t want to run out of the room. I’m so distracted by the process and the final product, that I’m not thinking “math is bad, math is evil.” I’m just admiring this crinkly, light-flooded piece of paper and marveling at the life of the character that has emerged from its folds.

In the documentary Between the Folds, writer Vanessa Gould interviews some of the most brilliant artists and theorists (yes, that exists) in the origami community, all of whom seem to have multiple degrees in physics or math. They all get going in their equations and dimensions speak, but, they are definitely artists and their creative energy is palpable. I can latch onto that. I get that.

What do you think: Have you seen this documentary? Have you ever tried your hand at origami? I highly recommend Between the Folds, if you find yourself in the mood for documentary-watcing. Knowledge or interest of complicated math not required. You can watch the trailer below.

IMG_5200 IMG_5213 IMG_5176 IMG_5169 IMG_5166 sweetwater park eharwood IMG_5216 IMG_5218 IMG_5156sweetwater park eharwoodComing up to our two year anniversary in the Atlanta area, it seemed only proper to finally visit the park that so many of our green-seeking friends rave about on the regular. For good reason, as it turns out. Luke and I periodically crave the outdoors — as in, always — but living in the city you can feel miles away from them. Mostly because you are, though not always. But then, occasionally you remember that Stone Mountain is literally just down the road, and oh by the way, so is Sweetwater Creek State Park. And so you tootle on down the road, make your donation to Georgia’s conservation efforts and you let the white noise of the river clear your fuzzy brain. You admire the dappled river light glowing through the skeleton of an antebellum mill (burnt down the same time as Atlanta). You watch a heron for far too long expecting to see it do something clever like catch a fish. You walk along a shady river-flanked path and agree it would be the perfect place to read Huckleberry Finn. The perfect backdrop. And wasn’t it smart of your husband to pack it? But in the end, you’re too distracted with newts and turtles and herons and there’s so much to see, to soak in before it’s time to return to the city. And speaking of, you are getting hungry. So you promise yourselves to come back the next week and find out where that other trail leads, and then to come back another time after that and rent a canoe for a couple hours. When it’s cooler. Forty minutes later, you’re back in some hip neighborhood drinking craft beer and munching on heirloom veggies dipped in cheese fondue. Served on a slate, naturally. There are perks to the city life.

labordaycalendarLooking ahead to a long labor day weekend camping trip. The plan is to catch the ferry over to Cumberland Islandoff the Georgia coast, and enjoy three days of sand, sun, water, and cloud-gazing. Cars are not allowed on the island and it’s only accessible by ferry. Doesn’t that just sound perfect? Also, apparently, Cumberland Island has some of “America’s most beautiful coastal walks.” I don’t know why I’m always surprised when Georgia pops up on the odd “Top 10 such and such” in travel magazines. It’s not a bad place to live, politics aside. 

However, I will be sad to miss this.

A few more things:

I have been that person at a party before. Heck, I’ve been that person when I meet another women’s college graduate. Social alienation ensues.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Iceland is breathtaking. Maybe for labor day weekend next year? I can dream. Make sure to watch the video in HD.

Mmmm, tempura squash blossoms. Whose garden will I be raiding?

After yesterday’s post, I was feeling guilty about going out for breakfast so much, so we made enough of these to last us through the weekend. Used Deb’s recipe (naturally). I must say, it gave all our favorite pancake pervaders a run for their money.

With the money we would have spent on breakfast this a.m., I bought a book last night. 

Heading to Sweetwater this afternoon. Not the brewery. I used to think our friends were serious boozers for going there what seemed like every weekend. Even so, it sounded like a magical place. Hiking, creek swimming and beer? Then we realized the brewery must have been named after something and turns out it was. That’s not to say we won’t be making a detour on our way home… jk?

 

Otherwise, just daydreaming about this jagged, beautiful mountain. A few pics I don’t think I’ve shared yet from France. mont sainte victoireIMG_4164 IMG_4163 montsaintevictoiremont sainte victoiremont sainte victoireHope you have a refreshing weekend!

luxuryornecessity

What do you spend money on without even thinking twice? Where do you draw the line between luxury and necessity? When I was growing up, my parents were very frugal in our style of living. Going clothes shopping was a once or twice a year treat for my sister and me and we rarely bought anything that wasn’t on the sale rack. Similarly, eating out usually only happened on road trips or vacation, or for that quick Wendy’s burger after ballet practice (because it cut into our dinner hour). Otherwise, we ate at home. As for toys or high ticket items my sister and I pined for, it was a given that we’d have to wait until birthdays or Christmas.

There was one exception to my family’s frugality: media. Books, music and movies were the few luxuries my Dad (the most frugal one in the family) allowed himself and us. Growing up if there was a book we wanted to read or an CD we wanted to listen to, my Dad was usually more than happy to order it for us (from a local indie bookstore or record store, of course!). For him, media was a necessity. Which is why, now that I’m grown up and making my own financial decisions, I don’t think twice about paying full price for a book I’ve been wanting to read. I’m not extravagant by any means. I rarely buy more than two books per bookstore visit (I can’t read them that quickly anyway!), but as far as I’m concerned, a couple books a month is money well spent.

I’ve wanted to talk about the monetary value of books with you all for a while now, and finally, I’m starting a new series that will let us do just that. If you’re keen, I’d love to explore luxuries vs. necessities with you, as they weigh up against the cost of a book. We’ve all heard how important it is to support local, independent businesses, and yet, so often I talk to book loving friends who cite the cost of books as an obstacle to them buying from indie bookstores. Knowing that we all prioritize our expenses differently, I’m curious: What are those expenses that to anyone else might seem luxurious or extravagant, but to you are no-brainers? First up this week is one of my husband’s and my favorite guilty pleasures: Breakfast.

I hope you enjoy! And please, let me know what you think.Breakfastnecessity-page001IMG_5125 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA IMG_2589 breakfastIs it a luxury or a necessity that we go out for breakfast almost weekly? Obviously, it’s a luxury. The fact that I’m even asking that question says so much about our privilege here in the wealthy west. For Luke and I, we justify it this way: breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and, therefor, is possibly more of a treat than going out for dinner; not to mention, it’s the perfect way to mark a day off (“Yes, it’s Saturday! Let’s sleep in and then go eat pancakes!”); and, of all the meals, it is the cheapest one to eat out so we’re really saving money.

On average we spend between $15 and $30 per meal, which is the equivalent of one hardback book or up to two paperbacks.

So, you ask: If it’s the choice between one of these outings and a new book, which would I choose? No question about it. I’ll eat granola at home in my PJs any day if there’s the option of a brand spanking new book.

And now its your turn. What are some of your luxury expenses? How do books figure into your budget and which would you choose: breakfast or a book? I’d love to hear!

globe/map decor IMG_5141It’s not something I’ve considered much. The fact that I like to surround myself with the world. Doesn’t everyone hang maps in their homes? It’s true though: I gravitate toward map (and book) decor a bit more than the standard household. Always have. Two large maps flanked my bed growing up, given to me on request for my tenth birthday; a globe appeared on the kitchen table on my twelfth. I was fascinated with National Geographic from an early age (but then, what kid wasn’t?) and collected the maps that came with them every few issues. Blue tacked them onto my closet door. Just last year my sister gave me an up-cycled map lamp for Christmas. She knew it wasn’t just a childish proclivity. I still love maps.

Strange as it is to admit, it wasn’t until these handmade Map Drawer Pulls popped up in my email feed that I realized I had an obsession a thing for all things cartography. So in the spirit of claiming our quirks, here are a few pieces that I’m ready to sweep up this very minute.

worldmapdecalThis world map wall decal. It’s beautiful enough to stand on its own.

nationalparkchecklist

A check off map of the national parks. It would serve as a subtle reminder to book our next camping trip. northcarolinaprint

A print to remember where I grew up. And another for where my heart currently resides?

myrootsliehereAnd this one for Luke (impressively close to Luke’s actual hometown).

Do tell: do you have any decor collections? obsessions? tips? I’d love to hear them!

IMG_5128… that made me happy this week. Gooey brownies and hot fudge sundaes (I used Deb’s recipe for the fudge sauce — perfect!). I don’t often get a sweets craving, so when I do I like to go all out. These were all out there. gonegirlA new page turner. Seriously, on my day off yesterday, it would have taken a series of natural disasters to get me look up from my book. That said, I’m now a few chapters into Part II and I’m feeling less great about this psychological thriller. We’ll have to have to chat about it next week.mesaNMHearing my mom’s stories about a camping/hiking trip she recently took to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. Seriously proud of that lady and mesmerized by her pics. Luke and I have never been out west, but now we’re seriously looking into planning a trip out there in the next couple of summers.

A few more things…

Speaking of wanderlust: Jaipur.

How many accents can you put on? More than 21?

I don’t want to know what a Freudian would say about this being my new favorite blog. But I don’t really care — it’s so fascinating!

Speaking of gender, did you hear the Queen will no longer be the only woman on British money? And not just any woman will be joining her.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! What will you be reading?

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