Monday, December 29, 2014

November and December Book Report 2014

It's shameful. I know. I'm currently reading interesting stuff, but my speed is way down since about the middle of November. I binge-watched two full seasons of "The Mindy Project" and I'm still binging on "Finding Your Roots," which is a little like a book. I'm definitely learning a lot from that show. "The Mindy Project" is just for laughs. I'll be back on track in January 2015! Go team.
1. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
We were about to leave Melissa and Jeff's house after a fantastic Thanksgiving and I needed something to listen to during the 10 hour car ride. Something that was not The Winds of War by Herman Wouk, which is what I'd tried to listen to on the way to Arizona. Vacation Reads are kind of like Beach Reads for me. I couldn't bear heavy, serious stuff at that moment. Melissa suggested Mindy Kaling's book, so I hurried and downloaded it from Audible before we left their house. I laughed a lot during Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy is smart, a graduate of Dartmouth (which makes Dr. Prentiss from "The Mindy Project" even funnier to me - I suspect he is a real person). She has the perfect combination of nerdiness and girliness. I completely get her sense of humor. We would be friends in real life. :)

I listened to this a while ago, but one of the essays that sticks out is her take on one night stands. They're gross and scary. Testify! Obviously (right?) my life is nowhere near a one night stand, but I've often wondered what possible appeal they would have to anyone ever. Mindy expressed the same sensibility and she is close enough to that lifestyle to at least hear stories from girlfriends.

Mindy Kaling is a pretty rare bird - female, Indian, chubby (her word), and extremely successful. I like that she had the tenacity, ambition, education, and talent to make a life doing what she loves. She is definitely getting funnier and better at her job as she goes. It was fun to listen to her perspective and spot-on observations and laugh. Like I said, I get her. "The Mindy Project" can be pretty crude, so I wouldn't recommend it outright (especially not to my Mom and Dad), but if you are a girl born in the 1970s and you've rolled your eyes at least once during every romantic comedy you've ever seen, "The Mindy Project" is for you. Kellie! You'd like it. :)

2. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
See? I can only read candy right now. I was one of those people who watched "The Princess Bride" with my family and quoted it with my friends. I love that movie! It might be the perfect movie. After the 25 year reunion in 2012, Cary Elwes wrote this book. I guess he was asked what the movie has meant to him during a question-and-answer session and he didn't feel like he gave justice to how "The Princess Bride" has truly affected him. Elwes goes through the whole process - from the movie getting made, to him getting the part, to the production and release and aftermath. Elwes has a real talent for impressions. He did have most of the cast on the audiobook, too, but it was fun to hear him do a gravely voice for Andre the Giant and his impression of Rob Reiner was so close that I sometimes mistook him for the real Rob Reiner (who also did several readings on this audiobook).

I don't know if I came away with anything really new after reading this. There were some stories that were told from several perspectives when they didn't need to be. I enjoyed the stories about Andre the Giant. It sounds like the making of the movie was just a huge love fest. (Also, actors are so insecure! Almost everyone in the movie thought they were going to be replaced or didn't feel like everyone loved them or something at least once during production. Sheesh.) The synergy for "The Princess Bride" is very rare - the writer, the director, the actors, the setting, the story. Everything was just right. The love definitely comes out and that's probably why the movie has endured so well. I'll watch it differently from now on. Because of course I'll be introducing it to my kids. :)

3. Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
I know! It's not a book. My other two books are mostly TV and movie, too. Sigh. I just can't right now, okay?! This is a really good show and I think you should check it out. I want to be friends with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. I think we're family history kindred spirits. I absolutely love what he's teaching me about race and history. I already have a strong... testimony? that knowing your family history makes you a better person. We can feel the experiences and struggles of our ancestors in our spirits, I think. It's interesting to see how Mr. Gates's guests identify themselves and then for them to see where that feeling might be mirrored in their family history. I'm fascinated with all the DNA research as well. 

One of my favorite parts of "Finding Your Roots" is when they find the white ancestors of African Americans. The African Americans he's had on the show identify solely with their black ancestors. Every one of them has a white ancestor in there somewhere. In some cases the union is clearly involuntary, but in Mr. Gates's case, his white male ancestor married the African slave he bought and was thereafter shunned by white society. Remarkable. And Wanda Sykes's eighth great grandmother was a white indentured servant in Virginia in the 1600s who had a child with a black slave, so everyone who came after this white woman (Wanda called her the first white trash - ha!) was a free black person. The law said that whatever the mother was, the children were. If a mother was a slave, the children were slaves. Wanda's eighth great grandmother was an indentured servant, a free person, so all her children were free. History is so interesting!! There are many, many stories that are better than fiction. 

So! Watch it. It's a PBS show (I've linked to it in the beginning of this post).


Jill said...

I got a good laugh out of Mindy's book too. Some light reading like that is always good.

Thanks for the PBS recommendation. I can't wait to watch. I loved the Generations Project on BYU TV and Who Do You Think You Are, which they don't make anymore. This one looks great too!

Looks like you had a beautiful Christmas!

melissa said...

I'm so glad you liked Mindy's book and I've been wondering about that Princess Bride book. I will definitely read it, because that's all I can wrap my brain around, ever. And I don't have any excuses like Christmas or birthdays or anniversaries or sick kids. You're doing it! No need to apologize for being as dumb as the rest of us.

That show sounds awesome!