Monday, November 4, 2013

Two Fun Books From the Library Stacks


A Girl Named Zippy

Ignore the silly title, run, do not walk, to your library to pick this one up. Zippy grew up in the 70s, in small town Indiana. She writes like a crazy-cat-lady with moments of pure joy and wonder. I read this and relived the 70s, which was fun, but what I really loved was Zippy's mother. The God-fearing Quaker mother who loved Isaac Asimov, and dabbled in ESP, and spent twenty years making a permanent dent in the couch reading maybe forty thousand novels. I am completely desolated that the sequel to this book,  She Got Up Off the Couch, And Other Heroic Acts.. is not available from the library. I will be running, not walking to the library to put a request in the suggestion box. I really want to know what it was that got her mother off that couch.

The good news is that a number of Haven Kimmel's novels are in the library. Can they be as good as the autobiography? I will let you know.




One Red Paperclip

This is a very intriguing idea. A young man at a loose end, with no spare cash and no real interest in getting an actual job, wants to provide a house for him and his girlfriend. He decides to see if he can 'swap up' from a paperclip to a house. Apparently this is quite the story. Both my oldest children had heard of it via all the cool alternative news feed-y things they are always reading, but I only read about gardening and hadn't seen it until someone (?) recommended it on a blog.

It is clearly an enticing concept. I was reading it at the pool yesterday while in nominal charge of two nine year olds. They kept running back to me, a) to ask me for money for food/waterslide tickets etc and b) to find out what Kyle had swapped up to now. The first thing Posy asked this morning was whether he got the house...

I don't want to sound uncharitable, but I found this book a tiny bit, well, cutesie. I don't feel men ought to try and be cute. Men ought to be, well, manly. They can even lean towards the slightly grumpy. When they aren't being grumpy they can be truly hilarious if they want to. But not cute in a slightly teenage girly-sort of way. And he lets his mother cut his hair. That being said, I was struck by one aspect of Kyle's story - that in order for something interesting to happen, you have to put yourself, and your idea out into the arena where it can happen. This is not a new idea, or an astounding one, but here it happens over and over again, and it's a recurring theme, so it kind of keeps hitting you round the head with its sense, and also its sense of the possibilities. Because this is also not just about material gain, but about connections between people, and looking at out-of-the-box ways to achieve a very ordinary goal, and about the wonderful craziness of a silly idea coming to fruition. There is something very compelling about the whole thing. Red paperclip to house. Way cool.

9 comments:

SarahN @ livetolist said...

Oh I do want to read the One Red Paperclip story, I really do - just to see how it happened! But I'm a little loathed to add anything to my library reading list - between you and AnExactingLife and other blogs I read, I end up with more books being added, than I can finish!! I suppose if it's good enough, it'll resurface again and again and then it'll naturally get borrowed?

Jo said...

Hi Sarah, it's a fun read, and I read awfully fast, so I love big long library lists!

GretchenJoanna said...

My husband and I both loved Zippy, and he went on to read She Got Up, and told me I really must read it, too, but I haven't yet. Maybe after your review, it will happen this winter. :-)

theroadtoserendipity said...

Finally I can be sure that I will be able to put a hold on a book because the person touting the book actually lives in the same state as me! Zippy, you are on my future reading list :). Cheers Jo, sounds like a great read and as a kid growing up in the 70's (I was born in 63) I can "dig" ;). Her mum sounds like my grandma. She was into herbs, grew strange South American coloured popcorn and was into all kinds of weird and wonderful "ideas" that included some pretty strange thought processes. If you request that book in the area where the library considers your requests and I request it then they will probably buy it...lets do it! Get your mates to request it as well :). What got her mum off the couch? A man! God! She needed the loo! Now "I" need to know and I haven't even read the first book!!! She MUST be good ;). I love the clever marketing that went with One Red Paperclip but it smacked of pyramid marketing to me and is another case of getting in on the ground floor (being clever enough to work something out in the first place and making money out of it) and then selling the idea off and the great idea sliding down into a morass of sad people copying the idea and trying to make a fast buck :(. I know it is meant to be trading up but there are stupid reality shows about it now and I HATE stupid reality shows...a great idea just got "rooned". Cheers for the Zippy, much like the lighter with a similar name, I dare say it is going to set me on fire :)

e / dig in said...

i like men to be manly too. i think they are a dying breed now. maybe i'll pretend it's a girl - but then, i loathe cutesy girls too. thanks for the rec!

Jo said...

Gretchen Joanna, enjoy your winter reading; how lovely that you and your husband share good books - I did not marry a reader (except for Terry Pratchett, because nobody can resist them).
Fran, let's do it, we'll get that book by hook or by crook! And really, trading up shows? I did not know..
e, at least you know you'll find it in the catalogue. And I'm sure you will love Zippy:)

Judy said...

I used to love reading Isaac Asimov books as a teenager. It's a bit sad that I can never find the time for reading now. Perhaps I should turn into the mother on the sofa all day - an enticing idea :-)

In the half an hour twice a week, that I spend waiting in the car outside dance class, I do some reading. At the moment I have to do it by torchlight as nights have drawn in. Both the books that I am alternating between have a title beginning with the words 'Surviving the...'. You may have guessed that neither are 'fun' reads, but very informative.

Jamid said...

Hi there, found your blog through a Google search about housekeeping, and now I can't seem to leave! Love all your posts, especially the book recommendations I have seen so far! How do you find your ideas on what to read next?

Jo said...

Hi Jamid, what a lovely comment - you sound just like me, looking up a blog on housekeeping and getting distracted by the books. I'm so glad you are having fun here! I get so many good book recommendations from readers and other blogs. Whenever I find something I like the look of, I put it on my library list. It's so exciting to turn up at the library to find a shelf of holds. It's why I need a housekeeping routine, so I can read with a good conscience, knowing I've done all my jobs for the day!
(Or sometimes procrastinating a bit with an irresistible page-turner..)

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