“An Unlikely Bestseller”: The Guest Cat

It’s been a hot minute since I read a book for pleasure in its entirety. imagesFor a while, I was in the process of reading three books, because I couldn’t decide which to read first and each one satisfied different moods at any given time. Of course, work, school, OkiPaws, and Chuck generally compete for my attention, so neither of the three books (despite being pretty good) have been completed.

While browsing Huffington Post, I came across 12 Books That Will Lift You Up When You are Down. I briskly scrolled through but then quickly backpedaled to examine one title closer: The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide. If you know me at all, you know why I backpedaled, but the fact that it was a book about a cat written by a Japanese poet made me all sorts of curious:

A bestseller in France and winner of Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, The Guest Cat, by the acclaimed poet Takashi Hiraide, is a subtly moving and exceptionally beautiful novel about the transient nature of life and idiosyncratic but deeply felt ways of living. A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo; they work at home, freelance copy-editing; they no longer have very much to say to one another. But one day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. It leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. Soon they are buying treats for the cat and enjoying talks about the animal and all its little ways. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife ― the days have more light and color. The novel brims with new small joys and many moments of staggering poetic beauty, but then something happens….

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My old Roomie is famous!

This is How You Say Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir

“A razor-sharp memoir in which a young woman travels to Cambodia, Stockholm, and Paris to overcome the legacy of her difficult and charismatic father.”

My blast-from-the-past roommate at Oxford wrote a book! It’s a compelling, witty, and emotional memoir/travelogue about coming to terms with her father’s death from AIDS when she was a child. I would highly recommend if you are looking for a good and thoughtful read this fall!

My old Roomie is famous!

Currently reading:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I expected a tough read, but it’s actually not that bad, with the exception of the long names that I can’t pronounce. Luckily, Tolstoy repeats the full names with almost every reference, so that helps me keep the characters straight.

Chuck and I are reading it together, so we can discuss it together (and watch the movie when he gets home!) Supposedly it’s touted by some as one of the best novels of all time. We’ll have to see about that!

I finished The Great Gatsby last night, and my first reaction was “WTF, that was stupid! What a pointless mess!” But, after thinking about it and absorbing the message some more, I think that’s how I was supposed to feel… and I think I got it!

It was interesting how closely it paralleled some of my own experiences, and the lifestyles I was exposed to in my DC world. I frequented some lavish parties hosted by millionaires and their athlete/supermodel/celebrity friends, in decadent Georgetown and Embassy Row mansions and sparkling yachts.

Someone I know personally matches every character in the book, for better or for worse. I like to think I’m Nick Carraway – a relatively aloof and somewhat bored participant who recognized the emptiness of what we were doing, but participated anyway (albeit from a guarded distance without taking it too seriously, if that makes sense…)

Though I must say, our millionaire hosts weren’t quite as elegantly, mysteriously interesting as Jay Gatsby. There were plenty of rumors of course – but more along the lines of snorting cocaine off 14-carat gold bars just for the heck of it, and bizarre sexual practices with high-end hookers in Cannes or St. Tropez (or DC), and yes, maybe some investment fraud here and there…

But fortunately, no one’s lives were ruined by their extravagance… that I know of. Just reputations maybe… but even those stains disappeared with the relatively anonymous cycle of revelers that go in and out of those kinds of shin digs…

…Can’t wait to see the movie!

I downloaded The Great Gatsby last night because it’s appalling that I haven’t actually read this classic. (First off, can I just say it’s amazing to be able to download a book onto my iPad in mere seconds for just $4.99?? I feel like such an old lady being so easily impressed by technology these days…)

Anyhoo… I really want to see the movie, and I’ve heard the story is all sorts of relateable in some ways… but I refuse to see it till I’ve read the book. I’m also thinking of downloading (ah!!) The Beautiful and the Damned. I’m suddenly intrigued by this era of fiction… and craving the classics in general.

Life These Days (In a Nutshell)

Work is so busy! But in a good way. We have the Elected Officials BBQ coming up, two BizMixes, a bunch of Ribbon Cuttings, and the Safety Awards with the Department of Labor. I am thankful every day I have a job here where I feel useful and valued.

– Monday was Month 3 of deployment! I must say – my days go quickly, but the time on the calendar is dragging rather slowly. It feels like it’s been way longer than three months. In some ways, this deployment is easier than the first. In other ways, it’s harder.

– I’m heading home to DC this weekend, partially for my high school reunion, but also to see my girl friends, since my trips home are generally stretched too thin to see much of them! Should be fun (though I’m still a little nervous about the reunion! And whatever will I wear?!)

– I’m officially moving out of my house June 1, since our realtor is an idiot and screwed up our lease terms. It’s a huge/expensive pain in the tushy, but I’m grateful I found someone willing to rent me their house for 3 months…before we pack up and move yet again for GA!

– My search for cruelty-free beauty/hygiene products continues! As it turns out, all lists out there are kind of… inconsistent. It seems that brands are opening their markets to include China, which requires animal testing on everything. So rather than lose the Chinese market, companies are reversing their position on animal testing. HOWEVER, the EU just passed legislation forbidding cosmetic animal testing going forward, regardless of where the testing was done.. so it will be interesting to see how the companies adjust. I guess I need to decide how serious to get about this. Le sigh!

– I went to the doctor yesterday for my annual physical and am happy to report a clean bill of health! I did receive my 10-year tetanus/ whooping cough booster, however… and my arm still aches. Aren’t those diseases obsolete yet?!

– Finally, I need a good book to get hooked on, as I am relying far more than usual on TV to entertain me on lonely nights. Actively taking suggestions!