The Week in Books 2009, No. 37

I like to enter to win things. You know, it seems like it would be cool to win a new washer and dryer, or $20,000 to remodel my family room (if I had one, which I do not) or a year’s worth of groceries. Hope springs eternal, thanks in no small part to the fact that I did actually win a book on my friend Jen’s blog. Cold Tangerines did not wash my laundry or provide victuals, but it did give me plenty to think about.

Cold Tangerines is a memoir of sorts, in the form of a series of essays on various topics as the author takes an honest look at who she is, how she got where she is, and what that means. I enjoy getting a glimpse of how other people think and respond to life, especially when they have a similar circumstance to something I’ve experienced, but they handle it a totally different way. Although I wouldn’t say the author and I have lived parallel lives or anything, there were some similarities mixed in with some marked differences. Niequist writes evocatively and authentically, and leaves the reader with thoughts to mull over and an appreciation for the extraordinary in the everyday. I’d recommend this book if you enjoy mental memoirs (as opposed to action memoirs, not “mental” in the sense of “gone plumb crazy”) or if you’ve ever wrestled with issues of purpose, gifts, or place.

Since I got a fabulous DSLR, I am reading photography books to educate myself on how to use it. Heretofore I’ve only used a basic point and shoot camera, so a lot of the terms and functions of good photography are new to me. I learned a lot from Understanding Digital Photography: Techniques for Getting Great Pictures
and I would recommend it as a good primer on the subject. I took a lot of notes, and now I need to go back and figure out how to translate that into the myriad option screens on my actual camera. I am never one to let an amateur hobby pass me by, mostly because I think it’s fun to learn about entirely new things and be inspired by people who are really good at something. Maybe someday I’ll figure out what it is that I’m really good at and only pursue that one thing, but meanwhile I enjoy being able to dabble in lots of different creative outlets.

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