mon, 11-jul-2011, 18:22
highlight from Sputnik Sweetheart

Highlight from Sputnik Sweetheart

Sputnik Sweetheart is a book about loneliness. There are three main characters, including the narrator who is in love with one of the women in the story. She is in love with the other woman in the story, who can no longer love at all after losing half of herself atop a ferris wheel in Switzerland. If that sounds strange, well, it’s Murakami.

It’s a short book, slow moving, but very captivating. Cats appear and disappear, and there’s even a dog or two. But loneliness is the primary emotion. This section reminds me of a Buffy episode where a girl actually does disappear because no one pays any attention to her:

But past a certain point nobody talked to me anymore. No one. Not my husband, my child, my friends . . . no one. Like there was nothing left in the world to talk about. Sometimes I feel like my body’s turning invisible, like you can see right through me.

Good book. Maybe not Murakami’s best, but very enjoyable.

tags: books  review  Murakami 
sat, 09-jul-2011, 15:09
Hornet’s Nest, Koidern

Hornet’s Nest, Koidern

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is the third book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous two books, you will enjoy this one as well. Like the others, once you get into it, it is difficult to put the book down.

It’s not great literature, and there are hard to overlook flaws (anytime an interesting woman appears, there is a good chance the main character will eventually sleep with her), but it sure was fun to read. I’m looking forward to watching the movie.

This was the first book I read electronically, on an iPad and iPhone. I didn’t think I’d like this as much as I did, and will likely read a lot of books this way in the future. The only limiting factor for me is that most electronic books include Digital “Rights” Management (DRM) encryption, which means that it is a real hassle (and is probably even illegal in the U.S.) to convert these books into formats that can be read on different sorts of eBook readers. I don’t like the idea of buying something that I can only read on a particular device or software package because the support for that system could easily disappear in the future. Plus, if you buy books from multiple different sources, you have to have a different reader for each of them. For now, I will probably only purchase books using formats without DRM, or with DRM that is easily circumvented (like the Kindle format, for example).

tags: books  Buddy  review 
sat, 09-jul-2011, 11:20
grinding wheat

grinding wheat

I’ve had a Country Living Grain Mill for a couple years now, but without a motor, which meant grinding grains by hand. It’s certainly doable, but over time, I found that the time and effort it took to grind enough grain for a weeks worth of bread was becoming too much. As a result, I wasn’t making as many whole grain recipes.

They sell a variety of motorization kits, from the complete package (which is what I bought), to the parts you’d need to motorize it yourself with a separate motor.

The motor and kit I got is fantastic. It takes about fifteen minutes to grind enou wheat for a couple sandwich loaves, the flour doesn’t get overheated, and it grinds it very fine; equal to what you’d buy in the store.

Here’s the recipe I started this morning (makes two sandwich loaves) which comes from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day:


  • 250 g — Water (warmed to around 100°F)
  • 283 g — Milk
  • 1½ T — Yeast
  • 284 g — White flour
  • 550 g — Whole wheat flour
  • 2 t — Salt
  • 71 g — Honey
  • 1 — Egg
  • 56 g — oil


  • Add water, milk, yeast, flour and honey to mixing bowl
  • Mix egg and oil until blended, add to bowl
  • Add yeast
  • Mix with dough hook on medium speed for five minutes
  • Rest, covered, for ten minutes
  • Pull and fold dough twice, then rest ten minutes
  • Repeat folding and resting three more times
  • Refrigerate dough for one to four days in a covered, lightly oiled container


  • Take dough out, let sit at room temperature for three hours
  • Flatten dough into rectangle and roll into a loaf, put into greased loaf pan
  • Let sit for two to three hours until dough has risen above the rim of the pan by around an inch
  • Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes
tags: bread  grinder  grain  motor 
sun, 26-jun-2011, 08:34
The Passage and Jenson

The Passage, Jenson

I’d read a few gushing blurbs about The Passage, Justin Cronin’s long novel (the first in a trilogy, apparently), when it came out last year, but I wasn’t particulary excited about reading “The Stand meets The Road plus vampires.”

But, there it was in the new paperback section of the bookstore last weekend, so I picked it up. I’m glad I did. It really is a great literary summer read: great writing, propulsive plot, lots of thrilling moments. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down, and I’m very much looking forward to the next book. Lots of hair-raising moments like this one:

Wolgast could stand it no more. “What’s over?”
Lear lifted his face; his eyes were full of tears.

If you’re looking for something both well written and exciting to read this summer, check it out.

tags: books  Jenson  review  Cronin 
mon, 20-jun-2011, 17:14
A Moment in the Sun, Nika

A Moment in the Sun, Nika

Another monster book from McSweeney’s. This time around it’s a wide ranging historical montage of America around the turn of the last century when we were fighting wars in Cuba and the Philippines, and reconstruction was giving way to Jim Crow in the South.

The book has several main characters and dozens of minor ones, all struggling to make it in a society that is very much against them getting ahead. Several are forced into joining the Army to fight first the Spanish and then the native population in the Philippines, others work back-breaking jobs and rarely come out ahead.

It’s a great portrayal of racism, classism, and imperialism in America, and it’s sad to realize that more than one hundred years on from the story, we’re still struggling with the same issues.

I enjoy historical fiction, so I really liked the book. It’s also gorgeous, with a rich gold-leaf embossed cover and sewn binding. If you’re thinking of reading it, I’d get the hardcover. It’s heavy (and expensive), but instead of a mass market “hardcover,” you’re getting a real book the way they used to be made.

tags: books  Nika  reviews  Sayles 

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