- Alias Grace (good but slowly paced; historical-type fiction in an epistolary and vacillating first-person narrative form) and Oryx and Crake (very good futuristic/dystopia fiction; similar to the idea of what would happen were Brave New World to fall apart and then crash into Lord of the Flies) by Margaret Atwood
- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (terrible, unless you are interested in a dressed-up Harlequin romance novel; Sparks didn’t even bother to research his audience and wrote the sex scene with the woman acting out his own “take me now” fantasies)
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (a fun but substantial pop fiction read; well researched and therefore convincing look at circus drama)
- Girl Meets God by Laurn Winer (thought-provoking memoir; introspective look at how to reconcile Judaic beliefs and habits with Christian faith)
- Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides (cross-generational style fiction; tells the stories of family members leading up to the birth of the narrator, a transgender man)
- A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (strikingly simple prose; a memoir about a boy-soldier in Sierra Leone)
Tried out the NY bus system. I have a monthly unlimited pass, so I scouted routes between hospitals and libraries one day, when I was doing health insurance research. Personally, I prefer walking if the distance is under 20 blocks. It makes me feel in control of my own transportation and as if I am accomplishing something with my time rather than sitting in pointlessly congested traffic. However, there are advantages, as I took the M60 all the way from Harlem to the LaGuardia airport, and I never could have walked that.
Found grocery stores. When visitors come, I may not know where to take them out to eat, but I will certainly know where to buy anything they might like to cook for dinner!
Played volleyball with a group of Russians. I went to Coney Island last Sunday, for my last “summer hurrah,” and when I first arrived, I saw a group of volleyball players setting up a net. The sports addict in me was ravenous to play, but I felt uncomfortable approaching them, as they were already playing 4-on-4 and I would have made their numbers uneven. I went and sat on the beach for a couple hours, reading and swimming alternately, and when I finally decided to leave, I paused again on my way out. Now there were 3 different nets set up and a variety of people milling about. I stood watching a game for several minutes until one man came up to me and asked, in a very thick accent, me whether I had a team. Laughingly, I replied that I didn’t, and then his partner came up and said, “You do now!” Then I guess he rethought his invitation, because he remembered to ask, “Do you play?” And so I spent the next two hours playing pick-up volleyball games with what turned out to be the Russian volleyball community. I had no idea what they were saying, most of the time, but luckily, if you know how to play a sport, that’s all the language you need.
Bought a basil plant. I really hope I can keep this one alive. I am paranoid already that its leaves are turning white, like the ones on the basil I was plant-sitting for my cousin did, but I’m crossing my fingers, looking up every single piece of advice on herb gardening available, and murmuring encouraging words to it at bedtime!