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Sunday Book Review, by Wacky Mommy, including… Obama: the Historic Journey; Paul Newman: A Life; The Mother-Daughter Book Club

May 31st, 2009

“Whenever I do something good, right away I’ve got to do something bad, so I know I’m not going to pieces.” — Paul Newman

You know what my husband is doing right now? Vacuuming, cleaning the house (nervous energy, I suppose) and otherwise getting prepared for the hockey game that starts at 5. Finally it’s the real Stanley Cup playoffs. Since it is two Eastern teams — Detroit and Pittsburgh — GO PENS! — silly me. I thought we were still in the pre-pre-playoffs, like we have been since last September.

I’ve heard that some are still watching NBA games but no sir, not over here. With all this free time on my hands, I have been liberally drinking pinot grigio, vodka lemonades and mojitos, admiring the petunias and watching the children jet around. Where do they get the energy? It’s been so hot here. Also… reading. Reading, reading and reading.

“Paul Newman: A Life” (Harmony Books, $29.99, 490 pages), is one of the best biographies I’ve ever read in my life, and I’m not just saying that because I used to work with the author, Shawn Levy. (Not the director, the writer.) He was always a decent guy to work with, plus a good reporter and movie critic, to boot. He did an outstanding job on this book, go buy two copies — no, three. Because you’ll need one for yourself, one for your mom or auntie, and one for your girlfriend. Men, you’ll need three copies, too. Because you know you secretly wish you were Hud, or Brick, or Chance, or Butch, or the hottie (literally) from “The Towering Inferno.” So, chop-chop, already.

And speaking of chop-chop? You know what he loved? Salad dressing (you already knew that. Red wine vinegar, olive oil, herbs, garlic, onion and ground mustard seed) over a bowl of chopped celery, or perhaps over a nice Caesar with romaine hearts, homemade croutons and sliced tomatoes. And popcorn. Dishpan after dishpan of hot, delicious, freshly-popped popcorn.

Even though he drank (like a fish), smoked (like a chimney) and raced cars (like a madman), I am convinced that he lived into his 80s because of all the salad and popcorn. I will continue to drink, but I will eat more popcorn and veggies. Chop-chop.

My only wish is that there would have been more pictures in the book. Even though Mr. Levy included two generous spreads of photos, c’mon. He was Paul Newman. We needed three or four sections of photos. Sigh.

“Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat.” — Joanne Woodward

And now… a little review for MotherTalk. The New York Times is just coming out with a Young Reader’s Edition of “Obama: The Historic Journey.” Oh, good. Lots of pix. (Maybe we need a Young Reader’s Edition of the Paul Newman book? Mmmm…) Great book — also available in an adult version. (Viking Children’s Books, $24.95, 94 pages.) My favorite quote:

The weekend before the inauguration, President-elect Barack Obama and his family had stopped to visit the Lincoln Memorial, studying the words carved into the marble. Considering his inaugural speech, ten-year-old Malia turned to her father and advised, “First African-American president. Better be good.”

My daughter and I are considering starting a mother-daughter book club at her school, so I turned to “The Mother-Daughter Book Club: How Ten Busy Mothers and Daughters Came Together to Talk, Laugh and Learn Through Their Love of Reading.” (HarperPerennial, $12.95, 296 pages.) (Tips include how to start your own club, reading lists and discussion guides.) We’re thinking “Twilight,” “Inkheart,” maybe an Edward Eager book, from the olden days? Any ideas?

Reviewed today:

And now, a funny YouTube clip of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward on “What’s My Line?”:


  1. LIB says

    Yes, I totally get why you would love Paul Newman. He looked really good his whole life. He aged gracefully and stayed fit.

    And I always admired the relation between Paul Newman & Joanna Woodward.

    Loved the “What’s My Line” clip.

    May 31st, 2009 | #

  2. WackyMummy says

    I grew up in a household who revered Cary Grant and Fred Astaire, so I missed out on the whole Paul Newman thingy. Darn! Didn’t know he was smokin’! Great clip. Lucky couple to have such a long happy life together. :)

    June 1st, 2009 | #

  3. Lakeitha says

    Great Idea for a Mother/Daughter Book Club. My daughter and I are reading the same book right now. (fighting over it kinda) We didn’t plan it but, she picked it up and started reading it and now she’s trying to hide it from me so that I don’t take it to work. It’s really cool to have discussions with your daughter about something you both are reading.

    June 1st, 2009 | #

  4. WackyMommy says

    Lakeitha, what’s the title? I’m making a list, if anyone wants to add to it. So far for 4th-5th grade titles we’ve come up with:

    1) Twilight
    2) The Homework Machine
    3) Diary of a Wimpy Kid
    4) Freaky Friday (if the kids want to go retro)
    5) Inkheart
    6) The Daring Book for Girls and/or the Double-Daring Book for Girls (which leads us to the questions, questions, questions: a club just for fiction titles? Non-fiction, too? Should boys and dads be allowed to join, or do they need their own club? What about girls and dads? What about a girl who has a dad but no mom? Do we have the club at school or away from school, say at a coffeehouse that is within walking distance from school? Should we include fourth-graders at all, or just stick with fifth-graders? We will deal with these questions later)
    7) Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (Betty MacDonald)
    8) Man in the Moon (Dotti Enderle)
    9) Matilda and/or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and/or Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (Roald Dahl)
    10) Fudge books (Judy Blume… are we too young for “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret”? Wacky Girl: “I’ve already read that book two times.” So there.
    11) Harriet the Spy (Louise Fitzhugh)
    12) From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsburg)
    13) Sixth Grade Secrets (Louis Sachar)
    14) The Borrowers books (Norton)
    15) Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go (Basye)
    16) The Wanderer (Sharon Creech) ***** one of Wacky Mommy’s favorites ****
    17) Babe: The Gallant Pig (King-Smith)
    18) ???

    June 1st, 2009 | #

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