First Open Thread of 2014

January 1, 2014

What’s up?

I survived all. I threw a successful New Year party with strep throat. I started taking antibiotics the day of, napped and took it easy on the booze at night. I even managed to make coquito or Puerto Rican eggnog. Here’s the recipe.

Whew! How was your night?

Leading up to the strep diagnoses, I had fatigue and cold-like symptoms. I didn’t go to the doctor’s since I had no fever. Instead, I spent my vacation days in bed curled up with my kindle, which I suspect helped me stave off the worst of the strep.

So…what did I read? Oh, I must share.

First, I read The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. It is a novel about two brothers in Calcutta who take what appears to be two different paths: one joins the marxist movement in India while the other studies at a college in Rhode Island. There are some interesting twists, including an Indian mother who abandons her 12-year-old to work as a college professor in California. If you’ve read this book, you must discuss with me. What did you think?

The second book that I am almost done with is Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. I saw the HBO series and was intrigued enough to download the book to see how it matched up. The book is a memoir of Kerman’s 13 months in prison. She is an upper middle class, WASP, Smith graduate who is engaged with an editor in New York City when a minor crime committed in her youth comes back to haunt her. Some aspects of the book are hilarious — like, when Kerman first lands in prison — but it is also haunting as she humanizes her prison friends. I am left feeling that prison is simply a way we deal with inconvenient people like the mentally ill, drug addicts and the poor rather than invest in education and life skills that would benefit everyone. That, and the “war on drugs” is counterproductive, actually separating families and wrecking entire communities. Have any of you read it? What did you think?

Finally, I must leave you with this BuzzFeed piece on “23 surprising facts” about Orange is the New Black. I laughed when I saw what “Crazy Eyes” actually looks like in real life.

What’s on your night table? Happy New Year’s!