Another trivia roundup

I run through trivia books like other girls run through, say, a tube of lipstick.

At any given time, in between the novels I read, I thumb through five to eight trivia books simultaneously and all over the house — in bed, in the bathroom, in the den, in the kitchen. As I’ve said before, they make great palate cleansers, especially when I’ve been reading text-heavy narratives, plus they contain snippets that can be read and digested easily, not to mention the convenience of being able to stop at any point of the book and pick it up days or weeks later and just keep on reading. The trivia junkie that I am, these useless bits of information do come in handy from time to time during the weekly quiz nights and the monthly geek fights that I attend.

I finish a batch of trivia books several times in a year, hence the trivia book roundups. Here’s the last bunch from last year, which includes Say Chic; The Bathroom Trivia Book; Be Safe!; Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets; Kiss and Tell; A Year in High Heels; From Altoids to Zima; The TV Guide Book of Lists; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fun FAQs. These are books 189-198 for 2010, which means I only owe you 6 more book reviews in my 2010 backlog. Hopefully I have the remaining six up by next week so I can move on to my January reads (12 and counting) as well as a surprise in the works for this month (patience!).

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The Girl from the Chartreuse

I was poking around at an 80% off sale at one of my favorite book stores when I came across a book that caught my eye: The Girl from the Chartreuse by Pierre Peju. I’d never heard of it before, but I thought it would look pretty on my bookshelf (yes, I judge a book by its cover!)  so I decided to add it to my purchases.

The Girl from the Chartreuse (Fr. “La Petite Chartreuse,” translated into English by Ina Rilke) is a French novella that won the prestigious Prix du Livre Inter in 2003, and was made into a French film in 2005.

It starts off ominously: “Five in the afternoon. It will be exactly five in the afternoon under the bitter cold November rain when the van of the bookseller Vollard (Etienne) spurting down the avenue collides head-on with a little girl who runs smack into his path.”

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The Pigeon (Patrick Suskind)

I’m a big fan of Patrick Suskind’s novel Perfume, and I never thought I’d come across another one of his works, until I got a notification from my Bookmooch account that a copy of his novella, The Pigeon, was available for mooching. It turns out another local moocher (and a reader of this blog!), Iya, had just put up a copy in her inventory, and I wasted no time mooching it (Thank you Iya!!!).

Suskind is one of the most interesting [living] authors I’ve encountered — there is very little information about him available; he has shunned the literary scene, and he doesn’t grant interviews or allow photos of himself to be taken.

Perfume is Suskind’s best known work, but has also written the bestselling play Double Bass; the novellas The Pigeon, The Story of Mr. Sommer, and Three Stories and a Reflection; as well as a 2006 essay collection entitled On Love and Death.

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Postmark Paris


When I was young, it drove my parents crazy that all their letter envelopes had ragged rectangular tears around the top right corner. I was the likely culprit, as I was the only one in the house who collected stamps. I didn’t get a lot of mail as a kid so of course I was always into the family mail, tearing into my mom and dad’s letters, their business correspondence, and holiday greetings from relatives all over the world. I also enjoyed going to the bookstore during weekends to buy sets of stamps (I don’t think bookstores have them anymore today) with my weekly savings.

I forgot about stamps until recently, when I was reorganizing my displaced stuff that survived the flood and found my old stamp albums with my old collecting still safely intact. Best of all, I had a thick wad of stamps to add to my collection, as for the past year that I’ve been on BookMooch, I’d been mindlessly clipping out stamps from the inordinate amount of packages I’d been receiving and I now had a whole ziplock bag filled with stamps! Continue reading “Postmark Paris”

Joie de Vivre! (Two from Susie Morgenstern)


I’d never heard of Susie Morgenstern before I picked up a hardbound copy of  A Book of Coupons (#109 for 2009) from the Book Sale bargain bin. It was P15, in pristine condition, and I initially thought it was one of those booklets that had tear-out coupons for little good deeds that you could give out to friends and family members.

When I got home, I realized it was a chapter book and read it in one sitting. A few weeks later, I found a copy of Susie Morgenstern’s Secret Letters from 0 to 10 (#110 for 2009) for P10 at a roving book sale and I ended up reading it in one sitting too!

Reading the back flap of one of the books, I found out that Susie Morgenstern is one of the most popular children’s  book writers in France, with over forty books for children. Interestingly, while she writes primarily in French, she is an American who moved to the south of France over thirty years ago! Her recent books, however, have been translated in English, so now more readers have been enjoying her books.

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