Skip to content


March 19, 2012

Oh, this? Let’s see. I’m reading My Side of the Mountain to Col and Rose while airplane-ing a kid who got a little restless, and er, stretching my hamstrings.

Which is just to say, there’s a lot of multitasking going on around here.

And also, a lot of reading.

Have you read My Side of the Mountain about Sam Gribley who decides to leave home and live in the Catskills? “I’d like to do that,” Col said at one point, “because I don’t like people that much.” Well then. We loved this book and maybe we all had some fantasies about skipping town, moving into a hollowed out tree and living with a pack of beasts, including one raccoon named, Jesse Coon James.

Now we’re onto The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) by Roald Dahl, and I keep checking in with the kids to see if they’re scared, what with all the people-guzzling giants. But they assure me they’re not, which is lucky, because I am loving this book too. The word-craft is the best part, due to the language-challenged BFG, who talks about how “catty piddlers” turn into “buttery flies.”

I’ve been on a memoir binge, having read The Year of Living Biblically (fun and interesting), Just Kids by Patti Smith (even if you’re not living in androgynous NYC circa 1970, the take home message is be true to your art), Devotion by Dani Shapiro (lovely mid-lifey spiritual quest), and The Liars Club by Mary Karr.

The Liar’s Club is one of those books you hate to finish, and may feel a little panicky knowing Mary Karr only wrote 2 other books. Karr is masterful in her ability to snatch you out of your own life and plunk you smack down in the depressed oil town of her messed up Texan family in the 1960’s. And even though her story is one awful thing after another, Karr is so skilled at painting a scene and simply telling the story, she just carries you along without bringing you down.

What are you and your little people reading?

* Also, I need some advice. On my last milk run, wherein I pick up multiple gallons of milk once a month for 4 families, a full gallon of milk sloshed out onto the floor of the front passenger seat. Despite baking soda and hot, soapy water and the wet vac, it still smells like I’ve been driving a bunch of flatulent cows around. Any suggestions?



25 Comments leave one →
  1. janie permalink
    March 19, 2012 11:13 am

    Juliet just finished reading the Series of Unfortunate Events, all 13 books. She was teary eyed when she told me that she really missed the Baudalaires. She doesn’t want to read anything that isn’t a series because it’s too sad when the book ends. The boys and I are reading the Magic Treehouse books. We have to call Annie “Jordi” to make it fair.


    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 19, 2012 11:19 am

      Oh Juliet, I am so with you. And Janie, that’s a lot of pronoun changing you’ve got to be on top of, which is the least of your work as an amazing Mama to four.

  2. March 19, 2012 11:28 am

    My favorite book as a kid was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I probably read 20 times, at least. Am a big Roald Dahl fan. I was also a seriously sugar obsessed 10 year old, and thought having a river of chocolate that you could just stick your face in would be fantastic! Loved Year of Living Biblically. Will have to give Liars Club a try. Have you read Running With Scissors? It sounds like Liars Club might be in the same crazy vein, books that make your own upbringing seem downright normal in comparison. Sorry about the milk. Maybe Oxiclean?

  3. March 19, 2012 11:29 am

    Because we sometimes do things in the wrong order, we just got a shipment of books that were mainly anthologies of fairy tales, fables, etc., so that’s what we’ve been reading. One of them is Tatterhood, put out by the Feminist Press (or maybe it’s New Feminist Press?), a book of fairy tales and folktales that all feature a female hero or protagonist. It’s been great fun so far!

    I just finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and I didn’t love it as much as I had wanted to (but did like it). I’m onto a parenting book now, again…

  4. Anonymous permalink
    March 19, 2012 11:37 am

    Perhaps just add some flatulent cows to the San Juan Drive farm – problem solved!


  5. March 19, 2012 11:54 am

    sals suds by dr bronners & a shop vac. soak it up with a string solutiuon, scrub with a brush and shop vac the excess water out. it’s damn good stuff.

    can’t wait until you get to the snozzcumbers (or something like that) and fizzle soda with the bubbles that go down…… you can imagine what that does…. hello music making!

    • March 19, 2012 11:54 am

      i mean “strong” lol….. “i” and “o” are neighbors…. oops

  6. seranel permalink
    March 19, 2012 11:57 am

    Love that picture, Rachel. I’m often doing the same thing. :-) I’m going to go check out Liar’s Club. My book club is reading The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck and I figured it would be boring – you know, being old and all, but I’m really enjoying it.

    Try vinegar to get the smell out.


  7. Melissa permalink
    March 19, 2012 12:55 pm

    We are on a Roald Dahl kick too and Avi is loving it. I am reading an excellent NF book called A Human Being Died that Night, by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela–she’s a clinical psychologist and sat on the TRC after Mandela was elected–she interviews one of the main masterminds behind apartheid atrocities and explores concepts of morality, evil, humanity, compassion. So good. Sounds so heavy but it’s fascinating.

    Dude, I wish I had some advice for you on the smell. I tend to just throw essential oils on everything and hope that the good overpowers the sour . . .not super successful.

    PS. Lilit and I just went on a lovely walk through Tilden and when she fell asleep on my back, I nearly cried listening to the sound of her sweet breath. We have some special Monday mornings together when Avi is at school. . . and now my yoga mat awaits! xo

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 19, 2012 4:40 pm

      Oh, love the story of Lilit sleeping on your back. I can remember those sweet times that Rose and I had alone without Col – I was always so excited to snuggle up with her without Col jumping on my head; sometimes I felt like l was cheating on him.

  8. March 19, 2012 3:03 pm

    Echo and I have launched into the world of no-pictures, heroine-based, chapter books that have the word princess in the title. But luckily these are ladies that save their own behinds and do a lot of adventurous/scary/kick-ass things. We’re reading The Two Princesses of Bamarre, and just finished A True Princess. She also loved the first Harry Potter, not *too* scary and she felt good being in the same literary world as her sisters. Unfortunately the following Harry Potters are *WAY* too scary so she’ll have to wait a couple years to truly catch up.

    The BFG is unbelievably good.

    I just read the thriller Before I Go To Sleep and my heart still hammers just thinking about it. I was doing a bunch of multi-tasking, like you with the airplane legs, just so I could grab an extra sentence here and there. Riveting. Now I’m reading Seabiscuit. F-ing good.

    As for putrid cow milk, there is a product called Nature’s Miracle (found at pet stores) that is designed to neutralize protein based odor. I’ve used it for cat pee, poop, barf. And other people use it for skunk spray. I think spoiled milk sort of fits in these categories, don’t you?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 19, 2012 4:43 pm

      I think it was you that recommended BFG!

      If you like thrillers you should check out Blake Crouch. He’s a friend of ours and writes amazing, heart-rattling thrillers. I would recommend his book Abandon.

  9. Jessica permalink
    March 19, 2012 5:55 pm

    I love the pic of you and the kids! Right now I’m reading “Life” the Keith Richards bio. Totally enjoying it. I’m a big fan of the memoirs, so I’m going to put The Liars Club on my list. Thanks for the recommendation.

  10. March 19, 2012 6:03 pm

    I think you should promote a home exercise program for moms–kid leg-lifts and book reads. I started reading My Side of the Mtn to my son a few years ago, but he lost interest (not a lot happens for a long time, which is the main complaint I hear from my writing mentor regarding my stories…hmmm). I think I might try again. I’m reading the Wind in the Willows to the littles and my husband is reading James and the Giant Peach (after a major Magic Treehouse binge, I’ve made a stack of books I want to read them, from which they can choose…I’m so mean!). To myself I’m reading all of Rick Bass’s short stories (just finished The Watch and Lives of Rocks which you would probably enjoy–have probably already read–since there’s a very detailed description of dismembering an elk) and am about to embark on the Hermit’s Story. Not a lot happens for a very long time in many of Rick Bass’s stories too…I’m trying to crack this secret code that is the short story and finding it every elusive.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      March 19, 2012 7:05 pm

      Andrea, I like Rick Bass in the sensible way of liking a wool blanket. You know? Not thrilling but comfortable and warm. Dan and I re-ead his memoir “Winter” every couple years. Wishing you *so* much good juju in cracking the secret code of the short story.

  11. Emily permalink
    March 19, 2012 8:38 pm

    We just finished Count Karlstein, by Phillip Pullman (The Golden Compass author). I’d recommend it, although the first chapter involves a whole lotta character names. If you make it through that it’s a great book (slapstick humor, some serious stuff, not too scary, fairytale like good ending with all the lose ends tied up, well written).

    If you and the kids like word play then The Thirteen Clocks is AWESOME. James Thurber. He also wrote The Wonderful “O”, and it’s good but not as good as The Thirteen Clocks. get it, you will be happy.

    I’m listening to The Geography of Bliss, albeit slowly. And I’m dipping into a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman. I love Neil Gaiman like my kids love JRR Tolkien. almost.

  12. March 19, 2012 10:42 pm

    hah! so funny. i tried to read jane austen’s persuasion and flopped badly. they wouldnt leave me alone.. perpahs i should have tried the plane trick !

  13. March 19, 2012 10:52 pm

    Willa and I just started the Secret Garden and are re-reading The Wind and the Willows because we just can’t get enough of that Mr. Toad. I think Matilda is up next for us, although your mention of My Side of the Mountain reminded me how much I loved that book as a kid and it might just rise to the top of our list.

    I just finished Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman. It was brave and adventurous and had some real high points. I just started The Sabbath World by Judith Shulevitz and am loving it.

  14. March 20, 2012 10:44 am

    I LOVED My Side of the Mountain. My daughter just read it and she loved it too. I still want to pack up and move into a tree.

    Together my daughter and I are reading a short story collection by the same author of Ella Enchanted – the name escapes me and I’m not walking in her room to look. And the last of the series of unfortunate events. On her own, she’s reading Jane Eyre and for mental floss she picked up some fluffy girl book ‘Best Friends Worse Enemies’ or something along those lines that she says is awful, but she can’t not finish it.

    As for me, I can’t quite kick this Stephen King thing I’ve been on, so Green Mile.

  15. March 20, 2012 12:02 pm

    Love that picture of you multitasking. I can’t picture you any other way. Except maybe sauteing dandelion greens, teaching your kids to make hammocks for their loveys and writing your own memoir (which will be lovely) all at once. With a chicken or two at your feet of course. Somehow, there’s always a chicken in the picture :)

    We’re going down the list of Dr. Seuss books on our end. Most recently, Horton Hears a Who. (And mama’s dying to read for fun again!)

  16. March 20, 2012 2:18 pm

    bfg and my side of the mountain are two faves! quinn just got a copy of the bfg so that is on deck, but right now we’re reading narnia, in between bouts of dinosaur mania (that’s not a book title, it describes a condition of a 5 year old boy who walks around quoting obscure dinosaur facts and thirsting for more books on dinosaurs). he’s going to love my side of the mountain when i finally get a copy. hollow tree living always seemed like the life for me! as for myself, i just finished nail gaiman’s stardust, which was excellent (the movie was as well, and it’s worth doing both book and movie) and now i’m back to mostly seed catalogs (i’m a little behind) and steve solomon’s growing vegetables west of the cascades.

  17. Maggie permalink
    March 20, 2012 7:24 pm

    Oh, Rosie Posie… reminds me of the movie we went to… she and I danced in our seats, played hand games, and wiggled our way through it. She wants to be moving or touching or moving/touching at all times. And sometimes I have to agree with Col… people can be hard to love now and then. Don’t know if they’re available online, but he might enjoy Grizzly Adams reruns.

  18. martha permalink
    March 21, 2012 6:58 pm

    Reading this post and the comments makes me feel like I’m transported to a book club in Durango – or somewhere related that doesn’t really exist. Thanks for stirring all the connections to reading. I loved Just Kids, too. Our 3 year old is addicted to Pooh and all AAMilne stories and greets pure strangers with a commanding, gutteral, “Hallo, I’m Tigger!” I’m looking forward to what Dahl will do to him.

  19. March 22, 2012 3:05 pm

    col, you’re not alone. i don’t like people so much either.

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s