Author Archives: Chris James
Apparently all I can think of to write about these days is the books that I read. Incredibly boring, but I figure it is worth sharing. The book I just finished was one I picked up a few years ago at a used book sale for fifty cents. An awesome bargain, I thought. A while back I saw it sitting on my shelf and thought I should give it a try. If you have been reading TOP for a while, you will know the odd, unexplainable fascination I have with Jimmy Carter. An absolute dud of a president, but for whatever reason, I find him very interesting. By association, I also find his wife Rosalynn very interesting too. Here is a woman who could barely speak to a crowd of more than two people when she was a young woman, eventually growing into her roles as Navy wife, business partner, Senator’s wife, First Lady of Georgia and ultimately First Lady of the United States. Like her husband, Rosalynn is a kind woman driven by her religious and moral beliefs. The fact that she and her husband rose from the small town of Plains, Georgia to the White House is part of the reason I find them so fascinating.
Rosalynn’s memoir First Lady from Plains was published in 1984. This is the first memoir I have read by a First Lady, so I have nothing to compare it to. However, it is an extremely easy read, and I could often hear Rosalynn’s character southern accent in my head as I read. She is frank, and honest about her life thus far. She obviously believes the country made an enormous error in not reelecting her husband, but recognizes some of the reasons why he failed to win a second term. While the book reveals no major bombshells, and is mostly accounts of how she planned parties, raised a daughter in the White House and championed the causes close to her heart, I am still extremely glad I read it.
For me, some of the most fascinating things to read about are the behind the scenes details of life as the first family, or life in the White House. We always see the president working in the Oval Office, meeting with his cabinet, meeting with world leaders, but rarely do we get to see the personal side of life in the White House. I completely understand why this is. Obviously the first family deserves as much privacy as possible, but I still can’t help but wonder what it must be like. Memoirs such as this provide such a glimpse inside a world we are never invited into.
So, should you pick up Rosalynn Carter’s memoir, and begin reading it right away? Probably not. I suspect most of the general public have zero interest in reading about a one-term first lady, from 40 years ago. But I thought I would share my random thoughts on the situation. I would like to get my hands on memoirs from other First Ladies to see how they compare to this one. Hopefully I can find others for the same low price, as this one!
I am currently reading The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. So far it is a fantastic book. It has less to do with policy details and more to do with the personal details of the relationships between the presidents from Hoover to Obama. It’s an awesome read so far, and I would recommend it to anyone who is also a sucker for random facts about the men who have inhabited the White House. Unfortunately the only time the public really ever sees former presidents altogether is at one of their funerals (or at the opening of a library, if we’re lucky). This book is a great way to learn the details of the sometimes wonderful and sometimes strained relationships of the presidents.
Here we are yet again. I have let another span of time elapse without putting anything new up on my once beloved blog. It seems that motivation and inspiration often come at the most inconvenient times. Right now while most everyone is sleeping, I am mindlessly roaming the internet trying to waste time. For whatever reason, I started reading over some of my old posts, and it made me happy and sad. Happy because I am proud of the 128 posts that have gone up since TOP was created in October 2010. But also sad, because it has sat idle now for too many months.
When I first started blogging, I made a lofty goal for myself: FIVE new posts a week! Why I ever made that my target, I will never know. Back then I was taking only three classes (two of which were painfully easy). I then enjoyed a semester off from school, which provided me more time to write. But then my easy year came to an end, and I returned to full-time academia. I quite enjoy being a student, but it takes all the fun out of reading and writing for pleasure. As such, TOP has been dormant ever since (except for a short span of posts here and there).
I have decided that the goal of five posts a week has long since died. Rather than commit myself to a specific number, I will promise to author new content whenever possible. Sometimes I receive criticism (especially from fellow Canadians) that I often write too much about American content, most of which is nothing more than fluff. However it’s what I love, and what I will continue to do.
It is so surprising to me that even when there has not been new content in months, TOP is still pulling in a significant number of views each day. To those who keep coming back, even when the content is old and stale – THANK YOU! I really appreciate it. We’ll see what the future brings for the new TOP 2.0!
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I have found myself with a serious lack of motivation when it comes to writing posts about Canadian content. Sometimes I think since TOP is my blog, I can write about whatever I want. And since right now I seem to only be interested in the 2012 American presidential race, why shouldn’t I write about that.
However, then I think that perhaps I am being a poor Canadian. Each and every day we are bombarded by American news, music and entertainment. Our poor little country (of 30+ million) has enough trouble maintaining its image with such a powerful neighbour. So then my logic says that I should be writing nothing but Canadian content to offset the bombardment of American content.
What’s a blogger to do?
But in all seriousness, I just don’t know what to talk about. Sure there are two leadership races upcoming. The NDP race (from the limited attention I have given it) seems to be fairly interesting, but nothing extraordinary or groundbreaking has occurred. Who knows what the Liberals are up to, with regards to their leader… are they still relevant? I would say yes, but I suppose that is debatable. There is the Attawapiskat housing crisis, the appointment of new Senators, provincial news regarding Quebec, Alberta and such. Oh, and let’s not forget that Peter MacKay got married! Yet, nothing exciting enough to make me hit the keys (other than this rant).
I am sure there is something that will inspire me soon, but at the moment you might have to put up with an excessive amount of American content. Hopefully you won’t hold it against a proud Canadian.