Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top Reads of 2010

I read 69 books this year, up from 57 in 2009. It must be because I finished school in June. There's a lot more time to read when you're not in grad school. Actually, there's a lot more time for everything else when you're not in grad school.

Here are my top reads for 2010:

Best Overall:
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
This book made me weep, and made my heart hurt a little because it was so true.

Food for Thought:
Two is Enough - A Couple's Guide to Living Childless by Choice by Laura S. Scott
A perspective that is not really talked about and maybe not even that socially accepted.

Best Sunday Afternoon Read:
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Only start this if you have an entire afternoon free, because you won't want to put it down.

Best for the Ethnic Identity Journey:
Lucky Girl by Mei-Ling Hopgood
Thoughtful and well-written.

Best for Rest:
Sabbath - Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller, may you find plenty of it in 2011.

Thanks for reading with me this year! I'm curious to know what your favorite books were this year...please leave a comment and let me know. I'm always looking for another good book to read.

Mommywood by Tori Spelling

The third Tori Spelling book I’ve read in the last month or so.

This one is about her life as a mom raising children in Los Angeles, Hollywood-style. She writes about wanting her kids to have a normal life even though they are living in a very un-normal place. She’s pretty honest about her struggles and questions…and sometimes a bit too honest about the intimate aspects of her life (please edit out those details next time, Tori! Thanks!).

Believe me, I did not think that 2010 would be the year that I read three books by Tori Spelling. What made these books so interesting to me? They were easy to read, and entertaining. She’s a good storyteller (or should I write sTORI teller?) and can laugh at herself. But more than that, Spelling actually seems to be pretty aware of her emotional life and I can appreciate that.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

This is a murder mystery that had me engrossed. I carried it around in my purse hoping to have a spare moment to read it. I even brought it to church, but there was no time to read.

I am on the waiting lists at the library for the final two books.

Warning: this book contains adult themes. So all you kids out there, get permission from a grown-up before you read it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How To Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu

This is about a family and their immigrant experience in the US. It's the story of the parents, and also the son.

This book came highly recommended, but I found myself skimming paragraphs. There seemed to be too many words and details. I didn't really like any of the characters, and didn't feel like I got to know them well at all. Overall, just a hum-drum so-so read.

sTORI Telling by Tori Spelling

Yes, this is the second Tori Spelling book I've read in within a month. And yes, I am still a bit embarrassed to tell you all that I read it. But curiously enough, I'm not as embarrassed as last time.

In this book, Tori talks about her life growing up, her first marriage, and how she met her second husband.

She writes about how her parents lavished her with gifts (like snow in LA for Christmas), but that what she truly enjoyed was the Sunday afternoons that her dad and her spent picking up the dog poop in their backyard. I guess she just wanted quality time with her dad.

The story of how she met her second husband is not so respectable (they were both married at the time and left their spouses), so that was kinda bleh.

I am warning you, my faithful readers, that there is still one more Tori Spelling book I have yet to read.'s sitting on my nightstand right now.

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

This was inspired by the author's missionary parents. It takes place in China during the early-mid 1900s. It's told from the perspective of a couple, each taking turns to narrate their life.

I had read a book by this author called The Distant Land of My Father which was why this book caught my eye. I liked this book, mostly because it involved China and early missionaries. It was a pretty thoughtful book, especially as the characters try to make sense of what happens to them and the grief they experience. Overall, I came to the same conclusion as I did with the previous book by the same author: a pretty good read, but not one that I would re-read or buy.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Coming Soon: My Top 5 Reads of 2010

I say "reads" instead of "books" because I think that reading is an experience. I can read a book that received rave reviews, but my experience reading it can be so-so. Maybe it doesn't engage me or it's not alive for me.

In the next week or so, I'll post my list of Top 5 Reads of 2010.

This post is to give you a heads-up because I would like to hear about your Top Reads. So start thinking about which books you've read this year, which ones touched you the most, and what you would recommend to others.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ape House by Sara Gruen

This is by the author of
Water for Elephants
which I really liked. It was a rich, satisfying read.

I was excited to see a new book by the same author and was hoping for the same.

It's about bonobos who understand English and communicate in American Sign Language. They're stolen and a reporter is on the story.

This was an okay book. I read it in a couple of days, and I liked the bonobos. But there was something missing. Water for Elephants was very rich, both in story and in the writing. There was something thin about this, almost skeletal. It needed more meat.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Book I Did Not Finish: The Passage by Justin Cronin

This book held my attention for 275 pages (out of 700 or so), and then it became weird. I tried to pick it up again because I had already read so much of it, but it was too boring.

I used to finish books because I felt like I should finish them since I had started them. Now, if I find that I'm not picking up the book, or I feel that "should" feeling, I know it's time to stop.

I figure that I'm not in school anymore and I don't need to read anything that I don't want to. And reading for fun really isn't fun anymore if it's not fun. =D

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Uncharted TerriTori by Tori Spelling

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I read this book.

And maybe a little bit more embarrassed to admit that I read it in a day.

Tori Spelling lives a lavish lifestyle, and is really busy with work and raising her children. But she surprised me. What surprised me is that she seems pretty aware and conscious of the choices that she makes and doesn't make.

She also endeared herself to me because she has a big heart for rescue dogs.

Some of this book is fluffy and weird (she talks about seeking answers from psychics), but she mostly deals with very human concerns (raising kids, her relationship with her mom, wanting to slow down).

I'm not recommending this book, but noting that I read it. It made me think of Tori Spelling as more of a human, rather than whatever stereotype I held of her, and I think that it's helpful whenever we can think of others with more kindness.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ordinary People by Judith Guest

Was I supposed to read this in high school?

So here's a story about high school: As an incoming freshman, I guess I felt a need to get ahead, so I took a test to pass out of Freshman English. To prepare for the test, I was told to come having read Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. I was 12 when I started high school, I wasn't going to read Shakespeare. So luckily I found a Romeo and Juliet comic book in my sister's room. I could handle that.

I read the comic book, took the test...and passed! I passed out of Freshman English and was enrolled in Sophomore English. Thinking back, I wonder which books I missed out on, which is why I'm asking if Ordinary People was one that I should have read?

This is the story of a family grieving the loss of the oldest son, Buck. Each of them grieve in their own way, and try to make sense of the accident differently.

A deep, detailed, and nuanced look at a family, loss, and guilt.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School by Scott Turow

I once considered applying to law school because I didn’t know what I wanted to do after graduation. Furthermore, as an undergraduate studying Political Science, I was surrounded by fellow students who were planning on going to law school. It seemed like a reasonable next step.

Then, I thought about it. All I really knew about lawyers was that they seemed to work a lot and make a lot of money. I didn’t want to do either of those. And I didn’t think about law school again.

This book is about Scott Turow’s first year of law school at Harvard in the 1970s.

I was fascinated! So much pressure and competition…I actually found myself feeling nervous at one point in the book. I was also relieved that I decided against law school. I don’t think I would have lasted a day.

PS: My friend, Grace, who did go to law school says that the first year was stressful, but not as stressful as what Turow describes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Accidentally on Purpose: A One-Night Stand, My Unplanned Parenthood, and Loving the Best Mistake I Ever Made by Mary F. Pols

I'm not sure why I picked up this book. I thought it would be mostly about single parenthood, and I wasn't sure if I would like it.

So the writer does get pregnant because of a one-night stand, and she decides to keep the baby. What surprised me was how she was very certain that she wanted the baby's father to be involved. She wanted her baby to know his father. It's a struggle to define their relationship as co-parents, but I was impressed with how the writer changes herself and how learns to get along with the father, all because she knows it would be best for their son.

The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove by Cathy Erway

The author of this book writes a blog called Not Eating Out in New York.

This book describes her two years of not eating out and how it was to cook every meal for herself. I like that she did this for two years. It seems like it's trendy these days to do something (or not do something) for a month or a year and write a book about it. But for two years? That has to require a deeper change in lifestyle and more adjustments.

I liked the book. It encouraged me to finally get started on something that has always scared me: baking with yeast. This last weekend, I bought a cast iron Dutch oven and I just tried to bake my first loaf of bread. I don't think the water I used was hot enough and the dough did not rise. I baked it anyway, and I have a flat loaf of rosemary/lemon bread. It's my first try. I'm gonna try again today.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

This is another book by my new favorite author. It's another collection of short stories. Simple, but rich. Excellent character development. And, I've written this before in a previous blog post about The Interpreter of Maladies - the writing seems so effortless. It's really wonderful.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

The story of Major Ernest Pettigrew, Englishman and widower, and his unlikely friendship/relationship with the Pakistani shopkeeper, Mrs. Ali, and the buzz that this creates in their small town.

This is a delightful, charming book. One of those that is good for a rainy afternoon spent on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate and a cat. (If you want to borrow a lap cat, my cat Roger would love to meet you. But he's just to borrow, not to keep.)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God's Best Version of You by John Ortberg

I first heard of John Ortberg when one of my teammates when I was overseas let me borrow a book called If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get out of the Boat. I read it, loved it, and thought, "This Ortberg guy is really good!"

I didn't know then that I would one day attend his church. (That's my disclosure: this book is written by my pastor.)

I must say that Ortberg is actually a lot funnier when he speaks. His jokes don't translate very well to the written.

None of us is who we were created to be...and this book is about how to move closer to who we are created to be, but it's not a try harder, do more kind of book.

Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush

A couple of months ago, I saw Laura Bush and her daughters on an episode of Oprah. Laura Bush was promoting her new autobiography, and I decided to read it. I didn't vote for George Bush (#1 or #2) for president, and I didn't really know anything about Laura Bush.

Bush chronicles her early life which I found pretty interesting. When she gets to the White House years though, it's a recitation of state dinners, trips abroad, and cause that she devoted herself to. I do like that she's a librarian, loves to read, and promoted literacy and reading.

This book was okay and pleasant enough, but didn't have the juice and insider's look into the White House and the Bush presidency that I thought it might have.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Losses of Our Lives: The Sacred Gifts of Renewal in Everyday Loss by Nancy Copeland-Payton

Sometimes I read a book that speaks exactly to what my heart needs to hear that week.

This one did not.

Not that it’s a bad book – it’s actually pretty good – but I think that the timing was off in my reading of it.

The book talks about all of the losses that we experience daily and through our lives. There are so many beginnings and ends in life, and we are not very conscious of many of these.

On a Dollar a Day: One Couple’s Unlikely Adventures in Eating in America by Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard

It’s a popular thing these days to try something different for a month or a year and then write a book about it.

In this book, the couple spends one month eating on $1 a day. Then, they spend one month eating on $4.13 a day (which is the food stamp allotment along with limited additional personal spending). Then, they try to eat a healthy diet.

It took me a long time to finish this book. There was something that just seemed gimmicky about it all and the couple (who alternate writing the chapters) didn’t endear themselves to me at all.

The book did make me think some about food, how much I spend on it, and how healthy my diet actually is. But I must admit that after I finished the book and the chapters on healthy eating, I ate Top Ramen for dinner followed by four Girl Scout Thin Mints for dessert.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

After I read The Namesake, I tried to wait a bit before checking out other books by the same author to have some distance between this incredible reading experience and whatever I read next by the author.

I think I waited a week before I went to the library and checked out the other two books.

This is a collection of short stories, and I don't tend to like reading short stories. However, I liked these. The author's writing seems so effortless and the stories are so human. Check it out.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rocky Road by Rose Kent

Sometimes I wander into the Children and Teen sections of the library. I think it's a shame that after we hit adulthood (whenever that is) that we forget that there is some great young adult and children books out there.

This book is by the same author as Kimchi and Calamari which I reviewed back in 2007. It's about Tess, her deaf brother, Jordan, and their mom who suddenly uproots them from Texas to move to New York. They don't have a lot of money, but Mom has tons of ideas about starting a new business: an ice cream shop. They move into a retirement home where lots of funny characters welcome them and help them out.

Lots of themes in this book: community, transition, and loss. Also, there's a mental health element in here as well as the mom has bipolar disorder and is reluctant to see a doctor and take medication.

A delightful read, just like the author's previous book. A fun weekend read.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

This book made me weep.

A friend, Margaret, recommended it to me, but she cautioned me that she had cried throughout the book.

As I read it, I didn't cry and I wondered, "What made Margaret cry?"

And then I hit the last ten pages.

Tears started streaming down my face as I read the ending, and I wept for a good time after I had finished the book.

Boomer asked, "What made you cry? What was the book about?"

All I could say was, "Life."

The book was about life, specifically the life of a Bengali family that immigrates to the United States. But this story could have been the story of any family from any country.

The end wasn't shocking or anything like that, it was simply about life. And life, with all of its ups and downs, includes some heartbreaking loss.

This was one of the best books I've read in 2010. You all know that I usually don't buy books since I just check them out from the library. But I am thinking about buying this one to have in my personal library.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Spent: Memoirs of a Shopping Addict by Avis Cardella

I really dislike clothes shopping. My mom and my sister like shopping, so last year, I told them that I needed more professional clothes for work. They went out together and bought me a bunch of clothes. I didn't even set foot in a store.

In this memoir, the author was addicted to shopping. Needless to say, I did not relate so much to her need to shop and buy clothes, shoes, and purses.

She goes somewhat into her recovery process and the origin of her addiction (an attempt to soothe feelings of grief and loss), but not as much as I had hoped.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: Family, Friendships, and Faith in Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende

This author is a newspaper columnist. She got ran over by a truck and lived. She goes into her thoughts on her recovery and her small-town home in Alaska.

Some chapters were more interesting than others, but overall: B+.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Why do I keep picking up these Chinese-American immigrant books? I say that I don't like them and then I check yet another one out from the library. I wonder if I am internally working out some part of my identity through literature.

So yes, I did pick up another one of these books, but luckily this one had NO mention of a Formica table! Cool! Note to all of those Chinese-American authors out there: Not every book needs to mention a Formica table! Not every Chinese family has one! Oh wait, my grandma had one, so now my sister does, so maybe we do. Back to the book.

Kimberly moves with her mother from Hong Kong to Brooklyn. To earn a living and to repay a debt to her aunt, they work in a sweatshop.

I was really into this book. The only disappointment was the Epilogue. It talked about the main character, but did not let me know what happened to any of the supporting characters whom I had come to care about.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman’s Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado

It wasn’t until I read a few pages that I realized that this is written by Sandra Bullock’s sister. She worked for Sandra in LA at her production company before getting fed up with the Hollywood lifestyle. She found that she was more interested in baking, so she moved to Vermont and opened up a bakery.

I really like it when people quit their jobs and pursue a passion.

Of course, this book contains recipes as a lot of books do these days. And of course, I would never attempt to make any of these because the ingredients were too complicated for me.

A pleasant read, but not a must-read.

I guess the title of the book was changed when it was published in paperback:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China by Jen Lin-Liu

This is a memoir – the author is Chinese-American and she moves to Beijing where she attends cooking school. The book includes recipes (this seems to be a popular format these days) for dishes that I would love to make, but the ingredient lists were a tad too long for me to think about making any of them. Some of her descriptions of food made me crave real Chinese food, especially when she described learning how to make noodles and dumplings.

The author grew on me as the book went on, and I admired her tenacity and humility. Overall though, this book was above-average and enjoyable, but did not make my Must-Read list.

Molly Fox's Birthday by Deirdre Madden

This book is unique in a couple of ways. First, it takes place in one day! Secondly, there are no chapters. It’s just straight through prose. It’s written from the perspective of a woman (who remains nameless) house-sitting for the theatre actor, Molly Fox, and it happens to be Molly’s birthday.

The story got slow and boring for me about 1/3 the way through and I took a break, but once I picked it up again, I was interested enough to finish it. However, it wasn’t the easiest book to read.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

A couple of things about me: 1) I love to read. 2) I love animals. Maybe some of you remember this post in which I asked a librarian if the dog in Because of Winn Dixie dies at the end. I don't enjoy reading books where the animals die at the end.

In college, I was about two-thirds of the way through Travels With Charley and enjoying it when I asked a housemate who had read the book if Charley dies at the end. She paused, and then said, "Well, I guess if he didn't die, I would have said 'No' right away." That sealed it for me. If Charley was going to die at the end, I wasn't going to finish the book. I put it down and haven't picked it up since.

Just recently, my friend, Grace, asked me if I had read Travels With Charley and I told her why I hadn't finished it. She said, "But I don't think Charley dies at the end!" I was speechless. Grace offered to re-read the book to double-check for me. She added, "I'm pretty sure he doesn't die at the end."

Grace just reported back to me that Charley in fact does not die at the end, so now I can pick it up and read it again. Thanks, Grace!

And now, Grace is here as a Guest Blogger. Grace is a trusted friend, a fellow reader, and a fan of the public library.

From Grace:
I am very honored to be a guest writer here! I love books and blogs and Elaine's book blog is the best of both worlds!

Travels with Charley is Steinbeck's travelogue as he rambles across the country in his truck with his dog, Charley. (Incidentally, for those of you who are wondering, Charley the dog does NOT die). Reading it made me feel as if I was on a road trip with them.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book the first time. And, on my second read, it still charmed me--which, in my opinion, is the mark of a good book.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Unfinished Business: One Man's Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things by Lee Kravitz

This man was laid off from his job and decides to take a year to take care of relational business that he's neglected over the years. He reconnects with friends, pays back a loan, and makes amends.

I found the first two-thirds of the book to be very good, and then I got bored and put it down for quite awhile. And even then, I skipped one of the chapters.

Taking care of unfinished business is a good idea. Taking a year off sounds even better. This guy seemed to have unlimited funds to do that (flying places to visit and staying with people that he wanted to reconnect with). But I guess unfinished business could be taken care of by letters as well.

All Over the Map by Laura Fraser

At 40, this author finds herself divorced and nursing a broken heart from her latest romantic affair. She travels and thinks about what's going on and/or wrong in her life and her relationships.

This book was just OK for me. I didn't really grow to like her as a person. I did appreciate her travel writing and descriptions of food. But overall, this was just a so-so book.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Match Day: One Day and One Dramatic Year in the Lives of Three New Doctors by Brian Eule

Match Day is when fourth-year medical students find out which hospital they will do their residency at. This book goes into some of the history behind how Match Day came to be what it is, but it mostly talks about the anxiety, anticipation, and stress around and leading up to the day. The book follows three soon-to-be doctors as they make decisions about how they will rank their choices. The book also follows the doctors through their first year of residency.

The most fascinating part was reading about how each of the doctor’s personal relationships fared as a result of Match Day and the first year of residency.

This book followed the Match Day experience of all three doctors fairly well and made me care about each of them. But when it came to the residency part, it really focused just on one of them. This book could have been longer with more details about the experiences of the other doctors or it should have just followed the one doctor.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This has been on the bestseller list for awhile now. It’s written from the perspective of two black maids and one white lady in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Era.

One of the most satisfying reads so far of 2010.

Farm City by Novella Carpenter

The author is an “urban farmer” who lives in Oakland, CA. I love her name!!! =D She has a vegetable garden in the lot behind her house, and she also raises rabbits, chickens, and pigs for meat.

I don’t like reading about killing animals for meat although I know that it’s done and I eat meat myself. In fact, last night I feasted on filet mignon which was very tasty. It was served on a bed of shallot infused mashed potatoes along with a red wine and beef broth reduction sauce. And, can you believe this? I ate this meal while camping in Yosemite. We’re talking real camping with tents – so this was not your regular camp food. Back to my post, I guess I’m one of those people who, if I had to slaughter animals myself in order to eat them would probably become a vegetarian.

I raced through this book, mostly because it was due at the library in two days. It was amazing what the author did with her backyard and her generosity in sharing her produce and meat with neighbors and friends. She is doing extreme urban farming, and it made this low-scale suburban farmer (me) somewhat uncomfortable (with the slaughtering) but also proud about the two tomato plants I have on my patio out back.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

At age nine, Rose discovers that she can taste the emotions of the person who cooked the food that she eats.

I have several comments about this book:
1. This is another book that doesn't have any quotation marks, and I read the whole thing!

2. I don't think I really understood this book. It's in that whole magical realism genre. Hum, I think my sister wrote her Senior Thesis on magical realism, maybe I'll ask her to explain it to me.

3. But besides thinking that I did not totally "get" this book, I somehow did like it. I would probably like it better if I understood what happened. So dear readers, if any of you read this book, maybe you can let me know what happened at the end.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

I do appreciate recommendations from you all although sometimes it stretches me out of my reading comfort zone.

I don't usually read Mystery novels, but this one was recommended to me. This book takes place in the early 1900s England. It's the story of Maisie, whose mum dies when she is a young gal. She works as a maid where her intellectual talent is discovered and nurtured. There's also war, love, and grief.

It took awhile to get into it, but then I got sucked in, but I found the ending to be a bit shallow and disappointing. This is Book 1 in a series, and right now, I don't think I'm gonna pick up #2.

The Power of Pause: Becoming More by Doing Less by Terry Hershey

I picked up this book at exactly the right time as I've been more intentional lately about slowing down.

This book has 52 short chapters that could take you through a year if you read one chapter a week. But since it was a library book, I read it in three weeks. Talk about slowing down, huh? =D

Really though, it did cause me to slow down, to think about how I do things, and to notice more.

The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye

This was recommended to me by my dear friend, Grace, who also happens to be one of the faithful followers of this blog. Thanks, Grace!

This is the story about a princess who was cursed (or blessed) by the Water Fairy when the Fairy pronounced, “You shall be ordinary!” And so the princess is ordinary all around, unlike her six other sisters, but she really doesn’t mind. She can go out into the forest and play the day away without caring about getting too many freckles.

I won’t say too much more because I really hope that you will read this book. The one word I would use to describe it is: Delightful.

I read this book all in one Sunday afternoon, and it was such a treat.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Keeping the Feast: One Couple's Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy by Paula Butturini

This book is about the role that food and place play in healing and restoration.

The author's husband is recovering from being shot while working as a foreign-correspondent, and then falls into a depression. Doctors, meds, therapists, and friends all aid in his recovery, but the simple routine of eating well, taking things slowly, and sinking into the moment and whatever it holds is also key in her husband's recovery and her own self-care as she cares for him.

This book was subtle and soothing. I appreciate her descriptions of depression and what it looks like, and how fragile someone can be while depressed. This is not something that is always talked about.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz

The author's husband suddenly dies, and in the year after, she finds out that throughout their marriage, he had numerous affairs including one with one of her good friends.

This book was gripping, mostly because the husband led this double life that the author had no idea about (but looking back, she could see some hints).

Quite soon after her husband's death, she starts dating and sleeping with other men, so that part I didn't really understand or see how it was helpful to her grieving/ sorting out process.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Two is Enough: A Couple's Guide to Living Childless by Choice by Laura S. Scott

Last weekend, Boomer's family got together for his grandma's 90th birthday. As we were driving there, I made a deal with Boomer - for every time that someone asked me when we were going to have children, we would go out for sushi.

Within five minutes of walking into the restaurant, his uncle asked when we were planning on starting on family....Sushi Dinner #1! Two other people asked (Sushi Dinner #2 and #3!), so lots of sushi is in my future. I love raw salmon.

It is assumed that every couple will have children. The question I get is: "WHEN will you have kids?" not "Are you going to have kids?"

Hey, I haven't even been married for six months yet.

This book is about choosing not to have children. The author surveyed child-free by choice couples and she discusses the most common reasons people cite for choosing to not have children. She also talks about various reactions that child-free couples receive. It really is assumed out there that everyone wants and will have children.

A lot of my friends are in some stage of having kids - they are either trying to have kids, pregnant, or have just given birth.

There is a choice to be made about whether or not to have kids, and this was a helpful book for me to read.

Now, time for one of those sushi dinners.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

Doesn't this book have a funny title?

It takes place in India where retired Mr. Ali decides to start a business arranging marriages. The people seeking his services are colorful and interesting.

A very pleasant book, simple yet delightful. I don't think I've read any books that take place in India, so this was a nice start.

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

I picked this book up because it was called "Commencement" and I had just graduated. =D

This is the fictional story of four ladies who meet during their freshmen year at Smith College. It follows them through their 20s, through their changing lives and friendships.

Some might consider this book to be in the Chic-Lit category whatever that might mean, I'm not sure. However, I found the stories to be much more complicated than the typically linear storylines found in those "Chic-Lit" books. I liked the book, and this surprised me, but there was some depth to the characters and what they struggled with.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The subtitle of this book is: "Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun."

This author spent a year with the intent on becoming happier. Every month, she chose a certain area of life (Parenting, Love, etc.) and listed specific resolutions that would increase her happiness (Laugh more. Exercise more. Remember birthdays.)

Overall, I liked this book. BUT it made me tired. So much doing, doing, doing. What I learned about myself from this book is that there are things that make me happy (basically reading and hanging out with my cats)...and why don't I do these more?? I also learned that REST makes me happy.

So this book made me tired, but it also did make me think more about my own life, how happy (or unhappy) I am, and what I could do about it. For me, I would probably only pick a couple of resolutions for the entire year (like: Read more.).

This book is good food for thought.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me by Bruce Feiler

The author discovers that he has a cancerous growth in his leg and begins a year of chemotherapy and surgery. With an uncertain prognosis, he is confronted with the fact that he may die, leaving his three-year-old twin girls without a father. He sets out to create a Council of Dads, a group of male friends from his life that could impart fatherly wisdom and guidance should need be.

The chronicling of the author’s year of medical treatment and the effects on him and his family were touching, but the descriptions of each guy friend were more blurry and forgettable.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

I am on a Gabrielle Zevin kick. I have one more book of hers to read.
This one falls under that Young Adult category which is a category of books that I think is underappreciated by adults.

Naomi is in high school when she falls down some stairs and suffers a brain injury causing her to forget the last four years of her life. She begins to rediscover who she is and the people around her. Because she has forgotten who and what has meant something to her, she gets a fresh chance to figure things out.

I appreciate the author’s clear, crisp writing. This book was good, but not outstanding. Pleasant and thoughtful.

A quote that I liked:
“Maybe this was just life? One orphaning after the next. They should tell you when you’re born: have a suitcase heart, be ready to travel.”

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Margarettown by Gabrielle Zevin

This is the story of N. and he meets Margaret while they are both in school. He goes and meets her family who all have variations of the name Margaret - but is this real? We essentially meet Margaret in all stages of her life.

This is a very unusual book. It's a girl-meet-boy story, but fable like too. I wasn't really sure what was real and what was imaginary. It's the story of a life and a story of a marriage.

I would mildly recommend this, but it was kinda confusing too, so I had to hold it pretty loosely in my mind.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

I was so excited to read this book because I happened to watch the first five minutes of the movie and it was SO funny!!

I was disappointed though.

This wimpy kid is really just an annoying young fella.

I won't be reading the rest in this series.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I don’t like books that don’t use quotation marks. It makes me feel a little crazy, like there are no boundaries marking what is what.

I mentioned this in a previous post. A friend from college responded and asked, “Does this mean that you don’t read Cormac McCarthy?”

I try to be open-minded and so I agreed to read at least 50 pages of whichever Cormac McCarthy book my friend recommended. He directed me to The Road, and so I checked it out from the library.

I noticed resistance in reading it, but whenever I did pick it up, I would get hooked and read much more than I was intending to.

This is a bleak book with glimmers of hope. I can’t say that I loved it, but I can appreciate the work.

I might even be open to reading more by the same author.