Sunday, June 26, 2011

Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward by Henry Cloud

This book is based on the premise that endings are needed in order to move on in work and life in general. The book goes through reconsidering how we think about endings, how to decide whether something can be saved and is worth saving, and how to end well.

Practical and easy to read, but a lot more geared toward the workplace although there is some talk about personal relationships.

Helpful, especially if you're someone who avoids endings or thinks endings are negative.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton

A memoir of how the writer came to be the owner/chef of Prune restaurant in New York City. She writes about her early experiences with food (roasting lambs in the backyard with her father) and working for caterers as an adult.

This book was an unsatisfactory and confusing read. It's divided into three sections (blood, bones, butter) but I could not figure out why. There's also a lot of past/present narrative which got confusing. There were some amusing, well-told stories included, but overall, this was an uneven read.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

At 900+ pages, this book is no lightweight. But even though it's long, it's a very fast read. I thought I might get bogged down in it, but I read it in two weeks.

It's historical fiction and takes place in the Middle Ages. It's full of bishops, lords, monks, priests, stone masons, and knights. Lots of love, betrayal, grief, and heroism as well. Note: there are some mature themes and scenes so please beware, young readers.

And there's a sequel! Which is even longer. But I'm gonna wait for a couple of weeks before I enter that world again.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell

Sometimes I find a book that is so rich, deep, and comforting that I carry it with me wherever I go- church, work, social events. Even though I usually don't have time to read it when I'm out and about, I like knowing that it's in my purse. (Did you know that the main requirement for me when it comes to buying a purse is: does it fit a paperback?)

I carried this book around last week, savoring it when I could. It's a "memoir of friendship" and the author writes about how she met her friend, Caroline, and how their friendship developed and deepened. Caroline dies from lung cancer, and the author chronicles the aftermath and her grief.


PS: Have a box of tissues nearby.

A quote:

"I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures." --Gail Caldwell

Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes by William Bridges

Doesn't this book cover look like a chewing gum wrapper?

This book defines change as external (new job, relationship, baby) and transition as the psychological adjustment that happens internally. The book goes through the three stages of a transition: the ending, the neutral zone, and the beginning. There's descriptions of what's happening in each stage and what the reader can do to make the most of each period.

I like the idea, but the execution did not work that well for me. There was too much mythology and too many rambling sections. The unclear writing was hard to get through.

I actually bought this book, but I wish that I had checked it out from the library. It's going straight into the Book Swap bag that I'll take with me to my family reunion this year.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summer Reading Suggestions

A faithful reader (AKA my sister) requested some summer reading recommendations.

I scrolled through all of the books I've reviewed on this blog with this question in mind: "If I pulled this book out of my bag as I was ___________ (at the pool, on the plane, in the yard), would I be happy?" Here are some that I answered, "Yes!"

Some lighter fare:
The Nanny Diaries by Emma Laughlin and Nicola Kraus
Funny, amusing, but smart!

The Red Thread by Ann Hood
A bit predictable, but that's okay sometimes, especially when you're by the pool.

A bit heavier:
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
A gripping read.

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Fascinating, but murderous.

A book that'll make you feel relieved that you're on vacation and not in law school:
One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School by Scott Turow
This is a really interesting, easy-to-read book. However, all the lawyers I've talked to say that law school really isn't this bad.

Some non-fiction easy-reading:
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Finn
A cooking school memoir to savor.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
Adventures in gardening.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

This story takes place in North Carolina is full of mystery, superstition, an unlikely friendship, and secrets.

I think you should add this one to your summer reading list. It's not really deep or super complex, but it would make for a good read while you're hanging out near the pool or sitting on the plane or sipping some lemonade in the yard.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Once Upon a Time, There Was You by Elizabeth Berg

Irene and John have been divorced for about ten years when they have to interact in person again because of a crisis concerning their 18-year-old daughter. This makes them both reflect on how they got together and why they separated.

I liked the character development and the story was fine. However, this wasn't a spectacular book, just pleasant reading.

Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love by Matthew Logelin

The author, Matt, and his wife, Liz, were high school sweethearts. They dated for years, finally got married, and Liz got pregnant. 27 hours after delivering their daughter, Maddy, Liz died from a pulmonary embolism. Within two days, Matt had become a new father and a widower.

This is a sad, true story. However, the excessive and unnecessary use of the f*** word (almost on every page) was very distracting. It added a crass element to an otherwise heartbreaking but sweet story.