Saturday, August 27, 2011

Monthly Log of Books Read

At the end of August every year, I make a tally of how many books I've read. (If you want to know why - it's our annual Family Reunion each Labor Day weekend, and each family has to report some "Did you knows" about what happened that year. Mine is always: "Did you know that Elaine read ___ books since last Family Reunion?")

Above is a chart of how many books I read each month from September 2010- August 2011. You can see that I had a summer vacation in July!

The total number of books I read is 91, which is quite a large increase from the year before (only 67). Hum, maybe I'll see if I can read 100 this coming year??!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America by Jonathan Dixon

At age 38, the writer made a career change and decided to enroll at the esteemed Culinary Institute of America. He chronicles his time there and all of the pressure, criticism, and discouragement (and encouragement) that he experienced.

Engaging and honest (especially with his failures), I found this to be a super gripping read.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I think I've found my new scent.

Grace, a faithful reader of this blog, alerted me to this new perfume called "In the Library." The scent is described as "a warm blend of English Novel, Russian & Moroccan Leather Bindings, Worn Cloth and a hint of Wood Polish."

I wonder if it smells like new books at all. If it does, I would love to wear it. That's one thing I miss since I read mostly books checked out from the library - they don't smell new. Usually they don't smell at all, and that's actually a good thing, but I do miss that new paperback smell.

Read more about the perfume here.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Alice is a 39-year-old mother of three going through a high-conflict divorce.

But then she takes a fall at the gym and wakes up knowing nothing about the last 10 years of her life. As her friends and family fill in bits and pieces for her, Alice discovers that maybe she doesn't like who she's become in the last ten years.

I want to say that this book was chic-lit, mystery, and beach read all combined, but it was actually deeper than the average chic-lit book. I thought it was pretty original, clever, thoughtful, and funny.

It's not short (just under 400 pages), but this was a page-turner. I couldn't put it down yesterday until I finished it, so that explains why dinner was ready at 8:30pm last night instead of the usual 6:30pm.

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

The second book of the trilogy that I read out of order. This one was better than the first and third because it filled in some gaps for me. But this whole series was just a mediocre reading experience for me. I didn't get to know the main character, Belly, that well and never got a good sense of who she was. So I found it hard to root for her and to even care that much about her.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III

Some of you have commented that you appreciate that my book reviews are short, simple, and to the point. Well, I think this will be my shortest review so far:

Great writing, but what a downer.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Remember when I accidentally read the third book in a trilogy before reading the first? Well, I read the first one and just started on the second.

This one introduces Belly. She spends each summer at a beach house with her brother and mother, along with her mother's best friend who has two sons. Belly's growing up and things seem to be different this summer. Relationships between everyone at the beach house are changing, and these changes are sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken.

I still don't have a good sense of who Belly is and what she is like. Is she smart? Wise? Shallow? I'm not sure. I don't have a good feel for her, and it seems like the first book of a trilogy should really establish that.

An easy, fast read. I read it almost all in one afternoon, while on the sofa, with a cat sleeping on my tummy. Didn't love it, but didn't hate it. Hoping that the second one will fill me in on what was missing in the first and third.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

Julian and Carter meet in a writing class during freshman year in college. Carter starts dating Pilar and Julian starts dating Mia. The couples end up getting married after graduation, and this story follows them for about fifteen years, focusing mostly on Julian and Mia. It's a portrait of a marriage - the ups, downs, betrayals, and decisions.

I liked this one. The writing seemed effortless. There weren't any weird gimmicks, just the story of two people and how their lives and relationships evolve over time. It's about life - plain, simple, and ordinary...and yet there is heartbreak, dreams lost, things not communicated, secrets kept.

Monday, August 1, 2011

22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson

After being separated for six years during World War II, Silvana and her son, Aurek, are reunited with Silvana's husband, Janusz, in England. There, they start their life together again at a house at 22 Britannia Road. However, the six years apart holds secrets, the terrors of war, and betrayals, and these start to slowly come out as they rediscover who they are as a family once again.

The story is told from several perspectives. The chapters are short, so it was easy for me to say, I'll just read one more...ok, one more...and so on, until I was done. =D A gripping read. I read it in a couple of days.