Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

I hesitated before starting The Secret History because it is by the same author as The Goldfinch. I read The Goldfinch under the heaviness and craziness of jet lag and so I wasn't sure if it was the book or the jet lag, but I felt pretty punchy.

I read The Secret History anyway, and it is some heavy duty reading. It's the tale of a group of college students at a small liberal arts college who are in on a secret. Keeping this secret tears them all apart physically and emotionally in different ways. Psychologically insightful and deftly written, I would recommend this if you're looking for a solid book to read, but I actually did like The Goldfinch better. Make no bones about it...this is not lighthearted beach reading fare.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford

College admissions have become so competitive. I actually don't think I could get into the university I attended for undergraduate again with the grades/essay/activities I had. Good thing I finished up all that undergrad business in the 90s!!! :)

Anyway, Early Decision is a fictional tale about Anne, a 27-year-old who works with high school seniors on perfecting their personal essays for college applications. She works with five students as they write and re-write their essays. The essays give a view of what it's like to grow up privileged and under the rigid and high expectations of parents.

A so-so book. It could have used some editing as it rambled at times and dragged.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Still Point of the Turning World by Emily Rapp

What a sad, somber, heartbreaking story. The author's son was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease which means that he stopped developing at six months old and gradually regressed until he passed away before he turned age three. She starts the book with the day of his diagnosis.

This is a different kind of memoir (and it's actually more of a long reflective meditation rather than memoir) than I've ever read because she seeks to find comfort and meaning in literature and weaves all sorts of literary references throughout the book. I actually wish that she wrote more about her son's decline and what it was like in terms of the practical ways she had to care for him. Her vagueness about the end of his life left me unsure about what it was like for her and her husband.

If you're looking for an uplifting and happy book, you are not going to find it here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

I re-read My Name is Asher Lev every couple of years, but I've never written about it on this blog. I just finished reading it again for an online book club that I sometimes join in on, and it was as wonderful as it was the first time I read it (which isn't always the case with re-reads!).

Asher Lev is a boy growing up in a Ladover Hasidic Jewish family, but he is also an artist. Not just any artist though, an artist who has the potential to be a great and famous artist. How does he reconcile his art and his religion? It's a constant source of tension inside of himself, with his father, and between his father and mother.

Rich and wonderfully written. I will probably read My Name is Asher Lev quite a few more times in my life.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Heya, thanks for reading my blog! Some of you asked about the vinaigrette recipe I mentioned in my post about How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are.

Here it is: (add in order listed!)
1 part vinegar
1 part water
2 parts olive oil

Thanks to the authors, Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret and Sophie Mas, for sharing this recipe and the tip about the order to add the ingredients. It's my go-to vinaigrette now!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Never Eat Alone And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazi

This book stressed me out.

On one hand, I understand what Ferrazzi is saying which is basically that being successful requires us to not just know a lot of people, but to have quality relationships with them. Ferrazzi writes about practical ways to keep in contact with people, to know who they are, and to find ways to help them succeed. One section about how being vulnerable first allows others to also open up was especially helpful.

There was a lot of food for thought but, like I wrote at the start, it kinda stressed me out.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret and Sophie Mas

I've only been to Paris once (this needs to change!), but I had one of the most delicious meals of my life there (thanks, Jerome!) and also had a really difficult time finding the Eiffel Tower (Boomer kept looking at the map saying, "It's got to be around here somewhere!")

Anyway, after reading this weird and shallow book about how to be a Parisian, I'm really not that interested in being more like a Parisian! There's a bunch of short essays and lists about food, men, decorating, etc.

There was one redeeming thing about this book. There is a recipe for vinaigrette that says you MUST put the ingredients in the order listed (salt, vinegar, water, oil, pepper). I tried it last night, and yes, it was an excellent vinaigrette, the best one I have ever made at home. Hum, at least when it comes to vinaigrette, these Parisians know what they are talking about.