If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I decided to do the “52 Books in 52 Weeks” challenge. Now I’m bailing. I like the idea that I’m regularly reading books that don’t have anything to do with my current projects (something I wasn’t really doing before), but I’ve found it almost impossible to post weekly reviews, plus I can never remember what week I’m on. So I’m going to keep reading a book a week, but every once in a while I’ll post a round-up of what I’ve been reading with brief reactions (for those of you who find this sort of thing interesting).
So here’s what I’ve read since my last “52 Books” post…
The World Below, Sue Miller. I like Sue Miller, but this one was forgettable. As in, I read it, put it down, and then picked it up again three weeks later and read the first chapter before I remembered that I’d already read it.
Far North, Marcel Theroux. Fascinating. A first-person narrator who delivers a surprise (not so easy), and the only time I’ve really understood, in a visceral immediate way, how a prisoner might come to terms with a wretched life of captivity to the point of refusing escape.
Ghosting: A Double Life, Jennie Erdel. Some interesting stuff here, but I was hoping for a little more reflection on the morality and realities of ghostwriting (something I did for a very brief period); this was more like the memoir of a woman who got tangled up with an EXTREMELY odd employer. I’m still wondering why on earth any sane woman would ghostwrite a NOVEL for someone else.
The Continuity Girl, Leah McLaren. YAWWWWNN. Chick lit, set in the movie world, still boring.
Jane Austen Ruined My Life, Beth Pattillo. I knew about the zombie rewrites of Austen, but when I was looking up the link for this I found What Would Jane Austen Do?, Austenland, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, and a movie called Lost in Austen. Austen isn’t just a writer; she’s a creator of powerful alternative worlds. The girl-equivalent of Joss Whedon. Mildly entertaining.
The Soul of a Chef, Michael Ruhlman. Loved this one. I’m currently fascinated by chef/kitchen/restaurant books–I think it’s because restaurant kitchens are an amazing mix of precision and chaos. Kind of like my life. (This is why I always sit at the bar in my favorite restaurant, so that I can peer into the kitchen and marvel.)
Quiet as a Nun, Antonia Fraser. Double YAWWWNNN. Can’t remember who did it.
The Emperor’s Children, Claire Messud. It must just be me. New York Times best-seller, rave reviews, recognition and prizes, I just don’t get it. Draggy, overwritten, slow-paced, no insight. But again, apparently that’s just me.
How do you decide what to read? When faced with a public library, paralysis sets in, and the only name I tend to vaguely remember, so help me, is John Grisham. Oh, the humanity!
I remember picking up a book at my mother-in-law’s place in the mountains one night several years ago. Everyone else had gone to bed, and I was the only one up, but not ready to sleep. I read the intro or front-of-the-book reviews or something and thought it sounded like an interesting plot (history/time wise, relationships). I read for hours, and it had typical gross-out scenes (murders), and the writing was awful (like a third grader). I had to finish it, though, because I need closure with a book that puts scary images in my head (I didn’t know it was going to be so descriptive-stupid of me). I read until 4 am, and I was so mad when I was done because it was one of the worst books I had ever come across. The ending was so lame, and could have been much more plausible/interesting. And again, the writing was so…I can’t even think of the right word. I was disappointed that this book was on the NY Times bestseller list…but maybe that’s what people like to read. I don’t know…I’m no smartypants, that’s for sure. I want to go back and read several of the classics that we have lying around here. 🙂
No….it isn’t just you. I ploughed through the first fifty pages and tossed “The Emperor’s Children” into the Goodwill box. But, then ..I am a reader who believes that for a book to make the Oprah book club. The author must either…hate men or have deep DEEP seated pscychological problems.
Susan, you say you’re currently fascinated with books about restaurant kitchens. Have you read Heat? My husband loved it and still talks about it:
Yeah, it’s not just you. It’s you and me. I thought The Emporer’s Children was very overwritten and offered no serious reflection on a handful of depressing lives.
Thanks for the reviews – lets me know what not to waste my time on. =D
How can a book titled Quiet as a Nun be anything other than a yawn??
Another good food book is The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten. (He is not a kind man in real life, if one is to believe reports of his behavior – but his book was clever and funny.)