Wednesday, January 02, 2008

january 2008

born standing up. a memoir from one of my favorite comics. white hair and all, i love steve martin. he details his beginnings in the business and the rise of his comedy in stand up on the road. he ventured into his early relationships, but slowly backs away from his high profile or recent ones by not mentioning them at all. as someone who is slightly in love with him and wishes he were 20 years younger and lived upstairs, i was amiss at the omission of his personal life. i'm sure he isn't. and yet he wrote a memoir. i wanted to hold his hand through his truthfulness of depression. i like a man who can admit "the funk" and still make me laugh. he can do no wrong in my eyes, although i have never watched Mixed Nuts. i enjoyed even the acknowledgement pages (yeah, pages- he's a wild and grateful guy).
by Steve Martin

pride and prejudice. clearly the original chicklit and while it is so highly acclaimed and loved by (it seems) everyone, i felt like i was reading something inbetween a harlequin romance and bridget jones (and yes i know the correlation). maybe i'm jaded because so many have copied her that her originality now seems fake and trite. i didn't love it. i didn't hate it. i give it an "eh." maybe it's a rereader. i felt like all the action happened in the end when she wrapped everything up and sometimes wished she had moved scenes and actions on much faster. then again, it could be that i've seen too many versions of the movie and therefore a drawn out portrayal of these characters could be nothing but a little boring. but, bravo to her for being so a great writer in her time. i love women who pioneer with a little whimsy in their hearts.
by Jane Austen

Sunday, January 14, 2007



have you found her. Memoirs are in- they’re the blogs of the reading world, the reality TV of print and the engrossing aspect of all those mediums is easily wrapped up in Have You Found Her by Janice Erlbaum. We’re taken on a trip through the ups and downs of a recovering homeless teenage junkie and while you hope for a happy solution you just know the minute for-shadowing events in the story won’t allow it. Erlbaum begins this journey with the selfless act of volunteering and finds herself tangled in the life of a complicated and damaged girl. In her quest to find herself, to heal her own battle scars, Erlbaum tries in vain to save a girl who has entranced her. I sometimes found myself questioning this “love” that Erlbaum professes for Sam, but I too was in a trance with her. This story felt like it could easily be worn by anyone. It is so ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. I wonder if it’s that writers are better at bringing forth their everyday lives into a bright and hypnotic light or whether their everyday lives really are so much more interesting than our own. Either way, I can imagine walking into this story on any day and finding myself spun around just like Erlbaum does. It’s a good read with a little lesson in the end- you can only save yourself, but didn’t we already know that? Sometimes we need a little of what we find in others to find all of ourselves. Highly
by Janice Erlbaum


old school. starts off slow, so much so that i almost put it down. i like the idea of prep school, of the almost college for teenagers who haven't figured out their angst or their voice. this is a smart book that made me wish i was versed in the classics. i can only imagine that an interview with hemingway or ayn rand would be so thrilling.
by Tobias Wolff

middlessex. i din't love this book, but that didn't stop me from reading all 528 pages of it. it is amazingly written. how the author goes through a century of time with the ease and void of reader disruption is inspiring. and it's partly why i didn't love it. i like a story to be about one person from that person's point of view. call me boring. i'll take it. this one delves too much for me in the imagined histories for me to gain a solid connectivity with the characters. in this way it reminded me of Everything Is Illuminated. i have similiar options about both books, beautifully written just not my favorite story.
by Eugenides


the dogs of babel. i loved this book almost as much at Time Traveler's Wife. it felt similar in tone and movement though at times the twists of plot were predictable. the tone and writing were both smart and easy and that to me makes a good match. i recommend it highly. and the best bit was at the when in my version the authos gives a list of her favorite books and short blurbs of why she likes them. now, that is one nice author!
By Carolyn Parkhurst

waiting. it's so easy for me to be sucked in by "National Best Seller" and "National Book Award Winner" because i just assumed that works have to be stellar and radiant to every reader. i must the 1% who doesn't love what the impossibly well read and educated judges love. not so say that this book was bad. it wasn't. i just wouldn't give it a national prize. and i blame that on my reading ability and not on the writing. i don't always get the nuissance of humor in good writing. i sometimes can't read between the lines in print materials. and i think my ability failed me on this novel as well. i was waiting for it to be over, to find the darkly humorous ending i was promised in the preview blurbs. i'm a little fascinated with communist china so i think that is what kept me reading, but it took me well over a month and that whas wholely unintentioal.
by Ha Jin


stolen lives. i borrowed this from a house where i was dogsitting a few weeks ago. i hadn't heard of it before even though it was an oprah book club book. the tag lines intrigued me. it is the story of Malika Oufkir and her family who lived in Morroco and were imprisoned there for 20 years after her father staged a coup on the king and was killed. it's a story of survival as well as privelige. you couldn't event such dramactic or disperate events which this family endured. strange in it's language because it was written in french then translated to english. i'm sure that the polish of the languages was worn away a bit, but it does not undermine the powerful struggle which the latter half of the book reveals.
by Malika Oufkir with Michele Fitoussi


gilead. highly recommended by a well-read friend i came to gilead with high hopes. i wasn't prepared to the quiet of this novel, the subtle tone, the whisper that is almost is. i didn't love the subject matter, wasn't that interested in the characters, but this book is like a poem. one that i will be trying to decipher for a long long time.
by Marrilynne Robinson

rats: observations on the history and habitats of the city's most unwanted inhabitants. i bought this book at a tiny little bookshopg across the street from Magnolia Bakery in the village in new york. it was on a table sitting outside. you know those tables that draw you in with discount prices on slightly imperfect books. i got bitten by the idea of a book devoted not only to the city i love, but to the inhabitants of it's underbelly. it was a good read, interesting, historical and at times very engrossing. i can't look at city garbage or city alleys without knowing what lies beneath the surface or underground.
by Robert Sullivan

dress your family in corduroy and denim. the first time i read david sedaris i didn't appreciate his subtle wit. i loved the stories about his strange siblings. it made me feel so normal and yet wrong in that normalcy at the same time. this latests book is hilarios and i can never get enough.
by David Sedaris

little children. loaned to me by my sister-in-law from one of her friends. my s-i-l did not like the novel and in fact blamed it for her giving up on modern literature. i wouldn't go that far. i don't think this is a representative of modern lit. it is mass culture lit. and for that i found fault, but the writing is smart and fast and smooth. the author is smart and knows how to keep you panting, but the overly active sex lives of the characters killed the story for me. it bordered on disturbing for me, walking that fine edge of dark humor though it doesn't make me give on modern lit. at all.
by Tom Perrotta

mahattan, when i was young. of course i was pulled to this one by the title. a memior about an editor at the New York Times and once Mademoiselle and Vogue, she tells of her life in new york as she graduated from college, married, had children and moved about from house to house all through the village. being born in the 30's there was a multitude of references that were lost on me although underneath it all is a typical semi-nuerotic new yorker and i get that.
by Mary Cantwell

the true and outstanding adventures of the hunt sisters. although the title suggest lightheartedness and tiresome antics, this novel is tinged a bit more heavily in the weight of the reality of cancer. the story of two sisters, one a cynical movie exec. in L.A., the other a boisterous optimistic with cancer. told through letters sent by the narroter to everyone in her professional, personal and familial life the story wraps around nearly a year and a half of cancer treatment and movie production. a good read, engrossing, heavy and lighthearted at times. i even laughed out loud at some points which is very, very rare for me (with a book, i mean).
by Elizabeth Robinson

water for elephants. this is a national bestseller right now and well, why? i heard about it a year ago from friends and NPR. i waited and waited to buy it thinking that a book with such a strange title should surely be somewhat obtuse and altogether wonderful. it's good, it's very readable, but it's mass literature. i'm becoming a book snob. Everything Is Illuminated was too obtuse, this was too transparent. i knew the plot before the next 100 pages divulged it. a good read, maybe one better for the beach. it kept me reading and wanting to know what happens, but i just didn't love it and maybe that's partly to do with the fact that i don't love the circus.
by Sara Cruen

easter everywhere. this memior is by one of my mother's friend's daughter. i know it sounds twice removed, but it's not. she describes parts of her life i never knew about especially the part about her father being a minister. i was more cognizant of the family after the father had left and therefore never really thought he existed. she tells of her religious struggles throughout her life, but in the vien of someone who desperately wants to believe Christianity, but cannot reconcile with it. i get her struggle and the foundation for emotional wavering that she inherited from her family. i enjoyed this book and i think i just might write her a letter.
by Darcey Steinke


the second assistant. a great chicklite, beach reading book. this was a smart book with just enough escapism to make it a fast and enjoyable read. i felt like i was in L.A. again, tromping about in the perfect sunshine with all the perfect people. and even though the heorin is besotted with the wiles of hollywood, i found that i could almost understand the selling of your soul to do a job you liked and were good at. of course the typical chicklit trappings apply a la girl gets decent guy and dates others along the way, but this is why you take it to the beach and don't see it on syllabi.
by Mimi Hare and Clare Naylor

a million little pieces. of course i read this after the rise and fall due to Oprah and the legitamacy of this "memior." i have to say that i didn't love it. it kept me going, kept me reading, but this man is one pompous, self-righteous writer. how people were so enthralled by this book before the scandal makes me have little faith in our reading public. and i'm not even talking about the big things like getting a root canal with no drugs at all or the arrests being made up or the fact that the girl in book may or may not have hung herself, or been real at all. no, what bothers me is that the day after capping two teeth and getting two root canals with no medicine, this bulldog of a 23 year-old ate a full breakfast, plate after plate of sausages and bacon and eggs and and and... i'd like to call him on this. and i bet he'd say that for lunch he hand 12 ears of corn on the cob. sure, hindsight is 20/20, but there is something to be said of how arrogance and bravado are simply veils for a weak and unstable psyche. and i feel for him, for being so trouble in the first place and then deceiving his readers like this. sad.
by James Frey

everything is illluminated. i checked this one out from the library because i've been meaning to read it for quite a long time. first, it has a great cover. second, it got a lot of hype when it came out. and third, i adored The History of Love that is wife wrote. i'm not so sure about this book. i think it's one of those that i need to reread in a year. i don't fully grasp it. is it brilliant? maybe. a lot of people think so, but it might be a little too cerebral for me, a little too ahead of my time. easily readable, just not sure i've pieced all the puzzle pieces together. i'm was hoping that in time, like as i read (past tense) the book, that everything WILL be illuminated. and also, when i read the back cover and discovered that he was born in 1977 and is my age, i felt that i had accomplished nothing in my life.
by Jonathan Saftran Foer

dear exile. a book of letters between two friends, one in nyc, one in africa in the peace corp. a fast, fun read. i found myself comparing the educational system here in urban america to that of kenya, not an easy or even likely comparison, but some sad similarities exist. i ate up the nyc stories too, of course.
by Hilary Liftin and Kate Montgomery


the comedienne. bought off the $2 list at b&, all i knew about the book was that it was from a british writer. it was a fast read about a woman in england searching for the love of her life. we meet her in her home town caring for a frail mother and dating a woman whom she loves, but the woman does not love her back. they break up and the next 20 or so years are dipped in an out of. the main component of the book is the main characters imaginary girlfriend which is a bit odd. i didn't find it exceptionally funny, but a sad sort of tale, a little rough around the edges, a little true to life, a good find for $2.
by VG Lee


evidence of things unseen. a beautifully written account of a couple that starts during world war I and ends sometime in the 50's with their adopted son. it took me a long time to finish this book, but it's not because it was well written. it's a slow story, but i don't mean this in a negative way. sometimes books need time to unfold and i think this is one of them. marrianne writes so wonderfully, descriptively and wholly. she brought nature, science, frienship, love, scandal and history together in a cohesive and subtle way.
by Marrianne Wiggins


the ha-ha. a story about a vietnam vet 20 or so years after he is wounded and left mute from his sustained head injury. the books takes us through a summer of his life when an ex-girlfriend's son comes to live with him. even though he does not communicate past gesturing the story is told in his voice and the writer does a beautiful job of writing dialogue without writing dielogue. i found myself making lists of things i needed to get dones, but only thinking that i could accomplish them because i couldn't speak. the prose overcame me a bit. a good read.
by Dave King

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

2006 book list

the autobiography of santa claus. it's starts out wanting you to believe in the magic of the once bishop, but toward the end i was tired of the story and all the history and history meddling which the author implies that santa and his crew have done. santa and his helpers change the course of man on many occasions and although jesus is always the reason for the season in santa's mind, i can't help but be cynical in the delivery of this story, of course.
by Jeff Guinn

2,001 things to do before you die. i didn't follow the last few directions and actually count the things i've already done. it's a fun little game to play to check off things like "go backstage" or "start a barbie collection." this may be my new gift to people you don't know what to give them simply because i think it would be really cool to pick it up in someone's house and go through their life with them.
by Dane Sherwood


which brings me to you. a story of love told through the confessions in letters. it sounds old school, but is set in present time. i loved the idea and ultimate sentiment and conclusion of this book. some scenes were a littlle too to, if you know. the line i loved most talking about wanting either to be loved more than understood or understood more than loved. how you couldn't live a lifetime in those possibilities and haven't we and won't we?
by Stevea Almond and Julianna Baggott

-how reading changed my life. this is really a long essay about Quindlen's lifelong love of reading. it's a good, quick read in which she discusses the lure of literature of women and the rise and change of The Canon. i wish i had read voraciously when i was young as she did.
by Anna Quindlen

the memory keeper's daughter. ugh. i can't believe it's taken over a month to finish one book. i did not like the book. there were parts that helped me moved along, that did not seem forced, but this book, to me, felt like a short story writer who was trying to force out a novel. i felt cheated by the auther at times, that she knew things about the characters and would withhold the information then casually supply it which is frustrating because you should always trust the writer to give you what you need up front. her style of writing was off as well. i felt like she explained too much and was too leanding. i hate giving bad reviews and i ususally don't because i will just not finish the book. i stuck with this one though and in the end, it redeemed itself somewhat, but no enough to make up for the month i spent dreading reading it.
by Kim Edwards


tender at the bone. a memior by the former new york times food critic. she delves into the experiences that pushed her to love and enjoy the world of food from eating it, to making it, to serving it, to writing about it. tales of her bipolar mother are sprinkled throughout and serve as a great contrast to the author who seems to sturdy and level headed especially when she is surrounded by food.
by Ruth Reichl


the time traveler's wife. i could live inside this book. i feel a bit like i do at times. the concept of someone traveling through time, in and out of your past, knowing your life before and after you do, it seems so strange and so wonderful at the same time. this book seems daunting, but it pulls you through effortlessly with easy writing and beautiful sentiment. i loved this one.
by Audrey Niffenegger

balzac and the little chinese seamstress. a few years ago i read a book called Red Azalea which was a remarkable and daring book about communist china and it's period of Cultural Revoluntion which sent young men and women away to camps or villages to work grueling jobs away from thier family, friends, and any semblence of life they knew. i thought then that i was like this book about the same topic. it was quite a different and much more light hearted take on the period of chinese history and while i liked this book, i didn't love it as much as Red Azalea. still, a clever book that made me wish i had read Balzac or Flaubert or Kipling or Tolstoy. i've read Hugo and so could relate a bit to that french mastermind, but i think i need to go dig deeper in the well of great western writers because i have the freedom to do so.
by Dai Sijie

the bell jar. there are some books like this one and The Catcher in The Rye that I wish I had read during high school or college when reading about such angst and inner turmoil may have awaken me to what literature could really do. i loved this book for it's honesty and bravado and also it's 1950's modestness. i am so sad that there are not more books from her, only poems will have to suffice because i think her books would have been even more and more momentus. she felt this one was not a serious work. i disagree whole heartedly and wish that i had a fraction of her talent.
by Sylvia Plath

the history of love. recommended by a friend who raved and raved about this book. it was brilliant. i read it in 2 days, which is a record for me and reading. it's a surprising read that keeps your mind awake and grasping for hope just as much as the characters do. and yet. a beautiful book.
by Nicole Krauss


bergdorf blondes. a chicklit book full of superficial characters with little substence. i'm starting to not like chicklit. i find it more and more boring. this book didn't help matters.
by Plum Sykes

garlic and sapphires. a romp through several years in the life of the new york times food critic who had to go in disguise so as not to be made by the resturaunts she was reviewing. it's a fabulous read into food the likes of which must of us will never experience. if you love food and want to know how the better half eat it, read this book. it's as good as going to dinner with her.
by Ruth Reichl

prep. a first person look at the inner mind of a boarding school girl. the main character is a sort of everyman with the neurotic insights we all face at some point which i'm sure have made this book so appealing. i'm just amazed at the depth in character the author was able to achieve. at some points you are baffled that she knows this character so well. well done.
by Curtis Sittenfeld

the hours. a story of three women struggling through the hours of thier lives. i didn't love this book simply because it was wordy at parts and my attention would wonder which is a really lame excuse for not loving a book. it's well written and well thought out, i just didn't love it.
by Michael Cunningham

you are not a stranger here, stories.
oh. my. dear. lord can this boy write. i said this everytime i finished a story. each story is dark without a happy ending, but the telling of them and the writing is just superb. i don't think i've been engrossed and surrounded by the language or the psychology of the characters in such intense and believeable ways as i was with these stories. boyfriend can write.
by Adam Haslett

- spygirl.
a memoir of a year in the life of a 30something private investigator new to the scene. i saw the author on the today show a year or so ago and thought the book sounded intriguing. i think was pushed me through this book was more the stories and scenes of new york city than the story line or the writing. it's a good beach or bathroom read, but dont look for much more here.
by Any Gray


-little earthquakes.
the story of four women who are dealing with the aftermath of pregnancy and raising children during one year in Philidelphia. this was not my favorite of her books, but i think it has to do with the fact that i'm not pregnant nor do i plan on becoming so for many, many, many years.
by Jennifer Weiner

-the man of my dreams.
well, miss sittenfeld can write her a book. well written and quick moving. the chronicles of a girl who moves through the awkardness of her sexuality, or lack there of, in finding the man of her dreams. this is what i like to call high brow chicklit, but sittenfeld would probably disagree, i don't think she likes the term. i will say that i think that this book has a great deal in common with The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank which sittenfeld bashed in the nytimes. i plan to research who else agrees with me, but i found some red flags in her arguements on chicklit and it's just a little circumspect.
by Curtis Sittenfeld

-the devil wears prada.
(i started this book 2 years ago and just read the last 40 pages). a chicklit tale of a just-out-of-college fashion magazine assistant who works for an Anna Wintour figure. it's got moments of good plot, but i felt a little bored with the book overall.
by Laura Weisberger

-one hundred demons.
it's a cartoon book, but that is too simple a description. the author takes her "100 demons" and illustrates and writes narration for them. there are not 100 in this book, but the ones she includes are fascinating, i like the idea of uprooting and letting go of our demons. it's so freeing and connecting.
by Lynda Barry

-the lone surfer of montana, kansas.
short stories with the common thread of searching. some stories kept me glued like, "A Black Dog" and i have a feeling that a lot of that story was taken from real life, the voice is just so strong. though there are illusions of a thug and hoodlums, it is obvious that davy has a cinderella view of love and that kinda makes any girl weak in the knees, gangster jive or not.
by Davy Rothbart

-the glass castle.
a memoir that proves the strength of a focused mind to overcome hardship and use the tough lessons life gives us as a roadmap to a better life. i love this book. it kept me up at night.
by Jeannett Walls


-fahrenheit 451.
a classic that i somehow never read. a fast and good read. and i love how many of the sentiments can so easily reverberate to today and yet it is what the end of the book warns us about. man is so flawed.
by Ray Bradbury

-eat, pray, love.
excellent. has made me very interested in yoga, meditation, and especially taking a year off to find my true self. an indulgent read into the life of one very lucky and spiritual woman.
by Elizabeth Gilbert

April/ May

-on beauty.
ms. smith is one smart ass woman. she writes well and knows her subjects and characters. i think it's remarkable how she moves so easily between classes and ages and does so with good dialogue. a smart book
by Zadie Smith


-encyclopedia of an ordinary life.
hiLARious. i read a good deal of it at Starbucks and had to remind myself on several occasions NOT to laugh out loud and i never laugh at books, never. such a cool concept for a book, so enlightening, so we-are-all-the-same affirmation.
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal


- holy cow, an idian adventure.
an australian journalist travels to india for her man love and goes about the country delving into every major religion that holds a place in the ever inlcusive country. she puts herself into the religions of hinduism, buddhism, isalm, judaism, christianity, parsi, and jainism. her thoughts are objective and real and i appreciate her look at these religions. she's done the work i would like to do. there is also a good deal of life and love in the book.
by Sarah McDonald

-shopaholic and sister.
sometimes, after some high brow stuff, you need some chicklit smut. this filled that void. i've loved the shopaholie series since it came out about 7 years ago. i love that it is about london and shopping and friendship. i'm not sure if it's because i'm trying to read such a variety of things these days, but i really realized what utter non-literary crap this book is. i hope the others were not this bad, or i blame myself for being not smart enough to recogonize the literary stooping i was doing. that said, this was great escapism, totally unrealistic and unbelievable, everything chicklit smut should be.
by Sophie Kinsella


-autobiography of a face.
beatiful. lucy grealy was an amazing writer, smart and a good storyteller. she had childhood cancer that left the right side of her face mishappen. in this book, she details how her life revolved around hospitals and the impact her face made on her social and emotional life. i'm sad that the world lost a great writer when she died and that when she lived, she published so few things. i crave more from her and this will not happen.
by Lucy Grealy

-bel canto.
after truth and beauty i had to read one of ann's ficiton books. this is her fourth and the one with the most acclaim. i have to say i didn't love it. the last 100 pages could have been all i read and i would have been fine with it. it still love ann. truth and beauty will be on my favorite list for a long long time, bel canto will not.
by Ann Patchett

-truth and beauty.
given to me by a friend months ago this book chronicles the friendship between two very accomplished writers, ann patchett and lucy grealy. a wonderful book about true love in friendship.
by Ann Patchett

December 2005 and January 2006

- julie and julia.
I pined for this book on Amazon not having a clue the girl was a blogger and wrote about her year trying to cook every recipe in Julia Child's first cookbook. A great read. I found myself thinking, "I wonder what Julie cooked tonight." I wish I had known about the blog beforehand. I think I would have been an addict.
by Julie Powell

Friday, April 01, 2005

2005 book list

*****means i love it. ****means i like it a lot. ***means it's OK. **means read at your own risk. *means i wish they still had things like book burning rallies.

march and april 2005

-the secret life of bees **** great story. and very healing.
by Sue Monk Kidd

april 2005

-wicked *** fantasy and i have to say i was intriqued.
by Gregory MaGuire

june 2005

-the wonder spot **** high brow chicklit. i like it.
by Melissa Bank

july 2005

absolutely nothing. well, this is not so true because i started and never finished like 4 different books. ahhhhhhhh!

autgust 2005

-the undomestic goddess**** completly and utter chicklit smut, i totally love it.
by Sophie Kinsella

oct. and nov. 2005- has it really been that long? that's sad.

-the bean trees**** i love her books. this was her first and after reading her others, you can tell it's her first, but really good nonetheless.
by Barbara Kingsolver

nov. 2005

-the pleasure of my company **** sometimes i wish Steve Martin were younger and lived upstairs from me.
by Steve Martin

nov. and dec. 3005

-holidays on ice **** he is one funny north carolina boy!
by David Sedaris

dec. 2005

-an idoit girl's christmas**** funny girl and somewhat of a happenstance writer.
by Laurie Notaro

-the kite runner***** no book has kept me up nights reading endlessly since college like this book did. i read it in 3 days, i never do that unless it's gripping. and now, when i walked into a room i am urged to say, "salaam." excellen, a must.
by Khaled Hosseini