The first thing I need to tell you is that my local library opened back up yesterday and I couldn't be happier. Libraries are amazing, and they just can't be replaced virtually.
I've also been reading some books!
Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
This is a cutesy and predictable romance centered around a winning lottery ticket gift. Once I realized that this would be the case, I almost abandoned it. I’m not much for cutesy romance. However, I found myself turning the pages quickly and actually enjoying the story. I like this book because it allowed me to daydream a little about how I’d spend my lottery winnings, but I also thought the character development of the protagonist was remarkably well done. I would recommend Windfall as a beach read, or when you just need some fresh air between heavier books.
This is Big: How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World by Marisa Meltzer
I really had high hopes for this one, and had been looking so forward to reading it. But, it super sucked. Actually, the first half was marvelous. The author flips between her story and the story of the founder of Weight Watchers. Her story started off funny and interesting and the story of the founder started off inspiring. But it all took a nosedive somewhere in the middle where the author’s story started spinning in circles with no real revelation to be had and the founder’s story was just sad. Skip it.
Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
Everyone needs to read this book. Newport provides a solid argument for becoming a digital minimalist and provides practical and proven tips for getting off your dang phone and being present for your family, getting loads more work done, and also what to do with all that extra time you will have! One of the best quotes was from someone who became a digital minimalism and described what it was like to be the only parent at the playground actually playing with their kid and not looking down at their phone. It’s true – we’re abandoning our real, actual lives to watch people we don’t care about fight with each other on Facebook. If you’re ready to give the phone a rest for a while, pick up this book instead.
Next up- I’m reading a book that has been on my TBR list for many years and I’m loving it. I’m also reading a brand new book just because the cover was pretty, and I’m not even embarrassed to be telling you that.
What are you reading?
My amazing-book streak has ended, although I'd still rate all of these recent reads as pretty good and worth picking up if you're so inclined. Or just skip down and read my ranting and raving and post a hateful comment. That'll make us feel like we're having the current human experience.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
This was a fun and interesting read, much more about family dynamics, abandonment issues, friendship drama and that sort of thing than about kids catching on fire. Normally I’d be writing something to you about how I’m a little crotchety that there were pretty much no good men to be found in the book and why is this the trend now, etc, but it turns out that the author is actually a man, and therefore I guess I’ll save that rant for a little later in this blog. I will say that the actual protagonist was tough to wrap my mind around, and although I typically am 100% with an author writing from the POV of whomever – in this case I think it might’ve impacted the character development here just a hair. At one point I went back to ensure that the protagonist was definitely for sure a woman. It’s hard to put my finger on why, just – if you read it, let me know your thoughts on that.
Still, I would recommend this as an interesting new book to check out if you’re looking for something a little different.
An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew by Annajet van der Zijl
This is our book club book, so I won’t say too much. It’s a rags-to-riches story of an American woman who knew how to marry well and ultimately make smart decisions with the wealth she acquired as a result. However, it seemed to me like she actually had a pretty crappy life and this biography definitely underlines how money isn’t everything. I enjoyed the book, but I wish the author could’ve dug up more – not just the facts but how the events impacted the “princess” and those in her circle.
All Adults Here by Emma Straub
I’ve got to say my piece here. What’s a blog for, if I can’t share my opinion with my six readers?
Please understand, I’m in favor of the freedom for authors to write whatever they please. While it can be entertaining to read stuff that I practically could’ve written, it’s good to read some diverse thought. So this is just my personal opinion and by no means do I think that these authors are doing something actually wrong.
That said, I’m just sad to be reading so many books lately that don’t have ANY good men in them. Every man that shows up on a page ultimately turns out to a villain or at best, an idiot. Is this actual reality for people? And yet, more often than not, the author’s bio shares that so and so lives with her husband and two Labradors.
It just bums me out, the same way it bums us all out when every woman on a particular sitcom or movie is an airhead or obviously just serving as eye candy. Can’t we do better all the way around? Isn’t it more compelling to write a story that reveals how we’re all flawed yet amazing and that no gender has a monopoly on good or evil?
This book in particular is so much this way – not only with the male characters = evil issue, but just with every few pages a constant reminder to the reader that men are idiots or bad people. A description of a good OB-GYN can’t stand on its own without the character taking a moment to feel sorry for anyone who ever had to suffer through a male OB-GYN. Sisters-in-law can’t have a meaningful conversation without admitting that the reason the brother isn’t involved in the conversation is because he’s a man and men are horrible at meaningful conversations. I could go on….and on.
THEN, in the author’s note, it turns out that she was opening a bookstore at the time of writing this novel and her husband was SO AMAZING and SUPPORTIVE and basically did everything to run the household and bookstore while she was writing. So, that’s great that she gave him props in the author’s note, but…there’s no way her husband could read that book and not come away with the nagging feeling that his loving wife more or less hates men altogether.
Or is it just her *characters* who are dismissive of men? But if so, what am I supposed to come away with here?
Interestingly, I have to tell you that if you can stomach all of what I just griped about (and maybe most people can stomach it a lot better than I can) – it’s actually a lovely story. It’s a coming-of-age story for an entire family, with Grandma at the core opting to right her wrongs after an accident helps her realize how we’ve only got one short life. It’s very character heavy, and maybe a lot plot-light.
Also, why does the cover look so much like the cover of Fredrick Bachman's soon-to-be-released novel? Is this going to be the new thing now, with abstractly drawn people with their backs to us on all of the covers? Remember how for a while the big thing was to have a woman's big face on the cover of everything? The publishing industry is a mystery to me, but I guess they know better than me.
My gratitude for books has certainly been revived here lately. While I'm trying to be an informed and engaged member of society, I'm really enjoying those opportunities to just shut everything off and get lost in someone else's story.
For some reason the last few months, I've gravitated toward memoirs and tell-all books from the world of comedy, which is certainly one of my favorite worlds. I try to look at the lighter side of things most of the time, and definitely try not to take myself too seriously. I've been learning a lot about others like me (but who are actually, like, professional-level funny).
Anyway, here's what I've finished up lately:
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Sometimes I’ll have a book on my “Want to Read” list for so long that then I almost feel like I’m avoiding it somehow. For example, Bossypants by Tina Fey. I like Tina Fey in general, and I had heard great things about the book, but I just never grabbed it for some reason. When I saw it was a Kindle deal recently, I thought, “At this point, should I even bother?” But I’ve been in a bit of a streak reading about comedians and actors. I decided to finally pick up Bossypants to continue the streak and honestly, I want the comedy right now.
It was great! I loved reading about her relationship with her father, her time coming through the ranks at Second City, and her experiences with Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock (which I’ve still never seen). Tina has always felt very accessible, and her book is definitely set up like she’s right there with you, cracking jokes. I’m glad I read this one, even though it took YEARS to get around to it!
The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History by Andy Greene
I’ve been so excited to get my hands on this book, and I finally did – digitally – when it was on sale via Kindle. The Office is everything (minus the last two seasons, obvs). This book is great because it tells the story of The Office from a zillion perspectives. This also made for a lightning quick read, in my opinion. Initially it started out a little, “This happened and then this happened and then this happened.” But soon it became more interesting as everyone dealt with initial failure and then success, and then egos, and then Steve Carell leaving the show. Even more than Seinfeldia, this book had me constantly wanting to watch The Office. Also, I’m not sure how Jeff felt about me sharing tidbits from the book pretty much round the clock.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Modern Mrs. Darcy raved about this book, which is really just a collection of short stories from the same town and with a central character tying everything together, but I found it to be one depressing chapter after another. The best part was the interview with the author (and the main character!) at the end.
For anyone keeping track, this is my first dud in a long while.
But it won a Pulitzer, so what do I know.
Next up – I’m finishing up a book about kids who catch on fire when they’re riled up! Good stuff.
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.