dear world,

when i was younger, i finished every novel i began. this led to some winners as often as trudging grudgingly through to the last page. after V was born, my attention span changed. if a novel doesn’t speak to me, i no longer feel obligated to continue to the bitter end. i should also note that it takes me much longer to finish a book than before i had a baby. reading before bed is one of my favorite things, but sometimes i’m just too tired.

as an avid reader, i tend to have a couple books going at the same time. here’s what i’m working on now:

books on the bedside table:

always looking for recommendations.

magazines on the bedside table:

here’s what i just finished:

the hunger gamesby suzanne collins

it was ok. i decided to read it because the book and movie were everywhere. and everyone was talking about it. so i bought it and read it. it was certainly a page turner, but it was also truly written for a younger audience. often, young adult literature is well written. again, i couldn’t put the book down to the point where i kept staying up too late, but it got repetitive at times. like the author told us something and then a couple pages later tells us the same thing again. i don’t think i’ll read the next two books.

i don’t know how she does it, by allison pearson

i really enjoyed the first part of this book. as any working mother knows, it is terribly difficult to balance the pressure of work responsibilities, child responsibilities and (if married) marriage responsibilities. i literally laughed out loud several times both identifying with the main character and appalled at the other characters she interacts with. ultimately, i felt disappointed with the end of the book. i’m not going to explain why here to avoid spoiling the story for those who wish to read it. the resolution for the main character is not the same as what i would choose for myself. (finished august 2011)

shanghai girls, by lisa see

this is the second book i read by lisa see and i may not go back for a third. i heard a lovely review of an upcoming film based on this book and thought i would give it a try. about three quarter’s of the way through, i figured out what was bothering me. the story had potential to dive deep into this family’s life and crossed a couple generations – it had saga possibilities. the author simply didn’t go there. the narrative simply recounted events that happened, but didn’t expand on them much. oh, she died. then the daughter went to school. then the shop burned down. then this happened then that happened. it turns out, i ended up not caring very much about any of the characters because they simply weren’t developed enough to bother. oh well. (finished september 2011)

the paris wifeby paula mclain

i gave up. this was the first book i tried to read on an e-reader. the e-reader i liked. the book was really boring.

correlli’s mandolin,  by lewis de bernieres

i’ve read this before and after finishing a novel set in this world and the next, i really needed some solid writing and a good love story. correlli’s mandolin is set in WWII in greece. i think this novel is a bit epic, but not like the thorn birds or anything so drawn out. i laughed, i cried, i fell in love  little. i got angry. i guess what i’m trying to say is that this book made me feel things and that’s what i was looking for lately. i didn’t want a scholarly non-fiction or dense literary challenge. it’s a lovely read and i would recommend it (even though the paperback version has a picture of nicholas cage and penelope cruise on it from the movie, which i’ve never seen). (reread july 2011)

peony in love, by lisa see

i found this book by accident at the local bookstore. i saw the new release by lisa see and rather than spend $35 on an unknown author, i looked back into her work for a novel that also got good reviews, but had already been released in paperback. set in china, a long time ago, i jumped in with both feet and appreciated the story told from a young girl’s eyes. it took some rather unexpected twists and turns, but once i realized the intention of the author, i muddled through. it’s kind of like when watching a movie set in the real world and magic suddenly happens. if you’re unprepared, it can seem disjointed and jarring. after some time, it seems par for the course. i don’t have a big take away from this novel, but i would read other work by lisa see again. (read july 2011)

tinkersby paul harding

i didn’t finish this book. to be frank, the writing style did not appeal to me and i gave up. it also made me sad. this was a first attempt at a book club gathering with some girlfriends. so far, it’s the only gathering we’ve managed to make happen. not an auspicious start considering i put this book down forever in february of 2011.

the dirty life, by kristen kimball

i’m in love with kristen kimball, her husband and her life. i read an article about the farm she works, then heard an interview with the author and i was hooked. i gave the book as a gift to a girlfriend and bought a copy for myself because i couldn’t wait for her to finish and send it back to me.

kristen kimball tells the story of how she fell in love, with her husband, with the farm, with the hard work it takes to feed 200 people using only horses for plowing power. it’s a lovely story and i’m so proud of her for taking a risk and following a dream. and loving it. (read december 2010 and march 2011)

room, by emma donoghue

i didn’t know what to expect from this novel. i heard an interview with the publishing house that printed it, marketed it, loved it. i borrowed it from a co-worker. the book is really well written and told from a 5 year old’s perspective. having a young child, i can understand very much how the author tells the story this way. to think about the perception of a child in a situation like this one is amazing. and sad. and hilarious. i don’t want to say too much more because everything is linked in this story, but i would recommend it to anyone.

balzac and the little chinese seamstress, by dai sijie

MAUS, by art spiegelman

the final confession of mabel stark, by robert hough

the lacuna, by barbara kingsolver

i’ve read nearly everything that barbara kingsolver has written and i’ve been waiting for her next wonderful piece of writing. i say this because for me, the last couple books she’s published have not been my favorites. the lacuna was not only beautifully written, but a little bit like an epic novel for while it focused on one person’ s life, it encompassed the lives of so many others.

my take away ultimately was a little sad. i finished the book and as i laid down to sleep, i kept thinking how cyclical the history of this country is. in the 50’s, the communists were persecuted because a radical faction of powerful people decided they were bad and moved the message of fear. now, in the country we have a radical pastor committed to burning the qu’ran and again, powerful people are moving a different message of fear. the way history repeats itself is terribly sad sometimes. linking more closely to the McCarthyism of the 50’s is the backward message that unions are harming the working people in this country. misinformation and fear are the biggest reasons people choose not to take action and make change in their lives and our country perpetuates that environment. it’s frustrating.

my life in france, written by julia child

this was a lovely read. not the most complex book i’ve ever read, but i really enjoyed hearing how julia child arrived at cooking. life and love took her down a wonderful path full of adventures and to hear her tell it, she readily embraced all of them. it didn’t make me want to cook so much as go live in france.

the help, written by kathryn stockett

i didn’t want to read this book for a long time because i didn’t like the title. then it was given to me by a co-worker who really enjoyed it so i dove in. it’s the first book i’ve read in a long time that i just enjoyed reading. the story was good and i cared about what happened. after i finished, i kept rolling the ending around in my head for days- thinking about the craziness of the pre-civil rights south. people are so hateful and so good that it amazes me.

a heartbreaking work of staggering genius written by dave eggars

i finished this book a couple weeks ago, but i’ve had a hard time deciding what i want to share about my reaction to the story. more than anything else, i came away from this book thinking about parenting. what it means to be a parent and the necessity of reinventing the wheel in terms of parenting styles. our challenge as new parents is to ultimately do better than our parents did. and at the same time know that our children will try to do better than us. maybe that wasn’t the authors point, but for me that’s the feeling that continues to resonate.

in defense of food written by michael pollan

again, i gave up. i believe what he says and understand the concept of his writing. i just can’t seem to make myself read the whole book. it’s still on my night stand, but remains closed for the time being.

garlic and sapphires written by ruth reichl

i really enjoyed this book. my good friend gave it to me as a gift over the holidays and i just finished it yesterday. for me lately, that’s record time. the story follows ruth reichel as she accepts the position of restaurant critic at the new york times in the early 2000’s. she wears a series of disguises in order to accurately assess some of new york city’s finest food establishments. it’s certainly light reading, but i would recommend it to anyone who loves food. her descriptions of the meals made me so hungry!

julie and julia written by julie powell

it took me about a month to read this book and honestly, in my earlier days, i probably could have read it in a week. it’s a quick read and it’s chic lit which i didn’t realize when i opened the novel. i tend to have little patience for this style of writing, but after i got past the initial chapter the story proved interesting. ultimately, i enjoyed the book, but i didn’t learn anything about myself except that i should not purchase Mastering the Art of French Cooking seeing as i am allergic to dairy and every recipe (according to julie powell) contains at least 1 if not 2-3 sticks of butter. all in all, julie and julia was a fun read.

the moor’s last sigh written by salman rushdie

i gave up on this one. i started it, put it down for julie and julia, tried to pick it back up again and failed. one night in particular let me put the book down with no regrets.


2 Responses to “what am i reading?”

  1. 1 curious dad January 28, 2010 at 11:22 am

    You may enjoy Dave Eggars’ books. If you’re uninitiated, definately read his first: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggaring Genius. Really, that’s the title.

    A fun, but decidedly Eastern-Block duldrums book is “Too Loud a Solitude” by Brohumil Hrabal.

    I will comment with more book suggestions as they pop into my head.

    Have you ever read William Zinzer’s “On Writing Well” (or something like that)? In it, he says E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” is the perfect novel. He admits that there are more profound, more intricate, more sophisticated novels. He does not claim it is the BEST novel. He simply states that GIVEN ITS PURPOSE, it was perfectly executed.

    That popped into my head as I was reading your blog. It fits. It is executed just as it ouught to be. Your space. Your crazy days. Your moments with V. Perfect.

  2. 2 candidlymommy January 29, 2010 at 10:48 am

    finally, a trip to half price books is in my future. it’s nice to have books on deck again. i appreciate the suggestions.

    also, thanks for sharing about charlotte’s web. thoughtful and lovely.

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