Thursday, July 19, 2012


Recently, there has been an influx in comediennes writing about their lives, advice, etc. They're fascinating and are also really inspiring. (Also, I'm writing this post because Rachel Dratch was in my dream last night and we were buddies).
The three that I have read are:

Now, I like all three of these books and for very different reasons.  Bossypants is hilarious and of course, I adore Tina Fey and her stories are really good.  And I love the life lessons that she gives. Also the prayer at the end for her daughter = priceless.

My favorite one is Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. Ms. Kaling is sensitive and hilarious and she tells wonderful stories about her childhood. I also love how incredibly down to earth she is and what good advice she gives. Ms. Kaling is intelligent and she loves cupcakes (well, not any more, but just read it and you'll find out why). 

Rachel Dratch's book is fascinating, too, but for other reasons. I love her story about the love of her life and her "midlife miracle". She's hilarious and isn't afraid to admit how she is constantly asked to do roles that involve being a lesbian or an old woman or a fat woman. She takes it all in stride.

Nice work, ladies - you've written some incredible stuff!!

The Perks of Being a Voracious Reader

"It's strange because sometimes, I read a book, and I think I am the people in the book." - Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

If you haven't read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you must. And immediately. Especially if you're one of those people who likes to read the book before the movie comes out (and who isn't) because the movie is coming out this year! (Movie trailer is here! Also, it manages to use a lot of the most famous quotes from the book in just 2 1/2 minutes).

This is a book you can read over and over again. It's accessible, it's poignant, it's engaging and it is beautifully written. I like books that make be feel alive when I'm finished reading them. I like having that feeling that lasts with you when you finish a book almost as if you lived it yourself. This is one of those books.
A+ to you, Stephen Chbosky. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer = Power Couple

The History of Love came across the desk at the library while I was working today and I had to share how much I love it - and her husband's book, too!

Nicole Krauss, wrote The History of Love, an intricate story filled with different perspectives, connections, and heartbreak.

Her husband, Jonathan Safran Foer, is the author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, an exquisite  book that has recently been adapted for the big screen. 

Both of these books feature characters that eventually cross paths, which is something I really enjoy in a book. I enjoy books that are mysterious, but I don't like mysteries. However, both of these books are fascinating and beautifully written. I also enjoy how Safran Foer uses design, text, and type. Give it a try - this story will suck you in, break your heart, and leave you wanting.

I suppose I find it very interesting that their writing styles are so similar... I don't know much about the couple, but while I was reading The History of Love I imagined the two of them editing each other's manuscripts in their Park Slope apartment, all lofty and New Yorky and all.
There is a lot of criticism out on the interwebs about both of their works, however. Maybe I'm not as literary as I should be, having been an English major, but people just need to read what they want. All that matters is that you enjoy it.
And to all those people who deeply criticize Jonathan Safran Foer's work  - why don't you write your own book that's better instead of taking all that time disparaging someone else's work?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bringing Up Bébé, aka Learn From the French

I am certainly not having kids anytime soon, but I still enjoyed this book. An American woman who lives in Paris with her husband becomes pregnant and takes the reader step-by-step through being pregnant in France, daycare, how to make friends with your child's friend's parents, and everything in between. The French way of raising children is thoroughly explained and quite frankly I'm siding with the Europeans on this one. 

Maybe I'm biased because I adore France already (since I was a French major in college and studied abroad in Rennes for a semester).  Honestly, the ideas that the French have towards children are really so much simpler than the American way. 
For instance, Pamela Druckerman discusses how French babies will sleep through the night at three months! How can that possibly be? The French parents simply don't get up every single time the baby cries. During the first few months, yes, but after two and a half months or so, they let their baby cry for five to ten minutes before picking him/her up. It's the same during the day - give them a few minutes so they can learn to self-soothe. 

Give this one a try - it's fascinating. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chuck Palahniuk = AMAZING

Chuck Palahniuk is one of my very favorite writers and it's because he isn't afraid to get very gritty and graphic in hilarious (and sometimes just plain brutal) ways.  I'm working my way through his books slowly, but every one I read is fascinating and very difficult to put down. 

His most recent one is Damned.  It's the story of a thirteen-year old girl who finds herself in Hell, thinking that she's died from a marijuana overdose. My favorite review quoting Mr. Palahniuk on his own work that I read on Goodreads (you can find it here!) says this: 

The author described the novel as "if The Shawshank Redemption had a baby by The Lovely Bones and it was raised by Judy Blume." And "it's kind of like The Breakfast Club set in Hell."

And that is exactly what it is. My other faves of Chuck's works include Choke and Fight Club. I also liked his book, Snuff, but not as much. Choke and Damned are my favorites.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Excellent YA books

If you're looking for a good, quick beach read, allow me to introduce you to the world of young adult novels.
Some are insanely bad. They are either badly written, have bad plot development, or the main characters you just don't respect or like. But there are so many really good ones. Here are my top ones that I've enjoyed...

Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison - There are 10 books in this series and they are AMAZING. It's the diary of a teenage girl in the throes of, well, teenagerdom. Georgia Nicholson is a self-absorbed, marvy British girl who discusses, among many things, the state of her humongous nose, the Sex God, her hilarious 3-year-old sister Libby, and her "insane" parents. Georgia's side-splitting trials and tribulations are not to be missed. It's a light, quick read and I'm sure you will want to read the next ones after you've read the first. These books are perfect for an afternoon at the beach. (The next books include: On the Bright Side, I'm now the Girlfriend of a Sex God, Knocked out by my Nunga Nungas, Dancing in my Nuddy Pants and many more).

Vegan, Virgin, Valentine by Carolyn Mackler - I read this book when I was in high school, but it still ranks high on my list even though it's been a while. High-schooler Mara Valentine has everything in her life under control: good grades, vegan lifestyle, and excellent rapport with her parents. That is, until her cousin comes to visit who is everything that Mara is not. Life for Mara spins out of control - until she realizes that maybe that's exactly what she needed. It's a great read and also quick - another good beach read!

Danny, Champion of the World - Okay, so this isn't a young adult novel, but it's still INCREDIBLE. It's for a little younger audience, but adults will enjoy it, too. It follows the story of Danny, who lives with his father, who is a mechanic, but secretly enjoys poaching in nearby woods. I can't give any more away as it's a beauty to be uncovered all on one's own.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - So this one obviously is great - and everyone has their own opinions about it. I think the first one is better than the next two and if you haven't read it, give it a try. It's a difficult premise to face, but dystopian lit for young adults is just out of control right now and this is one that stands out among the others I've tried to read. See if you like it and let me know your thoughts.

These are just a few to get you started - let me know how you feel about them!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Song of Fire and Ice and Wow I Cannot Stop Reading This Series

So here's a note on George R.R. Martin's series that has become so famously popular (and rightly so!) by the new(ish) HBO series, Game of Thrones: READ THE BOOKS.
If you like fantasy, swordplay, zombies, dragons, quests, knights, princesses, sex, wine, and rock and roll, this is a series for you.

I started reading the first one last summer and I'm now currently reading the fourth book, A Feast for Crows. Just keep in mind that each book is between 800 and 1000 pages, which can be daunting at first. But a week or two later when you're deep in the throes of madness in King's Landing, you'll be glad you gave it a try. I won't even give away any spoilers.

At this point, there will be seven books, at least that's what George R.R. Martin has said. These are the five that are out currently.

If you're tired of buying books that disappoint, look no further. As a constant reader,
 I will let you know the good, bad, and the ugly on books.
Also if you're buying books, you should probably head to a library. As a librarian, I highly recommend those places.

So read on, bloggers and bloggettes - don't bother wasting money on books that might be good. 
It's just not worth it. 

Some of you may think, I just don't have the time to read. 
What a lie. You do have time, you just aren't giving it to yourself. Life is far too short to not read the incredible books that have been written. Some books can change your entire viewpoint on life - why not take that chance? 

So you say you work too much too read, try audiobooks during your commute. 
If you think your kids are taking up all your time? Try reading during their nap time - or have a collective reading time when the whole family reads in the same room. 
If you think you just don't have the time, you should get off the internet, choose a book, and start reading.

There is no excuse for missing out on the adventures and worlds you can explore whilst reading. 
There just isn't. 
I understand busy schedules, but you only live once - if you don't take a little time to educate yourself, what are you living for? 

The First List of Excellent Books

Before getting to my list of the latest books I've read that I can rave about, you need to realize what kind of books you like to read. Do you like fast-paced books? Action-packed books? Romantic books? Really think about what you enjoy reading.

You should always give books a good try, too. Don't give up after three pages. If you really hate it after two chapters, toss it. That's all right - you shouldn't waste your time if you aren't enjoying it. Also, it might not be the right time for reading that particular book for you. I tried to read Slaughterhouse 5 when I was a sophomore in high school and I couldn't get into it. I read it last year and devoured it in three hours. It all depends on what kind of mood you're in and where you are in your life. Keep that in mind.

So here is my first good book list:

Wild by Cheryl Strayed - I know that this true story is widely publicized now (so you probably already know you should read it from all the rave reviews) but I read it several months ago and it is really incredible. (Now Oprah's all about it, of course). It follows the journey of a young married girl, Cheryl, who has just lost her mother to cancer. Her marriage falls apart and she believes the only way to heal herself from all of this is to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone, which runs from Mexico to Oregon. Cheryl's story is fascinating, heartbreaking, and terrifying. I read it in two days, unable to put it down.

All Woman And Springtime by Brandon W. Jones - This is a particularly intense book that is hard to read only because of the subject matter. It's a story about two North Korean girls who are sold into the sex trafficking industry in South Korea and later to America. It's a dark and cruel world, especially through the viewpoints of these young girls who know next to nothing about the world. It will keep you interested, though it is graphic.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - This is a young adult novel by a wonderful author, but I believe this is his best work yet. Stories about teens with cancer can be difficult to read. This one is an exception because it's filled with sarcastic, bold young characters. I can't say anything more except that it's a delight filled with young love, life, and the impossible becoming real. And it's a quick read!

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson - This book reminds me of a Wes Anderson film. It's about a dysfunctional-ish family with strange, yet artful priorities. The parents are into performance art and their two children become part of that performance once they are brought into the world. The daughter becomes an actress, the son a struggling writer. An excellent read about sibling fellowship.

Those are all I'm going to give you for today - next time I'll be making a list of books that aren't worth your time.
Let me know if you agree (or not!) with me on these books! Or drop me a line if you want to recommend a book.