22 July 2013

July Book Reviews

Hi Gang! I had so much fun writing the book recommendations for my last post I decided to make it a regular feature. Here's what I've read since June 3, in no particular order:

The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud  A single woman falls in love with a family. I've been at a loss for what to say about this one. I read it because I loved Messud's The Emperor's Children, about young intelligentsia in New York around 2001 - it was so cool to read a period novel about a period I remembered vividly! - and this is quite different. I was definitely engrossed, mostly in a desperate longing for the narrator to listen, even briefly, to the people who loved her and didn't want her to get hurt.

Beauty Queens, Libba Bray  "A plane full of beauty queens crashes on a desert island. Go." I laughed. Then I cried a little. Then I laughed some more. I really didn't want it to be over and I want to buy a copy for every teen girl I know (and save one for my daughter, when she's a teenager). Perfect summer beach/poolside reading.

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann  Interlinked stories surrounding Pierre Petit's walk between the Twin Towers in 1973. The first section takes place in my Dublin neighborhood! And the rest of the book captures New York so well I forgot I wasn't alive to be there in the early 70s.

Be Awesome, Hadley Freeman  Essays by my favourite Guardian columnist. Reads like a blog in book form, and that's not a bad thing. Perfect bedtime book: each essay is long enough to be interesting but not so long that you have to keep yourself awake to get to the end, and you won't find yourself accidentally finishing the whole book at 2:30 a.m. when you meant to just read a few pages.

Homeward Bound, Emily Matchar  The thesis: supported by blogs and articles promoting a self-sufficient lifestyle and pooh-poohing the possibility of work-life balance, families of my class and race are tending to turn inward, isolating themselves from the larger world (and from society-wide solutions to their problems). Made me angry, made me sad. Counter-productively, made me want to spend all day surfing homemaker blogs and Pinterest. (Further thoughts on these issues will be a longer blog post, later.)

The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin  Part memoir, part instruction manual, wherein a New York writer decides to figure out how to be happier (both in recognition of her privilege and because she believes being happy will make it easier to be the kind of good person she wants to be). The first few chapters were inspiring as hell. While I did not start my own Happiness Project per se, I did add several very important items to my to-do list. By the end of the book I felt she was really reaching in order to make the project last for a whole year, and I didn't finish the last chapter. But that was okay - I got what I needed out of it. Recommended for anyone feeling a bit stuck and not sure what to change to get un-stuck.

How about you - read anything good lately?