Oh, reading is so fun. Isn't it?
The Geeks shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins.
I love the idea of this book--that geeks and nerds in high school usually turn out great in the "real" world. Alas, this book is just a little more boring than you want it to be.
*Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
This is a lovely book. I recommend it. It's about love late in life between a widower and a widow. Did you know the word "widower" is the only word in the English language where the standard word means woman and the special version is for the man? It's the opposite of "waiter" or "actor". Of course it's a word identifying a woman based on her marital status. We've come a long way, baby.
At any rate, this book is very beautiful. You should read it. I think you'll like it. And even though the characters are older, it's NOTHING like the hideous ending of The Notebook. I've taken quite an interest in Ryan Gosling lately and as a result I watched the last half of The Notebook on cable the other night. Talk about gross and sad. Blek. Don't get me wrong, I love it when old dying people lay in hospital beds together. I'm sure Christian and I will enjoy a last cuddle at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center right before the morphine drip gets turned up to 11 (which is one more than 10) but it's not something I ever want to watch someone else do. It ruined the movie for me which was probably a good thing because it cooled my obsession (totally platonic) with Ryan Gosling. Now I just think of him as an old Rockford Files. Plus, I don't like men in Henleys. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is not like The Notebook at all. For one thing, there's no dementia which, I think we can all agree, is a really great thing.
(For your information, former obsessions include: Osama Bin Laden, Abe Lincoln, Chrissie Hynde, Marilyn Manson, Stephen King, Hugh Laurie, and Tina Fey.)
*Escaping the Endless Adolescence by Joseph Allen and Claudia Allen
This is a great parenting book. You know how young adults are living at home and not getting married or moving out these days? This talks about how extreme helicopter parenting can cripple your kids. It is very good. I recommend it. It explains how our good intentions often ruin our kids. With Nurtureshock, it's probably the most helpful book I've read about raising kids. It talks about how kids need to feel competent and do things for themselves. Have you noticed that kids these days aren't excited about getting their drivers license? It's because their parents drive them everywhere so there is no incentive. We drive them everywhere to be nice and keep them safe, but it doesn't really help them. Kids need to contribute in meaningful ways. I love this book. It is really helpful and seems right even though it is counter-intuitive to our self-esteem-building instincts.
And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman
I love her illustrated version of The Elements of Style and this is good too. It's a picture book for adults.
Made From Scratch by Jenna Woginrich
I was so into this book at first I was like: Yes! I am going to get chickens. YES! I want to raise bees! And then there was the gardening! . . . And then there was the sled dog racing, the making of one's own instruments and the blue grass playing alone outside with the chickens. By the end I was questioning the enthusiasm I had at the beginning. Decide for yourself.
Junk Foodie Emilie Baltz
I cannot yet testify to the value of this book as a cookbook but it is awesome in terms of staring at the pictures and trying to figure out how they made creme brulee with the filling of 4 Oreos. Just another book I wish I'd written.
The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith
This is a great little book about writing. I heard the interview on NPR and ordered her book straight away. Obviously I use all of her techniques here on the blog.
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
This is a good book but very sad. It's about bigamy. The main character is the daughter of a man and his secret second wife. This girl becomes friends with his other daughter from his "legitimate" marriage who doesn't know anything about the other family. I could totally relate to the girl's interest when she goes over to the other house: "Is this where your dad sits at dinner?" "What does he do at night?" She even finds out that her dad gave them both the same little fur coat as a special gift. My dad did that with my middle name. Zing! True. My dad is not a bigamist, he just doesn't love me. This book was hard and sad for me. It's very good, but I wouldn't say it's life affirming or anything. In fact, it's quite depressing.
Wah-------waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw. (Sad trombone is getting so overused, don't you think? So. Over. Used.)
Then I read Billy Collins' Horoscopes for the Dead!
I totally love Billy Collins and it's not platonic at all. He is brilliant and clever and wonderful. I don't say that very much about poets but in his case it is true and more.
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
This book is very strange and kind of great and really ghastly. It would be fun to talk about in a book club. It's a ghost story.
Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I accidentally skipped The Long Winter! Now Laura's all grown up and Almanzo is into her. What did I miss?
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
I heard all the hype surrounding this book before I read it, but I've got to tell you, I think it's great. She's a great writer and a great mom. Yes she is an intense nightmare. No I wouldn't do it her way but I totally respect her. She's very interesting.
A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz
This is basically a memoir about all the things William Deresiewicz has learned from reading Jane Austen novels. I really liked it. He's very sincere and thorough. It's kind of sweet. I would like to write a book like this but it would be about the education I received from picture books. Chapters would include Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Frog and Toad are Friends, and A Bargain for Frances. Lessons learned would include: Cheer up, leave the house now and then, and don't trust your friends. I smell a Pulitzer!
That's it. That's what I read during the hot lazy months of July and August. Ugh. I hate summer.