This one was not amazing, but not terrible either. Which is to be expected with a celebrity/comedian memoir I guess. But either way, I love Amy PoehleThis one was not amazing, but not terrible either. Which is to be expected with a celebrity/comedian memoir I guess. But either way, I love Amy Poehler, so it was still fun to read. There was a little too much of her talking about how hard it is to write a book (I could've done without that). And some of it was just really random stuff. But she's just generally funny and seems like a fun person. I loved her on SNL back in the day, and I love her on Parks & Recreation, and she just generally makes me smile. Also I loved that she was married to Will Arnett (I am a huge Arrested Development fan forever) and I'm still really sad that they're separated now, but that is really none of my business. So if you like her too then you might enjoy the book, that is all!...more
At first I thought this was the strangest subject matter for a graphic novel - a memoir about taking care of your elderly parents and the experience oAt first I thought this was the strangest subject matter for a graphic novel - a memoir about taking care of your elderly parents and the experience of the end of their lives? But Chast did such a great job with this. I wasn't familiar with any of her previous work (as cartoonist for the New Yorker) so I really didn't know what to expect.
What I loved about this is that she is so completely honest (even when it doesn't always put her in the best light), and somehow she manages to make it both really funny and really poignant at the same time (but not sappy). If you want to really know what it's like to experience the frustrations and decisions you have to face when trying to take care of elderly parents, just read this. (Obviously this is just over person's experience, but she shows a whole range of issues that are so common). Since I visit elderly people and families dealing with these type of issues all the time (for work), I have seen people facing these things on a daily basis. I literally laughed out loud several times while reading it, but it's also so brutally honest and sad in some ways. Well done and well worth a read....more
Finished this last month but forgot to write about it. This is a memoir that I read because I'll be going to the Booktopia book conference in AshevillFinished this last month but forgot to write about it. This is a memoir that I read because I'll be going to the Booktopia book conference in Asheville, NC next month (a fun gift from my husband) and Krista Bremer is one of the authors who will be there. I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it was an interesting and honest portrayal of the challenges and complexities of an intercultural marriage. The author was a young American woman who met a man originally from Libya - they ended up getting married and she shares various facets of their lives, their relationship, etc. I was a bit annoyed at times with the author because of the way she explained their relationship as they were just falling in love. She came across as somewhat selfish and shallow - she kept calling him "old". I think he was like 15 years older than her, so there is certainly an age difference. But she used the word so many times I started to think "why do you hang out with him if you're convinced he's so old?" However, as the story went along I forgot about that, and I do appreciate the honesty of her trying to capture exactly what their relationship was like at that time.
The first half of the book seemed to go sort of in chronological order, describing her life. But the second half seemed to bounce around and cover more topical things - like one chapter talking about religion and another about parenting issues. So I felt a little mixed up and had to realize this wasn't going to continue as a straightforward story. Part of it felt more like essays combined together into a book. (which is fine, just different from what I thought it was headed).
I did really like how she showed the complexities of a marriage between a white American woman to a Muslim man who was raised in a country run by a dictator. She was honest about how many differences of culture, belief, and assumptions come into a marriage like that. I appreciated that she didn't just say "But we loved each other and love conquered all so nothing else mattered". Because usually it is more complex than that. But I was disappointed when she described the differences between the way they celebrated holidays. She shows how meaningful and holy the Muslim holidays were to her husband. But when he asks her to explain what Christmas means (the holiday she has grown up celebrating) and why certain things are done, she has no answer. It sounded like she honestly had no idea. All she could come up with was Christmas shopping, gifts and picking out photos for the family Christmas card. I felt sad that she really had no other deeper meaning to honor during the holidays and that she had no way of explaining why Christmas is so important to families in the Christian tradition.
However, despite my hesitations I really appreciate what she tried to do with this book and actually her writing was well done in my opinion. Plus it sounds like she and her husband are still married and have two children so that was refreshing to see - in the sense that it shows the challenges but also the successes that can come when a couple really loves each other and is willing to work through the hard stuff. ...more
I love Ann Patchett, so when I found out she had released a collection of non-fiction essays I jumped on the chance to read it. This is a collection oI love Ann Patchett, so when I found out she had released a collection of non-fiction essays I jumped on the chance to read it. This is a collection of various writing she has done over the years for different magazine publications and a variety of sources. It's nothing life-changing but I really enjoy her writing style so I tend to love her writing so matter what the subject matter. Many of the pieces are personal, memoir-style pieces about her life, about her marriage that ended in a divorce and about the later (happy) marriage, about caring for her grandmother, or about her love of opera. The fact that she opened up an independent bookstore (co-owner) in the Nashville area just makes me love her more! (one of the essays is about the experience of starting the bookstore). Now I just need to go through her backlist and read a few more of her novels that I haven't read yet!...more
Although so far I've only read one of Gary Shteyngart's novels (Super Sad True Love Story), I heard many good things about his memoir and wanted to seAlthough so far I've only read one of Gary Shteyngart's novels (Super Sad True Love Story), I heard many good things about his memoir and wanted to see if I would like it. In fact I loved most of it - it was funny and interesting and sad all at the same time. Shteyngart writes about his experiences growing up in a Jewish family in the Soviet Union and the process of his family moving to the United States when he was a child. He's only a few years older than I am, so it was fascinating to see some of those similar late cold-war years that many of us lived through, except seen through the perspective of the Soviet Union. And his perspective as part of a Russian Jewish immigrant family in the U.S. was so interesting even though I had nothing in common with those aspects of his life. He's a great writer and his humor is that self-deprecating type that kept me laughing. (And the hilarious pictures and captions he includes at the start of each chapter made it even better).
I have to say that his parents do not come out of this book looking very well. He paints a true picture of a dysfunctional family and parents that seem somewhat cruel in how they treat him. Every time he described his parents fighting constantly I kept picturing George's parents on Seinfeld (probably not much in common, except for these older parents sitting in an apartment in Brooklyn screaming at each other while their only-child son puts up with it). Don't get me wrong, it's hilarious in a way (the way he writes about it) but when you really think about it it's depressing. And though I loved the first 3/4 of the book, I didn't like it as much once he got to his adulthood. His descent into alcohol and drugs was understandable I guess (many people have gone through similar struggles) but he comes across as somewhat neurotic and he doesn't seem to have as much perspective or growth as I would hope for. (Maybe that's my own issue, hoping that he would have come to a more mature place and everything would be tied up neatly at the end, which probably isn't realistic).
But despite those hesitations, I seriously loved most of this book and was kind of sad when I got to the end of it, wishing there was more to read....more
I have to admit that I didn't know much about Malala or have much interest in reading her book until I saw her on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. (stI have to admit that I didn't know much about Malala or have much interest in reading her book until I saw her on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. (strange, I know). But she carried herself with such grace and spoke with clarity and belief (especially for someone so young) that I was interested to read more about her. This book gave me a major lesson in the reality of the experiences of women and girls in Pakistan over the last 15-20 years or so. The only reason it gets just 3 stars is because I felt the writing wasn't always that great. (would give it 3 and a half if I could give halves). But to be honest I wasn't reading this to be blown away by someone's writing skill. This is a girl who is still very young, for whom English is not her first language, and written in collaboration with a co-author. The point is for her to be able to tell her story, which she does.
The first part of the book was interesting but dragged a little bit. She describes her childhood, her homeland (the Swat Valley in Pakistan), her family and her experiences growing up. This went a bit slow for me but was actually helpful as a foundation to understand what came next. She explains more and more about the politics going on and about how the Taliban came in and slowly took over. This was chilling to see - how they moved slowly and deliberately, first winning people over through their radio broadcasts, so that the leading Taliban soon gained respect and admiration among the community. By the time people realized what was really happening, he had gained such a stronghold it was very difficult to go back. The true colors came out as they started implementing more and more stringent rules about how "proper Muslims" should behave and violence started to show itself as a reality.
As an outsider with no real knowledge about Islam or about Pakistan, I felt she did a good job of explaining things from her point of view, as honestly as she could from her perspective. It was sometimes hard to know what was coming from Malala and what may have been inserted or cleaned up by her co-author. However, she is honest about her perspective, even in ways that felt uncomfortable to me (such as referring to the country of India always as "our enemy" or something like that, or when she describes U.S. involvement in the area and the way that Pakistanis felt about it). What I appreciated is that you could see clearly how the Taliban had used Islam and twisted it to suit their own gains. This was already a very conservative Muslim area of Pakistan - they were a devout Muslim community - but they didn't wear burkahs, the girls were allowed to go to school, etc - until the Taliban came and wanted to put a stop to it. The fact that they would deliberately target and shoot a teenage girl for speaking up about this is so unfathomable but true.
I have so much respect for Malala (and her father) and the way she was able to stand up for what she believed, and I will be interested to hear more about her as she grows up - I hope she will keep speaking out....more
OK, this book is not the best book in the world. However, I LOVE Jim Gaffigan. And even when he's not that funny, to me he's still pretty funny. But IOK, this book is not the best book in the world. However, I LOVE Jim Gaffigan. And even when he's not that funny, to me he's still pretty funny. But I think his comedy shows are much better than reading this book. I recognized some of his material in the book, but that's fine with me. Most of the book revolves around the fact that he and his wife have 5 kids and live in a 2 bedroom apartment in New York City (wow). It's just a string of random stories, thoughts and funny tidbits about his life. It definitely made me laugh in some parts, but partly because I could sort of hear how he would say it if I was listening to his comedy routine. So probably audiobook would have been good with this - except there are some funny pictures throughout the book that I would have missed.
If you have children and you appreciate humor about the realities of parenting then I think you would enjoy this. However, if you don't like that kind of stuff it might just be annoying. But for me it was still worth it because I need something light and funny to read every once in awhile! And it makes me want to watch his show again....more
Loved this for the light and funny read it is. I've always loved Mindy's character "Kelly" on The Office, she cracks me up. And I forgot that she is oLoved this for the light and funny read it is. I've always loved Mindy's character "Kelly" on The Office, she cracks me up. And I forgot that she is one of the writers for the show as well. When I found out that she wrote one of my very favorite episodes of The Office it confirmed how funny she really is! (It's the episode where Michael Scott accidentally burns his foot by grilling it on his George Foreman grill....so funny). This book is really random - sort of a memoir and the rest is a random selection of chapters of her talking about her opinions on things and lists of funny things that she has thought up. So you don't want to read this if you're looking for thoughts on serious issues or something. But you should know that already!...more
I picked this up because I thought Michael Ian Black was hilarious on that old MTV sketch comedy show "The State". One of those shows that is completeI picked this up because I thought Michael Ian Black was hilarious on that old MTV sketch comedy show "The State". One of those shows that is completely stupid and over the top but the more times you watch it, the funnier it gets (like the mailman that delivers the tacos, and the $240 worth of pudding...). I really needed a laugh and surprisingly I really liked this book. Sure, it was kind of crude and half the time I was thinking about how screwed up he is (the chapter about how much fighting goes on in their marriage was not very funny).
But I seriously laughed out loud during several parts and I kept looking forward to reading more. And although he is brutally honest about the challenges in life (like one chapter called "i hate my baby" about dealing with his colicky baby when his son was first born), there are actually some really heartfelt sections (heartfelt for a comedian)....more
Well, two stars might be a little harsh, but I was just disappointed in how this book turned out. I LOVED the idea of it. A daughter writing about howWell, two stars might be a little harsh, but I was just disappointed in how this book turned out. I LOVED the idea of it. A daughter writing about how her father read to her every night (without skipping any) from about age 9 until she left for college. I was excited because I'm one of those nerdy people who like reading "books about books", and since I have children of my own I feel very strongly about the importance of reading aloud to your children.
However, there was very little about the actual reading in this book. It was written more as a memoir, but the way it was written just left me disinterested. There were some interesting sections, but it just felt like the author hasn't grown up enough to really write a memoir. I wanted to hear more about the books they were reading, or about how that influenced her...or something. She writes about her disjointed family (mother moved out, father raised her as a single dad) but focuses on seemingly unimportant things while trivializing other issues that seem more pertinent. And it was more about the technicalities of NEVER missing a night of reading (got to get a few minutes in before midnight!), rather than the purpose behind the idea in the first place. But despite my personal disappointment in the book, I am a huge supporter of books and a believer in the importance of libraries - so anything that tries to promote that part of life is fine by me....more
I love Tina Fey, she is hilarious. This book has some hilarious moments but overall was not amazing. It's hard to really classify it. It's not reallyI love Tina Fey, she is hilarious. This book has some hilarious moments but overall was not amazing. It's hard to really classify it. It's not really a "memoir". It's more like a random selection of her anecdotes, stories, etc. The thing is, she writes it just how she speaks. (i.e. it would be funnier if you could hear her saying it. When you read it, you just don't get the tone of voice and the funny delivery). I've heard it's great if you get the audiobook - wish I would have done that! However, I did like it more and more as it went on. The parts about her childhood were ok, but I found it funnier as she got to the SNL years, and the 30 Rock years. Because that's what I know about her; I know almost all the episodes and I can picture what she's talking about. Makes me want to go watch some of those shows right now!...more
This book took awhile to get going, but in the end is an amazing story of creativity and resourcefulness. It's the story of William Kamkwamba, a boy gThis book took awhile to get going, but in the end is an amazing story of creativity and resourcefulness. It's the story of William Kamkwamba, a boy growing up in Malawi who has to drop out of school due to funds, but studies science on his own and ends up building his own windmill to produce electricity for his family and village. The writing is nothing special, but it's just incredible to follow his story as his family survives famine and constant hardship, and he ends up building and creating machines that he's never even seen before, solely based on his reading. It sounds cliche, but it's still a great story....more
Just adding a few books to my list that I read a few years ago. I read this at the end of 2006/beginning of 2007, long before Obama was officially runJust adding a few books to my list that I read a few years ago. I read this at the end of 2006/beginning of 2007, long before Obama was officially running for president. It didn't blow me away, but I did really enjoy reading about his life and the interesting mix of cultures he grew up with. Little did I know then that he would be President! (which I happen to be glad about, although I know some of my friends out there probably are not!) ;) ...more
An interesting memoir of an Indian doctor living in rural eastern Tennessee in the 1980's as AIDS is just coming onto the scene. The subject matter waAn interesting memoir of an Indian doctor living in rural eastern Tennessee in the 1980's as AIDS is just coming onto the scene. The subject matter was fascinating because it covers his own transition as someone of Indian heritage, who was raised in Ethiopia but then emigrated to the US to complete his medical training and begin practicing as an infectious disease specialist. His life as an "outsider/foreigner" in such a rural setting is interesting in and of itself.
But the bulk of the story centers around the first cases of AIDS, back when no one knew anything about this disease and everyone assumed it would never affect small-town America. He does a great job giving the individual stories of people who found they had HIV/AIDS, making it a series of personal portraits. He also details his own struggle with prejudice as he is confronted with the realities of the homosexual lifestyle of the 1980's and especially the extreme prejudice of the townspeople in rural America against those with AIDS.
I read this book because I really loved his current novel, Cutting for Stone, but this one didn't quite live up to that level for me. I think this was his first book and probably could have used a little more editing and streamlining. (Too much of "Then I turned on this street and drove by that building, and then I went there, and then I saw that tree, etc, etc). And due to the subject matter, it's certainly not a happy or very hopeful book. But still well-worth a read and gives an eye-opening picture of the history of AIDS in this country....more
Amusing, but not as funny as I'd hoped. Although the second part, which includes anecdotes from his move to France, was pretty hilarious at times. SinAmusing, but not as funny as I'd hoped. Although the second part, which includes anecdotes from his move to France, was pretty hilarious at times. Since I too am an American who has moved to a European country (Croatia in my case), I was cracking up at the way he writes about the experience of trying to learn another language, how people see you as an American, etc. The other parts just weren't as funny to me, and were a little depressing (funny stories about drug addiction are a little strange)....more