I could have kept reading The Rosie Project for hundreds more pages. It was so charming, so funny, and such a pleasure to read.
I love Rosie but my tru...moreI could have kept reading The Rosie Project for hundreds more pages. It was so charming, so funny, and such a pleasure to read.
I love Rosie but my true love of the book has to be Don, hapless, brilliant, intense, weird, thoughtful, peculiar, overcompensating, under-comprehending, awkward, awesome Don.
Several "classic" Don moments keep coming up in my memory when I recommend this book to others. My favorite is when Rosie uses finger quotes during an emotional conversation and once Don figures out the concept, he begins using his fingers to punctuate his speech with exclamation points and periods, all while Rosie is sobbing through her heartfelt outpouring. He's so sweetly clueless! I kept putting my head in my hands and saying, "Oh, Don."
The author, Graeme Simsion, has created a character that the reader is absolutely rooting for from the very start, despite all the missteps and awkward moments he causes. The amazing thing is that Simsion hasn't made Don too sweet or too pathetic, I found him to be perfectly balanced for me to relate to, marvel at, laugh with, laugh at, and cheer on. (less)
Having never heard of Huguette Clark, or her copper magnate father, W.A. Clark, before I picked up this book, I was amazed at how drawn into the story...moreHaving never heard of Huguette Clark, or her copper magnate father, W.A. Clark, before I picked up this book, I was amazed at how drawn into the story I became. Author Bill Dedman's explanation of how he discovered Huguette's never-occupied, monumental real estate holdings worked its magic on me and I was hooked. It's not just Huguette's bizarre reclusive lifestyle that fascinated me, but the fact that due to unusual longevity, she and her father combined lived for a total of 190 years. Between the two of them, they lived through a pretty sizable chunk of American history. (less)
You don't expect a cookbook to make you laugh out loud, but that's exactly what Jennifer Reese's Make the Bread, Buy the Butter did to me. Reese is a...moreYou don't expect a cookbook to make you laugh out loud, but that's exactly what Jennifer Reese's Make the Bread, Buy the Butter did to me. Reese is a practical homemaker, humorous writer and a daredevil in the kitchen. Inspired by the discovery that frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a thing that exist, she launches a “make it or buy it” examination of foods from butter to vanilla extract. Reese makes foods I’ve never thought of as homemade - vanilla extract being one example. She says she’ll try anything - and she does. She ranges from tamer experiments, like making bagels and yogurt from scratch, to kitchen adventures that take some real guts, like raising and slaughtering chickens and curing her own bacon.
I like a lot of things about this cookbook, but what I enjoyed the most are the introductions to each chapter and to each recipe. The author sets the stage for each new food foray and her self-deprecating humor is pretty hilarious. I laughed out loud at the passage when her husband discovered she’d bought chickens to raise. She's honest about when she takes shortcuts, when a recipe just isn’t worth the work, and when her kids tell her she's nuts.
Another plus is how the book is laid out. For each recipe, she answers the question asked in the title: make it or buy it? She also offers a cost breakdown between supermarket brands and homemade. If you weren't motivated to make your own cocoa mix or hollandaise sauce when you turned to that page, you might change your mind after reading her cost and taste comparisons.
I’ve recommended this cookbook to even my most kitchen-challenged friends. I think it’s as pleasant to just read and enjoy as it is to cook from. It’s clear that Reese simply believes food should taste good - she doesn’t discriminate between potato chips (buy them) and hot dog buns (make them). Read it for the fun of it and you might surprise yourself with what recipes you end up wanting to try out for yourself.(less)
It's impossible not to like William Kamkwamba after reading this book. Part of what I liked about him was he wasn't a great student. Before his family...moreIt's impossible not to like William Kamkwamba after reading this book. Part of what I liked about him was he wasn't a great student. Before his family was unable to pay school fees, his grades were low, C's and D's. He worked hard, but school didn't come naturally to him. But after school was no longer an option, he didn't hesitate in trying to continue his education by heading to the library. The library!? What a great place for someone who loves to learn to spend their time!
So yes, another thing I loved about this story was the important role played by the library. William found old science books, books like "Explaining Physics" that he reads and re-reads until he's reasonably confident he can built a windmill to power his home and pump a well in order to have more harvests and give his family more security. There is no end to William's ingenuity. He melts PVC pipe and hammers it flat for windmill blades. He uses half an old bicycle and makes do with old wires. He also hunts through the scrapyard near his old school and faces mockery and derision every day from his former schoolmates and most of his village.
William has a supportive family and wonderful friends, who help him build, source parts and even invest their money to help him make his dream of "electric wind" come true. The narrative does an excellent job painting a picture of what poverty in Malawi is like - during the famine years, I kept having to remind myself that this was taking place in 2002, when the events sound impossible in this modern age.
Journalist and co-author Bryan Mealer does an excellent job of letting William's voice do the telling. The terms he uses, the personal details about favorite foods or music all fit perfectly and help make William relatable and lovable.
When William has become a success, the story follows him to a TED conference and on his trip to the US and every moment is heartwarming and thrilling knowing how hard William has worked and how much he deserves praise and further encouragement and support to receive more training and continue to improve life in his country.(less)
Tina Fey is nothing if not honest. About everything. About her awkward childhood, her teenage drama friend years, her uninterested or gay boyfriend-ch...moreTina Fey is nothing if not honest. About everything. About her awkward childhood, her teenage drama friend years, her uninterested or gay boyfriend-chasing college years to her successful, ammbitious SNL years and then her working-mom, wealthy-Manhattanite guilt.
If I should ever be called upon to do a magazine cover shoot, I feel like she has prepared me adequately to do a good job. And to expect vegetable tartlets.
As a 30 Rock fan (and who read this book who isn't a 30 Rock fan?) I really enjoyed the look at how the show was developed and is run. She calls out some of her favorite jokes and sequences and then credits the writers who came up with them. It's one of the funniest, and nicest parts of the book.(less)
An utterly engaging story of an Indian couple raising their family in America. I found myself far more invested in the relationship of the parents tha...moreAn utterly engaging story of an Indian couple raising their family in America. I found myself far more invested in the relationship of the parents than in Gogol early in the book, but as it progressed, I eventually came to care about him as well.
This is beautifully written, from the very first page, I was completely captivated and absorbed this book as fast as I possibly could.(less)
This Newbery award-winning youth book was a knockout that completely won me over. It’s only at the end that you realize you’ve been reading a puzzle a...moreThis Newbery award-winning youth book was a knockout that completely won me over. It’s only at the end that you realize you’ve been reading a puzzle and have been gradually picking up the pieces the whole time.(less)
Nonfiction can be very dry on audio, but Devil in the White City is a great example of an engaging nonfiction audiobook. The storytelling manages to b...moreNonfiction can be very dry on audio, but Devil in the White City is a great example of an engaging nonfiction audiobook. The storytelling manages to be in-depth and detailed without losing the interest of the audience.
Also, I'm a scaredy-cat. Like crazy. But somehow, this is a detailed story about a serial killer that I found interesting instead of terrifying.
The backdrop of the Chicago World's Fair is fascinating in its own way, directing the reader's attention to the suspense of accomplishing the huge ordeal of building the White City in a limited time period.(less)
I loved this book. I loved the story, I loved the art, I loved the different styles used for different scenes and different states of mind, I loved th...moreI loved this book. I loved the story, I loved the art, I loved the different styles used for different scenes and different states of mind, I loved the variety of fonts and speaking bubble shapes for the different characters, and speaking of the characters - I loved the characters.
I enjoyed the flashback/present day narrative thread, which added so much to the book's complexity. I feel like this is just calling Asterios Polyp a graphic novel is an understatement. It's also a visual masterpiece, it's a coming-of-middle-age story, it's a puzzle, it's a love story. Basically, it's much more than a novel.
This is a complex and beautiful book, so layered and detailed that it begs to be read again and again. I read it twice, starting it again only hours after I finished it. I've since been occasionally Googling it to see what others thought and what they've caught that I missed.
This book is equal parts emotionally-effecting and educational. I learned more than I ever knew about the Hutu-Tutsi conflict and Burundi's involvemen...moreThis book is equal parts emotionally-effecting and educational. I learned more than I ever knew about the Hutu-Tutsi conflict and Burundi's involvement in the genocide that I always associated exclusively with Rwanda.
The story is compelling and Deo is an incredible character to follow through difficult, terrifying and uncertain situations. He is intelligent, enterprising and frighteningly naive. Deo doesn't give up - not when the bricks of his dream-clinic melt in the rainy season, not when tauting Hutu militias throw rocks at the bush in which he is hiding, not when no one responds to his attempts at friendly greetings as a delivery man in New York.
I found Deo's story incredibly touching and expertly re-told in the capable hands of Tracy Kidder. This is a fascinating and satisfying story.(less)
Terrifyingly graphic and well-written. The story and characters are consuming and incredibly realistically-drawn. I devoured this book. I enjoyed "Par...moreTerrifyingly graphic and well-written. The story and characters are consuming and incredibly realistically-drawn. I devoured this book. I enjoyed "Paris Trout" which was the first Pete Dexter book I'd ever read, but I was consumed by "The Paperboy."
Thanks, Pete! Also, ice cream grossed me out for a while afterward.(less)
Helene Cooper's story of her privileged upbringing in Liberia, her adolescence in America and her career as a journalist around the world was everythi...moreHelene Cooper's story of her privileged upbringing in Liberia, her adolescence in America and her career as a journalist around the world was everything you could possibly want in a memoir.
The book starts off with her childhood in Liberia and she expertly incorporates details about the country's founding and development as she explores her family's history and Liberian/American roots.
It has aspects of a classic coming-of-age story as well, as we follow Helene through childhood and into her teen years and it has action and suspense as the coup occurs and Cooper family faces real danger.
Then we get Helene's period of growing up and accepting American culture and purposefully trying not to be "the Liberian reporter" as she begins her journalism career. The story comes full circle as she finds success as a globe-trotting reporter and begins to come to terms with her responsibility and personal need to investigate what became of her old life, her old friends and her old country.
I found this to be a fascinating and moving story - the incorporation of memoir/history/coming of age and the glimpse at Liberian culture and the ravages of civil war kept the book constantly moving and changing.
I originally read this book for a book club and have since recommended it to others - a title that makes interesting accompanying reading is "This Child Will Be Great" by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the autobiography of Liberia's current president.(less)
The actual mystery taking place in "The Big Sleep" is completely irrelevant. The real experience of reading this book is just watching Philip Marlowe...moreThe actual mystery taking place in "The Big Sleep" is completely irrelevant. The real experience of reading this book is just watching Philip Marlowe work. Viewing the world through his dead-on descriptions, meeting new characters (less)