Judy bought Michael and me this book four years ago on our first anniversary, since the traditional gift is paper. She bought us a copy on audio and i...moreJudy bought Michael and me this book four years ago on our first anniversary, since the traditional gift is paper. She bought us a copy on audio and in print. The audio is read marvelously by Jeremy Irons (yum!). But I have the print copy and decided to read it as well this time. My book club's waiting list has gotten so long that we formed a splinter group, which will now meet on Sundays. This is the first book that group is going to read together, and I'm really looking forward to discussing it, since I had forgotten how great this book is.
The tale is that of a Spanish shepherd named Santiago who is haunted by a dream of finding his treasure under the Egyptian pyramids. He is encouraged to do so by a gypsy and an old king, and so he sells his flock and makes his way across the desert, having many grand adventures as he does so. He learns many important lessons about life, such as not doing something just because that's the way you've always done it, and the importance of following your heart. The book is kind of self-helpy without being self-helpy, and I really like that about it. It's also just a great story. Without getting into overblown detail, you feel as if you know exactly what each place looks like, you can envision each character, you can nearly smell and taste each experience yourself. The writing is exquisite. I'm jealous! (less)
There came to a point earlier this year when I would visit my sister's house and our conversations would be like this:
Me: How are you guys? Joe: All li...moreThere came to a point earlier this year when I would visit my sister's house and our conversations would be like this:
Me: How are you guys? Joe: All life is travesty. Judy: I hate everyone. The entire universe is a bunch of f'ing idiots except for me.
If I called on the phone, it was the same. I was getting to the point I couldn't take it any more. I went to Barnes and Noble and out of the blue, How to Be Happy Dammit! called my name.
The book is a quick read full of interesting pictures, funny sayings, and stories. The bright orange cover catches the eye, and the first couple of lessons really grab you and don't let go. But it's not a sugary or saccharine type of self-help book either.
There are 44 lessons in the book and they are all interconnected. It begins with the idea that when you're first born, you're tiny, you don't know what's going on, you've been warm and cozy in your little womb, and then all of a sudden: WHACK! Some idiot on the outside smacks you when you're 3 1/2 seconds old and you've learned your first lessons: Life is not fair, and life occasionally hands out pain for seemingly no good reason. But without it, your little baby self would not grow, and instead you would be dead. I love, love, love this story. And the entire book has these interesting points of view and analogies.
If you're looking for a serene and calming self-help book, this might not be the one for you. BUT! If you want to have some fun learning to have a more positive outlook on life, and you find yourself a little bit cynical of the self help industry, this might just be the one for you.
The book is a very quick read, I read it in about an hour and then Michael and I re-read it outloud together in about an hour's time. Although I was loathe to do so, I did give it to Joe and Judy, and as best I can tell, they've put it in a cupboard and neither one of them has read it. C'est la vie. This book was fun, colorful, and interesting. READ IT! (less)
This is the sequel to a previous favorite read, How to Be Happy, Dammit!, which I read earlier this year. Enough Dammit again has lots of pretty graph...moreThis is the sequel to a previous favorite read, How to Be Happy, Dammit!, which I read earlier this year. Enough Dammit again has lots of pretty graphics and 44 life lessons, but challenges you to quit sabotaging yourself and start getting what you want by doing what needs to be done to get to your goal.
The book tied in nicely with my general state of mind right now. I didn't want to hear the message of the book, which is basically that change is painful, but living the life you're living right now where you don't have what you want mentally, physically, and emotionally is also painful, and a little different pain will put you in a happier place. I recommended this one to several people I know need the message like I do, I hope they'll get it and read it. Unlike How to Be Happy, Dammit, I can see myself coming back to this one several times, to refresh my memory and re-learn the lessons. This was a lot harder to read, since I generally consider myself a happy person, but not necessarily motivated to change. (less)
Jodi Piccoult is one of my favorite writers and I was desperate to get my hands on a copy of this book--so desperate in fact that I actually broke my...moreJodi Piccoult is one of my favorite writers and I was desperate to get my hands on a copy of this book--so desperate in fact that I actually broke my recent rule about only reading what I could get from Paperback Swap and had my sister pick me up a copy of it. Nineteen Minutes centers around the events in a small New Hampshire town when young Peter goes literally ballistic and shoots up his high school. Peter has endured years of abuse, beginning in kindergarten, at the hands of his peers and teachers, administrators, and his own parents have been unsympathetic about his torment. He goes to school, detonates a bomb, and in the ensuing panic, starts shooting.
The story follows two different families, that of Peter's and that of Josie's--Peter's sometimes friend and the daughter of a judge he may potentially face as part of his trial. Josie leaves Peter behind in grade school, becoming a queen bee, but she has her own personal demons behind being a popular kid and not feeling much like herself--or even knowing who she is if she's not Matt's girlfriend or the smart or pretty girl.
The story was un-put-down-able until the end, and then I thought the end was basically bullshit. (Pardon my Francais, gentle readers) There was a little twist at the end and I thought, "Huh, why the hell did she do that?!" which was also what I was thinking when I read another Piccoult classic, My Sister's Keeper. So I'm going to accept it as "what she does" and come away saying this was a darned good read. Fortunately not the tear jerker My Sister's Keeper was, but good nonetheless. (less)
How do you say no to Jodi Piccoult on a library book sale shelf for only $2? You don't. And I'm glad. For once, although this book was written 14 year...moreHow do you say no to Jodi Piccoult on a library book sale shelf for only $2? You don't. And I'm glad. For once, although this book was written 14 years ago, she gave up her trademark twist at the end of this engrossing tale. Cassie Barrett is a bookish anthropologist who catches the eye of Alex Rivers, hot shot Hollywood actor, on the set of a movie where she's been asked to act as technical advisor. All is not what it seems, however, and after Cassie and Alex are married in a quickie ceremony on set, Cassie discovers her new husband is an abusive drunk who cannot shake the skeletons of his past. The question becomes, does she leave or does she stay? And if she stays, will she survive his rages?
The book ended precisely as I would have liked it to end, perhaps even better, since Cassie didn't take it like a doormat at the end of the day. This has been my favorite Piccoult book thus far, which is funny since it's one I'd kind of looked over a couple of times while browsing the shelves. I've learned my lesson. (less)
The Year of Pleasures is the story of Betta, a writer of children's books, whose husband John suddenly dies of cancer and leaves Betta to live out the...moreThe Year of Pleasures is the story of Betta, a writer of children's books, whose husband John suddenly dies of cancer and leaves Betta to live out their dreams to live in the middle of nowhere and start a new life. Betta is driving through a small town near Chicago when she finds a huge old house that speaks to her. She immediately sells her home in Boston's Beacon Hill and moves to the old house, where she is at loose ends to find some way to fill her life without the man she loves. She reconnects with old friends with whom she lost contact after her marriage, and eventually rebuilds her life without her husband.
Well, I'm real sorry my MIL didn't like this book, but by the end, I was bawling my eyes out. This is common for me and Elizabeth Berg, so I'm not surprised, since I find all her books really moving. I guess as I become "more and more married" I think more and more about my relationship with my husband and how empty my days would be, despite the frustrations we have with each other, if he was to disappear. I'll probably avoid any more widow books for a while, but this was one great book! (less)
In The Art of Mending, Laura Bartone is heading to her annual family reunion and looking forward to the fair and a fun and relaxed time with her child...moreIn The Art of Mending, Laura Bartone is heading to her annual family reunion and looking forward to the fair and a fun and relaxed time with her children, parents, siblings, and husband. Upon her arrival, however, her black sheep sister Caroline makes some shocking allegations about their mother, and Laura must figure out how to deal with and come to terms with her sister's allegations. The matter is further complicated by a death in the family.
Berg is an amazing writer. She keeps you interested and entertained just long enough without dragging the stories out. One thing she did here that I found interesting was that she only told Caroline's stories about her mother's abuse in fits and starts, so until you read the entire book, you were never sure what the whole story truly was.
I could relate to Laura's reaction as the "big sister" to her younger sister's allegations, and when the truth of the matter emerges, to Laura's way of dealing with everything. Unlike Housekeeping, which I savored over the course of a week, I read this in one night. Couldn't put it down, and it jumpstarted my reading for the rest of the month. (less)
I absolutely love A. Manette Ansay, she is definitely one of my favorite writers. I adored Sister and Vinegar Hill and to a lesser extent I enjoyed Mi...moreI absolutely love A. Manette Ansay, she is definitely one of my favorite writers. I adored Sister and Vinegar Hill and to a lesser extent I enjoyed Midnight Champagne. I was unaware that she had written Blue Water, so I was excited when I ran across it unexpectedly on Amazon.com and even more thrilled when it was available on PaperbackSwap.com.
Blue Water is the tale of Meg and Rex Van Dorn, an ordinary couple living in an ordinary Wisconsin town. One day, Meg is driving their son Evan, age 6, to school and her car is rammed by Cindy Ann, her best friend from high school. Evan, Meg and Rex's miracle baby, is killed instantly. Cindy Ann and her three daughters walk away without a scratch. It is later shown that Cindy Ann was drunk at the time of the accident and has had a serious drinking problem due to abuse suffered as a child at the hands of her step father.
Unable to cope with the sight of Cindy Ann, and the fact that her own brother Toby is marrying Cindy Ann's sister, Meg decides to leave Wisconsin and she and her husband rent out their house and take up residence on a boat, sailing to escape the pain of their son's death. Rex and Meg can't agree upon what to do, whether they should launch a civil suit against Cindy Ann, who refuses to quit drinking and narrowly avoids jail time, or whether to let the whole thing drop, as Meg feels guilt over not helping her friend more during the years of torment in high school. Adding to the complicated feelings is Toby's impending wedding and his desire for his sister to be present and supportive of his new life.
This book was definitely very good, if perhaps a bit over-the-top with the complicated relationships. I found it a bit hard to swallow that Toby would completely ignore his sister's feelings and go ahead and marry a woman so close the source of his nephew's demise, and I didn't feel that Toby and Meg's brother-sister relationship, which was almost more of a father-daughter relationship, would have survived that. Meg wound up making the most sacrifices to ensure peace in the family and ultimately, I found it incomprehensible that she would wind up caring for the woman who killed her son. Still, I liked the book on the level of Midnight Champagne and was glad to have read it. (less)
*Phew!* I think the title is longer than the book!!!
I already talked about this in my challenge review, but not one of my favorites. It had its moment...more*Phew!* I think the title is longer than the book!!!
I already talked about this in my challenge review, but not one of my favorites. It had its moments, but it was just as well that I read it, finished it, and put it away. The book is Laurie's life with the names changed to protect the innocent.
If you love her stuff, you'll probably love this book. I think my sister did--she seemed kinda pissed after reading my review, so I dropped the subject. Try it for yourself, you might like it! The writing was fine, and I guess it was funny, but I don't like it when books and authors try too hard.
To me, this is like Laurie picking you up by the collar, getting right in your face, shaking you, and screaming, "It's funny damnit! Laugh!"