A winner of the Pen Hemingway Award, Housekeeping is the story of Ruthie and Lillian, two girls left orphaned when their mother drives herself off a cA winner of the Pen Hemingway Award, Housekeeping is the story of Ruthie and Lillian, two girls left orphaned when their mother drives herself off a cliff and into a river. They move in with their grandmother, who promptly dies and leaves the girls to the care of their two aunts, who are so anxious and nervous that they call upon the girls' mother's sister. Sylvie comes into town and immediately the girls lives are transformed. Not necessarily for the better. Eventually Lillian leaves and goes to live with a teacher and Ruthie becomes a younger picture of her eccentric aunt.
Housekeeping is one of the two best books I read this month. It was written like poetry, and the pages seemed to flow into one another like the river that plays so prominent a role in the entire book. Lillian and Ruthie's lives are disrupted by the deaths of the women close to them, and turned on their heads by this strange woman who has strange ideas about everything. For instance, when the town suffers through a flood, rather than go to a shelter or escape the waters rapidly rising through their home, Sylvie simply moves the girls to the second floor of the home and they live there until the floodwaters subside. Sylvie then begins to collect tin cans, and doesn't seem to mind that the girls are skipping school on a daily basis, even when the sheriff arrives. Eventually, Sylvie decides to leave town, and Ruth goes with her, leaving her sister, about whom she writes my favorite line in reading, "Having a sister is like a warm window in the dark."
I absolutely loved this book, go read it. Now. ...more
Wendell Jamieson, an editor at the NY Times, decided that he would go on a quest to answer his son's and other kids' most baffling questions. But rathWendell Jamieson, an editor at the NY Times, decided that he would go on a quest to answer his son's and other kids' most baffling questions. But rather than look up the questions on the internet, he decided to talk to experts in the fields in which the questions fell. For instance, one kid asked why does a whip make that cracking sound? Wendell talked to a dominatrix.
The book was absolutely fascinating, and I learned so much from reading it. There were things I thought I knew, and my answers were either confirmed or denied (IE why the sky is blue), and there were things I'd never even wondered about and learned (ie why ships have round windows). ...more
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 childIn 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. ...more
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 yearHow 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. ...more
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 graphThis 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. ...more
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 liThere 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! ...more
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 iJudy 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! ...more