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 was a favorite when I was a kid. Kendra Kaye is a 14 year old Manhattanite, facing a summer in the city alone while her BFF's escape to summer ca...moreThis was a favorite when I was a kid. Kendra Kaye is a 14 year old Manhattanite, facing a summer in the city alone while her BFF's escape to summer camps and family homes in the Hamptons. Kendra dreads day after day, stuck at home with her annoying little brother, Oscar. But Mom and Dad have other plans. Their friends, the Lees, are sending their son, Frank, to NYC for the summer, and together, the 4 parents have put together a city-wide scavenger hunt for the 3 kids to complete. They will travel all over NYC and learn history, culture, language, food... And if they complete their mission? They will win a trip to England.
I know, it already sounds like pretty much the greatest kids' book ever written, doesn't it? I thought so then, I think so now. And I love Paula Danziger, I love every book she ever wrote. So even better. (less)
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 c...moreA 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. (less)
The focus of the tale is the small town of Small Plains, Kansas, where one night, tragedy strikes when an unknown girl is found naked and dead in a fr...moreThe focus of the tale is the small town of Small Plains, Kansas, where one night, tragedy strikes when an unknown girl is found naked and dead in a frozen cow pasture belonging to the town's sheriff. The same night, the son of one of the sheriff's best friends (who happens to be the town judge) disappears, sent away by his parents after the girl's death. Mitch leaves his devastated girlfriend, Abby, behind, and the unknown girl's murder is never solved.
Fast forward 20 years, and Mitch's mother dies. Mitch returns to town months later, for the first time since the death of the girl, now called The Virgin of Small Plains. Her grave is a magnet for miracle seekers and many miraculous healings are attributed to the young woman. Mitch's return opens many old wounds and new questions are brought to light. The mystery of the girl's has to be solved and Abby has to put her feelings for much to rest, one way or the other, to move on with her life. Mitch and Rex, his other best friend who discovered the girl's body, must also put the past behind them.
What a nail biter. It was a book I absolutely hated to have end. I put off the ending for as long as I could. I wanted certain things to happen, and by and large, they did, and I was surprised at the end as to how the whole mystery wound up, so I was even more satisfied. Great, great reading. (less)
I found this book at the Wilderness Library and very nearly didn't buy it. Just looking at the title, the words didn't exactly compute and I thought,...moreI found this book at the Wilderness Library and very nearly didn't buy it. Just looking at the title, the words didn't exactly compute and I thought, "hmmm, this book seems kind of silly." Then I read "A Novel in Letters" and my shameless snoop side came out. I love, love, love reading books that are comprised of letters, I feel like I'm really snooping in someone's mail or diaries, and it makes it so interesting. So I picked up Ella and on my way to the car, said the title out loud and the light went on.
The story is one of letters, literally, written in letters between various people. The fictional town of Nollop is facing a crisis: Named after Nevin Nollop who famously coined the phrase "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog", a statue to its founder in town is falling to pieces. Specifically, letters on tiles comprising the famous sentence are falling off the statue, and the town council has taken that as a sign. The citizenry is officially banned from using any letter which falls off the sign. Failure to restrict use of those letters results first in lashing, and then in banishment from the island. They may neither speak nor write the offending letters. It starts out fairly simply, with the letter Z, but eventually more and more letters drop and it becomes harder and harder to write and speak.
I won't reveal how it is resolved, but it was an excellent story and one that I only wish I had had the cleverness to invent myself. It's a fairly short book as well, so you could read it pretty quickly if you wanted to! Fun and funny, definitely a book for people who love words. Take up the town's challenge yourself and see if you can come up with a sentence...? (less)
This is my ultimate guilty pleasure, beach book piece of fluff, and consequently I read it in its entirety while I was at the beach this weekend. When...moreThis is my ultimate guilty pleasure, beach book piece of fluff, and consequently I read it in its entirety while I was at the beach this weekend. Whenever I'm in the dumps, there are 2 books I pick up, and this piece of hardcover romantic comedy is one of them. When I broke my leg, I probably read it 5 times in those 3 months.
Bet Me is the story of Min Dobbs, insurance actuarial at large. She is "chubby" by her mother's standards, has a fetish for fun shoes, has lousy luck picking men, adores her sister and her two best friends, and is a die hard Elvis Presley fan. As the story opens, Min is being dumped by her "I-oughta-love-him" boyfriend, David, a sleazy software developer who dumps Min in a bar, as she won't "put out" for him after 3 months.
Cal Morrissey is a risk taking golden boy, gorgeous, rich, self assured, and afraid of commitment. He happens to be at the same bar that Min and David are at. On a bet from David, he takes Min to dinner. The bet is altogether more complicated than that, but I don't want to give too much away.
Min knows Cal's reputation as a playboy, and upon overhearing the bet being made, decides she'll string him along for 3 weeks and get him to take her to her sister Diana's wedding. But can she?
Despite their best efforts, they fall for each other. Min struggles as much to reject Cal as he does to come to terms with the feelings that he's finally met the woman of his dreams. But the bet may very well come back to haunt them.
Yeah right. It's a romantic comedy, not a tragedy. (less)
This is the best book I've read this year, and one of my top 5 favorite books ever.
The story centers around Joey Margolis, a quick talking, too-smart-...moreThis is the best book I've read this year, and one of my top 5 favorite books ever.
The story centers around Joey Margolis, a quick talking, too-smart-for-his-own-good kid in Brooklyn who idolizes one Charles Banks, a third baseman for the NY Giants. Through letters, report cards, interviews, newspaper clippings, and more, Joey and Charlie's relationship grows and develops and the book is at turns laugh-out-loud hilarious and move-you-to-tears poignant. Relationships develop amongst many "minor" characters as well, including Joey's principal and teacher, Joey's mother and aunt, Charlie's teammate Stuke and girlfriend Hazel, and even the Press Secretary of the White House and FDR.
I emailed the author after reading it and he got right back to me, which is always a good sign. I have given the book to several people as gifts and they have enjoyed it (my dad stole my copy!).
Covering an exciting and scary time for many Americans, the era after the Depression and of World War II, the book encompasses a time of hope, a time of sorrow, and a time of joy. Read it and be transported.(less)