Monday, December 29, 2008

Marley and Me

I finally read this book. It was a great way to wrap up 2008. I really enjoyed it, though for some reason it took me longer than I thought. (I guess I kept getting distracted.) Grogan is a great author and just had a way with describing crazy old Marley that made me laugh. He was able to use just the right words. I loved it... as it seems most people did. I am curious to see the movie.

That wraps up my 2008 reading! I only read 29 books this year, which is slightly disappointing, but so it goes. I have six month to finish this goal!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Have You Found Her

This is one of the best books I have read in a while. I couldn't put it down. It's hard to believe it's all a very true story. Though it's ending is pretty bland, I can't say I didn't see it coming. You could see the enabling through out the book. BUT, that being said, there were so many twists and turns I didn't see coming. I kept wondering through out, though, why is she doing this? Why does she keep Sam in her life? I guess the title says it all, "Have you found her", maybe meaning, has she found herself? I don't know if I could have been as strong as Erlbaum. But the story was completely captivating none the less.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How I Learned English

This book was an interesting look into how one learns a language. (A second language). Working with ESL students on a daily basis, I was able to take a lot away from these stories and relate them back to my students. There were the common similarities; subtitles on TV or movies, reading everything in sight etc. I found it amusing that more than one author talked about National Geographic magazine. What's really funny is at my center, we have a whole shelf of these magazines and my students LOVE them. I just thought it was a funny thing, but now, after reading this book it seems this isn't such a strange thing after all.

Anyhow, this was an interesting read for anyone interested in language learning.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Year of Magical Thinking

I am not sure I liked this book. I had a hard time relating to it. (Yes, I am young and have yet to experience any of the grief that the author obviously felt). The story was very sad, I admit, but that wasn't the part of the book that bothered me. I found the book quite pretentious. One thing that annoyed me was that she makes it quite clear that she and her husband are literary people who take literature seriously. If you haven't spent years in college didn’t study literature, you probably have no knowledge of these references. It was a bit tiresome. And these references would take her off onto stories of places she worked or lived for periods of time and sometimes I forgot what she began talking about in the first place.

Also, all of the medical references. She would go on for pages about all kinds of medical terminology that I just had to skip because I didn't understand a word of it. What was the point? I think maybe she was trying to justify how and why her husband died and what happened to Quintana. It was really actually boring to me.

Another thing was the incessant name-dropping. It was as if every single famous person they knew was mentioned in this book. But there was never a meaningful story to go along with it.. Its obvious she wanted to make sure everyone knew that she ran in a famous circle. It was really annoying.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Sister's Keeper

This book was entertaining enough. (I at least finished this one!) I liked how the book rotated through different points of view for each character, though I don't think I really liked all the characters. The subject matter, though was fascinating. But somehow I don't see any hospital ever forcing anyone, even a minor to donate an organ, even if the parents were insisting on it.

I got annoyed with the whole romance between Campbell and Julia. It had really nothing to do with the major story line and it felt like wasted time reading through it. But with that said, it was a satisfying read. The ending wasn't actually a huge surprise. In a way, I thought it was kind of predictable.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Zookeeper's Wife

So I am still having trouble with my choices lately. I tried really hard to get into this book. I couldn't finish it. There were too many unimportant details that I just couldn't get past. I had to skip the 4 pages about beetles! The whole premise of this book was interesting, but I also felt that it was a bit repetitive. It was also a bit dry for my taste. There wasn't much dialogue and there were too many characters coming and going and I couldn't keep track of them all. I had a hard time keeping track of the use of time in this book as well.

This book was set up interesting enough though. A fictional story based on a real life family who hid Jews in their zoo. The author obviously took a lot of time doing research about the family, the zoo and the time period.

I didn't finish this book. It was taking too much time and it wasn't keeping me interested enough to try and forge on.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Headmaster Ritual

I have been having bad luck with books lately I guess. I just couldn't get into this one. I had a really hard time relating to anything in the book. There was too much history about North Korea and things that I didn't quite understand. It was too masculine for me. I usually really like books about prep school and the like, but this just didn't do it for me.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I thought I was really going to like this book. But about 75 pages in, I was so bored I couldn't take it. The stories didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I couldn't find anything to relate to. I have never really been a huge short story fan and it's books like this that remind me why.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Free Food For Millionaries

My goodness, this book took me over a month to read! It was too long in my opinion. There could have been a lot cut out and the book would have been just as good. Don't get me wrong, it obviously kept me intereseted for 552 pages. I enjoyed the changing view points. The Korean immigrant (or immigrant expriences in general) are always interesting to me. All of the characters had clever, interesting storylines. The ending left some to be desired though. I thought more loose ends could have be tied up.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


This was interesting enough. Not something that was really great I would say, but interesting. I like books about prison, or people in prison. I also like books written in letter style. I think this book would have done more if it were not fiction. Though, I think it was powerful. I was glad in the end it wasn't exactly a happy ending. It made it more believe able. It think it showed the true power of how prison can effect relationships and families. (Not that that needed proving I guess....) I thought the characters felt very real and that the story was well written. It kept my attention, but I can't say it's at the top of any of my lists.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Happy Two Year Anniversary!

Happy two year anniversary to me! It has been two years since I started this goal/blog. Still going strong! 29 books to go and 72 down!

The Kabul Beauty School

This book didn't do a whole lot for me. It wasn't what I expected. I mean, what Rodriguez did was very interesting and even brave, but I felt like she kind of tooted her own horn a lot. (look at me, look how great I am). Maybe it is because I have a hard time relating to the whole "beauty school thing". If it were me, I would have tried to get these women involved in education in a different way. I understand where she is coming from, but I think there are many other ways to help the women in Afghanistan other than a beauty school.

I also found it strange that she was able to just up and leave her children back in the states while she ran off to do this. Her sons are mentioned once or twice. One even comes to visit her, but then she never mentions it again. I was also a bit put off by her marriage to an Afghani man. It just seemed all so strange to me, considering she had already had a bad marriage back in the states, why would she marry a man she knew for 2 seconds and couldn't communicate with? I do understand how he was able to help her and protect her a little bit, but still.....

The writing style was mishmash for me too. She tends to jump all over the place and I got confused a few times on where were. She mentions something briefly, but then never follows through on it. Plus, I found the ending very abrupt. She is definitely not a writer by trade.

This book was just so-so for me.

And now after some curious investigation, I found this story:

Which just makes me more aggrivated! She left these women, and promised them money from the royalties of the book and they haven't seen anything! My feelings dislike for this woman are now solidified after reading this story.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Truth and Beauty

This book was brilliant. After reading Autobiography of a Face, I thought it only appropriate that I read this as a follow up. I am glad I did. It really brought everything home. I think I actually enjoyed this book even more. I think it shows the power of friendship. Maybe I am a bit biased, because I have had a lot of emotional relationships with friends that many people never understood. I admire Ann for being Lucy's friend through everything. Lucy really put her through a lot, yet she stood by her no matter what. I admire that and I strive for that in my own life. She was not judgemental (for the most part) and really understood what it meant to be a friend. I think that is one of life's most important and hardest things. This book was beautiful. I plan to send it to two of my friends who I think it was also hit home with. Some people may wonder why Ann stood by Lucy the way she did, but I never questioned it while reading this book. Lucy's life was an amazing one, but I think this story of their friendship is even more amazing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Autobiography of a Face

I really enjoyed this book. It was extremely well written and I found it quite beautiful, even though the content was heartbreaking. I know it's easy for me to say, but why not just stop having all the operations and just move on? I know she was young and I don't know what happened after she wrote this book. (I intend to read Truth and Beauty next.. and that might give more insight). It seems that she was finally able to accept herself for everything she was, which made me feel good. I can't even imagine going through everything she did at such a young age. But above all, this book kept me interested and was very well written.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sweetness in the Belly

This is the best book I have read in a long time. I really enjoyed it and it flowed wonderfully. It was such a great story line. I loved how unique it was. I didn't know much about Ethiopia's history, so this was a great introduction. I liked how the history didn't overbear the story. The characters were fantastic! I loved Lilly. She was just beautiful. I loved her relationships with the other characters. This book was so well written that I wanted it to so badly to be a true story! I can still hope. I also really liked the ending. Nothing is perfect and I was happy that it wasn't a perfect ending. It made the story more real. Just wonderful.....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Take the Cannoli

I desperately want to like Sarah Vowell. This is the second book I have attempted to read by her and it's just not working. I have never been a big short story fan and this book didn't help. She tries too hard to be funny and in the end it's just annoying. I keep hoping that I am going to find something amusing, but I don't. I don't care about her family or her weird quirks. Somehow her writing just doesn’t help me to care. I don't know why. Usually I dig stuff like this. I made it about 3/4 of the way through this book and was done. I didn't even finish. I was bored and I felt like I was just wasting time.....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wonderful Tonight

This book was just alright. The way she jumped around so much really made it hard to follow. It seemed like one minute we were in 1965 talking about George and then 3 paragraphs later we were in 1970 talking about Eric... it was kind of annoying. I was hoping for some new information about the Beatles that I hadn't already read somewhere else, but was disappointed. The relationship with Eric I found more interesting, I guess maybe because I didn't really know much about it to begin with. Sometimes I felt like she was overly wining wa-wa... poor me. I glad the book didn't end like that, but come on, you know? Don't get me wrong, there were a few interesting tid-bits here and there, but I found myself bored through a lot of it. I didn't care for all the name dropping that this book was full of. I got bored with all the talk of modeling in the beginning (I had no idea, and don't really care who all those people were). It was just so-so for me. She has, indeed lived an interesting life, though.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Darfur Diaries

The concept of this book was interesting enough; three people go on a mission to Darfur to make a documentary about the lives of the people who live there. I have to say, I didn't even finish this book. I had such high hopes! But I found the book very biased and honestly a bit boring. I think I would find the actual documentary much more interesting. These three had a lot of guts to sneak into the area, but I found they were a bit arrogant about the whole thing. Like, what they were doing was so great and wonderful. They could have died. There is a reason that people don't go there, and people are being forced to leave. Don't get me wrong, the stories of the people they met were indeed fascinating. I think actually seeing these people on camera might be a lot more powerful than their stories told through than these authors. But, I just didn't like the writing style of the book. That being said, I did enjoy the history aspect of the book. I admit, I hardly knew where Darfur was when I started reading this, so I found all of the historical, political and geographical information very useful.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

This book took me ages to read! I couldn't believe it.. but I dug it. Yes, I found it overly wordy. (As I would assume almost everyone who reads this would). I found myself skipping whole pages trying to get to the actual storyline or plot. I did like all the references to the many different books, but at times it did get a bit old.

Throughout the book I found Blue's relationship with her father very strange. I I couldn't really figure out where it was going, of course until the end. Even then, I could have done without some of it. I realized in the end that it was all basically a long drawn out mystery, that honestly, I didn't see coming. All the references throughout the book I thought were strange, but assumed it was all part of her writing style. I realized it was more than that. Almost a set up. I don't read mysterys much and I am not even sure if I would consider this a mystery, but I really liked it.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The House of Paper

What an odd, strange, yet wonderful little book. I finished this book in less than a day (it's only 103 pages). I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was actually quite fascinating. It's almost like a book-lovers min mystery. I didn't quite get all the Latin American literature references, but that's okay. I can't stop thinking about how someone would turn all of their books in to bricks with cement and then build a house out of them. I think it's going to be one of those images that it is going to stick with me. That is what I love about magical realism, I think. Anyhow, a perfect little book for any book lover.

So Many Books, So Little Time

This book was mildly entertaining. There were some good antidotes on some interesting books. I felt for one that this book was a bit dated. She referred to some books as bestsellers at the time and how people were going crazy over them, when obviously it was 5 years ago. She picked some interesting choices, but honestly I wish she had talked more about the books than she did about her family. I do understand that this is supposed to actually be a memoir type book, but she yapped a lot about her husband and kid, which I could have done without most of the time. She also did a lot of name dropping --certain authors who she knew and such, which at times I thought tacky. That being said, it was an interesting concept and I did find myself laughing or relating to things through out the book could feel her pain about reading books that someone had recommended to her for sure! I know I have gone through that… So no, it wasn't at all boring, but nothing to jump for joy about, in my opinion.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Love, Stargirl

This book took me longer than I expected, considering this book is technically for teenagers. I loved Stargirl and this book was no disappointment as a follow up. The language in these books for one, is spectacular. You never quite know where the book is going to go. I loved, loved, loved the characters in this book. Dootsie is my favorite, but they are all so vivid. The relationships between the characters is both touching and real. Nothing is fake, which I appreciated. I loved the books now as an adult and if I were a teenager, I am sure these would have been my absolute favorites. This was beautifully written.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Restless Virgins

I had a hard time getting into this book. The descriptions were tedious. I thought this book was going to be more about the actual "sex scandal", when in reality they only talked about it for 20 pages or so and I felt it wasn't even a "scandal". The focus, I thought, was a bit off. There was no pattern to it and it seemed to jump from student to student without any really structure. One student they write about in the book, Josh, who I thought was interesting, they only talked about for maybe 15 pages in the whole book, where the focused on other students for large sections. I usually love coming of age books and books about prep school, but I found myself bored and annoyed through most of this book......

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Half In Love

I admit, I have always had a hard time with short stories. I feel like there is never enough character development and that the endings are always mashed or hanging and it drives me crazy. With that being said, I thought this was a really really great book of short stories. Now, not all of the stories were stars to me, and some of them had the same problems I already stated. A few I couldn't even finish because I was either bored or too much information was packed in that I didn't understand the plot. I did however, enjoy most of these stories because they were set in the Southwest. (That's just me). I really liked Garrison Junction and Paint (even if they were both disturbing in their own.. I tend to kind of like stuff like that anyhow) and I also really liked Kite Whistler Aquamarine, Ranch Girl and Thirteen and Half. The other stories were just so-so. I didn't like Last of the White Slaves. I couldn't figure out what was happening and there were too many characters for a short story I thought.

Anyhow, these stories for the most part were beautifully written and it was a quick read. The nice thing about short stories (and poetry) is that when one of them really strikes a chord in you it really sticks with you. I like that. I hope to find other works of short fiction like this in the future.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Forever Lily

I thought I was really going to like this book, but I had a hard time relating to it. I guess maybe because I have no kids of my own, or step-children. I have always thought the idea of adopting from another country very intriguing and I still do. Her story was very touching and it was interesting to hear about her trip to China. I really hated her friend Alex, however. I was really happy to hear in the end that they no longer speak. She was a very selfish person and couldn’t believe she kept changing her mind about this poor child. I think what she did was pretty horrible and she was not a good friend. I understand why the author felt and did what she did.

I had a real hard time with all the dream sequences, so much so that I just started skipping over them. I mean, I got that she thought and felt she had this really strong connection with China and Chinese culture, but it was a bit hard to swallow with all these dreams. In the end however, I felt good that was able to adopt Lily in the end.. but wish that she might have written a little more about how the process went after she arrived back in the states... but so it goes.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Summers with the Bears

I finished this book in a day! I loved it! Being from Minnesota and loving the North Shore, there is no way I couldn't love it. I also LOVE bears. This reminded me of something I would do. I know the morals are a bit screwed up and people shouldn't be leaving food out for bears and such, but how could they resist? Granted, this book was very honest. He knew that what he was doing was questionable and let the read know that and decide for themselves. I also like how he didn't claim to be an expert or a scientist, but this was just about his and his wife's experiences. All of these bears had unique personalities and it was great that the Becklund’s thought to write down these thoughts and experiences. The ending was sad, but as we know, these are wild animals and they can be unpredictable. This book is a true testament to the power of human-animal interaction and relationships.

The Myth of Me and You

I am not sure what to think of this book to be honest. I know I didn't like the ending. I guess I should have thought it would be something like it was, tying in the whole "myth" theme. I did however like the whole idea that relationships with people who have ended are almost like myths. How do we know they really existed sometimes? I have often had that same feeling of people in my past, thinking, maybe I just made them up?
I did however, also like the characters. Sonia's mother in particular I thought was a really fascinating character and so was the relationship between Sonia and her mother. I thought that was a fantastic part of this book.
I hated however, that this book didn't focus more on the relationship more between the two main characters. Why do men always have to be involved? Does it always have to be about them? It made it feel too "chick-lit-y" for me. The plot was pretty good and the mystery of it all kept me reading. I really wanted to know what was in the package. I was sadly disappointed by what was in it, though. The ending was more of a let down than anything, I guess. But it wasn't half-bad. But it wasn't anything to write home about either.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love Part 2

I loved this book! I wasn't sure what I was going to think, maybe that it was going to be this cutesy, look at me-I traveled around the world-during a mid-life crisis thing, but it was SO far from that.

The writing style of Gilbert, in my mind, is almost flawless. She tells it like it is, but is funny when appropriate, sappy when appropriate. She is just very REAL. I loved that.

The book's layout was wonderful. Gilbert really let the reader understand the new environments she was in. She shared all the details of the people, the culture, the history, the food. Everything you would want to know. She did her research and brought forth this beautiful, beautiful memoir.

All of the things that happened to her in the book can be hard to imagine, as in, how could she be so luckily? But at the same time, isn't that the point? That these things did happen to her? That maybe karma was on her side? (or whatever you want to believe in?)

I thought this book was perfect in almost every way. While I was reading it I found myself with this calmness over me. I wanted to absorb the whole book and not rush through it. I actually didn't want it to end. I hope that maybe someday she was write more about what happened to her after this journey was over. Or maybe, it's better left unsaid.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love

I am reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I am adoring this book. So much so, that I don't want it to end. I don't usually find myself dog-earing pages or underlining much when I read, but I have in this book. A lot. I read something in the book this morning that I had to make note of.

"Hindus see the universe in terms of karma, a process of constant circulation, which is to say that you don't really "end up" anywhere at the end of you life -- not in heave or hell -- but just get recycled back to the earth again in another from, in order to resolve whatever relationships or mistakes you left uncomplted last time. When you finally achieve perfection, you graduate out of the cycle entirely and melt into The Void. The notion of karma implied that heaven and hell are only to be found here on earth, where we have the capacity to create them, manufacturing either goodness or evil depending on our destinies and our characters."

And a bit later --

"This is the supreme lesson of karma -- take care of the problems now, or else you'll just have to suffer again later when you screw everything up the next time. And the repetition of suffering -- that's hell. Moving out of that endless repetition to a new level of understanding -- there's where you'll find heaven"

This struck such a huge chord in me, I am can't even explain it. It just makes so much sense I can bearly comprehend. I have never been much of a religious person and I doubt I ever will be, but this, I understand.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Burn Journals

I just finished The Burn Journals by Brenty Runyon. This book wasn't half bad. I am not sure I really liked the pace of the book. I mean, I read it quite freely, and I didn't have to think very hard, but felt like there could have been more.... It was written from the view point of a 14 year old, which was enlightening and annoying all at the same time. I was kind of hoping this book would be a little more, ah, intense? I am not really sure how to explain it. Runyon how ever is a very brave strong person. He never makes excuses for what he did to himself. He just keeps living. I liked that this book wasn't about "poor me" but it just told it like it was. That was inspiring. But, I also wonder how he was able to remember the details he did writing this book 10 years later. It makes some of it a bit hard to believe. Not that I don't believe he had those particular feelings, but some of the details I am sure were added or made up. I mean he was writing like a 14 year old when he was 24, you know? It made me a little leary. It is interesting to hear about how much time he spent in various hosptials and how long his recovery was, however. Being an adult, I wonder how much his treatment cost, being in the hospital for 10 months an all.. and nothing like that was mentioned at all. Anyhow, it kept my interest and it mildly interesting.

Next Up: Eat, Pray, Love.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Almond

My first book of 2008 finished!

I just read The Almomd by Nedjma.

Honestly, I am not sure what to make of this book. First, it took me a while to figure out where this story took place; (Turkey? I believe..). It was not what I expected. It was erotic and crude all at the same time. It was a nice change of pace from what I am used to. Nedjma is a fantastic story tell and I was happy to see a novel written about this subject from a Middle Eastern woman. Very liberating. I have to admit I stopped reading at about page 185 or so. It was getting a bit old. It didn't seem like it was really going anywhere... though I may have missed something. I did however like how the story was told; alternating between basically Bhadra's former life and her new life. I also enjoyed the story line with the aunt. I however got a little bored with Driss and the lesbians. It was just a bit much for me. Over all, it was a nice change of pace, but not the greatest thing I have ever read.

Next Up: The Burn Journals