Monday, February 6, 2012

What I read in December (2011)

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

Remember when you were a teenager, so busy building your social life and getting into various trouble that you had no time for books? Especially since, your silly English teachers tried to force old, dull, boring ones on you - who had time for any personal book choices? When I graduated from High School, I kind of forgot that "Hey, books exist outside of English 101"... and it wasn't until a friend of mine suggested that I read some of Mr. Sparks' books that I got back into reading for fun (circa 2003). Being of the extreme non-reading mush-brain type back then, I fell in LOVE with his books. Granted, I was also young and a sucker for love stories... so who wouldn't be totally swooned by The Notebook? Over the years, I've come to find his books as sort of sloppily done. He's recycled characters (by giving them just enough of a difference to be different), and even exact lines of dialogue. The scenarios in his books are often cheesy and predictable. Yet, because he awakened my love of reading to the caliber it is today (and, I've met the man!), I feel as though I owe a little something to him, and plan to honor it by reading all of his books. The Best of Me, (as with Safe Haven & The Last Song) showed improvement. I think he may have realized he was getting a bit lazy a few years ago, and has since upped his game. And man... has he gotten into writing dark characters over the years, or what? The ending reminded me a lot of Dear John (in that I wasn't completely satisfied, yet still respected the ending). I enjoyed reading this one, which is more than I can say for previous years - but it's been a while since he's been able to solicit a tear from me! As is true with ALL of his books - if you enjoy reading about small-town life in North Carolina, and love stories that contain a hint of magic, this is a good one for you.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

One of my guilty pleasures in life is reality TV. And by that, I don't mean the competition, contest-y ones - nor the complete idiocy of Jersey Shore or Teen Mom - but the day-by-day account of people. Staged or not, I'm fascinated by other people's way of life - their home, the things they do, their traditions, etc.  So, it seems only natural that I love a good memoir. I will read them about anyone - famous or not. And every time, I find myself fascinated by them - wanting to watch their shows and movies -  read their Wikipedia pages and Youtube videos of them.  Reading about Tina Fey was a goldmine - Youtube is filled with SNL skits featuring the very moments she wrote about in some cases. I loved this book, because I could hear her in the writing. She made me laugh, a lot, and I could relate to her on some of the mom topics she covered (minus the fast-moving career in the spotlight).
It even made me want to watch 30 Rock (it is all on Netflix); like I need anymore shows in my weekly lineup? Please. This is a fun, quick read - and if you like SNL, you'll love the little behind-the-scenes tidbits she throws in here!

The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer

I never have the time I'd like to spend at the library - I usually request things online, suck up the $.25 fee to have it pulled & reserved for me, and pop in to pick it up. Life with (loud) children has required this of me. Every time my oldest comes along, we make a trip to the kids' section where he checks out 5-6 books each time, and I end up with about 20 seconds of slow-walking past the "nearly new, now 21 day checkout" section to scan the books with my precision laser speed-reading goggles (which may or may not exist). So, needless to say, if something isn't reserved, or I don't walk in there with a very short and precise list (call numbers looked up at home first), I don't get to have fun finding new things. Unless - those lovely librarians just happen to prop something up that catches my eye. This was the case with The Uncoupling, and MAN am I glad it was! This book has mixed reviews, but let me tell you - I am on the LOVE - no, love love love, side of things. The main idea here is that this "spell" is being cast on the women of a small suburb, and they're suddenly turning away from the men in their lives and boycotting sex. Seems like a simple enough idea, but not only could I relate to many of these women in their various situations, the writing was brilliant. Meg Wolitzer has a beautiful way of writing about the mundane and the common - she can make you think in one sentence, and laugh out loud in the next. That, is my kind of book! If a book leaves you thinking when you finish it (or even before you do) - even for a little while - that, to me, is the sign of something good. I'm finding myself craving her voice, so after making a little list of call numbers this week, I went back to the library and raided the shelf of all of her other books. To say I'm excited is an understatement! (BTW, I rated this one with 5 stars on Goodreads - something I very seldom do!)

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