Friday, December 30, 2011

reading recap: december + book club.

I read 50 books this year.

It seems like, finally, I adjusted enough in the real world to make time for the hobby I have loved since the day I could distinguish letters from numbers. I am so glad.

Here are reviews of the two books I managed to squeeze in this month; you can see past month's reviews here.

Book: Shopgirl
Finished: Mid-December

I've read three of Steve Martin's books, and although I've enjoyed them all, The Pleasure of My Company is by far my favorite. Shopgirl, with its witty dialogue and honest insights into the lives of some broken characters, just didn't grab my attention like Martin's previous works. Instead, I felt like it was a story I'd read before; Martin, I think, primarily writes about wounded, somewhat quirky women; most of his stories continually come back to that type. And while I find his writing enjoyable -- there's a portion of Shopgirl in which Martin depicts the thoughts of his male and female characters that is brilliant -- I also kind of get tired of the same portrayal of women over and over and over again. He's definitely a man writing about women, but if you can get past that and focus on the writing itself? Shopgirl manages to still be impressive. By the closing pages, I cared what happened to each character; it just took me a little time.


Finished: Late December

I don't know why I'm continually drawn to books about food, but a friend loaned me Under the Table, an inside look into the author's culinary school experience, and I couldn't wait to get started. Maybe it's because my mind has been other places this month, but like Shopgirl, I had a hard time really turning the pages of Under the Table. Darling -- whose voice reminded me quite a bit of the author of Orange Is the New Black -- didn't come across as your best-friend-turned-chef (let's face it; I was counting on Sookie St. James); her background in the culinary world immediately marks her as an expert, and that, I think, prevented me from really loving Under the Table. I wanted to be guided through the experience of culinary school with a friend, and instead, I got a Julia Child wannabe. Under the Table is still worth a read, particularly if you're like me, and find yourself attracted to books about the world of food. Darling features some of her favorite recipes and offers some pretty funny anecdotes on life wearing a chef's hat.  


I've also included a list of our book club's reads for the year. Book club is, as I have mentioned many times, a new year's resolution of mine that somehow managed to stick. For those hoping to start or participate in one in the new year, I'd encourage you to do so. It's been a nice way for me to read things I wouldn't normally, and to converse -- casually -- with other book lovers. These girls and the books we read have been a blessing since I moved back to Tallahassee; I'm not quite sure what I'd do without our monthly visits. A quick look into our book club: We meet on a monthly basis; we rotate houses, and the hostess selects three books that we all vote on via email. It’s been a great system, and it gives everybody a chance to select the genre of books that they prefer.

Book Club Selections, Year 3

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (Rachel)

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (Jenn)

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Annie)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Kristen)

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman (Julianne)

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Mandy)

Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner (Julie)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Jenn)

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn (Dani Su)

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Laura)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (Annie)

An Idiot Girl's Christmas by Laurie Notaro (Kristen)

So: What were your favorite books of 2011? Which should I start reading in 2012?


mary kate said...

I recently read both of these and totally agree. In Shopgirl I was just hoping for something more to happen and it never did. As for Under the Table I was looking for some insight into culinary school because I read it right before I started. As I read I was hoping something crazy or exciting would occur and She kept building up and up and it felt like it just fell flat at the end.

Kristen said...

One book I cannot stop recommending is Kisses from Katie, its heart wrenching. It is amazing.

Sabrina said...

I finally, finally finished A Year of Living Biblically. It was funny and interesting, and I liked his viewpoint....different than any other books I have ever read, that's for sure.