Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Looking for Alaska

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I need you to know that I love John Green. I love him for his wit, his candor, and his ability to portray teenagers so brilliantly. I love his one-liners and the way he mixes tragedy and comedy so smoothly that you miss where one emotion ends and another begins. But I did not love this John Green book. Perhaps it's because I didn't read it a decade ago. Perhaps it's because I already knew what was coming in the book (student book report spoilers from nearly a decade ago). Or perhaps it was all the smoking (I really hate when teenagers smoke in real life...so maybe I just couldn't get past it??). Either way, there were moments where Green held my attention and others where I put my audiobook on a faster reading speed so the book would be over sooner.

I'd still recommend the book. As I said, I love John Green, but if you're only going to read one of Green's novels, The Fault in Our Stars is by far my favorite.

Happy reading--

Love, Loss, and What We Ate

Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A MemoirLove, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir by Padma Lakshmi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In an effort to spend less time on social media and to read more books, I preview books on my phone and then choose ones to read while Seth is still asleep on weekend mornings. This way, I'm still warm and cozy next to him, but not staring at the ceiling or trolling randomness on Facebook. I chose this book because I liked the title (something she got from the delightful Nora Ephron) and I love Top Chef.

The book itself is a bit like a fancy restaurant - moments of deliciousness with lots of things that aren't quite my taste. The details of Laksmi's life are fascinating, but her storytelling was uneven and some of her life choices border on ridiculous. I had no idea she had been linked to a famous author and a billionaire, so those respective experiences were interesting to read, though again - not exactly a someone to pattern your life after. I think I would have liked the book better had it been an audiobook, but I still read it more quickly than I would have guessed.

I'm glad to have read it for a few reasons - 1) Like I said, I really do like Top Chef. After watching her host it for so many seasons, I like knowing that beyond her hosting career, she's a cookbook author, an actress, a mother, and an activist. 2) I don't read lots of books written by people of color. I'm thrilled to have read another Indian author that I can talk about with my female Indian students. While not as funny as Mindy Kaling or as eloquent as Jhumpa Lahiri, Lakshmi is still working hard to make a name for herself and trying to improve the lives of other people through her philanthropy work. 3) And lastly, the hours spent reading this book were spent reading. I'm always happier when I have a recent answer to the question, "What have you been reading lately?"

As for you, happy reading and happy eating...and of course, Happy 2017!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Scrappy Little Nobody

Scrappy Little NobodyScrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Why have I read yet another celebrity book? It's an audiobook trap - oftentimes, memoirs are so much better read because they are read by the author, and I have an audible subscription that gifts me with two audiobooks a month (Yes, I pay for this, but it doesn't feel like it since it happens automatically). I was also mildly tricked into this one as its description said that it was written as a series of essays...and since Anna Kendrick has appeared in smart roles and started as a theater actress, I thought it might be good and more about storytelling rather than random anecdotes. Not quite - but I was entertained. Tina Fey still takes the award for best Hollywood memoir in recent years...so unless you're a major Kendrick fan, stick to Bossypants.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Talking as Fast as I Can

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in BetweenTalking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For people who loved the Gilmores and the Bravermans, this book will be a delightful read. If you don't know who those people are, this book isn't for you. I was perfectly content to fall into the thoughts of the woman who created one of my all time favorite characters. Graham is a little spastic and seems to be trying too hard to be funny from time to time, but I still enjoyed listening to this one...and really where she leads, I will follow, anywhere....  

Happy reading and happy Netflix binging!

Small Great Things

Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh Jodi-- I love the way that you create individual and distinct voices for each of your characters, but some of your twists are just too much to handle. Your book had some powerful moments and some that were a bit too convenient. I get what you were going for, but I'm not sure I believe it. Either way, it was fun to fall into one of your fictional worlds again. It had been a long time... Love, Me

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Election of...

I spent the entire political season not saying anything about my personal beliefs online. I never wanted to alienate people or seem as though I am not open to other beliefs different than my own. But with the numbers pouring in tonight and the voices of Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer, I feel like the American people have lost their minds. 

I was listening to Hamilton this morning (shocker, I know), and the lyrics to "The Election of 1800" suddenly seemed incredibly apropos. Hamilton says, 

"The people are asking to hear my voice
For the country is facing a difficult choice
And if you were to ask me who I'd promote--
--Jefferson has my vote
I have never agreed with Jefferson once
We have fought on like seventy-five diff'rent fronts
But when all is said and all is done
Jefferson has beliefs. Burr has none."

Amen Mr. Hamilton. Just update the names, and we're in business. 


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Hamilton: The Revolution

Hamilton: The RevolutionHamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To get the chance to read more about Lin-Manuel Miranda's writing process actually feels like a privilege. His writing in Hamilton has been compared to Shakespeare's mastery of language and composition. I agree 100% without feeling like I am over-selling or over-dramatizing Lin's gift. I have not seen words so deftly used in my lifetime. You do need to appreciate the show to appreciate the book, but who doesn't appreciate this show?! On the eve of a tumultuous election, how could you not?

Happy reading and happy singing!
I really can't wait to see this show. For now, I'll have to settle for rewatching Lin on Carpool Karaoke and the PBS Hamilton special.