Monday, August 29, 2016

The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The last book that I can remember reading after I saw the movie was the first Harry Potter in 2001 - that's how rarely I don't read the book first, even if it means I can see the movie in theaters. Honestly, I wouldn't ever have picked up this book, except so many people recommended it. And they were right. Who knew that something that involves space travel could hold my attention?! It doesn't hurt that I could imagine Matt Damon the whole way through since so much of the story is focused on Mark Watney. Miracle of miracles, I think Seth would actually like this book. It may be his one book of 2016. Opposites do attract sometimes. :)

Happy reading--

Big Magic

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I talk to people about Liz Gilbert, they have very strong, visceral reactions. People loved or hated "Eat, Pray, Love" - I was a hater who became a lover. People who love Gilbert feel inspired and liberated by her self-expression, her unapologetic dedication to pursuing her passions, and her unwillingness to settle. People who hate Gilbert find her self-indulgent and unrealistic. When I stopped seeing Gilbert as someone who was giving advice and rather as someone who just invited me along her "Eat, Pray, Love" adventure, I found truth in her experience much the same way that I found truth in Cheryl Strayed's "Wild" or Jeanette Wall's "The Glass Castle". All that to say that people who love Gilbert will like this book, but be mildly disappointed because she spends so much time actually giving advice rather than staying focused on her own anecdotal experiences and lessons with creativity. People who hate Gilbert will still find her self-indulgent, but she gets to be - it's her book, you bought it, you need to stop being surprised that she writes about her own whims and desires (too harsh?).

As for me, I was less enthralled with this book, but I still love Gilbert's honesty and I love her premise about pursuing the life you want to live without fear. So many of us wait for life to happen instead of going out and creating opportunities to be who we've always wanted to be. I can always use good reminders to be my best self, especially on the eve of a new school year.

Happy reading~

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Seth looked at me last night and said, "This is the youngest you'll ever be." What a funny concept. For the next couple hours, I'm technically still 32. And then it's 33.

I love odd years. I love double numbers even more. They seem lucky somehow. So here's to a new year. This one feels like a good one. Happy birthday to me. :)

Monday, August 8, 2016

One True Loves

One True LovesOne True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book essentially had me from "hello" - I loved the title, the premise, the prologue, and beyond. Reid writes about love in a way that makes sense to me. It feels as though she is giving words to thoughts I've never been able to articulate. I love how she handles love, loss, and how hard it is to figure out who you are and what you want out of life. That evolution is so challenging that I think many people stop trying to figure it out.

This review is more of a gush than anything articulate, so I think wrapping it up and just encouraging you to read the Goodreads blurb is sufficient.

I do think that this might be more of a 4 for most other readers. It just hit me in a way that only a good book at the perfect moment can.

Happy reading--

Why Not Me?

Why Not Me?Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was on a roll after "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" and just wanted to keep listening. Kaling really is clever and hand working and candid about who she is. She acknowledges flaws and inconsistencies and tells great stories. There are a few rambling moments in her writing, but I love that she loves her family, that she would rather stay home than party, and that she has strong personal convictions. She's a good role model for teenage girls, who I think are always lingering in the back of my mind when I read memoirs. Kaling does ramble a bit in the latter third of the book, but I still would recommend it as a good audibook.

My favorite part of her book was her shout out to her best friend, BJ Novak. She describes their friendship and working relationship so well and in a completely original way. It helps that I love Novak's writing and work, but definitely entertaining.

Happy reading--

ps. I never would have guessed that Kaling had interacted with President Obama on separate occasions. Fun to read about that too.

Six Months Later

Six Months LaterSix Months Later by Natalie D. Richards
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I bought this book last fall because a student of mine said it was her favorite book. Based on her comments in class and her writing, I thought she was a pretty good judge of books, and I wanted more to talk to her about. Then I misplaced the in, I, who treat books like they have feelings and am super organized, totally lost this brand new book. I never found it. This freaked the student out. Fast forward to June. I decided to purchase a used copy, and it really is ironic that I lost the first copy.

Six Months Later is about a teenage girl who wakes up and six months have passed. More than that, her whole life has changed. She has a new boyfriend, a different social group, she's a better student, etc., etc. Think of it as a creepy "Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac". This book does use some stereotypical high school characterization, but I still was engaged the whole way through. It's a great recommendation for high schoolers and for those of us who love YA lit.

Happy reading!

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this book for two reasons - one) I wanted to laugh and be entertained and b) life and my more recent book choices had been too full of sad things. Enter Mindy Kaling. She is smart and funny and a nerd to the core...which is a perfect fit. I think you need some exposure to her work to appreciate all her anecdotes, and perhaps you need to have ovaries. The second one isn't a must, but I think it contributed to my overall enjoyment. :)

As always, happy reading!

ps. I almost always do audio for these style of books. It's part of what makes the writing so funny.