Feb 6, 2009

My Bookshelf

I don't often talk about books here on my blog, but I am an avid reader. Two years ago I kept track of every title I read for the year, and the number was a surprising 276. Despite that number, books for me are more about quality, not quantity. I rarely read a book twice with few exceptions -- Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, Happiness by Will Ferguson, A Million Little Pieces by James Frey and Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Evidently those are my favorite books of all time, as I've read each several times. Now there's a new title to add to that short list. I returned to page one of Real Life & Liars by Kristina Riggle (Harper Collins, publisher) as soon as I finished the last page, and read it all over again. This is an unusual story of Mirabelle Zielinski, age mid-60's, and her relationship with her husband, her three adult children, her friends, and her self. Mira's oldest daughter feels unappreciated and unloved by her own husband and children; Mira's son looks for love in all the wrong places, when the right place is within arm's reach; and her youngest daughter refuses to grow up. As Mira faces life-changing health issues, the reader realizes that those personality traits she has difficulty accepting in her children, are the very traits that Mira must recognize and deal with in herself. I am passionate about reading writers' first books. "Real Life & Liars" is Kristina Riggle's first novel, and it left me immediately hoping she writes many more. Riggle creates a line of characters with whom any parent of adult children can connect, and realistic glimpses into what we all, on the threshold of this age group, don't want to think about -- health issues. While dealing with serious issues, Riggle does so with a sense of humor and a sense of caring. Truly a remarkable read. AND MORE BOOKS ON MY BOOKSHELF I just finished Mixed Blessings by Jon and Kate Gosselin (although there is not a trace of Jon's writing in this book, so I'm not sure why his name is listed as author!). On a score of 1 to 10? Two. I didn't learn anything I haven't heard on the show before, and the writer-Kate seems like an entirely different person than the show-Kate. (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the show!) The book makes Jon seem far more decisive and in-charge than what the show portrays. It felt like one was made up, but I don't know if it's the show or the book. I'm glad I borrowed it from the library and didn't pay big bucks for it. Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich - Oh yeah. Love her books, love every single character in her books, love the fact that she is one of the few "instant" bestselling authors who doesn't run out of things to write. Scale of 1 to 10: 8. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives by Guy Fieri. A favorite television show and now a favorite cookbook. I may just have to buy this one. All those mouth-watering homestyle recipes you see on the show -- along with behind-the-scenes comments by Guy -- wrapped up into one enjoyable read and cookbook. Scale of 1 to 10: 9 Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons. Another of my favorite authors. This is possibly one of her best works to date. Set on the coast of Maine, it's the story of firsts -- first love, first traumatic event, first enemy, first loss. I found it just a wee bit slow to start, but after the third chapter, I couldn't put it down. Scale of 1 to 10: 8 Secrets by Jude Devereaux. This must have been my lucky week, because this another book I thoroughly enjoyed. The library's description of this book: "Having harbored an unrequited love for a man she met in childhood, Cassandra impulsively breaks an engagement to become the now-widowed man's nanny, but realizes that her chance for winning his heart is threatened by dark secrets." At times, some of the "dark secrets" were a bit hard to believe, and the twists and turns were a bit too evident before they actually arrived, but overall a good read. There's just something about Jude Devereaux's writing style that appeals to me so much I can overlook the negatives. Score of 1 to 10: 6+ What I got at the library today: Blackwood Farm by Ann Rice Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani Oh, and "The Poky Little Puppy" in both book and CD form -- but that was for Mr. Brayden's reading pleasure (though I loved reading it again after all these years!) What are you reading today?

4 comments:

Diane said...

The reason Jon's name is on it because her friend Carla's name was on it as a co-writer but Kate then decided she wanted all the money . Then they changed her name to Jon's.

Dixie's Whimsey said...

Well Miss Joan.. I expect to finally finish the biography on Albert Einstein this weekend, that I've been reading since last November. Granted I've read several other books during the same time, but the Einstein book has a lot of technical physics info in it, which, I have to admit, slows my reading. (when you have to re-read a paragraph or a page more than once... it has a tendency to do that!) I love when someone does a book review on their blog. It usually drives me to read that book for myself. I think I'll be picking up a couple of your recommendations later this month.

The Calico Quilter said...

I was cruising through the stacks and was attracted by a book called "Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously". Since I read cookbooks like novels, why not read a book about the experience of cooking? The book was fairly amusing, except that for the first third of it I wanted to choke the author for her immaturity. Facing up to the fact that as she neared 30 she really didn't have anything careerwise to brag about, Julie Powell sets out to cook every recipe in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", Julia Child's classic tome, all in one year, and blog about it. While I finally warmed to her a little, the author just seemed like a crybaby - "oh, poor me, I'm just a secretary!". Well, a secretary at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum Design Competition in NYC; that seems a little more interesting than being the secretary at some bank or something. Once I got over her tone, it became amusing to read about her wrestles with such recipes as eggs in aspic and whole boned duck "en Croute". However, she spent too much time on her hopeless friends and creepily passive husband. The only thing I thought was truly insufferable was her re-creation of conversations between Paul and Julia Child at the beginning of their marriage. Like she knew. (In fact, the real Julia didn't think much of Powell's project, her cooking or her blog!) If I want the magnificent Child's words, I'll read her own writing. In fact, that's the next book I'm reading - her biography, "My Life in France".

Lisa said...

Joan, have you ever read the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? I just read it and it is a very light, heart-warming read. If you haven't read it, check the description online and I'll send it to you if you would like.