Booklist 2011…

THE TAO OF TRAVEL – Paul Theroux
One of our favorite author-curmudgeons, the well-traveled Mr Theroux, has put together a beautiful book about travel. Mostly quotes and excerpts, and a lot of them from his own books, are the backbone of this leathery little book with its inside cover maps and well, there’s just something about it. Not a novel at all. No plot. Just Theroux’s own structurte imposed. Even better, read it while traveling! It will have you smiling and agreeing perhaps. It’s a gift of a book.

TONS OF MAGAZINES…not the least of which is the beloved NYer

THEN CAME YOU  – Jennifer Weiner
It’s a book, fulfilling all the requirements of a book, except that it doesn’t deliver. The writing is fine; Weiner has developed her craft but the plot falls off and though there’s interest to see how she pulls people together, after presenting them in the classic one-person-per-chapter-and-then-chapters-rotated style, it just didn’t work. No surprises, no tying up of loose ends (there aren’t any) and well, there it is. It’s not a bad book; it’s not a great book. It just is, and if that’s all there is in the resort library where you’re staying or if someone left it in the seat pocket on the plane, you might give it a whirl.

THE PINES – John McPhee
Back to McPhee again to read some writing that’s so damn good he could be talking about the traffic on a residential street and it would be good, valid, interesting.  In this book, he talks about the Pines in southern NJ, an area that ’til recently anyway has been untouched and those that live and grow up there are the only ones aware of its ins and outs.  Most would get lost there. THE SOPRANOS made is somewhat more famous when an episode(s) related to (russian) mafia ditching people (bodies) there. 
The glimpses of real life there, however, the habits and routines who inhabit its 1000s of acres is fascinating and prompts all kinds of questions, not the least of which: this is a big country. What other “havens” so to speak exist where people are quietly living their lives and getting by on their own solitary nature?

THE SAVING GRACES – drat, can’t remember
What do you call high level chick lit that’s not really chick lit, and is also a well-written book? about four (women) friends and their lives. Good story. Nothing new, really. But good. Comfort reading, of sorts, although I cried like crazy at the end. Geez. Where did THAT come from? Anyway, four friends create a “group” and get together regularly to talk and cook dinner together and it’s mainly about how their lives overlap, or don’t.  On the cover, there is a beach and some canvas chairs. I picked it up thinking it would be extra-lite reading. Not really. But not “literature” either. Anyway, my next few books will be more challenging somehow. Whatever that means.

BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS – was a free book download on the Nook.
Turn of the century NYC and two girls from Ohio go to the big city to experience life. All rather fantastical but it’s a merry read during lunch hour kind of thing. Nothing to learn from it other than perhaps observing the arc of a story. If it were made ino a TV series it would be canned after two weeks.

UNLESS IT MOVES THE HUMAN HEART:  The craft and art of writing – Roger Roesenblatt
Interesting construct he used, as though teaching his class which made it more story-esque. Some good points and tips on writing and how understanding it comes through doing it far more than discussing it. A bit of a taskmaster, no, that’s not it, it’s that he has rather strict points of view on things and I was wondering more about what it would be like in his classroom more than pondering what I was taking away from this book. But maybe that’s the point, and the same thing. So I kinda liked this one and did a fair amount of underlining…

MURDER ON LEXINGTON AVENUE – Victoria Thompson
Enjoyed this one, as always, particularly the relationship of midwife Sara Brandt with Irish detective Frank Malloy. This one was a bit sad in terms of the mystery and maybe even a little obvious, I dunno, but as always the characters delight in one way or another for some sheer entertainment, and a glimpse of early 20th century NYC.

SOMETHING BORROWED – Emily Griffin
The writing isn’t bad so will be able to finish skimming this one. Come on, it’s literally my “beach read.” Though I’m not too keen on the “cheating” in the book.

LOSING WEIGHT (the animal kingdom way)…forgot author
Interesting in a way. Picked up some stretches that now using daily.  This one was free on Nook and I see why but there’s a lot of good stuff out there and this (sort of) proves it. Onward.

ANYWHERE I HANG MY HAT – Susan Isaacs
I always always enjoy an Isaacs novel. This one had her usual good writing though I wouldn’t shout the storyline from the rooftops. She took her time with this one. Enjoyable. A lawyer, loveless, semi-parentless and in search of her birth mother and the other “plot” line regarding politics and campaigning. Not up there with her other novels but good enough for a beach read.

RELENTLESS – Bobbi Smith
Oh, dear, this literal romance of that self-same genre is one I’m keeping solely because I met the author and attended her writing workshop at a conference and have a lot of respect for her. But eiyiyi, the book – perfect formulaic fit and very bare-boned. Cowboys, in love, and then marry.

Murder at the Eiffel Tower – Claude Izner
This one gets quite wrapped up in details and geography of Paris which I adored. To the point that I even got thrown off track on who actually did what. the characters were so interesting, the “detective” is a bookshop-owning booklover and the whole darn thing is so quaint – francophiles are gonna love this mystery.

A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson
So funny, such twists of phrase and such observations that at some points, i laughed out loud. And I don’t often laugh out loud at a book, although I seem to do it more now, actually.  Anyway, Bryson chronicles his walk along the Appalachian trail, starting at its southernmost trip and tells about his buddy who goes along. They don’t do the whole thing in one fell swoop. Bryson goes back to flirt with it after some time off, as does his buddy. Then they join up to make a run at the northnmost end.  I was sorry when this trip was over. Excellent, and in true Bryson-ese, informative as well as nearly ficitonal. Great stuff. This book was a gift from my mom. I might never have sought it out otherwise and glad to have it on the shelf now.

PERSUASION – Jane Austen

NORTHANGER ABBEY – Jane Austen

THE WATSONS – Jane Austen

THANKS – (forgot author)

LOVING FRANK – (forgot author)

THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN – Garth Stein

THE HAPPINESS PROJECT – (forgot author)

THE RENEGADE WRITER

EMMA – Jane Austen

HOW TO MAKE BOOKS – Estehr Smith

THE ART OF MAKING BOOKS – J Takahashi

THE CARRIE DIARIES – Candace Bushnell

FREEDOM – Jonathan Franzen
Struggled with this one. Even read a synopsis at one point in a magazine to urge me on. It didn’t. He does write well, obviously. He is so good a character. But there’s something dark lurking, nothing evil, more of a hopelessness, in all he relates. and yet he lets some of it improve.  A character seemingly doomed, comes around to be just fine. The viewpoints are key, and controlling. The reader must pay attention. I read on, I read on…it will be some time before this one is finished, though, quite honestly. It is not, for me, a page turner. It is however, full of truth in its way. No, it has not once made me laugh, that I can think of.

HOME  – Julie Andrews
First of all, this was a “gift” from Jeanie. I began it on the bus, en route from our blog meet-up weekend. I love British settings, stories, and use of language. So I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this story and her honestly. What I don’t know but should find out how much of it Miss Andrews wrote and how much was ghost written. It’s very rich with her impressions, not just relating facts. It is, overall, a surprise from someone who has been solid  and so in control on screen all these years.

Living Arftully – Sandra Magsamen
I paged through this one, gleaning, just to see what she meant. It was a very long essay in a sense. Wouldn’t be too far from anything my blog-writing writer friends would purport.

 

The Phantom of Pemberley –  Regina Jeffers
Wasn’t going to read this one. It was a free download on my Nook. But honestly, got caught up in it. She did a good job, this author who was an English teacher that has now written three “Austen” books and does a damn good job. Oh, so anyway, this one was a mystery and went right along. Sure, a few “gaffes” in believability, but she continues the characters sincerely enough and puts enough action and twists  in there that I say, “darn good job, Regina!”

The Carrie Diaries – Candace Bushnell
I know, I know, this is for teens. But have to see what Bushnell has decided, looking back, her character, the quirkly Ms Bradshaw was/is/is supposed to be. A prequel to  her own stuff, Bushnell has created. A bit tired, but for those who can’t get enough of urban chick lit, this one is OK.

A Roomful of Hovings – John McPhee
Excellent writing – essays, all and fabulous in their intensity, the things he chooses to write about (people, esp.) and the way it inspires this little reader/writer to write even more. Smacking good stuff.

Wings – ???  
It’s YA and involves fairies, humans, trolls and a typical high school, small town setting. Yup, this, too, was a free Nook download. And that suited me just fine. Normally, though, um, no – would not have purchased it from bookstore, nor borrowed it from library.

 

Millie’s Fling – Jill Kinsella
As explanation, this was a free book download on my Nook. And it was perfect timing for some air-head chick lit, all the better for being based in Cornwall England, and with some Brit language throughout. I enjoyed it thoroughly, saw through it from the beginning but stayed right to the end. This was features a mainstream writer who is saved from throwing herself over a cliff by a young woman who is parked there, oceanside, in a car and breaking up with her boyfriend. The story goes from there and while overwritten, did its job to entertain me through some very harried work days.

 

Book of Salt – Margaret Truong
Well written, complex structure, interesitng main character/narrator from Viet Nam who ends up in ex-pat Paris working as a chef for Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas. Like all good historical fictoin, not sure what’s true and what’s not, but this is about the chef, moreover and his family.
Worth the read; the writing is sometimes poetry.
Recommend it, but not for page-turning entertainment.

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