Book Reviews – July 2017

By | July 14, 2017

Lady luck and the universe conspired to test my coping skills recently and everything I wrote turned out really negative and complainy, not worthy of littering your inbox. Over the course of two weeks, each and every day brought something new to mope over. My laptop died and I sprained my toe, cutting me off from my favorite pastimes of writing and walking. I witnessed the malfunction of a heater and subsequent massacre of a tank of fish I’d been tasked with keeping alive. My book designer revealed that she was unable to design my book. I’ll have to push back the release date. A guy I was kind of digging told me that he didn’t need a shovel. (Because he wasn’t digging me back). A debilitating allergy attack stole more than one day.

But I still read! Here are the latest books. And I promise the next post will be happier because I can walk and write again and life really is beautiful and complicated and you can’t appreciate the highs without the occasional lows, eh?

Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner

I’ve read some of this author’s books in the past and this is her memoir. It’s hard for me to get excited about memoirs of people I don’t really know. Perhaps a bit too much detail. I didn’t really need to know about all of her grandparents and every one of her cousins, all of the books she read as a child, and every class she took in college. After about 150 pages (out of 400!) of way too much information, I stopped reading and drank a margarita.

Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler

Science fiction novel that was entirely too long. It took well over a week to finish this 750+ page behemoth. I don’t like committing to large books like this. Interesting premise, but entirely too much story.

The USSR and US went to war and destroyed the ozone layer and nearly every human being on the planet. An alien species swoops in at the end of the war and gathers all the remaining people on a ship near the moon. They suspend them in a sleep-like state for a couple of hundred years while they fix the earth. Lilith is one of the first humans they awaken and her job is to awaken other humans and teach them about the aliens and survival skills in preparation for reintroduction to a changed earth. That’s book one.

In book two, everyone is on earth. The aliens have modified all the humans so they can no longer have children without the aliens and the new children are alien/human hybrids. Some people accept this, like Lilith who has several children, but others, the resisters, are bitter and angry over this. They steal children, including Lilith’s only son. During the year plus her son spends with a resister village, he decides that humans should not be extinct and petitions to give them Mars and their fertility back. The aliens agree, but say that the stupid humans are going to make themselves go extinct, so it’s pointless.

In the final book, we focus on another of Lilith’s sons. I’ve devoted too many words to this novel already. The author really didn’t need to write this last section.

The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais 

Delightful and quick read that tells the story of a man’s life. He was born and raised in India as a Muslim, cooking in his family’s restaurant. When tragedy strikes and a mob burns down the restaurant and kills his mother, his father takes the family to Europe. They settle in a small town in France and open a restaurant. We see the protagonist study under the famous French chef that lives across the street, move to Paris and become a famous French chef himself.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

If I ever have my own place again, I’m going to buy a copy of this book and put it on my bookshelf. I’m going to highlight it and I’m going to reread it every few months. You, my dear, sweet readers, are always telling me that you appreciate my honesty and my authenticity. This book has honesty and authenticity times nine. Her prose, compassion, and writing voice are so achingly lovely and I want to read everything she’s ever written now.

I’m a bit obsessed with advice columns. Reddit.com/r/relationships is my addiction. I used to read Ann Landers everyday in the newspaper as a child. I subscribe to Captain Awkward on my feedly. This book is a collection of advice columns from “Sugar”, but she goes so much deeper than anything I’ve ever come across.

Her advice to a woman mourning a miscarriage:

“This is how you get unstuck, Stuck. You reach. Not so you can walk away from the daughter you loved, but so you can live the life that is yours–the one that includes the sad loss of your daughter, but is not arrested by it. The one that eventually leads you to a place in which you not only grieve her, but also feel lucky to have had the privilege of loving her. That place of true healing is a fierce place. It’s a giant place. It’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light. And you have to work really, really, really hard to get there, but you can do it. You’re a woman who can travel that far. I know it. Your ability to get there is evident to me in every word of your bright shining grief star of a letter.”

Her advice to a man who is unsure about having children:

“I’ll never know, and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

I could gush and give you many more examples of the words that spoke to me, but I try to stop at 1,000 words per post and I’m already past that and haven’t told you about the other book I’ve read since my last post. I’ll leave you with one of my favorites:

“I don’t mean to be harsh, darling. I’m direct because I sincerely want to help you and because it’s clear to me that you’re an incredibly good egg. I know it’s a kick in the pants to hear that the problem is you, but it’s also fucking fantastic. You are, after all, the only person you can change.”

Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection by Jia Jiang

Guy tries to desensitize himself to rejection. It was okay.

22 thoughts on “Book Reviews – July 2017

  1. Kate

    In case you havent read it, I am currently really enjoying “The Road Less Travelled” by Scott Peck, and I think you might enjoy it too. 🙂

    Reply
  2. John Goetz

    The Hundred-Foot Journey was also a movie, and I would highly recommend it. It was an enjoyable film.

    Reply
    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Oh! I think I knew that, but it didn’t tell me that on the cover, so thought it was something else. Thanks!

      Reply
  3. classical_liberal

    I’ve always been fascinated with the flow of life. How is it that, at times, it seems Murphy’s law is more indelible than the laws of physics despite good actions and intentions.? Then, other times, I can literally do everything possible to F-up my life and things turn out more perfectly than could have been imagined. Weird stuff. Hang in there thriftygirl, afterall, you’re still retired!

    I have a thing for space-opra type book series. I may read your non-recommendation.

    Reply
    1. classical_liberal

      I couldn’t think of the name of this movie in my original comment re luck and the flow of life. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2414766/

      A interesting sci-fi/love story/overcoming difficulties take on luck. Synopsis; what if you knew at birth whether you had good or bad luck & what if you fall in love with a person on the other end of that spectrum? It’s a unique concept, probably a love it or hate it movie. I loved it.

      Reply
    2. Thriftygal Post author

      I’m still retired. That’s a mantra I repeat to myself when I’m feeling down. I can still cackle at my alarm clock!

      Reply
      1. walter

        sorry about all the troubles you are having Anita. your laptop swimming w/the dead fishes n all. perhaps you fed the cat w/said dead fishes, maybe? and i hope the sprained toe wasn’t from kicking the non-digger to the curb. things will be right as rain with you soon.

        i don’t know if you do podcasts or not, but this is from (one of) your (many) hometown(s) from an author who took a very long solo bipedal journey to find an epiphany stream that hasn’t dried up yet. http://www.wbur.org/dearsugar

        Reply
  4. Ally

    The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls Eye-opening and made me appreciate my parents. Also appreciated an observation she made about work (or really, financial independence) at the end

    Reply
  5. thingsthatsparkjoy

    Re: Jia Jiang – If I am thinking of the same author, he also has a TedTalk.

    Re: A Hundred Foot Journey – Love the movie. Saw it twice!

    Reply
  6. Laszlo

    Yes, we are still here. And, Greetings. Makes me wonder if the name Cheryl Strayed is similar to Michelle Shocked? Where has she strayed exactly? The style is like that of one who could screw everybody but decides to love everybody to bits as a solemn gesture. Humpty was pushed.

    Reply
  7. Natalie

    So then you haven’t read or seen Wild by Cheryl Strayed? Both are wonderful, the movie stars Reese Witherspoon. I read Wild which led me to her online advice column and subsequent book. Which had and still has a cult following. There’s a podcast out now called Dear Sugar, it’s with her and the original Dear Sugar. Check it out, she still gives the best advice. Have you ever read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse? I love your book reviews by the way! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I put Wild on my list after reading Dear Sugar. Excited! I have read Siddhartha. 🙂 I wish I could listen to podcasts, but it’s not in my wheelhouse. I see why she has a cult following though. I’d join that cult.

      Reply
  8. stylin

    Since you are in the dating game I recommend Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. A lot of the information is obvious when you think about it but I found it a fun and fast read about the dating landscape, how people connect, and how to find last connections in this day and age.

    Reply

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