Saturday, August 2, 2008

What I've been reading

Well, it's been a while since my last "what are you reading" post, so I thought I would share a little about what I have been reading lately.

First up is Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner. This is the sequel to Good in Bed. It was pretty good as far as sequels go!! I really enjoyed it! Here's a review from Publishers Weekly:

Following the story collection The Guy Not Taken, Weiner turns in a hilarious sequel to her 2001 bestselling first novel, Good in Bed, revisiting the memorable and feisty Candace Cannie Shapiro. Flashing forward 13 years, the novel follows Cannie as she navigates the adolescent rebellion of her about-to-be bat mitzvahed daughter, Joy, and juggles her writing career; her relationship with her physician husband, Peter Krushelevansky; her ongoing weight struggles; and the occasional impasse with Joy's biological father, Bruce Guberman. Joy, whose premature birth resulted in her wearing hearing aids, has her own amusing take on her mother's overinvolvement in her life as the novel, with some contrivance, alternates perspectives. As her bat mitzvah approaches, Joy tries to make contact with her long absent maternal grandfather and seeks more time with Bruce. In addition, unbeknownst to Joy, Peter has expressed a desire to have a baby with Cannie, which means looking for a surrogate mother. Throughout, Weiner offers her signature snappy observations: (good looks function as a get-out-of-everything-free card) and spot-on insights into human nature, with a few twists thrown in for good measure. She expends some energy getting readers up to speed on Good, but readers already involved with Cannie will enjoy this, despite Joy's equally strong voice. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The next one I read is Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I have been told by several people that I really need to read some of his stuff, and I finally picked this book up. I am SO glad I did - HILARIOUS!!! Like laugh out loud funny. Laugh out loud in random places so that the other people around you stop and stare funny. Seriously. My favorite chapter - Jesus Shaves. You'll understand why. Anyway, here's a review from Amazon:

David Sedaris became a star autobiographer on public radio, onstage in New York, and on bestseller lists, mostly on the strength of "SantaLand Diaries," a scathing, hilarious account of his stint as a Christmas elf at Macy's. (It's in two separate collections, both worth owning, Barrel Fever and the Christmas-themed Holidays on Ice.) Sedaris's caustic gift has not deserted him in his fourth book, which mines poignant comedy from his peculiar childhood in North Carolina, his bizarre career path, and his move with his lover to France. Though his anarchic inclination to digress is his glory, Sedaris does have a theme in these reminiscences: the inability of humans to communicate. The title is his rendition in transliterated English of how he and his fellow students of French in Paris mangle the Gallic language. In the essay "Jesus Shaves," he and his classmates from many nations try to convey the concept of Easter to a Moroccan Muslim. "It is a party for the little boy of God," says one. "Then he be die one day on two... morsels of... lumber," says another. Sedaris muses on the disputes between his Protestant mother and his father, a Greek Orthodox guy whose Easter fell on a different day. Other essays explicate his deep kinship with his eccentric mom and absurd alienation from his IBM-exec dad: "To me, the greatest mystery of science continues to be that a man could father six children who shared absolutely none of his interests."

Every glimpse we get of Sedaris's family and acquaintances delivers laughs and insights. He thwarts his North Carolina speech therapist ("for whom the word pen had two syllables") by cleverly avoiding all words with s sounds, which reveal the lisp she sought to correct. His midget guitar teacher, Mister Mancini, is unaware that Sedaris doesn't share his obsession with breasts, and sings "Light My Fire" all wrong--"as if he were a Webelo scout demanding a match." As a remarkably unqualified teacher at the Art Institute of Chicago, Sedaris had his class watch soap operas and assign "guessays" on what would happen in the next day's episode.

Our next books is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I know, I know - how in the hell can I be a children's librarian and have NEVER read The Little Prince?!?! Well, that has all been remedied, I assure you. Adorable little book!! I am sure I am the last person ever to read it, but I'll post a review anyway. From Amazon:

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry first published The Little Prince in 1943, only a year before his Lockheed P-38 vanished over the Mediterranean during a reconnaissance mission. More than a half century later, this fable of love and loneliness has lost none of its power. The narrator is a downed pilot in the Sahara Desert, frantically trying to repair his wrecked plane. His efforts are interrupted one day by the apparition of a little, well, prince, who asks him to draw a sheep. "In the face of an overpowering mystery, you don't dare disobey," the narrator recalls. "Absurd as it seemed, a thousand miles from all inhabited regions and in danger of death, I took a scrap of paper and a pen out of my pocket." And so begins their dialogue, which stretches the narrator's imagination in all sorts of surprising, childlike directions.

The Little Prince describes his journey from planet to planet, each tiny world populated by a single adult. It's a wonderfully inventive sequence, which evokes not only the great fairy tales but also such monuments of postmodern whimsy as Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. And despite his tone of gentle bemusement, Saint-Exupéry pulls off some fine satiric touches, too. There's the king, for example, who commands the Little Prince to function as a one-man (or one-boy) judiciary:

I have good reason to believe that there is an old rat living somewhere on my planet. I hear him at night. You could judge that old rat. From time to time you will condemn him to death. That way his life will depend on your justice. But you'll pardon him each time for economy's sake. There's only one rat.
The author pokes similar fun at a businessman, a geographer, and a lamplighter, all of whom signify some futile aspect of adult existence. Yet his tale is ultimately a tender one--a heartfelt exposition of sadness and solitude, which never turns into Peter Pan-style treacle. Such delicacy of tone can present real headaches for a translator, and in her 1943 translation, Katherine Woods sometimes wandered off the mark, giving the text a slightly wooden or didactic accent. Happily, Richard Howard (who did a fine nip-and-tuck job on Stendhal's The Charterhouse of Parma in 1999) has streamlined and simplified to wonderful effect. The result is a new and improved version of an indestructible classic, which also restores the original artwork to full color. "Trying to be witty," we're told at one point, "leads to lying, more or less." But Saint-Exupéry's drawings offer a handy rebuttal: they're fresh, funny, and like the book itself, rigorously truthful. --James Marcus

Wow - I think the review might be longer than the book!!

Anyway, the last book is Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch. I LOVED her writing style, and I really felt for the main character. Here's a review from Publishers Weekly:

An unenthusiastic Southern debutante copes with the cruelties of postcollege New York life in Crouch's amusing debut. Sarah Walters is neither a misfit nor the queen of the Camellia Society cotillion scene growing up in Charleston, S.C. But when she and her fellow Camellias try to make a life in New York City, they find themselves coping in unexpectedly dangerous ways—from standard substance addictions to Sarah's fixation on preppy ex-boyfriend Max, a smooth and sadistic child of wealth. While the formula of young women in the big city seems destined for cliché, Crouch subverts most expectations; Sarah almost purposely misses an opportunity for happiness and stability with the gentle lover she met in Europe, and her ploy to ignite sparks with a college friend goes painfully awry. When Sarah goes back to Charleston and faces a perhaps too over-the-top family crisis (it involves suicide and lesbianism), the reader's left with the hope that the worst is over. Though this feels almost like a collection—each chapter its own story with its own narrative technique—Crouch's portrayal of a young woman's self-sabotage and the pitfalls facing young women in a cold world is wise, wry and heartbreaking. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Right now, I am in the middle of The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart. It's the follow-up the The Mysterious Benedict Society, which was a really cute Juvenile Fiction book. So far, the sequel is just as entertaining!!

Some other books I have on my TBR pile include:

1) Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
2) The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
3) The Seneca Falls Inheritance by Miriam Grace Monfredo (recommended by brainella the librarian)
4) The Last Summer (of you and me) by Ann Brashares (recommended by Amanda at Life and Times of a "New" New Yorker)

(Updated 2008 Book List)

So, what are YOU reading?!?!


April Ziegler said...

I love David Sedaris. He's hilarious. Right now I'm reading Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs. Very funny too, similar humor as Sedaris. I recommend him!

kaitlin said...

I just finished Girls in Trucks as well, and LOVED it. I mean, how can you not love a book with that on the cover? I feel in love with the imagery begun on the cover :) Another one - Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella of Shopaholic fame). I'll have to try one of these that you've got here the next time I hit the library.

Carrie said...

Sedaris love!!

I'm reading Peace Like a River for my book club. Am barely into it but love it so far. Although I keep singing the hymn - it's stuck in my head now.

A Real Librarian said...

April and Kaitlin - thanks for the recommendations!!

Carrie - I read Peace Like a River a couple years ago. It was a slow read for me, but I absolutely loved it! I hope you enjoy!!

brainella said...

I was a children's librarian for three years and I never read the Little Prince. There are many books I failed to read. Bad librarian. I should go back and read them, huh?

I'm currently reading WWII historical fiction (Jeff Shaara). I'm a dork, I know. Loved Certain Girls, and I've never read David Sedaris. I'm going to start the new Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum book next.