My original plan was to post this on New Year’s Eve, but it’s getting kind of long and I need a 98th post and don’t really have a topic for one, so here’s PART TWO of the Books I’ve Read this Year! If I get a chance to read any more- which seriously might not happen because I have 3 weddings coming up in the span of 6 weeks, and that’s a ton of work, and I’m also thinking about giving NANO another shot this year, so November is out for the most part, plus polishing Twenty-Five and posting it here, well, you get the idea- then I’ll post a part three.
Quick Stat update before I get into the books:
This is my 98th post. There are only 11 days left until my one-year anniversary!
My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands. Read for the first time. Finished 7/11/10. I’m sure there will be some readers out there scratching their heads- why is the virgin reading about one night stands? Well, I blame (and thank) my sisters. My older sister and I went to Charlotte for the July 4th weekend because that’s where my younger sister and her husband live and it was her birthday on July 5th. While we were there we somehow made an agreement to each buy one of Chelsea Handler’s books and we’d read them and write notes to each other in the back and then swap. Younger sis got Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea, older sis got Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang, which left My Horizontal Life for me. (I’m the middle sis, I pretty much just do what I’m told) It’s probably appropriate seeing how I’m the only one still capable of having a one night stand (since they are both married). Sadly, I have no desire or inclination to act upon this power I possess. Which is how I know that Chelsea Handler and I could never be friends. No matter how funny I find her.
The Choice: Read for the first time. Finished 7/12/10. This book wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t as good as I think it should have been. I normally love Nicholas Sparks, because I love love stories. But I feel like he put all of the good stuff in Part One of the book and half-assed Part Two. I just didn’t feel emotionally connected to the characters at the end of the book. This sparked a conversation with my mother who believes that I don’t enjoy reading anymore because I’m reading everything through a writer’s eye. She’s partially correct. I definitely read differently now that I’ve spent so much time reviewing and making suggestions of other people’s work and having other people reviewing and making suggestions about my work. I hate getting reviews of my work, honestly. I know I need it, but I hate it. It usually makes me feel like no one understands me and it is so frustrating. But anyways, back to the point. My mom loved this book. I thought it was okay. I would have written it differently- and therein lies the problem. Everyone who writes would have written it differently- would write my book(s) differently, very often suggest that I should write my books differently. And I think that’s why I’ve stopped working on my books. I’m sick of being told to write it differently. So, maybe I should stop imagining how I would write someone else’s…
Bleachers: Read for the first time. Finished 8/6/10 (on the flight to Buffalo). This book was really good. I enjoyed the simplicity of it. No crazy complicated plot or characters. Just real life people dealing with real life stuff- only fictionally. I wasn’t sure if I’d like a John Grisham story that wasn’t based around lawyers or a courtroom, but it worked.
Same as it Never Was: Read for the first time. Finished 8/9/10 (read during the trip to Buffalo, on the plane ride home from Buffalo and in my house when I should have been returning emails after I returned from Buffalo) LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. Claire LaZebnik! I’m so happy I bought one of her books at random and was able to discover her beautiful stories. Why can’t I write like this? Did I mention that she sent this one to me? And autographed it? But that’s not why I loved it. I just couldn’t stop reading it. And I’m such a sucker for a love story. I want a love story!
Also read for the second time. Finished 10/2/10. I couldn’t help myself. I really wanted to read it again. And I’ve been so good this year about repeats, that I let myself. Besides, I had to get in Claire LaZebnik mode so I could read her NEW book. (See below!)
Other People’s Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See: Read for the first time. Finished 8/20/10. This was a collection of actual real-life love (and some hate) letters written between couples. Some of the letters were so sweet I actually teared up. I saw this book when I was in Buffalo (visiting my grandparents) at a store in the mall and I really wanted it, but it was like $23! Which I feel is a ridiculous price to pay for any book. So I found it later on Amazon for cheaper and I’m so glad I bought it. It’s going to be my go-to “I need a smile” book from now on.
Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang: Read for the first time. Finished 8/21/10. The second round of my sisters-bonding readathon. I liked this book better than the first one, I thought the stories were funnier and more likely to be true- plus some of them had pictures accompanying the chapters. This book was more about her relationship with her family and her boyfriend, and not about random one-night stands. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed it more. I mentioned in the blurb about My Horizontal Life that we were writing little notes in the backs of the books to be passed on to each other and I wanted to share a little bit of what I wrote in this one.
Interesting fact: Somewhere around chapter 5 or 6 I told our mother she could really be a bitch sometimes. I think Chelsea would approve.
Now to clarify, yes, I did indeed tell my mother this. But, in all fairness, she said I could be a bitch sometimes too. And that’s why I love my mother. Oh, and no, at no point in the book does Chelsea call her mother a bitch. She does refer to her father as mentally retarded, psychotic, and delusional though, and devotes several pages to the idea of her brothers and sisters and herself euthanizing him. I would never do that to either of my parents. I don’t think.
Jesus Wants to Save Christians: Read for the first time. Finished 9/2/10. My really good friend Ashley bought this book for me after the incident with Religious Guy- and I have to say, it was just amazingly good. The book is about Jesus’s real message and how modern America has gone off-track and built an empire instead of pouring out our bodies to do good for the poor and needy. The larger and more powerful an empire becomes, the more it feels greed and entitlement, which just leads to violence and the acquisition of weapons in order to maintain the power, which leads to more greed and entitlement. We are not entitled! Christians need to remember that God’s message is one of love, humility, assistance, sympathy and empathy.
My favorite quote from the book:
“When people are manipulated with guilt and fear and when they are told that if they don’t do certain things they’ll be illegitimate, judged, condemned, sent to hell forever- that’s violence.”
Please go out and buy this book. Read it. Live it. And share it. For my part, I already try to be super conscious of keeping my judgments at bay, but I’m not perfect- I have to work harder to really live what I believe. I also need to remember that I have a good life and that there are so many people out there who are worse off. I need to be generous with myself and with what I have and always remember that when I help the less fortunate, that is when I’m truly living the life God wants me to live.
Conversations with the Fat Girl: Read for the first time. Finished 9/5/10. I bought this book because of the title and because, let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of fat literary heroines for young 26-year old tubbies like me to look up to. I actually related to a lot of what the main character, Maggie, was going through, but I can’t say that I really enjoyed the book. I hated how the author started every chapter with backstory. And I hated how the main character constantly contradicted herself. And I really really really hated the dialogue. It was soo unrealistic. Like she needed to spin the conversation so the characters HAD to say what she was making them say, but most of the time, the things they were saying made no sense. And she used a lot of question marks in dialogue after phrases that were not questions. Really annoying? Yes- absolutely annoying. I never felt immersed or engaged in the actual story, I could feel the author on every page. Very disappointing. But like I said, I did relate a lot to the main character. I’ve felt like a fat girl for most of my life. I know the pain of trying on outfit after outfit and nothing fitting; of going out with a group full of girls, none of whom are larger than a size 4, who can’t understand why I feel uncomfortable talking to guys. Hell, I even make my MC’s pretty and skinny so that I can live vicariously through them. What the hell is wrong with me?
Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Read for the first time. Started and Finished 9/6/10. Great book. What a character. I mean the whole book was Holly Golightly, and it was just entrancing. Everything Capote wrote about Holly brought her to life. I could see her, hear her. Amazing.
If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now: Read for the first time. Started and finished 10/3/10. Claire LaZebnik knocked it out of the park again. I have to say I’m wildly thrilled that my random bookstore adventure one day led me to her books and blog. Her MCs always seem to be in a place that makes sense to me personally- I can really relate. In this case, Rickie is a single 25 year-old woman living at home with mom and dad and wondering when her life is going to change. Can I just say, um, hello! Me too! Of course, Rickie has the added responsibility of a 6 year-old son and feelings for said son’s PE Coach whereas I have a bag of Doritos and good ole Ben & Jerry (they never let me down), but I still got her frustration with her mother and trying to figure out exactly what she’s supposed to do to change her life when she feels stuck in the situation she’s in. Of course, I cried at the end. Because I don’t really consider a book good unless it makes me cry.