An early Friday Faves + some history

It’s been a while, and I’ve missed giving my opinion to the masses maybe three people who read my posts? Two? It could be more, but I’m convinced my WordPress analytic is broken and giving me very low reads, depriving me of knowing my true fan count.

Ha.

This week I did a every bad thing. This bad thing was going to the library, which triggered the gaping hole in my psyche that convinces me to read at the expense of absolutely everything else in my life. I’m not lying when I say that I may be addicted to reading, and I won’t lie and say that I don’t have a problem with consuming books. I’ve been a voracious reader ever since I had the ability to put letters together to make words and as far back as I can remember, it’s been a torturous existence.

Reading takes over my free time and my non-free time. Throughout middle school and high school I developed weird reading habits at home, like reading in the closet or extended bathroom trips where my activity was to read. If I heard my mom or dad coming up the stairs or any movement headed toward my direction, I would make sure to hide whatever book I was reading and pretend to do homework. I was actually a super-dweeb.

Once my mom got so mad on seeing I was reading that she actually ripped whatever book that was (just kidding, I totally remember what it was. That event has been seared into my brain tissue) in half.

In half.

She was that mad.

She would actually complain to my teachers that I would read too much, although their reactions weren’t quite what she hoped.

FullSizeRender
Oops!

But throughout college, where I had less free time – actually more, but not enough time to devote to mindless, debilitating reading – somehow it didn’t even crack the top five things to do. Which is literally unimaginable for me, considering I went to the library the other day on a whim and took out three books, because why not? It could be the post-grad blues plus the abundance of time in my evenings, or it could be that I can’t help myself. In the past week I’ve gone back to the library multiple times and taken out some more books.
I. Can’t. Stop. Even now, just thinking about it, I want to head back and look through the stacks.

Long story short: I visited the library this week and checked out these three gems.

california
source: edanlepucki.com

California by Edan Lepucki

This dystopian, futuristic (not in the traditional robot way), post-apocalyptic novel was gripping. I literally couldn’t put it down and carried it with me all day until I finished it. I read snippets of it wherever I could, from the hospital waiting room, to the
train station, to late at night when I read the last, goosebumps inducing sentence. The buildup was perfect, but I could have more of the end, since it felt a bit rushed. I give it 3.5 shivers out of 5.

Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke my Heart by William Alexander

flirting with french
source: amazon books, unfortunately

I love anything French, so the punchy cover page immediately drew me in, but the book consistently held my interest. Alexander writes so honestly about the struggles of learning a language past the “accepted” age that I desperately needed to know if he was successful in his endeavor. He cites real research throughout the chapters which mixed up the narrative in a great way. Like a good salmon, not too dry and not too juicy, this was a great memoir on learning a language and keeping your mind young. Four ouais out of cinq.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

ABG
source: amazon.com, unfortunately

Stop the presses. I was laughing out loud (literally lol-ing) at  every chapter. Rae writes so well about her life, family, memories from her childhood that continue to haunt her, that I felt every wince, grimace, and post-traumatic embarrassment with her. She struck so many chords with me that I couldn’t help stop the embarrassing moments  from cropping up into my mind. Thanks a lot Jo-Issa! No, seriously, thanks for writing such a great collection of memories from your life so far. Four facepalms out of five.

The takeaway: go to the library! You enrich your life and you keep a venerable institution going for as long as we, as a functioning society, can!

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World Book Day

It’s World Book Day, so I’m going to celebrate by putting forth a list of five books I think are great reads. Enjoy!

1. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

I cannot over-recommend this book. Helen Fielding gives Bridget such a spectacular, unique voice. I don’t usually laugh out loud at books, but this is one of the few, true gems of comedic fare. Characters are all absolutely A+, all totally wacky and normal at the same time. Bridget herself is so dysfunctional in her musings, ramblings, worries and hopes that she ends up just being very, very real. Which is, after all, the books biggest asset.

2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This lady is absolutely excellent at creating a world where the familiar rules of society as we know it fade. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood shows the reader a glimpse into the life of a woman whose past we never truly know, living in a changed society that we don’t learn the secrets of, in a world where something has happened that is never revealed to its fullest extent. Thrilling, unsettling and thought provoking.

3. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Honestly, anything by David Sedaris is lovely. And I’m not being facetious. He is always funny. Sometimes his essays are emotional, sometimes they are silly and sometimes they are very intelligent, but there is always the perfect amount of humor to tie the stories together. He is a genius, and I accept no other descriptor.

4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Coolest, saddest book ever. Ishiguro works magic with his words. Stunning to the very end.

5. Candide by Voltaire

Great for some 18th century French fun. Plenty of versions in English so everybody can join in on the party. Fortunately -or rather, unfortunately – many of the satirized subjects are still around, so you’ll still understand each little zinger you laugh at.

Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace

They say to not judge a book by its cover, but in this case that is exactly what I did. Actually, that’s what I do most of the time, so you could say I’m a bit superficial though I’d rather not be called that.

The cover I based all my judgements from.

I picked up “Charlotte Street” by Danny Wallace because I saw the Union Jack somewhere on the cover. As a self-proclaimed Anglophile (and Francophile)I can’t help but be drawn to the British flag. It is so perfect and symmetrical and looks good on anything from Mini Coopers to duvet covers -which I am not ashamed to say I have recently ordered and is on its way to my house as you read – and the tiny spot of Union Jack on the street sign was enough to make me think this book was going to be great.

Danny Wallace is a funny man. I say this because my Google search of his works keeps throwing the word “humorist” at me and we know from that car insurance commercial that everything on the internet is true. I also say this because I did honestly laugh out loud – I lol’d- and unless the book is one of the Georgia Nicholson books or written by Bill Bryson, I do not laugh a squeak. I do not even giggle. But Wallace crafted his characters which such realistic human flaws that it was easy to imagine you were reading about a friend of yours.

Jason Priestly -not the actual famous one- is that friend who doesn’t quite have it all together. But then you remember, who really has it all together anyways? He’s a somewhat recently single and broken man who seems to have given up a little, in the way that people find themselves in a rut and just can’t get out of. And a few months go by. And a few more and then they are nicely settled in that rut. Wallace creates a character so realistically flawed it’s almost like looking into a mirror. His relationships, both the fleeting and the long-lasting, are fraught with the regular mishaps and cracks that afflict relationships in real life.

Though set in London, the often romanticized city is not thrown into the reader’s face. I like treating marvelous cities like they are Cleveland. It’s how people view the cities they live in, just as how I would see Boston (Boston being the city that I am most familiar and comfortable with).

The writing was simple, with no complicated forms or artistic flourishes, making it a nice summer read.

This is a novel is about finding happiness within yourself first, then finding what is important to your life and then finally doing something about it. In “Charlotte Street” the premise is that Jason is in possession of these photos belonging to an unidentified woman that has grabbed his attention. Though it seems he is infatuated with the idea of her, his search for her through her photos takes him on a journey where the destination no longer leads to the mystery girl.

I fully recommend this to anyone who likes a light, summery novel that, while romantic, focuses not on the romance but on the self.