Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reading! But Not as Much as Usual

I was reading a lot there for a while but then I got busy with Easter, Passover, out of town guests which have still not stopped (two sets of friends coming this weekend!) and home construction. I've still been reading, but nothing that has blown the top of my head off as much as Haven Kimmel and I fear I'm ruined forever now.

After A Girl Named Zippy, I had this amazing feeling of joy that when the book ended, it didn't really end because there was a sequel!!!!! She Got Up Off the Couch was just as good, if not better, than Zippy. I tried to read it slowly to drag it out because I knew once I finished that it was all over for me. No more Haven Kimmel memoirs left and since finishing it, I've gone back and forth trying to decide which book I liked better. I can't decide. The sequel is darker in some ways, but so poignantly written and I tend to like darker stuff. I can't say which is better. They are both stunning. Read these books at once.

After finishing those two, everything else has paled in comparison. It's almost like the feeling you get when you go to bed on Christmas night knowing there's nothing left to look forward to anymore. It's all over.

I searched around on Amazon looking and looking for a book that might bring me as much joy.

First I read Wade Rouse's Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler. It's a memoir of his time working for the very rich, entitled and idiotic and it definitely hit home for me, having worked for the same types myself for many years. If you liked my old blog from when I worked at the country club, you will really enjoy this book. For me, it caused post traumatic stress disorder flashbacks where I began to hallucinate Lilly Pulitzer prints.

Then I read Heather Armstrong's memoir of postpartum depression It Sucked and Then I Cried. I know, I know. I'm not a Dooce hater. I'm more of a Dooce indifferent-er. I am generally not a fan of her writing style on her blog and I wanted to read her book because of my own similar (though way way milder) experiences and because I wanted to see if I could understand her success better. The writing in the book is a bit different than in the blog and better than I expected, but her writing voice gives me an anxiety attack. There's exaggeration for exaggerations sake and then that's exaggerated some more. That's her brand and she's made millions from it. I also realized some of the key to her success, besides showing thousands of women that they aren't alone, is that she makes us see that it's possible to be a hipster and a mommy at the same time and that mommies don't have to be jumper wearing, smug frumps. Still, I didn't love the book. I didn't hate it either and there were many parts I could really relate to - probably more than I'd care to admit. Yes, I'm jealous of Heather Armstrong. She's met Gwyneth Paltrow AND Arcade Fire, takes anti-depressants and stays skinny, made millions from blogging about not much of anything and actually enjoys spin classes. I don't think she's a bad mother and I don't begrudge her success, but I just felt kind of ehn and ambivalent about her book and I attribute that entirely to that hyperbolic writing voice that honestly made me nervous and on edge as I read each page. I see why people like her, but I think I'm a little more of a book snob and having read Haven Kimmel and Mary Karr's memoirs, this isn't in the same league, but you know, it isn't supposed to be.

The other day I saw the author of a book about hoarding on The Today Show and as I seem to be on some kind of hoarding kick, I bought the book before the segment was even over. Gotta love the Kindle for that kind of instant gratification. The book is called Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Gail Steketee and Randy Frost. It's a non-fiction book, but not a memoir and it's incredibly fascinating to me. I think I really need to figure out why I'm so obsessed with hoarding and why I feel compelled to watch it on TV and read books about it. One good side effect is that reading just the first chapter of this book caused me to do a massive closet purge and enact some serious austerity measures regarding my own acquisition of crap. I can't put this book down, which is rare for me in a non-narrative book. It's just so damned interesting and well written and holds my attention. If you read and liked Dirty Secret or if you like the hoarding shows on TV, follow up with this read. It's really good.


I'm not sure what I want to read next, but I've taken to downloading tons of free samples onto my Kindle and entertaining myself reading them before I buy the actual books. I have quite a number to go through before I decide, but I'm thinking I want a fun summer read, so I may go young adult and just read The Hunger Games already. I've been talking about it for a year now. Any ideas for summer reading?

18 comments:

Head Ant said...

I was thinking of reading the Armstrong book before I read Two Kisses for Maddy by Matt Logelin. I think made the right choice.

I am going to start Huck by Janet Elder soon. I am a non-fiction craze right now; but I might eventually go back to fiction.

dcd314 said...

A good summer read would be A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff!

LB said...

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy AND Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett. You must read both.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, then you must read the sequal, Children of God, because even though the first book is perfect and complete, everything you think you know is wrong.

Erica said...

The Hunger Games are good, quick reads - definitely great light summer reading, though the third book is really dark. I actually just decided to re-read them over the past few days, in light of all the casting news for the first movie coming out - actually kind of sad they're making this one into movies. I think it took me two solid evenings of reading to finish all three.

I totally echo LB with The Sparrow, it's a personal favorite of mine. It sounds so bizarre on paper (Jesuits in space!!) but it is really wonderful. I did not like Children of God so much.

For light summer reading I'd also recommend anything by Christopher Moore - Lamb is my favorite - though if you've read one of his books, you've kind of read them all.

Anonymous said...

Dear W.l.,
I recommend "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole. It is a seriously great novel. Although a work of fiction, it has shades of being an autobiography. You must read it.
Best Wishes,
Lil Skraps

Jean_Phx said...

Erica, I agree with you on reading one you've read them all by Christopher Moore. But, Lamb, is in my top twenty of all time - great summer read.

RP said...

I'm on a YA kick too: finished the Hunger Games trilogy last week, and just finished the Annals of the Western Shore trilogy by Ursula Le Guin. I liked them both, and neither trilogy seemed too juvenile to this middle-aged reader. Everything by Le Guin is great: have you read Lavinia?

JoeinVegas said...

I sucked into the book pile at Costco and started The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and it's really pretty well written. My only problem is keeping track of those Swedish names.

Jan said...

Read The Hunger Games. You won't be disappointed. I wasn't completely happy with the third book, but the first two are great.

Dawn said...

The last book I really got lost in was Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. People either loved it or hated it. I thought it was perfect, and Franzen is a genius.

Currently reading Anna Karenina (free on Kindle!) and loving it, but it is taking me a while since I don't pick it up for weeks at a time.

One book you absolutely MUST NOT read is Anna Quindlen's Every Last One. I love AQ and I'm a huge fan, but this book? No.

You will probably enjoy The Hunger Games trilogy.

onemeanmfa said...

Read the Hunger Games Trilogy. You will finish the entire series in less than 24 hrs (I did and it was the end of the semester and I had grades and papers to take care of). It's a great trilogy to jumpstart summer reading,

MamaD4 said...

Long time Dooce reader here...but I hated her book. It was just a regurgitation of her blog. Maybe I should have known that was the way it would be, but I just felt taken advantage of! If I would have known this, I would not have given Heather $14 of my hard-earned dollars. I dumped it at the library about 13 minutes after I stopped reading. Grrrr!

MamaD4 said...

Have you read "Half Broke Horses" and "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls? Interesting memoirs--her crazy childhood may interest you!

Sharon said...

Definitely agree with MamaD4- The Glass Castle was awesome. I didn't like Half Broke Horses as much, but it was still worth reading.

Anonymous said...

I am curious. Do you think you will put Baby Lawns in a magnet program or private school or let her go to public school? I also heard that Florida wants to pass a law to get rid of textbooks all together. :( And the FCATS are a bloody nightmare. But I heard that the homeschool program is stellar, complete with a lego math program. and they are allowed to read whatever they want instead of having to stick to their reading level as mandated by their school. so we want to know what mommy lawns thnks of this?

Anonymous said...

I second that opinion on reading lucy grealy's autobiography of a face. you must read it, victoria. it is so so good.

Sunny said...

JoeinVegas said...
I sucked into the book pile at Costco and started The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and it's really pretty well written. My only problem is keeping track of those Swedish names.

--I though they drank an awful lot of coffee and ate way to many sandwiches. Great series, tho I don't want to watch the American re-make of the movies, it'll take all the Swedishness out of it.

--back to reading recommendations, I finished the Haven Kimmel books, great reads! Recommend Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin. Started at 6:30 pm and finished at 1:00 am in one go. Yes, the story was THAT good.

Sinclair said...

I just finished "Cutting for Stone" and absolutely loved it.

Started "The Thunderbolt Kid" and returned it to the library unfinished, too bad in my opinion.

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