A Book a Week – Always Looking Up

Always Looking Up was another book I listened to while walking. This was another book I’ve had for a long time and I never read his first book. I know very little about Michael J Fox and I am not the biggest fan or anything, though I did enjoy most of his movies.

Which, of course, had nothing to do with this book.

I really enjoyed listening to this book. I liked the light way he wrote about heavy subjects. I liked getting a bit more insight into Parkinsons and it was a fun listen while I walked. All in all, not bad.

A Book a Week – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I must admit that I avoided reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for a good many years. And I would have kept on avoiding it if it weren’t for my walking every day in October.

My walking was unplanned and so I needed an audiobook asap to keep me occupied. The only one I had on hand was this one. So I listened to it every day while I walked.

All in all, I knew most of the points he made but there were some great reminders about putting the important over the urgent and listening openly. And being active as opposed to reactive. Planning ahead. Most of which I do regularly. But things you can never be reminded enough.

So while I don’t regret the time I spent on it, I am glad it was whilst walking.

A Book a Week – Ella Minnow Pea

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters was recommended to me by my friend Kathy. I generally trust her taste in books and the premise of this one seemed wonderful. Here’s the description from amazon:

Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.

And while the premise was cute, the book was so-so. I felt like it never really went beyond the premise and I just didn’t care for it even though I cannot exactly put my finger on exactly why. Now you know why I don’t write longer book reviews. I am clearly not good at them.

A Book a Week – The Pillars of the Earth

A few months ago, I was in my friend Kathy’s house and my other friend Nicholas told me to read The Pillars of the Earth, giving me a copy of her book. It was huge and in tiny tiny text. I mean 979-pages long.

So I took the book but then put off reading it for weeks, actually possibly for months. On another book club meeting, they asked me if I’d read it already (they wanted to have all of us sit and watch the miniseries) I told them it was soooo long. And that I would likely only read it if it were chosen for book club.

And so it was.

And, of course, being a good student, I began to read it that night. And for the next week, I basically was out of commission. I read and read and read. I kept thinking, this book is so long, I might never finish.

But of course I did finish. And when I did, all I could think of was: I’m so sad it’s finished.

It was an awesome tale told beautifully. My only complaint was that at times the author kept summarizing what happened as if I hadn’t been reading all along. Which was odd. But other than those little passages, I loved this book. It was full of interesting characters. The story moved at an excellent pace and you were so caught up in it, it was impossible not to wonder what came next. Each character was interesting and worthy in his/her own right.

Well, well worth the read.

A Book a Week – Hunger Games

My friends Kathy and Nicholas have been trying to get me to read Hunger Games for several weeks/months now. I knew it would be a super-quick read so I purposefully left it for a time when I felt like I was in need of a good story. But once I finished months of book club reads, I decided it was time to reward myself.

And I was rewarded. I read the whole book in about 10 hours. While I didn’t think it was nearly as good as Twilight (I was told it would be similarly fun read) I did really enjoy it and I’m saving book two and three for when I am in a slump (or just can’t resist reading them.)

A Book a Week – A Reliable Wife

I read A Reliable Wife for my book club. It had been on my list at some point and I just couldn’t decide if it would be too boring a read. So when my book club picked it, I decided it was synchronicity and I sat to read it.

I read the whole thing in 24 hours. It was a super-fast read and an interesting one but I cannot say it was an amazing book. There’s one twist in the middle and I could totally guess it. Overall it was an ok read. A bit too much empty romance for my taste but I am not sad I read it.

A Book a Week – Backyard Saints

I read the Backyard Saints between long novels when I thought I needed some down time. I have mixed feelings about the book but I think, over all, it’s not a favorite. Not that there’s anything wrong with it but the author’s voice didn’t really speak to me and I feel like the time spent reading that book could have been better spent elsewhere.

I also think i need to work on my review-writing skills. Just feel like that time is better spent reading 🙂

A Book a Week – The Cookbook Collector

And another book club pick was The Cookbook Collector. I wanted to read this one so I was excited it got picked.

Even though I think the name was terrible and misleading, I loved this book. I loved the writing, the characters, even the plots. I am not sure exactly what spoke to me. Maybe that it was so contemporary. It took place mostly here where I live. And in the tech industry which I am in. Who knows what it was, all I know is that I really, throughly enjoyed it.

I’ve never read this author before but if all her books are like this, I will be reading more of her.

A Book a Week – Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs was another book club pick. An old book but a Pulitzer Winner. So I had expectations. And the reviews said it was awesome and hilarious. So I had even more expectations.

In the end, I think it was so-so. I didn’t feel strong connection or empathy to either character. On the contrary, I felt like Vinnie was being a stuck up, stubborn, annoying person the whole time. And if I can’t stand a character, I can hardly read the book. I made my way through this one but I am not sure what I thought of it. It wasn’t terrible but it certainly was not hilarious.

At least not for my sense of humor.

A Book a Week – She’s Not There

When my book club originally sent the list of books to vote on, I remember seeing She’s Not There on the list and not being interested at all. Transgender issues are of no interest to me one way or another and I wasn’t sure if it would be good. But the book got picked and so I read it.

And I was so wrong.

The book is fantastic. Well written, interesting, deep, thought-provoking, funny, and a really really good read. I truly enjoyed every moment of it and recommend it.

A Book a Week – Of Human Bondage

When I was in high school, three of us did a report on Somerset Maugham. At the time, I read The Moon and Sixpence by him and loved it. Since that I hadn’t read anything else by him so when my book club picked Of Human Bondage, I was excited to read it.

As it turned out, I didn’t really enjoy this very long and very slow book nearly as much. There were several interesting bits and some good characters. But overall, I didn’t care for the main character which often ruins the book for me right there. And then to have it go on and on and on with more characters that were just as unappealing was just more depressing.

So if you’re thinking of reading Maugham, I recommend The Moon and Sixpence. A much better read.

A Book a Week – The Phantom Tollbooth

I first read the The Phantom Tollbooth when I lived in New York. My friend Zev had told me it’s his favorite book of all time. And he doesn’t read fiction. So I checked it out and I remember loving it.

So when my kids’ book club picked it, I was overjoyed to get to read it again. This time, I read it out loud to David. Who savored and loved every single moment of it, just like me. If you haven’t read this book, I recommend you drop everything else and read it now.

It’s that good.