Monthly Archives: November 2012

Book Club Picks The Middlesteins

The MiddlesteinsI have to say I’m quite excited about the next book club book. Alli and Dani are hosting and they have chosen The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg. If you’ve been reading the blog, you’ll note that it wasn’t too long ago that I declared The Middlesteins had cut the line to be on the top of my to-be-read list.

The funny thing is, since it is the next book club pick, I’ve actually moved The Middlesteins down on my TBR list. That’s because we’re not meeting to discuss the book until January and I want the material to be fresher in my mind. This is why I let The Secret History worm it’s way into my reading hands first.

I do think The Middlesteins will make for some great December reading. Nothing makes you feel better about overeating at the holidays like reading about a person who is really overeating. Plus, you know, I think it will be a really good book. Here’s hoping I’m not disappointed!


What I’m Reading: The Secret History

The Secret HistoryBefore I get to Miles from Nowhere from my mom’s list, I’m reading a book just for fun. When it came time to pick what book that would be, I checked out my TBR list. Everything sounded interesting. So I went to the bookshelf. Literally. I walked over to my bookcase and searched through the books I owned that I haven’t read yet. And that brought me to The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

I don’t remember how The Secret History came into my possession. It’s possible I bought it. But it could just as well have been a gift at some point. Either way, I’ve been meaning to read it for a while. A friend’s book club read it and she said it elicited a lot of conversation.

So far I’ve found it a little slow, which is not a good sign considering it is more than 500 pages, but I’ve still just barely dipped into it. I have a long way to go and I’m looking forward to it!

The Baby-sitters Club Goes Digital

The Baby-sitters ClubNow that Thanksgiving is over, Black Friday has passed, Cyber Monday just concluded and Totally-Out-Of-Money Tuesday is upon us, I figure you are all in need of gift ideas for the loved ones in your life. Might I suggest The Baby-sitters Club? Galleycat recently reported that Scholastic is finally releasing the books digitally and the first 20 of the series will be available as books on December 1.

I have always been a big reader and one of the series I loved as a kid was The Baby-sitters Club. Sadly now I hardly remember the characters let alone the plots. I do, however, remember being inspired to start a babysitter club with my friends. We held meetings and elected officers and paid dues. What we did not do was babysit. Turns out we were still too young for that part.

Anyway, I have nothing but fond memories of the series. So when you’re looking for an idea for the young girl in your life (or older girl with a nostalgic streak) perhaps check out the works of Ann M. Martin. But none for me please. I’m pretty sure I’ve read them all.

An Early Happy Thanksgiving

Turkey turkeyI’m going to say my Happy Thanksgivings now because things are about to get busy! The Edelsons are invading New York today and there will be plenty of fun things to do the next few days.

For one thing, Andrew and I will be hosting our first Thanksgiving! Our tiny apartment will be full of family and food. Yes, this is a big undertaking. Yes, Andrew and I have an intense spreadsheet planning it all out. I’m excited. Our apple pie is already made. Chocolate peanut butter squares too. We’re ready.

The rest of the weekend will involve lots of eating, some Brooklyning, and perhaps a show. It will likely involve very little reading. And thus I’m signing off for the weekend now. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. Talk to you all next week!

Next Up: Miles From Nowhere

Miles from NowhereIt’s the final countdown! I only have three, count ’em three, books left on my mom’s list. Crazy!

For my third to last book, I will be reading Mile from Nowhere by Nami Mun.

Here’s the description:

Teenage Joon is a Korean immigrant living in the Bronx of the 1980s. Her parents have crumbled under the weight of her father’s infidelity; he has left the family, and mental illness has rendered her mother nearly catatonic. So Joon, at the age of thirteen, decides she would be better off on her own, a choice that commences a harrowing and often tragic journey that exposes the painful difficulties of a life lived on the margins. Joon’s adolescent years take her from a homeless shelter to an escort club, through struggles with addiction, to jobs selling newspapers and cosmetics, committing petty crimes, and finally toward something resembling hope.

It sounds like it will be an emotional read, but I also think (hope?) it will be rewarding as well. Amazon did name it a Best Book of January 2009 so that’s encourage.

Three, two, one… let’s go!

A Review of America America

America AmericaLast week I finished Ethan Canin’s America America and I was pleasantly surprised. It isn’t my favorite book from the list, but I liked it.

One of the biggest strengths and biggest weaknesses of the novel is the main character  and narrator Corey Sifter. He is the son of a plumber and very much working class when he is offered a job on the Materey estate, the home of the richest and most powerful family in town. Corey recalls the events of Henry Bonwiller’s presidential campaign looking back from his own middle age and from his position as publisher of a local newspaper.

I expected Corey to be corrupted by the wealth he finds himself surrounded by. However, he manages to stay apart from it all to a degree. He is quiet, hardworking, and a good observer. I found him likeable to a point. The problem is that he is too quiet, hardworking, and observant. I wished for a little more feeling from him, more emotion, more passion.

In addition, the story is flawed because it is told from Corey’s perspective and decades later he still doesn’t have a definitive answer to some of the book’s big questions. Yet that also works to make it interesting. Not everything is spelled out and while I could have used a little more explanation, I liked that there were hints and clues but no firm conclusions. Sometimes there are things we’ll just never know for sure.

America America was by no means a fast read. It took it’s time painting the picture and mulling over the issues. It could have been said faster and tighter, but I suppose the journey was part of the experience.

Tell The Wolves I’m Home Book Club

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeEarlier this week book club met to discuss Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Carley and I hosted and we struggled with the decision of what to make. AIDS just doesn’t really lend itself to a food theme. Instead we decided to go with brunch for dinner because brunch is a New York thing and the book takes place in New York. It’s a bit of a stretch, but it worked. We had an egg strata, a make-your-own yogurt parfait, and pumpkin muffins. Then we finished with cookies with red sprinkles for AIDS awareness.

In addition to eating, we actually talked about the book. Slightly more people seemed to have read so there was a reason to discuss. Even people who didn’t read wanted to discuss (for better or worse). Many of our questions revolved around June’s relationship with her uncle. Her unusual love made us uncomfortable and we thought detracted from the book. But it was a minor quibble considering overall most of us seemed to like the novel. It was interesting to think about the issues from the perspective of the 1980s, which is when it took place, and how things might be different today. We also talked about how the book seemed like it would be a lot about AIDS, but the disease was really only one facet and other issues like jealousy and identity played even bigger roles.

All in all, this book club was a good one. There was book talk and fun talk and cookies.