Thursday, January 31, 2013

Versailles: Biography of a Palace by Tony Spawforth

The title of this book is pretty self-explanatory: it's a non-fiction book that details the history of Versailles (while it was still functioning as a palace--I don't think its more recent history is quite as fascinating): how it was built and constantly rebuilt, the people who lived there and how they lived, etc.

Ever since I visited Versailles in 2009, I've been interested to learn more about it and the "Louis's" who built it and lived there. (It's taken me far too long to actually pick up a book about it...) This book did a great job telling the story not just of the building itself, but also of the royalty and the court and some of the crazy social customs. It seems it would have been impossible to memorize which tiny gesture means what, but it could mean life or death (socially, that is).

Like so many, I got sucked into the intrigue and mystery involved in the life of Marie Antoinette. The book was constantly referring to her love of informality and how she completely got rid of such customs as constantly trailing a retinue of servants. I can't say I blame her; being queen must have been so difficult and complicated, and maybe even empty. I'm still not sure where her "Let them eat cake"-esque reputation came from; the book didn't mention it, unfortunately. Although she was extravagant in some ways, it didn't amount to a fraction of the extravagance of the Louis's XIV, XV, and XVI. Like I said, she actually toned down some of the ridiculously formal customs of the court.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Life in France by Julia Child

I finished this book last week for the Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon, and it was such a fun read! I recently read Julie & Julia, and it left me very interested to learn more about Julia Child's life. She didn't disappoint in this fast-paced, fun-loving memoir.

In My Life in France, Julia Child details her years in France and her attempts to learn to cook, perfect her cooking, teach cooking, write a cookbook, and finally appear on American television.

I loved that this book had plenty about France itself (well, mainly the cuisine) to satisfy us travel junkies. However, the book was mostly about Child's experiences finding her passion, learning classic French cooking, and sharing it with the world. What I loved most about the book, actually, was Child's thirst for life and intense drive to fulfill her dreams. Julia Child never told herself she couldn't do it because she was too old or too young or too American or because she couldn't live in France all the time. She never let up and she just kept fighting, even when it seemed likely that no one would ever want to publish her book. (I bet the publisher that rejected her is still kicking themselves.)

Despite her many obstacles, Julia Child did it, and that's what I loved most about this book.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Modern March

Guys! I'm very excited to tell you about a marvelous event that is happening in March!

Allie at A Literary Odyssey is hosting "A Modern March" event:

Fantastic button, eh?
In other words, throughout the month of March, I'll be focusing on Modernist literature. That's Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce...etc.

So I decided to jump on it right away, because a) ever since I learned to really enjoy Modern lit last year I've been a lot more interested to read more, b) learning to really enjoy Modern lit last year made me realize what a deficiency I have in that period, and c) I've been reading 19th-century stuff and will continue to be reading it for Celebrating Dickens in February so I'll probably be very ready to move to something different in March.

I've also been thinking that I need to revise my Classics Club list to include more Modern literature. It's chock-full of 19th-century books and even contemporary fiction (mainly the ones I know everyone reads in high school and I feel obligated to read at some point even though I know nothing about them) and practically skips over Modern lit. So over the next month, I'll be revising it to include some of the books I want to read for this event.

See you in March!

Books Read:
A Room With a View by E. M. Forster
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jane Austen Novels vs. Jane Austen's Life

As many of you know, today is the 200th birthday of Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice! And since I only just finished Northanger Abbey, I've had Austen on my mind. So in honor of the day, I'll share with you a question I've been pondering:

Should Jane Austen readers know about Jane Austen's life? 

Of course, "should" is a term I use loosely. I don't mean to say that readers have an obligation to learn about an author's life. No, what I'm wondering is this: Does knowing about Austen's life enrich the reading of her books?

You could probably ask that about any author, but I personally think that Jane Austen is a bit of a special case. For one thing, there's a lot we don't know about her, since her sister Cassandra burned most of her letters after her death. For another, Austen didn't write about crazy adventures; the lifestyle her characters enjoy seems to be closely related to the lifestyle she probably had.

And for yet another thing, Austen has this very knowing voice in all her novels. You get the feeling, when you're reading her books, that she knows something you don't, and that she may or may not be laughing at you whenever your back is turned. As much as many of the males in my life (and probably more than a few females, too) like to assume that Austen was this very prim, proper sort of person, I don't get that idea from her novels at all. Actually, that's exactly the sort of person that Austen constantly makes fun of--people obsessed with what's "proper."

But anyway, there's this feeling with some of the characters, especially characters like the Dashwood sisters in Sense and Sensibility and Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, that's very uniquely personal, where the author seems to have a lot of sympathy for them, and it's easy to wonder whether Elizabeth or Elinor is a mirror image of Austen herself.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon: Day 7

Sunday, Jan. 27th
# of pages read: 46
Books read:
Northanger Abbey
Books finished: 3
Total # of pages read: 395

6:00 pm: Well, I am soon to be finishing up this read-a-thon, and I am happy to say that I just finished Northanger Abbey! Finishing it was much more of a breeze than I expected, and the ending was delightfully sarcastic. Definitely the most sarcastic book I have ever read by Austen, and it's one of my new favorites of hers. 

All I have left to do is start Ivanhoe (I may or may not have already picked it up and distractedly read the first few pages, but I think I'd better re-read that part) in order to finish all my reading goals! Unfortunately, I didn't manage to complete my non-book goals, but hey, the read-a-thon is about reading, right? I think I'll read a good 5 pages of Ivanhoe so I can get to a full 400 pages read! 

I'm looking forward to reviewing My Life in France, Versailles: Biography of a Palace, and Northanger Abbey. All were great reads. Even though I wasn't exactly a reading machine this week, I surprised myself with how well I bounced back from it and finished three books (reading one in its entirety). I hope you had as much fun as I did this week! 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon: Day 6

Saturday, Jan. 26
# of pages read: 36
Books read:
Versailles: Biography of a Palace
Books finished: 2
Total # of pages read: 349

9:43 pm: Well, today was a fail as a reading day, and yesterday was an epic fail of a reading day (hence, no update). My only excuse is that it's my birthday today and I just got a new job, so I've been running around buying necessary things and celebrating in my own little way (very few gifts but lots of time with family and friends). I brought my book to the DMV yesterday, but I actually had to wait hardly any time at all. So yay for that, but that meant not more than a page was read! (And they were playing the radio, which made it more difficult to read. Radio, in the DMV? Who's ever heard of such a thing? I guess they're not robots after all.) 

Anyway, I got to finish Versailles this evening, though! It was great to have it finished. That's one more book to check off on my Books on France and Nerdy Non-Fiction challenges. It was a very interesting book, but really left me with more questions than answers. (But maybe that's what a good book does...) Anyway, a review of it will follow pretty soon, once the read-a-thon is over. 

Now I just have Northanger Abbey to finish, and I'm still hoping I can tomorrow! I'll at least be able to get some good progress on it, since my husband is working and I'll have several hours to myself. 

But even though I haven't been reading, I've been doing bookish things. I saw Les Miserables last night (aaah, so good!) and I'm currently watching the 2008 BBC Sense and Sensibility. Two fantastic books and two fantastic movies! 

Well, see you tomorrow, when hopefully more reading will be done! Good luck to the other participants as you finish up your goals! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon: Day 4

Thursday, Jan. 24
# of pages read: 132
Books read:
Versailles: Biography of a Palace
Northanger Abbey
Books finished: 1
Total # of pages read: 313

11:00 am: I had to go to the Social Security office this morning, and I was totally going to bring Versailles to read while I was waiting, and then I forgot it. (No lie. I also forgot my phone. I don't know where my brain is today.) So, unfortunately, I haven't read a page yet today, but I'm about to! I'm planning to get quite a bit more reading done today than I did yesterday, and it's actually starting to look feasible. See you soon!

4:17 pm: Despite having another appointment I had to keep (aka not laziness), I got in 71 pages of reading. And now that I'm free for the rest of the evening (not to mention completely alone, since my husband is working), I can read more and finally cross that 100-pages-in-a-day bridge. (I really thought I would have done that by now, but this week has turned out to be much busier than I expected!) If I can stay focused, I would love to finish Versailles tonight so I can focus on Northanger Abbey for the rest of the weekend. I made a pretty lofty goal to finish both of them and start on Ivanhoe before the week is out. I'm willing to give myself a break due to unforeseen circumstances that occurred this week, but I would like to at least come close to my goal!

8:10 pm: Crossed the 100-pages/day mark without a hitch in the past few hours! I do feel like I'm taking too much time per page looking at how long I took (three hours and only about 60 pages?) but like I mentioned before, the text in my edition of Northanger Abbey is very dense, so I'm allowing myself that. I'm getting to the good part (well, it's been pretty good so far, actually) of NA--Catherine just got invited to Northanger Abbey with the Tilneys! It's fun not to know beforehand what's going to happen. (Well, okay, I have an inkling, from things I've heard--but no more than that.)

I know I haven't said much about it thus far, but Versailles is actually a fascinating read as well. I'm finding myself completely drawn to the story of Marie Antoinette. This is probably no surprise to most of you, since everyone is fascinated by Marie Antoinette, but I confess I had sort of subconsciously commanded myself to find some other historical figure to be interested in, since Marie Antoinette already gets so much attention. Well, now I understand why all the attention, but I'm not as interested in her supposed "extravagance" (not nearly as much as the Louis's XIV, XV, and XVI!) as I am in other aspects of her life. But I'll save more on that for a review. Needless to say, I've been having a lot of fun with the books I've been reading!

Oh, but one more note: I actually decided to hold off on finishing Versailles tonight, even though I could very easily, because I have a lovely trip to the DMV planned for tomorrow (lucky me, getting all these field trips to government offices!) and I want something to read while I wait. (The Jane Austen collection is far too heavy--and precious, I might add--to be lugging all over town.) 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon: Day 3

Wednesday, Jan. 23
# of pages read: 18
Books read:
Versailles: Biography of a Palace
Northanger Abbey
Books finished: 1
Total # of pages read: 181

7:21 pm: It's simply terrible, but I have read a grand total of....3 pages today. So little reading is almost shocking, but I've been spending the day doing things I really needed to do and so reading got unfortunately shunted aside. 

And even now that I have time to read, my reading for the rest of the night will probably suffer because I've been alone in the house for several hours and I'm starting to feel very gloomy just sitting here silently! The 3 pages I have read haven't boosted my spirits much. Well, I'll probably give Northanger Abbey a go, and if I need a quicker pick-me-up I'll probably end up making brownies from a box and watching a movie. (Oh, the horror!) Hopefully I'll be able to do just a tad better tomorrow! (Maybe while the sun is still shining?)

9:42 pm: I actually got a little bit of reading done after my last update. I read 15 pages of Northanger Abbey and thoroughly enjoyed them before turning on a movie for some background noise. 

Now might be a good time to say that the version of Northanger Abbey I'm reading is actually part of a collection of Austen's novels, and the type is much smaller so it's only 122 pages (unlike the edition I have on my Goodreads shelf which has 251 pages). So I've actually read closer to an equivalent of 56 pages, rather than 28. Ha, ha. That may be a silly work of validation, but hey, I like giving myself credit, I guess...

So, I didn't get nearly as much reading done today as I had hoped, but I was able to get some work done on other things that needed to be done, so I'm happy for the little bit of progress that I did make in Northanger Abbey. Here's hoping tomorrow will be better for my reading! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon: Day 2

Tuesday, Jan. 22
# of pages read: 86
Books read: 
Julia Child's My Life in France
Northanger Abbey
Versailles: Biography of a Palace
October Sky
Books finished: 1
Total # of pages read: 178

11:04 am: No reading yet; I've spent my morning doing P90X (first time ever! It's hard!) and interviewing for a job! Since then I've been catching up on reading blogs. Just wanted to check in and let you know that I am finally going to pick up a book now. I think I'll join Julia Child in France and see if I can't finish that book in the next couple hours. :) Happy reading!

2:16 pm: Finished My Life in France and it was lovely! The book felt like a conversation with Julia, just her recalling her experiences in France, writing a cookbook, appearing on was all so much fun, and I have to say, I'll miss that book a little bit.

After finishing the last 50 or so pages of that, I read a couple more chapters of Northanger Abbey. Jane Austen is really so wonderfully clever in this novel. The last book I read by her was Persuasion, which was great but a little gloomy, so it's really fun to get back to the really biting, Emma-type prose that makes Austen so fantastic.

My favorite part of that reading was at the end of chapter 5, when Austen goes on a little rant about novels and how they don't get the credit they deserve. So much fun to hear her voice come through so strongly!

"'And what are you reading, Miss--?' 'Oh! It is only a novel!' replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. ...In short, it is only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language." 

Hah! And that's only part of a great, long paragraph about how under-rated the novel was. I wouldn't have wanted to be the poor fool who disagreed with her!

I'm thoroughly enjoying the read-a-thon, but I'm realizing that this may actually be the busiest week I've had since I've been married. Ha, ha! Well, maybe a read-a-thon is exactly what I need to keep me from getting lazy about my reading! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon: Day 1

Monday, Jan. 21
# of pages read: 92
Books read: 
October Sky
Versailles: Biography of a Palace
Julia Child's My Life in France
Northanger Abbey
Books finished: 0
Total # of pages read: 92

4:40 pm: Sooo, I've only read 30 pages so far. Reason being that I went out to the mall with my sister today and only just got back! However, I managed to get some reading done in the car, reading out loud to my husband. 

Doug and I have been reading October Sky together, which has been so much fun! He's not big on reading; in his words, he "can't sit still long enough" (but I think he just hasn't found the right books yet). As a very bookish person myself, it's hard for me to leave him alone and not nag him to "try this book and see if you like it." I've really enjoyed reading October Sky with him because it was one of his favorite books he read as a teenager (aka, he already likes it and isn't going to get bored). So I slyly got in a couple chapters on the drive. 

But now that we're home, I'm going to seriously get into the reading for this week. Still really excited!

7:42 pm: Doug graciously retreated into his own little world for a couple hours this evening so I could get about 60 more pages read. I finished a chapter each in Versailles and My Life in France before moving on to Northanger Abbey. 

Versailles is so interesting! I have always found the palace very intriguing, especially since I visited a few years ago, so this book is fascinating. It's straight non-fiction, and it's not as easy a read as the other books I've read today, but I'm about a third of the way through and it's interesting enough that I can down a chapter at a time pretty easily.

My Life in France is as fun as ever. It's getting even more fun now that Julia Child has published the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, has gotten started on her TV show, and just decided to start writing the second volume of the cookbook classic. Makes me want to run out and buy my own copy of MTAFC!

I only got a few pages into Northanger Abbey but I have to say, so far it seems to be Jane Austen at her wittiest. I can tell she's mercilessly making fun of the other literature of the time period, and it's hilarious. I'm excited about this one because it's the first Austen novel I've read that I knew so little about before starting. Seems like it's going to be a fun journey! It's especially fun getting back into fiction after reading so much non-fiction; it just feels more free and loose and wild.

Tomorrow I'm going to hunker down a little more and get more serious reading done. Tonight was just a taste of what the read-a-thon is going to be like. I'm also more excited to get involved on Twitter since I mostly ignored it today, unfortunately. See you tomorrow! 

Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon: First post!

Everyone, I am excited to announce that today is the start of...the Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon!

Lately I've been really wanting to join a read-a-thon. Not because I need to read's more that I'm already treating my life like it's a read-a-thon and devouring books like a starving animal. (Um, I don't know what happened with that analogy.) And since I'm already going through books much faster than I normally do, I think it would be really fun to just spend a week tracking my progress and pushing myself just a little bit more--and most of all, sharing the journey with all the other participants! Being new to the book blogging world, I'm still looking for more blogs to follow and enjoy (blogs that aren't all about Young Adult reads--sorry, just had to say it). I'm really looking forward to getting to know other book bloggers a bit better and sharing my bookish journeyings even more.

Here are my goals for the week:

Book Goals 
1 -- Finish My Life in France by Julia Child
2 -- Finish Versailles: Biography of a Palace by Tony Spawforth
3 -- Read some of October Sky with my husband
4 -- Read ALL of Northanger Abbey 
5 -- Start reading Ivanhoe

Non-Book Goals
1 -- Update at least once a day here at the blog
2 -- Stay updated on Twitter (something I'm still very new to) and keep up with the Twitter chats
3 -- Find at least 3 new blogs to follow

I'm excited to get going this week! If you're also participating in the read-a-thon (or even if you aren't), feel free to leave a comment with your blog address--I'd love to check it out! 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January Classics Club Meme: Favorite So Far

The Classics Club meme question for this month:

What is the best book you've read so far for The Classics Club -- and why? 

I've only read 4 classics from my list so far, having only recently joined the Club, but the answer is, hands-down, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It's so relateable, sweet, and such a lovely book that, despite the blatant didacticism, I enjoyed it thoroughly and will, of course, force all my daughters to read it, if I have any. It's the classic I wish I read when I was a teenager.

Have you read Little Women? What do you think of it?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Night by Elie Wiesel

This book was...


I find it difficult to review this book. What right do I have to judge it, even as good? What right do I have to subject to my literary tastes the dead who scream from the pages of this book for their voices to be heard?

In case you're not aware, Night is a memoir by a Jewish man who was sent to a concentration camp as a boy, along with his family. Through the narrative, as he fights for his own life and his father's life, he witnesses the horrifying tragedies of the Holocaust, firsthand.

I could say that the language in the book is beautiful and surreal (it is). I could say that the careful selection of the images of the concentration camps has a terrible power in its simplicity (it does). I could say that I was overwhelmed with sadness, and at the same time horrified by my ability to read this book so objectively.

Sometimes, after reading a book like this, I'm amazed and frightened by my ability to put it aside and forget about it the next moment, going on with my everyday mundane tasks. I can somehow forget that the same kind of oppression and horror is happening in the world right now, and there's nothing I can do about it.

I know people read this in high school quite often. I didn't; this was my first time reading it. I'm wondering what high school students think of this. If you read this in high school, what did you think of it then? Or if you read it later (like me), what do you think of it now?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith

When I read the introduction to this book, I was a little skeptical. The premise of the book is that the author spends a year traveling around Latin America, discussing Spanish translations of Jane Austen novels with random people (well, mostly random). In the midst of the literary discussion, she suffers disease, pets iguanas, and falls in love.

My first thought was, Interesting, but... I've never actually cared what people in Latin America think of Jane Austen. That sounds terrible, but I've never even thought about it. This book was out of the blue for me, but I decided to give it a shot.

And I'm glad I did. I wasn't ten pages in before I legitimately began to wonder what people in Latin America would think of Austen. Smith has a pleasant style and had a keen awareness of her audience; she knew her book would be picked up mainly by Austenites, and kept a good focus on the purpose of her journey, giving plenty of screen time to the discussions and information about Austen. But she also keeps the book an upbeat travel narrative, giving descriptions and snippets of fascinating history behind the places she visits.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Chunkster Challenge 2013

Well, I've surprised myself by how quickly I'm already getting through the few challenges I signed up for for 2013. Looks like the challenges I signed up for are going to be quite a breeze (except for the Back to the Classics Challenge). I'm beginning to think I might already be all the way through my challenges by June (or earlier)!

Well, the whole point of challenges is to be challenging, after all, so I've decided to enter another one that will help with that:

And I'm going to sign up for *deep breath* Level 3, which is:

Celebrating Dickens!

So far this year, I have been pretty pleased with what I'm reading. For months I've been starving for "fun" books, having been reading so many classics for school. So at the beginning of the month, I marched out (well, drove out) to the library and brought home a stack of my favorite non-classic genre, memoirs.

Well, this has all been really fun, I don't deny that. But now that I've forsaken classics for a few weeks, I'm discovering that now the tables have turned: I'm hungry for classics now. I was wanting dessert, but now that all I have is dessert, I'm wishing for my red meat and green vegetables! (Okay, I think I've been reading too many food books.)

Also, ever since I read A Christmas Carol for one of my classes, Charles Dickens has intrigued me more than ever before. I realized how very unfamiliar I am with Dickens, having only read that slim little book and the ever-popular A Tale of Two Cities. I've never read Great Expectations or Oliver Twist. I've never read the ones my teachers and English student friends have praised to the skies, Our Mutual Friend and Bleak House. What's wrong with me?? So I put just about every popular Dickens book on my Classics Club list and vowed I would read more Dickens in 2013.

So, you can see that I would jump at the chance to dedicate the month of February to celebrating Dickens and all his works!

During the month of February, I'll be reading Great Expectations and any other Dickens books I deem I have time for (I'm crossing my fingers for Our Mutual Friend, but we'll see...). I'll also hopefully be able to read a biography about his life to learn more about who he was and what writing meant to him. (I actually have already read a biography about Dickens, but despite that, I know very little about him.) I want to really spend the month of February entering the world of Dickens!

Dickens and Me
Great Expectations

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

Pretty cover, eh?
I chose this book because, from the inside cover flap, it seemed that it would fit both my Books on France challenge and my Foodies Read challenge (not to mention my Nerdy Non-Fiction challenge). Well, it didn't quite have enough about France for me to include it in Books on France, but it does meet the other challenges.

This book is a collection of essays, accompanied by recipes, about stories from Molly Wizenberg's life, mainly about how she learned to deal with her father's death.

I mentioned before that this book had all the warm-fuzziness of a foodie read that Julie & Julia just didn't have. And it's true. After my disappointment with Julie Powell, Molly Wizenberg was just the thing.

This book, to use a food analogy, isn't the meaty main course. It's a collection of dainty appetizers, salads, and desserts. It reads a lot like a blog, as though Wizenberg just pulled posts straight from her blog and slapped them into a book (and for all I know, she did). If I were going to read this book the way it ought to be read, I would maybe keep it on my bedside table and read an entry or two in an evening when I'm having trouble sleeping. (But it's a library book, and I'm too book-obsessive to do that sort of thing.) Wizenberg's writing is light and sweet. She doesn't bog you down with long descriptions or affected prose; she just tells it like it is, simply and thoughtfully.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Back to the Classics Challenge 2013

So, I mentioned roughly forever ago that I wanted to join this challenge, and it only recently occurred to me that I never officially signed up. So here we go, officially signing up!

I think this challenge will be a fun way for me to keep up with my Classics Club list this year. Here are the categories:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


As much as I would like to say that this blog IS A REVIEW-ONLY BLOG AND THERE SHALL NEVER BE ANYTHING OTHER THAN REVIEWS (yes, in annoying caps, Ten-Commandments style), that is not only stupid and makes no sense, it's not me. I have often found that I have tons of bookish thoughts spilling out of my brain while I'm in the middle of three books, but once I finish one of them and sit down to write about it, I have nothing to say. I'm too busy swimming in the books I'm currently reading to think about books I've already finished. (With the exception of books I feel very, very strongly about. For example, I read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand at least a year and a half ago, and I can still go on an hour-long rant about it at the slightest provocation. And I mean the slightest. My poor husband found himself subject to this only a few days ago, and I doubt that he has ever, in his life, made any reference to Ayn Rand or anything to do with her. To his credit. Anyway, for your sake, I will digress.)

So, unlike many other bloggers out there, I don't seem to think of books in terms of one book at a time. If that makes sense. In other words, my thoughts about books don't fall into tidy little boxes marked Book X and Book Y. Rather, my thoughts on different books float around in my brain, meeting each other, shaking hands, and eventually starting their own publishing company together and spewing out books of their own. (Okay, I think that analogy went slightly too far.) That's why I like to be in the middle of at least two books at any given time. That is also why I'm going to give you this rant-y post, which may end up being much longer (or, heck, maybe much shorter) than I went into it expecting, so I give you permission to ignore it completely, if you so choose. (Not that you need my permission, but now you can close the window guilt-free, if you're anything like me and feel obligated to finish blog posts you've started.)

Okay. Now finally onward to the actual point of this post, which is books.

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

Well. Finally, the book I'd been waiting so anxiously to read.

Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell, documents the outcome of Julie Powell's crazy idea to cook all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one calendar year. She laughs, she cries, she kills lobster, she scrapes marrow out of a bone, as well as many other wild cooking endeavors.

I'd been wanting to read this book ever since I saw the movie--when it came out, a year or two ago. (Or three? When did it come out?) I really liked the movie, and my mistake was expecting the book to be similar.

Well, the book was no warm-and-fuzzy foodie read, if you ask me. In fact, I believe it was aimed at the demographic of 20-30-year-old hipster women who enjoy reading about other people's sex lives. (Although I'm the right age, I don't think I fit the demographic.) I read in another review (don't ask me where, I can't remember) that Julie Powell was a little too self-obsessed. Understatement.

Powell seems to be operating on the assumption that her readers care about her secretarial job and her friends' lives. I guess that's a pretty normal assumption to make when you're writing a memoir, except I didn't enjoy it as much as other memoirs because frankly, I didn't really like Powell. She's just, well, not very nice. And again, that's an understatement.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Note: I actually wrote this review last week and then left it unfinished it without even publishing it. Then I promptly convinced myself that I had, indeed, published it. Whoops. Here it is, finally! 

Little Women is one of the most precious, beautiful books I have encountered. It's the perfect book for winter nights by the fireplace, eating Santa's cookies. (Not that I did this, but I wish I had.) This book is the comfort food of books, the warm fuzzy blanket of classics.

But I'm sure many of you already know this, so I'll just jump into my own personal experience with it.

One of my least favorite things a novel can have is didacticism. Actually, I usually despise it. If an author wants to whack her readers over the head with a particular message, then maybe she should write non-fiction. Just saying. A novel, in my mind, is supposed to give the reader an opportunity to find his or her own truth, not persuade the reader of one specific truth.

Anyway, I had a love/hate (mostly love) relationship with the didacticism in Little Women. I mean, let's be honest with ourselves, the book is one of the most didactic classics I have ever read. There's a moral lesson on practically every page.

Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Finally back to doing this!

1. Read at least 50 books.
2. Don't neglect the classics! I'm hoping to read at least 5 classics (it had BETTER be more, though).
3. Blog about the books I read!
4. Don't read JUST classics. Read more recent/just-for-fun books.
5. Read non-fiction! And a lot of it!

Well, okay, that's only five, and they're not exactly concrete. But since I'm not at all sure what's going to happen this year as far as work and school, it's just a good starting point. Here's to reading in 2013!