Thursday, July 23, 2009

Open House

Open House by Elizabeth Berg

I'd read one of Berg's more recent books, Dream While You're Feeling Blue, and really enjoyed it so she had been on my long "to-read" list for a while but I wasn't quite sure which book to tackle next. Then, a co-worker recommended Open House and I knew I had to try it out. I was not disappointed. Berg is a strong writer and she creates believable, likeable characters and places them in common situations. This wasn't the typical "woman finds herself after terrible breakup" book, though. I read it in one night because I really wasn't sure how it would turn out. I wasn't disappointed, but it also was a bit of a surprise which is more than I can usually say for "women's fiction" titles. Highly recommended. I'd like to recommend the author as a whole, but with only two books under my belt and a strong warning from aforementioned co-worker that her others don't deliver the same punch as Open House, I'd better not do that. Yet.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Summer Affair

A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand

Hilderbrand is a bestselling writer with an impressive list of titles so I thought I'd give her a try. This will most likely be the last novel I read by this author. I'm sure there's room in the bookstores for another title of the 40-somethings-growing-tired-of-marriage-thus-starting-affairs genre if it gives this tale a new spin. This book reads as you would expect it to. No surprises. No surprising insights into human nature. Sample line: "Daphne was like an unsightly piece of toilet paper that Claire had dragged out of the ladies' room on her high heel."

At least the main character's first love becomes a world-famous rock star. That's kind of fun.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm with the Band

I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie by Pamela Des Barres

This has been on my list for years--since Almost Famous became one of my favorite movies to be exact. If you've been a fan of music--whether a Paul McCartney girl or a Taylor Hanson girl--you've read or been told to read this book. What no one had told me is how poorly written it is. How annoying the writer is. How it reads like a 12-year-old wrote it but it's written by a 50-year-old. It's insulting and it makes me pity the writer. She had sex with Mick Jagger. So what? The only redeeming part of the book was to see how human she was and that she actually had feelings for all these musicians. Which is really what made her so pitiful. And in the end, I just was sorry that she'd wasted my time.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Brain Wider Than the Sky: A Migraine Diary by Andrew Levy

Andrew Levy was my American Lit and Creating Writing Non-Fiction professor at Butler. He was one of the very best teachers I have ever had and he inspired me to write. I was thrilled to pick up his latest book--a memoir about his years of suffering from migraine headaches. There's just something about his writing--the way he can describe the ordinary in such a beautiful way--that makes me want to be a better writer myself. His writing reads as though it's effortless and this particular book loads a multitude of research on migraines. As an English professor, Levy doesn't leave out examples of literary figures who have written about migraines--Virginia Woolf and Emily Dickinson just to name two. With a 20 page bibliography and 45 pages of notes, his research is quite impressive--but it still can't compete with the grace and skill of his writing.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

This book was beautifully written and, although not a thrilling premise, was a quick read with a moving plot. Toibin captured perfectly the feeling of having two "homes" and how when you are caught up in one, the other seems almost like a fantasy. For that, this book is a literary achievement. The ending was rushed and a little disappointing if only because we didn't get enough of her time in Ireland to really wonder what her decision would be. All in all, though, a fantastic read--highly recommended.