Sunday, December 19, 2010


There are those works that leave you hopeless. Once you finish rifling through its pages you're heartbroken and the rest of your day is ruined for the loss of those beautiful words. The characters, plot, writing have touched you in a way that makes it futile to even try for happiness. Your life seems simple and trivial in comparison and you wish for the world of the book back.

Welcome to my current state of being.

I have just put down "Anne of the Island", the third installment of the 'Anne of Green Gables' series. The past two books were enjoyable and I grew to love Anne, the charismatic, imaginative, charming girl of Canada. But it was the third book that blew me away. Anne goes to college to get her BA and she's truly grown up now. Her struggles, triumphs, dashed hopes, and confused romances echoed my own experiences. I connected with Anne in this book as I hadn't in the others. Her encounters with romance and her tarnished girlhood images of what romance should be resonated with me. After four years at college, her sense of loss at having to leave the place that was her home and the girls who became her best friends was almost an exact match to the despondent feelings I felt at leaving my own Alma Mater.

In Anne I find a hero, an ideal, a girl to whom I should aspire. She is good, loving, and kind yet she has faults. I want to be as decided and clear in my morals and attitudes as she is on the page. Anne has become royalty in my world of literary characters. She is a new favorite, the likes of which is rare to find in literature and the world.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An Unfortunate Read

As I review my posts, I've noticed I hardly have a bad word to say about most books. That is, of course, because I have excellent taste (insert sarcasm). Well finally I have a negative review! I'm rather excited, so get ready for my ferocious analysis!

I tried. I really did. I gave Lemony Snicket a few tries and he continues to disappoint me. Book five of the Series of Unfortunate Events, "The Austere Academy", was indeed unfortunate. I can't learn to like the characters and I spend the whole book waiting for the end when it will be done. I couldn't even finish this book. What do children see in these books? Poor orphans continuously afraid for their lives and without hope of happiness or love except between themselves. Honestly the only reason I picked this up was to figure out what happens in the end. I suppose I should have just picked up the last book, "The End", to see how things turn out. Call me old fashioned, but I like keeping things in order.

Snicket warns of the sad turn out of his characters and he really should be taken at his word. At the beginning of this book I'm pretty sure he even says don't read this if you don't like depressing stories. Why didn't I stop there?! It's because that's how they're marketed. Like they know they suck, but people like an adventure, so by saying "Do Not Enter!" it will attract people who think "I'm daring!". Again let me tell you, you don't hate yourself this much! It's not a fun adventure! Let me liken this to an owner giving a dog a slice of cheese. O how that dog loves cheese, but wait! What's that terrible taste? It's the pill that was inserted inside the cheese. That's right pup, you were fooled.

Maybe some people out there like the writing and the storytelling the books have to offer, but my recommendation is to leave them on the shelf. They look pretty, but what a waste of time! I think Young Adult/Children's literature has a lot to offer. This series makes me eat my words, and they sure do taste bitter.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Searing order of pessimism with a side of humble pie

You got to give it to Anthony Bourdain, the guy can break people down. No one is safe from his scalding tongue, yet sometimes that's just what I need. In "Medium Raw", his latest book, he is beginning to mellow out. Although still critical of upscale dining, food critics, and chefs alike, he takes the time to apologize for past injuries he may have inflicted and enjoy life around him.

If you like Tony's show "No Reservations", then you'll enjoy his writing. He writes like he speaks, which I find enjoyable. I could hear his voice in my head (I'm not schizophrenic I swear!) reading me line for line.  At certain instances I found myself lost when he started naming off different food world people and places.

I like Bourdain. He's cynical and sometimes it seems like nothing is good enough for him, but this guy knows his shit (potty mouth inspired by Tony). He loves food and he loves the people who put their heart into their work. I can appreciate that. Obviously when Tony doesn't like you, watch your ass. But his brass balls are refreshing. He's giving it to the man, something I could never do and it's nice to know that 10 course meals and overpriced fare are not all the bee's knees. Just because something has a high price tag or was made by someone famous doesn't mean it will be spectacular. Maybe that's obvious, but I always need reminding that everything that glitters ain't always gold!

I enjoyed reading this book for the most part. There were instances I felt the need to put it down and read something more cheery. Still it was an easy read, and out of my typical scope of reading. Again, if you're a Bourdain fan, give it a go. If you're a foodie, this is for you. If you know nothing about cuisine or Bourdain, maybe leave this one be.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Beautiful Novel

The Help was perhaps one of the best books I've read in a while. It's taken from three different perspectives and seamlessly woven together. The story takes place in Jackson, Mississippi 1962. Skeeter, who has just graduated from college is scorned by her mother for not having her MRS, but she wants to become a writer. Aibileen is an older black maid who works for a white family. Minnie is a fiery black woman who works as a maid, but has crossed the wrong white lady. Their lives tangle together when Skeeter decides to share their side of the story; what it's like to be a black maid working for a white family.

Kathyrn Stockett did a phenomenal job writing this book. She captured the helplessness, heartbreak, anxiety, joy, and frustration of the characters. Her writing recalled my own hurts and it felt like she had taken the words that I couldn't form for myself and written them down in this book.

I actually listened to this book on tape, which I always think is cheating in a way. After hearing this read to me, I will never think that again. It actually made all the difference having it read to me. The dialog is written in southern dialect, so it's easier to say the words out loud anyway. With three perspectives, it helped having three different readers. I would highly recommend listening to this book, or just reading it for that matter. The story was rich and I could not stop listening. I thought I would only listen to it in the car, but I found myself popping it into my DVD player and just sitting and staring off, imagining what was happening.

O and for those of you who like reading books before they are raped by the silver screen, you may want to give this one a read pretty soon.