Sunday, May 20, 2012

Spring Books

Let's start with two books about the French Revolution. 

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran.  Interesting, well paced, and did not skimp on the graphic details of life and death.  It was enthralling.  I listened to YA novel Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. I didn't realize it was YA until mid-way through, it was shelved with the adult fiction books and I was desperate for something to listen to.  If I was a teenager I probably would have loved it.

I read Arcadia by Lauren Groff, which I liked a lot, despite it being a bit over-hyped. I thought it was good, not great.  I got it from the library after a little wait.  Worth a library wait, I wouldn't have bought it. It's the story of a boy born in a commune and his life as he grows into adolescence and adulthood. It's very well written.

Based on a colleague's recommendation, I checked out Maeve Binchy's Whitethorn Woods. I listened to it and found it okay.  If I had been reading the book, I probably wouldn't have finished it, but I had nothing else to listen to.  I listen to lots of books on CD that I get from the library and find I don't want to hear anything else in the car.  When else, as an adult, do I get to sit down and listen to someone tell me a story? 
I had high expectations for Chuck Palahniuk's Damned since I really liked his previous work, but this book wasn't a hit.  It was funny in places and fast-moving, but ultimately I found myself bored. It's the kind of book that wouldn't have seen the light of day if it wasn't for the famous name.
Keith Donohue's Centuries of June surprised me with how good it was.  This novel contained stories about eight different women told in a bathroom to a man with a hole in his head.  The premise was clever and the stories were well-written.  The less you know about the book before you read it, the more enjoyable it is.

I enjoyed The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin more than I expected.  A historical novel about the 2'8" woman who went from being a teenaged schoolteacher in rural Maine to traveling with P.T. Barnum and becoming an international sensation.   

Brian Wansink's nonfiction book Mindless Eating really opened my eyes to the things I put on my plate. It was so interesting to read and learn about unconscious food choices and habits. And just like advertising, everyone thinks they are immune. I've made some real changes at home and at work.

Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman offers an honest and sometimes hilarious look at motherhood.  It also had me thinking about my own parents in a different way.

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