Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
i’ve read jennifer weiner since her first book, good in bed, was published. i’ve enjoyed every book, but this was not one i particularly enjoyed. her other books, if i remember correctly, are not romance novels. they typically have a woman who is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t 100% revolve around a man. now, it’s been a while since i’ve read most of her books, so i could be wrong, but my memory tells me that her plotlines generally have other major issues and also include a romantic relationship issue along with it.
this book was pretty much how rachel finds her true love and gets him in the end. sure, she has other things happen in her life, but andy is the overarching theme and the other issues are just piddly things. andy also has his own chapters, describing his life and its ups and downs, and i feel like his life story is a lot more interesting than rachel’s. but rachel is his overarching theme.
and the smut! ok. i do not read romance novels. i am not a romance novel person. i will occasionally run into a book with smut, but generally it’s not pervasive enough to overwhelm the literary factor. i feel like this book’s percentage of smut is above and beyond weiner’s normal levels, and if i’d known it was going to be this enmeshed in the story, i probably wouldn’t have read it.
what could have made this book better? i think if she had written this in first person andy and let rachel take the other side, this may have had potential. less smut? maybe rachel really focusing on her heart issues more? more description and angst over andy’s running problems? i’m not sure.
anyway, i wouldn’t recommend this book with gusto. well, maybe a romance novel enthusiast, but not a jennifer weiner novel enthusiast. be forewarned, jen weiner fans.
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i’ve done the goodreads book challenge that last few years, trying to increase the number of books i read in a year (competition with myself gets me going on certain things [reading, running]). this past year was not a good year for finishing up books. i don’t know what happened, but i fell short on the number of books, AND i fell short on the number of pages read.
in 2014 and 2013, i read drastically different numbers of books, 62 in ’13 and 46 in ’14, but i had a surprisingly close same number of pages read, right around 22,700. (to be fair, i read a LOT of stephen king in ’14, and his books are at least 500 pages each.)
so in ’15, while i read more books than in ’14, my page count was off by about 2,000. boo on me.
so i signed up again this year, setting 60 books as my goal. we’ll see how it goes, and hopefully i’ll devote enough time to reading this time around.
i just finished a book called “searching for sunday” by rachel held evans. in it she describes her search for the right fit of a church/religion. overall, i liked the book and could relate to it more often than not, even though she was pretty adamant in her beliefs 99% of the time and was just having problems finding the right place to celebrate them.
however, i had a problem with exactly one sentence during her section on “communion”. (she titled her sections after the sacraments.)
Certainly nonbelievers can care for one another and make one another food. But it is Christians who recognize this act as sacrament, as holy.
that’s quite a presumptuous statement, ms. held-evans.
even nonbelievers can recognize the importance of food. food is a universal, a common thread among all people, no matter religion, race, or creed. it is the very stuff of life, quite literally, and for anyone to not understand that food, whether created for others out of need or care or for yourself to stave off hunger for another six hours, is a necessary and fundamental part of life and one to celebrate, is pretty ludicrous.
when i make food for others, i know that i’m participating in creating a building block of life – and those who receive it and eat it are receiving it with thanks and gratitude. a great thing; a wonderful thing; a meaningful thing.
one definition of sacrament is “a thing of mysterious and sacred significance.” i think everyone can agree that giving food to others in times of need is a thing of significance, and as a person who just went through a pretty weird tragedy, can be a thing of mystery. does “sacred” necessarily need to be a part of it? sacred is 100% tied to religion, but things of mystery and significance can hold dear spots in people’s hearts without being tied to a religion or specific god.
holy’s definition is pretty straightforward: “dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose.” take out the god and religion, and we have “dedicated or consecrated to a purpose.” what better way to describe preparing food for others? especially when preparing food for others during extreme times – times of joy, sadness, hopelessness, hunger.
rachel can believe what she wants to about food as a thing of mystery and significance – a thing dedicated or consecrated to a purpose. but i’ll tell youthis: nonbelievers and believers alike can understand the importance of food and how it’s tied to emotion. i’ll sit at the table, pull up a chair, and share my food with those who need it, even if they believe I can’t see the importance of what i’m doing.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
this book is just lovely. liz gilbert has a way of parsing out exactly what a person needs to hear in the most lightly light-hearted, concise sprinkling of words i’ve ever read. i feel like she is the fairy godmother of inspiration and get-your-butt-in-gearedness.
while she focuses on writing as example most of the time (she is a writer, after all), anyone can read this if s/he feels stagnant in life or lacking that particular something. she focuses on big magic, the fleeting inspiration that most people ignore, and the steps a person needs to walk through to have the gumption to recognize it for what it is and grab it.
you may call it hooey, hippy-dippy, new-age phoney baloney, but anyone who’s been hit by the big magic can tell you it’s out there; it’s up to you to take it up on its offer. take up this book if you think you want to take that step.
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“go set a watchman” isn’t a page-turner in the traditional sense. i didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of emotion like i have with some of my favorite books. it isn’t a modern book, and it isn’t a book about the past written in a modern time. it’s a snapshot of time that makes you sit back when finished and say “huh.”
the writing is beautiful; it’s a meandering drawl of a book, like a well-educated southern gentleman taking his time wandering around his words, crafting his sentences so as to lull a person into trusting him, scattering in a selection words you don’t hear in everyday conversation, just to keep you on your toes.
**** below COULD be construed as spoilers, but a lot of it has been in the press anyway***
the haters can complain all they want. “to kill a mockingbird” set a precedent, although this book IS the precedent. because of TKAM, readers have held up atticus finch as an advocate for equal rights. the pedestal was wrongly signed; atticus is an advocate for justice. and here’s the problem with putting atticus finch on a pedestal: he is on the pedestal because scout has put him there, and we read “to kill a mockingbird” from her perspective. this book merely makes that a little bit clearer to the reader. if that makes us a little uncomfortable, then i think ms. montgomery has done her job. (and she did it well.)
back in grad school in 2004, i took a writing class, during which we analyzed memoirs and wrote our own memoir essays. one of the memoirs we had to read was michael perry’s “population 485,” which, i admit, i didn’t read much of because it was assigned.
isn’t that always the case.
well, fast forward about five years – grad school’s over, and reading is fun again. my mom and i are perusing barnes and noble in st cloud, and she says she has to check to see if there are any michael perry books, which she and my dad have started to read. we check the shelves, and i see “population 485” standing on its end, the cover familiar but the context slightly out of reach until it finally swims into focus.
i buy it again, probably for a much more reasonable price than the scsu bookstore.
i read it and love it. proceed operation: read all michael perry books. love every word. you know how charlie brown christmas music makes you feel? a little happy, a little sad, a little old, a little young, a little melancholy, a little hopeful? that’s how his writing makes me feel.
generally he’s a memoirist, but recently he’s been dipping into fiction, and “the jesus cow” is his first foray into adult fiction. it’s awesome to see everything you’ve absorbed from his memoirs come out in his fiction.
it keeps the plodding pace of everyday rural upper-midwest life (oh, don’t we all know how that is), with a surprising end that brings all the intertwined stories together. (i was completely surprised at the end!) for those unfamiliar with his writing, this might seem a little slow and local-yokel-esque; i would not start with this book.
if, however, you are familiar with his work, this is a great addition to his other pieces. i’m excited to see what he comes up with next.
normally i am not one for seeing movie adaptations of books that i thoroughly enjoy. but when i saw the trailer for gone girl, i knew i’d go see this one.
surprisingly, the movie sticks relatively close to the book’s plot (relatively because i’ve seen books veer so off course, it’s a new plot). there are a few embellishments, like the scene where amy kills desi. in the book, she drugs his wine and then stabs him. in the movie, she swipes his neck with a boxcutter midcoitus. and it is VERY bloody (and we see neil patrick harris’ junk covered in blood).
the end is also toyed with a little, but the things that need to get done get done.
the movie is classic david fincher: dark, shadowy, moody. when one of my movie mates afterward said it was like no one acted in the movie, i thought, huh. i thought they acted out the characters exactly. but then, the characters in the book are doing nothing but acting the whole time, aren’t they? we never really know who amy is, and nick is trying to cover up so much stuff that he has to have the ultimate poker face.
the movie, while entertaining, is not as engrossing as the book (as is always the case). i recently reread the book and once again could barely put it down. it helps to know the psychopathic nuances going into the movie, because afterward, the people i saw the movie with weren’t entirely impressed with it. meanwhile, i was thinking, hey, that was a pretty darn good adaptation.
what did i not like? NPH would not have been the person i’d’ve chosen for desi. at the end of the book, nick realizes that he doesn’t hate all women; he hates amy. in the movie, i got the impression otherwise. we did not get the sense of complete helplessness from nick when amy gets pregnant – it’s more like he’s just manning up to his responsibility rather than in the book where he was overwhelmed by the thought of his kid. also, there is a moment at the end where nick slams amy’s head against the wall, which is NOT something i would have done. i know nick hates amy, but come on. we want to keep that better image of nick.
was it as good as the book? no. was it a well-done movie? i think so, but then i’m biased because i was so enamored by the book.
i just finished reading the last book in deborah harkness’ trilogy, “the book of life.” i just finished rereading the first two books in the trilogy so i was prepared for this one (they books are long and full of stuff).
i think i picked up the first book, “a discovery of wtiches”, after either reading about it in an mpr review or on a booklist i used to belong to. i read it, thought it was wonderfully pretentious, and immediately told liz that she had to read it (witches and vampires and smut – oh my!).
at the time, i didn’t realize it was a part of a trilogy (although it was set up for it), so when the second book was announced, yay!
as for the last book, i think it’s my favorite. the previous two books seemed to have a lot of extra stuff that didn’t really need to be written in the book. this book, however, had everything in it that needed to be written about (well, maybe too much about baptism preparations, etc).
it was also more light-hearted than the other two. she introduced a looser character (chris), and all the characters in the story were pivotal (unlike the second book). i know there are reviews out there that are criticizing the plot and the point of view (big whoop). but i just found these books engrossing. it was quite the shock moving from reading a stark stephen king book to harkness’ florid prose, but it was a welcome change (especially since i have a king book to read in the near future).
some beefs: i think the confrontation with satu was a letdown; there should have been more of an internal sturggle to the spellbinding; i feel like spellbinding is such an affront to witches that it would’ve been better for diana and satu to have a showdown. i wanted a bigger deal when diana finally got ashmole back. i wanted to know more about rebecca bishop’s spellbook. hmmm….i’m sure i’ll think of more.
ps – love gallowglass 🙂
i just finished “insomnia” by stephen king, and i’ve got to catch up on rereading the first two books in a trilogy for the third that’s released this week. on top of that, i have a couple books on reserve at the library, one of which i should be getting relatively soon.
so i’ve got to punch up my reading skillz, yo. time to speed-read.
i tried to read “infinite jest”. i got 150 pages or so in. i couldn’t do it. sorry to john green. sorry to all those philosophical types. it was just so dang boring. on to HP. happy, boring slate author?