Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

Why did I read this book? Well, I was desparate for some mindless distraction on a long layover and flight to a wedding. The books I had brought were too much for my mind at the time. This book didn't disapoint, it was certainly mindless. It is typical of a Nicholas Sparks novel. Not a lot of heart, no complicated plot, no mystery and completely predictable. I think the man writes books FOR movies, I don't think they think he writes a good story and then turn it into a movie. One thing I found really weird is that the book is called Dear John, leading you to believe the book is filled with letters back and forth. It is not. He (John) describes the letters he and she write, but there are only a couple of passages from letters. Usually in a Nick Sparks book/movie someone dies. Well, no one really dies in this book, but someTHING dies. So no big surprise there. Very tragic story, as usual. But I didn't really "feel" the character of John. I didn't get him and I was left feeling sort of blah about him and the book in turn. It wasn't a page turner, other than the fact I wanted to finish it before I landed back in Seattle. BORING! But, I'll give him this...whoever makes his movies sure does know how to cast! I'll see the movie when it's available just for the fact that Channing Tatum is the lead. Much of why I liked The Guardian was because of Kevin Costner AND Ashton Kutcher. Whoa baby! See the movie, don't read the book.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Wow. That is all I can say. A Thousand Splendid Suns is another story of Afghanistan, this time from the perspective of two women. The tale begins at the beginning of the Soviet rule, then on to the Mujahideen (sp?), then the Taliban and finally the events after 9/11. The lives of these two women have intertwined inot one beautiful story of the power of love and friendship. I have to say that at first I was a little bored, like where is this going. The beginning is really setting the whole rest of the book and it is a bit long for a book of this size. However, I don't think you could cut any of that out and still walk away with the same feeling. I was near tears so many times while I read this book...and that is not something that I do! I don't cry when I read. Maybe this story just really hit home because I am a woman. This book shows us dumb and naive Americans what the Taliban truly are capable, what it was like as a woman to live under their rule, what war and destruction can do to a country and its people, and finally how a strong hearted person can get through all that heartache and turmoil. I kept reading, wondering how it could get any worse. It did. I kept wondering if it has a happy ending. It does. Sort of. And I'm saying that because to get through this book, you might need to know that! It was waiting for just everyone to die. REally, you have to read this book. You may think its not a story for you. But the author is so good at making you feel like it is here and now and its easily relatable to your own life. These women went through hell. And I know it is a fictitious story, but this could well be the story of millions of Afghani women. Read it. If I could give this book more than five stars, I would. I'm so depressed now its wonderful.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Summary and review from Powell's Books:

Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want — a husband, a house, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.
To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world — all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the absorbing chronicle of that year. Her aim was to visit three places where she could examine one aspect of her own nature set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well. In Rome, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the twenty-three happiest pounds of her life. India was for the art of devotion, and with the help of a native guru and a surprisingly wise cowboy from Texas, she embarked on four uninterrupted months of spiritual exploration. In Bali, she studied the art of balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. She became the pupil of an elderly medicine man and also fell in love the best way — unexpectedly.
An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment and stop trying to live in imitation of society's ideals. It is certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change.

Here's my review: I loved this book. No it was not a page turner in that I wanted to find out quickly what was happening. I just love the way she writes. Elizabeth Gilbert is so much like me it's kinda scary! She's funny, sarcastic and very smart. I particularly loved the way she would mention something in the beginning of a chapter or section, and then cleverly wrap it around into a great summation of her thoughts on the experience. I also like Felipe...he's a good man. I really recommend any woman to read this book, she's got advice hidden in there! The only thing I didn't like was the middle part, or book, Pray...uh...was a git boring. I mean, she's in an ashram in India praying and meditating all the time. I read through that quickly so I could get on the best part of the book, Love. And it's not about love for me, it was seeing how Elizabeth had really turned her life around and she truly found what she needed. We should all be so lucky.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Official Book Club Selection, a Memoir According to Kathy Griffin

I have tried to read biographies or autobiographies many times. Never fails, I find them boring or just plain not interested in the person after I begin reading. So I decided I'd never waste money on an autobiography again. Until now. Well, it wasn't wasted. I love Kathy Griffin. For those of you who don't know her, she's hiiiilllarious! She's been a comic for decades and her best stuff is bashing celebrities. What I love most about her is that she doesn't hold back, she doesn't back down, she tells it like it is and I can really relate to that. Oh and she cusses like a sailor, the best part of her!

Also, I rarely ever buy a book in hard cover. But, I really like Kathy and I watched her on her My Life on the D-List show choosing the cover, etc and I wanted to truly support her. I don't know why, but I feel like she's one of my peeps. :-) I had just finished watching her on The View and I was planning a trip to Barnes and Noble anyways so I thought I'm going to get that damn book, Official Book Club Selection A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin and see what all the fuss is about. I did, and I'm really glad I did! I loved her memoir. I love the way she talks about herself in a completely honest way that I know is the real her and not someone she's "acting" to be, just like on her show. I know understand fully why she is the great person she is. The memoir talks about her battles with her weight (although I don't think she's EVER been fat, at all), her family, her comedy, her struggles, her friends, her ex-husband (bastard), and much much more.

Thank you, Kathy Griffin, for sharing with me. You have never been on MY D-List, and never will be. You are a hero and stronger than you will ever realize,I think. And Oprah, if you are reading this, you have to read her book because she really does adore you. Secretly. Ha! Suck It!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

2010 Reading Challenge

Yes, I have committed to something yet again for this year. I saw this challenge on another blog and decided to check it out. It looks fun and interesting and it will keep me reading, which is my ultimate goal. I hope I can stick to it...I'm really going to try. But once school starts up again, it might be a little more difficult. We shall see! If you want to check it out too, go here:

Let the reading begin!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule.

This story really grabbed me. I hadn't read it until now because I honestly didn't want to hear yet another sad story of Afghanistan or the middle east. But for some reason I changed my mind and decided to step out of my usual box. I am really glad that I did. This story pulls at your heart in so many ways...I literally got that pit in my stomach reading about Amir, his guilt, and how the story didn't really have a happy ending...but it sort of did, and I think that was the point. Surprisingly, not much of this story actually takes place in Afghanistan. I was surprised because it really wasn't about the Taliban (yet they are very present), or about politics, or about 9/11. It paints a beautiful picture of what Afghanistan used to be, before the Russians, before the Taliban...and the beginnings of this story could have taken place anywhere and sounded very familiar. I think that is what was so heart wrenching. It doesn't seem foreign and it doesn't seem like it's happening so far from home. I could relate to it very easily, more than I thought I could.

There really was nothing I didn't like about his book, other than like I said, the ending wasn't really happy. It was, but it wasn' was still tragic. But I think that was Hosseini's point. Amir nevery really was able to confront his guilt and make ammends.

If you are squeamish about sexual abuse, I would not recommend this book. Although it was a very short experience, it was always present in the story. But, it is worth it, if you can get past that bit. Very worth it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Pickup Artists by Terry Bisson

From the award-winning author of Pirates of the Universe, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, comes The Pickup Artist--a sharp, witty, and subversive exploration of the future of art, culture, and society. In the tradition of Ray Bradbury's fireman who burns books in Fahrenheit 451, our hero, Hank Shapiro, is a pickup artist, a government agent who gathers for retirement creative works whose time has come and gone. You see, there's simply not enough room in the world for all the art, so anything past a certain age must be cataloged, archived in the records, and destroyed, paving the way for new art. It's a job that comes with risk and the pay's lousy, but it covers the bills. And, after all, this year's art is better than last year's, isn't it?But what happens is not nearly as important as the telling. Terry Bisson is an American writer in the satirical tradition of Twain and Vonnegut and perhaps Richard Brautigan. He can make you laugh and touch your heart in the same sentence. This is a book about love, death, and America.

I read this book because I saw it in the book exchange at my work and thought the cover art was interesting. Well, that is about as far as it goes. Hank is a government agent, a pickup artist, who collects works of art (books, CD's, paintings, etc) that have been "deleted" to make room for new art. But he somehow goes on an adventure with a librarian who wears a bluebird bra that shows her emotions, his sick dog who ends up being able to talk but only says how things smell, and a bunch of cloned Indians named Bob. This book was weird. I think it was meant to make you think about something, but it didn't have that affect on me. The whole time I just couldn't wait to finish it. I was really hoping that in the end it would come together and mean something. But that didn't happen. It was just....weird. Maybe it was too satirical for me or something. I would not recommend this book to anyone unless they are just in to weird, futuristic novels that don't mean anything.