For your reading pleasure, here's what I read in January. It was a month of great reading, and now I realize that most of it was nonfiction. Both of the novels I finished had infant deaths (I believe in warning people about this). Read the full reviews by clicking on the linked title--they will take you to the review on Marie's book garden.
Crazy Enough, by Storm Large
After seeing Storm's show, "Crazy Enough," twice at Portland Center Stage and purchasing the show CD, as soon as I read she was writing a book I put it on hold at the library. I've been waiting for several months to get my hands on it. As I expected, the book delivered. If you have a strong stomach and are not easily offended, read this book.
I've long been a Jane Lynch fan, since I first saw her in "Best in Show," and of course who doesn't love Sue Sylvester on "Glee"? This was a fun read--absorbing and interesting. Lynch seems like she would be a fascinating person to have to dinner.
Think: Straight Talk for Women in a Dumbed-down World, by Lisa Bloom
I first heard of Lisa Bloom when I read a fantastic article she wrote for the Huffington Post: "How to Talk to Little Girls." I knew I needed to read her book.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part, "The Problem," delves into the question of why we are all so dumbed down nowadays, especially women. Jumping in to Part 2, Bloom gives us her recommendations for reclaiming our brains...such as carving out time in our lives to think, make simple food for your family and don't kill yourself by slaving over meals for hours, and hire someone else to do your housework (even if you have to cut corners elsewhere) so you can reserve time for yourself.
The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives, edited by Katie Couric
After delivering a commencement address, Katie Couric got the idea to gather commencement addresses and other advice from various celebrities, politicians, athletes, military commanders, philanthropists, and businesspeople. She opens each section with an anecdote from her own life...about her own childhood, how she got into television, losing her husband to cancer, raising her daughters, and being criticized for her work on the CBS Evening News. I enjoyed it, and found some of the essays to be more powerful than others.
Sing You Home, by Jodi Picoult
Sing You Home is in my top three of all the Jodi Picoult books I've read (ten total). It's about a music therapist, Zoe, who is struggling with major infertility issues. She has multiple miscarriages and finally a pregnancy "takes," only to end at 28 weeks with a stillborn. Similar to most Picoult novels, there's a court case involved, and a lot of hateful intolerance (this time in the name of evangelical Christianity). Highly satisfying read.
The Girl Next Door, by Elizabeth Noble
The Girl Next Door takes place in a Manhattan apartment building. The book starts with Eve, who has been transplanted from England because of her husband's job. Soon Noble begins adding a large cast of characters, most of whom live in that same apartment building. Fortunately, she includes a list of characters in the beginning, which is helpful. I did enjoy reading about the blossoming women's friendships, and in particular about the friendship between Eve and an older English woman, Violet. The book had me in tears during the NICU chapters. Another spoiler warning: death of a baby.
The only other novel I read in January was Deliverance from Evil, by Frances Hill. Sadly, I gave up on it at around 60 pages. Hill is a renowned historian on the Salem witch trials, and I thought the premise sounded fascinating. Instead I found it to be disappointing.
In other book news, I posted a fun video about books coming to life.