Ah–another batch of books down! This group of five definitely took me the longest, mostly because I’ve had zero free (sane) time this past month or so. It’s also the most ecclectic (as you will see!)–but hopefully you’ll find something below that sparks your interest. I know I enjoyed them all!
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, by BJ Novak This book is what I would affectionately refer to as “high-brow” comedy. Like The Office, which appeals to people who are entertained by a specific brand of humor, One More Thing is maybe not for everyone–but I loved it. The reason being: I felt like this went far beyond the typical “I’m a famous celebrity and now I’m going to write a book” indulgence. Maybe it’s because Novak got his start as a writer, not an actor, but I thought the book was incredibly witty and well written. Comprised of 60-ish short stories, each is written a little tongue-in-cheek…you could either take them for face-value and get a good chuckle, or really sit and think about the “deeper” meaning behind each of them (I chose to do both). Apparently, the audio book version of this features the voice talent of Lena Dunham, Rainn Wilson and Mindy Kaling. I was a little disappointed at first that I read it instead of listened (especially considering how much I love the real life best friendship of Mindy and BJ), but in the end it was for the better–I liked creating my own “voices” for all the characters BJ created. It’s hard to pick a favorite story from the book, but I think I’d have to go with either “The Girl Who Gave Great Advice,” “They Kept Driving Faster and Out Ran the Rain” or “The Beautiful Girl in the Bookstore.” The last had one of my favorite lines in the whole book: “She loved him, but she never quite got over the suspicion that she was just his favorite thing in the bookstore.” Rating: 8.25 out of 10
Paris Letters, by Janice MacLeod The fact that this book is 100 percent a true story fills me with all kinds of warm fuzzies. I’m apparently hardwired to like a certain kind of book–specifically one where the main character (usually a writer/journalist), quits her job, moves to a new city (usually Paris/somewhere in Italy) and falls in love with a new way of life/the man of her dreams (who is usually the owner of a winery or something fancy). In this case, Janice packed up her life and moved out to Paris on a whim–simply because she’d always wanted to. There she met Christophe, who she fell in love with over strolls on the Seine and sideways glances from her favorite coffee shop to the butcher’s shop across the street, where he worked. Sure, I loved this book for the fantasy of it all (because who doesn’t dream of packing up shit and moving to Paris), but also because MacLeod touched on so many of my legitimate life worries throughout her journey. It’s hard sometimes to not feel like you’re just some cog in the machine and that your life is sailing past you without you really taking the time to enjoy a morning stroll in the rain, an afternoon over a Cappucino, or an evening spent laughing over wine and cheese. Of course, all those things are infinitely easier if you’re living in Paris, but they’re possible in New York, too. Or in whatever city you live. My biggest takeaway from this book was that, even though moving to Paris (or anywhere in Europe) is pretty much not in the cards for me right now, I can bring a touch of that Parisian c’est la vie attitude to my every day life. This was like a travel guide, memoir, romance novel and self-help book all wrapped into one. Rating: 8 out of 10
Wheat Belly, by William Davis MD I really hesitate to call this a diet book. Please please please don’t call this a diet book–it’s really not. I picked up this book with the sole purpose of learning more about eating wheat and the ramifications of it on our bodies. While being tested for various other things, I unearthed a gluten sensitivity and I simply wanted to learn more about types of restrictions and educate myself. Dr. Davis writes this book in a very direct, straight forward and understandable way. It’s not too heavy on the medical jargon, so you don’t feel lost a few pages in. Truthfully, would I recommend this to everyone? Obviously not. If you’re not having issues, why bother? But if anyone has recently been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity or other type of allergy, this might be a good book to pick up to learn more! Rating: 7.75 out of 10 (*if you need it)
The Book of You, by Claire Kendal I just want to shout it from the roof tops: THIS IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF BOOK THAT I LOVE. Sure, it was incredibly (incredibly) creepy–and eerie and disturbing, but as someone who likes to read abnormal psychology books for fun and educates herself on serial killers (this is getting weird…), I loved every page of it. We meet Clarissa in The Book of You at the precise moment that she spots her stalker again. The book bounces between present day, where Clarissa is sitting on a jury, to the past, where we start to learn more and more of the sick obsession Rafe, her stalker, has with her. Truthfully yes, I was a bit scared by this book–Clarissa’s fears were so well-written, and the sheer insanity of Rafe’s manipulative actions were almost incomprehensible. You’re simultaneously shouting, “How can no one else notice how creepy this is!!!!” and wondering how the heck she’s going to get anyone to believe her and help her. The book made a point to speak to a larger issue in situations like this–police assistance, and how threats of this nature aren’t always taken as seriously as they need to be. Throughout her time on the jury, Clarissa makes a friend (and maybe more…you’ll have to wait and see!), chronicles Rafe’s attempts meticulously in a journal (hence the title, The Book of You) and finally has her situation with Rafe come to a very frightening conclusion. I did have one issue with the book, and that is the ending. SPOILER ALERT I found it odd that, after everything Clarissa had been through, and finally finding love again, she would let something as small as an ex-wife keep her from her new love. I wasn’t into that–it just seemed so opposite of what her character had come to be up until that point. END SPOILER ALERT Also, I feel like I have to warn you–this book should have probably come with a trigger warning. If you are at all bothered emotionally by rape or violence, I’m not sure I would recommend this to you, as there are a few scenes that involve those types of scenarios. I would hate to have anyone read it on my suggestion and be disturbed by it, so proceed with caution. Rating: 9 out of 10
The One and Only, by Emily Giffin Calling all Friday Night Lights fans–this one is for you! Set in Texas and centering around football, The One and Only is pretty much a FNL tribute book if I’ve ever read one. It follows Shea, who is a reporter in the town, Coach Carr, the head football coach and object of hero worship, and an additional cast of rotating characters. Like all Emily Giffin books (see: Something Borrowed, Heart of the Matter and Where We Belong), The One and Only is filled with romance, longing (don’t you just love those will-they-or-won’t-they story lines?) and lots of heart. There were a few relationships in the book that gave me a bit of an “ick” reaction (you’ll see what I mean), but overall this was a good, fluffy beach reach. And I don’t say fluffy in an attempt to reduce the quality of this book–it’s just a perfect descriptor for the type of genre it falls into. Light, entertaining and a quick read! Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (*Also, this isn’t out until May 20, so hang tight and add it to your list!)