Thursday, June 11, 2015

Book report #4

* Like Water For Chocolate (Laura Easquirel) - just as the book jacket says, this story is part fairy tale/fantasy, part tele novella, part cookbook, and part myth. But it's beautifully, if not simply, written, and I specifically chose it to read on my south-of-the-border vacation because it's set in Mexico (is immersive-enviro-reading a thing? Let's make it a thing). It's a beautiful story, a quick read, and perfect for a lazy day at the pool or lake.

* Blue Mind (Walace J. Nichols) - a fascinating look at the power of water on the body as a whole. It never gets too "science-y" (but also never patronizes the reader) and I was pleasantly surprised that some of the quoted books and specialists throughout were texts and people I'd read and/or heard of. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it resonated so deeply with me that I even started having my "water dreams" while reading it.

* The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins) - captivating and innovative right up until the very end. I won't give anything away, but I felt like the the author kind of copped out during the big "reveal." Nevertheless, this was a compelling thriller (think Gone Girl) and I easily plowed through it in a few days.

* can't and won't (Lydia Davis) - every couple of years, I get on a short story kick, and this collection fulfilled that need. It started out strong, but either it fizzled out or I remembered that I don't actually love short stories, and I ended up skimming through the last quarter of the book.

* The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Kondon) - I have so. many. thoughts. about this book. First, all 224 pages could have EASILY been whittled down to a trifold pamphlet - Kondon makes about four points in total, and spends the rest of the book either relaying past client success stories or repeating her four "secrets." Second, Kondon never once discusses the very-real possibility that while her techniques may work well for single/solo-dwelling individuals, every step of her method will go out the door the second a subsequent, and most importantly, unwilling member of the family gets roped into the cleaning process. She makes a few decent suggestions - I do think that categorizing your stuff by item instead of location is a good idea (go through all your magazines at once, not just the ones in the living room), but I'm sorry Kondon, I'm not going to throw out the last letter my dying grandmother wrote to me just because you think it's "sentimental clutter." Read this book if you must, but please don't buy it - get it from the library and save your pennies for any other book.

* The War of Art (Steven Pressfield) - I had assumed I'd page through this thin little book in a day's worth of subway travels - but then I realized that each page is stuffed with such thought-provoking statements that it took me days to digest it all.  Lines like "the amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The pro knows that feat can never be overcome. He knows there is no such things as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist" will have you first wondering why in the hell you ever thought that being an artist would be fun, but then rallying your craft into a much more focused and driven path.

* Maphead (Ken Jennings) - you wouldn't think a book about the history, development, and current relevance of maps would be a page-turner, but honestly I couldn't put this one down. Filled with fascinating facts and anecdotes about maps in general and "cartophiles" in particular, this book had me pining for not just the days of my early 20's when I lined my walls with maps indicating my travels around the world, but also that fateful day in 7th grade when I won the school-wide geography bee with the answer "El Nino."

What's on your summer reading list?

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