I realize I’m way overdue for my book reports. Here is what I read this Spring.
The Apprentice by Jacques Pepin
After watching Jacques and Julia cook together in the At Home television series, I wanted to know more about the man who seemed to be a great cook, teacher, and who also was very funny. The Apprentice is a 300 page autobiography of Jacques’s birth through the mid 2000s. It isn’t literature in the same way as Julia’s My Life in France, but Jacques’s life is fascinating and I have nothing but awe and respect for the man who left school at 13, became a chef at some at the best restaurants in the world, cooked for Charles De Galle and other heads of state of France, went back to school and almost got his PhD, had many illustrious careers in business and food, then reinvented himself as a cooking teacher, author, and tv personality after an almost fatal car accident.
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
This book lives up to the hype. The first chapter was slow, but once I was in the second I couldn’t put it down. McCann has an uncanny ability to make all the different voices in his novel seem so real, and I loved how all the details and characters come together. A viewing (or reviewing) of the film Man on Wire is a good counterpart to this novel.
Lit by Mary Karr
It is crazy to be an alcoholic. I have no idea how Karr was able to function for so long, but I’m glad she is on the other side. This memoir is not the hilarious gem of The Liar’s Club, but I liked it better than Cherry.
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
I’m not sure if I should even include this book, because I couldn’t finish it. I was a little surprised, since I had read so many positive book reviews ( including the New York Times), but I did not like the author’s voice at all. I didn’t find her funny or compelling, and finally I realized I didn’t care to know any more and shut the book for good.
Fanny at Chez Panisse by Alice Waters
Not just for children. I had fun reading about Chez Panisse from Fanny’s perspective, and a few weeks later my husband and son enjoyed it too as the bedtime chapter book. I loved how the recipes have stories and vice versa. A must have for a child’s cooking library.
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
I seem to have read a lot of memoirs about alcoholics around the same time. Being an alcoholic is crazy. I have no idea how Lamott was able to function for so long, but I’m glad she is here and writing. The more books of hers I read, the more I realize how much she resonates with me.
Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
I’m done with this series. The first couple of books were good, but now the characters don’t seem to go anywhere and nothing really happens. I’m over them. They aren’t even good enough for beach or airplane reading.
Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
Another home run by Munro, with all the stories being great but some of them being much much more.
Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
I heart David. I listened to this on cd, because his voice telling his stories is the best.
Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon
Ehh, this book is kind of whatever Chabon wants to write about – be it his first marriage, comic books, his kids, his childhood, brises, etc. Some parts I really enjoyed, and other parts I didn’t. I can’t believe this is the first book by him I’ve read though. I need to remedy that soon.
The World Below by Sue Miller
Miller is just a good, solid writer. I enjoyed this novel just like I’ve enjoyed other novels of hers.
Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Goodwin made me love baseball and want to grow up in the 1950s. This memoir is a glimpse into a sort of childhood that seems so far away from today. I’m curious about Goodwin’s better known non-fiction works now, because she is simply a great writer and storyteller.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A bookclub read, but I was glad it was chosen because I had been curious about this book and all the attention it has received. The voices and characters shine through the writing and often contrived plot, but it does give you a lot to think about especially living in the South.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Where has this book been for the past 9 years? How does Enger come up with his descriptions? So much about this book is unusual but perfect, and I hated the fact that I was let down by the ending. I realized it is hard for writers to end a journey, and so many great writers have trouble with this like in Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow or Life of Pi by Yann Martel. After this novel, I appreciate the genius of The Road by Cormac McCarthy so much more. Despite its flaws, Peace Like a River is probably the best novel I’ve read since The Road.
My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
I don’t think I like historical fiction very much. Or maybe I just didn’t like this historical fiction very much. It started off well, but halfway through I lost interest in the characters (even though the main one is a midwife) and what was happening. I skimmed this book to finish it.
So Brave, Young and Handsome by Leif Enger
Not Peace Like a River in any way. A decent story, but everything I loved in the other book seemed to be missing here. The irony of Enger writing his second book about a main character who is writing his second book couldn’t save this novel. I do want to read the third book (if there is one), because now I’m trying to figure out who is Leif Enger? after I thought I knew him.
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
A fun English detective book that is far above most other modern English detective books. This would be the perfect book to read on a trip. I immediately requested the next two in the series from the library