Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What I've Been Reading Lately

I haven't had a reading recap in a while and I think I should get on it before I hit you with a bombardment of Advent, Advent, Advent! Or; All Advent, All the Time! (I'm still coming up with a jingle.) Do you give books for gifts at Christmas? They're obviously some of my favourite things to receive, but I know it can be risky giving books when you don't know what exactly the person likes to read, but if you have a clue as to what they enjoy then hopefully these reviews can help you out.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

I know, I'm two years late in reading this one, but I do need to officially state how much I enjoyed reading this which caught me off guard because there were so many conflicting reviews of this book. I thought it was going to be frivolous or with a bad sense of humour, but what I found was the sense of humour was sarcastic and spot-on, the writing style interesting and surprising, and the story oddly heart-warming. I also got a kick out of it since going to Seattle a couple weeks before reading because the novel takes aim at Seattle culture, it's technology industry, the weather, and the five-way intersections. I enjoyed that I kinda got the small Seattle jokes. I think this would be a great book to give to a girlfriend who's got a sense of humour (which should be any good girlfriend, btw). 

Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson

Every once in a while I need to read some kind of foodie book. It's a genre that's taking over my literary life somehow, and I'm not sure if it's simply because I'm falling for a giant trend or that I just love the celebrity, high-food culture, or because I've been a loyal fan of Top Chef since it began. Either way I didn't know what to expect from this book since stereotypically chefs tend to live rough lifestyles, but Samuelsson proves a very honest writer of his life experiences. I appreciated how he treated so many things about his life; from being adopted by Swedish parents from Ethiopia, his mistakes made in his youth, what he missed out on by devoting himself to work, and his appreciation of his Ethiopian heritage with a fair and humble honesty, you never get the impression he's making things sounds better for the book. He's clearly a genius with food, which plays a part in the book but is no means the foot he leads with. A good book to give to the foodie in your life, or anyone who favours a decent memoir/autobiography.

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

I flew through this book even though it's got a good amount of bad language and drug use - fair warning. It's a strangely compelling novel about the life of a ballerina, her marriage and son, and her past. The writing is vivid and very well done while bringing the world of professional ballet to life. If you've got a friend who likes chick-lit but also has an eye for a literary novel, this is a mix of both worlds.

This was the book about World War I that I mentioned a while back that I happened to be reading around Remembrance Day. It amazingly was not a depressing account of World War I, but realistically told a soldiers harrowing experiences as well as a touching yet accurate account of life on the home front. I really enjoyed that the main character is from Nova Scotia and that the book highlights Canada's important sacrifice in the war. This was a very readable historical fiction novel, with a great story to make the war not completely overwhelming to the reader. If you're an avid historical fiction reader I'd definitely recommend it, and if you have a historical fiction fan to shop for this would make a great addition to their library.

Arleen is an upcoming guest on the podcast so I wanted to read her book before talking to her and I'm so glad I did. Arleen does a great job talking about chastity and why it's important in an approachable and relatable way. She doesn't give anyone easy answers, but presents the beauty of Catholic teaching head on. She lays out why chastity is important when single because sex is meant for marriage, but she also does justice to the virtue itself by emphasizing that chastity is something every person in every state of life is called to, even us married folk! I love how she distinctly clarifies the very important difference between abstinence and chastity; they're two drastically different things. This would make a great gift for any single Catholic you know, not because it is patronizing, but because it shares the story of someone walking the same road when often it feels like if you're single and not having sex you're a complete anomaly. 

I'm linking up with Jenna because, hey these are 5 books, so head over there for some great faves of this week. 
Also, links are affiliate, so if Amazon is your current shopping choice by clicking through my links a couple cents of any purchase you make will go to me and helping keep up ye old blog, thanks!                                   

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  1. Ha! I just read #1 (as you know) and ## 2 &3 are on my nightstand right now. :-) I'm reading Bel Canto first though. . . . One more thing about #1 is that it had a wise-for-her-years adolescent girl w/o her being a smart*ss. It's snarky and over-the-top but still had a degree of subtlety that, say, Gilmore Girls doesn't (IMHO). Although in GG, it's the mom who's the smart*ss, at least in the first few episodes. But you know what I mean?

  2. My best friend is a PhD student in English and lived in (and loved) Seattle for many years. The first one sounds perfect for her, but I'm afraid she's read it already since you said it was popular. Maybe I'll get it anyway and just assume she hasn't had much time to read outside of stuff for herdissertation.

    I think I'll check out the World War I book for myself. Sounds right up my alley.

  3. Oh these all look great! Particularly #s 1,3,&5. (And again I'm in awe of all the reading you get done! )

  4. I enjoyed Bernadette, too. And the WWI book sounds interesting. Always love to hear what you're reading, Christy!

  5. How on earth do you have time to read? Seriously. I can't get time to finish a book in less than two months. And those all sound like good reads...

  6. Oooooo, they all sound good. I don't anticipate having much time to read, but I am definitely saving this list for myself for a few months down the road.

  7. Thanks for the Yes Chef recommendation! I bought it for my chef brother (he's always tough to buy for) and am giving to him for his birthday.


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