January 6, 2011

a book a day keeps the doctor away

I set a goal to read 12 years this book and review them (yes, only 12) and I finished just under the wire! If you're looking for a good book to read, take a look at some that I found interesting last year.

Book: Eat, Pray, Love
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Read in: March 2010
# of stars I gave: up for debate
My review: Ok- here's the dealio.  I first read this book in 2008 & gave it a whopping 5 stars.  Say WHAT?  I re-read it in March of last year & pretty much hated it.  Hated it so much, I couldn't bring myself to review it again. Here's my review of the book from 2008- I started out loving this book, loved it some more, got to India & started hating it... like it more in Indonesia & at the end I finally got to the point of loving it again. I found that at one point in the book I really read her spiritual experience w/ a closed mind & was disappointed in myself for that. All in all, I really love the honesty of Elizabeth Gilbert & the risks she took to leave a life of ease & security to lead one of truth & peace.
Man.  What a difference two years makes...

Book: The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
Read in: April 2010
# of stars I gave: 3
My review: Really enjoyed this book- especially after I learned that the author was raped as a young woman. The fact that the author had first-hand experience of such a brutal attack added a lot of validity to the story, to me. I saw the movie too & liked it a lot, unlike many people I know who both read the book & watched the movie. I would recommend this book to people who aren't worried about living in fear of their children getting kidnapped or hurt- ever since, I've been keeping an even tighter grip on the little ones that I share.

Book: The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers
Author: Carroll Spinney with J. Milligan
Read in: May 2010
# of stars I gave: 5
My review: I read this book in a day or so & loved it so much! This book is written by the sole puppeter of Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch &, holy moly, he seems like such a happy, grateful, average, hard-working guy. I loved learning about how the Bird actually works, along w/ the behind-the-scenes stories about the Street. Each chapter of the book is titled w/ what the lesson is to be learned from that set of pages but, really, the titles are just dumb & catchy & mean nothing. But, man- what a neat guy Caroll Spinney is! I wish I could go to Utah in 1964 & hang out w/ Jim Henson in a bar too...

Book: Me Talk Pretty One Day 
Author: David Sedaris
Read in: June 2010
# of stars I gave: 4
My review: It was recommended to me to listen to David Sedaris' books on tape because he's so stinking funny reading them aloud. I did listen & loved hearing his voice & I think I understood more of what he meant by the stories by his inflections & tone. I was CRAZY disappointed to find out that the book on tape left out a lot of the essays from the written book. Isn't that illegal? Overall, "Me Talk Pretty One Day" was full of super funny stories of a neurotic, narcisistic, recovering addict, pretend visual artist, member of a goofy family & writer.

Book: How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else
Author: Michael Gates Gill
Read in: July 2010
# of stars I gave: 1
My review: This was one of the worst books I have ever read. I still don't entirely understand how Starbucks saved this guys life, other than the fact that he has been able to write a best-selling book about his first year of work there. But, you could make a fun drinking game out of it by taking a drink every time homeboy name drops a famous person from his past. Though I did enjoy reading about Ernest Hemingway.

Yawn. Next, please.

Book: This Common Secret, My Journey as an Abortion Doctor
Author: Susan Wicklund
Read in: July 2010
# of stars I gave: 4
My review: I checked this book out from the library so long ago that I've had to renew it. I was initally drawn to it by it's cover (Yes- I do judge books by their covers. I have a theory behind it too.)& because I have been more drawn towards memoir-esque books lately.

I finally picked up this book to read two days ago & finished it at midnight last night. WOW. What an impactful read. This book tells the professional & personal struggles of an abortion doctor in the late 80s through today. Having officially become an adult in 1999, I realize that I missed the attacks on clinics that were so common of that decade. This woman & her family were harassed & put in danger every single day while other doctors were murdered, some in front of their families.

I am solidly pro-life which means that I am pro ALL forms of life. It makes me sick how these doctors & their families were treated. This book caused me to feel physically ill at some parts & shocked at how discriminatory our "blind" legal system is. This book didn't at all change my views on the act of abortion but it defintely opened my eyes & taught me so much about the culture surrounding it.

I may just have to do a review of this on my blog in the future... (YES, I do!!!)
Book: Can't Wait to Get to Heaven
Author: Fannie Flagg
Read in: August 2010
# of stars I gave: 4
My review: Seriously- who doesn't love Fannie Flagg? I've read several of her books & they bring me more joy than a sack full of White Castles- "Can't Wait to Get to Heaven" was no different.
Like all of her books, "Can't Wait to Get to Heaven" was about real people in the middle of America working & living life with their neighbors & families. While not everyone was the picture of kindness in the book, Elner Shimfissle lived her life showing love & acceptance to all &, as a result, changed a whole lot of lives in the process.

If you want a break from reality to just sit back & laugh your head off at a book, I highly recommend you read "
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven"! However, you may want to read "Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!" & "Standing in the Rainbow" first as I found this book much easier to follow having already been introduced to most of the characters in those two.

Author: Kathryn Stockett
Read in: August 2010
# of stars I gave: 4
My review: I loved this book SO MUCH!!! The story is of three women living in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960's- Skeeter a white, upper class, recent college graduate; Aibileen, a single black maid in her early 50's whose son had been beaten to death by a group of white m en; Minny, a black maid in her 30's with five children & an abusive husband.

I could not put this book down! With every page I read, I felt a little more naive & emotionally unstable- always a good thing when learning about history, in my opinion. Of course I know about the Civil Rights Movement but reading the stories of real "people", in their words, who it affected shed a new light on the hatred & violence that took place. I'm shocked at the discrimination & fear from those years but I'm not ignorant enough to not believe that today there aren't people that view blacks as inferior to whites. & while those closeted racists may not see the need for separate water fountains today, their views are equal to those idiots who opposed equal rights to all.

Read the book, you won't regret it.

Author: Paulo Coelho
Read in: October 2010
# of stars I gave: 3
My review: Slow middle but the end was worth it. (Can you tell I wrote this review as graduate school was starting to kick my arse?)

Book: The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Author: Kim Edwards
Read in: October 2010
# of stars I gave: 4
My review: I found this book so depressing in a crazy amount of ways. BUT, I absolutely loved it. This book shows how one decision someone makes can shape a life- in this case it shaped many lives & not for the better. I would recommend this book to people who want to read about real life- full of mistakes, misunderstandings and just a pinch of grace.

Author: Rhoda Janzen
Read in: October 2010
# of stars I gave: 3
My review: I enjoyed this book a lot & for a lot of reasons I don't feel like writing here. It was a little disorganized though & I couldn't figure out if I was reading about something in present time or the past a lot. I'd recommend it even if Elizabeth Gilbert did too.

Book: Feminist Literary History
Author: Janet M. Todd
Read in: October 2010
# of stars I gave: 2
My review: I've got to get used to reading books that were written for the academy...

I just realized that several of these books have been made into movies... what does this say about my taste in literature?  Maybe I'm more like Oprah than I thought...
I hope you enjoyed learning a little about some of the books I read last year!  If you decide to pick one of them up for yourself this coming year, let me know whatcha think.  :)


  1. I HATED "Eat, Pray, Love"; also liked "Lovely Bones"...haven't read many of the others. Thanks for the list...I'll have to add them to the stack I have at home to read. I'm sure I'll get to them in 2024 when the baby is 13 and wants nothing to do with me.

  2. Oh, the Wisdom of Big Bird looks great! I will have to get my hands on it for sure. I'm also ambivalent about Eat, Pray, Love. I loved Lovely Bones but I read it pre-kids and don't think I could read it now. I am a huge Sedaris fan and have read almost everything he's written. I even got a book signed when he came to Melbourne a few years ago (yay!). I will have to check out some of the other books you enjoyed...so many books, so little time!


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