Reading Roundup

Hello folks,

I’m just starting to get past my winter slump of mainlining Netflix series directly into my veins.  Something about cold weather and “winter break” makes it impossible not to watch 6 seasons of Gossip Girl over the course of 2 weeks.  It’s not just me, right?  (Disclaimer: I realize Gossip Girl is a terrible show with mostly unlikable characters, but I can’t turn away from the Chuck and Blair storyline.  It’s my guilty pleasure. #ChuckandBlair4Evah)

Getting past the tv slump, simply means books have replaced my favorite shows because LEARNING.  I feel like my brain function is slowly returning to me, one little neuron fire after another.

I started slowly by reading Heat Wave, by “Richard Castle”, which is actually a book based on a tv show.  I told you, I was in a Netflix stupor!

Heat-Wave-book-cover

If you hate reading, but love watching tv, the Richard Castle books are for you.  It reads more like a script than a novel, with so many pop culture references and grammatical errors, it’s almost impossible to read.  One sentence actually used the term “cray-cray”.  I thought the whole book was a joke, but diehard fans of the show (Jonathan) will probably need to own all books in the series.  Not that I know anything about that…*cough*.

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood.

handmaids tale

I thought I would love this book.  It has everything I usually love: a dystopian future, a female author, and strong feminist themes.  However, the execution was a heavy-handed and boring, despite great reviews on Amazon.

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.

gone girl

The perspective and narration were totally unique and unexpected for a who-dun-it.  It was definitely a page turner and took me by surprise.  However, I was still hoping for a bit more complexity…I don’t know how to describe what was lacking, but I would give it a 3 out of 4 stars.

The Rule of Four, by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason.

The_Rule_of_Four

This book was heady and elitist, in part because it was set at Princeton University, but it was still intriguing.  It had a lot of similarities to the Dan Brown series, but I have to say I prefer Dan Brown.  Overall, it was a decent historical adventure.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, by Stephen King.

different seasons

This was my first time reading Stephen King, but I knew the story from the movie.  I was surprised to discover the story was actually a novella and only 150 or so pages long.  It’s incredible how well you know the characters in that amount of time.  The writing was impeccable.  I’m in the middle of his second novella in the Different Seasons series entitled, Apt Pupil, which is equally enthralling.

After all of that reading, I was a little disappointed that I only really liked Gone Girl and Shawshank.  I clearly need help picking out my next book.

Do you have any recommendations?  What are you reading right now?
-Mads

Reading Rainbow: Summer Edition

Hello folks!

One of the best perks of summer, despite the fact that I’m working, is that I have enough time off from course work that I get to read for fun!  My classes officially end in December, but my internship is year round.  Still, I have evenings off and I do not have a stack of textbooks staring me down.

I looked at my bookshelves a few weeks ago and realized my only “light” summer reads were Crime and Punishment and Jane Eyre.  I’ve been wanting to read both for quite some time, but they both require much more brainpower than I’m willing to exert in the summer months.  Does that make me lazy?  Perhaps.  I can accept it.

Given that, I went online and bought a few lighter books to knock out while sipping sangria on the balcony.  Lol, isn’t that the perfect image?  In actuality, I probably read the bulk of these books in bed and fell asleep just as the book smacked into my forehead.  Real life isn’t glamorous.

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Image from Amazon.  Click to be redirected.

Image from Amazon. Click to be redirected.

Every dog owner should read this book.  The story is told from a dog’s perspective over the course of several lifetimes as he discovers his purpose.  It’s simultaneously heart-wrenching and goofy.  I recommend reading it whilst holding your dog tight and never letting go.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Image from Amazon. Click to be redirected.

Image from Amazon. Click to be redirected.

This book follows a traditional old man in England as he deals with aging, his brother’s death, and complicated feelings towards a Pakisttani woman–an outsider who is discriminated against.  I was extremely invested in the characters early on because they are realistic and faulty (my favorite kind of character).  I would say the entire book was a realistic portrait of aging and grief and love until the end, when things took an extremely dramatic turn and it momentarily read like an action novel.  The ending was entirely disconnected from the rest of the book and left a sour taste in my mouth.  Overall verdict: forgettable.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Image from Amazon. Click to be redirected.

Image from Amazon. Click to be redirected.

This book has been sitting on my Kindle for ages.  I got halfway through it this summer and realized I had read it once before several years ago.  I guess that means this story was forgettable too, but I really enjoyed following the characters a second time.  The plot centers around one woman, but each chapter shows a unique view from a different member of the small town.  The author does a really beautiful job of showing human sadness and strength.

Next up on the reading list: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

What are you reading this summer?  Do you read “light” for the summer months too?  

-Mads

Reading Rainbow Roundup

Hello loves,

I recently posted a “to read” reading list, and I was actually able to read a handful of them.  Rejoice!  I thought now would be a great time to report back, as we are finally getting into the post-holiday lull.

Are you feeling the lull?  Truth be told, this semester is whipping by, but I could definitely use a little more fun reading time in my life.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Click image for original source. From cherylstrayed.com

Click image for original source. From cherylstrayed.com

Wild is a true memoir about a young woman who hits rock bottom in her life and spontaneously decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (a treacherous mountain trail from Mexico to Canada) by herself.  As a first time hiker, she has to dig deep within herself to keep moving forward and to conquer all of the crazy adventures that meet her on the trail.  It was really well-written and will make you laugh and cry.  I am nothing like the main character, yet she is completely relatable.  You need to read this.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Juliet Ashton
Click to be redirected to original source at Mazurkaplan.com

Click to be redirected to original source at Mazurkaplan.com

Kat recommended this book long ago and I avoided it for so long because it has a stupid title.  Seriously. I am embarrassed to tell people how good this book is because the title is so goofy.  However, this was a wonderful book!  It’s about a writer who is looking for writing material after WWII.  She finds a little town chock full of stories of how a group of friends survived the war together through books.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Click to be redirected to original source at Wikipedia

Click to be redirected to original source at Wikipedia

The Poisonwood Bible was on Oprah’s book club list, so you know it’s a little intense.  It’s about a family who goes to the Congo for missionary work and the story of how their family falls apart.  It shows you 5 different perspectives (it’s narrated by 5 different characters in the story) on religion, family, marriage, and other big-life issues.  I thought the characters were fairly static, but I think that was probably Kingsolver’s intention, in an effort to show 5 perspectives that can all exist within 1 person.  At least, that’s how I interpreted the book.  This book is definitely a conversation-starter and will challenge your own belief system.

Do yourself a favor and read them all.  Immediately.

What are you reading now?  Have you read any of the books I listed?  If so, what did you think?

-Mads

My Reading List

Hello everyone!

 

Having a month off from school gave me some time to evaluate my fun reading materials.  Most recently, I got halfway through the second Game of Thrones book and decided I did not need to read the book AND watch the show, so I gave up.  I normally read the book if it turns into a movie, but I couldn’t justify spending that much time on an entire TV series and a series of books.  It was exhausting.

 

For the time being, I’m going to read a few books that are not a part of a series.  Phew!  I received a few recommendations from friends that moved to the top of my reading list.
I typically read historical fiction, popular fiction, sci-fi/fantasy/epics, and non-fiction…so…most things.

 

Here’s what’s on my list so far:
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl
Click image for original source. From thebooklion.wordpress.com

Click image for original source. From thebooklion.wordpress.com

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Click image for original source.  From goodreads.com

Click image for original source. From goodreads.com

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Click image for original source. From bookishbent.blogspot.com

Click image for original source. From bookishbent.blogspot.com

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Click image for original source. From goodreads.com

Click image for original source. From goodreads.com

Dry by Augusten Burroughs
Click image for original source. From thebookcellarnh.wordpress.com

Click image for original source. From thebookcellarnh.wordpress.com

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggars (also What is the What)
Click image for original source. From bookswim.com

Click image for original source. From bookswim.com

The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead by David Shields
Click image for original source. From barnesandnoble.com

Click image for original source. From barnesandnoble.com

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Click image for original source. From cherylstrayed.com

Click image for original source. From cherylstrayed.com

Life Among Giants by Bll Roorbach
Click image for original source. From lifeamonggiantsthebook.com

Click image for original source. From lifeamonggiantsthebook.com

There are definitely more to read than this, but these particular ones caught my eye.  I’m taking a few on my Kindle for the honeymoon and I’ll report back with my thoughts.
What have you read lately that you fell in love with? 

-Mads

Summer Reading List

As the fall semester approaches, I realize my “reading for fun” time is sure to come to a screeching halt.  Instead of moping, I thought I would regale you with a brief review of the books I read this summer (and yes, I did not read nearly as much as I hoped).

Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin:

I love epic novels and this one didn’t disappoint.  The family lineage of each house was a fun challenge to follow throughout the plot and I especially appreciated the bits of magic sprinkled here and there.  However, I spent the majority of my time comparing it to Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth, another epic novel in a similar setting.  Pillars is easily one of my all-time favorites and Game of Thrones didn’t even come close.

Now the debate is: do I continue reading the series because I hear it keeps getting better?  Or do I give up and spend my time on something more productive?

 Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James:

Stupid.  I wish I could leave the review at that, but I can’t.  I read the first book and then quickly read the next two in the series because I turned into a crazed preteen girl.  I do not recommend reading these books to anyone because they are so poorly written, the characters have no basis in reality, and the “vivid sex scenes” quickly blur into one boring romp in the sheets.  That being said, I dare you to read a few pages without quickly finishing the rest of the book.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson:

I honestly can’t believe I’ve been blogging for (two?) years without reviewing a Bryson book.  He is easily one of my favorite authors because his dry sarcasm blends wonderfully with his brilliant descriptions of his world travel adventures.  My dad also grew up a few streets down from Bryson in Iowa, so I see them as one in the same.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid did not disappoint, but it was not as ripe with wit as his other works (Neither Here Nor There had me cry-laughing on the bus to work).  I saw this book as a memoir of Bryson’s childhood in the 50s and a glimpse into a better time in American history.

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman:

This has been on my reading list for well over a year, so I was antsy to finally read it.  To be honest, I had a really hard time getting into this book.  It is a piece of non-fiction, but the author felt so far removed from the “characters” that I had a hard time investing in their lives.  I soldiered on and found myself marveling at the horrific parallels between the zoo animal genealogy and the Nazi’s quest for race “purification”.  Diane Ackerman paints a beautiful and haunting picture of one family’s struggle to maintain a zoo and simply survive in Nazi-invaded Poland.

What are you reading this summer?  What should I add to my reading list?

-Mads

Tribute to Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman is my culinary hero.

Let me count the ways:

1- The Minimalist

2- The Minimalist Podcast

3- Mark’s blog

4- How to Cook Everything

5- How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

6- How to Cook Everything apps for smart phones/iPads (I recently downloaded this bad boy and I don’t know how I lived without it.)

7- Mr. Bittman’s new opinion column for The Times.

8- The fact that he’s not a trained chef.

9- How Marky Mark uses minimal tools in the kitchen.  This is also the reason I don’t like Alton Brown.  YIPES!  I said it aloud.  It’s on my blog.  The world now knows my dark and dirty secret.  For dramatic flair, I will say it again…I don’t like Alton Brown.

10- The food.

Who is your favorite in the culinary world?

-Mads

Gossip Gals

So, I am friends with one special pair of people.  These strong vibrant women decided to start a blog, and I couldn’t be happier.  GOSSIP GALS

One of them has been a friend of mine since high school and the other popularized the phrase, “My vagina, my business.”  And how can you go wrong there?

So, hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husbands… ’cause this blog is ’bout to rape err’body.

-Mads