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July Booklist

1.   The Year of Eating Dangerously, Tom Parker Bowles
      A foray into the world of extreme eating - from super hot chilies to dog meat to insects. Moderately entertaining and slightly more interesting once I realized whose son the author is, but the main thing I took away from this book - after reading time and time again his distress in waking up feeling the ill effects of over indulgence in food and drink and promising himself never EVER to do that again - was that the author needs to learn a little self-control.

2.   The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
       Fun and thoughtful, humorous and serious, sweet and snarky. That's really all you're going to get out of me as far as a review goes. :)

3.   Byzantium: surprisingly life of a medieal empire, Judith Herrin
      A nice overview of the Byzantine empire designed for the layman. Neither too shallow nor too bogged down by details.

4.   Hiding the Elephant, Jim Steinmeyer
      Read this if you have even the slightest bit of interest in magic! The extent of my interest was a sort of "whoa, how'd they do that?" reaction to the movie The Prestige, and I whipped through this book in about two days, so ...
It gives away just enough secrets to be interesting and keeps just enough secrets to remain mysterious. Excellently presented.
From the forward: "Hiding the Elephant is less like a history book than like an unforgettable all-night conversation with a fascinating stranger." Very true.

5.   The Autobiography of the Queen, Emma Tennant
Very much like The Uncommon Reader in tone and content - the style was pleasant but the presentation seemed a bit awkward and disjointed.
6.   Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquievel
      I have mixed feelings on this book. I liked - even LOVED - the style and tone, and the food, and the magical realism. But Pedro was just annoying, and while I had sympathy for Tita, I also wanted to tell her to stand up straight and MOVE ON ALREADY. I didn't buy their great "true love." Doctor John was the only really morally upright character in the whole book.

7.   The Help, Kathryn Stockett
      I was surprised by how much I liked this book.  It was a tricky sort of book to write, and for the most part I think Ms Stockett pulled it off.

8.   If You Could See Me Now, Cecelia Ahern
      Clever premise, awkward execution. Pardon me if I can't believe a love story between a grown woman and an invisible man who is supposedly in his thirties but talks and often acts like a five-year-old.
9.   Real Sex: the naked truth about chastity, Lauren F. Winner
       I have issues with the way many Christians talk (or rather, don't talk) and think about about sex, and this book is an excellent answer to what I see as a common mistakes Christians make when it comes to sexuality. Although the primary reason for the book is a discussion of chastity (what it is, why God calls unmarried Christians to practice it, why it's important), Ms Winner also goes into what I felt were excellent chapters on how to talk about and do sex in a Christian context. Excellent book: this gets five stars from me. I wish all Christians would read it. :)

10. Arthur, King, Dennis Lee Anderson
      Basic plot: King Arthur appears during Britain's hour of greatest need during WWII, takes the roll of fighter pilot, meets a modern-day Jenny (Guenevere), defeats Mordred (fighting on the side of the Huns, of course), and saves England. It was better executed than I expected, but stylistically lacking.

Books from the pile of To Reads: 3


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 2nd, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC)
Book #1
~ Dog meat is actually tasty stuff.

Now you've got me curious about the sex book...
Aug. 2nd, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
It was actually the thing he found hardest to stomach, even though he ate things I'd consider far worse ... rotten (on purpose, but still) foods, insects...

I think you'd approve of the sex book. :)
Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC)
I just read the Real Sex book too, and I agree: it's excellent! I really, really enjoyed it. She has such great things to say.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you agree!
Aug. 2nd, 2010 08:03 pm (UTC)
Ooh.. I want to read the magic one!

For some reason I could've sworn you just recently read The Happiness Project and talked about it, but I must be mixing you up with someone else.

Don't forget to post in the community! :) (Disregard if I am annoying and you don't want to!)
Aug. 2nd, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
I might have blogged about it separately ... I honestly don't remember.

You're not annoying. :) I ran out of time on my lunch break, but I plan to post it tomorrow!
Aug. 3rd, 2010 03:40 am (UTC)
The Year of Eating Dangerously sounds like something I might want to read, but your review makes me unsure.

I'm glad you liked The Happiness Project and I agree COMPLETELY with you on If You Could See Me Now. So far PS. I Love You has been the only one of her books worth reading.
Aug. 3rd, 2010 08:21 am (UTC)
I *liked* Eating Dangerously, but I can't pretend it was as good as many of the other food-related books I've read. I'm not sorry I read it, though!

Good to know about Ahern! I'll try PS sometime. :)
Aug. 3rd, 2010 08:24 am (UTC)
What are some of your favourite food-related books? I've just gotten The Debt To Pleasure by John Lanchester out of the library, and have Sapphire and Garlic (or something like that...) on hold.

PS. I Love You is adorable! I read it in one sitting.
Aug. 5th, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC)
Ahhh, Ruth Reichl! I <3 her books. :)

With the caveat that they contain a fair bit of bad language (what IS it with chefs being so foul mouthed?!), my favorites are any of Anthony Bourdain's books.

Other really excellent ones (and better as far as content) are The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin, and one called Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant. :)
Aug. 6th, 2010 04:26 am (UTC)
Good to know :) I read the first 20 pages of The Debt to Pleasure and had to give up - the writing style just wasn't my cup of tea at all. Life is too short for boring books.

But I'm looking forward to reading Ruth Reich now!

I've read Kitchen Confidential and loved it! I want to get hold of A Cook's Tour now, but haven't been able to find it yet.

Thanks for the recommendations, I'm heading off to check them out at goodreads right away! :)
Aug. 6th, 2010 02:43 pm (UTC)
Life is too short for boring books.


Ahhh, I have A Cook's Tour next to my bed waiting to be read. I wish I could loan it to you. :)
Aug. 9th, 2010 08:47 am (UTC)
I wish you could too... especially if you could loan it to me in person! :D
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )