Sunday, March 19, 2017


Published by Pegasus, 2015. Hardcover, 336 pgs
Goodreads Description

    A nice little collection of essays I found while "browsing" in my library. Ha! While I know nothing of Michael Dirda, I liked his bookish observations. He recommended reading this in small chunks instead of straight through. I didn't listen, but don't feel like it affected my enjoyment.
      My favorites? His small press recommendations, odes to more obscure titles, and adventures in thrift stores. There was even an essay titled "Charlottesville"- which was an extra delight since that's my hometown! The conclusion of this book felt satisfying and complete, like you'd been on a journey with him in his time with The American Scholar publication: "I just metaphorically saunter along, whistling a happy tune, and hope that my effusions turn out to be mildly entertaining." They were.


Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. Hardcover, 181 pgs
Goodreads Description

     A tiny little book, I enjoy picking up stories about portraits of marriage. There were parts that gave me appropriate empathetic pangs...."And that phrase-"sleeping like a baby." Some blond said it blithely on the subway the other day. I wanted to lie down next to her and scream for five hours in her ear."      However, the format was too disjointed for my liking, even though I appreciated the observations. It felt similar to poetry that is a struggle. I was left wanting more, especially from a book that has been touted by some of my favorite literary websites. Offill writes candidly and well, but I don't think I'll find it memorable in a couple weeks.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2017. Hardcover, 224 pgs
Goodreads Description

    I'm not sure what it says about me that my first thought upon seeing this Book of the Month selection was, #goals? Although I would need a library and Starbucks. And showers. And stealing would spike my anxiety level through the roof- so the whole endeavor would be for naught. Suppose I'll settle for a one or two room cabin in the country- legally- upon retirement.
      Anywho, hermits are a primal fascination, and Finkel tells a riveting story filled with all the details you'd crave if you picked this up in the first place. If walking into the Maine woods one day with little more than the clothes on your back and staying for 27 YEARS doesn't make you "Whaaaaaaa???" I don't know what will. From the extensive surveillance of the Game Warden, to the hidden and impressive camp set up, to Christopher Knight's reacclimation into normal society, the truth is more bizarre than any fiction novel one could read.
      The inability to categorize this individual, combined with Finkel's research into other hermits honor codes/concepts of solitude, make for a fast-paced sociological thriller. I'm very interested in picking up the books that Knight found intriguing, as well as the ones Finkel used to further his own understanding of the lifestyle.
      The ingenious way Knight covered his tracks, the resident's reactions in the area, and items that corroborated his assertions of disappearance almost three decades previous- were bonkers. I whipped through this in an afternoon, and while I would have read a 500 page account, I appreciated that Finkel didn't unnecessarily draw out the story. Highly recommend to any non-fiction lover, or any person who's had an inkling to get in the car and get away from it all from time to time.


Friday, March 3, 2017


Goodreads Description
Published by Running Press, 2013. Paperback, 256 pgs

      Sincero drops serious knowledge in this book. Unapologetic and direct about the excuses we all make, she manages to make you feel empowered and good while reading- instead of guilty (which most of us are, but anyway). Anyone who has read a self-help book or two would expect a few repeat items, but her twist on suggesting behaviors (yes, that we should already have the intuition to do) was incredibly entertaining and insightful.  
       We are all weirdos, and she highlights actionable steps needed to silence the naysaying voices deep in our subconscious. The general idea being: it takes the same (or less) amount of energy to honor ourselves vs. critiquing the mess out of our lives. Do we really want to spend our one life in "The Big Snooze" or really go for it? I wish all self-helpy books felt this good to read. Her humor and candor about successful people who decided to get over themselves and live a life they were destined for was truly inspiring. One of my favorite sections was "Self-Perception is a Zoo". We are generally unsurprised when those we look up to do something amazing, but somehow imagine ourselves doomed to failure for attempting anything close.
       Who doesn't want to live with the gusto that a small child or animal has when discovering something unfamiliar? Pure joy and exploration are their impulses, and somehow we become imprinted with social norms and comparison past a certain age. The section on ingrained fears about money- whether having too little or too much- was also eye-opening. The whole book is essentially a wake up call.
      I adored how the end of each chapter was the reminder to Love Yourself, with a differently worded reminder of how to do so. No matter what, all the time. This must me constant. Sincero leaves you with a great reference section of further reading/some of her faves, so take notes! This book is not getting donated, as I know I'll return to it multiple times for inspiration. I have a feeling you will too if you give it a chance. This is a book for all humans- no matter what age, gender, or background, or ethnicity.    

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Published by Headline (an Hachette UK Company), 2011. Paperback, 341 pgs.
Goodreads Description

       I'd heard of this book in passing, and was utterly delighted to receive it in a blind book order I placed with Brittany from the Etsy shop Under the Radar Books. After reading this, I'm honestly surprised at the one and two star reviews. Even if this isn't your favorite read, the writing alone deserves praise. Winman uses quirky and wonderfully drawn characters to tell this coming of age story. Love is present in many forms, and the title derives from little Elly's rabbit who she names God- unintentionally upsetting many with her "blasphemy."
      I appreciated the astute observations Winman gave her young protagonist. Kids notice everything.
" 'What a lovely house' said my mother, with not a jealous thought coursing through her mind. She was always like that: grateful for life itself. Her glass was not only half full, it was gold plated with a permanent refill." As with any novel that spans decades, tragedy does strike. The characters were distinct-so realistically grieved differently. There was also an emphasis on appreciating our health, which most of us take for granted.
     I don't think this book was just "ordinary". I will remember these characters. It reminded me in ways of another beloved book, Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple. This was more serious and less slapstick, but I can see the characters being friends....parents and kids alike. From Eleanor Maud's relationship with her brother, parents, Jenny Penny, Arthur, Ginger, Aunt and many others as her life evolves, the reader goes on a beautiful journey of her life.