I finally finished Hunting and Gathering by Anna Galavada a few days ago — it is the longest book I’ve read in years. It is the story of three unlikely friends living in Paris who create their own unconventional family when their own families let them down. The book is character-driven, rather than plot-driven. In close to 500 pages, Galavada delves deep into each of character’s backstory, and explores the way their personal histories impact their relationships with others. I did feel that the book was a bit longer than it needed to be, but I enjoyed it. I noticed that there is a movie version, featuring the actress who played Amelie! Maybe I can watch it on Netflix someday.
We returned from our honeymoon trip Saturday, and it’s been a whirlwind of catching up on work at home and in the office ever since. I’ll post a few pics from the trip later, but for now, I thought I’d mention the books I finished reading before, during and right after our trip.
First, I read Z: a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. The first great thing about this book is that the author went to my alma mater, N.C. State. After reading The Paris Wife , the story of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, I was interested to read about Fitzgerald’s wife. The stories intersected a great deal, because of the circle both couples belonged to in Paris. I must say, I enjoyed reading about Zelda a great deal more than reading about Hadley Hemingway. While Zelda’s story was not ultimately happy, she was a lively and unique woman with many talents and skills of her own. While Hadley’s story involved her being Hemingway’s doormat at all times, Zelda was much more her own person with hobbies and ideas of her own. I really enjoyed this book!
Next, I read The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro. It was an exciting and suspenseful, yet fictional, twist on the story of the real-life art thefts from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I don’t want to give any of the plot away, but this book was really great.
The final book I read on the trip was The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin, which went hand-in-hand with Z and The Paris Wife. It was the story of Anne Morrow, the wife of famous aviator Charles Lindenbergh. I enjoyed learning about Anne’s life, but after reading all three books about women with such oppressive husbands, I felt a bit depressed. Anne’s life was very exciting at times, but ultimately, Charles was in control. I guess all I can say is that I’m glad times have changed.
Is it ok if I don’t really say much about Farewell Waltz by Milan Kundera? I decided to read it because we’re leaving for our honeymoon trip to Prague and Paris this weekend (!!!), and Kundera is a Czech/French author. I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being during my first trip to Prague, and I loved the story that took place in the city where I was living at the time. Farewell Waltz wasn’t bad, and I didn’t hate it. I just didn’t love it or even care very much about it.
Let’s see how many books I can read during about 20 hours of airplane time over the next week!
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros was short and pleasant to read. This classic novel is written from the point of view of a young girl living with her parents and siblings in a poor Latino neighborhood in Chicago. While the heroine, Esperanza, is surrounded by poverty and sadness, she sees joy and excitement in small things in her neighborhood and amongst her neighbors. She dreams each day of living in a real house away from Mango Street with two stories and a beautiful yard. The book comes across as a collection of short stories, or anecdotes, told by Esperanza. Some are sad, and some are uplifting. I highly recommend reading this!
After all the craze over The Great Gatsby over the past year, I wasn’t even surprised when I stumbled upon a “Party at Gatsby’s” cropped tank on Pinterest. I guess there are worse cultural obsessions than a classic piece of literature! While I love Gatsby as much as the next person, I decided it was time I read something else by Fitzgerald. I chose This Side of Paradise. The book–Fitzgerald’s first–is the semi-autobiographical story of a wealthy, egotistical young man beginning in his late childhood years and ending in his mid twenties. The language in this book was pretty tedious for me, and I didn’t really enjoy much of it. I actually checked Spark Notes when I was finished reading just to make sure I had actually understood everything that happened, and thankfully, I had.
Even though this wasn’t my favorite book, it was interested to read Fitzgerald’s earliest work, written when he was just 23-years-old.
My opinion of this book was probably doomed from moment I placed it on hold at the library. After reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene this spring, I was obsessed. I just had to read more by the author, and hoped Looking for Alaska would be as great (or greater!) Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed.
I think the reason for my disappointment is the fact that while both books fall under the Young Adult category, the heroine in The Fault in Our Stars is wise beyond her years. She’s a high school student, but because she’s battling cancer, she has a wisdom that is unmatched, even among adults. In Looking for Alaska, the characters are high school students who come across as…high school students. I thought the story was fairly compelling, but I just didn’t love it the way I loved Stars.
Oh well, on to the next book! I’m looking forward to some extended reading time as I fly to and from Chicago this weekend for the BlogHer Conference. Plus, I’ll see Shana there!
I can’t lie. The reason I picked Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters was 95% the nice cover art and 5% that I saw it had good reviews on Good Reads. Luckily, judging this book by its cover worked out in the end. It was one of those books that tells the stories of several different characters throughout, and their paths all intersect at the end. The book centers primarily on a love story in a tiny coastal town in Italy, and covers several decades of time. It was an enjoyable, easy read, and perfect for summer.
Something sort of strange happened a few Saturdays ago. Alex and I headed to our new favorite coffee shop in the neighborhood to use someone else’s air conditioning for a while. I had requested 10 books from the New York Public Library, and eight of them came in at once. I decided I had better start getting through the stack, and chose Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn to start. I had heard a lot of buzz about about the book, but didn’t know any of the plot details. I started reading and COULD NOT STOP. We hung around the coffee shop for an hour or so, then went back home. I kept reading. I stopped for a quick trip to the grocery store, and then to make dinner, and started up again. Before I knew it, it was after midnight and I was on the last few pages of the book! Gone Girl, a murder mystery, was so gripping that I read all 450ish pages in one day. The whole story was mind boggling. Pick a day that you have lots of free time to start reading this book!
There are just 23 days to go until our wedding, and it can’t get here soon enough! With all of the details planned and ready for the wedding, and our new apartment secured (in Greenwich Village!), all that’s left to do is read books and pass the time until June 8.
The longer I live in New York, the more I love books based in the five boroughs. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles not only takes place in Manhattan, but was also an excellent follow-up to The Paris Wife by Paula McClain. Set in the decade following The Paris Wife, the characters in Rules of Civility read and discuss the recent works of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and I feel as though they’re chatting about old friends of mine.
It was so fun to read about a young woman, about my age, living in a studio apartment in the East Village. I could picture the blocks she walks down, the jazz clubs, bars and hotels she frequents, and the subways she rides to and from work. The heroine, Katie, is infinitely witty and there is never a dull moment throughout the story as Towles details her roller coaster love life and budding career in journalism. I highly recommend this book to all New Yorkers, and to those who just love the City.
I finished This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper during my flights to and from North Carolina this weekend. I flew home to do some wedding preparations, and it was a very productive weekend! Everything is pretty much all set, and to be honest, I wish the wedding were this weekend instead of one month from now. I’m sure the time will fly by quickly, because I am now in the throes of apartment hunting. Blech.
Anyway, about the book! It was sort of funny to be reading a story about a man’s failed marriage while flying home to plan my wedding. This story is also about a family sitting shiva for their father, and all of the shenanigans that go on during seven days of several people under one roof around the clock. It was enjoyable, and the I liked several of the zany characters. It wasn’t my favorite book ever, but it was a nice read for a plane ride.
P.S. I just noticed there is a movie in the works based on this book! Rose Byrne, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman and Connie Britton are listed in the cast. I will definitely want to see it when it comes out!