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MOAM Book Club Summer 2019

Oops. I started writing this post way back in July when the summer was stretched out in front of me. And now it’s almost over. But not quite. The days are still long and if you try really hard it’s possible to channel that summery vibe. Especially if you step outside and feel the heat (and humidity. #MonicafromFriends) If you can’t stand the heat, get into the air con – with a fabulous book or three. Here is your MOAM Book Club – Summer Edition. Better late than never…

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This book introduced me to Reese Witherspoon’s book club. I know, I can’t believe I typed that either. But it did and I’m so glad because while all her choices aren’t for me (The Library. Half fab. Half agony), this one was amazing. Terrific storytelling about a wild child growing up alone in the marshes of North Carolina. I couldn’t put it down. Neither will youC

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

This debut novel is an award-winning, buzzed-about book by a young and super talented new voice. A college-aged couple of exes find themselves entangled with an older, “cooler” married couple….A lot of feelings are felt and analyzed and while I didn’t actually love it, I appreciated the writing itself so I’m keeping it on the list. Also because Rooney’s second novel was incredible.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

This sophomoric outing by Sally Rooney grabbed me from page one and wouldn’t let me go. This is a love story between two high schoolers who become secret friends, then lovers, then exes… on repeat. They drift apart and are drawn back together over the years, from school to college to beyond graduation. I adored it and may have finished it in about 3 days.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

This is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in the close-knit Muslim community in Toronto. This isn’t a particularly challenging read, but I’m a Jane Austen fan and this was a frothy, fun read that is perfect for summer – or anytime.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I absolutely adored this epic, award-winning novel. A generational saga set in Korea and Japan, this was a sweeping, heart-breaking and absolutely fantastic study of characters, history, class and family. One story would cede into the next in a totally satisfying way and I can honestly say that despite being over 500 pages, it wasn’t long enough!

Golden Child: A Novel by Claire Adams

Set in rural Trinidad, this is the tale of a family with twin sons: one is a genius who brings his family nothing but joy while the other is a challenging, non-conforming boy who brings nothing but trouble. A series of events leads the family to grapple with the age-old issue of how far they would go to ensure the success if their children? And at what expense? Heartbreaking.

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

Four siblings are left to their own devices while their mom endures a period of depression. Another decade-spanning saga of characters that grow apart and reconnect. I fully invested in each of the siblings and, while the book isn’t perfect, it’s a beautifully written exploration of love, loss and family.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

Every review of this book compares it to An American Marriage and The Mothers and, frankly, I couldn’t put it better myself. When Althea, the eldest of three girls, and her husband are arrested, the younger sisters must return to their childhood home to care for their teenage nieces as the trial looms. Facing demons, understanding memories and all the angst and emotions that go with it are beautifully layered in this story of family and forgiveness that is page turning and fabulous.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t read this story of the rise and fall of the legendary 70’s band? Really?? What are you waiting for? The series? Yes, an adaptation of the “definitive history” is in the works. And yes, it’s fiction. Cleverly written as an oral history, complete with interviews with the band and their entourage, Daisy Jones is the perfect end-of-summer easy, breezy read.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

When a woman loses her best friend, she finds herself saddled with his unwanted dog, a troubled and mourning Great Dane. Obviously, I was all over this book. It’s a little trippy and unconventional, but I loved this study of friendship, loss, love and relationships – between friends, lovers, and dogs.

The Secrets Between Us / The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

I had The Space Between Us on my to-read list for years. And I’m so glad I held off reading this incredible story about a disillusioned upper-middle class housewife and her illiterate, long-term maid and confident. Why so glad, you ask? Because by the time I finished the book, 8 years after it was published, the sequel had been released! I was able to keep going with this unbelievable story of modern India, castes, class, gender and friendship. Lucky me – and now, lucky you!!

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

The tagline of this novel is “friends come and go…ambition is forever”. Kinda cheesy, but kinda fun in a single-white-female way! Two friends: one has it all. One wants it all. BFF’s become frenemies. You know the drill. Except you don’t. Read on…

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

I love me a multi-generational family drama. This one starts in the 70’s and follows a couple, their four daughters and their extended family as they navigate the ups and downs of marriage, sisterhood and relationships. Throw a secret adopted kid into the mix, add some serious dysfunction, and then try to put this one down.

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Just when he thought he’d come to terms with the end of his 15-year marriage, Toby Fleishman finds himself charting new territory when his ex-wife disappears. People are loving this perceptive story of marriage, relationships and the narratives we tell ourselves. I felt the lead up was way too long and the big reveal, when it comes, was underp-explored. Still, everyone keeps asking if I’ve read it and loved it. Yes, I have. But no, I didn’t.

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Years by Ruth Reichl

This memoir traces Reichl’s rise through the food-writing ranks: from freelance foodie, to NY Times restaurant critic, to helming Gourmet magazine from its peak to its demise. Entertaining, (ahem) dishy, and delicious – plus there are recipes!!

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Oh, Elizabeth Gilbert. How I love your writing. And how I long to edit your storytelling. There’s such great juicy stuff in this book, and it’s a quick and engaging read. I loved world of the 1930’s NYC Theatre set. I loved the premise of a “naughty girl” sent from the suburbs to stay with her flamboyant aunt. I love that she found her freedom – sexual and otherwise – and met a slew of compelling, wild characters. But I hated the narration/framing device. Like Eat, Pray, Love – I loved the Eat, loathed the Pray, and liked the Love. Two outta three ain’t bad….

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

This timely “me-too” story of feminism and friendship is bound to be adapted for TV sometime soon. It already reads like an episodic TV series. Even as I devoured it, I couldn’t believe I liked it. There’s more than a hint of Big Little Lies in these pages and though it isn’t nearly as great, there’s something about this tale of corporate cover ups, ambition and sisterhood that had me hooked.

Machines like Me by Ian McEwan

Disclosure: I am a massive Ian McEwan fan. He could write out a grocery list and I’d read it. Even when he’s flawed, he’s fab. This book is set in an alternate version of 1980’s Thatcherite London and revolves around a threesome: Charlie, a lazy and lost day trader, his neighbour Miranda, with whom he’s in love, and Adam, a far-too-human AI bot. Intriguing, philosophical, and, as always, crazy clever. McEwan has re-written a history. And while it isn’t quite on par with some of his other works, it’s thought-provoking and brilliant.

AUDIBLE: I’m obsessed with my Audible app. I spend way too much time walking my beast dog and Audible has made me want to walk even more. I have no doubt these books are just as good in print, but holy shit are they compelling in the ears!!!

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Brilliant journalism. Phenomenal narration. The author has sent 8 years embedded in the lives of three very different women in this study of female desire. Sounds like a movie, reads like a novel and is non-fiction at its best.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb: A Therapist, HER Therapist and Our Lives Revealed.

The title says it all. The author is genius in every way and I loved everything about this book – except the narration. I wish I had read this on the page instead of listening. But once I got over the voice I got really into it. You will too. Amazing on every level.

You Don’t Look Your Age…and Other Fairy Tales by Sheila Nevins

O.M.G. Spit takes, snot rockets and overall laugh-out-loud bits of this book put a spring in my step and a smile on my step. Nevins’ essays on aging, errors, and other nightmares is accompanied by a star-studded cast of narrators and is sensational. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. And you’ll laugh some more.

Life Will be the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler

This is Chelsea’s story of her year of therapy and self-discovery. She narrates her own story with bravery, gusto and hilarity. Dark, funny and sad all at once. I’m a fan.

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August 22, 2019   2 Comments

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New year, new books!

Happy 2019 MOAM readers of books and site!

I am not a very good resolution maker, tho I am an excellent resolution breaker. Diets, exercise, work hard, be more present, meditate, breathe….Whatever. And the “don’ts”? I do. There is, however, a new resolution in town. One I keep noticing in various New-Year-New-You pieces. One I actually want to make and can totally keep.

Apparently, the latest craze in resolutions is to read more books! I love that. How about “eat more”, “spend more” and “travel more”? Let’s all climb aboard the “more” resolution train.

(And by reading I also mean “listening to” more books. I have invested in AirPods and they have changed my life. First it was music, then podcasts, and now audible. Dog walking will never be the same. )

January is here. Winter is coming. Here are some great books to get you through it… (sorry – no direct links. I’m neither technologically savvy nor patient enough to add them in). Happy Reading!

THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES – John Boyne

The Irish Catholic Church has a lot to answer for. (Surprise!) Born to an unwed mother in rural Ireland in the 19040’s and adopted into an eccentric Dublin family, young Cyril must figure out the world and his place in it in this brilliant novel.  Spanning several cities over the course of five decades, this excellent novel shows us the best and the very worst of what it means to be alive. Horrifying yet charming, funny but heartbreaking, this is so much more than a coming of age tale or story of struggle. I loved it.

WASHINGTON BLACK – Esi Edugyan

The epic story of a Caribbean slave taken in by his master’s eccentric brother won the 2018 Giller Prize. At age 11, Washington Black meets Titch and together they embark on a life of adventure and learning. It’s not long before Wash must go on the run, travelling from Barbados to the Arctic, Canada to England in search of the true meaning of freedom. Disclaimer: This book started off super-strong but, for me, ultimately traded intricacies and details for plot points. Still, a great novel from an excellent writer.

THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS – Laurie Frankel

Rosie, a doctor, and Penn, an aspiring novelist, live a hectic, unruly life with their four sons. And then their 5th child, Claude, arrives and is a lot more complicated than they could have ever imagined. Secrets kept and shared, family dynamics, nature, nurture and how to be to do the right thing by your child are all issues touched upon in this page-turning, heartwarming book. Very loosely based on the author’s own experiences, the writing can feel a little simple at times, yet it’s always moving and, ultimately, a damn great read.

THE RESURRECTION OF JOAN ASHBY – Cherise Wolas

Joan Ashby is on course to becoming the next Great American Novelist – until she gets married and finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. She soon shelves her literary aspirations to tend to her family. Besieged by great love and, eventually, great betrayal, this is the story of “what could be”, the paths we take, and the choices we both make and are given. Interwoven throughout the novel are pieces of Joan’s work, making this a truly literary piece of art. I love how this book was crafted and wish I was still reading it now! Spectacular.

THE FAMILY TABOR – Cherise Wolas

This book received terrific reviews and I was more interested in this one than the author’s first book (above). But because I adored the debut novel, this one couldn’t possibly live up to my expectations. When a philanthropist patriarch is being honoured, his entire family turns out to fete him – until he disappears. Family dynamics and age-old secrets play out over the course of one weekend as it explores the stories we tell each other – and ourselves. If that hasn’t been snapped up for a film or TV adaptation, it will be soon enough….

EDUCATED – Tara Westover

I feel like I was a little late to the party on this one. Everyone seems to have read – and loved – this crazy-ass memoir of a girl who, born into a survivalist family, starts school at age 17 and ends up graduating from Cambridge. Tara’s upbringing is unconventional, to say the very least. Turning these pages I couldn’t believe she managed to survive her childhood, let alone thrive. But thrive she did – because she is beyond brilliant. This is an uncomfortable read, but well worth it.  If you think you have have obstacles in your life’s path, wait ’til you get a load of these…

HOME FIRE – Kamila Shamsie

I loved, loved, loved LOVED this book. I couldn’t put it down (and neither could my man, FYI). This is the story of two very different Pakistani families living in London and it’s one helluva ride. Told from several points of view, this is gorgeously written and a total page turner. I was completely transported and duly devastated when I finished it. Of course I had to find out more. Like the fact that it’s based on the myth of Antigone (google it). Or it was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. And it won the Women’s prize for fiction. Don’t ask. Just read.

THE GREAT BELIEVERS – Rebecca Makkai

There were two intertwining parts to this acclaimed novel. One is all about friendship, love and loss in 80’s Chicago. And then there’s the other part. To be honest, the “other part” (set in Paris today) left me cold. But the thrust of the book, set among a group of wonderful friends, the specter of AIDS looming over them, was amazing. This is the story of growing up, branching out, finding passion, and trying to stay alive.

A PLACE FOR US – Fatima Farheen Mirza

An Indian-American family must balance expected tradition with the progressive culture in which they now live. Family dynamics, parents and children, love and estrangement are all here in this magnificent book. As the family struggles between faith and choices, the fallout becomes devastating. This is a quiet and stunning book, the debut of a supremely talented young writer who is totally impressive.

NINE PERFECT STRANGERS – Liane Moriarty

I am a huge Liane Moriarty fan (since long before Big Little Lies on TV, thankyouverymuch). I pre-ordered this book and couldn’t wait to read it. And while the author’s talent for spinning a yarn is crystal clear, I didn’t love this one as much as I’d hoped to. I didn’t even like it all that much. I’m adding it to the list because everyone keeps asking me if I’ve read it. I have. If you’re looking for a Liane Moriarty book, check out The Husband’s Secret…

DARING GREATLY – Brene Brown

After reading the excerpts, watching the Ted Talks and hearing the podcasts, I convinced myself that I had read or heard everything Brene Brown had to offer. And then I downloaded this book on Audible and walked my way through it. Guess what? I’d barely skimmed the surface. This book was everything I’d hope it would be and so much more. Narrated by the author herself, it really should be required reading/listening for anyone and everyone. Genius.

LOVE WARRIOR – Glennon Doyle

Wow. This memoir is the story of the beginning, middle, end and rebirth of a marriage. After surviving her own childhood and adolescence (bulimia! alcoholism!) and starting a family (surprise!) the author’s marriage implodes. With depth, sensitivity and introspection this is the story of hitting rock bottom and rising back up, over and over again. Despite sometimes wading into spiritual new age areas that weren’t for me, I still loved this book – so much so I found myself stopping to take notes. Often

As always, I welcome feedback and suggestions. And yes, I am almost finished Becoming by Michelle Obama. Swoon…

January 9, 2019   1 Comment

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MOAM BOOK CLUB

Howdy reading readers.

It’s been a long, hot, fabulous summer. A summer of love, parties, and revelling in being 50.

It’s also been a summer of reading!

I’ve been writing to lots of you with mini-lists, but here, at long last, is The Big One.  I’ve tried to add a link so you can purchase the books directly from this site, thereby earning me about $.03/book (CAD!!) but between wordpress updates and Amazon affiliate codes, I cannot for the life of me figure it out.

So here is the official Summer 2018 MOAM Book Club. Do feel free to send me comments, questions and reccos. And don’t be share to spread the book club love.

Remember, friends,  reading is for life, not just for summer…..

THE LONELY HEARTS HOTEL by Heather O’Neill

I absolutely loved this magical tale set in 1930’s Montreal (with a side of NYC). Two babies left in an orphanage grow up together and fall in love. One is a musical genius, the other the consummate song’n dance gal. Together they dream up the most extravagant and fabulous circus act ever to be seen. Of course things don’t go quite as they imagined. Separated as teens, each is forced to use their talents to survive, until they can be reunited. Stunning writing. Gorgeous characters. Whimsical yet dark. Total page turner.

SALVAGE THE BONES by Jesmyn Ward

A pregnant teenager and her brothers are essentially raising themselves as their drunken father prepares for the upcoming hurricane. This is a visceral and beautifully written award-winning  book set in an impoverished rural town. Dog fighting, sick puppies, motherless children, and young people looking for love as devastation in the form of Hurricane Katrina looms made this a real graphic and incredible page turner.

SING, UNBURIED, SING by Jesmyn Ward

After I finished Salvage the Bones I needed another fix of Ward’s writing. I found it in this, her next novel. Another award-winner, another story of familial desolation. This time ghosts haunt the present and the past in this poetic and stunning story of a drug-addicted woman striving to be a better parent, and her young biracial son trying to come to terms with who he is, where he comes from and where he is going. Southern Gothic greatness.

THE IMMORTALISTS by Chloe Benjamin

What would you do if you knew the exact date of your own death? In the late 1960’s in New York’s Lower East Side, four young siblings visit a psychic who claims to be able to predict just that. Hearing their prophecies, each sibling sets out on their own path. A tale of destiny and choices, paths dreamed of and routes taken, I was this novel to be intriguing, compelling and amazing.

AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones

Celestial and Roy, a young married couple finds their newly wedded bliss destroyed when Roy is arrested and convicted for a crime Celestial knows he couldn’t possibly have committed. Through letters and straight up page-turning prose, this story of about being Black in America, trying to hold to love when you’re forced apart, and trying to keep it together, separately. So timely. So brilliant.

THE RULES DO NOT APPLY: A MEMOIR by Ariel Levy

I read several memoirs this past year, most of which fell flat. Ariel Levy’s, however, was searing, honest, funny and brutal. I’m lifting the quote straight from the back cover for this one. “When thirty-eight-year-old New Yorker writer Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true.” Extraordinary.

THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah

This book had been repeatedly recommended to me. Set in WW2 France, it is the story of two sisters and how they survive the war. I never really had any interest in reading it, but it kept getting mentioned, and it kind of reminded me of All the Light We cannot See (which I read in one sitting). So I picked it up The Nightingale….and put it down only after devouring it in one long sleepless night. What a story! What a read! This in an author who really knows who to spin a tale.

THE GREAT ALONE by Kristin Hannah

See: above. Another Kristin Hannah novel, another total page turner… A Vietnam vet uproots his young family to go live off the grid in the wilds of Alaska. This is the story of the teenage daughter, coming of age and coming to terms with her parents’ unconventional and passionate choices. An extraordinary portrait of life, resilience and growing up in Alaska’s wildly beautiful and dangerous frontier. This author has written 30 novels. What to read of hers next??

GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER by Shoba Rao

In an extremely poor Indian village, two young girls form an unlikely friendship. Despite the hideous life they are born into, they find solace, light and love in the bond they share. One which threatens the power structure and the others in their lives. A statement about feminism, the caste system, and the power of love, this book is magnificent and horrifying as the girls find themselves living separate and brutal lives, always holding on to the belief that they will be reunited. Tragic, hopeful, gripping.

THE GUNNERS by Rebecca Kauffman

Six kids from very different families become best friends – complete with ghost stories, sleepovers, adventures and a clubhouse. They were destined, like so many childhood pals, to be bffs forever. And like many childhood bffs, when they hit high school, things changed. As they grew up, moved on, and skipped town, only Mikey stayed behind, living a lonely life as his vision fails. When one of the gang kills herself, the rest return to town and they reconnect and reminisce. Very Big Chill-esque….

WE ALL LOVE THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS by Joanne Proulx

I loved this book! A family’s life is ripped apart on one fateful night: the parents discover they’ve been cheated out of all their savings by their friend and business partner, and their son passes out in a snowbank with terrible consequences. Yes, in one night. After hitting the reader with all that, this is the story of what happens next.  Relationships are tested, as everyone tries to find ways to deal with the fallout. Some crumble and fail, some grow into something new. All are changed….

THERE THERE by Tommy Orange

There’s a big powwow happening in Oakland. For some, it’s a reunion. For others, an opportunity. As a diverse group of people share their interconnecting stories, one thing is certain: they will all converge at the powwow and shit will go down. This is a poetic, surprising, gripping and incredible read. Voices we don’t hear often enough come through loud and clear in this bright and beautiful book about indigenous urban identity. Powerful storytelling at its finest, this amazing book hits all the right notes from beginning to end.

LESS by Andrew Sean Greer

This Pulitzer-winning book centres on a failing novelist on the eve of his 50th birthday. In an effort to avoid the wedding of a past lover, he hits the road and travels around the world, trying to hide from himself. This is very much a character study with some great moments and even greater truths. It is very “writerly” and character-driven rather than plot-heavy. I absolutely loved this voice. So many lines in this book spoke to me…and stuck with me. And not just because I recently turned 50. Well, maybe a little….

STANDARD DEVIATION by Katherine Heiny

Graham lives with his second wife, the zany and kinda crazy Audra, and their autistic son. When his first wife re-enters the picture, he is forced to re-evaluate the choices he’s made in life and love. I laughed out loud while reading this. The character of Audra jumps straight off the page. This book is far from perfect, but it’s tender, awkward, and touching. It’s not a total laugh-riot, but when it’s funny, it’s it’s reeeeeally funny.

THE DIRTY BOOK CLUB by Lisi Harrison

When MJ ups and leaves her amazing job in NYC for a perfect life in California, things don’t quite turn out as planned. She is soon mysteriously conscripted into the DBC: the dirty book club, where the scandalous and erotic fiction inspires four very different women to open up about what’s happening in their real lives. Set both forty years ago and today, the author reminds us that the power of friendship is never dated.  If you’re looking for a fun read about female relationships and empowerment, look no further than this hilarious romp.

CIRCE by Madeline Miller

I am a sucker for Greek mythology and absolutely loved the Song of Achilles. When I read that this same author had a new book, I had to read it. I liked the tale better than the retelling, but I felt compelled to continue reading it to remind myself of Circe’s story and because I loved being lost in that world. A must read for mythology lovers. And a might-read for everyone else.

OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES by Abbi Waxman

A carpool mom stops to grab something from one of her neighbours – and finds her naked on the floor with a man who isn’t her husband. This is an easy, beach read about the goings-on in a neighbourhood and the affect the affair has on the families in the carpool. I quickly got sucked in to the daily drama and gossip.  Liane Moriarty-lite.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US  by Greer Hendricks

It’s hard to write about this suspenseful, twisty thriller without giving too much away, or sending the reader on a quest to forge it all out before the book’s end. Suffice to say this is a real page turner about a marriage gone very wring and the lengths a wronged party will go to fix it. I’ll leave it at that, or else it’s spoiler-alert central! Clever and yes, it’s being made into a flick…..

THAT KIND OF MOTHER by Rumaan Alam

I wanted to love this book, I really did. It’s really well-written and depicts the early days of motherhood when your life is turned totally upside down. It’s the story of a young white women who bonds with her black nursing coach. It takes a pretty crazy turn and explores some sensitive and timely topics. Overall, however, something about it left me cold. That said, people adore this book, so I’m putting it on the list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 13, 2018   No Comments

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MOAM BOOK CLUB

Winter is coming so bundle up and break out the books!

Your texts and emails and posts and hints have not gone unnoticed. The list has been brewing for months but getting it out there has taken a little longer than I’d hoped. Being distracted by the news and by life doesn’t help much either. But as the days get darker and we snuggle in to prep for the long cold days ahead, there really is no better time to whip out your book/e-reader and get lost.

Despite the many books I have adored, there were others that left me lukewarm, and even cold. Pre-ordering a bunch of eagerly anticipated titles and then finding them beyond dull was a lesson in ditching. Life really IS too short to waste on a book that doesn’t grab you (unless you’re at school. Sorry suckers…I mean…students). Arundhati Roy, Michael Chabon, Madeleine Thien, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss and even my beloved Ian McEwan totally disappointed me. Anyone else feel that way? I managed to finish Forest Dark and Nutshell but not the others. Should I? Do let me know…

In the meantime, check these out:

 

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead

Pulitzer Prize Winner. National Book Award Winner. Oprah Book Club. MOAM. Clearly this is one fine book. After being abandoned by her mother, Cora is an outcast among her fellow slaves on a Georgia plantation. Determined to make a better life for herself, she plots her escape via the Underground Railroad – a literal subway system that heads north. With each stop on the line she encounters a different life, and a new struggle. Cora’s unbelievable odyssey will leave you breathless, feeling both elated and disgusted with each passing chapter. An important, beautiful piece of art.  Also – coming soon to a screen near you, adapted by Barry Jenkins, of Moonlight fame.

 

13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A FAT GIRL by Mona Awad

Another award-winner (and shortlisted for the Giller), this fabulous first novel tells the story of a suburban girl who can’t see herself as anything other then the Fat Girl. Sharp and funny, heart-breaking and sad, and oft-times downright uncomfortable, this reflection on body image and what it means to be thin and gorgeous – or not – in an looks-obssessed world is one for everybody. And every body.

 

THE MOTHERS by Brit Bennett

Another debut, another fantastic voice. Haunted by the recent suicide of her mother, high school senior Nadia is forced to make a life-changing decision. Friendship, teen romance, an unwanted pregnancy and what could have been all come in to play as Nadia looks back on that eventful final year of high school and the reckoning that comes with the passing of time.  A powerful look at motherhood in all its guises – being a mother, wanting a mother, having a mother.

 

A LITTLE LIFE – Hanya Yanagihara

Warning: this is not so much of a book as it is a masterpiece. And it is massive. Seriously – 737 pages that admittedly took me a couple of tries. The first time, I didn’t think the plot was grabby enough, though the writing was. The second time, I had a hard time focusing on who was who, yet was intrigued by the characters. The third time I couldn’t put it down.  Four friends from college try to make their way in NYC. Sounds simple, and is anything but. An operatic, gorgeous and devastating read. Challenge yourselves. It’s unforgettable and well-worth it.

 

EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU – Celeste Ng

When a 16-year old dies tragically, her family, the only mixed-race family in their small town, tries to figure out what happened.  Celeste Ng is a brilliant and totally accessible writer as she explores the effects the tragedy has on the family and their relationships with the town – and each other. I had heard about Little Fires Everywhere (see below) and started this book while waiting for the next one’s release. I was totally transported – and transfixed. Racial issues, trying to belong, the fragility of happiness – it’s all here and it’s all amazing.

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE – Celeste Ng

Family dynamics meet small town politics in another gorgeously written novel by Celeste Ng. Lives intersect as two totally different families are thrown together in unexpected ways. A white family tries to adopt a Chinese baby and relationships are tested as the characters are forced to take sides. In this book and the one above, seemingly simple prose that is deeply sharp leaves you thinking about the characters long after the last page has been turned. Celeste Ng could be one of my new favourites.

 

THE HATE U GIVE – Angie Thomas

There was a shitload of hype surrounding this novel – it debuted at the top of the NYT YA best seller list. But make no mistake, this is not just another young adult novel.  A poignant and ridiculously relevant story about what it’s like to be a person of colour in today’s USA. When narrator Starr witnesses the murder of her unarmed BFF by the police, everyone wants to know what really happened. So many reviews use the word “necessary” and that’s exactly what this is: a must-read that is timely without being preachy, channeling all the love, laughter and anger that we all can’t help but feel so often these days. Totally necessary reading.

 

EXIT WEST – Mohsin Hamid

Two young people meet and fall in love against the backdrop of a city under siege in a brutal civil war. He is a restrained prodigal son, she is an independent fiery spirit. Leaving their families and lives behind, they join the flood of refugees popping up in other countries through mystical and magical doorways. They may make it out alive, but will their relationship survive? Another timely read for an uncertain time.

 

MARLENA – Julie Buntin

“The Story of two girls and the wild year that will cost one her life, and define the other’s for decades”. That’s the official log line. The unofficial one should read “a year in the life of two 15-year old girls and how it can go spectacularly wrong spectacularly fast”. At 15 every little thing means everything. A lot of firsts. A couple of lasts. And a whole lot of shit that sticks with you forever. Great read from a great voice.

 

RABBIT CAKE -Annie Hartnett

Another story of family dysfunction and loss, another amazing voice with a gift for story telling. Our narrator, Elvis, is a young girl trying to figure it all out after her mom’s death. She can’t and she won’t but at least she can try to keep some kind of normalcy in her eccentric and suffering family. A great coming-of-age novel that is smart, engaging, funny and sad. Kind of absurd without being too crazy, this book had me from page one.

 

HOW TO BEHAVE IN A CROWD – Camille Bordas

Izidore aka Dory is the youngest in a family of six super smart and trippy kids. Only he’s kind of normal, which means he doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the fam. So while they’re busy prepping PhD theses and creating symphonies, he is the one who is actually noticing things, feeling feelings, and trying to live a real life. And when tragedy strikes, Dory tries to make sense of it all. This is an incredibly charming and quirky coming of age story.

 

YOU’LL GROW OUT OF IT  – Jessi Klein

If you like Amy Shumer, you’ll LOVE Jessi Klein, one of Shumer’s writers. And if you don’t like Amy Shumer, you’ll still like Jessi Klein. Her memoir is like the smarter, deeper and, dare I say, funnier version of Shumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. I laughed out loud – a lot. And was moved too. She’s got all the (written) humour of Shumer but with a lot more sensitivity and intelligence.

 

THE FUTURES – Anna Pitoniak

I kept hearing about this book, and it never really appealed. Until I picked it up and couldn’t put it down. It’s a New York story of two college students who fall in love and move to the big city to pursue their hopes and dreams. When the financial crisis hits, they find themselves at the very center of it. Alternating between their points of view, the book explores those trying times in our early twenties when we’re trying to figure out our world, our place in it and who we really are.

 

THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE – Zoe Whitall

When a beloved husband, father and teacher is arrested and charged with sexual assault, his family must deal with the fall out. Apropos, no? This exploration of loyalty, trust and truth is a gripping read as the author explores the toll one person’s actions can take on those around him. I found this to be a real page turner BUT the ending did fall a little flat. Still, when I enjoyed reading it, I really enjoyed reading it….

 

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR – by Paul Kalinithi

Proceed with caution and get your kleenex ready, because this is one devastating read. This memoir is written by a brilliant young neurosurgeon who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Really. And yes, he dies while writing this book and his wife finishes it (no spoilers – it’s apparent from the first page). Examining what makes life worth living, this  superb book is an examination of life, love and how we live when we know we’re going to die. A wonderful, life-affirming tear-jerker that is no way shmaltzy.

 

ANOTHER BROOKLYN – Jacqueline Woodson

This sparely written novel is an exploration of 1970’s Brooklyn as seen through the eyes of a young black girl and her friends as they set out to navigate the mean streets of the city – and of adolescence. Powerful, evocative and emotional, you’ll be transported between now and then just like the narrator. This is a short book, but don’t let its size diminish its stature. Pure poetry.

 

GOODBYE VITAMIN – by Rachel Khong

This book started off quirky and funny and soon had me in tears. When Ruth’s engagement is called off, she returns to her hometown where is she is soon put “in charge” of her father who has been grappling with dementia. As she reconnects with her friends, family and former life, Ruth tries to figure out what she’s been running from all these years – and where she is actually going. Her journey through the best and worst of times is something we can all relate to, especially those who wonder if you can ever really go home again – wherever that may be.

 

CRAZY RICH ASIANS / CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND / RICH PEOPLE PROBLEMS -Kevin Kwan

Oh, yes I did! After hearing about Crazy Rich Asians for ages and wondering if it was funny, racist or just plain cheesy, I decided to have a look. And I’m so glad I did. The sgtory revolves around the scandal unleashed in the rarified world of Chinese billionaires when the heir to one of the biggest fortunes in Asia brings home -gasp! – an American-born Chinese girl. Soon the backbiting and infighting begins – and doesn’t stop. I finished the first book in 3 days, becoming completely lost in a very different world – and I loved it! So much so, I picked up the other two books and downed them in quick succession. Is it a brilliant series? Hell no. Is it fabulous fun? F&ck yeah! Enjoy – because why not?!

 

To purchase any of these books, click on the links below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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October 30, 2017   1 Comment

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MOAM BOOK CLUB!!!

Remember the MOAM Book Club? It’s back! Get out your must-read lists, ‘cuz these books really should be on ’em….

 

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr

I read this Pulitzer-prize winning book pre-prize last summer. In one sitting. I couldn’t put it down, and neither will you. Set in the years leading up to WWII, it’s two stories which ultimately converge into one. A young blind girl who has learned to find her way via intricately carved cityscapes created by her father, ends up with one of France’s national treasures. A German orphan obsessed with building radios is forced to join the Hitler Youth where he reluctantly rises through the ranks. This is storytelling at its finest.

THE ORENDA by Joseph Boyden

And speaking of finest, this book is truly one of the greatest books I’ve read in years. Don’t let the subject matter (Iroquois vs Hurons, Jesuits, Canadiana) or size (512 pages) scare you off. Even if you’re not a historical fiction fan – and especially if you are – you will love love love this deep and haunting and devastating book…

MY BRILLIANT FRIEND / THE STORY OF A NEW NAME / THOSE WHO LEAVE AND THOSE WHO STAY – by Elana Ferrante

Collectively known as The Neopolitan Novels, this trilogy has been gripping Italy for the past few years. Written under a pseudonymn, they tell the story of 2 friends growing up in the Sicily of the 1950’s. Through times turbulent and peaceful, rich and poor, what appear to be “women’s novels” are so much more than that. Capturing the periods in which the stories are set beautifully, Ferrante, whoever she – or he – may be, draws fantastic characters who you won’t soon forget. Best of all? The fourth (and final) book is being released in September. If you start now, you can pre-order it (I already did)

IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT – by Judy Blume

Growing up devouring the writing of Judy Blume was de rigeur for any of us growing up in the 70’s. Sure, we figured we outgrew her – but did we ever, really? With this latest novel, written for adults, she demonstrates that you can’t actually outgrow great writing. The woman really knows how to spin a yarn. Set in the New Jersey of the 50’s, 3 plane crashes proufoundly affect the lives of those living under the flight path. First loves, growing up, moving on….Judy Blume covers it all – and so damn well. She’s still got it. Always has, always will.

THE CHILDREN ACT – Ian McEwan

I adore Ian McEwan. Just love him. So it goes without saying that if you’re a fan of his, you’ll read this book!A judge must determine what is best for a child suffering from Leukemia – who also happens to be a Jehovah’s Witness. As she debates what is “right”, her own personal life is falling apart. Stunning. Gripping. Thought-provoking. Ian McEwan at his best.

ALL MY PUNY SORROWS by Miriam Toews

Heartbreaking, yet funny, and gorgeously written, the story of two sisters: one a brilliant but suicidal pianist, the other a hot mess trying to take care of those around her. Life and death, families and lovers, Toews gets into all of it. Loosely based on the author’s own experiences, the writing delves straight into the darkness yet somehow finds the light. A brave and beautiful award-winner.

WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Matthew Thomas

This sprawling, ambitious saga marks the author’s debut. And what a grand entrance to the literary scene it is! Clocking it at 641 pages, it’s a big and meaty story of a family. Eileen is the daughter of Irish immigrants, and we follow her life as she grows up, gets married and has a family of her own. Mirroring life in America in the second half of the 20th century this is a poignant and stunningly observed piece of writing. There exists in the middle of this book a letter from a father to his son that had me bawling. If I read it on paper it would have been earmarked, underlined, highlighted or, possibly ripped out.  Epic.

WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by Karen Joy Fowler

I mention this book for those who confuse it with the one above. It’s another great read – though not on the same level as the Thomas novel. The family in this book is what some would call unconventional: Mother, father and three children. Except the youngest is a baby chimpanzee. Yes, you read that right. This is an intriguing and interesting take on a typical family that is anything but normal. Domestic terrorism, animal rights, family dynamics – this has it all. Super smart and very different. Well worth picking up.

BIG LITTLE LIES – Liane Moriarty

Set in the ‘burbs of Sydney, Australia, this is another domestic page-turner by the author of The Husband’s Secret. Characters and their stories are interwoven as the new single mom in town finds herself both ostracized and exalted after her son is accused of being a bully. This is the perfect summer read for those who enjoyed The Slap. Addictive!

DIRTY LOVE by Andre Dubus III

What does happily ever after mean? Does it exist? Or, like an elusive brass ring is it always moving a little further away, slightly out of reach? In this group of interlocking novellas, Dubus explores it all from the points of view of a cuckholded husband, a philandering bartender/poet, a young girl trying to escape a social media mistake, and a lonely overweight woman who wonders whether she’s failed to launch. Simple, smart and raw.


I DON’T HAVE A HAPPY PLACE by Kim Korson

I couldn’t leave this memoir/book of essays off my list. It’s biting and smart, filled with fab 70’s and 80’s references and I happen to enjoy anything evocative of my own childhood/adolescence/coming of age/adulthood.  The fact that it was written by an old friend whose observations and crankiness always cracked me up? Well that’s just a bonus.

July 23, 2015   No Comments

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MOAM BOOK CLUB!

Summer! At last!

It feels like ages: since it’s been glorious, since I’ve written here, and since I’ve put up a Book Club post. I’ve been reading a lot. Have you? Anything I should add to my list? I’m always looking for a good read. And apparently, you are too. So,without further ado, I present the 2014 MOAM Summer Book Club. Enjoy!

THE GOOD LORD BIRD by James McBride

This award-winning novel tells the story of abolitionist John Brown through the eyes of a rescued slave. A rescued boy who, after being mistaken for a girl, maintains the charade.  There’s a bit of a Twain-esque feeling to this book and if you like that sort of thing, you’ll love this. Even if you don’t, it’s a great read. Beautifully written, sometimes horrific and always engaging, this historical novel is no frothy beach read, but it’s well worth a look.
 

THE PARIS WIFE – Paula McCain

And speaking of Gatsby….F. Scott Fitzgerald makes an appearance in this book, one of many about Ernest Hemingway’s handful of wives. This novel is based on the life of wife #1, Hadley. She was the one in it at the very beginning of Hem’s literary life. The first wife. The romantic. The one who thought she could make it work with the hard-drinking, fast-living writer. She was wrong, of course. A bit of a train-wreck of a relationship, but of course you can’t look away…

AN INDISCRETION by Charles Dubow

A golden couple. NYC. The Hamptons. A young woman who infiltrates the family and their circle in every way. Gatsby-ish vibe, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a film in the works. One bad – really, really bad – choice sends the family reeling. And sent me reeling too. Talk about fall-out! This is a morality tail that both frustrated and saddened me, and stayed with me long after I finished it.

 

TRAINS & LOVERS by Alexander McCall Smith

I love a good traveler tale. This one’s set on a train, on the journey from Edinburgh to London. Four strangers get to chatting and next thing you know, they’re telling their life – and love – stories. Always easiest to do with strangers, right? Like four little novels in one, this is short and sweet and perfect for summer. Check your cynicism at the door and enjoy.

 

THE GROUP by Mary McCarthy

Set in the ’30’s, it follows a group of women – The Group – after they graduate from Vassar. It explores their lives, families, and jobs. Their marriages, affairs, and divorces. It’s sex, love and analysis – which would be de rigueur except for the fact that it was published in ’63 and was considered pretty rad at the time. And – escandalo! – it was even banned. Kind of like a smarty pants version of Rona Jaffe’s 70’s classic “Class Reunion”!

 

A FEW SECONDS OF RADIANT FILMSTRIP: A MEMOIR OF 7TH GRADE by Kevin Brockmeier

I couldn’t not read a book with this title. This first year of middle school aka Junior High is huge. Coming of age, evolution of friendships, I love this stuff! Great references, funny and sweet, anyone who has ever been 12 will relate, even in some very small way. Charming and lovely.

 

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME by Jancee Dunn

The subtitle to this is “A Jersey Girl’s Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous”. And that’s exactly what this is! Dunn is an unlikely candidate but somehow lands a dream job at Rolling Stone. With stints as a VJ, celebrity profiler and writer, she never thought she’d be rubbing shoulders with rock stars and film gods. But she does, and tells us all about it in a self-deprecating and hilarious memoir. I want more of her. And I want to be her friend!

 

THE HUSBAND’S SECRET – by Liane Moriarty

What if you found a letter addressed to you but only to be opened upon the death of your partner (who is very much alive)? And what if you opened it and found a terrible, horrible, very bad confession? Then what? That’s the premise of this seemingly cheesy yet riveting book. Perfect for summer, it’s a domestic drama set in Australia. Another possible movie-in-the-making I couldn’t put it down. And neither will you.

 

THE GOLDFINCH – by Donna Tartt

If you’re one of the 27 people who haven’t read this enormous Pulitzer Prize winner yet, what are you waiting for? Yes, it’s massive. But it’s infinitely readable. It’s also sparked a major debate amongst the literati of whether or not it is “Great Literature” or a glorified Young Adult fiction. Check it out and judge for yourself. I’m a fan.

July 11, 2014   No Comments

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MOAM BOOK CLUB

music

“Sleighbells ring, are you listening….On the shelves, books are glistening.

Beaches or ski, Paper or “e”,

Reading in a Winter Wonderland……”

 

Road Ends – Mary Lawson

The third (unrelated) book by this author set in Ontario’s North, this one revolves around the supreme dysfunction of the Cartwright family. Set in the ’60’s, each chapter alternates between the eldest son, whose ambition and potential  were thwarted after a local tragedy; the only daughter who “quits” being the caretaker of her ever-growing brood of siblings and heads to London; and their father, a victim of his own history who holes himself up in his office rather than dealing with his wife and children. Bleak and harsh like the landscape in which it’s set, it’s a perfect winter read.

The Rosie Project – Graeme Stinson

Socially awkward and statistically-inclined Professor Don Tillman has decided he is going to find a wife. And so, using a complicated list of criteria, he sets out to find the perfect woman. In the course of his project, he meets Rosie who is, of course, everything he is not looking for. This is a happy, feel-good and hilarious story. A movie in the making, if the rights haven’t been snapped up yet, it’s only a matter of time before they will be.

The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion

Devastating. Didion’s husband suffers a heart attack and dies as their daughter lies in a coma. It can’t get much worse than that, but Didion chronicles the days before and after in such a moving, tender and beautifully written way. Life changes in an instant. Reading this memoir and sharing someone else’s tragedy reinforces how lucky we are. We really are.

The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri

Two brothers. Best friends in childhood who grow apart as they grow up. One becomes a revolutionary, the other an academic. Eventually, ideology and geography separate them. Their futures could not be more different and yet, are ultimately intertwined forever. Sounds dramatic, because it is. No spoilers here. Just read it and weep….

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena – Anthony Marra

This overwhelming and beautiful page-turner is, quite frankly, one of the best books I’ve read in years. Set in a broken Chechnya town, unforgettable characters take the readers on a poignant journey through a dark and brutal moment in history. Once you figure out who’s who – and please, stick with it until you do – you will be awed by this epic, magnificent novel. You may even want to read it again. I know I do.

The Woman Upstairs – Claire Messud

At 42 and single, third-grade teacher and amateur artist Nora feels like an invisible woman. I’m not single (or 42) but I could relate. At first. But when Nora meets a sophisticated, completely out-of-her world family, she becomes entrenched in their lives to an unhealthy extent. Obsession, betrayal, love, art: it all swirls together in this infinitely readable novel about an angry young woman and the choices she makes. Or doesn’t.

The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin

This one is completely out of character for me. I had to read it as part of a work assignment, but found myself turning back to it, quoting it and generally being unable to get it out of my head. Author Gretchen Rubin seemingly has it all. So why isn’t she happy….enough? Is anyone? So much about this book resonated with me – and still does, long after I’ve put it away. Part self-help guide, part pop-culture philosophy, I found it intriguing and have already pre-ordered the next book, “Happiness at Home”. If happiness is a choice that we’ve got to work for, I’m willing to give it a whirl!

Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon – Sheila Weller

The title says it all. (Almost all. Could be subtitled: Plus James Taylor). This one’s love-or-loath. I read bits of this as an excerpt in Vanity fair years ago and was intrigued. With a movie version looming, I figured I’d better get to it before Taylor Swift (as Joni Mitchell!!) wrecks it for me. These 3 ladies had a profound effect on me throughout my adolescence (and beyond… but don’t tell anyone). I’m still mid-way though the book and, while it may not be the best-written of the lot, it’s compelling for this used-to-be-guitar-strumming, has-been-piano-playing campfire singer.

December 11, 2013   No Comments

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MOAM BOOK CLUB

It’s summertime. Break out the books.

Or not.

I’ve actually been compiling this list for ages. But then I received an iPad 2 and haven’t been able to put it down. Now that my MacFamily is complete I shan’t extol the virtues of the ipad – you got it, you get it, right? But I will tell you it’s been one helluva reading experience. And my list keeps on growing. And growing. And growing.

So, without further ado, some great reads – on screen or on paper:

This is Where I Leave You – Jonathan Tropper. Guy’s marriage ends. Then his dad dies. He goes home to be with the family…Rev up the laugh track because this is one seriously funny book. I would read passages out loud – to my man and myself because I couldn’t get over how hilarious it was. Tho’ I did shed a tear or two, too…

A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan. A motley group of characters at the fringes of the music biz. What could be better? While some of the characters may leave you cold, their stories will not. Skipping in and out of lives, back and forth through years, this is a brilliant novel – no wonder it won the Pulitzer prize!

Father of the Rain – Lily King. A daughter’s relationship with her alcoholic father as it unfolds over 40 years. It’s a mesmerizing journey: from a seemingly idyllic coastal childhood in 1970’s New England to the fallout of her parents’ divorce in the 80’s of her adolescence to dealing with her demons as an adult. Perfect pitch, resonant writing, fabulous book.

Your Voice in My Head – Emma Forrest. The memoir of a brilliant, bipolar, transatlantic pop-culture journalist and screenwriter, this was one book I really wanted to love. It took me longer than I expected, but the searingly honest, brutally funny account of the author’s highest highs and lowest lows got me hooked.

The Imperfectionists – Tom Rachman. Set in Rome at an English-language newsroom, this incredible literary debut follows the newspaper from it’s start up to its demise through the eyes of its staff. With interconnecting characters and stories stories set both at their desks and in their lives, you won’t be able to put this one down.

Bloodroot – Amy Greene. Another group of interconnecting stories, this one admittedly gets off to a slow start, but once you’re in, you are in. At the heart of it is an Appalachian family in rural Tennessee. As much about the place as the people, this is a cinematic, beautifully written book.

The Year we Left Home – Jean Thompson. Changing perspectives with each chapter, this is an engaging portrait of an Iowa family over 30 years. Sometimes bleak, sometimes tragic, always engaging. Don’t let the locale fool you – this one goes way beyond the farm.

Cutting for stone – Abraham Varghese. A nun dies in childbirth delivering twin boys. Their father disappears. After literally being separated from birth, the boys grow up in an Ethiopian hospital, raised by the doctors who adore them and the rest of the staff. When war breaks out, they are forced to be separated once again. Their story, peppered with incredible characters will take you around the world, and back again.

Freedom -Jonathan Franzen. Yes it lives up to the hype. ‘Nuff said.

July 11, 2011   No Comments

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MOAM BOOK CLUB

July 2010. It’s hot. It’s very, very hot. Too hot to handle. Like standing behind a bloody bus. There’s not much on the tube, cinema is lackluster instead of blockbuster, Toy Story 3D not withstanding. (yeah, yeah… I cried too).

But I digress….This is the annual book list. The really good flicks start making their way into our air conditioned theatres tomorrow, so, without further ado, you asked for it, you got it:

The MOAM Summer Reads List

The Children’s Book – A.S. Byatt
This is a big, meaty, sprawl of a book. It follows the lives of a famous writer and each of her children, their friends and families. Starting out in Victorian England, and finishing up at the end of the First World War, reading this baby was like watching the most exquisite period film and hoping it won’t end. This novel is brilliantly written, and not just because I am biased towards AS Byatt. I’ve loved her since Possession (which you should also read) and read everything she’s written. This one is totally accessible – and devastating. Not necessarily a beach read, but fantastic. Break out the tissues.

The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
I was hooked from the very start. At a BBQ in Australia a man slaps a child who isn’t his. And thus it begins. After the proverbial shrimp on the barbie, the incident is seen through various eyes, intertwining stories and characters while painting a spectacular portrait of life in the Melbourne suburbs. Modern families, domestic life, identifiable characters and yet….totally sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. I couldn’t put this one down – you won’t either. AWESOME.

The Help – Kathryn Stockett
Is there anyone out there who HASN’T read this book yet? What are you waiting for? The film? Good books almost always outclass and outlast their oft feeble adaptations (unlike the cheesy books which make for FABULOUS flicks)….Set in 1962 Mississippi, we’ve got a university graduate ahead of her time who tells the stories of, well, the segregated town’s Help: the nannies, babysitters, and maids. Compelling, brave, awesome. It’s been in softcover for months now, so no more excuses. Grab it and start. You won’t be able to put this one down.

Stieg Larsson Trilogy

What? How could I do a summer reading list without these books on it? Blockbusters to be sure – but with good reason. All of Sweden can’t be wrong, right? The rest of the world obviously agrees. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The Girl Who Played With Fire. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. Potboilers. Kick-ass female lead. They are NOT flawless – the late novelist would probably have a lot to answer for, putting his magnificent Lisbeth Slander through such gruelling, violent and downright deviant experiences. His details made me a little squeamish, for both the content itself and the dichotomy of the strong female lead stacked up against such gross brutality. Did he need to go that far? Is it twisted porn in some ways? Who knows? They’re terrific reads and quick quick quick, ensuring you have lots of time to finish them before you see all the Swedish flicks (no. 2 out next week) or the American remakes. My fave was the second book. What’s yours?

One Day – David Nicholls
Full disclosure: I haven’t finished this one yet. While I was in London one of my favourite people raved about it, foisted it upon me, and promised I’d love it. I saved it for the plane, but then got all caught up in the third and final Larsson book. Meanwhile, my man scooped me, read it in a matter of days while I read magazines, waiting. He loved it too. And suddenly – this book is everywhere. Or at least seems to be (Helloooooo EW). It’s about two people who meet on the night of their college graduation. We follow their lives, chapter after chapter, each one depicting the same day, but one year later. I couldn’t wait. I wanted to love it, live it, breathe it. And…. I didn’t like it. The characters bored me. They felt cliched and earnest, annoying and indulgent (especially The Girl). AT FIRST. And then, last night, Emma and Dex (said characters) turned 30. And I turned into a fan. A huge fan. Total 360. Gripped?! I am gripped.

Gotta go. Must finish my book.

ENJOY!!

Posted by Mother of all Mavens at 10:00 PM

1 comments:

Anonymous said…

you are missing your calling!!! You shoudl be writinga nd reviewing books!!!! It is in your blood. Need The Slap – can I borrow?

July 8, 2010   No Comments

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