Friday, June 10, 2011

Read a Book Already


Hey readers!  Happy Friday.

I'm concluding what might be the longest week of my life today and I have nary a word of contempt or derision.  I don't feel particularly bossy today because I've spent Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday and Thursday being as bossy as I can be in an attempt to lay the groundwork for the grueling 10 weeks ahead....

Apologies, but I don't have anything left for you. There just isn't anything in me today that's righteously indignant.

But I DO have something to offer you....and hopefully it'll come in handy at some point over the next few months.  I like to think that you revisit posts.  Don't tell me if you don't. 

So here's your SUMMER READING LIST FOR THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE

 (It's just your READING LIST if you're somewhere that it isn't summer...but since I'm a fat, entitled American I don't have to learn about your seasons.)

FYI:  I'm copying and pasting from Goodreads, where I keep track of my own reading, and so should  you.  Remember that it's Summer Vacation in my house....I don't have time to personally synopsize every single book for you.  What am I, motivated?  The answer is no.  But these are all books I LOVED and in no particular order, okay?


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot 
Who, you might ask, is Henrietta Lacks (1920-1951) and why is she the subject of a book? On the surface, this short-lived African American Virginian seems an unlikely candidate for immortality. The most remarkable thing about her, some might argue, is that she had five children during her thirty-one years on earth. Actually, we all owe Ms. Lacks a great debt and some of us owe her our lives. As Rebecca Skloot tells us in this riveting human story, Henrietta was the involuntary donor of cells from her cancerous tumors that have been cultured to create an immortal cell line for medical research. These so-called HeLa cells have not only generated billions of dollars for the medical industry; they have helped uncover secrets of cancers, viruses, fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. A vivid, exciting story; a 2010 Discover Great New Books finalist.

The Kitchen House  
When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.
Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.
Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk. The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.
 

Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid    
If Julian Green's view that life is an overrated way of passing the time, Denis Leary's humor offers an entertaining way to redeem the experience. In Why We Suck, the writer, creator, and star of the Emmy- and Golden Globe–nominated TV series Rescue Me delivers raucous riffs about everything from family matters to our bottom-feeding political elites.



The Spellman Files (The Spellmans #1)
Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors -- but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people's privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.
Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who's become addicted to "recreational surveillance"); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed "Lost Weekends"). But when Izzy's parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy's new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there's a hitch: she must take one last job before they'll let her go -- a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life. The Spellman Files is the first novel in a winning and hilarious new series featuring the Spellman family in all its lovable chaos.
(My note: this series is hilarious and a perfect beach read...or mountain cabin porch read....or wherever you read that you just want to laugh and not THINK....)

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
The New York Times best-selling Freakonomics was a worldwide sensation, selling over four million copies in thirty-five languages and changing the way we look at the world. Now, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner return with SuperFreakonomics, and fans and newcomers alike will find that the freakquel is even bolder, funnier, and more surprising than the first.
   Four years in the making, SuperFreakonomics asks not only the tough questions, but the unexpected ones: What's more dangerous, driving drunk or walking drunk? Why is chemotherapy prescribed so often if it's so ineffective? Can a sex change boost your salary?
   SuperFreakonomics challenges the way we think all over again, exploring the hidden side of everything with such questions as:
How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa?
Why are doctors so bad at washing their hands?
How much good do car seats do?
What's the best way to catch a terrorist?
Did TV cause a rise in crime?
Can eating kangaroo save the planet?
Which adds more value: a pimp or a Realtor?
   Levitt and Dubner mix smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else, whether investigating a solution to global warming or explaining why the price of oral sex has fallen so drastically. By examining how people respond to incentives, they show the world for what it really is – good, bad, ugly, and, in the final analysis, super freaky.

At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life

by Wade Rouse

Finally fed up with the frenzy of city life and a job he hates, Wade Rouse decided to make either the bravest decision of his life or the worst mistake since his botched Ogilvie home perm: to uproot his life and try, as Thoreau did some 160 years earlier, to "live a plain, simple life in radically reduced conditions."
In this rollicking and hilarious memoir, Wade and his partner, Gary, leave culture, cable, and consumerism behind and strike out for rural Michigan–a place with fewer people than in their former spinning class. There, Wade discovers the simple life isn’t so simple. Battling blizzards, bloodthirsty critters, and nosy neighbors equipped with night-vision goggles, Wade and his spirit, sanity, relationship, and Kenneth Cole pointy-toed boots are sorely tested with humorous and humiliating frequency. And though he never does learn where his well water actually comes from or how to survive without Kashi cereal, he does discover some things in the woods outside his knotty-pine cottage in Saugatuck, Michigan, that he always dreamed of but never imagined he’d find–happiness and a home.


All New People: A Novel

With generosity, humor, and pathos, Anne Lamott takes on the barrage of dislocating changes that shook the Sixties. Leading us through the wake of these changes is Nanny Goodman, one small girl living in Marin County, California. A half-adult child among often childish adults, Nanny grows up with two spectacularly odd parents-a writer father and a mother who is "a constant source of material." As she moves into her adolescence, so, it seems, does America. While grappling with her own coming-of-age, Nanny witnesses an entire culture's descent into drugs, the mass exodus of fathers from her town, and rapid real-estate and technological development that foreshadow a drastically different future.
In All New People, Anne Lamott works a special magic, transforming failure into forgiveness and illuminating the power of love to redeem us.

So here it is.  Seven (7) books I've read and liked.  I don't think Anne Lamott is strictly a writer for women, so try her out.  The Spellman Files is a hilarious series (for anyone posessing a sense of humor) with a mystery twist, and if you don't find anything thought provoking in the Henrietta Lacks story, then stop reading this blog.  I admit that The Kitchen House is probably "chick lit" but it's not frivolous....and the rest of the books HAVE to be good as evidenced by their masculine authors, right?  I'm nothing if not misogynistic.

Look what I did there...I gave you a personal recommendation when I said I wasn't going to.  I'm such a liar.

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