A few weeks ago I made an unplanned trip to the goodwill and stocked up on random books. This was mainly in an effort to not buy every single Alice Hoffman book in print and read only those, as I figured reading three in two months was an indication to step away from Amazon. I also did this as a few of the really great books I read in these last two months I never would have purchased had I not perused the small selection of books at a goodwill. It makes me read “outside the box” if you will. April brought a trip to NH and with it stops in airports. I read more voraciously that I usually do on the plane and had packed only one book for the quick trip, and I ended up buying three books long the way. Airports are another great place to find books you may not normally gravitate to as you have limited options. All in all, two months filled with great books I’d highly recommend.
1. The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman. I will not let my blinding adoration for Alice Hoffman get in the way. This was not my favorite book by her. It could have a great deal to do with the subject matter on this one though. The angel concept was not really doing it for me.
2. The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon. I cried a lot. A young man recounts when he doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire in attempt to deal with his depression at 14. Its non fiction and hauntingly sad, but at the same time, he is telling the story years later after his emotional and physical recovery, so you know he is on a journey to better health.
3. The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. LOVED it! Set in New York City and Coney Island in 1911, it’s filled with the actual events like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and people who starred in the freak shows and it is enchanting! Hoffman excels where she can weave period details into her stories and this is an incredible story.
4. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. As a story it was great, but I never really got into that it is about Hemingway’s first wife and their marriage. It would have been good without that being the point. I am really not the target audience for this type of subject matter, even if it is historical fiction. I’d rather it be about random made up characters than so and so’s wife or best friend or what have you.
5. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. I really regret not seeing him speak at SXSW this year. The man fascinates me. I am a big believer in the 10,000 hour theory and needed some reminding about the power of it. I felt like I learned so much from this book. Have you read it? Well you need to.
6. Eccentric Glamour by Simon Doonan. Reading Doonan is like sitting around listening to your fabulous, sassy aunts for an afternoon. His books are delightful and although this one is technically a style manual, I also see it as just a fun book as his writing allows it to read more like a novel than a guide. Plus the man is adamantly against the current style that women seem to be embracing far too often: Porno-Chic. Hip Hip Hooray to that!
1. Saving CeeCee Honeycut by Beth Hoffman. Thanks to Amazon, I have learned that I have a thing for books with strong female heroines. This one is endearing and a bit heartbreaking, as so many of these tend to be. A young girl coming of age and carrying an awful lot of baggage finds strong southern women to guide her. A good beach read.
2. Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes. I absolutely loved Under The Tuscan Sun, but this one just did not do it for me. I could not get into this book. I bought it in the airport and as I read Saving CeeCee on a flight from Austin to Atlanta, I figured I’d devour this one as well…but no. I still was reading it when I got on the plane to go home after three nights away. It’s autobiographical about her child hood in the south, so you’d think I would like it! But it just seemed to drag.
3. Sous Chef by Michael Gibney. As someone who ran restaurants for years, has a chef sister and many friends in the industry, I am very picky about restaurant books. I was skeptical when I picked it up in the airport but I loved this one. I devoured it (baby pun!) and have been pushing it on my chef friends. 24 hours in the life of a sous chef. Bam!
4. Mob Rules by Louis Ferrante. As I read Sous Chef in about 90 minutes, I needed another book from an airport (good thing I did not have direct flights!) and was bemused by this one. It was more amusing than enlightening, I’m not sure I would have ever read it had I not been getting on an airplane. No regrets though.
5. The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman. This one bounces back and forth through the last few centuries of the lives of the residents of a town in Massachusetts. From the founder of the town to current residents and how they are all woven together somehow through time. I would say this was a good one, not one of her “I refuse to do anything but read” books though.
Soooo, what have YOU read lately?