Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Commitment issues

I'm not even close to posting anything I've read lately and I'm totally going to blame it on my pregnant brain. Just like my fickle stomach, my fickle brain cannot commit to one book. I've read a few chapters in like, four books, and they are all wonderful and interesting, but I cannot seem to stay put. I decided the only way to get some reading done would be to put the question to you, dear readers. I'm going to give some summaries and try to be a cheerleader for each book so you can make an informed decision.
  • Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert. Two islands twenty miles off the coast of Maine have been warring with each other since before the Civil War. The islands' industries have evolved over time but since around 1900, it's been lobster. The men are jealous and crafty in guarding their territories. The book centers around Ruth Thomas, whose father is one of the most ruthless of fishermen. In the first three chapters I've read, she seems much too clever and smart for this island. The story seems like it's quite proud of it's quirkiness. It's fraught with quirk. But I love Maine and I love quirk.
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. I haven't read a good mystery in a while and this one won some award that's plastered on the cover. It's about Flavia de Luce, an 11-year-old girl living in 1950s England who's obsessed with chemistry and torturing her mean older sisters. When a body appears on her family's land, she's fascinated by what could have happened to him. I've read the first few chapters and Flavia reminds me of Harriet the Spy, who I wanted to be like when I was young. I even carried around a notebook and tried to spy on my neighbors for one summer. I discovered that my neighbors were boring. Anyway, she's spunky and fearless and fascinated by poison.
  • Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman. I recently posted about how much I like Neil Gaiman and how much I'm looking forward to future books but I'm lukewarm about this collection of short stories. If he can't commit to a novel, how can I commit to a bunch of short stories? Someone please remind me of how much I like his writing.
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Takes place in 1960s Mississippi and is about black women who take care of white children. It follows a recent college graduate, Eugenia, who decides to collect the stories of these women who are trusted with white children, but finds that their stories are probably too disturbing for white eyes. My best friend, Abby, recommended it and I lived in Mississippi for six years, so I think I'll enjoy it. It makes me wish I could read it with a book group that's never lived in the South, so they could have something to think about that they probably never did before.
  • Julie and Julia: My year of cooking dangerously by Julie Powell. If you've seen the movie trailer, then you have an idea of the book that the movie is based on. Julie is sick of her job and is fearing the dreaded age of thirty, so she decides to mix things up by cooking every single recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. I'm a little irritated that someone would be traumatized by turning thirty, but I love books about cooking. I'm game. Seriously, thirty is not old.
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. If my friend Rachel would just quit going on and on about how much she loves this book and how its the best book ever and how she wished she could laminated every single page of it and spend the rest of her life memorizing it in its totality, I wouldn't need to read it. Sheesh. Why don't you just marry it already, Rach? Wait, were you gushing about the movie or the book? Now I can't remember. Shoot, maybe it was the movie and I don't have to read the book after all. It's in England and has to do with the industrial north and the pastoral south and it's kind of Dickens-esque. It's about the middle class women in the Victorian era and looks like something I'd enjoy. I don't know if I would enjoy it to the degree that Rachel does, but it looks worth the time.
There you go. After writing all that, I'm still not sure which to start with. Go vote on the side panel there and then make a comment about why you voted for what you did. I want to be convinced here so make it compelling. The vote ends on Tuesday so make it snappy, will you?


  1. It was most definitely the movie I was gushing about, not the book. The book was okay, but I would just skip to the movie. And pregnant brain? Congrats! When are you due? Maybe I should check the squeaker. I've never heard of the other books. My vote is for just watching North and South instead of reading.

  2. My vote is for the first one, because I love quirky too.

    And I think I may have led you to Fragile Things, so I should tell you that I stopped reading it because I forget that I lose interest in short story collections, even really well written ones. And there was a section of smutty stories that turned me off.

    And Rachel does go on and on about North and South but I do think it's the movie. She is absolutely correct about that too. If it were legal to marry a movie I would marry that one.

  3. Second post, I know. I just realized that you had requested a compelling reason for our vote. My vote is North and South, THE MOVIE. To compel you, please google Richard Armitage, and that's all you need to know. I know Rachel K backs me up on this vote.

  4. My top pick is the Sweetness book and my second choice is The Help. A good mystery with a Harriet the Spy type character sounds right up your alley. Anya and I have started reading Harriet together and she loves it too! The Help also sounds fascinating but I think it's because I, too, lived in the South and I'm still intrigued with how human beings manage to rationalize their treatment of one another.

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  6. My vote is for the mystery, too. I love to read a good mystery in the summer. Plus, aren't curious about what is so sweet about the bottom of the pie? Usually the middle is the sweet part.

  7. I voted for "The Help" even though I've never lived in the South (though I do have roots there, and my mom claims it effects my extended family dynamics more than I realize). It sounded like the most compelling read to me, as long as the characters are sympathetic and not didactic (I'm always a little wary of that with racial issues involved). But maybe a little too compelling for the summer? If so, I'm sure the Maine or mystery one would do the job well!