Sunday, June 30, 2013

Joyland by Stephen King

I had been anticipating this book for quite some time and it was well worth the wait. The story centers around Devin, a 21 year old college kid, who spends his summer working at Joyland amusement park. There is word that there is a ghost that haunts one of the rides since she was murdered in it. Dev never sees her, but befriends a mom named Annie and her ten year old son Mike who has muscular dystrophy. Mike also has "the sight" and knows that there is a ghost in the rides. I found this mystery--who killed the girl?--a very different change of pace for Stephen King. As always, SK knocked it out of the park...I could almost smell the salt of the ocean air, the popcorn, and the cotton candy as I read this book.

The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf

I really loved this book! The book is divided into chapters such as violence, hunger, and sex and how what Wolf terms as "the beauty myth" interacts with them. Like violence is not domestic violent disputes, but violence against one's body, such as plastic surgery and fixing flaws that aren't really there through surgical means. The book was originally published in 1991, so it definitely shows its age. I wish there was an updated version of it that included more recent statistics, but the book is still extremely relevant--maybe even more so than when it was originally published--and worth a read.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

I really enjoyed this book and realized it is the fourth road trip book I have read in about two years. The story revolves around Colin Singleton who has just been dumped by the nineteenth Katherine he has ever dated. He is really hurt by this, so he and his friend Hassan convince Colin's parents that it would be best if they went on a road trip and "find" themselves which really means get Colin over Katherine. They end up in Gutshot, Tennessee (they originated in Chicago), living with a girl named Lindsey (who is dating a guy named Colin, nicknamed "TOC" [the other Colin]) and her mom Hollis while they take down a history of the town given by the residents. The original Colin is trying to figure out why his relationships with Katherines always end and why he is the one who always gets dumped. He is on a mission to create a mathematical formula that predicts relationships, except there is hitch after hitch on why it does not work. Does Colin ever figure out the formula and get over Katherine XIX?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This book revolves around 8 year old Scout, her brother Jem, and her father Atticus while he defends a black man that allegedly raped a white woman. It is definitely a coming-of-age story where Scout realizes that everything is not as she thought it was and how people behave in unexpected ways. Also, there is a "mysterious" boarded-up house where "Boo" Radley supposedly lives. When Scout and Jem walk home from school, sometimes they find "gifts" in the crook of a tree, such as two pennies, a pack of gum, and a broken watch.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

I don't know much about Jewish culture or customs, which is what this book revolves around, so maybe I missed a lot of inside jokes...I am not sure. I have heard that it is like a Jewish version of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections (which I own but have not yet read...maybe I should). This book was very character-driven, much like J. Courtney Sullivan's Maine, although I think you knew where the book would end as soon as it began. The story revolves around Edie, an overweight matriarch of a three generation family, who keeps having to have surgeries done to keep her alive (stents in legs and whatnot). Her husband Richard leaves her since he was done living with someone he didn't love anymore and who was slowly killing herself and taking him along with her. They have children, Benny and Robin. Benny's wife Rachelle is on a mission to save her mother-in-law from herself, even going so far as to stalk her when she goes from a McDonald's to a Burger King and ending at a Chinese restaurant. Benny tries to be fairly hands-off, but appeals to his dad when Rachelle says Richard can no longer visit the grandchildren (Josh and Emily, twins who have their b'nai mitzvah coming up). Robin seems to want nothing to do with her family, and she and Emily are often likened to younger, smaller Edies. I didn't feel like this book really went anywhere (that is what I think of most character-driven books, I have found), but it was told in an interesting way: each chapter has a different character narrating. There is even a chapter where the family friends are narrating the b'nai mitzvah.