Plot: This book focuses on three sisters: Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia. All of them are at a Crossroads in their lives when they learn their mother is diagnosed with cancer. This leads them all to go home to the small University town they grew up in, with secrets and problems in tow. Rosalind’s fiance is working abroad, Bianca has been stealing from her job and has subsequently racked up a load of debt and Cordelia has after travelling for years found out she is pregnant.
Favourite Quote: 'We see stories in magazines or newspapers sometimes, or read novels, about the deep and loving relationships between sisters. Sisters are supposed to be tight and connected, sharing family history and lore, laughing over misadventures. But we are not that way. We never have been, really, because even our partnering was more for spite than love. Who are these sisters who act like this? who treat each other s their best friends? Our estrangement is not drama-laden, we have not betrayed one another's trust, we have not stolen lovers or fought over money or property or any of the things that irreparably break families apart. The answer, for us, is much simpler. See, we love one another. We just don't happen to like one another very much.'
What I liked:
What I didn’t:
Would I recommend this book?: If you like family dramas/books about 30 somethings settling down (marriage and kids etc) with copious Shakespeare references, then yes I would recommend this book to you. but if your looking for beautiful writing or ‘I Capture the Castle meets The Virgin Suicides’ which is what the cover promises I would say no.
(I think part of my misgivings about this book was that it was marketed in a way that suggested literary fiction but it definitely didn’t read like that. Because I’m not the sort of reader who usually enjoys light reads about family relationships/settling I think I’m being a little harsh, so I think that’s a problem with how the books being sold more than anything).
All in all this book was a fairly quick light read that other people might enjoy, but for me this book was only okay and a little forgettable
Have you ever read this book, what did you think of it?
Structure: This is a humorous memoir constructed into a collection of essays, stories from her life, advice and opinions. This sort of structure would make it an ideal commute read and because there were some sections I was more interested in than others so while I wasreading I tended to skip around. The structure reminded me of both Bossypants by Tina Fey and Is it Just Me? by Miranda Hart, (both humorous memoirs that I would recommend).
Why I picked this book up: I’ve been really interested in reading this book since I started to pay more attention since I started to notice that Mindy Kaling wrote most of my absolute favourite episodes of The Office. I’ve also started to read along with the youtube based Answerly Book club, and this book is the comedy pick this month.
What I liked: There are some great chapters about Mindy being a quiet kid, a comedy nerd, who got on with her work which I really connected with as that describes my childhood pretty well (although I was nerdy all around). There’s some great advice telling teens that its okay to not be too cool in High School that I really agreed with.
There’s also some fun behind the scenes Hollywood stuff, really demystifies the whole ‘fame’ thing. (There is a description of the rubbish things she has received in the goody bags at award shows).
Basically the only autobiographies I read are written by Comedians and Writers, I especially love ones written by both. Partly because I’m really interested in comedy writing and working in a writing room in general so the behind the scenes on The Office/SNL was really great, (I would have loved more). I was actually hoping the book would have a chapter or more about creating her own show, however I think this was published before The Mindy Project came out, (if she wrote another book about this I wouldn’t hesitate to pick it up).
What I didn’t: I didn’t agree with some of the advice, particularly in the men’s section, she perpetuates some sexist double standards (a small example: she want’s men to have chest hair but thinks its weird if women have body hair). There were also a few sections where she mentions that she is not ‘Hollywood thin’ but in those sections although she is celebrating the ‘average woman’s size she makes lot’s of fat jokes. In one chapter there was a transphobic slur, under the guise of a joke. These parts were framed in a comedic way but they still rubbed me the wrong way/made me uncomfortable.
Would I recommend it: As you would expect this was a incredibly funny, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in Mindy Kaling/any fans of The Office who are interested in a light funny read.
Have you ever read this book, what did you think of it?
Form: This is a slim volume/Anthology of essays on the power of writing/ the cost of censorship by PEN writers (PEN is the Human Rights Group that published this book).
Here is a brief introduction to each essays subject, along with some of my favourite quotes:
Overall this is a varied and interesting collection of essays, that I wish was longer or contained more author’s work. If you are at all interested in any of the subjects detailed above I would strongly recommend this book.
Form: This is a dark illustrated fairy tale/adult picture book.
Plot: A postman falls in love with a raven, they have a child. The raven girl is trapped in a human body, she always wishes she has wings until she meets a Doctor willing to change her.
This edition: (ISBN: 9780224097871). This is very well produced book, the book jacket, cover/spine as well as the end papers are all gorgeous. The book itself, at least in this edition is a work of art.
I’ve loved every Niffenegger book I’ve ever read particularly her illustrated works and this book was no different. Often her books have a dreamlike, surreal, dark fairy tale feel to them. Like her other’s this book focuses on love, longing, loss and transformation. Although this isn’t my favourite tale of hers its still a story beautiful that I now I will be re-reading for long time.
As I have said I really enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it to anyone who was intrigued by the plot synopsis. Although if it was someones first time reading Nifffenegger’s illustrated works (as opposed to her most famous novel The Timetraveller’s Wife), I probably wouldn’t recommend this one. For someone’s first time reading one of Niffenegger’s Graphic Novel I would recommend The Night Bookmobile, (a must for book lovers) or The Three Incestuous Sisters.
Plot: This is going to sound spoilery, but rest assured everything I am about to tell you happens in the first 10 pages. Veronika has a seemingly charmed life yet she has decided to kill herself. After attempting to take her life, she wakes up in hospital and is told that she, only has a few days to live’.
Favourite Passage: 'Hatred. Something almost as physical as walls, pianos or nurses; she could almost touch the destructive energy leaking out of her body. She allowed the feeling to emerge, regardless of whether it was good or bad, she was sick of self-control, of masks, of appropriate behaviour. Veronika wanted to spend her remaining two or three days of life behaving as innapropriately as she could.
She had begun by slapping an old man in the face, she had burst into tears in front of a nurse, she had refused to be nice and to talk to others when what she really wanted was to be left alone, and now she was free enough to fell hatred, although intelligent enough not to smash everything around her and risk spending what remained of her life under sedation and in a bed in a ward.
At that moment, she hated everything: herself, the world, the chair in front of her, the broken radiator in one of the corridors, people who were perfect, criminals. She was in a mental hospital and so could allow herself to feel things that people usually hide form themselves, because we are all brought up only to love, to accept, to look for ways round things; to avoid conflict. Veronika hated everything, but mainly she hated the way she had lived her life, never bothering to discover the hundreds of other Veronikas who lived inside her and who were interesting, mad, curious, brave, bold’.
The Structure: It’s written in very short sections, which means it’s easy to pick up and put down, (its a good commute read).
My experience with the writer: I know a lot of people really love Paulo Coelho’s work, but I just don’t think his style of writing is for me. (Last year I read The Alchemist, and was disappointing after hearing nothing but hype about how life changing it was, I didn’t really enjoy it). His philosophical/self help tone combined with the fact that he tends to wear his morals on his sleeve, which leads others to love him just doesn’t sit well with me. I appreciate this is a personal thing the 1001 books to read before you die book says of this book, ‘In a world of increasing uniformity, conformity and violation, the novel reflects its late 20th century provenance with it’s blend of world religious sentiment, the self-help angle, and it’s advocacy that life can have meaning if we do not heed the social mores that stifle, the human spirit.’ I will say I enjoyed this novel more than The Alchemist, although the tone was very similar. The tone in both novels stopped me from connecting with the characters, and just made me lose interest in the plot. I was given a copy of The Devil and Miss Prym by a family friend, so after I read that I think I will have given Paulo Coelho enough of a chance.
I appreciate that Paulo Coelho used some of his own experience in a psychiatric hospital to shape the plot of this novel, but I thought this book would have been more focused on mental health rather than using a characters mental illness to give the reader generic life advice.
Overall I feel like this is one Author that a lot of people love but just isn’t for me.
A quick roundup of what I read last month and whether I liked it. Click on the title of the book to open a new tab and go to my review/recommendation if it isn’t underlined then I haven’t got around to writing/posting the review yet.
Short Story Collections: