2012 Book List

Chicago-based  Lancaster writes the things that everyone wants to say but is too polite to say. Or embarrassed to admit she is thinking. Just for that, Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie Is Not the Answer is worth reading because it’s hilarious. In addition, for anyone thinking about losing weight, Jen Lancaster’s honest take on weight loss sends a positive message. I have three of her other memoirs on my nightstand, and they’re addictive.

I started this book with mixed reactions, but it really grew on me. Marie Sharp is a newly retired art teacher living in London who is creating a different life for herself and she proclaims that she is OLD and happy to be so. As the book progresses in diary style through her 60th year, the reader gets connected with both Marie and her cast of characters; many are long-time friends who are experiencing their own “growing older” issues. The best part of the book is Marie’s growing fascination with her new grandchild, and for that, it’s worth the read. Virginia Ironside puts into writing what many grandparents talk about — the all-encompassing, no-holds-barred love that comes with the precious little person. As one of the Amazon reviewers said, this book needs a sequel so we can see what happens to Marie and her charming friends.

I was looking for something light and breezy to read on my new Kindle and found this little charmer. Billed as an Irish romantic comedy, its protagonist is an Irish flight attendant. Written in an informal first-person narrative, it was almost stream-of-consciousness storytelling, which was further enhanced (not) by the poor typography in the Kindle version. Surely someone can write a better program for transferring books to Kindle format. Every book I’ve read so far on my Kindle has had formatting issues. Anyway, Mile High Guy is another piece of satisfying chick lit with nice geographical allusions to Ireland, Boston, and New York. It was worth what I paid for it (99 cents) and helped me get through some sleepless nights while I was sick.

We read this one for January 2012 book club, and I’m not sure what to say about this book. Loosely based on the lives of Empress Michiko and Crown Princess Masako of Japan, it had a great deal of promise and I thoroughly enjoyed the first part as we watch the renamed protagonist Haruko on her march — albeit it VERY slowly — to the throne. Schwartz tried to create a woman’s world and I’m not sure he completely succeeded, although his research is evident and I always give an author props for taking the time to do meticulous research. The best character was the nasty lady-in-waiting, a part I’d love to play in the movie, IF I were Japanese and IF the movie were going to be made at all. Given that the novel is a fantasia created by Schwartz about a regime that was part  mystery and part mythology, he wrote a story that is sometimes passionate and sometimes dull. I can’t say I recommend it, but it’s another one of those books that may improve our cultural understanding, and for that, it’s worth a read.

Written by my son, it’s always going to be difficult for me to be fair in my analysis of The Hipsters. Hard, cynical, yet surprisingly tender and hopeful, The Hipsters is a look at a time and place that formed the characters of a lot of young people you may know and it’s worth a read. Written in alternate chapters, it tells the story of videographer John and the subjects he interviews, with a strong first-person narrative style that caused me to alternately love and hate the characters. Anytime I can get that emotionally involved in a story, I want to recommend it to others. Even if it is my son’s book, it’s worth a read and can be obtained in Kindle format on Amazon. (Just in case you don’t have a Kindle, you can download apps to smart phones to read Kindle books. I did it on my iPhone before I got my Kindle for Christmas.)

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