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book club

On My Bookshelf, December 2016-January 2017

Searching for John Hughes: Or Everything I Thought I Needed to Know about Life I Learned from Watching ’80s Movies by Jason Diamond (2016)

From Amazon.com: “For all fans of John Hughes and his hit films such as National Lampoon’s Vacation, Sixteen Candles, and Home Alone, comes Jason Diamond’s hilarious memoir of growing up obsessed with the iconic filmmaker’s movies—a preoccupation that eventually convinces Diamond he should write Hughes’ biography and travel to New York City on a quest that is as funny as it is hopeless.”

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge
-A book involving travel
-A book with a subtitle

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: An American Hero by Ronald D. Lankford Jr. (2016)

Don’t let the playful topic, decorative layout, and colorful images fool you – this is a detailed historical study of Rudolph and his place in American history and culture. Probably not the best choice for someone looking for simple holiday nostalgia, but a great read for the history-buff. Lankford’s work is well-researched and interesting. Recommended – if you like that kind of thing.

From Amazon.com: “Ronald D. Lankford has written the definitive history of this iconic and much-loved Christmas character. . . . The result is both a glowing tribute and a rigorously researched biography that will appeal to fans and lovers of classic American holiday culture.”

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge
-A book involving a mythical creature
-A book with a subtitle

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (2016)

My husband got me this book for Christmas, not knowing how relevant it would be. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Wishful Drinking, but I’m also not a Star Wars fan. Of course, just being a Star Wars fan is no reason to read this book. In fact, unless you already know about Carrie Fisher’s writing, you would probably be really disappointed. At its core, this is a coming of age story – more about a teenager struggling with the transition to adulthood than behind the scenes stories from the movie. It is a good read if you like Fisher.

From Amazon.com: “When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford. With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes.”

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge
-A book about an interesting woman
-A bestseller from 2016

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)

This one I read for book club and it is absolutely not a genre I would typically pick up off of the shelf. Call me pleasantly surprised, I enjoyed it overall. Yes, I found the plot of the crime ridiculously tangled and the noir doublespeak ultimately cloying, but Chandler was clearly a master of his craft. And it turns out he didn’t write this first book until he 44 and unemployed during the Depression. Good for him! If you are a fan of this genre, you’ve probably already read this. If you aren’t, this is probably a good one to start with.

From Amazon.com: “In crime fiction master Raymond Chandler’s iconic first novel, a dying millionaire hires private eye Philip Marlowe to handle the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters, and Marlowe finds himself involved with more than extortion. Kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder are just a few of the complications he gets caught up in.”

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge
-A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read

*This post contains Amazon Associate referral links.

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Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

From Amazon.com: One of the most enduringly popular adventure tales, Treasure Island began in 1881 as a serialized adventure entitled “The Sea-Cook” in the periodical Young Folks. Completed during a stay at Davos, Switzerland, where Stevenson had gone for his health, it was published in 1883 in the form we know today. Set in the eighteenth century, Treasure Island spins a heady tale of piracy, a mysterious treasure map, and a host of sinister characters charged with diabolical intentions. Seen through the eyes of Jim Hawkins, the cabin boy of the Hispaniola, the action-packed adventure tells of a perilous sea journey across the Spanish Main, a mutiny led by the infamous Long John Silver, and a lethal scramble for buried treasure on an exotic isle.

I’m reading this one with my Facebook book club. I enjoy reading classics that I *think* I know all about and being surprised by the story.

The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes by Conevery Bolton Valencius

From Amazon.com: From December 1811 to February 1812, massive earthquakes shook the middle Mississippi Valley, collapsing homes, snapping large trees midtrunk, and briefly but dramatically reversing the flow of the continent’s mightiest river. For decades, people puzzled over the causes of the quakes, but by the time the nation began to recover from the Civil War, the New Madrid earthquakes had been essentially forgotten. In The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes, Conevery Bolton Valencius remembers this major environmental disaster, demonstrating how events that have been long forgotten, even denied and ridiculed as tall tales, were in fact enormously important at the time of their occurrence, and continue to affect us today.

I decided to read this book after the author spoke where I work. I’ve always been interested in the New Madrid earthquakes – I would imagine it comes from having earthquake drills for a short time when I was in school.

On My Bookshelf

Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliations by Aisha TylerSelfInflictedWounds-hc-c3

From Amazon.com: In her book Self-Inflicted Wounds, comedian, actress, and cohost of CBS’s daytime hit show The Talk, Aisha Tyler recounts a series of epic mistakes and hilarious stories of crushing personal humiliation, and the personal insights and authentic wisdom she gathered along the way.

I can’t begin to explain how excited I was to see a new memoir in my library’s digital catalog that didn’t concentrate on overcoming cancer, recommitting to a less-than-perfect relationship, or raising kids in a new/old/amazing/life-changing/kitschy/revolting way. Overall. . . it was fine. I enjoyed it, but wasn’t rushing to plug my headphones in every day. Just a nice read.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson100YOM%20packshot%20(060112)

From Amazon.com: After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).

It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle. Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world.

This one is for my online book club. Online book clubs are neat because the amount of wine consumed is kept a secret and people actually have to read the book. My husband and I are reading this together in the evening – a process that is both long and nauseatingly sweet. So far, so good. It is funny and a nice departure from the typical sappy book club selections.