Tuesday, January 04, 2011

books 2010 #42 - 45

The Other Side of the BridgeThe Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just loved this book. The characters were interesting and well-developed, the story heart-wrenching, the prose lovely.

We all agreed it has some of the feeling of East of Eden (which I also loved). We had a great book club discussion, and I found it interesting that we had no desire or need for either of the two boys to leave their small town in search of something bigger and better. As Pete said, he had all he needed where he was.

The story and the characters that inhabit it have stayed with me, and have left me contemplating what it is I need to be happy. I think I have all I need right here as well.

A Far Cry from KensingtonA Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, really. This slim novel is a funny little read. Mrs. Hawkins is a young woman living in London in the mid 1950s and working in the publishing industry. She describes herself as obese, and it seems her weight makes people view her as capable, motherly, reliable. At a certain point, she begins to slim down, and this is disconcerting to many.

She loves to give advice, and I find this endearing. An example: "It's easy to get thin. You eat and drink the same as always, only half... I offer this advice without fee; it is included in the price of this book." Also, "It is a good thing to go to Paris for a few days if you have had a lot of trouble, and that is my advice to everyone except Parisians."

The characters are quirky, there is a little mystery, and I like the tone. I think I'll check out more of Muriel Spark's work.

The School Of Essential IngredientsThe School Of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very quick read. Light and lovely, a sensuous delight.

Lillian teaches cooking classes at her restaurant, and every chapter revolves around a certain character and a certain ingredient. Food is handled lovingly and the people who come together in class are just as gentle with each other. (The chapter about Lillian's upbringing was particularly intriguing.)

A few favorite quotes:

"She observed how dough that was pounded made bread that was hard and moods that were equally so. She saw that cookies that were soft and warm satisfied a different human need than those that were crisp and cooled."

"Sometimes, nina, our greatest gifts grow from what we are not given." (I think we all need an Abuelita.)

"Antonia made celebrations of things he had always dismissed as moments to be rushed through on the way to something more important. Being around her, he found even everyday experiences were deeper, nuanced, satisfaction and awareness slipped in between the layers of life like love notes hidden in the pages of a textbook."

Eats, Shoots  &  Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to PunctuationEats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While it's true that I enjoy punctuation, I think this is universally an entertaining book. I have wanted to read it for years, but put it off, thinking it would be pedantic at best, when in reality I was laughing! Out loud! I thoroughly enjoyed Truss's humor. A big thumbs up to the punctuation repair kit included in the book. (But I'm still on the fence as to where I stand with regard to prescriptivism vs. descriptivism in language.)

View all my reviews

my favorite reads from 2010:

The Help
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
The Forgotten Garden
Little Bee
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
Swan Place
Here Be Dragons
The Road
The Other Side of the Bridge


Natasha said...

The Other Side of the Bridge and The Forgotten Garden were two of my 2010 faves too. I have to host book club in April and I am considering having us read one of those, mainly because I wouldn't mind doing either again!

Jill said...

I guess I need to read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and The Road eh?

I guess with the help of GoodReads I might be able to remember what I read last year so I can make a top ten list too. I wish I could do this with music and movies and events in my life, but I just can't remember them!

Bugg's mama said...

Woah. That is a lot of reading. It seems all I ever read are self-help books! :)

Kelly said...

I need to get back into reading more. I go in spurts with it, and I'm definitely not on a spurt right now, but my list of books to read gets longer and longer. I trust your thoughts on books, so thanks for sharing!

Rebekah said...

I love Lynne Truss. My mom bought me this book one year for Christmas, and I read it in one day. I laughed my way through the whole thing. Could someone please make a math book this interesting?

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