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What I’m Reading

January 8th, 2012

My last two books have been fiction.

In November, I broke in my new Kindle with The Hunger Games, which I’d heard my friends discussing like it was an obsession. Having read it in 24 hours, I can say this – if you crack open this book, clear your schedule. Once you get about two chapters in, you will not be able to stop reading it. I was seizing every possible opportunity to read for even a few minutes, just to find out what would happen next! The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic society where, each year, teenagers are selected from around the country to compete to the death in a hostile landscape. This is not an entirely new idea, obviously, but the author puts a very fresh twist on it, in that the competitors can gain favor with the public via the media, resulting in sponsorships. These sponsorships affect the chances for survival, which is genius, because this twist completely changes an old plot into a new one. If you  love a good adventure story, flawed and interesting characters, and a critique of a media-saturated and fame-obsessed society, get this book.

This novel is not for the faint of heart, however, and it doesn’t take any easy ways out, so if you have a weak stomach or you don’t like sad stories, you might want to skip this one. Adrenaline junkies rejoice, though! Can’t…stop…reading.

The next book I read was a gift from a friend, and it was an entirely different experience. The Tiger’s Wife has received a lot of critical acclaim, and it’s a beautiful and somewhat difficult read.  Drawing upon some of the techniques of magical realism (in the tradition of writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez) The Tiger’s Wife tells the story of a young woman in the post-war Balkans, searching for clues about the strange circumstances surrounding her grandfather’s death. This, however, is just the backdrop for a group of gorgeously narrated stories in the folkloric tradition. If you are a fan of folktales, fairytales, and history, this could be a good book for you. I’ll be honest – I am still trying to figure out some parts of the book. It really gets you thinking.

SEPTEMBER 18th, 2001

In case I haven’t mentioned it, I love to cook.

Just this week, I finished reading the most inspiring memoir.  It’s Julia Child’s My Life In France, which she wrote with the help of her nephew, Alex Prud’Homme.

Going beyond what was shown in the 2000’s hit Julie and Julia, which was both a successful book and a very successful movie starring Meryl Streep, My Life in France shows the complete story of how Julia Child became one of the world’s greatest culinary successes.  What I loved so much about it was the revelation that Julia Child’s success was about 1% natural talent and 99% patience and perseverance.  The woman never gave up, even in the face of mountains of work and multiple flat-out rejections of her cookbook, which is now a great classic.

Furthermore, Julia’s story made me remember that a person is not the sum of his or her appearance or social status.  Julia was awkward, extremely tall, and not particularly sophisticated — but she never said “I wasn’t beautiful enough” or “I wasn’t rich enough.”  She only ever said that she was disappointed she wasn’t more informed, or that she didn’t know her mind well enough.  For a person who is now considered to be one of the great personalities of the 20th century, this is a lesson to us all.

If you love food or you love history, or if you just love inspiring women, this is a book for you.

Now I’m pondering what to read next…I have a huge stack.