Les livres de 2012: round 1

We woke up this morning to snow. Finally. A New York winter full of temperatures in the 50s and 60s is alarming at best. Since we've been getting up so early lately, sleeping in is kind of hilarious.

"We slept til 7!"

It was too early for bagels, so I got a banana from the kitchen and returned to bed to watch the snow and polish off the rest of the Steve Martin book I'd found at the library earlier this week.

Reading while it snows is up there on the list of most charming things ever.

Here we go:

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Chris reads a lot of sci-fi. Every once in a while he suggests a book and I'd like to think that I listen very carefully, but I guess I don't. Because when I started reading The Hunger Games on his Kindle at his insistence, he said "I TOLD YOU YOU WOULD LOVE THEM WHEN I READ THESE LAST YEAR."


Technically this is Young Adult, but so was Harry Potter and that series was GOOD. So is this one. It was crazy because I started reading the first book in this series and suddenly they were everywhere; at least four people I know started (and finished) them the same week as me, there was a movie trailer to watch, and people would hear me talking to Chris about Peeta in the elevator and barge into our conversations head-first.

The gist: future society hosts games every year in which young adults fight each other to the death. (I know, but you get over that part). These books are addictive and I totally recommend them when you need something to completely distract you from life. You might even want to take a few days off of work - they're that hard to put down.

2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
To me, this was the one that I liked least of the three. The plot line takes a turn back towards the beginning and I thought "oh great, we're just going to see the same thing over again?" It's compelling and interesting despite the chance of repeat plot... and the best part is the ending, which leads you to...

3. Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins
Without giving away spoilers, the scene where Peeta is reunited with Katniss is unbelievable. I had just had a networking coffee with someone and immediately texted her to say "WHAT IS GOING ON WITH PEETA?!" You might text strangers while reading this one.

A note about reading these on the Kindle: I'd read a book on the iPad last year, but this was my first time reading on a Kindle touch. I hated the touch part (Ollie's tail changed the page so many times that we almost had an amputation), but I didn't mind the Kindle so much. I haven't read anything on it since this series, but my mind is open towards the medium.

4. The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
This was a re-read and I wrote about it a bit last month. Chloe's chapter at the end is still my favorite part of the book. "I get the curtain speech," she says. I love her.

Chris has always dreamed of going to Japan, so we're going to try to make it happen this year. He's attracted to the crazy technology, the vending machines, and the sushi. I don't like fish, hate miso soup, and literally know nothing about Japan. 

The way I get excited about visiting a place I know nothing about is by reading. I did some searching around to find some Japanese novels and memoirs written by Americans who have lived over there. Now there's a whole shelf of Japanese lit on our shelves at home and I'm making my way through it. I'm already jazzed about seeing the country in person!

This book was so simple. It was entirely opposite of the kinds of literature I've been reading lately, American stuff with emotional story lines. There was emotion in this story, but it was very quiet and the plot was barely a plot. This the story of a housekeeper who is assigned to clean and cook for a math professor. As the result of an accident, the professor can only remember 80 minutes at a time; then he loops and starts all over again. 

The math detail in this book made me long for homework. Remember when you were in high school math class and you just felt as though there were REAL answers? Factually correct ones that you had to nail right on the head... though I love literature, the solidity beneath math class is something that I do miss.

6. Learning to Bow by Bruce Feiler
One of my other instincts when traveling somewhere unknown is to reach out to others who have traveled or lived there. I emailed a friend from college who did the JET program after Muhlenberg to ask her what books she liked and she recommended this one. 

Think "A Year in Provence," but replace all the farmers with strict schoolteachers. This book was hilarious! I admit that some of the humor came from my incredulity at the cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan, but what a read! I learned so much.

The writing could have been better and the organization of the chapters was a little odd, but you are going to NAIL any cocktail party you attend after reading this. Look for the story about the principal using black marker on the students' heads. INSANE!

7. An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

I just love Steve Martin as an actor. I can't help laughing whenever he's on screen because he is so obvious about what's going on between his character's ears. Think Father of the Bride or It's Complicated. (I've clearly just placed myself in the middle-aged female group of film-goers. Ah well! Are we surprised?!)

Anyhoo. This book has been popular in the subway for the past few years, but I'd all but forgotten about it. Steve Martin as an author? Come on. 

Then I found it at the library this week and grabbed it... it was completely different than what I thought it would be. All I'm going to say is that guy must have researched the art world for YEARS to write this book. It's not the best book I've ever read, but it did make me want to go to a museum or gallery. Not bad, Steve Martin! Not bad at all.

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