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Books Read March 2007 -January 2008

Marsha Ferziger Nagorsky
 
Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter
Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter
"Not sure I buy the whole thing, but very interesting and well argued."
A Little Princess
A Little Princess
"Another book Kim made me read.  A lovely book for pre-teens, I'm sure, but it didn't speak much to me as an adult. Seemed overly simplistic in its message and one-dimensional in its characters."
Downtown: My Manhattan
Downtown: My Manhattan
"Sadly, works neither as a history nor as a memoir. It's not enough of either. I like the writing style, but found myself skimming."
The Exorcist
The Exorcist
"A reread for me. Continues to be surprisingly effective, despite the very rushed ending."
834 Kitchen Quick Tips: Tricks, Techniques, and Shortcuts for the Curious Cook
834 Kitchen Quick Tips: Tricks, Techniques, and Shortcuts for the Curious Cook
"Yes, I read it. Over time. Wonderful tips here, with excellent illustrations. I'd expect nothing less from Cook's."
The Book Thief
The Book Thief
"Unusual and excellent. Compelling story and characters. I don't think I've ever read a Holocaust book from the point of view of ordinary German people before. Well done."
Welcome to the Monkey House: Stories
Welcome to the Monkey House: Stories
"Re-read this in  memory of Mr. Vonnegut, one of my favorite authors. This has always been one of my favorite of his books, although I haven't reread it in a long time. It holds up very well, and it was like reacquainting myself with old friends. Rest in peace, Mr. Vonnegut. So it goes."
The Probable Future (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
The Probable Future (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
"I wanted this to be better. I liked many of the characters, but the magical realism aspect was poorly used, and the ending was entirely too tidy. There were several nice things about it, but overall it left me cold."
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone
"Rereading in advance of the big Book 7 release - I'd forgotten how thin this book is plot-wise. It's an incredible introduction to what's to come, and the stuff with the Dursleys in teh beginning is great, but in general, it's a rather weak internal plot. Pretty much just exposition."
Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet)
Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet)
"Another re-read but for no particular reason. Still amazing after all this time. I'm still seeing new things in it even after many readings."
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
"Probably my least favorite of the series, but still good."
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
"A personal favorite in the series. Nothing quite like Sirius Black, and I adore Remus Lupin."
The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows: 1946-Present, Eighth Edition
The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows: 1946-Present, Eighth Edition
"I've read this over a long stretch - fascinating look at TV over time in several different ways (and a great bathroom book!)."
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (Book 4)
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (Book 4)
"Probably my favorite in the series. The opening stuff before Hogwarts doesn't feel like dragged-out filler (as I felt it did in books 5 and 6) and the Tri-Wizard tourney is great stuff."
Hidden Kitchens: Stories, Recipes, and More from NPR's The Kitchen Sisters
Hidden Kitchens: Stories, Recipes, and More from NPR's The Kitchen Sisters
"I loved the series on NPR, so it was fun to read this - photos and recipes to go with the stories really made this come to life."
Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Special Topics in Calamity Physics
"A good read, and a great book club discussion. I felt that it was like reading two books - the style and tone changed a lot from the opening to the ending. Very evocative of The Secret History. Funny, and well-written, but ultimately a bit lacking."
Ragtime: A Novel (Modern Library 100 Best Novels)
Ragtime: A Novel (Modern Library 100 Best Novels)
"I wanted to like this more - I did like the musical. But this felt very muddy - I just couldn't follow what Doctorow was trying to say, and the story wasn't enough to keep me interested without understanding what the point was."
The Namesake: A Novel
The Namesake: A Novel
"I'm not sure why I liked this so much. It's really just a standard immigrant story, and there's little about it that feels new, but it's so well-written that I was captivated by it."
I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence
I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence
"This fell totally flat for me. I rarely found it funny, and often winced. I guess it just isn't my sense of humor."
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
"This one is definitely one of my favorites - talk about building toward a climax! Finished just in time to read Book 7..."
The House on Mango Street
The House on Mango Street
"What an engaging little book. Took no time to read, and is so deceptively simple. Each vignette is so crystalline - Cisneros is able to distill a memory into a few short paragraphs. Delightful."
The Joy Luck Club
The Joy Luck Club
"Enjoyable enough, but I'm not sure I see why it caused such a sensation."
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
"Thoroughly satisfying. I even liked the epilogue."
Portuguese Irregular Verbs: A Professor Dr von Igelfeld Entertainment Novel (1)
Portuguese Irregular Verbs: A Professor Dr von Igelfeld Entertainment Novel (1)
"Fun in a quirky way, but ultimately it wasn't that great. I suppose I spend too much time around academic types to find the phony ones too amusing."
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
"Disappointing. I love his writing style,a nd there were some strong elements, but ultimately, it never engaged my attention."
Autobiography of a Face
Autobiography of a Face
"I had to rad this once I read Ann Pachett's "Truth and Beauty" and it did not disappoint. Grealy writes beautifully and her story is even more interesting viewed through the lens of Pachett's book."
The Man Who Ate Everything
The Man Who Ate Everything
"Great fun - the tone can get a bit snotty, but the information is really interesting and the stories are lively."
You Suck: A Love Story
You Suck: A Love Story
"Amusing enough, but disappointing. The characters were fun and the concept was good, but this one didn't seem to have the heart that A Dirty Job had, nor the strong narrative thread to keep it all together."
Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York
Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York
"Wow, is this dated. I read it in part because it's sort of famous and I was curious, but yeesh. That said, it's funny, in a  cringe-worthy sort of way. I like Parent much better as a sit-come writer, I think."
Pieces for the Left Hand
Pieces for the Left Hand
"Strange, but very engaging. I found a fair amount of it contrived, but a lot of it was very thought provoking and intriguing."
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
"Certainly an interesting experiment, and an impressive feat of writing, but I get the feeling I'd have liked this much better with an English teacher helping me through it. MOstly, it just got kind of repetitive and dull."
The Family Orchard
The Family Orchard
"Some interesting characters, but seriously overwritten. Too much time is spent on the middle chartacters, at the expense of good storytelling and flow."
Listening Now
Listening Now
"Couldn't muster the brain power to finish it. The writing is lovely, but my post-partum brain couldn't keep it in my head from day to day, nor could I keep the characters straight. I want to come back to this some day, but not now. Next time, I need a copy with the glossary!"
Digging to America: A Novel
Digging to America: A Novel
"Very enjoyable read, although I thought the ending was a bit unsatisfying. An interesting exploration of the meaning of belonging and assimilation."
The Pilot's Wife (Oprah's Book Club)
The Pilot's Wife (Oprah's Book Club)
"Predictable, but an enjoyable read. The characters and the concept stayed with me."
The Group
The Group
"Would have been much better had the back not ruined the ending for me. In 2007 this read to me more like historical fiction than anything else - it was less about the story and more about understanding a bit about how women lived in the time period. The characters were interesting, but there's really not a whole lot of plot here."
Zen And The Art Of Faking It
Zen And The Art Of Faking It
"Another lovely book by Sonnenblick. San is an interesting character, but it's Woody that I came to love."
The Family Markowitz
The Family Markowitz
"A little too close to home in some places. The characters came alive nicely for me, and the situations were very real. I like the way she writes."
Mariette in Ecstasy
Mariette in Ecstasy
"Interesting - I was quickly drawn into the world, and the ending was well done, if a bit unsatisfying."
Heart-Shaped Box: A Novel
Heart-Shaped Box: A Novel
"Creepy and fun. I liked the characters, and the whole thing held together fairly well. He certainly writes like his dad."