Bergdorf Blondes

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bergdorf Blondes, by Plum Sykes

I'm glad I read this book, because it made me gratefull for out-of-season mules, natural hair color, and self-awareness. The book itself was really aweful. I was expecting something fluffy, but I can't describe how vapid it was. I could see the ending coming a mile away, and I would have been sad to see one of the characters end up with the "heroine", if you can call her that, but he was such a thinly drawn character that I couldn't feel sorry for him.

It was a good airplane book, I guess, but I probably would have been more edified if I had just stared out the windor for 3 hours.

Gods in Alabama

Saturday, October 13, 2007

gods in Alabama, by Joshilyn Jackson

I stayed up past midnight to finish this book--I couldn't put it down. The author had a well-told story with interesting characters that didn't resort to cliches. Please note that it is an "R-rated" book, but I thought it was worth it.

Basically, the plot is this: a southern girl successfully leaves her small town and big family for the anonymity of Chicago, but then is pulled back 10 years later when she tries to protect her secret. It could have been condescending towards the South, but the author respected her characters enough to write them fully.

I'm not sure what I think about "Southern Fiction." There are so many stereotypes and usually they really annoy me. I will probably always identify myself as a Californian, but I've lived in Texas for four years and Virginia for three, so I'm starting to take the southern jokes more personally now. It's a group of people who are fair game to deride in pop culture. I'm certain that the intellectual elite feel free to mock southerners because it's one of the areas of the country which still has a Christian culture, although I've found that Christianity to be quite shallow. And of course, the South still has such baggage from the Civil War (or "War of Northern Agression"). And southerners talk funny and love Wal-Mart, both of which are things I laugh at. Maybe that's part of southern literature, is acknowledging the kookiness and character flaws but being proud of one's heritage anyway. I need to think more about this, but in the meantime, just know I enjoyed this book.

Same Kind of Different as Me

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

This was a memoir of three people's spiritual journey. Check out the link to see the synopsis on Amazon--it's an usual story. An art dealer and a homeless man become friends through the influence of the art dealer's wife, Deborah Hall, a woman who was close to God and passionate about helping the homeless in Fort Worth, TX. The Dallas Metroplex is a tough place--instead of solving the root behavior, the cities criminalize homelessness itself. As if someone living on the streets doesn't have enough problems already, right? That's what Deborah Hall recognized, and instead of just feeling good about serving food once a week, she tried to personally engage the people living in a Fort Worth mission.

This book was written in an engaging manner, switching back and forth from the art dealer and homeless man's perspective. (It was co-written by Lynn Vincent, one of my favorite editors at World Magazine.) The story was unusual, so much so that my friend who lent it to me didn't realize it was a true story until half-way through the book when she read the dust jacket. Honestly though, I was disappointed in myself that I wasn't more personally effected by this story. Am I calloused? Could the story have been more dynamic if it were fiction? Is my white guilt keeping me for appreciating the story for what it is?

I wish I had felt more convicted my this story, but I still appreciated the story and I was inspired by all three of the main characters. I recommend it.

Joy in the Morning

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith
I enjoyed reading this. Everything I've read lately has been sad, bittersweet, or grappled with epic conflict and lost. So it was good to read a nice story, for a change.

Betty Smith also wrote "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" and it was similar to "Joy in the Morning": plucky heroines who grew up in poverty, strong mothers, rites of passage, and absent or menacing father figures. This book didn't have the same scope as ATGIB, only focusing on the first year of marriage for a young couple. It was set in 1928 in a Midwest (or "Middle West") college town. It described their ups and downs, struggle to make ends meet, and how their relationship grew. Basically, it described a good marriage and reminded me of my own, which is probably another reason why I liked it. Neither mine nor the heroine's are perfect, of course, but it showed two people who were committed to each other and determined to make it work.

It was a simple story, but the characters were rich and the tone was positive. The author obviously had personally overcome poverty and believed that it was possible for others to do the same. This was a quick read which will probably stay with me for a while.

What Rachel's Reading

I'm a reader. I'm also a sporadic journal-writer. My life has calmed down enough to the point now where I have been considering starting up again. I'm on vacation right now, and I brought my old reading journal. I started it in 2001, and my last entry was from May of 2004. I just finished a book, and was thinking about my entry, when I realized alot has changed since 2004. Mainly, blogs have changed the way we can record our everyday lives. So I decided to blog about the books I read instead of keeping it in a book for only me to read.

In honor of my old journal, here's the first entry I wrote.

July 16, 2001
This is my book journal. I am starting this for a variety of reasons, but the main one is I am a sucker for blank journals. Empty pages are among the many things I cannot seem to resist.
This will also serve to be a diary of my spare time. I don't seem to have much of it, so I want to remember my leisurely moments, both how I spent them as well as the fact that I did, indeed, have some.
But these are not the main reasons why I am writing this. Dad gave me a very interesting quote once, which I think was by Charlie "Tremendous" Jones. Roughly paraphrased, it is this: Ten years from now, the only things that will have changed you are the people you have met and the books you have read. I want to keep a record of the things that have influenced me as a person.
Why do I have this desire? Maybe it goes back to the Puritans' love of journaling as a means of discovering more about themselves and God. Or, maybe it is something else entirely, which I will someday discover in one of the books I will read...