I also plan to eat my weight in cookies
In which I eventually get to the point

On the nightstand

What I'm reading, eh? (We'll get to those happiness questions later. Those require effort. Am lazy. AHEM.)

Okay so right now I am reading a thousand-page door stop of a book called Churchill: A Biography, by Roy Jenkins. This is because I was over at my parents' house telling my dad about the Potato Peel Pie book (we'll get to that one) and my father, the history buff, was appalled - APPALLED - to find out that I had never HEARD of the Channel Islands. But you know, I never claimed to be EDUCATED. Anyway. I then asked the history buff for some history book recommendations and he turned to his bookshelf and muttered about giving away most of his books when they moved back to the states blah blah blah and boom: handed me the door stop. I am on page 30 so far and I am weighing the consequences of asking my dad if I can just skip to the WWII years. 

Before I started reading the Churchill tome I read, in lightning fast fashion because that's how much I love them, two Inspector Montalbano mysteries, by Andrea Camilleri. I am always wary of recommending these, because the situations are always icky and shuddery, but Inspector Montalbano is one of my very favorite characters EVER and I LOVE reading all the hidden commentary on the Mafia and the glorious descriptions of food and the beach and Sicily itself. So I love these, but be forewarned: the murders are almost always Twisted. 

Before those I read the Potato Peel Pie book, which I think is actually called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. (Note: YOU CAN GOOGLE THESE YOURSELVES, SEE ABOVE RE: LAZY.) I had HEARD of this book, and actually put it on my Kindle wishlist, but it cost more than I try to spend on Kindle books and never got around to reading it. Then I scored it in a Christmas Secret Santa thingy and only wound up reading it last week when I ran out of everything else. And then I found out it was a bunch of LETTERS. Katie informs me that this is called an EPISTOLARY which, yes, I agree that's a fun word, but BAH. How tedious. I was about to toss the book when Twitter was all, "No! It's good! Press on!" So I did. And I liked it! I didn't like the letters. (SO. TEDIOUS.) And I would often skim through the letters of the characters I didn't like so much. (LAZY.) But I loved loved loved the chunks of "what happened during the Occupation". If I were going to be a history buff I would be a WWII history buff, so this was all very fascinating to me. I always find it hard to believe that these things (and other atrocities, obvs) happened not so very long ago and then I get all... PARANOID, I suppose, thinking about what *I* would do if *I* was occupied by the Germans (or worse). Let's not go there. I recommend with the caveat: expect a bit of tediousness. Also a hokey love story. But worth it overall. 

Before THAT I was reading the Bartimaeus Trilogy. These are books about a young boy in modern day London who becomes a magician - it turns out the government is made up of magicians whose magic really comes from their ability to summon demons. Now, I started reading the first book and only a few pages in I started to wonder where the Harry Potter people were with THIS book. Because COME ON. SUMMONING YOU KNOW WHAT! But I kept reading (because Bartimaeus is a hoot, even if he is a demon) and I ended up liking them. Not TONS, but enough to read all three books in a weekend. I like fantasy if the fantastic parts are set in reality. Like how Harry Potter is all happening within Muggle World, you know? I do not like fantasy if the worlds are made up or in outer space. BORING. Anyway, these weren't happy fun books, but neither were they dark and creepy and obsessed with good and evil (a 'la the Golden Compass etc.) By the third book, the demons are really the only ones making sense. And when Bartimaeus is the narrator, they're great.

Before THAT I got completely and utterly sunk in Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series. Liz recommended the first book, Soulless, and it is pure fluff, but SUPER FUN FLUFF. Oh the first book is also a touch (okay, a TON) "Harlequinny" (that's the word Liz used and it is genius) but for some reason the second and third books are not. Perhaps she realized she didn't need it to sell? I don't know. They're silly and hilarious and I have preordered the fourth. SO THERE. 

Oh, and I read Room. Have I not told you all this already. I feel like I'm repeating myself. I read this in one sitting, you guys, and did not have nightmares. I think those are the two things I can say that will most highly recommend it. Afterwards I read some reviews on GoodReads which I didn't quite get - people being all annoyed about having to read how a five-year-old talks/thinks, but that was the part I thought was most amazing. Oh, one reviewer was all pissy about having to read three pages of description of a Dora episode, but for me, it was like YEAH! That Swiper guy! TOTALLY! Anyway, there were a few parts I thought were a little off, but on the whole I was way impressed, fascinated, stunned, terrified and amazed. I think I might need to read it again, since I was zooming through the whole thing to find out what HAPPENS. Now that I know what happens I could go back and take in a little more detail. 

And now you will give ME recommendations, otherwise I am stuck with Churchill for the next, oh, four years. 


Amy --- Just A Titch

I loved Room so much. It was amazing.

I just read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and Girls Guide To Hunting And Fishing. I loved both.

morgan s.

Have you read the Dresden Files series? They are snarky and witty and about a wizard living in modern day Chicago.

Sarah in Ottawa

I just read the Hunger Games Trilogy. Have you read them yet? Worth checking out, since you like YA fiction.

I'm reading At Home by Bill Bryson - LOVE him as I am a non-fiction junkie. Maybe your father has recommendations for me? I'd be all over that Churchill biography. If you haven't read any of his stuff, Notes from A Small Island and In A Sunburned Country (about the UK and Australia, respectively) are great.

I also just read The Help and loved it.

Amy J

Percy Jackson? Anything by Tamora Pierce. Shannon Hale. Anne McCaffrey. Terry Brooks. Fablehaven. I love YA fantasy :).


I do not like books of letters too. I have been known to skip over the letters in regular books. That Anne book is the worst of all the Anne books.

Life of a Doctor's Wife

I too enjoyed Room and thought it was weird that people didn't like the five-year-old speak. Because that was the really remarkable thing about the whole book.

I am reading In This Way I Was Saved which is not TERRIBLE... But I knew by like, page 2, what was going on (it's got a Sixth Sense sort of twist) and that irritates me. I know it's not the author's fault that I am good at predicting things, but come on. It should at least take a few CHAPTERS to figure out what's going on.

Simultaneously I am reading The Finkler Question which puts me to sleep every time in about five minutes.

But! If you like twisted murder mysteries, I would highly recommend Sophie Hannah's series. So good. And so weird.


I think I recommended Room to you in my first comment ever because you said you were scared to read it. It WAS good, and I totally agree that the 5 year old voice was fascinating and I give major props to the author. I was a little disturbed with some things ("Can I have some?") but the overall story was original and told in a way that you could kind of stomach.

Thanks for the tips. My recommendation--Anything Mitch Albom. I just discovered him last year (always late to the party) and read everything he'd written within a couple of weeks. The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Tuesdays With Morrie, For One More Day, Have A Little Faith.


My only problem with Room was that I really had to suspend my disbelief several times:

1) I have a five year old who does not speak like that. And there were many times when the mother would correct Jack's grammar and speech, so why was he speaking that way in the first place? He was watching television, and on Dora, at least, they don't use incorrect grammar.

2) There were several times in the second half of the book---and I don't want to spoil the ending, so I won't elaborate--where I was all, "NO WAY would anybody allow that to happen."

3)I'll admit the extended breastfeeding meme got old after a while. Some reviewers on Amazon suggested the mom kept it up for a form of birth control, but her birth control pills were referenced in the first chapter (and then never mentioned again). I also had a hard time believing that kid would suck on a dead tooth like that, even his Mom's dead tooth. It was....gross.


Forgot to add that after reading Room, I read Slammerkin, by the same author. It was actually even better, and just as...how do I put this? Visceral. That's the word.

Kate P

You preordered the 4th parasol protectorate book? I'm not quite there yet--just finished the 3rd and am dying to discuss it with with someone!

A lot of people were talking about "Room" at the book club I went to on Monday--of course, they're all moms, so maybe it would be way more interesting to them, because I'm hoping we don't make it a selection. I think we're doubling up and doing "The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen (sounds depressing) and "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield--apparently there is a comparison to "Rebecca" and I was surprised to find the other book-clubbers hadn't read "Rebecca."


I just finished "The Book of Joe" by Jonathan Tropper and really enjoyed it!


A couple of books I've read recently and loved-Anil's Ghost, People of the Book, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (cannot put it down!), Lady Jane Grey series--a super light but still engrossing series, Cellist of Sarajevo (so depressing but so haunting), The Lacuna, the Jeeves stories (great period pieces, anything by Ariana Franklin, especially City of Shadows. I always devour the inspector montalbano books. love them!


Addicted to Tess Gerritsen books right now -mysteries, but they are at least somewhat surprising and original (the mysteries I remember reading as a teen were all very predictable.)

Gonna have to try the Soulless book now...


I found the Parasol Protectorate series purely by fluke and I love those suckers. i thought the third was the best so far. I'm waiting eagerly for the fourth. Also I'm anticipating the release of Jean Auel's new book in a few months so I can re-learn how to knap flint and hunt mammoths and...all that other stuff she likes to write about so much.

I'm reading Patricia Wrede's "Thirteenth Child" right now and its very cute. I'm a big YA fan.
Also "Spook" by Mary Roach. AND if you have the very least little interest in space or NASA you should read her book "Packing for Mars." It was wonderful.

If you liked the Parasol books so much, you should try the "Undead and ...." books by Mary Janice Davidson. You can get the kindle version.

Other recent books I liked: The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (apocolyptic-ish genre...which I've given up reading for 2011 because the scenarios give me the wobblies and makes me want to stockpile food and medical supplies.) The Extra Large Medium was nice and had a little mystery and was British, which is always a plus for me. I always recommend The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

Ellen W

I really enjoyed the Potato Peel Society and previous to reading it had no knowledge of the Channel Islands. Another WW2 fictional book that is pretty good is The Postmistress. The Help was one of my favorite books for 2010.

Mystery series I enjoy: PD James (British) many center around Adam Dagliesh, Margaret Truman's series in which all of the murders took place at well known DC locations and for fun The Crime of Fashion series by Ellen Byerrum.


I have considered Room several times, but just haven't taken the plunge yet. I think I will soon.

I highly recommend The Thirteenth Tale that someone else mentioned above. It has just enough fantasy/mystery to make it a hard-to-put-down read.

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