Bookworm: October 2017

"She's the main character in her story, just like I'm the main character in mine." - Marisa de los Santos


House of God, Samuel Shem: I read this at Dave's behest, as he said this more perfectly encapsulated his experience as a medical intern and resident than any other piece of writing. The book is iconic among those circles, and with reason - reading it left me shaken, in a truly significant way. Its pull-no-punches style and near-callous description of how the medical profession erodes humanity hit me in very weird places. A must-read, at least in my opinion, for anyone who is/cares about a doctor/nurse/medical professional. 

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, Genevieve Valentine: A Jazz Age riff on the iconic "Twelve Dancing Princesses" fairy tale, this drew me in with its intensely imagery-driven writing. I've always been a sucker for Prohibition-era fiction, and everyone knows that fairy tales have a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf.

The Precious One, Marisa de los Santos: I have loved Marisa de los Santos for the better part of a decade now, and her latest novel didn't disappoint. She has a gorgeous way with words that creates a richly-textured, incredibly evocative reading experience, and this tale of estranged family, lost loves, and navigating colliding worlds kept me riveted from the first page til I closed the cover.

The Alice Network, Kate Quinn: I followed the Reese Witherspoon Book Club on Instagram a few months ago and have, without exception, really loved her picks - she's an enormous bookworm, which just makes me like her even better! Also on the list of things I love: the World Wars, and this novel's parallel stories of espionage and revenge touch both of them - could it get any better?


Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham: Huge "Gilmore Girls" devotee here...I really enjoyed Lauren Graham (Lorelai)'s behind-the-scenes account of filming the original series and the reboot, as well as peeks at her rise to fame and the relationships she's built along the way. This was honestly the first audiobook I genuinely, actually enjoyed from start to finish. 

Emma: A Modern Retelling, Alexander McCall Smith: Jane Austen is and always will be my girl, and as I grow up I'm realizing that I may be a lot more Emma Woodhouse than Elizabeth Bennet, oh the horror. McCall Smith relocates Emma and her motley crew to modern England, replacing buggies with Mini Coopers and governesses with ESL teachers. It was a charming, light, happy reminder of the original novel I loved. 

Saints For All Occasions, J. Courtney Sullivan: On paper, I should have liked this better - I'm blaming the fact that I read it on a series of cross-country flights from NYC to San Francisco. The story of two Irish immigrant sisters in Boston, and the fallout of one major mistake in both their lives, is told ranging from the 1950s to 2009, with plenty of other narrative voices chiming in along the way. I liked it, but preferred other offerings from Sullivan. 


Julie and Julia, Julie Powell: Another audiobook narrated by the author, and I have to say I think that ruined it for me. Powell's memoir is negative and cranky enough to begin with, but narrated in her grumpy monotone? It took so much of the fun out of the experience. Just watch the movie - or, even better, go out for French food instead!

The Last Queen, C.W. Gortner: I must have had this book for years - it had a Notre Dame Bookstore sticker in the cover - but I don't think I ever actually read it. Telling the tale of Queen Juana of Spain, a contemporary of Henry VIII, it was simultaneously smutty and dry...a poor attempt at channeling Philippa Gregory, and frankly nobody should try to channel Philippa Gregory in the first place. 

Vintage: A Novel, David Baker: Eh. This had its moments of charm, but overall the gastronomic, vinophilic mystery of a lost war vintage and a struggling, alcoholic writer left me lukewarm. And hungry. 


A Company of Swans, Eva Ibbotson: Every so often, I need Eva Ibbotson's beautifully written, just-the-right-amount-of-complicated, love-wins-out-over-all romances in my life, and last week was one such time. This is probably my favorite of her novels - I first read it at the age of about fourteen - and this is easily my dozenth reading. I think it's one of those novels whose familiarity just makes me fonder of it, in the end.