what I read | february 2015

Ninety percent of the books I read come from recommendations on blogs I regularly read. In the spirit of paying it forward, I thought I’d start sharing my reads as well in a monthly round-up. 

I wrote this post right before going to the hospital to have Paige. Since I wasn’t expecting to deliver then it never got posted. I doubt I’ll ever read this many books in a single month again, but maternity leave and a late arriving baby lead to an above average amount of reading time. February was all about the memoirs.

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Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I liked but I didn’t love. I found it to be just a little on the boring side. To be fair, I have already read Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Rachel Dratch’s memoirs. Being the fourth female comedian / television actress memoir on a list probably has more to do with why I thought it was boring than the book itself. I’d heard most of the stories already in the other books (college theater, spending your twenties dirt poor in Chicago, making it big in NYC around thirty, etc). I do appreciate that she didn’t exploit her divorce to sell books (though I’d totally be lying to say I was a little disappointed there weren’t more details). I really enjoyed the chapter on Parks & Rec. I’m not a big SNL watcher, but I did watch most of Parks & Rec and getting a behind the scenes view into the cast was entertaining.

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The Keeper: A Life of Saving Goals and Achieving Them by Tim Howard. Here’s the thing: If you’re not into soccer, you’re probably not going to enjoy this. It’s written about as well as you’d expect a book written by an athlete with a helper author to be written. As a relative newcomer to world of soccer, I loved hearing his story as it paralleled the rise of soccer in the US. Tidbits from the past few World Cups and the USMNT in general were really interesting. Unlike a lot of memories, I found him to be endearingly honest. It may have not been the most well written book, but you could feel the love he felt for his mother, wife, and children come through in his story.

Hidden by Catherine McKenzie. Once a month I get an email from Amazon with four new books from which I can choose one or two to download for free on my Kindle (I think this is a Prime perk?). The books are never great and they are almost always fiction (not my favorite), but because they are on the Kindle app on my iPhone they are convenient. I wouldn’t really recommend this book unless you’re looking for a book about death and infidelity. I didn’t really find any of the characters redeeming enough to connect with, which always leaves a fiction book lacking in my opinion.

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In the last month of pregnancy I spent most nights awake from 3am – 5am on the couch in our office. I sometimes succeeded at reading rather than mindlessly surfing the internet.

Talking With My Mouth Full by Gail Simmons. Greg and I are enjoying watching Top Chef from the first season (we have each only watched the Seattle season previously) and when I came across Gail Simmons’ memoir I immediately added it to my library queue. Loved the inside scoop on Top Chef as well as reading about how she has cultivated her career in a field that didn’t really exist until recently. It was a quick read and, unlike a lot of memoirs, because she is a journalist it was well written. There are some spoilers from the first few seasons, but we’re probably the only people currently watching a reality show that aired in 2008.

Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstratch. From the author of the blog with the same name, this book is half memoir, half recipe book. Lately I’ve been listening to the America’s Test Kitchen podcast and I’m pretty sure that’s where I heard about it and how it ended up in my library queue. (Most books take some time from when I request them to when I get an email that they are waiting for me and by then I’ve usually forgotten about them.) It’s another quick read and focuses on her family’s decision to make family dinner a priority. Having eaten dinner as a family nearly every night while growing up, I related to Jenny’s drive to make this happen. I hope we can incorporate family dinner into our life as our kids grow. Obviously it won’t be every night with Greg’s current work situation, but we can make it a priority as often as possible. I’ve been known to tell him he can only count it as a non-travel night if we eat dinner together. I took pictures of a handful of the recipes and look forward to trying them when I am back in a regular cooking rhythm. (If you’re a pasta eater, you’d probably really enjoy most of the recipes in the book.)

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The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. I’ve saved this book on my Goodreads Want to Read list for years and finally got around to it. I was definitely missing out. It takes an amazing writer to eloquently and beautifully write about the year in her life after which she lost her husband and almost lost her only child. I love books that make me think and this one definitely made me consider my own views on grief – why we grieve, how we grieve, how grief is different by culture.

I also finally finished The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, which I talked about in my pregnancy reads post.

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