Last week I sort of went on vay-cay for a minute because my little sister, the fab Jess, showed up out of nowhere to visit me. She drove down here with my older brother and his wife (also fab). It’s not often when I get to visit with family and actually enjoy it. They were here for the whole week though and we sort of co-opted Tony’s parent’s house since they’re in Germany right now. Me and Jess pretty much sat out by the pool and read all day. And it was amazing.

That said, I have a lot of books I’ve finished recently so I thought I’d just put them all in one post. I hope you don’t mind. I’ll try to make them short, especially because some were real duds.

Book 15: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

Normally I adore Bill Bryson, but I wasn’t a huge fan of this book (a memoir). It had his same sense of humor, but it was all about growing up in the fifties so I really didn’t get some of it. I think this book would have been way better for my mom or dad, who also grew up in that time period. I don’t know, I just didn’t have any nostalgia to match that of Bill Bryson’s.

Book 16: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Okay, I know I’m a little late for the train on this one. This is Sedaris’ most famous book and I’ve never read it mostly because I thought it was a book about a disabled kid for some reason. It’s actually a bunch of memoir-y essays including a whole section about when Sedaris lived in France. His France essays were my favorite and were what made me really love this book, even though the rest were really funny as well. What I liked about it was that he made the same observations about France as I did, and that is that Americans are ridiculous, loud and obnoxious when they are visiting a foreign country. I loved that he wasn’t all nostalgic and in love with France, but that he talked about what it’s really like to live there.

Book 17: A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke

The title says it all: This book is a piece of merde. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve read a worse book about France in my life. This was in the travel essays section, but it turns out that it’s actually a work of fiction – something I didn’t realize until I’d already finished reading it. Had I known maybe I wouldn’t have been so incedulous about it.

See, the book is about this guy who’s working in France. At least that’s the premise of the book. In fact, the book is about this stupid frat guy trying to get laid all the time. The whole book is about trying to find a French woman to have sex with or it’s about how great the sex is with the French woman he’s found to sleep with him. Throughout the book I kept turning to look at the author’s picture and kept asking, “Seriously? This guy?” It was horrible. Anyway this book is great if you want to believe you’re going to get laid in France by actual French women, but don’t blame me when you’re sorrily disappointed. For the rest of you, I don’t recommend wasting your time on this book.

Book 18: Dreams of my Father by Barack Obama

This book was really well written and had great descriptions of people and place, but I felt like Obama went off in weird directions sometimes, always circling back to the race issue. Maybe I only felt awkward about it because I’m on the other side of the race issues that he’s so upset about. Also, he was born at the beginning of the civil rights movement so his memories of race are quite different than those of someone who was born twenty years later. All in all it was a good book, but it got boring in parts and it took me WEEKS to read. I’d still recommend it though if you’re interested in learning more about our political representatives.

Book 19: Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston

After reading this book I remembered why I never read Winston’s first book, Good Grief. It’s because I knew it would leave me totally emotionally distraut. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that until I was so far into this book that I couldn’t turn back.

I both loved and hated this book. I loved it because the story was well written and it was one of those books that just can’t be put down until it’s finished. I hated this book because it messed with my emotions and it doesn’t have a real ending (no closure).

In Happiness Sold Separately, Elinor finds out her husband is having an affair. This is after two years of doing invitro fertilization, which puts tons of stress on a marriage. Elinor and her husband, Ted, never got pregnant and Elinor sunk into a depression leaving her husbnad with nobody to comfort him. Elinor decides, even after finding out about the affair, that she wants to try to work things out with her husband. From this point the book takes many twists and sends you on an emotional roller coaster. There wasn’t a chapter that didn’t make me cry. And the worst part is the book ends without telling you how Elinor and Ted end up so you’re stuck thinking about all the possible outcomes. It kills me when books end like that.

The book is told from each person’s point of view. The first chapter is told by Elinor. The second by Ted. The third by Gina, Ted’s mistress. Reading a book that shows you what everyone is thinking is the worst because you can’t just hate the mistress like you want to and you can’t hate the husband because you see what he’s going through too. It’s just a mindfuck. But if that’s what you’re looking for then I recommend reading this book. But be sure you have something lined up to read afterward otherwise you won’t be able to get it out of your head (at least that’s what happened with me).