a wednesday book review

I think I’ve told y’all that I have a book club here that I belong to. Basically, it’s just an excuse for us girls to get together and drink champagne in the afternoon. It’s pretty amazing.

This month our book is Extremely Loud and Extremely Close and I was so excited to read it after hearing amazing things! Buuuuuut…I can’t really get into it??! What’s my problem? I’m only about 50% through, but so far I’m a little lost. Does it get better? Please tell me it does since I have to speed read to finish the remaining half before Saturday or Ashley will kill me (last month I didn’t finish the book…oops).

What are you reading now? I need something new to start next week!

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  • Kristin Murdock
    August 17, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I am totally impressed with all of the books you read. It’s inspiring me to start a book club of my own!

    • Baking N Books
      August 17, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      Ditto. Did you start this one Jenna or how did you find out about it? I’ve never heard of any around where I live…or it’s like a bunch of seniors…;) – not that there’s anything wrong with that!

  • Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance
    August 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    A Thousand Splendid Suns!

    • nickee
      August 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      I LOVED this book πŸ™‚

      • Anne
        August 17, 2011 at 6:46 pm

        Ahh I just started it and I hear it’s amazing!! I recently read The Help and The Memory Keepers Daughter, they were both amazing!!

  • Taysa
    August 17, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I’ve never understood why that book (or author) is so popular. The story isn’t great, and I felt his use of the photographs was a cheap play on people’s emotions.

    • Maija
      August 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      kudos to you for giving an honest review! I feel like with authors/books like this that get a lot of hype and attention make people more inclined to lie about how they feel and say they loved it even if they didn’t. Maybe I’m wrong but I appreciate your true opinion because I was struggling with the same thoughts as Jenna when I tried reading this book a few months ago.

      • Susan
        August 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm

        I agree! I heard amazing things about “Eat, Pray, Love” and I didn’t like it! I thought there was something wrong with me because everyone else seemed to love it. I finally ‘fessed up to my friends that I didn’t like it and most agreed with me. What a relief!

        • sherri
          August 19, 2011 at 5:51 pm

          i didn’t care for eat, pray, love either… i felt that the writing was poor and the story was boring. extremely loud and incredibly close was another disappointment for me. i chose not to finish it and i wasn’t even interested enough in the story to read the last chapter. just finished reading before i go to sleep by sj watson. i couldn’t put it down!

          • Kelly @foodiefresh
            September 15, 2011 at 9:08 am

            I hated Eat Pray Love and now I judge people on whether we can be friends depending on whether or not they disliked it too. Just kidding….kinda.

    • shan
      August 17, 2011 at 6:44 pm

      Personally I loved this book, it is one of my very favourites. Of course, you’re entitled to your own opinion. What exactly do you mean by a ‘cheap play on people’s emotions’? I think that JSF’s use of multi-modality in his narrative is in fact integral to the evoking pathos in the reader, especially in the ‘flipbook’ photos of the falling man. The flipbook photos perfectly illustrate Oscar’s naive and heartbreaking thoughts, highlighting his childish idealism, a salient theme in the novel. I think that the inclusion of photos in the book helped to galvanize the connection between Oscar’s reality and the reader. Supplementing literary images with visual images can really create such a stronger impact. Of course, you’re entitled to your own opinion, because all literary beauty and appreciation is subjective πŸ˜‰

      • Ellie
        August 17, 2011 at 10:55 pm

        I totally agree with you, Shan. I think complaining that a book is “overhyped” is pretty dumb in general. It’s best to consider a book on its own merits rather than in comparison to its public perception. I find the book really emotionally genuine and the photographs do not stand out to me as more or less emotionally charged than the rest of the book.

  • Baking N Books
    August 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I’m reading “The Help” – finally gave in after hearing about it so much. I love it.

    I just posted a “Must Read” list! I recommend “Bitter Is The New Black” (haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve read others by the author and this is the 1rst in the series); “The Lost Girls” – or “Medium Raw” – by Anthony Bourdain…I haven’t read that one either, but was wondering what your take on it would be.

    • Emily
      August 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

      The Jen Lancaster books are HILARIOUS! Literally laughed out loud on every page.

      • Emily
        August 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm

        I Agree!! Her books are seriously funny – SO ADDICTED!

        • Jen
          August 17, 2011 at 3:28 pm

          I haven’t loved the last couple Jen Lancaster books, but her first 3-4 were awesome. Bitter made me LOL out loud on an airplane; the stewardess actually asked what was so funny and I left the book for her at the end of our flight.

          • Baking N Books
            August 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm

            πŸ™‚ I’ve only read “Such a Pretty Fat” – but want to read the others now and have them here…thanks for the thumbs up!

  • Maria
    August 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I am finally starting Sarah’s Key! You should read Amish Friendship Bread next:
    I just finished it and LOVED it!

    • Rachael
      August 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      I just finished Sarah’s Key and LOVED it- such a powerful story!

  • Erin
    August 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I have that book on my list, but maybe it needs to get kicked out!
    I’m currently reading March, which is the story of Mr. March (Little Women) and where he is/what he’s doing while the story of Little Women is taking place. It got really good, really quickly and now I’m almost done.

    Have you read Shadow of the Wind? It’s a love story of books, meets mystery, meets love story about books. So well done. Hands down my best read in 2011 so far!

  • Corey @ Learning Patience
    August 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    what ? I want to start that kind of book club….love me some bubbles… πŸ™‚

  • Allison
    August 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I love the book Little Bee!

    • Lisa
      August 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

      I just commented that I loved that book too! Read it in a day.

    • Ashley
      August 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      My book club just read this and it was amazing! πŸ™‚

  • andrenna
    August 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Sorry, I’m no help – I love Jonathan Safran Foer! I was hooked on Page 1.

    • Anne
      August 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm

      Me too ! OMG this is real litterature. Litterature doesn’t have to be easy (not that you said that Jenna) but I’m studying french litt. since 10 years now and it exceeds/has to exceed “good story telling” or divertisement. It’s about the language, the form, the structure, etc. Try Nicole Krauss or Joan Didion ?

      • andrenna
        August 18, 2011 at 12:57 am

        Thank you, Anne! I haven’t read Nicole Krauss or Joan Didion, but I will now! Any books in particular that you recommend?

        • Anne
          August 18, 2011 at 6:17 am

          Great House and The history of love (N. Krauss) and The year of magical thinking (J. Didion).

      • Jamie @ A Healthy J.D.
        August 18, 2011 at 10:05 am

        I second the recommendation of Nicole Krauss (who is JSF’s wife)…The History of Love is an amazing novel.

  • Whitney
    August 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    My book club is currently reading The Amazing Adventure of Kavlier and Clay by Michael Chabon and it is wonderful. Really should read it next if you never have. Great story and the characters just having amazing voices.

  • Eve
    August 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I’m reading Crow Lake right now. Very good, but not very happy so far. πŸ™

    • Kim
      August 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      Excellent book & incredibly well written

  • Paige
    August 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Ugh I absolutely could not get into that book either! I finished it, but I didn’t ENJOY it. It just wasn’t my preferred style of writing I guess, and that’s okay!

  • Alison
    August 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Ugh JSF…I have to agree, I never liked him, find him a little pretentious every time I try to read one of his books. But everyone else in the world sings his praises so what do I know!
    My favorite book I’ve read so far this year is You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon–short stories about women living on a military base…so good.

  • Hilary
    August 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Keep reading it! I wasn’t totally sold on it either, and I’m pretty sure I did start speed reading part way through it, but the end was very redeeming.

  • Samantha
    August 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I’m also looking for a good book to read. I recently just finished re-reading The Shadow of the Wind- by Carlos Ruiz Zafon . It’s one of my most favorite books!

  • Stephanie Rose
    August 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I’m reading A Million Little Pieces. Kind of heavy and supposedly it’s not all true even though he said it was his life. BUT so far so good!

    • Melissa
      August 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      I loved A Million Little Pieces and don’t really care if it was true or not. The way he writes is so descriptive that I was totally sucked in, even though I couldn’t relate to anything he was going through. To me, a book is powerful whenever it prompts great emotion out of people, even when it’s not always postive.

  • Camille
    August 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I’m reading Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann. So far, so good!

    • Becky
      August 18, 2011 at 7:08 am

      Great book. GREAT book.

  • Dana
    August 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I also couldn’t get into it and was very, very lost for a huge portion of the book. It took me foreverrrr to read because of this. Everything comes together towards the end and suddenly it makes sense. Just keep trucking! Hope you make it in time for book club!

  • Angharad
    August 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    We’re reading A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan this month for our book club and I’m really enjoying it. I still highly recommend One Day by David Nichols (and am still heart broken they are bringing out a shitty film). Also: for something light-hearted and easy – Bossypants by Tina Fey is funny.

  • Anne
    August 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Sex on the Moon by Ben Merzich. Really good!!!

  • Kamaile
    August 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I could NOT get into that book or audio book either!

    I’m getting ready to start “Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles, set in New York in 1938 and it’s getting rave reviews.

    Did you see the movie “The Help” yet?? SOOOOOOOOO GOOD!

  • Lauren @ What Lauren Likes
    August 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    You read soo much! I am jealous, I wish I could read more πŸ™‚

  • Ericka Andersen
    August 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    You should read both “Commencement” and “Maine” by J. Courtney Sullivan. I loved them both — Commencement the most. If you have read “Prep” or “I am Charlotte Simmons” (you should also read those!), you will really like these books. Obsessed. I just started “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.” I think I saw it on here and that’s why I got it (I think!)

    • Chrissy
      August 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm

      Prep was a fantastic book. I liked American Wife by Sittenfeld as well. I can vividly recall details from both of those books and I read them years ago!

  • Lisa
    August 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I picked it up after you said you were reading it. Took on my beach vacation and COULD NOT get into it either. I actually can’t stand the boy who is narrating it.

    I ditched it and read “Little Bee” instead. If you haven’t read that yet I suggest you do!

  • rachel @ the faded apron shared table
    August 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I agree– I can’t get into Jonathan Safran Foer. I’m just not a fan of his writing style.
    I did just read The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham. It was a lovely book– a really good story and a fairly quick read. I think you’d like it…Takes place in China around the turn of the Century. About British ex-pats; their love, losses, etc…

  • Erin (Travel Eat Repeat)
    August 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Loved this book… actually, all of his book’s are awesome. I’ve been reading a lot of Anthony Bourdain lately — makes me hungry AND ready to hit the road.

  • Brandee
    August 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now, but I’m a new commenter! I couldn’t pass on this topic. I’m so happy you think this…I’m half way through this book and just put it down because I can’t get into it. All the reviews were great, but it is just so hard to read!

  • Abby
    August 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World… I’m loving this one.

  • Erin
    August 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Aww, that’s one of my favorite books!!! I’m sad to hear you’re not into it. I loved the whole book but maybe it will get better for you as you read more!

  • Mary @ stylefyles
    August 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I LOVED this book……..BUT for me it was love from the start. The book hooked me immediately and I breezed through in a weekend. The story just grabbed me and each of the main characters were (mostly) extremely relatable to me in different ways.

    On the other hand if you’re halfway through and it’s not doing it for ya, you’re most likely SOL on this one (in my opinion). The tempo of the book and writing style were pretty consistent from start to end.

    Of course I’d suggest you keep reading anyway. Everyone’s different, so who knows. And at least then you’ve given it a fair shot (and have lots of ammunition to drunkenly argue against it while filled up on champagne at the book club meeting)


    • Meg @ Joie de Meg
      August 17, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      I agree — I was hooked immediately when I started this book and didn’t put it down. But I’ve had that “middle-of-the-road” feeling where I tend to dive into a different book and never finish it. Such as The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Read about 1/3 of it 2 years ago, haven’t picked it up since. πŸ™‚

      Not sure if you ever read autobiographies, but Sidney Poitier (famous actor, was in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” which is a fabulous movie!) published one in 2000 called The Measure of a Man. I read it probably 4 years ago, loooooved it, and read it again earlier this year. Just gave it to my dad to read also.

      I think you’d enjoy it — he’s had a very interesting life.

  • Emily @ The Swallow Flies
    August 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I just started “The Murderer’s Daughters” last night and can’t put it down!

  • Kirsten
    August 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    My book club just finished “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Varghese… such an amazing book…. my favorite that we’ve read so far, so I highly recommend it. πŸ™‚ (And we had great conversation about it.) Please let us know what you think of the rest of this book… it’s next in my queue, but I might have to move it down if it’s not as good as I was hoping.

    • Heather from NC
      August 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm

      Cutting for Stone…yes,yes,yes! I loved this book!

  • Ally
    August 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I’m reading “Julia’s Chocolates” by Cathy Lamb. It’s completely sucked me in!

  • Elizabeth
    August 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    I tried to read that too, after my bff said it was awesome (and she’s usually really trustworthy on these things). I couldn’t get into it at all. I tried, but then I realized I was doing that thing where you read the same sentence 400 times before you realize what you’ve just done…..kinda like when I tried to read for class when I was in school. I guess it’s just not for everyone!

  • Rebekah H @ PDX Food Love
    August 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Ok, so this is not exactly going to win the Pulitzer, but I LOVED the Hunger Games trilogy. Action packed, super exciting fun summer reads. I think I maybe spent 7 hours reading the whole trilogy because they went by so fast and were so much fun. Movies will be out next summer.

  • sophie
    August 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I really love this book. maybe you do need to keep reading it? But I guess some people don’t connect with his style.

    his book, Eating Animals, is a really engaging non-fiction exploration about how we eat and what eating animals means for us, our bodies, environmentally, socially, etc. he shows multiple perspectives and it’s fascinating!

    • andrenna
      August 18, 2011 at 1:00 am

      I loved Eating Animals. I’ve read every other nutrition and factory farming book out there, so this is actually saying a lot. I was burned out on them, but I picked up Eating Animals anyway and then could not put it down.

  • Alex
    August 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I loved that book! Don’t give up, it it so amazing. and don’t you want to know what the key opens?

    I am currently reading “Love in Time of the Cholera” and I am not sure I love it… it seems too ridiculous at times and I guess I just can’t follow the thought processes of the main characters…

  • Jen
    August 17, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I’m reading The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer. It’s very long, but going quickly cause I can’t put it down. If you like historical fiction, you’ll love this book.

    • Kim
      August 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm

      I adored this book. I read a couple books a week and this is one of my all time favorites.

  • Jodi
    August 17, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Hey Jenna…. i love your book posts! Ok, don’t laugh at me but right now I’m in a reading frenzy for historical romance (i’m a huge fan of westerns personally). I am re-reading a book i read when i was 16 years old. It’s called Lily by Cindy Bonner. I just found out that it’s the first in a series of books based on the the family. I loved the book way back when and held onto it all these years (and am loving it now). I ordered the rest of the series on Amazon. thought you might like it too! Also, one of the best books i ever read was called “The way life should be” by Christina Baker. it’s a simple beautiful book about a woman in her early 30s who leaves New York/New Jersey for Bar Harbor Maine and takes her Grandma’s wonderful Italian recipes with her. it’s one of my favorites – a simple and beautiful story about starting over.

  • Karoline
    August 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Have you read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver? I think you would love it.

    • Sarah J
      August 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm

      Ahh, that is my very favorite book.

  • Kellie
    August 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Jenna! I totally commiserate with you. I tried to read his other book, Everything Is Illuminated, and I had the same problem. I read about 100 pages, and I still just wasn’t feeling it, so I had to stop. I think it’s his style…just didn’t connect with me. A few books I’ve read and loved this summer: Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert and Swamplandia by Karen Russell. I strongly recommend them both!

  • Lindsey @ Chick Flick Chic
    August 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Read “One Day” by David Nicholls- it’s a great love story and you can read it and then go see the movie in theaters!

    • Laila
      August 18, 2011 at 7:16 am

      OMG Lindsey, this book destroyed me!!! I was a mess for days, in a good way…

  • Bev Weidner
    August 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I’ve not read that one, but….maybe I should skip it?!

    I’m reading (not Emily Giffin’s version, but I LOVE HER STUFF) Something Blue.

    It’s good! Southern, cute, makes you wanna drink.

    Oh, wait that would be anything.

  • Lena
    August 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Try The Guernsey Literary and potato peel pie society by Mary Ann shaffer & annie barrows. Am reading it now and it’s hilarious. You’d love it πŸ™‚

  • Carrie @ kissmywhisk
    August 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I was considering downloading this book, but I think I’ll hold off for now. I just finished Before I Go To Sleep, and it was a page turner! I definitely recommend picking it up. Some other books I have read recently and recommend; Hellhound on His Trail, The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet, Someone Know My Name & Unbroken.

    • sherri
      August 19, 2011 at 6:03 pm

      before i go to sleep was definitely a satisfying read! if you haven’t read the hunger games trilogy by suzanne collins, you should give them a try. get all three at once, turn the sound off on your phone and enjoy a reading marathon!

  • Emily
    August 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks for all of the inspiration to pick up a few books every week! I just started reading Next to Love by Ellen Feldman. I’m only about 20 pages in… but it’s great so far! It follows the story of three women whose husbands/boyfriends are sent of to serve in WWII… Love that era!

  • Andrea
    August 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    How to Love An American Man – it’s a memoir, but it reads like a novel. It’s along the same lines as Eat Pray Love, but I think a little better so far. πŸ™‚ It just came out yesterday. Also, the author is from my hometown, so I had to read it!!

    Also – The Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin is a MUST READ NOW!!!

    • Jen
      August 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      Emily Giffin ROCKS! I can’t wait for more from her!

  • patti
    August 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Ugh..I couldn’t get into it either. not at all. loved the help, my fav book of the last few years. all time favorite is “the miracle life of edgar mint”.

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine
    August 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I read that book a few years ago and enjoyed it but found it kind of…weird. Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it. I’m interested to hear what you think once you’re done!

  • Danielle Janecek
    August 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    just got finished reading a thousand splended suns…OMG amazing book if you haven’t read it.

  • kaitlin @4loveofcarrots
    August 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I haven’t read that book yet. But I had heard it was supposed to be good. I can highly recommend ‘wanderlust’ by elisabeth eaves, if you like traveling it is amazing and makes you want to travel immediately!

  • kari
    August 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close might be my favorite book ever, so I’m surprised to hear that you can’t get into it. Keep at it, for sure, because I think it’s certainly a book worth reading, and a touching and brave story.

    • andrenna
      August 18, 2011 at 1:02 am

      I was happy to see Jenna post this book too, and a little sad that she wasn’t into it. But, different strokes, right? It’s cool. I could not be happier with the book discussion on this post!!!! Awesome to the max.

  • Megan
    August 17, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I actually just finished reading this book and really enjoyed it. I find Foer’s writing to be beautifully complex and interestingly structured. I also really enjoyed his use of pictures to bring the reader closer to the characters of Oskar and Thomas (the grandfather). I’m also a big fan of the back and forth Foer uses in his novels to give an in depth understanding of each character, though I wish there had been more development for the mother. The thing about this style, and it really doesn’t do it for some folks, is that you really have to wait for the end before everything comes together.

    I prefer his first book, Everything is Illuminated, but this one grabbed me all the same. Either way, I think that Foer eloquently deals with some pretty deep and complicated emotions in a very unique way. That said, I can also completely understand how his style is not for everyone.

    My go to book when people are looking for suggestions is always Middle Sex. If you haven’t read it, you should! Beautifully written and very emotionally charged. On my top ten list!

  • Alexandra
    August 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is absolutely incredible, especially if you read it while keeping in mind that it is meant to be like the book of Hosea. I’ve given it as a gift several times. Blue Like Jazz is also awesome.

  • Janae
    August 17, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Two books come to mind: One Day by David Nicholls and Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. Two very different books, but I loved them both very much.

  • Jen
    August 17, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Excellent timing for this post! Hubby and I are going on a cruise in Sept & I need to load up the Kindle. Thanks for all the suggestions everyone!

  • Chelsea
    August 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I really liked Eating Animals and finished it in a couple days (part of the reason I went veg!). I’ve never read any of his fiction, but I’be been meaning to check it out since I thought he was an excellent writer. Let us know what you think if you finish it!

  • Emily @ The Finicky Farmer
    August 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I *completely* agree with you! Safran Foer’s prose drives me crazy (and that’s coming from a PhD candidate in English lit who specializes in wicked old stuff) — it’s so cumbersome, self-consciously labored — even as his narratives are pretty fabulous.

    Try _Olive Kitteridge_ — a collection of intersecting short stories about life in small-town Maine. Heartbreaking and awesome — with fabulous prose!

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    August 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    The only things I read are ABC books, Cinderalla, Snow White, and my Google Reader. Oh and Yoga Journal. So I am no help to you with the grown up books πŸ™‚

    Have fun at your book club. They’re more than just about the books anyway…girl talk, coffee, desserts..or in your case, champagne. LOVE IT!

  • Kathleen
    August 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I actually really enjoyed the book! It took quite a while to get into the rhythm of his writing though. Stick with it!

  • nicole
    August 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I read this book while driving via audiobook. Enjoyed it and recommend it for speed reading options.

  • Andie B
    August 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I read that book a few years ago after hearing great things about it. It was also SO difficult for me to get into and I gave up, although it’s always in the back of my mind to finish. Good luck! Next up on my reading list is The Help.

  • Jenny
    August 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I’m reading The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. It is SO SO GOOD. When I first saw it in the bookstore, I totally judged the cover– it looked dull and tacky. But for whatever reason, I followed my instinct and bought it, and am so glad I did. It is so well-written, has twists and turns well placed throughout it , and the tone of it gives me the creeps (in a good way). The premise is that Edie, the main character’s mother, receives a letter from someone in her past that was sent 50 years (during WWII– the story flip-flops between it and the 1990’s). It clearly upsets her mother, but she won’t share why, so Edie decides to investigate. Her search leads her to decrepit Milderhurst Castle where she encounters 3 equally decrepit, mysterious sisters.

    Read it, you’ll love it!

    • sherri
      August 19, 2011 at 6:10 pm

      i loved that book!! the forgotten garden is also another good novel by kate morton.

  • April B @ Marathons 'N' Martinis
    August 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I just finished The Art of Racing in the Rain and thought it was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Great story, told from the perspective of a loyal dog. SO good!

  • Alex
    August 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    give yourself a theme to focus on while you read it. in school you always read books searching for specific information, motifs, whatever so give it a task and you might enjoy it more. I think a really interesting aspect to think about in that book is the way foer looked at the events of 911 in a microscopic way. he focused on 1 person, as opposed to the whole country so you can relate to it better. Also the relationship between the boy and his mom and how it changes, how he matures i guess. And also the parallels between the boy, the dad, and his grandpa (which i realize can make the book confusing because there are 3 narrators.) Also focus on the relation between the grandparents.

  • Julie B
    August 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I just finished reading The Room by Emma Donoghue. It was so captivating — a definite must read!

    • Brigid
      August 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm

      I just finished that book as well. I had a hard time getting into it and then it grabbed me.
      Now I’m reading The Glass Castle. …came highly recommended.

  • Notyet100
    August 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Just finished recipes for life,..truly loved it πŸ™‚

  • Amy @ ahealthyandhappyheart
    August 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I am reading Sarah’s Key… but you already read that! I actually got the recommendation from you!

  • amy
    August 17, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I liked “Everything is Illuminated” (by same author) much better. Try that one?
    It seems like a lot of the other books you mention on the blog tend to be on the “lighter” side. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good chick/fluffier novel as much as the next girl. But sometimes it can be hard to get into a novel (like this Foer one) that is a little more dense. I’ve found that it’s almost like working out – for your brain – if that makes sense.

  • amy
    August 17, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I liked “Everything is Illuminated” (by same author) much better. Try that one?
    It seems like a lot of the other books you mention on the blog tend to be on the “lighter” side. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good chick/fluffier novel as much as the next girl. But sometimes it can be hard to get into a novel (like this Foer one) that is a little more dense. I’ve found that it’s almost like working out – for your brain – if that makes sense.

  • Jessica @ Jess Go Bananas
    August 17, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Read The Help…you’ve probably been told to already…but DO IT!! lol
    OR read Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

    • Baking N Books
      August 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      I think she reviewed “The Help” already?

      Jenna – you should put a “Books” tab up in your header maybe?!

  • Diana
    August 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I highly recommend “The Girls” by Lori Lansen.

    Or “Little Princes”-sorry can’ remember the author’s name. It is about a young man who starts an orphanage in Tibet-wonderful!

  • Beth B
    August 17, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    I just finished “The Mountain Between Us” by Charles Martin and couldn’t put it down. It’s a wonderful story and easy read. It gets you hooked from the very beginning. I loved it.
    I’m now readng “Fortune’s Rocks” by Anita Shreve. It’s not the easiest to get into but a friend, whose recommendations are always reliable, told me it takes a while but is so worth it.

    • Christine
      August 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm

      Fortune’s Rocks is one of my favorite books! So good . . . keep going πŸ™‚

  • Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count
    August 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Jenna, I did this book on audio when I had a long commute to work. I had a hard time getting into it as well. My biggest objection was-what mother would allow her 8 year old child to go all over New York City BY HIMSELF?!?!? Couldn’t really get past that. You’re not alone with this.

  • Amy
    August 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I agree with some of the other commenters: If you don’t like it now, I doubt you’ll get into it. I absolutely loved the book, but I was obsessed from the start…Oskar drew me in immediately. I love Foer’s writing style, but it surely isn’t for everyone. And if you didn’t like this, I definitely do NOT suggest Everything is Illuminated! I actually like it better, but it’s an even more difficult and structurally unusual read. Based on the other books you’ve reviewed/loved here, I think it makes sense that this one isn’t your favorite (and that is NOT an indictment of your taste), and there’s no sense wasting time on something you don’t love. Even for a book club. πŸ™‚

  • Tracy
    August 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    My oh my!! Just finished The Secret Daughter per your suggestion. So So So good!!!!!

  • Conni
    August 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Never Let Me Go-Kazuo Ishiguro
    This Side of Paradise-F. Scott Fitzgerald
    The Bell Jar-Sylvia Plath
    Catch-22-Joseph Keller

    Reading Never Let Me Go now and have read the other 3 before and they are fabulous.

    • Laila
      August 18, 2011 at 7:18 am

      Also reading Never Let Me Go right now. It is fascinating so far!

  • Stacy
    August 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I’m reading Noah’s Wife. It’s a take on the Noah’s Arc story but is from the angle of his wife who is autistic. I’m not religious so I’m not sure how biblically accurate it is, but it’s an interesting read.

  • Tracy
    August 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Oh and I just started Little Bee as suggested by HTP Caitlin. Have you read it? Like it so far, but I’m not far enough to have an opinion!

  • Jenn
    August 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Sorry, I got that book, too, and YUCK! I couldn’t get into it. Didn’t get even 1/4 of the way. Read some fluff after that: Emily Giffin books-Something Borrowed; Something Blue; Heart of the Matter; Baby Proof. Fun easy reads.

  • Katie
    August 17, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I’m reading Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, same girl who The Tim Traveler’s Wife… it is awesome so far!

    • sherri
      August 19, 2011 at 6:24 pm

      her fearful symmetry is so different and i really enjoyed it. have you read elegance of the hedgehog by muriel barbery?

  • Jenn
    August 17, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    I can’t tell you how much I love the book Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It’s actually the first book in a series. It has everything: history, adventure, intrigue, humor and a wonderful love story. I actually had to stop reading this book in college because my homework was starting to suffer! I just had to see what happens next.

    • Heather from NC
      August 17, 2011 at 6:50 pm

      I loved this series, too! I wanted to name my son Jamie because of these books. They are categorized in the romance genre but I think they deserve much more acclaim. When I read the Time Travelers Wife, it reminded me of this series because of the time travel theme, but I loved these more because of the time period…modern time heroine thrust back into the 1700’s in Scotland.

  • Mel
    August 17, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I JUST finished “The Kitchen House” per your recommendation. Very captivating…I love historical fiction that takes place in the south. I also just picked up “The Things they Carried” about the Vietnam War at the Goodwill for a dollar, so I’m about to start that! I wish I had some recommendations for you, but honestly every book I’ve read this summer has been recommended by you! And I’ve loved them all except for “My Name is Mary Sutter.” Have you heard of “The Hunger Games” though? I read that awhile ago and couldn’t put it down! Thank you so much for all your book recommendations! I used to consider myself somewhat of a literary snob when it came to contemporary novels (i.e. I only read the classics), but you have changed me!

  • ErinB
    August 17, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    OK I feel strongly that you are my twin in literary loves and I found the book to be PAINFULLY contrived. I read the entire thing but I did not enjoy it. Sorry to report.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin
    August 17, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I’m reading “The Help” and I’m loving it!

  • Heather from NC
    August 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Have you read the Hunger Games trilogy? I could not put them down. I read all three in less than 2 weeks. They are written for young adults but my sister told me to read them and I loved them. I’m sad that I’m done reading them because I miss the characters πŸ™

    • Laila
      August 18, 2011 at 7:19 am

      Love them also. Have you read Divergent yet? I actually liked it even better than The Hunger Games, and that’s saying a lot!!

  • Julie @ Sugarfoot Eats
    August 17, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    I just finished The Jewel Box by Anna Davis, liked it! Now getting ready to start Joy for Beginners.

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    August 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I’m reading Little Bee right now. It’s good–a little to hard to read at times but definitely engrossing.

  • Karis' Kitchen
    August 17, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I’m currently reading Alice Waters and Chez Panisse (love it!) and listening to Bossypants (also love it!) in my car during my commute.

  • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    August 17, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Haha…I love that you’re lost. If it makes you feel any better, I haven’t even heard of this book πŸ™‚

  • Jillian
    August 17, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    My very favorite book of all time is “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follet. It’s long, but if you’re looking for something to hold you over for a while it’s the book for you. It has everything; history, drama, romance, violence, suspense, and is wonderfully written. The characters are so well developed and the story line is so enthralling. It’s seriously the best thing I’ve ever read (and I’m a librarian in training).
    If you want a quick, humorous read pick up anything by Bill Bryson. He writes mostly travel essays but they are to die for. And anything by David Sedaris is always a great choice.
    Keep the reviews coming!

    • chand
      August 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      Wonderful story! Love historical fiction.

  • E
    August 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    I just finished Darkness, My Old Friend by Lisa Unger & really enjoyed it (if you haven’t read her book before it, Fragile, you’ll want to read that first). I am now starting the newest book by another favorite author – The Accident by Linwood Barclay.

  • Sarah
    August 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I’m reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and am having a heck of a time getting into it as well. I knew it would be out there, but it’s almost too out there to be enjoyable. Blah!

  • Eunice Tng
    August 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    I had to read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for my english class in first year university and felt exactly the same way as you are feeling now. Extremely LOST and Incredibly BORED. Needless to say, my essay did not fair well…. I know the movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker is coming out so I am hoping the movie will give me some insight on why this book is so darn good.

    Anyways, there are a couple GREAT books I just finished reading that I can recommend…

    1) One Day (also coming out in a movie starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturges)
    2) A Thousand Splendid Suns
    3) The Help (movie was surprisingly good)
    4) The Unbearable Lightness of Being

    Hope this helps. Good luck on your upcoming book club!

  • Emma Carpenter
    August 17, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    I would definitely suggest several to you: The Help; Eat, Pray, Love; Water for Elephants; both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns; The Other Boleyn Girl; Blue Like Jazz; Grapes of Wrath; East of Eden; and clearly any and all of the Harry Potter series. They’re amazing.

    Also, I’d just love to shout out from one Southern girl to another that I’m a total fan of your quirkiness and independence on your blog and in your life! As much as I love it, the South can tend to be a place of huge conformity, and it’s so refreshing to see women debunk the stereotypes that many people have of Southerners through their individual successes (and healthy lifestyles!)

  • Stephanie@eatingfromtheheart
    August 17, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    This book is amazing in every way. I just got lost in the prose and I couldn’t put it down. Finish it. You will not regret it.

  • Madeline
    August 17, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    What girls’ book club doesn’t use literature as an excuse to get together and drink champagne/wine? I see nothing wrong with that. As long as the book is mentioned. Or at least brought.

    Read Cutting for Stone! A bit heavier persay, but GREAT.

  • Pockets
    August 17, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I haven’t started it yet, since I just picked it up from the library this afternoon, but it’s called The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. It’s a book set in the future where calories become currency!! Very interesting premise, CANNOT wait to start it!! πŸ˜€

  • Tasha @ Voracious Eats
    August 18, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Because of grad school I’ve let my fiction reading fall to the wayside, as my reading of political and historical non-fiction picks up pace. But I decided last week that has to stop! I miss losing myself in luscious prose and staying up to all hours because I just have to know what happens next. So, I’m dedicating myself to reading more works of fiction. Since I have to add that to the books for grad school and the books for work, I’m setting a very modest goal of 30 fiction books this year, which, since I’m 29, has become 30 Before 30. Cute, huh?

    My inaugural book is Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits and I could not recommend it more. You will lose yourself in this book for hours and hours, and absorb it so completely you will feel like you are living in The House on the Corner during 1950’s South America. It spans 3 generations of an aristocratic, eccentric family that is as much about their loves and losses, as it is about the explosive and dynamic political situation at that time. I love it.

  • Shelley
    August 18, 2011 at 2:04 am

    I just read two GREAT books. I brought “A Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood and “Girl in Translation” by Jean Kwok with me to Italy to read on the plane rides. I should have brought more than two books, because these were both so good I could not put them down and I had a lot more unoccupied time on the plane than I cared for :(.

  • AnneW
    August 18, 2011 at 2:05 am

    Ehhh… I was not a fan of this one! I read 2/3 of it and stopped. It kind of gave me the heebie-jeebies for some reason.

    Have you read Unbroken yet? Girl, get on it!!

  • Kathryn
    August 18, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Have you read ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue – I read it in one sitting it was so good. I also really enjoyed ‘Before I Go to Sleep’ by S J Watson if you like creepy books.

  • Heidi @ The Balance Project
    August 18, 2011 at 3:30 am

    I am currrently reading Room by Emma Donoghue!

    Extremely loud and Incredibly Close is in my top 5 of my most favourite books! Push through it, I didn’t find it an easy read but it’s so emotionally charged I loved it. : )

  • Pam
    August 18, 2011 at 5:28 am

    I had the same problem with that book – I quit halfway through. Woops!

  • emily
    August 18, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

    I’m in a book club too and we just recently started reading the classics. has your book club seen this google doc?

    It’s pretty amazing

  • AJ
    August 18, 2011 at 6:32 am

    I would definitely reccomend The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. It is such a touching story about a young girl growing up in poverty in the United States. I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Walls and she was very kind and open about her struggle to write about her difficult past.

  • Anne-Harvin
    August 18, 2011 at 7:05 am

    I’ve read your blog for awhile, but do not really comment much. However, I am an avid book reader and love passing suggestions back and forth between fellow readers (this week I actually made a large purchase of 14 books from B&N with quite a few selections based on your previous reads). Some of my suggestions aren’t new books, however I think it shows what a great book it is if you read it years ago, yet still recommend it!
    Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer
    The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
    ANYTHING by Pat Conroy
    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (very long and very dense however life changing)
    The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
    A Season in Purgatory by Dominic Dunne
    Please keep the book selections coming!!!

  • Laila
    August 18, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Not sure if your book group will turn its nose up at Young Adult, but I HIGHLY recommend Bumped by Meghan McCafferty. The concept and its implications that in the future everyone becomes sterile and only teenagers can procreate would be great book club fodder. It is also a highly entertaining read that might be a nice break if you’ve been reading some heavier stuff lately.

  • Ursula
    August 18, 2011 at 7:27 am

    You have to read Room. Best book I’ve read all summer, maybe all year.

  • Liz
    August 18, 2011 at 7:37 am

    I’m strangely obsessed with books that make me cry – no idea what that says about me! I’m in the middle of Night Road by Kristin Hannah – easy to get into and great tearjerker.

  • Julie
    August 18, 2011 at 7:55 am

    I think you would like The Blind Contessa’s New Machine. I just read it, and it’s really really good. Don’t want to give anything away, but you have to check it out!

  • Sarah M.
    August 18, 2011 at 8:59 am

    One of my all time favorite books. But I tried to read Foer’s other book “Everything’s Illuminated” and couldn’t get into it at all.

    This one is worth reading. It has the most beautiful moments near the end. Hold out!

  • Yin
    August 18, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I’ve flipped through the book and it didn’t seem interesting to me. I had told my sister that it seems his style is similar to his wife’s, Nicole Krauss. I read “The History of Love” and didn’t love it.

    I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s “After Dark”. I’ve read his other works but I can’t seem to get into it. Granted, I’m only three pages in but he usually grabs my attention right away. A lot of people recommend “Norwegian Wood” but I’m going to have to say “Dance Dance Dance” did it for me — absolutely great! I also think “The Virgin Suicides” by Jeffrey Eugenides was so good, especially the writing style. I recommended his second novel, “Middlesex” to a close friend of mine and she loved it.

    • jen
      August 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

      I found his writing similar to his wife’s as well! however I did enjoy the history of love (and definitely much better than Extremely Loud).

  • Katrina
    August 18, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Thanks for this idea!

  • Jen @ The Well Read Fish
    August 18, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I’m sorry you’re not getting into that book. I loved it and developed a rather unhealthy literary crush on Jonathan Safran Foer.
    I am currently reading “A Discovery of Witches.” People love it. While I don’t LOVE it, I’m liking it well enough.

    My very first blog post I wrote a list of recommended reads. Below is the link to that post. Recently I quite liked The Hare with Amber Eyes (hard to get into though, but well worth it) and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

  • jen
    August 18, 2011 at 11:02 am

    agreed. I read a few years ago and never quite got it…. but I’m interested to see how the movie turns out.

    and here is a great site when you’re not sure “what to read next”….

  • Kendall
    August 18, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    I read that book earlier this year after seeing the movie and then reading the book, Everything is Illuminated, a few years ago. It was actually my second try to get into Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Because I have a desk job where I can read during the down time (all the time) I finished it this go-round, but probably wouldn’t have without the forced reading time. I think Everything is Illuminated and the non-fiction, Eating Animals, are much better examples of Foer’s work.

    As far as book recommendations go….Thursday’s Children by Rumer Godden. Anything by Rumer Godden, actually. The woman has a way of writing evil characters humanely and non-ingratiating good characters. If that makes any sense at all!

  • KaraHadley
    August 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Foer is one of my absolute favorite authors. I fell madly, head over heels in love with this book. I hopehopeHOPE you can get into it.
    I just finished So Big, by Edna Ferber, which I think is one you would really like (based on your other book reviews). It’s about a woman who grew up in turn of the century Chicago that becomes a truck farmer. It’s really a fantastic read.

  • Marguerite Miller
    August 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I just finished reading “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo! This is a must read book! And a quick read! I am a slow reader, and it only took me about 5 hours total! My husband reads much faster and it only took him 2 hours! It is one of the best books I have ever read! And my husband agreed! I had gotten it from the library, so when we had to return it, we went and bought a copy to pass around for family and friends to read!

  • Alison S.
    August 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I really enjoyed “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” but I listened to it on CD in the car instead of reading it. I’ve heard it’s a little confusing when you read it (with all the switching of narrators) so maybe try listening to the rest of the book while you do stuff around the house?

  • Alyssa
    August 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I agree – the book is a little hard to get into, but it all comes together beautifully in the end. You should stick with it.

    My book club’s new book is “French Lessons,” by Ellen Sussman. It follows 3 Americans and their French tutors in Paris one day.

    A thought provoking read – “Life of Pi.”

  • Corrie Anne
    August 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Oooh. Good luck. I dropped out of that one halfway through. I know it’s SUPPOSED to be good! Hard to say! πŸ™‚

  • Julia
    August 19, 2011 at 4:32 am

    Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder is SO GOOD.

  • Carolyn
    August 19, 2011 at 8:41 am

    That is one of my favorite books, but I agree that it is pretty confusing at times and maybe feels a bit disjointed, making it hard to get into. The story-line with the grandpa is what makes it so confusing and slightly odd, perhaps. I was just in love with the little boy throughout the whole story, and the way he’d say “which I know about…” all the time, and various other quirks. But if you can’t get into it, it just might not be for you. I too am in a book club, and although it’s nice because it gets me to read things I might not normally pick up, there’s nothing quite as annoying as spending your evenings and down time reading something you just don’t want to be reading. I’m all about quitting a book if you’ve really given it a chance.

    My bookclub voted Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann as our favorite book of the year last year. It’s basically a bunch of different stories during the 70s that intertwine in interesting ways … all surrounding the even of that guy tightrope walking across the twin towers. Great writer. We also really liked The Book Thief – even though it’s young adult. It’s amazing. First few pages are reallyyyy confusing but then it gets a lot better.

    Happy reading!

  • sherri
    August 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    orginal sin: a sally sin adventure is a fun read. it’s the debut novel and first in a series by beth mcmullen.

  • Regan
    August 20, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned before, but you should totally read any of Kate Middleton’s pieces. The House at Riverton is an absolutely gorgeous and gripping novel. She has a couple more books I’m dying to dive into! Read Read Read!!!

  • Shayla
    August 20, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I just finished the book Miracle Beach by Erin Celello. She’s a new author (this is her first novel) and she is a friend of mine. Friendship aside, this book was an amazing depiction of people I felt like I knew in real life. It deals with loss and thinking you knew someone and finding out differently and growing from all of it.

  • Race Read Relish » Blog Archive » Book Review #9
    August 25, 2011 at 6:04 am

    […] started this book with mixed feelings, after seeing Jenna’s review and the EW article, I expected the book could go either way. Β  Monday night I threw caution to the […]