April Books

So I know today is historic and momentous and all of us are either cheering the fact that Osama Bin Laden is dead or judging the people on Twitter who are cheering the fact that Osama Bin Laden is dead, so I thought to myself:  Holly, why don’t you talk about books?  I mean, if Kelly Ripa can remain the #1 Trending Topic on Yahoo despite Bin Laden’s death, then I can talk about books, right?

More specifically, the books I read in April. Six of them, actually.

(If you are looking for less Bin Laden and more books, check out my lists for January, February, and March.)

This Is Where We Live by Janelle Brown
So when we last left off, I told you about how much I enjoyed Janelle Brown’s first book All We Ever Wanted Was Everything and I’m happy to report this one was very entertaining also.  Brown writes really character driven novels and this one had to do with an artistic married couple living in a very hipstery part of LA and how the housing market crash affects them.  They both end up reexamining their priorities, career goals and even their relationship.  It was emotional, interesting and full of colorful characters and I think I had a soft spot for it because I lived in LA for about 5 years and seriously, THE STEREOTYPES ARE ALL TRUE.  I mean, to even a larger degree than you would think.  Some of the characters in this book may seem a bit cliche, but that is exactly why it captures the essence of Los Angeles.  It was a relatable, well-written story.  I am looking forward to her next novel.

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
I really wanted to love this book, and there were parts that were really brilliant, but it also dragged for me in places which ended up making it a bit of a slog to get through.  A collection of tales told in the perspectives of different staff members of an International Paper set in Rome, I had high hopes of stories being woven together to tell an even larger story.  I think that was the intention, but it fell a bit short in the execution so the entire thing seemed a bit fractured at times.  I am completely in the minority on this book, so take that for what it is worth, but this book didn’t particularly speak to me.

 The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
So hey, since we are talking about books that didn’t particularly speak to me:  THIS WAS ONE.  I actually sometimes enjoy reading business-y books or cheezy leadership books because underneath all that formulaic crap there are often really simple but valuable take-aways.  I had hopes that this book would be the same, even though the title alone set my douche-o-meter on high alert.  I was hoping it would perhaps provide some insight into how I could start moving towards my own entrepreneurial dreams, or provide an interesting perspective shift on the value of work/life balance.  But honestly this book is mostly an arrogant ego project about how to get around the rules, how you are unintelligent to believe in hard work, and how everyone can have a Ferrari and Travel The World!  YOU get a Ferrari, YOU get a Ferrari, and YOU TOO, get a Ferrari — you know, if you want to outsource your life to India and sell your ideas to people who aren’t smart enough to think of those ideas themselves.  I don’t know, it probably did have some good insights, but I felt like I had sat down at a bar and was hearing it all out of the mouth of a guy drinking a vodka red bull and wearing an Ed Hardy shirt.  Not my cup of tea. 

The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Hey wait, you already know what I thought of this.   

Hint:  I loved it.   
Did you see they have a cookbook out now?  I have totally reserved this at the library.  I am such a sucker for these two!  I have been thinking about this book and all of it’s stories about Martha Stewart a lot lately since I have been planning Garrett’s 30th Birthday Party. I don’t know how Martha is able to be Martha without giving herself a gigantic ulcer.  I am decidedly UN-Martha and I think I have one.  

Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow by Chip Conley
So after that Tim Ferriss debacle, I picked this up at the library on the recommendation of my aunt.  She loves Chip Conley and I was excited to hear about how he made his business so successful.   Being that I work for a Giant Corporate Overlord, I have heard quite a bit about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and how it is useful in the workplace.  The idea itself wasn’t particularly fresh to me.  But something about Conley’s delivery made me feel like he was more earnest in his discussion about how companies really can and should take these concerns to heart — not only in how they do business, but in how they treat their employees.  It was filled with lots of interesting case studies about companies who are doing things differently.  All I can say, is that the book was a though provoking read, oh and also — Google:  Hire me! Please?

The Devil’s Teeth:  A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks  by Susan Casey
This book was FASCINATING.  It is primarily about the Great White Shark activity that surrounds the Farallon Islands just 20 miles west of San Francisco.  I found it surprising how little I knew about the Farallones, given that they are very close to where I grew up.  This book delves into the history, and covers her 8 week stint living out at the research station on the island.  I am a sucker for all things Great White (hair metal, included) and found this book compulsively readable.  Garrett was looking over my shoulder the whole time asking me questions about it, so I’m thinking this is sort of a universal theme.  I love reading books by journalists because there is generally a lot of research and information involved, but spoon fed through a really good story.  These are my favorite kind of books! 

So tell me, what did you read this month that was the bee’s knees?

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One Response to April Books

  1. byebyebitters says:

    Hello! I'm new to your blog and I love this post! I'm going to go read all your other monthly book summaries and then we can become book bffs.

    Anyway. I was just about to start "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" – glad to hear you liked it!

    In April, I read a lot about the Resistance in WWII. A bit of a theme, I suppose. There is a book by that title ("Resistance") by Anita Shreve that I did not care for so much (despite liking 99% of her other novels) but I won't ruin it for you by telling you why.