Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis: (not photographed because I lent it to a friend) Billed as a collection of funny essays of a genteel Southern lady transplanted to New York on said Southern lady’s adaptation to NYC living, I was definitely kept entertained. However, at times, I got really, really sick of hearing her mention/gloat/remind us all that she lives on the exclusive and $2,000-a-square-foot Upper East Side. Her slightly conservative snootiness aside, Ellis remains hilarious, and this book, like her first, American Housewife, was a quick and lough-out-loud read.
Fluke by Christopher Moore: Like all of Christopher Moore’s writing, this one made my eyes cross, wonder if he was on drugs, and crack up so often that poor B thought I was losing my mind in the armchair. Following marine biologists as they research whale calls, then following one of them as he’s swallowed up by a whale Jonah-style, Fluke sticks to Moore’s telling of a traditional story from his (demented? twisted? hilarious!) eyes. There’s a half-rastafarian kid named Kona nee’ Preston Applebaum, a very pale and very non-backgrounded assistant, lesbian ex-wives, and one kooky old lady obsessed with delivering a pastrami sandwich. What more could you want?
How to be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery: Ok, this one was sweet, and a less-than-one-day read. Naturalist Sy Montgomery has penned a brief memoir that touches on spots of her life- early years through present day- based on the memories and feelings sparked by writing about the animals in her life she met along the way. There were a few spots, especially when she spoke of her dogs and their impact on her life, that I found myself crying a bit. Sy’s writing is lovely, but the way she views animals (octopus and tarantulas included) is really something special.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson: (not photographed because I have no idea where I’ve put it) Hmmm…. Hailed as one of the must-read books of the last few years, I hate to admit that I struggled with this one (and hate to admit that I purchased Manson’s follow up “Everything is F*cked” at the same time). While the first 50-60% of the book seems as if the author is just trying to prove a couple of asinine points- he can use the F-word as much as he wants, and has a chip on his shoulder- the later portion twists at (spoiler alert!) the sudden death of a friend and the author’s persuasion to the reader shifts; from nowhere, there’s a plea to take a deep breath and remember that the small things that take up a huge portion of our emotional concern don’t matter that much. I plan on reading the second book over the summer. We’ll see if there’s more how-to than f*ck-you in that one.
Spying on the South by Tony Horowitz: A lovely, albeit slow moving read. Coming from Louisville, where Frederick Law Olmstead’s park system circles our city, I’ve heard his name mentioned over and over through the years. To read of his young man travels and inspiration throughout the southernmost part of our country was enamoring to say the least, but when woven in with Horowitz’s following of his journeys (complete with modern day humor and wide-eyed exploration of the South by a Brown- and Columbia-educated DC journalist), these 400 pages slip by easily. I finished just a few days after Horowitz’s passing in May.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie: (not photographed because I borrowed it from a friend) I know this book is hailed as one of the best business books of all time, but I struggled to finish. What Carnegie uses a couple of hundred pages for really boils down to treating others with respect and having an open mind when letting folks into your life. Listen and learn what others can offer you. Those are lessons that can be learned in some other fashions than antiquated examples and confusing sample situations.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: With dueling timelines- one stuck in a small-town murder investigation and trial in late 1969 and early 1970 and one following the life of Kya, the protagonist from her childhood years in the early 1950’s on- this sweet novel is both a murder mystery and a coming of age story in which an abandoned and neglected little girl finds her own way in the rural marshlands of the Carolinas. I seriously devoured this thing in less than a few hours, hooked on what could tie the two timelines together, and in wonder of the beauty of a scared and illiterate young woman becoming strong and independent.