I am generally reading two or three (or four) books at the same time, generally all wildly different. While I normally favor terribly deep and mentally stimulating fare like Kafka, and Kierkegard (hahahaha), I totally understand that no one wants to read a review of those. So here’s what on my summer list, and what I’ve been getting through lately.
Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden
( I post a link but I still haven’t figured that one out, and I can’t get a picture to turn out right…meh)
This is a fantastic memoir by a great(to the fifth power) granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. While the book is very technically about that lineage, the humor is in the escapades and adventures of Wendy and her immediate family. She discusses her mother, who is constantly in search of a newer, better tan, man, and drink, her brothers, who probably qualify as frequent flyers at any Betty Ford clinic, and her grandparents (on her father’s side, as she says herself, you only want to hear about the rich behaving badly, the average behaving badly just isn’t that interesting), who are blissfully drinking themselves into a Blue-Blood Stupor.
Wendy Burden is my kind of girl, as a child she became truly fascinated with the macabre and morbid, and proceeds to describe a dinner in which she horrified her grandparents and their guests by revealing that she was going to be a mortician when she grows up. Truly, one of the funnier scenes in the book. The only part of the book that was disappointing is that it’s too short.
I also just finished
Future Homemakers of America by Laurie Graham
This is a fantastic novel about a group of women who are friends in the fifties, through their husbands who are Airmen for the US in England. Graham herself is English, but has such a way with the mid-century, Texan, idiom that you wouldn’t know it. The main character in the book is Peggy Dewey, married to Vern, and is honestly, a very long way from home (Converse, Texas). Graham crafts a story about five women told through one woman’s eyes, and it follows them all the way through the mid nineties. This book never felt tedious, and was never boring, although, as with any book in this style, it took me a few chapters to keep everything straight.
The part of this book that I loved the most was the recipes from each housewife sprinkled throughout. They all seem like things you would find in a Good Housekeeping in 1954, and I love it. A three color refrigerator cake, made with all jello???? You better believe I’m trying it. I’m not going to make you try it, in fact, I may be so embarrassed by the effort that I will never mention it again. Swear.
An author that I am generally reading at any point,
Lincoln by Gore Vidal
This is a little historical fiction by my favorite author of all time. I’m honestly getting through this one rather slowly, but I know why, this one IS a little tedious. I’m enjoying the story, but I’m getting a little tired by the details. Vidal is NOTHING if not well researched.
If I was to recommend anything by Gore Vidal, it would be his original fiction. Duluth, The City and the Pillar (homophobes need not apply), and Julian are three of my favorites. I also enjoy his essays, but they can get a little heavy if you aren’t much into politics. And his politics can get very, very heavy.
The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman
Don’t even. Stupid tedious. I mean, unless you are researching the Culinary Institute of America as a potential student. Then by all means, don’t take my word for it. Also, no recipes. BOO!
I’m about to start Mrs. Astor Regrets by Meryl Gordon
I LOVE reading about old WASPy culture, and that bygone era. I think I was born in the wrong time. Cocktail hour? Handwritten correspondence? Tea Service? Finger Bowls???? I just get to read about it.
I’m also excited about My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster
I’ve been reading her blog for years (jennsylvania.com), since before the first book came out, Bitter is the new Black in 2005. She’s terribly funny, and can be a bit “brusque”, but as long as you’re the one laughing WITH her? It’s all fun and games.
So that’s my list. I don’t usually do “summer beach reads”, I’ve never been totally sure what that means, as you can usually find me blowing off responsibilities to finish up a book (HB knows I’m kidding….right?). There’s also the new Charlaine Harris, that I would tell you all about, but I think I’m a little embarrassed by the fact that I’ve had the release on my iPhone calendar, and the fact that I’ve re-read the whole Sookie Stackhouse series in anticipation. Cat’s outta the bag. At least I’m not Twi-Hard. Real vampires don’t sparkle, and they also don’t bite their lips and sigh, and real vampires don’t go back to high school. And honestly, what sort of vampire would actually wait for Kristin Stewart? I probably shouldn’t offend one of my most loyal readers, though, so I take it all back. Let me get started on the backspace key, Tear-uh.
(semi-private note to Tear-uh, you know that’s how the Right Reverend wrote your name in his index cards for your wedding, right?, still cracks me UP!)