Bite Size Reviews: End of Summer Edition

We’re keeping it brief this week, because vacation!

A couple of quick notes about books I read and liked during the final days of summer…


32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line by Eric Ripert

3 words: enthusiastic, coming of age, honest

Commentary: So grateful to Bybee of Blue-Hearted Bookworm, who sent me this audiobook. It was sheer delight to listen to Ripert’s story as it carried me away from my commute.

Give this book a whirl if you like… workplace memoirs, chef’s lives, stories of painful childhoods, reading about achieving mastery of a skill


One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

3 words: witty, sociological, self-deprecating

Commentary: Here’s the quote I can’t stop thinking about. Here, Koul is writing about women being watched by men.

“It’s such an ingrained part of the female experience that it doesn’t register as unusual. The danger of it, then, is in its routine, how normalized it is for a woman to feel monitored, so much so that she might not know she’s in trouble until that invisible line is crossed from ‘typical patriarchy’ to ‘you should run.’” (p. 171)

Give this book a whirl if you like… occasionally piercing observations about society, a feminist viewpoint, essays that are sometimes humorous and sometimes pointed, views of a young 1st-generation Indian-Canadian


What’re you all reading as this summer winds to a close?

Bite size reviews

I’m cramming for two upcoming book discussions, so this week we’ve got… the Bite Size Reviews.

Here we have three books I’ve read recently, liked just fine, and then completely not written about here.



Teammate: My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages by David Ross

3 words: revealing, fast-paced, casual

Delectable quote: “Don’s idea was that this book be about exactly that, passing along all that I’ve learned from others on an important subject: how to make yourself valuable, even if you’re not the most valuable.” (p. xix)

Give this book a whirl if you like… teamwork, self-improvement, being there for others, baseball, sports memoirs, the Chicago Cubs


The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay

3 words: lyrical, contemplative, philosophical

Delectable quote: “‘Take my camel, dear,’ said my aunt Dot, climbing down from that animal on her return from high Mass.” (p. 1)

Give this book a whirl if you like… long, witty sentences; exploring religious beliefs, British humor


Moonglow by Michael Chabon

3 words: complex, unfolding, unsentimental

Delectable quote: “Keeping secrets was a family business.”

Give this book a whirl if you like… anecdotal storytelling, family secrets revealed, fascinating fictional lives, non-consecutive narratives, the Space Race, spies, gruff older fellows


What books have you read (and not had time to write about) lately ?

Describe yourself in 3 words

Because I’m
in the midst of the biggest reading cram session of my young life (9 books to
finish in the next 6 weeks; totally do-able, but they’re all assigned reading, so there’s little time
for the fun kind), I’m communicating this week via shorthand. 

Some of these books below, I read by choice and liked. Some, not so much. 

Here goes…

Shopgirl by Steve Martin
3 words:
irreverent, shallow, modern
Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for
Lincoln’s Killer
James L. Swanson
3 words:
immediate, detailed, fast-paced
Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts
3 words:
comfortable, homey, unrealistic

…with an unbelievably over-achieving female lead

“And so accomplished…”

Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
3 words:
funny, quick, warm

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
3 words:
varied, comic, Gen X

Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell
3 words:
disturbing, raw, detailed

I’m so reading nothing but what I want. In May.

Real Short Re-Cap: Chocolate Chocolate

Chocolate Chocolate: The True Story of Two Sisters, Tons of Treats, and the Little Shop that Could by Frances Park and Ginger Park
Three things made me need to read this book:
1. chocolate
2. Washington, D.C. setting
3. my participation in a nonfiction challenge with a “food” book as a distribution requirement
It also served as a great holiday weekend read—light and pleasant, with a nice arc and just enough conflict to be interesting to read.
On their website, there’s a photo of the Chocolate Chocolate crew. The next time I’m in DC, I’m hopping off the Metro at Farragut North to buy some fancy chocolates from them. This book made me hungry!

Real Short Re-Cap: The Company We Keep

The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story by Robert Baer and Dayna Baer

I adore husband-and-wife dual memoirs. When I discovered All’s Fair: Love, War, and Running for President by Mary Matalin and James Carville many years ago, there was some seriously blissful reading happening.

And here, we got spying going on, so what’s not to like?

Actually, this is the kind of book that could look promising as all heck and then crash and burn.

But it didn’t happen. (You were worried there for a minute, though, weren’t you?)

The authors both have engaging writing styles, plus a great story, so this thing has the power to keep a person reading straight through to page 143 before getting up from her chair to get more coffee. (true story)

Real Short Re-Cap: The Best of Everything

The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe
If the writers of Mad Men and Sex and the City didn’t read this book, I’ll eat my hat. This 1958 novel is filled with characters and situations that have cropped up on both shows.
It’s also one of those books that pulls you in slowly, and then you can’t leave its world. (I’ve been strangely focusing on one book at a time lately, and this book was definitely part of that trend.)
It follows several young working women in New York in the early 50s, and they encounter the expected sexism in the workplace (and out of it), and they have tragic love affairs and do all kinds of dumb lovestruck stuff even though the guys tend to be cads who are unworthy of their attention. (Even the one guy who I found likeable was stepping out on his wife to be with the female character we know!)
So, yes, the characters make some bad choices, and that made the whole thing feel very real.
Just like with Mad Men, I sank happily into this novel’s melodramatic depths and didn’t really want to leave.
Thanks to Bybee for recommending this book on her blog. I wouldn’t have come across it without having read her review.

Real Short Re-Cap: The Audacity of Hope

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama
Does this count as reading? I listened to the abridged audiobook, read by the author. (I like to think that the author’s voice makes up for the abridgement.)
I laughed when he described some of the indignities of campaigning and cried when he described his meeting with Senator Byrd. And I liked the last chapter, “Family,” best—it sounded more like talking and less like a speech.

Real Short Re-Cap: Making Toast

Making Toast: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt
Don’t go reading this book in public. I’m serious: Don’t Do It.
That is, if you’re anything like me, meaning: you’re a weepy reader.
Rosenblatt, who is a genius of a writer, describes the first year after his adult daughter Amy’s death. And this is painful stuff. Amy, a mother of three, was 38 years old when she died from a heart condition no one knew she had.
I shied away from this book for quite a while, because I knew it would be hard. I was actually partly wrong about that; it was a beautiful thing to read, and I’m glad I did. But also, it was hard.
Rosenblatt and his wife moved in with their son-in-law and grandchildren, and they become part of the family in a whole new way. There are moments that are charming and funny and dear, and others that make you just want to curse the universe for stealing people away too soon.
Resounding positive review: I’m glad I read it.

Real Short Re-Cap: Read This Next

Read This Next: 500 of the Best Books You’ll Ever Read by Sarah Newman and Howard Mittelmark
I was just going to flip through this book, browsing for books to read for myself or to suggest for the book club. But I ended up not doing that. Instead, I read the intros to each of the chapters, and I did snorting/laughing sounds because I just couldn’t help it.
(They’re hella amusing, those authors.)
Then I browsed through the blurbs about the books and added 5 books to my Shelfari TBR list.
Then scanned a couple of the intros again and repeated the snorting/laughing thing, even though I already knew the funny parts.