Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Reading is Fundamental

I'm sorta cranky today. I'm back at work after a nice, relaxing mini-vacation I planned around yesterdays Federal "holiday," I slept so deeply that I was overtired when I woke up this morning, and I'm now harboring a slightly irrational fear that some of that massively recalled beef has ended up in the meatballs of my Italian Wedding soup from the office cafeteria. Not to worry, though, says the FDA. We all consumed most of that meat long ago!

My birthday fell during my mini-vacation; it was, in fact, the point of my taking a few days off in the first place. Thanks to my sister, I picked out three books for my birthday presents: One I have been dying to buy for months, one I knew of and recently decided I wanted to read, and one spur-of-the-moment choice that looked pretty interesting. Thanks to my school work I haven't had much time to read purely for fun. I finished two of the books during my time off. I'll give you a mini-review of them, shall I?

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Philips. Gotta support a fellow (now not-so, in her case) struggling author. I'd been waiting for months for this to be released in the US and almost ordered it from http://www.foyles.co.uk/ in London in the meantime. It's modern-day London, and the classic Greek gods are forced to share a dingy house, where they've been driving each other crazy for centuries. Artemis, goddess of hunting, is a dog-walker; her twin Apollo is a TV psychic. Bored to tears and coping with ever-weakening powers, they indulge in their favorite pastime: revenge. When two sweet but nerdy mortals stumble into their path, gods and nerds must join forces to save the world. I couldn't put this book down. It's entertaining, funny, and if nothing else, a very basic lesson in Greek mythology! The New York Times criticized this book, which, the author admits, is a lighthearted story. Amazingly, their review actually criticized the author for blogging repeatedly about Strictly Come Dancing, the Brits' original version of Dancing With The Stars! Dear NY Times: buy a sense of humor already.

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. I admit I wouldn't have wanted to read this if it didn't involve knitting. That said, I enjoyed this book, but I read it with a lot of eye-rolling, if you know what I mean. Weepy chick lit is not something I usually enjoy. This plot was too formulaic: men are jerks, women should stick together. The back cover guarantees right from the start that the unthinkable will happen...Add equal doses of getting royally screwed over with saintlike proportions of forgiveness, and you've basically got this book. It's an emotional roller-coaster, with a knitting pattern and a recipe in the back.
It's the story of single mom Georgia and her daughter Dakota (it's a states thing, get it?!) and the yarn shop Georgia owns. Women of different backgrounds congregate on Friday nights. Life and all its problems ensues. I found it too sugary-sweet in several places, in particular the spunky 90-year-old Scottish granny who dispensed the obligatory accumulated wisdom; too unbelievable in others--New Yorkers just do not get that involved in the lives of other New Yorkers. Hell, most of them don't even know who their neighbors are. OK, I don't know who any of my neighbors are, either, but you get my point. Having said all this, I'll go see it when the movie version starring Julia Roberts hits the theaters this summer.
The third book is The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar. Set in New York City by its Scottish author. Neil Gaiman loves this book, and that's enough to pique my interest. In between school work, maybe I'll get to read it before summer comes.