Radio Program – August 3, 2007 – wacky books

The Memoir

Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs (and many more).

Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy and Other Misadventures by Lindsay Moran. Lindsay provides an intensely personal account of joining the CIA, describing her training and her brief career as an agent in Macedonia. Entertaining on one level and very depressing on another, it does provide a view behind the curtain. Spying is definitely not a glamorous or thrilling career: slimy is the word that turned up in my mind after reading this book. Good for fans of unusual careers and also of interest for current events aficionados.

Foreign Babes in Beijing by Rachel Dewoskin. First person story of living in Beijing for several years as a twenty-something expatriate. Rachel stars in a TV soap-opera, hangs out with other foreigners and with Chinese and provides some interesting observations on culture, change, sex, language and misunderstandings.

Mysteries

Bubbles (series) by Sarah Strohmeyer.

Three to Get Deadly (Stephanie Plum series) by Janet Evanovich.

The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom. A fun little mystery set in a small town in Northern Ireland where a Jewish librarian has just been employed to run the library, but the Council closed it, and now they want him to run a mobile library (bookmobile in our version of English), only the 15,000 books that are supposed to be in the bookmobile have disappeared. Whacky and entertaining.

Male Angle

Which Brings Me to You by Steve Almond and Julianna Baggott. A rather old-fashioned book, as it is written almost entirely in letters, but also a new-fangled book, as it is written in alternation by two authors, a man and a woman. Frank talk about sex and love and relationships and honesty and family and fear of connection and fear of being alone. 

Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper

Married Ladies/Used to be Married Ladies

Year of the Dog by Shelby Hearon. A most entertaining novel about a southern girl who comes to spend a year in Burlington. She will be raising a companion dog for the blind and she will be getting away from the small town in South Carolina where her ex-husband left her for another woman. The cultural puzzlements between SC and VT are fun: why are all the women wearing shades of eggplant and oatmeal; are the grungy guys who live upstairs really dangerous; so is the little mystery about the real identity of her great aunt’s friend, the mystery author; but the book is also excellent as a novel.

Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes (audio CD). So you are young, good looking, crazy in love with your husband, working a glamorous job in NYC, have a great circle of friends…and then something irrevocably awful happens. How do you cope?

The Devil in the Junior League by Linda Francis Lee. Frede Ware had a perfect life…until her husband left her, stole her money AND threatened her social position in the Junior League. The ups and downs of rich women in Texas. Funny and silly (and made me very glad I live in Vermont and not that other place).

Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA by Ellen Meister. First novel by a former Long Island suburbanite, the writing is a bit clumsy in spots but it is still a fun read. The PTA moms engage in power-struggles and love affairs, but the important relationships are the friendships that develop between the women as they work their way through various life crises. Bidding for Love by Katie Fforde. Fun and romance at a struggling auction house in rural England. (and several more)Bitsy’s Bait & BBQ by Pamela Morsi. A sweet little book about a single mother who buys what she thinks is a Bed and Breakfast in the Missouri Ozarks, but it turns out to be a Bait store and BBQ Restaurant. Whoops! Of course, it all works out okay in the end. I lived in the Missouri Ozarks for six years and found some aspects of the book right on. But the author left out the ticks. They have billions of ticks down there, in every size from giant to invisible. Me vs. Me by Sarah Mlynowski. Love or career? Arizona or New York City? Does a girl have to choose? Why not have it all…

20 Times a Lady by Karyn Bosnak. A fun, but silly novel about a young woman who suddenly realizes how many men she has gone to bed with. Time for a drastic change of direction, right? Un-Bridaled by Eileen Rendahl. A funny/sad/wacky book about a young woman who flees her own wedding at the very last moment. Themes include family, hidden truths, finding your path through life and pets. 

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. The story of an overworked lawyer in
London who accidentally switches careers and becomes a housekeeper/cook. Amusing, friendly, light, but it does raise a few good questions about our workaholic culture. Does the path to success have to be quite this horrible?

Match Me if You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. A fun book by a very popular author, this time she takes you inside the contemporary business of matchmaking, with, of course, the main characters ending up happily ever after.

Borderline

Radical Prunings: A Novel of Officious Advice from the Contessa of Compost by Bonnie Thomas Abbott. Actually a novel written entirely in the form of gardening advice columns, including answers to questions from readers and a lot of odd information about the main character’s life, household and ex-husband. Funny. Probably even funnier for readers who know something about gardening which I, alas, do not. 

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