Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Book Report: From Elephants to Legends

This is your double helping of book love. I have no idea where I dug up enough time to finish two books, but you won't here me complaining. (Sleep is overrated.)

The first read was our book club selection for February, Water For Elephants. I have to be honest nothing about this book's description interested me. Not a huge fiction fan for starts, but carnies creep me out, and as someone who would take the company of a dog over 90% of humanity, the last thing I want to read about is animal cruelty. (Insert inner Mommy Voice) But Jen, the whole reason for starting the book club was to read outside your narrow wonk-non-fiction-journo-genre.

I was pleasantly surprised. Kudos Sara Gruen! I couldn't put the sucker down. It's the story, set during the Depression, of a young Cornell Vet senior who loses his parents in a sudden accident. Penniless, he literally runs away to join the circus. Telling his story from the end of his life looking back, it speaks volumes about the aging process, which is a nice little emotional bonus. But aside from the thrilling and compelling plot line, the author spent years researching circus life from that period. If you omitted the main characters, this could easily be a case-study of a particular troop. She even starts each chapter with an actual photo from the 30s from various circus groups. Very cool. Attention Nerds: it's safe...we are welcome.

The second read, was also a book club selection from last fall, but I pulled 8 shades of cheating on this one.  I went to our discussion for Julie and Julia with nothing more than Amy Adams/ Maryl Streep's interpretation of the quack blogger and the tv foodie, and a whopping 30 pages under my belt. Here it is, March, and I am finally clearing that bad boy off the night stand.

Now, I love me a good blog-turned-book (the stream of conscience writers of today - take that J.D. Salinger) and you know I love me some food, but I found this little paperback to be highly overrated. You'll never hear me say this (so I'll write it - what a hypocrite!) but I liked the movie better than the book. Shut up - nuh uh. Gasp - go ahead it's safe - I won't judge.

I mean it was cute - don't get me wrong. An overworked, urban wife is fed up with her job so she decides to channel Julia Child and cook everything in her French bible in a year, while blogging about the adventure. I get it - it's cute. And as a chronic bitcher, I, garnered some serious support for her storytelling. But the best part of the read for me was the few pages she talks about her quirky friend Isabelle (who is a literary doppelganger of my friend Megs.) Now she is a character. Not that it was bad - or boring - but I felt like she could have wrapped the whole delicious lamenting up in about 200 pages.

Stay tuned next month - I'm hoping to knock off three more on our little cruise!

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