This month’s books are all about nonfiction.
I read two memoirs and one medical/health nonfiction book, and I honestly would only recommend one out of the three. But before I dive in to talk about those books, I do have a confession: for the first time ever, I DNF (did not finish) a book.
I’m quite… a finisher, in terms of books. No matter how boring, or how I detest a book’s subject, once I started I would make an effort to finish it. Lately, though, I feel like time is such a precious commodity that I decided not to finish a book. And that book goes to Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars.
I honestly love Mary Roach, and my reason for not finishing the book is simple: I do not care about the subject that much. I’m interested, but not too much. I guess space life only interests me if it’s science fiction. So instead of being bored and forgetting everything anyway after I finish a book, I shelved it, probably forever, and that’s okay.
So let’s talk about September’s books.
Where am I now? by Mara Wilson
Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Recommended for: Those who love Mara Wilson as a child actor, or are interested in their lives after being famous
Review: Erm. Conflicted. I’d really like to give this book two stars, but that feels like I’m being mean. Three it is.
There’s nothing bad about the book per se—I just somewhat dislike it. Mara Wilson talks about her life, but it’s all over the place: childhood, adulthood, teenager, back to childhood, back to adulthood. She talks about topics all over the place too: her acting career, love (and sex), mental issues, and writing/creating. I can’t seem to follow the random topic choices, and in the end, I know about her life, but it doesn’t seem a cohesive story.
I’m also not a fan of Matilda/Mrs. Doubtfire—I’ve watched the movies and like them, but that’s it. I come to this book with quite a good expectation then, thinking that I’ll be interested in how a former child star’s life is like. I’m a little bit disappointed, if I’m honest.
Her writings are good, though. I’ve read many other books (which are not written by ‘writers’), and her books, I can honestly say, is written by a writer. She can write well—it’s just not my cup of tea.
Natural Causes: Life, Death, and the Illusion of Control by Barbara Ehrenreich
Genre: nonfiction, medical, health, science
Recommended for: I honestly think you can skip this one
Review: 2.5 stars
I’ve wanted to read the author’s other book, Nickel and Dimed, but as it is unavailable at my local library, I’ve picked this one instead. I didn’t have much expectation to begin with, but if I were, I would be quite disappointed with this book.
The book seems like a collection of essays of unrelated topics. And to be honest, it reads like a rant. I’ve read quite a few books on several topics she brought up in the book, such as Matthew Desmond’s Evicted (poverty and its health consequence), Michael Pollan’s In Defence of Food (on food fad and its relation to health), Siddharta Mukherjee’s Emperor of All Malladies (on cancer), and Mary Roach’s Stiff (on post-mortem world). I’d like to say that I understand what she’s saying; but for me, she doesn’t say it quite successfully.
I’m actually not sure who the target market of the book is, but I’d say it’s not me. I can’t seem to connect with her writing, although I usually love this kind of book. (That is, journalistic type of book that is filled with research findings.) The book is informative, but again, she comes off too strongly in the book, which makes it feel like a rant.
In conclusion: it’s an informative book. But I’d suggest you to read the books I’ve mentioned earlier instead.
My Life in France by Julia Child, with Alex Prud’Homme
Genre: nonfiction, memoir, food
Recommended for: Everyone who loves a good memoir, cooking, or Julia Child
Review: I really, really enjoyed this book.
The first third quarter of the book is such a joy, but I have to admit that the last quarter is a bit…dragging. I find her early life so much more interesting than her life after the fame the cookbook has brought to her. That being said, I really feel like this is a person who has lived a life to the fullest.
One of the things that I learn from this book is that Julia is really invested in relationship, be it with her families or friends. At one point, she even said that friendship is much more important than career or success, and that she (and her husband) would always make time for friends. For someone who has not invested that much on friendship, I think it’s a somewhat wake-up call as well.
I really do recommend this book if you’re interested in Julia Child. I personally hate the book Julie and Julia (the movie’s okay–mainly because Meryl Streep is in it), and I have always found Julie Powell annoying. But through the story I get to pick up this book. For that, I’m grateful.
Those are September’s books. You can see all the books I’ve read this year on my Goodreads page. Tee-hee, till next month!
Ps. What books are you reading now? Feel free to give me recommendations on what book to read next!