Category Archives: Category: Lists

This page contains suggested book lists, top 5-10 lists, and suggestions for things related to books.

3 Books by Funny Ladies: Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, & Merril Markoe

Over the last few months, I’ve read three books of essays by three very funny women:

I think there’s somethings wrong with me. I just didn’t find any of these books laugh out loud funny. There were humorous bits, and parts that made me smile, but overall? I didn’t love them. Is it just me? I think it’s just me.

I like essay books, so I don’t think that’s what’s off. I love David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, and Laurie Notaro. Maybe I’m expecting too much. Maybe knowing how funny these women can be, I have set my expectations at unattainable levels. Poor ladies. Will Tina Fey ever forgive me for being the one reader in all of America who didn’t swoon over her book? Somehow, I think she’ll get over it.

For certain, I would recommend these books if you like funny writing. beach bag I would recommend Bossypants and Cool, Calm, and Contentious more so than Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? While that book is funny, it lacks the depth that the other two books have.This may be due to the age and experience of the writers – Tina Fey and Merill Markoe have been in the comedy business far longer than Mindy Kaling, have fought more of the gender battles, and dealt with more love, loss, and dirty diapers/dogs respectively. Mindy is no Kelly Kapoor, but her book’s level of introspection feels like a Kelly when compared to the Liz Lemon levels of the other two books. (Did I take that metaphor too far?) Any of these books would probably be good to pack with your beach gear.

So in conclusion, these are probably funny and I have no idea what I’m talking about.

So You Want to Start a Classic Lit Book Club

If you’re thinking about starting a book club that focuses on classic literature, here’s some advice from someone who’s been there, done that:

  1. Most book clubs meet every 4 weeks. Make yours every 6 weeks.
    It takes a lot longer to get through most classic lit than it does modern novels, and no one will be done in time.books
  2. Select annotated books, when possible.
    One of the biggest gotchas with classics is understanding the context. We would end up not finishing a book because we couldn’t understand the references, monetary system, and cultural differences between what we were reading and modern American life. When we read Frankenstein, several of us got the annotated version and it was a huge help. But still…
  3. Don’t expect everyone to have read the book.
    In fact, you’ll be lucky if half your members read the book. This is probably true of all book clubs. So just make sure you…
  4. Have good snacks.
    I mean, if you’re not going to have a quality discussion, you should at least have good chow, right? That doesn’t mean the host should do all of it. We usually had a snack potluck. We also instituted a “sweet or savory” sign-up sheet after a few too many meetings where we were crashing after sugar highs.
  5. Expect some of your group to have watched the movie instead.
    It’s high school déjà vu, only this time at least they’re not trying to pass a test. Just be prepared to discuss the differences between the movie and the book, and it’ll still be a fun discussion.
  6. The host is responsible for providing suggestions of the next book, and the group votes.
    There are lots of ways to select new books for book club, but when you’re focusing on classics, you may find you run out of ideas a lot earlier than you expected! Assign one person (we picked the host) to offer up at least 3 suggestions for next time. Usually our host would print small summaries, and at the end of our meetings, we’d take a vote for which sounded the best. Searching for ideas is easy if you do things like look up college English course reading lists, Amazon’s classics section, etc.
  7. Be a little loose with your definition of “classic.”
    If we’d forced ourselves to stick to books from a certain age or genre, we probably would have fizzled after 3 meetings. Instead, we allowed for modern classics (a.k.a., books that should be assigned to every high school reading list), books that had a nostalgic or classic tone, and sometimes just plain ol’ fun reads after we’d devoured a particularly heavy tome. And it must have worked, because we lasted 4 years, till I moved away and everyone was so heartbroken that they couldn’t go on without me.

My book club friends, anything to add?

Here are some of my favorite and least favorite books from our classic literature book club, which was composed of women ranging from 20-something to 40-something.


  • Persuasion, Jane Austen – An interesting story with a memorable heroine. This book is romantic and was a great start to the book club.
  • In Cold Blood, Truman Capote – How could anyone not find this book amazingly well-written, compelling, and chilling?
  • The World According to Garp, John Irving – Very jarring, intriguing, and captivating. Irving creates a harsh world that is full of interesting characters, definitely worth reading.
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith – A beautiful story of a girl growing up poor in Brooklyn. Frances is a charming heroine.
  • Camille, Alexander Dumas – Lovely story about a young man and his love for a Parisan courtesan who dies of consumption. Pretty easy reading for a mid-1800s book originally written in French!
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee – It’s shocking I know, but I’d never read this before. Beautifully told, it draws you in by telling it through a child’s eyes.
  • Decline and Fall, Evelyn Waugh – This book was hilarious and outlandish. I enjoyed it so much, I immediately went to the library and checked out Brideshead Revisited and A Handful of Dust. (Decline and Fall was still my favorite.)
  • The Razor’s Edge, W. Somerset Maugham – I can’t remember much about this book, but I enjoyed it and the two main characters, Larry and Isabelle, and how their lives took such different paths based on their differing desires in life.
  • Gigi, Collette – Gigi is really a novella and is an amazingly quick read. It’s amusing to examine a life where the norm is to become a courtesan and it’s crazy and a little boring to pursue marriage instead. It’s also a little disturbing to think of grooming a child to become the lover of a man twice her age. Yikes. I feel I should read more Collette, since she is considered a preeminent writer of France.

Least Favorites

  • Indiana, George Sand – Why oh why did we read this depressing book?
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke – Critics said it was an adult Harry Potter. We all agreed it took far too long to get interesting and was nowhere near as fun, interesting, or enjoyable as the HP series. (not a classic, but written in a “classics” style)
  • The Quiet American, Graham Greene – Set in the 1950s in Vietnam, The Quiet American revolves around an older British man and a young American, their love for the same women, and their views of the Vietnam struggle. Compelling, but definitely felt like “a man’s voice,” – it was hard for us to get into.
  • Mansfield Park, Jane Austen – I can’t believe I’m about to say this about my beloved Jane Austen, but this book was just crap. Is that too harsh? The main character, Fanny, is a prissy, timid, uptight goody-goody who irritates you almost from the first, and by the end of the book, you’re thoroughly fed up with the rest of the characters too. Austen may have been trying to make a sardonic statement about society in this book, but the characters are so annoying, I hadn’t the patience to examine it too deeply. For once, I found the movie adaptation much better than the book.

Do you agree or disagree with any of these tips or reviews? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 Books to Read if You’re an Adult and You Loved The Hunger Games

I cannot tell a lie, I loved The Hunger Games. I didn’t read them until all three books were out, and then I sped through all of them in less than a week. I’m waiting with bated breath for the first movie, and am even trying to get my husband to read them so he’ll want to go to the movie with me.


While you wait for the movie to open, here’s some books you might want to check out:

The Thirteenth Tale
Gothic, fantasy, strange, and beautifully told. Although a totally different type of story than The Hunger Games, it has as many twists, turns, and secrets.

This book is amazeballs. A hidden world exists behind the streets of London. Dark, fast-paced, and intriguing. It’s by Neil Gaiman, it almost goes without saying that it’s good.

The Harper Connelly Mysteries (Grave Sight, Grave Surprise, An Ice Cold Grave, and Grave Secret)
This series by Sookie Stackhouse author Kim Harrison starts off slow. But after the first book, they get more interesting and fast-paced, and I raced through them. A woman who can find the dead who begrudgingly solves mysteries with her stepbrother.

Peony in Love
A young woman in 17th century China having to choose between love and family. A haunting and scary ghost story as well as a beautiful love story; outstanding historical fiction.

Parable of the Sower
Another book about a young woman dealing with a chaotic and scary dystopian society, but in this case she forges a new religion. Beautiful read, with a sequel, Parable of the Talents.