Sunday, June 13, 2010

Book Recommendations

I love to read and right now I have lots of time to read. Here are some books I've enjoyed over the past few months. Another day I'll do my all-time faves.

The Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison - I've already written about how much I love these totally mindless pieces of fluff. Think Bridget Jones set in high school. I find these books hilarious. I just finished number 7 in a series of 10 and I'm already sad about the eventual end of the series! Seriously, if you're lookin for something light, enjoyable, and wanting to laugh at angsty teenagers being ridiculous, these books are amazing.

The In the Merde series by Stephen Clarke - amazingly enough I'd never read these before, and now I don't know what took me so long! They are hilarious books about an English guy who moves to France and has all sorts of encounters with the French language, French bureaucracy, and French people that anyone who's lived in France will be familiar with. Not so sure how funny they would be to someone who doesn't know the French language or hasn't spent time in France, but they are highly recommended in any case.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows - this book was sent to me, in English, by someone in France. I just think that's funny. This is an epistolary novel about the German occupation of the Guernsey Islands. I love the tone in which it is written. The characters are unique and amusing, the story is touching and funny, and it will stay with you for a long time. Obviously there are some sad and shocking events, but overall I loved the book and tried to read it slowly so that I wouldn't finish it too quickly.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson - I liked this book much more until the ending. The ending almost gave me a heart attack, it was a very startling break from the tone of the rest of the novel. Until the ending though, I liked it a lot. The story itself is very interesting, though the humor is pretty dry. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to everyone. The book begins with the death of Major Pettigrew's brother and the possibility of reuniting two valuable guns that his father divided between the two of them when he died. The gun becomes a symbol of the Major's attempt to maintain the traditional values he was raised with in the face of a changing world that has become all about materialism and money. He also has to confront racism in small town England. Check it out for yourself.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - this book is absolutely fascinating. Normally cells have a set number of times that they will divide, and then they die. Having immortal cell lines that don't die is very important for scientific research. Henrietta Lacks was a black woman with an extremely agressive cervical cancer who "provided" the cells that became HeLa, the first immortal cell line. HeLa cells have been used to research a huge variety of things including the polio vaccine and cancer treatments. Nearly every lab in the world that uses cells in their research has at least some HeLa cells, including my mom's lab. This book is about Henrietta Lacks, her family, the history of cell culture and many bioethics laws, and the ethical issues raised by her case. I highly recommend this book. Everything is explained clearly and concisely so even if science isn't your thing it's easily understandable.

Anyone else have any book recommendations? I'm almost done with The Immortal Life... so I need some new ideas for books! Preferably happy, not too dramatic books. I have enough drama in my life, I don't need to read about anyone else's drama.

7 comments:

Monique said...

My favorite book of all-time is Snow Falling on Cedars. Great book. I recently read Chelsea Handler and she's so over-the-top-ridic, I might have to go read some more!!

Try Trail of Crumbs also, if you're still in French mode :) it's about a woman who struggled to find her way in France while cooking the entire time. Pretty interesting story.

kiwi in france said...

Interesting, I just saw a review for the last book you mentioned. What I immediately thought of was - I've just seen a TV show on a similar subject and I think it was one of the latest episodes of Bones but I can't be sure. I really enjoy crime novels and I enjoy the Alex Cross series of books from James Patterson.

Zhu said...

The Merde series is super funny. I actually don't like the main story (guy cheating on girls gets old after a while) but his observations on French are super funny.

Did you read the Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson? The girl with the dragon tattoo, the girl who played with fire and the girl who kicked the hornet's nest? They are great books.

I'd recommend Marian Keyes as well (I think I did before). Chick lit' but good chick lit'.

I also love Jonathan Kellerman books (thrillers and good suspense, all set in L.A.). What else... oh, in French, Jean-Christophe Grangé writes amazing thrillers/ mysteries, you should check it out. Books that you just can't put down!

getyourselfconnected said...

I think I have recommended these before but good stuff always deserves a plug!
-"The Door into Summer" by Robert A. Heinlein is really great.
-"Time and Again" by Jack Finney is pure magic. If you recall from the film "Somewhere in Time" when Christopher Reeve goes to ask the professor about time travel, he calls him Dr. Finney as an homage to this novel.

au soleil levant said...

Monique - I read Snow Falling on Ceders several years ago and liked it too. I might have to add Chelsea Handler to the post-Georgia reading list of light and fluffy books.

Kiwi - I've read one of James Patterson's books, can't remember which one at all! Maybe getting into crime novels and thrillers will help me get over how sad I am that the original Law and Order got canceled.

Zhu - I totally agree about the plot line of the Merde books. His over the top hunt for a lay is kind of offsetting. And of course there are all of these gorgeous women just dying to go to bed with him! Several people have recommended the Stieg Larsson books to me now so I'll have to check them out.

GYSC - I'll have to make sure I read "Time and Again" before I head to Mackinac in a couple of weeks!

Zhu said...

If you do read the Stieg Larsson books, I'd recommend you just jump into them and don't try to understand too much at first. Trust the written.

As for the merde books... nous sommes sur la même longeur d'onde ! Half of the time I was like "yeah Emglish guy, you wish, you wish..." :-D

au soleil levant said...

Okay, I'll keep that in mind for the Steig Larsson books. Don't wonder too much. Of course women who move to France write memoirs about getting married and having kids, and Stephen Clarke writes novels of "every guy's fantasy about France" - lots of beautiful, promiscuous women all over. He totally wishes!