12 September 2010

Book Reports: A Gift, A Diary, and A Know-It-All

One of my very favorite things about vacation is the opportunity to read more. With two intercontinental flights and an infinite number of train rides, I knew there would be LOTS of time to read on our recent trip. I'd like to review three books - two that I read and one that Clay read (and I started). They were all very different, but enjoyable in their own way.

Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
I knew going into it that this would be a lighter, more fun read - nothing mind-bending or philosophical here. The writing style was generally good, with the exception of all the nicknames the author gave to her characters, names like "Mrs. X" and "HH." Also the nanny in the story was actually named Nanny! It took me a while to get that all straight. (Look, I was on vacation and didn't want to think so hard!)
Now I realize this book was fictional - though based on personal experiences - but there were some things the nanny had to endure that I just couldn't believe! It was especially interesting to watch a real-life family and their nanny on our flight from Madrid to Athens and wonder just how true the story was. (The kids were brats, that's for sure!)

The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I accidentally picked up the wrong book at Half Price when I was scouting for vacay reads. A friend had recommended two of Potok's books, one of which was My Name is Asher Lev...and apparently I just wasn't paying attention until I pulled it out of the suitcase and realized I had the wrong book. Not to worry! It was still a fascinating story. The writing was exquisite, describing the humdrum things of life in an incredible way. It also talks about a community of Ladover Hasidic Jews and the dynamics there. Although this particular sect is ficticious, it is based on a real-life group and so it was interesting to pick up bits and pieces about their belief system.

The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs
This book was purchased specifically for my husband's reading pleasure. The author of this book, A.J. Jacobs, decided to read through all 30-something volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which is something my husband would totally do. (He is, after all, a know-it-all.) It was quite funny to hear Clay laughing out loud at various entries, sometimes so much so he would have to put down the book until he could regain composure! Needless to say, Clay was quite appreciative of my book choice. :D

Next on the list: Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan. That is, unless my fine readers have something else to recommend!


Cindy Helf said...

You should definitely read Say You're One of Them - it's sad to think of what children in other parts of the world have to endure, but a very good read. It reminded me of my summer in Africa. I'm so jealous of your trip, by the way!

karen said...

i have started 'the know it all' and am enjoying it alot! i can just picture clay laughing out loud as he is reading it!

Jud and Shannon said...

good picks! i accidently picked up that one too, but traded it for the first one (my name is asher lev)...GREAT read :)

congrats by the way...i know i'm late but still exciting!!