All posts filed under: The Authors

Everything I Didn’t Know

I’ve never read a book like this before. Historically, the non-fiction books I’ve read have been about a person, places, a period of time. But this is the first time I’ve read such an in depth study of a particular policy. In case you missed it, “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care” by T.R. Reid is a examination of our health care system in contrast to others around the world. And it was fascinating. “Economic growth is not the sole aim of out society… The value of a human life must be decided without regard to… economic considerations. We must take into account the human and spiritual aspects involved.” The Hall Report, 1964 There are a few things I know for certain: our health care system is broken, there are too many Americans without access to health care, our country’s approach to health care is far too politically leaning when it should be a moral issue. But besides that, my knowledge was fairly limited. This book put …

Hot Mess Redemption

As Bookly’s first ARC, courtesy of Graydon House (thank you!!), “Hot Mess” by EmilyBelden was our perfect match. It’s the story of Allie Simon, a young woman living in Chicago amidst her quarter-life-crisis of sorts. As you may (or may not) know, Bookly is made up of four Katherines from different cities who run this book club together. And I happen to live in Chicago (it’s me, Katherine C.)! Even more fitting, one of my daughters shares a name with the author (her middle name, Belden, named after a street we lived on for years). So it felt meant to be, and right away I volunteered to read “Hot Mess.” Although, to be honest, I had my doubts. I like to think I have fairly diverse taste in books, but anything under the Harlequin umbrella is not really in my wheelhouse. So I had no idea what to expect. And it was a bit of a rocky start. Allie Simon’s story starts when she’s only months into a relationship with Benji Zane, the latest and greatest star on the Chicago foodie …

Commonwealth: a nation, state, or other political unit

“It’s like this enormous tree had just crashed through the house and I was picking up the leaves so no one would notice what had happened.” I read this book early last year, so details are a little fuzzy BUT, I do know that I LOVED it. I read it in one day, one sitting, becoming completely immersed in the lives of the Keating and Cousins family. Ann Patchett is one of my favorite writers (if you haven’t read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, DO IT). She has a way of setting the scene that makes you feel as if you’re right there, which is exactly what she did in Commonwealth. From the first chapter, I could picture myself at Franny’s baptism, I could smell the gin, I could taste the oranges. And I was hooked. While I’m not always a fan of stories where nothing happens, the character development and the relationships between these complicated families — not to mention Patchett’s beautiful writing — had me flipping the pages, eager to …

What’s it about? Stuff. Really good stuff.

Commonwealth is an uncommon read.  It revolves around a family that is uncommon but somehow not uncommon at all. The relationships between families divided and rebuilt with scraps is a universal theme. Even if you come from a family never split by divorce, you definitely have something off about your family. (If you think there is nothing off about your family, you are probably the thing that is off about your family.) Through the complex narrative that Patchett slowly unfolds, you can find pieces of the story that make you feel at home – sometimes the chaotic, dysfunctional version of home that so often defines our family. It speaks to the excellence of Ann Patchett’s writing that she could develop little stories and relationships and build it into something greater than the sum of their parts. It is the way she describes seemingly innocuous parts of the scene that drew me in.  Describing a single mother’s struggles – “She was always arriving, always leaving, never there.” It’s an enormously complex struggle synthesized into one sentence. …

Everything and Nothing

Though I bought Commonwealth in mid-May, I didn’t start reading it until a few days ago. Mostly because I wasn’t sure I would like it. I had read a few reviews and talked to a few people who said variations of, “it took me a long time to get into it,” or “I couldn’t relate and didn’t connect with any of the characters.” I was dreading reading a book that I wouldn’t enjoy. Fast forward to November 26 when I decided to start it, with every intention of not finishing and writing a review that said exactly that. But lo and behold – I was hooked from the outset. I read the first quarter in one night, the next third the following night, and finished the rest over the next two days. Don’t get me wrong, it was not without its faults. The narrative device somehow made it feel like nothing was happening when in fact so much had happened that it was hard to believe. As I described it when discussing with the other Bookly Clubbers …