Saturday, March 16, 2019

my top five: books I've read recently

1. So Here's the Thing by Alyssa Mastromonaco - This is Alyssa Mastromonaco's follow up book to "Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?" which was one of my favorite reads in 2017. She's brilliant and hilarious and for someone who was a Deputy Chief of Staff in the Obama White House she is incredibly relatable. As someone who suffers from a bowel disorder, her anecdotes about her struggles with IBS are at once painful to read about (because, BEEN THERE!) and reassuring. It's weirdly comforting when you know that other people suffer the same problems that you have and manage to lead a productive, awesome life in spite of it. She is literally one of the most awesome people on this planet and I highly recommend both of her books (plus every appearance she makes on podcasts, plus her twitter, plus her book events. Anything and everything Alyssa.)

Sidenote: She's also a very dedicated cat lady. I went to her book event last Tuesday which happened to coincide with Arrietty's birthday. When I was having my book signed I shared that excessive Crazy Cat Lady factoid with her. Her reaction was "F*ck yes!!" She made the book out to me and Arrietty and wrote "happy bday!" and told me that she makes cupcakes for her own cats on their birthdays! *dies* I was so excited to meet her and she exceeded my expectations.  I think I awkwardly said "I love you" when I left but I REALLY DO LOVE HER.

2. Saved on Sunday, Dead on Monday by Andy Ross - This is a short mystery novella filled with intrigue and nods to classic television, set in the world of a pimento cheese spread empire. This was a super quick read but I enjoyed it so much that I've been pestering the author on twitter to try to get him to write a sequel!

3. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James - One of my favorite genres of fiction is "people stranded in space" and this is probably tied with The Martian as my favorite in the genre. It's about a young girl who is the last surviving member of a space mission. This is the very definition of a page-turner. I couldn't put it down! I also loved that it was science fiction set in a realistic world. When I read space fiction I don't actually like when there's too much world-building, so this was right up my alley.

4. The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes - I was trying not to make this list too Obama-memoir heavy, but looking over my 2019 reads so far, it really is mostly comprised of books by Obama staffers. I just love reading about behind the scenes and being transported back to an era that I honestly didn't appreciate enough while I was living in it. The World As It Is is the most policy-heavy memoir I've read thus far, but it was completely engrossing. I usually have this weird mental block when it comes to understanding foreign policy (specifically Middle East policy, it just seems so complicated to me) but Rhodes explained everything in such an accessible way that I suddenly found myself regaling my family with anecdotes about lifting the Cuban embargo over dinner. Rhodes book was also the first one that I've read that shows President Obama being frustrated sometimes, or moody. I am guilty of idolizing him and in a way it's almost a relief to know that he's only human.

5. Come As You Are by Walker Gibson - It's been a long time since I read a book of poetry, but when I stumbled upon this one at the Princeton Library book sale I couldn't resist. Most of the poems are fun and light, about subjects like outer space or Monte Carlo casinos. But there was one poem (actually it's the last verse of a longer poem) that really grabbed me and I've been a little obsessed with it ever since I read it. I memorized it and keep reciting it to myself to make sure it's still being properly stored in my mind.

Some people feel alone and lonely
To think this world's perhaps the only
Possible place where mankind clings --
They yearn for more unworldly things,
But if in all the universe
We're quite alone we could do worse
Than claim our own miraculous birth
On this elysian planet, Earth,
Where woods are green and warm and wet
With trumpet vine and violet:
The dew shines on the grass at dawn,
A rabbit bounds across the lawn,
And we can thank that lucky star
That makes this heaven where we are."

ps. I don't usually post reviews on goodreads, but if you just want to see what I'm reading, I do keep a running list of current reads/books I've completed on my account, here.