Monday, August 06, 2007

July Reads

"Bait and Switch" - Barbara Ehrenreich
Summary: In this book, Ehrenreich does for white collar, middle-management job seekers what she did for minimum wage slaves in "Nickled and Dimed." She set herself a task - to find and then work in a middle-class white collar job in a PR-related field.

Grade: A

Reason: Ehrenreich has a fantastic writing style, a wry sense of humour and spot-on observations. As someone who has been made redundant four times in a ten-year career, I related with to this book.

"Self-Made Man" - Norah Roberts
Summary: After going out for a night "in drag" as a man, Roberts discovers that people interact with her differently. Intrigued, she became "Ned" for a year and a half as an anthropological experiment. Ned ventures into such situations as a bowling league, an extended retreat in a monastary, strip clubs, and one of those back-to-nature men's support groups to discover what it's really like to be a man.

Grade: A

Reason: Roberts has a great voice and interesting observations on the differences between men and women.

"The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" - Bill Bryson
Summary: Bryson's memoir is a sweet look at growing up in the 50s. He recounts a time in which he was called "Billy", people thought the mail might one day be delivered as rockets, there were always 500 kids on the block to play with, and the chance discovery of a mysterious sweater in the basement convinced him he was an alien foundling with super powers.

Grade: A+

Reason: Bryon's account of growing up in staid Des Moines, Iowa with an unconventional family is hilarious and such fun to read.

"Guilty as Sin" - Tami Hoag
Summary: The follow-up to the dreadful "Night Sins," this book covers the investigation and trial of the suspect apprehended in the Kirkwood kidnapping. When a second young boy goes missing, the town thinks the suspect is innocent while the prosector thinks there is an accomplice.

Grade: B

Reason: Much better than its predecesor, but the book's impact is still somewhat weakened by unreasonable romantic attachments, ridiculous sex scenes, and a few gaping plot holes.

"The Big Picture" - Douglas Kennedy
Summary: A young lawyer on the fast track to a Wall Street partnership has it all - 5-figure bonuses, a palatial house in a posh suburb, a beautiful wife, and two cute kids. But this was never the life he or his wife wanted, so when the opportunity to upend his existence comes along, he seizes it.

Grade: C

Reason: Yawn. Not a who-dunnit, but a how-dunnit that fails to maintain suspense and pace. Not a bad book, just not a good one.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" - J.K. Rowling
Summary: You're kidding, right? Either you've already read the book, you're in the middle of reading the book and don't want even a sniff of spoilers, or you live under a rock and/or don't care about the famous Harry Potter. In any case, I'm not breathing a word about the plot.

Grade: A+ (++++)

Reason: Brilliant. A perfect ending to a beloved series. The writing was much improved and the book tied up the series magically with a sparkling bow.


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