While I was too sick to blog I read light, escapist adult novels—lots of chick-lit and action-adventure. Here are my favorite realistic and historical fiction reads over the past two years.
Realistic Fiction/ Historical Fiction for Grown Ups
Someday, Someday Maybe, by Lauren Graham (April 2013) – It turns out Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls, Parenthood) isn’t just an entertaining actor, she can write too. Frankie Banks is on the last six months of the three years she gave herself to break into the acting business in New York and is beginning to wonder if she should just pack up and go home to her sweet boyfriend. I enjoyed this fun, light chick-lit type story. I could relate to Frankie’s doubts and insecurities about making it in a competitive artistic business and especially liked the behind-the-scene look into acting class, auditions, agents, and commercials.
Longbourn, by Jo Baker (October 2013) – I enjoyed this spin-off book of Pride and Prejudice that imagines what the lives of the Bennett household servants were like while Lizzy was getting to know Mr. Darcy. It’s kind of like a novel-version of Downton Abbey but set in the early 1800’s. It also has a good audiobook version.
Landline, by Rainbow Rowell (July 2014)- Technically Rainbow Rowell’s third novel has a bit of a sci-fi/fantasy device where a landline phone connects the main character to her husband—but in the past when he was still her boyfriend. The core of the story, though, is a realistic tale of a young woman trying to figure out what went wrong in her marriage while she and her writing partner finish up scripts for a TV series they’re trying to sell to a network. I especially liked the behind-the-scenes look at writing for a TV series.
Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler – I love Parks and Recreation so it’s not a surprise that I enjoyed Amy Poehler’s memoir/self-help book. The book is a mixture of stories about her childhood, stories about improv, life advice, fun lists, and comedy riffs. She’s open and funny but manages to keep her private life private—for instance the only real details she’ll say about her divorce to Will Arnett is that it’s “too personal and too sad” to talk about.
At the same time she’s pretty blunt—in an amusing way—about how hard divorce can be. I loved her summary of books she could now write about divorce, with such titles as, “I Want a Divorce! See You Tomorrow!” (a book about divorcing while raising small children together) and “Get Over It! (But Not Too Fast!)”.
I think her discussion at the beginning of the book about how hard writing is, was my favorite part though. To quote Amy, “The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not. Even I have lied about writing. I have told people that writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil. What a load of shit. It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver.” Hee! So true.
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson ( 2014)- Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir in verse is about her first 10 years growing up as an African-American girl in Ohio, South Carolina, and Brooklyn during the 60’s and 70’s. Technically it’s written for elementary school aged kids but it’s one of those crossover novels that can be enjoyed equally by adults. Lovely, interesting, quick read.
The 7 Secrets of the Prolific, by Hillary Rettig – I read this book for a class taught by the teacher. It’s a good resource for dealing with writer’s block or just a general lack of confidence about your writing. Rettig’s emphasis is on perfectionism and how it hurts writing output. She explains exactly what perfectionism is and how to combat it. I found her methods and thoughts quite helpful when I was trying to get back into writing after being sick for months with my thyroid issues.