I have a problem that I don’t think many Americans do. I have run out of television programs that I come back to week after week. You’ve got your Top Chef, New Girl and The League that I remain faithful to, but the rest… “meh”. Pair this with the fact that I like to be in bed, all snuggly, at ridiculously early hours as of late and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a whole ‘lotta reading going on.
Here are my recent finds, ranked in order of enjoyability.
One Person/Multiple Careers – How “The Slash Effect” Can Work For You by Marci Alboher
I probably don’t have to tell you what this book is about, given its long title, but I will tell you it is absolutely worth picking up if you are in a similar boat as me. That boat could be the “Stay At Home Mom” boat, the “I’m Bored With My Day Job, But I’d Really Love To Make My Money From My Hobby” boat or simply the “I Like Shiny Objects” boat. This book tackles all the logistics, obstacles and benefits of calling more than one job your career.
As I was just going through the book to tell you about it, I counted over 20 turned down pages with things I wanted to remember. For example:
- “If you plant a lot of seeds, some will die and some will blossom into thriving plants. The same is true for the various slashes you cultivate in your life.”
- “Don’t discount the value of your starter profession. Starter professions can provide a foundation, a knowledge base, and a professional network, all things that are useful when reorienting a career.”
- “Taking on a slash – or exploring your field from a different perch – can make you better at your original work.”
In short, this book confirms that what I’m doing isn’t crazy. Or maybe it’s still crazy, but I’m not alone and not without the possibility of success. Woo!
Under the Table Saucy Tales from Culinary School by Katherine Darling
And speaking of slash stories… Ms. Darling shares her delightful tale of culinary school, which she did after leaving a stable, but unsatisfying job at a publishing firm, in this quick read book. There are a few details that are repeated several times, making you wonder how much the editor was really paying attention, but overall this book was really interesting. I always thought culinary school sounded like a worthwhile experience in theory, but Katherine’s book helped me conclude that I wouldn’t cut the mustard in practice. (If you’ve seen my diced potatoes, you know I don’t have the patience nor precision to hack it in this world.)
I really liked this author’s casual writing style and frank thoughts along the way. I won’t give away the ending, but let’s just say, I see a lot of me in her.
I’m sure she got the book deal due to her earlier career, but this isn’t the fluff piece I expected. Check it out.
Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz
When you finish the last book and are feeling all happy-go-lucky about life, pick up this one by Christina Schwarz. My lamb, is this a dark book. So dark that I blame some of the wack-a-mole mood swings I’ve had over the last week on the gripping story line of this novel. It’s that good.
This book, set locally in the Waukesha area, back in the early part of the 20th century, has been around for a while, even making it in Oprah’s Book Club, so I’m guessing some of you may have read this already. I am late to the party, but picked up the book after hearing Ms. Schwarz speak at a local writing festival this fall. It was cool to read a story, particularly this dark of a story, after hearing about the writing methods and seeing a bit of the author’s personality. (Side note – I learned Ms. Schwarz’s husband is a book publisher, too. Again proving that it’s not what you know, but who!)
I’ve been known to be naive when it comes to movie and book plot lines, but I really couldn’t see the ending through all the twists and turns the book gives us. In short, it’s a perfect book for a cold, winter Sunday afternoon, but maybe have a funny movie ready to watch when you’re done.
The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen
The final book I read this month was The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen. I had been aware of this book since I saw a review in Milwaukee Magazine last summer, as the author is another local, but did not purchase it until the aforementioned book fair. Ms. Lochen was on a panel at this event and I got a chance to talk with her one-on-one. She has won prestigious awards in the field, but Andrea is probably younger than me and seems to hold down a “real life” right here in southeastern Wisconsin. That was neat to see.
Back to the book… The workshop panel I attended where I met Ms. Lochen was on writing for women and the term “chick lit”. For better or worse, I would confidently put this book in that category. It’s a light and airy read that you can kind of guess where it is going, but that is not to say it’s not an interesting trip along the way. The main character in the novel wakes up on New Years Day of the year she thought just completed. That year hadn’t been her best, so she got a chance for a do over. Hilarity and tears ensue.
I do own this book and would love to lend it out so I could have a conversation about the ending. I think one little tweak would have sent this book into the A+ category instead of a B. If you have read it (or want to borrow the book), let’s chat!
So what are you reading these days? As we’re getting into crunch time, I have a feeling this next month will be dedicated to parenting books, but I’d love a couple of breezy reads thrown in there for fun, too. I already have three recommendations from readers on the list. What can you add??