Reading challenge: four more

I added four more books to my list for the year. I’m aiming for about 30 but would like to get closer to 50. With only 11 checked off so far, I need to get reading.

Anytime I got about a week without finishing for starting something new, I feel a little off. So this list isn’t as impressive as it should be.

The Girls of Murder City 

After reading three Confessions of a Shopaholic books back-to-back, I needed something a little more substantive. My list of to-read books is outrageously long and it keeps growing every time I look on Goodreads. This was one of those books recommended on the side.

I think Goodreads must know I listen to the Chicago musical pretty often on Spotify. I had no idea that the musical was based on a play, based on a reporter’s real life experiences. No idea.

Chicago Tribune reporter Maurine Watkins wrote the original Chicago musical after working on the murderess beat during the height of Prohibition. This books chronicles her life as well as the lives of the women who turn into Zelma and Roxie Hart on stage. It tackles journalism and salacious reporting of the time. (see WSJ article on the book).

I had no idea that reporters would spend hours in jail cells talking with inmates or that they could easily walk into crime scenes to catch the gruesome story. It turned out to be a truly fascinating book about journalism, reporting, crime, gender politics and Prohibition.

As another reviewer said, I now have a new appreciation of one of my more favorite musicals.

Witches of East End

I read about this in some chick magazine about a year ago. It was actually a fun and enjoyable read. The writing isn’t the greatest; it’s a little elementary.

I was also a little peeved that it started off so cryptic. It’s about a trio of witches who have lost their powers and are struggling to be normal in today’s world. Then some strange things start happening.

The writer continuously dances around the “history” of the witches but you don’t get the full story until close to the end. Even then there’s some unanswered questions that I assume she’s saving for the series continuation. Despite that, as the story develops the three witches are likable characters. The best part for me though was that she pulled in so much mythology and classic stories.

I kind of look forward to a second book and I’ve added her original series — Blue Bloods — to my summer reading list. That’s exactly what this is, great beach reading.

A Night to Remember

I read this leading up to the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking. Despite my obsession with the story of Titanic, I’d never read a book about it. I’ve now added about five other books to my list.

A Night to Remember was originally published in the 1950s and Walter Lord wrote it by conducting interviews with survivors. It’s a short and fascinating read, running through the Titanic voyage and its terrifying last few hours.

Although, it is an quick and moving piece, I think some of the stories could have been more fleshed out. But anyone looking for a quick read on Titanic, this is a great place to start.

Bossypants

Tina Fey’s collection of stories was our third book club choice. What I’ve enjoyed about book club so far is that we’ve read books I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise. Fey’s book definitely fits this description and I’m really happy I read it.

I love 30 Rock and Mean Girls so I have a ton of respect for Tina Fey. Bossypants just reinforced that. I literally was laughing out loud on the train as I read this. She has some really funny parts.

It also has great little messages and I like her discussions about feminism and gender equality in the workplace. One piece that particularly resonated with me was the discussion about when she realized there was more than just “fat” and “skinny” and there were unlimited number of problems with women’s bodies/looks.

“One afternoon a girl walked by in a bikini and my cousin Janet scoffed, “Look at the hips on her.” I panicked. What about the hips? Were they too big? Too small? What were my hips? I didn’t know hips could be a problem. I thought there was just fat or skinny. This was how I found out that there are an infinite number of things that can be “incorrect” on a woman’s body.”

Another such message: “We can’t expect our gay friends to always be single, celibate, and arriving early with the naco fixin’s. And we really need to let these people get married, already.”

Actually looking back at my notes/highlights, I really enjoyed the book. My main criticism is that some of the pieces were a bit pointless and there wasn’t an overall theme or message. The book kind of just ended. Maybe I just needed a little more Tina Fey. Blergh.

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