The Last Five Books

Wish You Were Here
Rita Mae Brown (1991)

This is the first in Rita Mae’s Mrs. Murphy mystery series, where a cat and dog can communicate amongst themselves, and help their human-mama, Mary “Harry” Haristeen solve murders in her small town of Crozet, Virginia.  Yes, this can be considered a “cozy mystery” due to its lack of sex and any real violence, but who needs it when you’ve got a sassy divorced cat, an independent, hard-working post mistress and an author who in real life is a kick-ass lesbian who infuses her characters with what is obviously her personal brass and love for all creatures, great and small.

Wish You Were Here

There’s More to Life Than This
Theresa Caputo (2013)

If you watch Long Island Medium on TLC, then you’re already picking up what she’s putting down.  Likewise, if you think that LIM Theresa Caputo is a fake, then obviously this book is not intended for you.  This writer is the former, and if you watch her show and consistently find yourself sobbing like you’re watching the end of Steel Magnolias during each episode, then you’ll love the book.  It’s extremely well written, rounded-out and thorough.  Even if you aren’t a believer in Theresa’s abilities to speak with spirits, angels and God, you have to give her respect for tackling subjects that may be seen as taboo, including abortion and reconciling her “gift” with being a Catholic.  It’s one of those books that you read to experience, rather than get to the end, and it reminded me of The Dude and the Zen Master because it offers tangible lessons on how to interact with one another more kindly.

There's More to Life Than This

Drinking and Dating
Brandi Glanville (2014)

Drinking and Dating by Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Brandi Glanville may not stand the test of time in the annals of canonical dating tomes, but is a perfect example of a piece of pop culture that is here and now, and it’s completely entertaining.  The book stations the reader as that proverbial fly on the wall and lets us see all of her sexual escapades.  You can read this book several ways: you can get a kick out of her blatant enjoyment of sex, you can leave feeling bad about your own sex life, or you can let Brandi’s experiences empower you to get a little risque in your own bedroom–or top of your car.

Drinking and Dating

It’s audience is exclusively for fans of the Real Housewives franchise and when the Housewives have ended, most likely so will the popularity of this book.  But, like spending lots of money on wine, or eating a delicious doughnut, some things you can just enjoy for the moment, knowing that they are fleeting.  Such is Drinking and Dating.

The Good Nurse
Charles Graeber (2013)

This is the unbelievable and completely shocking true story of Charles Cullen, ICU nurse who for over a decade (during the 1990s and 2000s) worked at a plethora of hospitals in New Jersey and on the east coast killing hundreds of patients.  His method was quietly delving out lethal doses and improperly mixing medications.  Throughout his spree, he was let go of at least five hospitals for suspicious patient deaths, and up until his final arrest was dubiously sent off with stellar references.  Given the heinous nature of the story in and of itself, the author lets the facts do the talking while he organizes them in a cohesive manner, and narrates in a careful and respectful manner.  It follows in the traditions of In Cold Blood, Helter Skelter and Manhunt where the author weaves a true story like a piece of fiction.

Good Nurse

Anne of Green Gables
L.M. Montgomery (1908)

“The more things change, the more they stay the same” should be an alternate title for Anne of Green Gables, which was written over 100 years ago.  The reason this book has stood the test of time is because Montgomery was able to extract the steadfast nuances of human nature, making it seem as though it could have been written yesterday.

 Throughout the novel, Montgomery shines a light on gender inequality and via the actions, conversations and internal monologues of her characters she subverts gender roles during a time when it was definitely prohibitive.  Some examples include Marilla Cuthbert (who adopts Anne) living with her brother as an unmarried woman; Anne discussing women’s suffrage in Prince Edward Island when women were decades away from the right to vote; Anne, educated, opinionated and chatty, puts her own education at the forefront of her focus instead of concentrating on men and getting married; and though debatable, one could possibly argue the plausibility of Matthew Cuthbert’s (homo)sexuality.

Anne of Green Gables

Pretty racy for 1908, huh?

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The Last Five Books

Grace: A Memoir (2012) by Grace Coddington

Like most people, I didn’t know of Coddington’s existence until I saw the documentary, The September Issue.  I was left loving her in the film for her spunk, plus her creativity seemed to just ooze out of the screen.

Thankfully, she published a memoir not to long after the filming and it was filled with the same whimsy and joy that can be seen onscreen.  The book itself is one that I would recommend reading in print as opposed to eBook.  The cover is bright orange and is not a usual book shape (more of a square), and it’s filled with great drawings by Grace herself.   And the icing on the cake, the contents leave you wishing that one day your life will have been as full, insightful and as successful both in career and friendships as hers.

Grace

Odd and the Frost Giants (2009) by Neil Gaiman

As per the usual recommendation, when possible, listen to Neil Gaiman’s books as opposed to reading them.  More often than not, Gaiman narrates them himself and adds the perfect amount of pause and inflection in every story.  Much like Chelsea Handler’s self-read autobiographies, Gaiman, having been the writer, truly expresses his wishes for how the stories should be communicated to the audience.

This was just a cute story to listen to while I was baking one afternoon, but it’s worth mentioning for the aforementioned reasons.  If you’ve never read Gaiman, I’d  recommend starting with his adult novel, American Gods.

OddandtheFrostGiants

Rest in Pieces: the Curious Fates of Famous Corpses (2013) by Bess Lovejoy

The title pretty much sums it up.  Leaders, actors, great thinkers, et al, in death all share unusual treatment to their deceased corpses, including but certainly not limited to having their penises cut off and preserved for posterity, floating in life-size fish tanks like wax figures for public viewing, and being shot out of a cannon into the desert.

Of all the figures described, only two women’s corpses are described as meeting macabre after-life endings.  Does this world consider the woman’s body too sacred in comparison to a man’s to desecrate?  Is the documentation missing from history?  Do women not deserve to be fought over and stolen from their graves?  I demand after-life grave robbing equality now!

But I digress…Lovejoy’s book is fun to read and is even safe for the faint of heart.  Her writing style is accessible and interesting, even if you aren’t aware of the life of said corpse.  Plus, there’s a great bibliography at the end for further reading, if that sort of thing does it for you.

RestinPieces

The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century (2013) by Joel F. Harrington

Much like Roseanne Montillo’s book, Lady and Her Monsters highlighting the cultural events surrounding the writing of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Harrington’s book paints a larger picture of the world surrounding the life of one special person in our collective history—the life and career of a death dealer, a.k.a the executioner.

The inspiration for the text is the actual diary of German executioner Frantz Schmidt (1555 – 1634) and Harrington’s book offers the reader a glimpse into 16th century Europe and all that your run of the mill executioner had to deal with in his daily life.  If you’ve already begun to glaze over with boredom, fear not!  Harrington offers up enough gruesome facts to keep you interested throughout most of the book, such as the various torture devices, what is done with the body postmortem and the shockingly high mortality rate for mothers and their babies.  Though sometimes I found myself skipping passages that were more detail/date focused, I appreciate that the text would appeal to the more serious history buff.

FaithfulExecutioner

Drinking and Tweeting (And Other Brandi Blunders) (2013) by Brandi Glanville

You gotta love a gal who has no filter, even when she’s sober and today, the girl that I’m speaking of is “Real Housewife of Beverly Hills,” Brandi Glanville.  You wanted the dirt about her divorce from cheater b-list actor Eddie Cibrian and his home-wrecking washed up country singer new wife, Leann Rimes, well you got it.

Glanville’s book is written as if you are sitting down having a heart-to-heart over cocktails and ruminating over past heartache.  It’s a fun, quick read that is a great pause from a more heavy book, or even crazy co-workers.  Glanville’s humor and wit, though related through the narrative of a broken marriage, makes you laugh and sympathize amidst the pain that any reader can relate to.

DrinkingandTweeting