Julie & Julia
by Julie Powell
I actually thought this book was pretty terrible and only finished it out of principle because I hate starting a book and not finishing. Julie Powell is a unsettled 30 year old working a miserable dead end job in NYC. In order to counteract her overall discontent for life she decides to take on a little side project by cooking the 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and starting a blog to chronicle the whole experience. This review on Amazon.com pretty much sums it up.
The jacket gushes, "Julie Powell writes about cooking the way it always needed to be written about." No, she doesn't. She writes about her friends' dysfunctional sex lives, about her own barely-controlled anger management issues, and about how much city life sucks for the less-than rich. But she writes very little about cooking. She also has a rather limited vocabulary, substituting liberal amounts of profanity. This gets old quickly, too. I threw this away unfinished; I didn't want to be responsible for anyone else wasting time on this book by giving it away. Fortunately it was cheap.
The Sun Also Rises
The story follows Jake Barnes, Lady Brett Ashley, and their post WWI generation through love affairs and drunken shenanigans as they journey from the night life of Paris and onto an excursion to the bullfighting rings of Spain. I'm typically a fan of Hemingway's short stories over his novels but found this to be an extremely enjoyable read. The style seemed a bit more simplistic than some of his novel, which I think helped to create the overall sense of emptiness found in each character. Appropriate for a group know as the 'Lost Generation.'
I hesitated taking on another popular best selling work of fiction turned Hollywood after the Julie & Julia experience but decided it would make a good end of the summer read. The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi during the 1960s and follows a young college grad, Skeeter, as she struggles to settling into the old fashion ways of southern life. Her life becomes intertwined with those of two black maids, Aibileen and Minny, as they take on a try to force the old south to catch up with the changing times.
Brave New World
This is one of those books that I can't believe I had never read before. Written in the 1930's Huxley manages to capture the future in a way that somehow resonates with any generation. A sci-fi type future world created by mass producing life in Hatcheries, designating embryos to a caste level, then them in Conditioning Centres designed to determine their future cognitive and physical nature. No competition, no pain, no suffering. A beautiful utopia. As the story moves forward the secrets and sacrifices necessary to create this World State begin to unfold, bringing to question the cost of predetermined bliss.