A Change of Heart about Jodi Picoult?

April 8, 2008 at 12:09 pm | Posted in Books, Disappointment, entertainment, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading, Worst of the Year | 18 Comments
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At the time I started this blog, I was very much in to Jodi Picoult. My Sister’s Keeper was the first novel I read, but Plain Truth was my favorite. Before January of 2007 I’d also read and enjoyed The Tenth Circle, Vanishing Acts, Salem Falls, and The Pact. Over the course of ’07, I read three of her books. I enjoyed Nineteen Minutes, finishing it just shy of a month before the Virginia Tech Massacre brought much of Southwest Virginia to it knees. Still, Keeping Faith was just so-so and Perfect Match was such a wall banger that I would have categorized it as the worst book I read in ’07 had it not been for The Emperor’s Children.

I’ve read nine of her books and enjoyed – if not thoroughly enjoyed – seven of them. Still, I am hesitant to even pick up and hold a copy of her latest novel, Change of Heart? It might be because there are some elements involved that are related to the Keeping Faith (miracle healings) and Perfect Match (Catholic priest). I also left Vanishing Acts, The Pact, and Nineteen Minutes feeling I had gotten too much of a real sense of what it was like to be a man imprisoned. Are those connections worth overlooking her novel or is it just that I’m over her? I certainly hope not because when her work is good, it makes for an amazing ride.

If you’re a Jodi Picoult fan, I would like to hear what you have to say. What are your favorite novels? Did you like them all? Why or why not? Have you or are you planning on reading Change of Heart? I’m hoping that I might be able to grab on to the coattails of some enthusiastic readers.

* Comments may contain spoilers *

#60 ~ Eat, Pray, Love

February 27, 2008 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Books, Disappointment, Memoir, Religion, Worst of the Year | 4 Comments
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Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

I don’t typically read books about food. For whatever reason, I get bored reading paragraphs filled with nothing but food preparatory details. Knowing this about myself, I never considered even picking up this book off of the shelf to read the description. The only reason I am reviewing this here is that a co-worker offered to let me borrow this book on CD. In the end, my instincts to stay far away from this book were dead on – just not for the reasons I expected.

Eat, Pray, Love is a memoir which describes the impact taking a year away from home to heal from a hard divorce had on Elizabeth Gilbert. During that time, she stayed in three countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia. The book is separated into three sections for each country. She goes to Italy to learn Italian, to India to study at her guru‘s ashram, and to Indonesia because a wise man she once met there indicated that she would eventually return to stay with him.

During the Italy section, this book was almost poetic in its theme of finding and honoring oneself. However, the poetry of the book was too often interrupted with seemingly unnecessary references to current American politics. Because of how well the rest flowed, those comments, which ranged from off-hand comments to an entire chapter dedicated to thanksgiving that George W. Bush wouldn’t be president much longer, felt like huge potholes in an otherwise smooth road. They did not add to her experiences with struggling between career and marriage, her desire not to have children, and her spiritual longing. They simply dated a memoir that could otherwise be timeless.

Skipping over the political banter was as easy as pushing the forward button, but there was no way to avoid her agonizing discussions of her spiritual struggles as related to Swammy G, her guru’s guru. It didn’t take me long to start begging for a long soliloquy about cooking two cups of rice a single grain at a time. Still, I was committed to finishing the book until *it* happened.

Play by play of *it*

  1. 1. Open chapter with Gilbert’s thoughts on the merits of “cherry pick” from the worlds’ religions to discover appealing spiritual practices.
  2. 2. Literate Housewife rolls her eyes when Gilbert slips a closed minded and oversimplified statement about the Taliban and the Christian Coalition into an otherwise open-minded discussion.
  3. 3. Continued exploration of the idea that all of the worlds’ religions (sans Taliban and Christian Coalition of course) provide elements of Truth.
  4. 4. Literate Housewife looks out the window of her car and wonders what it is about grass that makes cows eat it so ravenously.
  5. 5. Hearing “That’s me in the corner.” jolts Literate Housewife back into Gilbert’s diatribe.
  6. 6. “Oh, no. She isn’t.” says Literate Housewife.
  7. 7. “That’s me in the spotlight.” says Gilbert.
  8. 8. “She musn’t!” panics Literate Housewife.
  9. 9. Choosing my religion.” says Gilbert.
  10. 10. Literate Housewife screams. She turns off the radio thinking that many fundamentalist Christians and Elizabeth Gilbert now have something in common – the misuse of secular lyrics.

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Congratulations, Liz Gilbert. You’ve earned your liberal street cred. You just lost me along the way.

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To buy this book anyway, click here.

#44 ~ The Emperor’s Children

November 7, 2007 at 1:33 pm | Posted in Books, Disappointment, Literate Housewives Book Club, Worst of the Year | 2 Comments
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The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud

This book makes September 11 anti-climatic. It is pretentious, is written using the most convoluted grammar I’ve ever seen, and was about unexceptional, yet self-righteous and stuck-up, characters. This is by far the worst book I’ve read this year. I would gladly read Perfect Match again without complaining just for the joy of caring about a character again.

As I wrote earlier on Literate Housewives’ Book Club, The Emperor’s Children is death by character development. Stay away from this book. Pretend that coming within 10 feet of this book will kill you.

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