What I've Been Reading Recently

What I've Been Reading Recently

30-Something and the Clock is Ticking: What Happens When You Can No Longer Ignore the Baby Issue by Kasey Edwards
By chance, Kasey found out that she had a year before full infertility kicked in; having not been with her boyfriend long and having always had a very "meh" attitude towards motherhood, she really wasn't sure how to feel. So she did some research. A lot of research, actually. And what she found wasn't promising: apparently motherhood is bad for women's mental health, careers, finances, self image and relationships and a lot of women secretly regret it. Nevertheless, she and her partner decided to have a baby, so the second half of the book is given over to trying to conceive, vomiting through an unpleasant pregnancy and getting her head round the early months of motherhood. I had read and enjoyed Kasey's previous book (30-Something and Over It: What Happens When You Wake Up and Don't Want to Go to Work... Ever Again) so I knew I would like her witty but informative style. I wasn't disappointed. We had completely different experiences of medical care and were given very different information, but I recognised the journey from meh to Mummy and loved reading her angry take on the sexist attitudes all parents seem to encounter.

Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman
Nick Offerman writes here about his journey from farm boy to Ron Swanson, taking in his years of Chicago theatre, his marriage to Megan Mullally and his successful woodworking business. This is part-autobiography and part-advice (switch off your screens; work hard at your hobbies; fall in love) and I wanted to love it. I found it an odd, disjointed read, though. He writes in the florid, rambling style of a massive stoner, piling praise onto everyone he mentions (himself included). So... it was interesting but not engrossing. To me, anyway. Steve enjoyed it a lot more than I did.

Navigating Life by Margaux Bergen*
This was supposedly written as a guide to life for the author's daughter but it read, to me, more like an attempt to impress swarms of anonymous readers. I'm an anonymous reader and I was not impressed. Yes, Bergen has worked hard and attended lots of dinner parties, but the book was too heavy on bragging about these things and too light on encouraging her daughter to make her own choices. From Bergen's angry response to her daughter's supposedly confrontational first words onwards, there was no evidence of empathy or understanding between the two women, and I couldn't imagine her daughter finding this book to be anything but patronisingly embarrassing. I sincerely hope that I'm wrong.

To Be Continued by James Robertson*
I hugely enjoyed this. It's a madcap romp across Scotland (I know - what a cliched phrase! I can't think how else to get across its madcap rompiness, though), as a fifty year old former sub-editor attempts to visit and interview a ninety-nine year old former MP living on what remains of her family's Highland estate. There's bootleg whisky, a couple of (possible) doppelgangers and a talking toad thrown into the mix. It's gleefully ridiculous and gorgeously Scottish in the vein of films like The 39 Steps and Whisky! Galore. I loved it.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
In the 1970s, teenage Lydia drowns in a lake. Her family - Chinese-American academic father; frustrated housewife mother; clever brother; overlooked sister - all process her death in their own ways, whilst remembering Lydia's role in their lives... and their role in hers. This is a story of intense love and suffocating ambition, sibling jealousy and misunderstood alliances. It's beautifully written and painfully believable - in fact, the only bit which didn't ring entirely true to me was the explanation of Lydia's death but, oddly, that felt like a minor detail.

*Provided for review

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