A favourite book about a celebration

Day 40 of the 40 Day Book Challenge is ‘a favourite book about a celebration.’

Okay, I guess I’m cheating again (sorry, Tom) because this book isn’t about a specific celebration, but a) I can’t think of a book that is, apart from books based around weddings and I don’t think I’ve got a favourite one of those, and b) this book is about food as celebration… and more.

‘We were a restaurant family, four generations in a six-block radius. When you opened our fridge, food fell on your feet.’

It’s a memoir of a New York restaurant family, which obviously encompasses New York, the restaurant, family and food. Lots and lots of food. Volk writes about food brilliantly and I read this book with my mouth watering and vowed to hunt down some of the places she mentions and try the meals she eats.

It’s also a very nostalgic book. It made me want to live in New York, but in the 1950s and ’60s. It’s warm and charming and completely wonderful. I actually didn’t read it at first, I listened to it on audiobook, which I would HIGHLY recommend. After I’d listened to it, I bought it in book form, primarily because I wanted to see the photographs of Volk’s family.

One of my all-time faves, so a fitting end to this 40 Day Challenge! I’ve really enjoyed it. Hope you haven’t been too bored. Next: NaNoWriMo!

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A book I expected to hate but loved

Day 39 of the 40 Day Book Challenge is ‘a book I expected to hate but loved.’

Confused. Why would I start reading a book I expected to hate? Apart from at uni, but even then, I didn’t expect to hate American Psycho

So instead – and with apologies to Tom Clempson who complained that I keep cheating – I’m going to pick a book I never would have chosen to read, but ended up loving.

David was reading this on holiday and I picked it up because I liked the cover. It doesn’t look like much here, but it’s really unusual and smart, and only slightly spoiled by the idiotic sticker. I mean, really.

Anyway, Mark Oliver Everett is the singer in Eels and this is his memoir of, well… “How does one young man survive the deaths of his entire family and manage to make something worthwhile of his life?”

Yeah. I know, it doesn’t sound like a must read, does it? But David started reading bits out to me and it sounded interesting, so I picked it up and ended up really loving it. It is sad, of course it is, but it’s also uplifting, hopeful, inspiring and funny. Really. And you don’t have to be an Eels fan to read it. I only know one song (Novocaine for the Soul) but the book made me want to hear more.

An author crush

Day 38 of the 40 Day Book Challenge is ‘an author crush.’

When I saw today’s topic I knew straight away who I had to write about. William Fiennes.

Years ago, when I worked at Waterstone’s, we all tootled along to a launch event for Picador. I think it was at The Lowry Hotel (and I think it was there because David came to pick me up and actually went to The Lowry Theatre… since I’d just told him “The Lowry”) (and, yes, I was married – this is a platonic crush) (sort of).

Jackie Kay was there. And Justine Picardie. And William Fiennes. He read from his book The Snow Geese and he was funny and charming. After the readings there was mingling. I tried to mingle with Jackie Kay, but I couldn’t think of anything non-stupid to say and she looked at me like I was a complete idiot (which was fair enough, under the circumstances).

And then I got talking to William Fiennes. And he was lovely. I can’t remember what we talked about (there was free wine…), but I do remember that when I stumbled back to our table, my colleagues all wolf-whistled and said “Keris and William kissing in a tree…”

(Please note that there was no kissing, in a tree or otherwise. My colleagues were even drunker than I was.) (Although if this was the event at The Lowry, David had to pull over for me to be sick on the way home, so that may not actually be true.)

A book that I still think about years after having read it… except not

Day 37 of the 40 day book challenge is ‘a book that I still think about years after having read it’.

How could there just be one? There are so many. Too many to mention.So instead I’m going to share something I @noveldoctor tweeted yesterday.

Sometimes I get the ache that says “I miss you” only to realize I’m thinking about a character from a novel.

Yes. That.

A favourite book recommended by another book blogger

Day 36 of the 40 day book challenge is ‘a favourite book recommended by another book blogger’.

Ah, I’m glad about this one, since I’ve been feeling guilty for not writing about Water for Elephants, which I was sent as part of my friend Cara’s online reading group, Love A Book.

I’d been meaning to read Water for Elephants for years, since I interviewed the author, Sara Gruen, for Trashionista (her guest blog on avoiding writing is good too). Plus Gruen wrote the book for NaNoWriMo and I love NaNo authors. I’d put it off for a while because I had my own circus book brewing in my head (it’s still brewing), but when Cara offered to send me a copy I couldn’t resist.

I don’t want to say too much about it because part of the enjoyment for me was really not knowing much of the story. I knew there was a love affair (and if I hadn’t known that, the posters for the film would have made it quite clear) and that there was an elephant (who I got retweeted by on Twitter yesterday – weird world).

I found the book completely engrossing. I loved pretty much everything about it. I was thinking about it yesterday when Harry and I went to the circus for the first time (no animals anymore, thank goodness) and so much of it has stayed with me. You really should read it. But should I watch the film? I can’t decide.

Thanks so much to Cara for sending it to me. Sorry it’s taken me so long to write about it!

What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?

Day 35 of the 40 day book challenge is ‘the longest book I have ever read’.

I’m almost certain it would be this one, A Suitable Boy.

I read it years ago and absolutely loved it, but it was hard to read because it was so heavy to hold (a Kindle would have been handy…).

There was even a warning in the front of the book that it will “strain your purse and sprain your wrists.”

Have you read it?

A book I wish I had written

Day 34 of the 40 day book challenge is ‘a book I wish I had written’.

Huh. Tricky. I’ve read so many gorgeous books. I’ve read books that I’ve actually hugged after turning the last page. There are books that I read over and over and know I’ll keep reading them over and over for years to come. There are books I shared with my mum and books I share with my children. I don’t know if I’ve ever thought “I wish I’d written that.” Or at least, I can’t remember.

The one that keeps popping into my head is Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton, but that may just mean I need more tea…