Pumped Up On Reading

Many, many books get delivered to the Weekly. Some of them are likely Very Important Books that Very Serious Thinkers would spend much time mulling over. But some of them are little escapist gems of chick lit, my own frothy, guilty pleasure. I've been scooping up books from the receptionist's office, mostly based on titles and cover images, for a couple of months now. And since our lovely and talented Web Editor is begging people to blog, well, I thought a mid-summer book blast might get her off my back.

But first, a little TMI: I'm the mom of a six-month-old. The breastfeeding mom of a six-month-old. Twice a day, I go into a little windowless room on the other side of the office to pump. There was once a map of the world on the wall, but I think they removed it after I mentioned something about knowing the quickest route from here to East Timor. Hmm. . . Anyway, while I'm hooked up to my oh-so-stylish Medela, I need something to keep my mind entertained. Thus, the book hoarding.

So, 100 words or less on eight titles I've pilfered, in the order I’ve read them:


Swapping Lives by Jane Green (paperback): If you've seen Wife Swap, then you already know the premise of this book. Bored London journalist trades with an image-obsessed suburban socialite. Life lessons are learned. I've yet to be shocked by any twist in Green's books, but that's not why I read them, now is it?

I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile (paperback): Scott Moxley actually picked this one out for me. I thought it might contain humorous been-there-done-that essays in the style of Stefanie Wilder-Taylor’s Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay. I was wrong. It’s a self-help tome aimed at moms who want to re-organize and re-prioritize their lives. Only unintentionally funny: “You can’t be everywhere at once?!? Thank God for this book!” I’d like the map back, please.

A Tale of Two Sisters by Anna Maxted (paperback): I’d never read Maxted’s books, but I’d heard of her. Familiar chick lit, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Two sisters in seemingly perfect marriages struggle with fertility issues and their own perceptions of the other. I could see where this train was headed long before Maxted spelled it all out. I had to stop myself from skipping ahead, but it was a good read nonetheless.

Little Stalker by Jennifer Belle (hardcover): Another author I’d heard of but never read. The book centers on an eccentric author with a long-standing crush on an eccentric filmmaker who resembles Woody Allen. A fun journey that actually kept my mind off the task at hand. I would have gladly stayed in that little room with this book, if only I didn’t have to come out and do, you know, work.

There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell: A Novel of Sewer Pipes, Pageant Queens, and Big Trouble by Laurie Notaro (paperback): Initially picked this one up based on its cover. And because the heroine is a transplanted Zonie (she’s from Phoenix). And she joins a beauty pageant in the small town she’s moved to after a series of social blunders. And she inadvertently pits two former rivals against each other. And how could you resist that?

The Buenos Aires Broken Hearts Club by Jessica Morrison (paperback): Girl with A Plan (in spreadsheet, no less) falls apart when The Plan does not go as, well, planned. After Cassie wakes up from drunken post-breakup bender, she learns she’s now going to be living for six months in Buenos Aires. (Hey, I know where that is! Thanks, map!) There’s not a lot of hard luck going on here, and I rarely felt the sympathy I’m sure Cassie was meant to be due. It’s a breezy read, good for bringing to the beach—or into a milking parlor.

Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him by Danielle Ganek (hardcover): I frowned at this title. I read the flap and returned it to its shelf. Not for me, I thought. Then I heard a little positive buzz, so I picked it back up. (I'm a sheep that way.) And even though I saw the plot twists coming a mile away, I still liked it. Well-written, with fun insight into the New York art world.

Cover Girl Confidential by Beverly Bartlett (paperback): Addison McGhee (born in Turkey as Ada Sinmac Ghee to parents of vague Arab and African origin) is a morning-TV star who is awaiting deportation thanks to a mishap with the president (the First Lady apparently has a vendetta) and a flexibility-measuring device thrown at her (sort of) husband/co-star. Lots of name dropping. And the ending felt a bit rushed. Another good beach read, but you’ll likely forget the details in a week.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my copy of Leslie Garis’ memoir is waiting with my Medela.

Patrice Marsters started at OC Weekly as an intern, just before the first issue was published. She is now the associate editor of the paper, serves on the board of the Orange County Press Club, and mentors aspiring writers and editors at Newport Harbor High School. In her spare time, Ms. Marsters co-leads a multi-level Girl Scout troop, creates baked goods, and rants at inanimate objects (including her computer) about her grammatical and writing pet peeves.

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