What's Mary Been Reading? Heartbreaking Nonfiction & Funny YA

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hi! I have several recipes to post, but first wanted to tell you about some books I read and can't stop talking about. Since it's summer, I thought you might want some reading suggestions (well, some of my books are heartbreaking so maybe they aren't the best beach reads).

I'm not a very good reviewer of books. My colleagues have a gift for recommendations, while I just find myself saying "OMG. You have to read this. It's so good." with no elegance (mind you, I do yell out my recommendation enthusiastically, so there's that.)

Here are a few that I read or listened to recently...

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
OMG. You have to read this. It's so good. (see that I mean?)

No, really, this book is crazy good. Enthralling book about America's opiate to heroin addiction. Weaves stories of big pharm, Mexican immigrants with a retail model of selling heroin via delivery cars (with follow-up quality assurance calls to customers asking "What it good?" "Was the driver rude?"), the origin of pill mills, and the pain families are left with after the overdose death of young people in the prime of their lives. Well researched, narrative journalism. I listened to it on on audiobook via Audible and the reader is very good except one small regional pronunciation slip...he calls the Los Angeles street "Se pul VEE da". Sam Quinones is a former LA Times reporter.

Find it on Amazon or your library

OMG. You have to read this. It's so good. But it also has some utterly heartbreaking scenes. I listened to it on Audiobook (yes, I was going through an audiobook kick, and I got this via OverDrive at my cool public library) and found myself weeping in the kitchen while baking cookies. The author is a former LA Times reporter (see a theme here?) and the book is beautifully written. She was embedded with detectives of the LAPD and describes personalities and scenes with detail. Because it focuses on Los Angeles and places I know, it was actually hard to get through, and I had to break up my listening...it is heavy but should be read by everyone.

Find it on Amazon or your library

Very heavy topic...college rape at the University of Montana, Missoula. I listened on Audiobook via OverDrive. You shake your head many times reading this and get totally pissed off...not light reading. Although it is well researched and written, it didn't captivate me as much as his Under The Banner of Heaven; perhaps because that subject was so outside my realm it was almost like a fictional story, and this book reminds me of the tragedy of sexual assault and those who don't believe it really happens.

Find it on Amazon or your library

 Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Finally, I'll leave on a light note! This is a YA book that is getting outstanding reviews. It is super funny! About a teenager who is gay secretly corresponding with another closeted teen in his school. It's freakin' adorkable. I really fell for all the characters, and stayed up until 2 am finishing it. And it's perfect for LGBTQ Pride Month!

Let me tell you, I love reading books that have letters... Remember Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence with the folded letters? Yeah, I'm all about those. (I also liked I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella with lots of text messages.)

If you have recommendations for more heartbreaking nonfiction (just bought a new box of kleenex) or lighter fare with correspondence, let me know in the comments!

See you next time. I'll have a recipe for a great sour cream coffee cake...

Happy Reading! - mary the food librarian (yah, putting the Librarian in Food Librarian today!)

p.s. I am in the Amazon Affiliate program so if you buy something by following my links to Amazon, I need to tell you that I get a few cents. I won't know who or what people bought, but it helps me buy stuff on Amazon like cookbooks and gifts for my friends! Thanks! :)
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Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Listening to Inside the O'Brien's, it's all about living with Huntington’s disease. It's by Lisa Genova. It's fiction but she explains a lot about this awful disease and I find myself crying down the highway on my way to work. As a YA librarian myself, I really liked All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven - another heavy topic (suicide) but I thought very well written. I will read Missoula even though my youngest is off to college in August.

The Food Librarian said... [Reply to comment]

@Anonymous Thanks for the suggestion. I loved (and cried) All the Bright Places too!

Unknown said... [Reply to comment]

I have been looking for recommendations for books for the summer and my weekly trips to LA from the East Coast. All your recommendations are adorably funny (OMG, you have to read this...made my day!) I have an audible account with a bunch of credits so I now know what I will be downloading!! BTW, I also have been inspired to bake many of your recipes that you post here on your blog. But to get a book recommendation, super awesomeness!

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