Category Archives: Book of the Week

Book of the Week: Brooklyn Burning

After taking the summer off, then having a false start this fall (that first week of school I was Super Woman) I’m finally into a good rhythm and will be cranking out Book of the Week selections on a regular basis. Thanks for your patience through the change of seasons! I’ve got a ton of material to share, and with the recent cancelation of both Netflix and Hulu, will be adding to it quickly!

Book of the Week for September 20-26

Brooklyn Burning by Steve Brenzenoff


Why it’s interesting:

Full disclosure, Steve is my neighbor and our kids play together. But this book is one of the best YA books I’ve read in years. The main character is gender neutral, which seems, on the surface, like it could be a stumbling block for the reader to really become attached, but that wasn’t my experience at all. From a reader perspective, I loved Kid and became completely immersed in the story. From a writer perspective, this was one of those books that I finished and went “Holy crap. How’d he do that?” I’ll definitely read it again.

The blurb:

When you’re sixteen and no one understands who you are, sometimes the only choice left is to run. If you’re lucky, you find a place that accepts you, no questions asked. And if you’re really lucky, that place has a drum set, a place to practice, and a place to sleep. For Kid, the streets of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, are that place. Over the course of two scorching summers, Kid falls hopelessly in love and then loses nearly everything and everyone worth caring about. But as summer draws to a close, Kid finally finds someone who can last beyond the sunset.

Have you ever read a book with a gender neutral (or gender fluid) main character? Did it make you change the way you think? What are you reading right now?

Book of the Week: The Art of Asking

Book of the Week for May 3 – May10

The Art of Asking:

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help


Why it’s interesting:

Another in my long line of audiobook recommendations, I have to admit, while this book was incredibly interesting, I didn’t love it. Had I not been listening to it, I don’t know if I would have made it through. But Amanda’s narration is personal and I felt like she was really talking to me. I got to hear about her music career, her marriage to Neal Gaiman and her incredible fan base. I admired her honesty, even in some unflattering details. I think it was the unflattering parts that made her seem more real and believable in the rest of it. Also, as a creative person, her drive is incredibly inspiring. She’s got an ability to ignore the status quo that I wish I had.

The blurb:

When we really see each other, we want to help each other.”
—Amanda Palmer

Imagine standing on a box in the middle of a busy city, dressed as a white-faced bride, and silently using your eyes to ask people for money. Or touring Europe in a punk cabaret band and finding a place to sleep each night by reaching out to strangers on Twitter. For Amanda Palmer, actions like these have gone beyond satisfying her basic needs for food and shelter – they’ve taught her how to turn strangers into friends, build communities, and discover her own giving impulses. And because she had learned how to ask, she was able to go to the world to ask for the money to make a new album and tour with it, and to raise over a million dollars in a month.

In The Art of Asking, Palmer expands upon her popular TED talk to reveal how ordinary people, those of us without thousands of Twitter followers and adoring fans, can use these same principles in our own lives.

Did you like this book? What are you reading right now?

Book of the Week: Yes Please

Book of the Week for April 27-May 3

Yes Please


Why it’s interesting:

Guys. I would happily start a female comedian memoir bookclub if anyone else wants to join me. Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler…I love these women. Their books are funny, honest, and inspiring. And the audio version of Yes Please is…above and beyond. So amazingly good. Its a true performance. And Seth Meyers, whom I love in a completely different way, joins her. As do a whole bunch of other people.

The blurb:

Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central’s Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy’s one-liners?

If your answer to these questions is “Yes Please!” then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “Plain Girl Versus the Demon” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All” Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.

Did you like this book? What are you reading right now?

Book of the Week: The Martian

Book of the Week for April 20-April 26

The Martian

The Martian

Why it’s interesting:

I did not see Interstellar, and I’m not even super in to sci-fi anything. But my husband and a really good friend are both science nerds (sorry guys). I started reading this book because it is this month’s Books & Bars book, and I thought Chris would like it. It gets really scientific and technical in a few spots, but the main character is so perfectly human that I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened to him.

The blurb:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?Did you like this book? What are you reading right now?

Book of the Week- We Were Liars

Book of the Week for March 30 – April 5

We Were Liars

We Were Liars

Why it’s interesting:

I picked this book up because Books and Bars is reading it and it looked good.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I couldn’t put it down. I got it from the library Friday, started it Saturday, and would have finished it the same day, but I was on my anniversary trip with Chris so I had to pay attention to him, at least a little bit. I finished it right after we got home on Sunday.

I can’t tell you anything about it, except it was amazing.

The blurb:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Did you like this book? What are you reading right now?

Book of the Week: Not that Kind of Girl

Book of the Week for March 22 – March 28

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”

Not that kind of girl

Why it’s interesting:

I had a love/hate relationship with this book while I was listening to it. Lena Dunham herself narrates it, which I’m a big fan of, and I so greatly admire her willingness and ability to put herself out there. These are VERY honest essays, sometimes, to my cultured midwestern brain, too honest. Like, too much information. And I kept thinking What do her parents think?

The stuff she writes about (a lot of it is sex…like, a lot…) is stuff that I wouldn’t find offensive if it was fiction. And it’s not so much that I find it offensive, it just makes me uncomfortable. For her, her family, her friends, etc., which is all kind of stupid. It’s not up to me to decide what she should be comfortable with sharing. (The following epiphany came to me while I was lost in the dog park:) Maybe the boundaries I’ve drawn for how much to share (and the reason I don’t write personal essays or poetry) are stupid and arbitrary. I’ve started to consider how I could branch out and do some more of this type of writing. I don’t foresee myself getting over the terror, but maybe I could use a pen name. Maybe just writing more personal essays and poetry in a journal would be the way to go. I’m not sure. But I’m really glad I read this book (and I’m currently listening to Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, and getting the SAME message) because I have definitely arbitrarily decided to close off a part of myself, and its good, if terrifying, to think of opening myself up more.

The blurb:

For readers of Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris, this hilarious, wise, and fiercely candid collection of personal essays establishes Lena Dunham—the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO’s Girls—as one of the most original young talents writing today.

In Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham illuminates the experiences that are part of making one’s way in the world: falling in love, feeling alone, being ten pounds overweight despite eating only health food, having to prove yourself in a room full of men twice your age, finding true love, and most of all, having the guts to believe that your story is one that deserves to be told.

“Take My Virginity (No Really, Take It)” is the account of Dunham’s first time, and how her expectations of sex didn’t quite live up to the actual event (“No floodgate had been opened, no vault of true womanhood unlocked”); “Girls & Jerks” explores her former attraction to less-than-nice guys—guys who had perfected the “dynamic of disrespect” she found so intriguing; “Is This Even Real?” is a meditation on her lifelong obsession with death and dying—what she calls her “genetically predestined morbidity.” And in “I Didn’t F*** Them, but They Yelled at Me,” she imagines the tell-all she will write when she is eighty and past caring, able to reflect honestly on the sexism and condescension she has encountered in Hollywood, where women are “treated like the paper thingies that protect glasses in hotel bathrooms—necessary but infinitely disposable.”

Exuberant, moving, and keenly observed, Not That Kind of Girl is a series of dispatches from the frontlines of the struggle that is growing up. “I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you,” Dunham writes. “But if I can take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine will have been worthwhile.”

Did you like this book? What are you reading right now?

Book of the Week- Big Little Lies

Book of the Week HTML

Book of the Week for March 16 – March 22

Big Little Lies


Why it’s interesting:

Ann on Goodreads said this in her review, and it fit PERFECTLY:

“Probably the funniest book about murder and domestic abuse I’ll ever read.”

It’s one of those books that you aren’t biting your nails through, wondering what happens next, but you’re so in love with the characters that you will stay up until two a.m. to finish the last 150 pages.

The blurb:

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.

But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Did you like this book? What are you reading right now?

Book of the Week: The Night Circus

Book of the Week for March 2 – March 8

The Night Circus

The Night Circus

Why it’s interesting:

I read this book a couple years ago and it has remained on my “To Read Again” list ever since. (Occassionally it’s also on my “To Read Again” shelf, but, often, it’s loaned out.

First of all, from a reader perspective, this is one of those books that sucks you so deeply into this other world so quickly that you forget you have a life outside of it.

Then, from a writer’s perspective, HOLY COW. I mean…HOW???? The chronology of the book is so messed up. And it works. SO WELL! And Morgenstern does alternating point-of-view in a completely new way. The reason I want to read it again is to pick apart the seams and see how she made this thing. I want to study it with a microscope and an X-ray. But it’s so hard to do because it’s SO GOOD you just get sucked into it and forget that you’re trying to study.

(I’d imagine that’s what life is like for people who want to make movies.)

The blurb:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Also exciting, when I was googling the info I needed for this post, the first hit was for the movie. Which means it’s coming. So read the book now before it’s too popular to get from the library again!

Book of the Week: The Glass Castle

Book of the Week for February 23 – March 1

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

Glass Castle

Why it’s interesting:

Jeannette Walls grew up poor. Very, very poor. Her father’s alcoholism and her mother’s pride meant that she and her three siblings were often hungry and dirty. However, they were loved, and loved well (except for the food and shelter part.) Her parents prized creativity, knowledge, and free thinking above any material possessions. And even when her father was doing horrifically careless things, the love they felt was undeniable. She does a masterful job creating a full picture of all of her “characters”— contradictions and all.

The blurb:

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

Did you like this book? What are you reading right now?

Book of the Week: Go the F**k to Sleep

Book of the Week for February 16 – February 22

Go the F**k to Sleep


Why it’s interesting:

Have a kid? Ever been tired? Then, yeah, this book is for you. I highly recommend downloading both the Kindle version and the Audible version. Put the screaming kid in its room. Pour yourself a big glass of wine. Put your headphones in. And enjoy.

Caveat: Eventually, the book will be over and the kid that refuses to go to sleep will probably still be screaming. But you won’t be quite so on the verge of tears yourself.

The blurb:

Go the F**k to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate, and radically honest, it captures the familiar—and unspoken—tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night. Beautiful, subversive, and pants-wettingly funny, Go the Fuck to Sleep is a book for parents new, old, and expectant. You probably should not read it to your children.

If you like this, you might also like:


Austin Kleon: Jurassic Park Theory of Parenting



Glennon Melton: Quit Pointing Your Avocado at Me