Good Reads

Dear Reader,

Bookmama needs to fess up to a few things before she starts blogging about books. For starters, she doesn’t do Charles Dickens. Ulysses is not a book she’ll ever attempt, no matter how brilliant it may be. She respected the writing in Cold Mountain and Let the Great World Spin but didn’t really enjoy the books. And that 2011 Pulitzer Prize winning novel? She read it and dismissed it (but with good reasons) the week before it won.

Here are a few more shocking confessions: she sometimes flips to the end of a book to find out how it ends. On occasion she may buy a book for its cover. She has— gasp! —a Kindle (in her defense it was a gift and collects dust on a shelf). She sometimes falls into the bad habit of referring to herself in the third person.

Do such literary skeletons mean she’s a Harlequin kind of book lover? Absolutely not– unless you consider some of Diana Gabaldon’s earlier works and then…well, that’s a skeleton for another day.

So what does Book Mama read? She’s as likely to pick up a work of biography, political science, or finance as she would Ulysssazzzzzzzzzes (has she mentioned her typing cat? Even the cat has issues with Ulysses). Parenting books exhaust her. Humor wins her over every time (think David Sedaris or Christopher Moore). Books that include killer recipes (Marlena de Blassi or Amanda Hesser) inspire an occasional return to the kitchen. Adventure-type nonfiction (like Krakauer or Susan Casey) keep her up at night, as do historical novels (Geraldine Brooks, William Martin, Kate Mosse), a slim few fantasies (early Jules Watson or Juliet Marillier), and literary thrillers. Lyrical stories? Loves em. Short stories? Not so much, but she’s trying to appreciate them more. Same with poetry. Quirky characters and plot lines? The more the better. In other words, if you want the skinny on the latest James Patterson book, you’d better head somewhere else.

What’s Book Mama reading now? The Family Man by Elinor Lipman, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, and Labor Day by Joyce Maynard. Stayed tuned. More reviews to come soon.


Family Man by Elinor Lipman
The Family Man by Elinor Lipman. (Mariner Books, 2009)

A friend recommended this book months ago. Set in New York City, The Family Man is a funny, light-hearted story about a middle-aged gay man who reconnects with the adopted daughter he lost in a divorce years earlier. When Henry, a retired lawyer, suddenly and somewhat resentfully comes in contact with his ex-wife again, he realizes that his long-lost daughter is actually the coat check woman at his local salon. Better yet, Thalia, a struggling actress, already knows who he is and is open to allowing him back into her life. They begin with lunch, progress through laugh-out-loud lawerly negotiations on Thalia’s behalf (she’s hired to be the fake girlfriend of a television star trying to remake his image), and end up living together by the end. In between there are quirky dilemmas, ex-wife issues, new lovers, wardrobe debates, wonderful dialogue, and snarky humor. A pleasure.





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Bookmama is a writer, parent, and avid reader. She likes to think she has good taste in books, but she doesn’t always agree with the literary crowd. Her nine-year-old son is even harder to please, and together they hope to provide occasional reviews of great books for both adults and kids.

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Allison Johnson

Allison Johnson

Allison Johnson, (aka Bookmama) is a writer, parent, and avid reader. Her taste in books is eclectic, ranging from literary fiction to gardening. If she ever wins the lottery, she’s going to follow Ann Patchett’s lead and open an independent book store. When not reading, she’s hiking, gardening, or hanging with her husband, son, and four chickens.
Allison Johnson

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