#13, What Do You Do All Day?, by Amy Scheibe
I have a real weak spot for smart, light-hearted fiction, which I’ve started to call “lit lite”. The criteria? Feminine is good; must be meatier than chick lit; must not take itself too seriously. WDYDAD qualified on all counts plus was published by my former employer (St. Martin's Press)—how could I go wrong? Amy Scheibe, who is an editor at Counterpoint Press, has written an intelligent and funny novel about being a stay-at-home mom and its attendant adventures (high and low). The only slightly annoying part was the unlikable, slick husband and the drama that centered around his fidelity while he was on a three-month-long business trip. And, I did resent the occasional instance where our protagonist was portrayed as either paranoid or bumbling. Otherwise, I breezed my way through this book, alternately laughing and crying as the protagonist (Jennifer Bradley, a former antiquities art dealer) discovers the joys and struggles of parenting and confronts the challenges of being a modern mother. (Checked out from the library)
#14, Their Heads Are Green and Their Hands Are Blue, by Paul Bowles
Way back in January, this was my selection for book group. Since I no longer work for a book publisher, I don’t have access to the latest and greatest books, so I couldn't offer an advanced reading copy. I also didn’t want to choose either a Random House title (almost everyone in our group works for Bertelsman and I think they ought to read outside the box) or a Holtzbrinck title (I hate hitting up my successor for books every time it’s my turn to choose). So, I picked a classic that would be provocative and would have a strong sense of place (Morocco and Sri Lanka, among others). Bowles is so amazing; his essays are lyrical and timely, and he is a consummately keen observer, which is a quality I value highly in a writer. Needless to say, no one in the group bothered to read the book so we never discussed it. The essay on music is worth the price of the book alone. Harper Collins is in the process of reissuing Bowles’s backlist with gorgeous jackets, and they’re all on my list, starting with The Spider’s House. (Purchased at McNally Robinson, a Soho indie and one of the few bright spots in what had been a mostly rancid business trip for MHSP in June 2005).