Where'd You Go, Bernadette and the Art of the bRob Book Review

I adore book reviews. I honestly enjoy reading book reviews more than reading actual books, which is probably a shame, but I can't bring myself to feel too badly about it. I've always wanted write book reviews on this site but haven't had a clue where to start, and also I'm terrible at reviews. That said, if I had to be so bold, I would propose that the first step to writing any solid book review is maybe reading the book. (I'm going to give you a moment to take in that overwhelming knowledge bomb.)


Though studying for the GREs is a legitimate excuse for holding off on pleasure reading (that's what my parents always called non-school/work reading, though it sounds a little weird if you ask me), sometimes it's a struggle for me to actually get back into the habit of reading books. After all, Twin Peaks is on Netflix and also naps.

But I think the root of this reluctance to read may also be a form of perfectionism. A diligent reader would use her time to read something meaningful, right? So I should probably start by reading The Grapes of Wrath or A Brief History of Time or some sort of self-help book about meditation and not being so late all the time. The thing of it is, I'm learning that if I wait until I'm ready to read the "right", best book, I'm probably going to turn on my laptop and goof around.

This is where the Quick Win enters the scene. A Quick Win is any easy task on your To-Do list. You complete it, and suddenly, before you know it, you've done an entire thing! Theoretically you will use this accomplishment as a catalyst for working on bigger, badder things, and soon you will probably be an Expert Doer of Things. The concept applies similarly to books. Whenever I find that I am reluctant to jump back into reading, I start with something simple - brain candy, vacation reads, and then maybe next week I'll move on to Faulkner (hah. HAH.).

This week's Quick Win is Where'd You Go, Bernadette. I've noticed this book at Target time and time again, which means it must have mass appeal and be generally entertaining. I toyed with the idea of buying it, but buying books brand new often leaves me with a "Shouldn't Have Bought That" hangover that can last for weeks, so I typically just avoid all bookstores and head towards the thrift store a few blocks from my apartment.

It's kind of a hodgepodge in there, and at any given time the the thrift store has less than one hundred books. You essentially go there to get lucky, not to find anything in particular. Fortunately for me, I've been extremely lucky. I found The Book Thief for twenty-five cents (I think I use the word 'cents' about three times a year because nothing costs so little anymore) and a brand new hardback copy of Where'd You Go, Bernadette for only ninety-nine cents! And I also found a huge embroidered flower still life for only five dollars, if that is a thing that is of interest to you.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette is the book that has finally convinced me I do not enjoy the epistolary style; it is written as a series of correspondences between different characters in the novel, some of whom, quite frankly, are colossal tools.

I dislike book reviews that simply rehash the entire plot of the novel, so, at a high level, this book is about a family of odd-balls, some of whom have their acts more together than others. The family members are at times disappointing and at others wholly endearing.

The first third of the book focuses on Bernadette's general instability, the cruelty of her peers, and a family slowly unraveling. In the interest of full disclosure, I hated her predicament so much that, combined with all the cheesy emails and letters, I almost stopped reading the book. But, being that I was on a business trip and hadn't packed any other books (rare) and also MY MOMMA DIDNT RAISE NO QUITTER, I rallied and continued.

By the halfway mark I was so infuriated at the "gnats" (Bernadette's sworn enemies) that I simply had to keep reading, primarily in hopes of a resolution. Good always wins, and all that. If writing is able to anger you to the point where you are ready to physically fight the author, I suppose it's not a bad book and Maria Semple probably knows what she's doing.

Happy Endings via 
WYG,B officially suckered me in when team Bernadette made their way (spoiler alert) to Antarctica. There's nothing more sublime than a book that makes me want to travel, and if a book can convince me I should spend $30,000 dollars to go visit the godforsaken wasteland that is the Antarctic, well, then that Semple has officially earned 3 out of 5 stars. Technically I would give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars, but Goodreads doesn't let you give half stars, and I round down because I'm mean.

Now the fun part: A Giveaway!
Since I got this book on the cheapety-cheap and would generally recommend it as a Quick Win read, I would like to give you, dear reader, the opportunity to win my copy of the book. All you have to do to enter is comment on this post with a book you've read or are planning to read with a one- to two-sentence synopsis by 6/5/15. I will research all book recommendations and pick my favorite as the winner. I'll then mail you the book within the next week or so.

Sound kosher?

Happy Reading,

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