I Swear I’ve Been Reading

I have been suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch a slacker blogger this week. I kept meaning to put some posts together but I’ve been so busy and then so tired from being busy that when I do get some time I just really want to watch 10 episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia because, I mean, it’s the best.

And to be totally honest, I’m still not 100% on my game. So instead of the quality reviews and posts that you’ve obviously come to expect, here are a couple of mini-reviews. Less effort but you know that I’m not dead so everyone wins.


Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. Pearl and May are a pair of beautiful sisters, daughters of a wealthy business man in Shanghai. It’s 1937 and they spend their evenings in the “Paris of Asia”, modelling for calendars and hobnobbing with all the right people in exclusive nightclubs. But when their father loses all their money, he arranges marriages for both of them with the sons of a man who has gone to California to find his fortune. Soon after, their entire world literally collapses as the Japanese fly in and bomb Shanghai. With nothing left, the girls travel to Los Angeles to join their husbands but nothing in their new life is what they expected.

Why did no one tell me that this isn’t a complete story?! I read the whole thing and then it ends and I was like “WHAT’S THE REST OF THE STORY!?”Apparently there’s a sequel (Dreams of Joy) that needs reading? But I don’t even mind because it just means I get to spend more time in Lisa See’s world. I find that See does an incredible job creating a real sense of place. Ultimately this is a classic sister story, where two very different women have to live together because of their sisterhood and it was wonderful.

ronson_coverSo You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. I’ve been meaning to read this book all year. Every time I saw it at a bookstore, I would stop and read a few pages. Turns out I’d read a lot more of it than I realized because almost the entire time I was actually reading it, I had an intense déjà vu feeling. I expected it for the first chapter, and I knew I had read the Justine Sacco (the woman who sent that tweet about how she wouldn’t get AIDS in South Africa because she’s white?) chapter online but I had definitely already read about 60% of the book and I have no idea how that happened. Still this is the kind of book that I want to highlight and underline. Ronson’s look at shame in this social media age, where we share everything about ourselves, good and bad, so publicly was amazing.

But there were also parts of it that I read that made me so angry. Not because of anything he wrote but because of what he realized. Namely that if you are a woman and you f*ck up publicly, be prepared for your life to be over. Whether you’ve sent an ill advised tweet, become involved in a sex scandal or even called out men for sexist jokes, you will be hooped. But if you’re a man, it will probably blow over. I’d definitely recommend it, especially if you work with media in any capacity.

murder-after-hoursMurder After Hours by Agatha Christie. Do you ever think that I will read an Agatha Christie novel and come away going “that was terrible”? Me neither. A whole bunch of people are invited up to an English country house. Unusually for Christie’s novels, a lot of the story takes place before anyone ever gets murdered. You meet the victim and get an idea of how they are related to all the other people invited for the weekend. When the murder occurs, Hercule Poirot has just shown up for lunch. I will never know how Christie constantly manages to trick me. Every time I’m like “I got it this time, I’ve finally figured these out!” and every time I end up like “WHAT?! HOW?!” Agatha Christie, I will always bow down to you, you are superior to all of us.

How about you? What have you read recently?

22 thoughts on “I Swear I’ve Been Reading

  1. I think there’s something in the air right now. I’m appear dead on the internet too. It’s September and there’s just sooo much to do. Hoping to get my game back for October.

  2. Ok, I need to read an Agatha Christie novel. I have to know if she’s really that good. Which one do you think I should read?

    Did you hear about how Alex Johnstone made inappropriate comments about Auschwitz on Facebook 7 years ago, and now it’s a big political scandal? I’m constantly telling my kids how important it is to be careful what they say and post on-line. Scary.

    • Oh there are so many good ones! The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express are the most famous. I loved The Body in the Library and The Moving Finger. 13 to Dinner was also great! You can’t go wrong with any of them!
      And yes! I saw that! That’s been happening a lot this election, especially on BC. What you post online never really goes away! Reading the book was so eye opening- this return to public shaming is good and bad.

  3. These all sound amazing, although the shaming book really depresses me. The weird ingrained misogyny that lurks in our society. I read about some research where gamers were observed – the better gamers were polite to all their fellow gamers, whether they had male or female names, but the poorer ones were much more aggressive to the gamers with female names. But it must be difficult for people to remind themselves that it’s the inadequacy of the attacker that’s the issue, when they are coming under such attack.

  4. So glad you enjoyed the Ronson! I immediately bought a bunch of his other books because I felt like I had learned so much! Sadly… I haven’t read those yet. Story of my life lol.
    Lisa See’s books have the most beautiful covers, yet I’ve never picked one up. This sounds really interesting! And to my absolute shame, I’ve never picked up Christie either. I have a copy of And Then There Were None. Perhaps in the spirit of Halloween, I’ll pick that one up :).

    • I really want to read The Psychopath Test!
      The Lisa See books DO have the most beautiful covers, and they live up to them.
      I want to say that I can’t believe you’ve never read any Agatha Christie but I think it’s a common failing in our generation. That said, even Johannssen in The Martian is all about the Agatha Christie.

  5. I feel your pain. It seems like every book I’ve read in the last two weeks has left no more than a brief impression and I want to review minimally. Part of it is me but I’m also beginning to think it may be the books.

    I started City on Fire last week prepared to be wowed but have actually set it aside. I do not get $2 million for this book. At 944 pgs it feels 500 pgs too long.

    • Books that long feel self indulgent. Many, many great stories have been told in a third of that length. If it’s been a while since you’ve read something that grabs you, it’s definitely the books. I hope you find something amazing soon!

  6. This all sound like good books! So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed sounds too scary to me though. I don’t really like to be the center of attention ever, so the idea of being the center of a scandal is too terrifying.

  7. Pingback: Library Checkout: September 2015 | The Paperback Princess

  8. I love anything Christie! Always have! Always will! And I believe I own all of Lisa See’s books and have yet to read even one. I assume I would love her writing, but I really really really need to read her! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Pingback: Review: My Brilliant Career (Also The Franchise Affair, and You’ve Been Publicly Shamed) | Listen Watch Read Share

  10. Pingback: Library Checkout: October 2015 | The Paperback Princess

  11. Pingback: The Surprise Sequel: Dreams of Joy | The Paperback Princess

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