This was a light week for reading, only two books to share with you. Part of that is due to a little reading slump – I started and abandoned two other books this week that I just couldn’t get into. Fortunately the two that I did finish reading were really great summer reads.
The main character of this book, Edsel Bronfman, is a socially awkward 34 year old, living in Birmingham, Alabama. He doesn’t really have any close friends and he’s never, ever been in a romantic relationship before. He lives in an apartment in a sketchy neighborhood and spends his time working and taking care of his mom, who recently starting showing signs of dementia. One day he gets a call from a time share company, telling him that he’s won a free stay at one of their resorts in Destin, Florida. There’s only one catch – he has to bring someone with him. And the offer expires in 79 days. So really, there are two catches. Edsel really wants to have a companion, not just to take on this trip, but to go through life with. So he sets off to find a date, and hilarity ensues.
This book reminded me of A Man Called Ove, with a younger main character. It was a fun, quick read, with quirky characters. Edsel ends up meeting several women who may be right for him, and you don’t know until the very end whether he’ll make it to Destin. Underneath the story line of social blunders and missteps runs a message that Edsel finally understands at the end: sometimes you just have to put yourself out there, in order for life to start.
Lillian Boxfish is a witty, smartly dressed 84 year old woman, out for a walk to dinner in New York City, on New Year’s Eve, 1984. In her younger years, Lillian worked as an advertiser for Macy’s department stores, and was the highest paid woman in her field. She was also a poet and freelance writer. As Lillian takes her walk around NYC, she tells the story of her life, and the story of her city, from the 1930’s until present day (which in this case is 1985).
Lillian’s character is based off of Margaret Fishback, the woman who really was the highest paid advertiser of the 1930’s. The author has created a wonderfully unique character whose story I believe will resonate with a lot of women. Throughout her life, it’s the decisions she makes regarding her work and her family that define her life and have long ranging consequences, both positive and negative. Like most of us, Lillian’s life is filled with both the highest highs and the lowest lows, but in the end, she has hope for her future and the future of the city she loves.
This is the book that got me out of my reading slump, a book and a character I really enjoyed. It is not a typical story, where the protagonist is solving a problem, but more a woman’s reflection on her life. As you read, you learn more about Lillian’s life and what made her who she is at the age of 84. What I liked most about Lilian was her ability to stay true to herself and what she wanted, even in the face of other people’s dissenting opinions.
Although I didn’t as much as usual this week, I did get to visit the Strand Bookstore in NYC with the fabulous ladies in my book club (you know who you are!). I was as overwhelmed by their huge selection as I was the first time I visited. Here’s a look at my book haul:
We also visited a couple other bookstores, McNally Jackson, and Housing Works.
I hope your reading week was slump – free. Please leave your reading recommendations in the comments!