Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Britt-Marie Was Here
One morning you wake up with more life behind you than in front of you, not being able to understand how it happened.

Fredrik Backman's books belong to that category of comfort books that you can always depend on to be a pick me up, make you smile, or even convince you to like your annoying and grumpy next-door neighbor. He is great at writing characters you don't want to understand but end up empathizing with anyways. He is also great at writing the same characters from the opposite perspective - where you end up disliking them. Britt-Marie first appeared in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, and boy, I was convinced that you couldn't meet a more annoying character anywhere else. And then Backman goes off and writes this book which portrays Britt-Marie in a totally different light.

This is where I would like to say that A Man Called Ove is still my favorite Backman book. I wasn't a huge fan of My Grandmother... but this book comes close to A Man Called Ove in terms of charm and enjoyment. In some ways, Britt-Marie Was Here is a sequel to My Grandmother... However, you don't have to read that book to understand this one. Other than sharing the titular character, there is nothing else in common between them.

When Britt-Marie Was Here begins, Britt-Marie is at the unemployment office, looking for a job. After being (very) persistent, she lands one as the manager of the recreation center in a little town called Borg. Somehow from there, she manages to become the coach of Borg's soccer team. However, Borg is closing more and more offices everyday and Borg's soccer team is not even registered which makes it hard for Britt-Marie to be recognized as the coach.

There are all kinds of humor to be found in this book, but interestingly, I found this book to be much more introspective than Backman's previous books. As much as I despised Britt-Marie in My Grandmother..., I found I liked her that much more in this one. Goes to say that you shouldn't make judgments about someone without imagining yourself in their shoes first.

Like many feel-good books and movies, a lot of what happens in this book is way out there (not in a fantasy way but in a very improbable way), but that didn't bother me. I was worried when I started this book that Backman's writing style may start to tire me. And although I see that happening at some point, this book did not trigger it. If anything, I enjoyed this book more than I expected to.

Have you read any Backman book yet?


I received this book for free for review from the publisher.

Books and Apples | This Week's Five

Sunday, September 11, 2016

1. Friends and Family

We've been having a lot of people over lately. Last week, my sister-in-law's family stayed with us for a bit. They had flown in to attend a wedding, which was a few weeks ago. Now they are exploring the place and more before they return back to India in less than a month. Next weekend, several of the husband's friends from school and their families are visiting us. It's promising to be an interesting reunion. Needless to say, with all the friends and family over, it has been a very busy month so far!

2. Library

On Friday, I stopped by the library and picked a cartload of books. All print, gasp! I am trying to squeeze more print books into my reading life, at least quick or short books. Ebook reading is what I am quicker with nowadays but it's just not the same as holding a print book, breathing the pages in, and actually seeing some differences between pages. Anyways, the pile is below. I'm already halfway through Gabi (why isn't anyone talking about this incredible book?) and hope to start Asking For It next!


3. Star Trek Voyager

I am slowly working my way through this incredible series! Seriously, why does no one talk about this show much? It's way better than the Enterprise series. The cast is so much more diverse, the women are not puppets for the men, and there are barely any redshirts. Win, Win, Win!


4. The babe

The babe is growing. Fast. Very fast. She now has opinions even if she can't say them yet. She'll swat your hand away (like you would a fly) if you don't interpret her actions correctly. We also found out the hard way that she likes to slip our poker chips through the slats of our ac vents. Yup. And oh yeah, she loves to camp in the refrigerator as soon as the door is open.


5. Apple Picking

The arrival of Fall means, among other things like pumpkins and spooky reads, apple picking season! We went last weekend to pick some late summer peaches and a lot of apples. So now we are trying to make anything and everything with apples. We've already made apple crumble and pancake bars, and I am now looking for more recipes.


What's your favorite thing to make with apples (other than applesauce)?

One for geeks and one for parents, both fun | Quick Reviews

Thursday, September 8, 2016


The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy
I'm not sure how I ran into this book. But as soon as I did hear of it, I wanted to read it. There is a lot of awesome geeky stuff out there, in books, movies, and on TV, and I generally enjoy many of them when I do read/watch them. So, when I saw this book, I wanted to see what more I can add to my list, and also what people generally thought of the ones I do like. I was also looking for where to start with certain series like Doctor Who and Star Trek. (I am big about starting a series in order, even where it's not necessary.)

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy definitely had a ton of recommendations but not much of it was new to me. The recommendations were also not very diverse. They were all mostly women/girl-friendly but beyond that? Meh. Some of it is probably not the author's fault because there isn't a whole lot out there that can be considered diverse.

I liked what the author did with this book - there are several recommendations on how to be more of a fangirl and how not to feel embarrassed by it. She also asserts that there is nothing bad about being a fangirl nor is there a way to be one. This is very good advice because fangirls are not always taken seriously - most times, people thinking squeeing is all we do. To me, this book was more a fun geeky read with some good information but I did wish there was more in this book.



Sh*tty Mom
I saw this one initially on Litsy. Twice. I am a sucker for funny parenting books. I can not bring myself to read the serious ones - I find myself disagreeing a lot with some of the advice. But the funny ones feel human. Normal. And mostly forgiving because who is a perfect parent?

Sh*tty Mom is a mix of humor and some good advice, which is actually a very interesting combination. Every chapter starts on a funny anecdotal tone, followed by suggestions on how to cope. A lot of the book is to be taken with a pinch of salt. Although there is nothing offensive in the advice that's doled out, it's important to read the book with a readiness to guffaw and not criticize.

I enjoyed and liked this book a lot. I wouldn't say that I loved it though. I found myself wishing for longer essays as I read this book. All chapters in this book are very short - a minute or two of reading. I wanted at least some of them to be longer because they were wonderful. Still, this book made for a good bedtime reading.


I borrowed these books from the good old library.

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

God Help the Child
What you do to children matters. And they might never forget.

This summer (which is almost at an end, though you would not say that looking at the heat index), I wanted to read more authors that intimidate me, so that I can stop saying that (1) they intimidate me, and that (2) "I have been meaning to read this author since forever". One of those authors is Toni Morrison, whose The Bluest Eye and A Mercy already grace my bookshelves. But I chose to read God Help the Child instead because my ebook hold came through from the library and ebooks are what I mostly read now.

I don't have any previous Toni Morrison experience to compare this book to but many have mentioned that this isn't her best. However, I enjoyed this read. I didn't love it but I liked it enough to say that I want to read more of her books.

When God Help the Child begins, Bride's boyfriend Booker walks out on her. "You not the woman I want," he said. Words that can hurt anyone who receives them, but hurts Bride especially hard because of her history with being unloved (but we don't know this yet). Bride is this confident successful entrepreneur who wears her blue-black complexion as a prize. She wasn't always like that though. When she was born, her mother was disappointed by her complexion. She never showed the girl any warmth, believing that the girl was destined for a hard life and it was necessary to make her tough from childhood.

Booker also had a troubled childhood that has influenced most of the decisions he made. He doesn't appear until later in the book so I don't want to say a whole lot about him. The main thread in this book out of its many intricate threads involves Bride searching for a woman she helped put behind bars as a kid.

The best word that represents this book is onion. It appeared simple enough initially but the more I read, the more layers came off - layers I didn't even know existed. There are so many themes to explore in this book, chief among them being the impact of childhood sufferings on adulthood. This is a theme that fascinates me a lot - when do parents stop being responsible for their adult children's faults, if ever? And what if there is a particularly traumatic incident in a person's childhood? I loved how everything came together at the end. I won't say it was a nice little bow but it explained a lot.

I can see why Morrison is viewed as a very accomplished writer. Plot-wise, I wouldn't rank God Help the Child as particularly high but this book left me with so many thoughts that with each passing day, my respect for Morrison grew. She explores relationships and actions / reactions intimately in this book. If this isn't her best work, as many put it, then I can't wait to read her better works, because even if I didn't love this book, I was impressed.

What is your favorite Morrison book? 


I borrowed this book from the good old library.

Hello? | The Book Update

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Whoops! I didn't mean to disappear without saying something about it but wow, I can barely get any time nowadays to blog. Part of the reason is that I lost the slots when I usually blog to other things. My breaks at work are replaced by more work or an actual step-away-from-the-desk break. The evenings when I usually put my blog post together have been taken over by Shreya because she is now awake for longer and of course, just as energetic as she was when she woke up in the morning. ::smh:: The nights (after Shreya finally falls asleep) are Star Trek hours because I have been watching Voyager and love that show! The next two weeks are going to be busier because we have visitors staying with us over the long weekend, so I'm probably going to be "catching up" for a long time. So, this may be that post where I'm saying I'm going to be out for some more time. We'll see - I do have a review ready so something may air up here.

Finished reading


Since my last update, I finished three more books. My favorite from that bunch is I Feel Bad About My Neck. Nora Ephron is a wonderful essayist and an even better narrator so this audiobook was a lot of fun to listen to. After finishing this audiobook, I picked the print copy as well and will be re-reading some of the essays as I write my review. And then I need to get more of her books.

I also picked up The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy on an impulse from the library and finished it quickly. It was a breeze to read but not filled with as much information as I was looking for.

I also just finished Underground Airlines, which I had been looking forward to, only to be severely disappointed. I am still getting my thoughts together so I will not say more than I did on Litsy - it has a fascinating backdrop and a good suspense, but I found the execution poor with convenient plots.

Currently reading


Right now, I only have one book in progress, though I am almost done with it - Sh*tty Mom. I picked it up after seeing it on Litsy and I figured one more humorous parenting book is exactly what I wanted to read (I rarely ever read serious parenting books, go figure). As with most books with essays, some essays in this book are downright hilarious, while a few are just meh. It's a quick read however and I will most likely finish it tonight.

What's Next?

  1. I started listening to How to Make White People Laugh by Negin Farsad - yet another find on Litsy (wow, a lot of my reads are being dictated by Litsy nowadays, for better or worse). But I haven't been listening to it in a while, so I will have to restart this one. 
  2. Rather than do audiobooks right now, I am hoping to start listening to the Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast. 
  3. I also just installed the Serial Reader app on my phone and plan to start with War of the Worlds
  4. And in print, I may start Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet or The Yoga of Max's Discontent next.

What's happening with you?