52-book challenge: September, what happened to you?

GUYS! I’m three books behind! Whaaaaat! Iceland is a gong show. I’ve traded literature for the kind of landscapes that make my heart bleed. I suppose it’s equally as inspirational. I suppose it’s worth it, in the long run.

But I vow to finish this challenge on time, even if I have to move into a cabin in the middle of the woods for all of November…it’s happening.

I read two books in September. I hang my head in shame.

David Sedaris – When you are Engulfed in Flames

Quick summary

In essay after essay, Sedaris proceeds from bizarre conundrums of daily life-having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a fellow passenger on a plane or armoring the windows with LP covers to protect the house from neurotic songbirds-to the most deeply resonant human truths. Culminating in a brilliant account of his venture to Tokyo in order to quit smoking, David Sedaris’s sixth essay collection is a new masterpiece of comic writing from “a writer worth treasuring

Three-line review

LOLed through most of this book. Didn’t enjoy the endless Cigarettes story, though. But I love how Sedaris builds all his best stories around people, especially that crazypants lady who lived in the apartment across from him in NYC. It’s amazing how well he characterizes everyone he encounters.


Maria Semple – Where’d you go, Bernadette

Quick summary

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

Three-line review

One of the quirkiest, weirdest, most bizarre books I’ve ever read. Well done, Semple. I’ve mentioned before how I’m not a fan of “mixed media” in most literature (i.e. the inclusion of letters, newspaper clips, etc.). But this worked.


(Feature photo by shutterhacks/Flickr.)

  • October 18 2013
    Lauren @BonVoyageLauren

    You’re forgiven. I’d probably be too distracted by Iceland’s magical beauty to read as well.

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