In the Country We Love: My Family Divided

imgresIn the Country We Love: My Family Divided
Diane Guerrero with Michelle Burford
Published May 3, 2016
272 pages

Why I read it: I have no shame in admitting that I have a very real love for trashy television. One of my current favorites (the first season of which I binge-watched when my baby was a newborn and doing nothing but nursing and sleeping all day long) is Jane the Virgin, a super campy telenovela about a virgin who was mistakenly artificially inseminated:

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Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood

41MeRdcI3gL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood
Julie Gregory
Published September 3, 2003
244 pages (hardcover)

I really need to stop reading memoirs. As a rule. No matter how interesting the subject matter may seem, the memoir is inevitably terrible. And this book is no exception.

Sickened is a memoir about a chick who was, for years, the victim of Münchausen syndrome by proxy (at the hands of her totally loony mother). Münchausen syndrome by proxy (“a psychological disorder in which a parent and typically a mother harms her child (as by poisoning), falsifies the child’s medical history, or tampers with the child’s medical specimens in order to create a situation that requires or seems to require medical attention”) is pretty gross and creepy. The book, which is peppered with the author’s actual medical records from childhood, promised to be interesting—in a American Horror Story kind of way.

And, there is definitely a lot of creepy/crazy in there. An example: Continue reading

Delancey

DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. 

UnknownDelancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage
Molly Wizenberg
© 2014
242 pages (hardcover)

As I mentioned in passing before (here), my husband’s favorite food is pizza.  (As an aside, my favorite food is ice cream. We are quite a pair.) When you’re married to someone who truly loves pizza, you eat a lot of pizza (a couple weekends ago, we had pizza for lunch one day . . . and then went out for pizza at a different spot for dinner that same evening). And, when you eat a lot of pizza, you have no choice but to become a bit of a pizza snob. You can immediately discern good crust from bad crust (and good char from bad char), you know the perfect ratio of sauce  and cheese to crust (enough for taste but not so much that the crust gets soggy or the toppings are gloppy), and you know all of the places in town with the best pies (here in Atlanta, that’s Antico, for their Napoletana with broccoli rabe, salsiccia, and bufala mozzarella on a perfectly charred crust).

Luckily, there are a lot of people out there that take pizza seriously. They have studied wood-burning oven times and techniques, what cheeses taste best with various toppings, and the exact right amount of sugar to put in the tomato sauce. These days, there are lots of pizza hipsters, and they make some durn good pie. Continue reading

Born Round

6a00d83451b42169e20120a6210039970c-piBorn Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater
Frank Bruni
© 2009

My mom likes to tell the story of my first childhood foray into “real” food.  She was feeding my brother and me lunch.  I was a wee (six or eight months, my mom now guesses), sitting in my high chair.  My brother was four, sitting at the table.  She gave him a peanut-butter sandwich—made, as always, with crunchy peanut butter.  Meanwhile, she was getting ready to feed me baby food (which she made herself back before the Béaba existed and it became the trendy, hipster-mom thing to do).

But I had a different agenda.  Apparently, I had decided that I’d had enough baby food.  Despite the fact that I had no teeth, I wanted that crunchy PB & J.  So, I did what any spoiled brat would do.  I stole my brother’s sandwich.  And I gummed it delightedly (Yes, I ate peanut butter before I was two.  I also learned to ride a bike without wearing a helmet.  These were dangerous times).  If the rest of the fam was going to eat delicious foods, then I would, too.

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Where the Peacocks Sing

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

15792978Where the Peacocks Sing:
A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home
Alison Singh Gee
© 2013

I’ve talked a little about my general disdain for memoirs on this blog before:

  • Some are really poorly written (like this one).
  • Some are a little too schmaltzy and trite for my taste, despite seemingly interesting subject matter (like this one).
  • And some just plain suck (see my discussion of unacceptable fluff here).

Another reason I’m not a huge fan of the genre: memoirs often reek of hubris.  In order to write a memoir (i.e., an entire book about how awesome/interesting/great your life and experiences have been), you have to think that you’re a little more awesome/interesting/great than everyone else.

You may have seen this blog post on Wait But Why? that blew up on Facebook a couple of months ago.  It’s called “7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook,” and it’s both spot-on and hilarious.  The #1 way to be insufferable on Facebook is (you guessed it): “The Brag.”

“The Brag” runs so rampant on Facebook that it has to be broken into three subcategories: Continue reading

Coming Clean: A Memoir

16218778Coming Clean: A Memoir
Kimberly Rae Miller
© 2013

Anyone who has dropped by my house unannounced knows that I am clean.  Like really, really, ridiculously clean.  I’ve been called anal before.  And people joke that I have some OCD tendencies.  I’m fine with all of that.  I am, without question, a neat-freak.

It is likely because I’m so clean that I have a weird fascination with hoarding.  When Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things came out a couple of years ago, I read it immediately (Rating: 2/5).

I also used to watch A & E’s Hoarders religiously.  I would stare at the screen, eyes wide and mouth agape.  But I had to stop during the third season.  What had once been a little confusing and fascinating turned wildly disturbing. Continue reading