Just before turning 30, Julie Powell found herself stressed out with life. Not only is she being pressured to start a family due to a medical condition, but her dream to become an actress has remained just that, a dream. So, she decides to take on a challenge deemed insane by her family: cook every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Cooking the 524 recipes contained in Child's masterpiece seems easy, but it is far more challenging than Powell anticipated. Powell is not a trained chef and is often working with various foods for the first time. But it is her journey and growth that make the experience worthwhile.
I really enjoyed this film, so I decided to give the book a try. And while I enjoyed Powell's prose, I sometimes had a hard time moving through the book, instead finding it to be a bit slow. Because of that, it's hard to say that I really loved the book, but I also didn't hate it. I just feel kind of ambivalent toward it. I guess, it just wasn't really for me, which is why I have to give it two and a half out of five recettes.
#24: Under the Dome - Stephen King (2009, 1,074 pages)
My absolute favorite author in the entire world is back with a bang.
Under the Dome is a horrific, yet fascinating, look at life under the lens (in this case literally) when a town is cut off from the world. A dome of unknown origin is lowered over the Castle County town of Chesters Mill, killing a few of the residents and passers-by, either through the act of lowering as it acts as an invisible guillotine or by the fact that an invisible barrier harder than any known substance is circling the town, including its highways.
The town is thrown into disarray, and several people step forward trying to sort out the situation. There is the former Iraqi War veteran Dale Barbara, who is trying to work with the military to remove the dome. Then, there is the corrupt Second Selectman Jim Rennie, who is content to bask in any glory and blame the situation on Barbara, an out-of-towner, who beat up Rennie's son Junior in a bar fight. The town chooses sides, but Rennie's methods of setting up Barbara as a scapegoat draws the line on his side. Rennie is methodically evil, and combined with out-of-control temporary cops and mob mentality, the town erupts into chaos.
The character study that King presents is one of his best ever. Combined with high tension and fast pacing, it is hard to imagine anyone not finding themselves immersed in this book. What should have taken me a week to read only took me three days, as I had to know how the book was going to end. In his acknowledgments, King thanks his editor for constantly encouraging him to speed things up, and I have to thank her as well. This is easily one of the best books King has written in years, probably even more than a decade, which is why he deserves a perfect five out of five invisible barriers.
#25: The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri (2003, 291 pages)
Gogol Ganguli was a symbol of his father's second chance at life, a fact he would not realize until after he had decided to change his name. Gogol's father, Ashoke, had sought out a bride and a life in America after a near-fatal train accident.
Named after the author whose book Ashoke was reading at the time of the wreck, Gogol does not see the joy in his name. Instead, he relates to the pain the author felt in trying to pave his own way, as Gogol tries his best to move away from his Indian roots. Gogol experiences love, sorry, joy and pain, all the way trying to carve his own path.
Lahiri brings about the struggle of adapting to a new country and culture in a natural and honest way. Her characters are realistic, and it is easy to understand their pain, even if you have never experienced it yourself. Lahiri received the Pulitzer Prize for this novel, and I must say that it is incredibly well-deserved. She is a beautiful writer with simple, yet elegant, prose, and this novel, her first, is wonderful. She deserves the strong four and a half out of five lives lived to their fullest I give this book.
Total Books Read: 25 / 50 (50 percent)
Total Pages Read: 9,124 / 15,000 (61 percent)