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Books 1 & 2 - 2011

Book 1: Priceless by Nicole Richie – 291 pages

Synopsis from bookdepository.co.uk:
A wonderfully entertaining riches-to-rags story with the glitz of a celebrity mag expose, mixed with an old-fashioned tale of comeuppance and self discovery. Meet Charlotte Williams! Rich, gorgeous, blonde and a talented singer, she has everything going for her. Spoiled and indulged, her life has always revolved around fashion, gossip, partying and men. When Charlotte's father -- her only family since her mother's tragic death years ago -- is arrested on fraud charges, her glittering world shatters around her. Alone and penniless, she must make her own way for the very first time. Harassed by paparazzi and the outraged victims of her father's crimes, Charlotte flees to New Orleans to escape the scandal. But what happens when a Park Avenue Princess is forced to fend for herself? How will she adapt to the Big Easy's bohemian lifestyle? And in the face of anonymous death threats, can she keep herself out of danger? From the stylish avenues of Manhattan and dark clubs of the French Quarter to the bright lights of Los Angeles, Nicole Richie's scintillating tale shows that the very life you run from is the one that won't let you hide.

This book was a definite improvement on Richie’s previous literary work (if we can call it that). For one, she refrained from including herself in the plot this time, which I really appreciated (it always feels far too much like wish fulfillment to me when the writer includes themselves in their story – probably a hang-up from my fanfictioning days – it was one of the things that used to drive me bonkers!). Moreover, she’d either taken a writing class or two or got a better editor because this one was not only better plotted but it flowed a lot more nicely. It did still feel a little ‘poor-little-rich-girl’ for my liking but even so it was an easy, rather engrossing read. There’s better literature out there – that goes without saying – but if you’re after some brain candy, it’s definitely worth a look.

1 / 50 books. 2% done!

291 / 15000 pages. 2% done!

Book 2: How to Make Gravy by Paul Kelly – 552 pages

Synopsis from borders.com.au:
This extraordinary book had its genesis in a series of concerts first staged in 2004. Over four nights Paul Kelly performed, in alphabetical order, one hundred of his songs from the previous three decades. In between songs he told stories about them, and from those little tales grew How to Make Gravy, a memoir like no other. Each of its hundred chapters, also in alphabetical order by song title, consists of lyrics followed by a story, the nature of the latter taking its cue from the former. Some pieces are confessional, some tell Kelly's personal and family history, some take you on a road tour with the band, some form an idiosyncratic history of popular music, some are like small essays, some stand as a kind of how-to of the songwriter's art; from the point of inspiration to writing, honing, collaborating, performing, recording and reworking. Paul Kelly is a born storyteller. Give him two verses with a chorus or 550 pages, but he won't waste a word. How to Make Gravy is a long volume that's as tight as a three-piece band. There isn't a topic this man can't turn his pen to contemporary music and the people who play it, football, cricket, literature, opera, social issues, love, loss, poetry, the land and the history of Australia, there are even quizzes. The writing is insightful, funny, honest, compassionate, intelligent, playful, erudite, warm, thought-provoking. Paul Kelly is a star with zero pretensions, an everyman who is also a renaissance man. He thinks and loves and travels and reads widely, and his musical memoir is destined to become a classic; it doesn't have a bum note on it.

I’m not exactly a Paul Kelly fan and I can’t say I’ve listened to even a fifth of the songs discussed in this book, but I saw this book advertised on 60 Minutes (I think…) in mid 2010 and thought it sounded like a nice little read so put my name down for it at the library. Of course, it turned out to be huge and quite the monster to power through (not to mention not exactly desirable to take on the train because it weighed too much to carry from the train station to the office when I’m also carrying the laptop) but nonetheless an interesting read. I can’t say I’m now a super duper Kelly fan, but I did enjoy most of the stories he had to tell about how some of his songs came to be. At times, it got preachy (a lot of discussion about Aboriginal history/culture/rights etc, which whilst an interesting and important topic gets a little much when you’ve had it shoved down your throat since the moment you could read – the average Australian will know I’m talking about) but there was always the redeeming quality that he would eventually move onto the next song and topic. Of all the stories, I must say that my favourite (and I can’t remember which song it related to) was a conversation Kelly had with a taxi driver named Agamemnon which not only touched on the obvious topic of the Greek King of the same name, but on the idea of naming your children in general, a topic that strongly appeals to me as both a writer and a name aficionado. All in all, an interesting memoir.

2 / 50 books. 4% done!

843 / 15000 pages. 6% done!

Currently reading:
- Nobody’s Prize
by Esther Friesner – 306 pages
- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner – 307 pages
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Second: The Reptile Room
by Lemony Snicket – 190 pages

And coming up:
- The Star King
by Susan Grant – 358 pages
- Jennifer Government
by Max Barry – 335 pages
- The Davinci Code
by Dan Brown – 593 pages
Tags: chicklit, memoir, music

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