June 6, 2012

Book Report (and Giveway of One of Them)



A Far Cry From Kensington, by Muriel Spark. My sister-in-law (the one married to my brother, not Paul's sister) recommended this book, and I really liked it and would look for more by this author. It was a quiet sort of book with a lot of subtle dry humor and interesting observations, and I found I had to be non-distracted to read it.




Concierge Confidential, by Michael Fazio. Paul saw this at the library and brought it home for me: I love insider/behind-the-scenes stuff. I was hesitant to read this one, having just been so disappointed by a mean-bitchy (as opposed to truthy/fun/smart-bitchy), non-truth-ringing one about flight attendants---but I needn't have worried, because it was great. There were a few places where I felt like he lost perspective---but mostly he seemed fair, and it's fairness that makes the stories of bad customer behavior sound TRUE.

I didn't find his tips helpful, overall. I think he genuinely meant to give good advice, but what they boiled down to was "Be someone with insider connections, and be calling on the behalf of someone famous/important." It ended up being advice on how to be a good concierge, really, not advice on how to use insider concierge information for your own purposes. But I really enjoyed the book, I felt like it gave a very satisfying insider view of concierge service, and I ended up liking the author very much and wanting to look him up online and find out more about him.





Seriously...I'm Kidding, by Ellen Degeneres. I think if you like Ellen, you'll like the book, and if you don't, you won't. It's her usual goofy, friendly humor, and I laughed out loud several times. There's some advice in there, but it's all the "be nicer" and "value the important things" advice, and seems to be there mostly to give her a mild friendly narrative as a jumping-off place for the jokes.





Get Out of My Life (but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall?), by Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D. One of my friends with a daughter the same age as Rob mentioned this book, and I got it from the library within milliseconds. I found it tremendously reassuring about teenager stuff (I kept actually WEEPING from relieved feelings)---though it also gave me some fresh things to anticipate and worry about (and then some more reassurance about those).

The tone/attitude is so much like what I've seen in the staff at the middle school---like, "This is just a stage. A WEIRD stage, yes, but how about that newborn stage? That was pretty weird too compared to adult humans, huh? You didn't seriously worry your son would be colicky and teething and wearing diapers as an adult, right? He won't be yelling that he hates you and wearing those stupid pants when he's an adult, either. ...Probably."

One thing that left me agitated was that he explained that most teenaged boys deal with adolescence by retreating/disappearing, and that most teenaged girls deal with it by seeking out verbal altercations---and then he said that when a teenaged boy seeks out verbal altercations it can be a much more serious thing, which he'd discuss later. Then he didn't discuss it later. As the mother of a teenaged boy who thrives on verbal altercations, I need more info now.

I feel like a lot of the advice was good, though I won't know until I try to apply it. But I thought one of the best and most helpful parts was just the information that the things that seem CRAZY are totally par for the course, combined with the "we parents are in this together, and WE CAN DO THIS" flavor. It's like in those newborn days finding a book that EXACTLY describes all the stuff the baby is scaring you with, listing all of it under "Normal Infant Behavior" and then following it with several paragraphs about how it drives all parents crazy and makes everyone scared but then it all goes away. WHEW: baby is normal; I'm normal.


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I've enjoyed doing the book giveaways so far, so let's do another one. You can leave a comment without being automatically entered, but if you DO want to enter, mention which of the four books you'd want to win a copy of. I'll choose somebody on Saturday, June 9th, and send them a book. (I'll be shipping directly from Amazon with Prime, so it needs to be a U.S. mailing address.)

(All images in this post from Amazon.com.)
 

Edit: The winner is Shelly! I'll email you!

67 comments:

Slim said...

I need "Get Out of My Life."

(I don't know if you could tell, but that comment was written in a cheerful, matter-of-fact sort of way. No teeth-clenching or eye-rolling or anything. Upbeat problem-solving, that's my stock in trade.)

Anonymous said...

I love your book reviews! I would love a copy of Concierge Confidential.
-Mo-

Kristin H said...

I think I would *enjoy* the concierge book more, but the teenager book is going to be more helpful to future me. So I'd have to go with Get Out of My Life! (I actually remember saying that as a teenager. I cringe.)

Amanda said...

I read the Ellen book and found it to be mostly just a repeat of things I've heard her say before and I don't even always watch her show. It was entertaining, but certainly nothing new or insightful or personal - mostly just jokey and humorous.

I've had the Get Out of My Life book on my Goodreads "to read" list for years. I don't need it yet which means I should read it now.

I'm not entering - I won the last book giveaway. <3

Christy said...

I think I'd enjoy the concierge book the most. Like you, I'm a sucker for any tell-all book.

Curly Girl said...

I think I would most enjoy the Concierge Confidential.

My stepdaughter is 9, so we are not yet to the teen years, but I don't know how any parent ever gets through those years. SO TOUGH.

Shelly said...

Ooh, I would love to win a copy of "Get Out of my Life"! That sounds like a book I need to read immediately!

Michelle said...

Get Out of My Life - oh man. That sounds really helpful!!!

Amber said...

I would love a copy of "Concierge Confidential" - one, because I also enjoy insider books, but two, because I WAS a concierge. You would not believe some of the requests...anyway.

Jen said...

I think if my 4 year old were a bit older, I'd be wanting Get Out of My Life (though sometimes I swear he is 4 going on 14...he told me to "shut up" yesterday). But A Far Cry from Kensington seems like something I would really like.

Kendra said...

Like a lot of the previous comments, if my oldest child wasn't just 2 I'd take Get Out of My Life. As I hopefully won't need that one for quite a while, I think I would really enjoy the Ellen book.

heidi davis said...

As a parent with 17, 15, 13 & almost 12 year old boys I NEED Get Out Of My Life. Although, if it doesn't mention the verbal altercation thing... THAT is what I need to know. They are all more confrontational than retreating.

Barb said...

Thanks for the reviews- I just hate reading a book without a review!

I've been wanting to read Ellen's book!

Katie said...

These all sound delightful (though my daughter is 4 so that one's unnecessary thus far) but I would take the Muriel Spark book!

Wendi said...

Oh how weird -- I just finished Concierge Confidential last week! I really enjoyed it too, but I had to laugh at your description of his "helpful" tips...that about nails it. :-) Plus, I'm too meek to pull off most of the things he suggests. However, I do like reading about people who have the guts to do it!

I read "Get Out of My Life" back when my kids were in junior high, to prepare for the years ahead -- it calmed me down so much. I realized I was handling things pretty well, all things considered. It helped me to put things into perspective for my husband (their stepdad), who tended to get more upset about things I considered to be trivial. Definitely made life easier around our house in the teen years!

I haven't read the Muriel Spark book and that is the one that really piques my interest -- it sounds like the kind of book I would love. :-)

Stacie said...

I would take the , "Get Out Of My Life..." as I have a teen in the "problem" stage and a middle school girl on the verge. If I don't win I will be making a trip to the library. Hell with it, I'm not waiting..I'm going today. If I win I will have a reference.

Rebecca said...

I would *love* the Ellen book! Please enter me for that one!!!!!

As the mama of an almost 16-yr old boy, I am very lucky and thankful that my son is a retreat-er. I don't think I could handle the verbal altercation type of kid. Although his best friend is that kind of kid. I get along with him well, but then he's not *my* kid so... That does tell me tho that verbal altercation type teen boys aren't all that uncommon, and you just happened to get one. And maybe it's not such a bad thing? I mean, it's really hard for me to know when something is bothering my son, because he's always quiet and locked away in his room. It's the quiet ones you've gotta watch... kwim?

But anyway, yeah. We're all handling the beast of adolescence the best we can, and we're all in this together! It'll end... eventually. (bearing in mind I have a 7-yr old too, so it won't end for a long time for me either)

Swistle said...

Rebecca- YES. My second son is the "going inward" type, and I am always worried that something easily-fixable will be bothering him and he won't SAY anything! Whereas at least with Mr. Mouthy, I never worry that he's keeping something that bothers him to himself, since he NEVER STOPS TELLING US EVERY TINY THING THAT BOTHERS HIM.

Ali said...

Ooh! I would love to have the Muriel SParks book--I've read and enjoyed a few of hers but I never remember to look for her at the library (or when I'm buying new books).

Ashley said...

I would love the concierge confidential books, I love the tell all books

Melospiza said...

I'm loving your book posts. Usually I find book reviews overwhelming (oh no! Yet another book I had no idea existed and now I kind of want to read, except that given the slow way I go through books I probably won't get to it until 2018), but these are both fun to read and helpful for sorting.

I have a ten-year-old, so I think I actually *need* the last book.

Courtney said...

Yay! I love books and I love your book reviews. Thanks for the giveaway!

I think I'd like to read the last one the most (Get Out of My Life).

Ali said...

Oh, and I need to thank you for suggesting the Cazalet Chronicles in another book report post--they are so great!

-R- said...

I want all of these books! I love your reviews. My pick would be the first one by Muriel Sparks.

Let's hope this comment goes through because these word captures are killing me. Aargh. For example, the one below is a picture of a bean and then a word. Am I supposed to type bean? Is the bean supposed to look like a word? I do not understand. Wish me luck.

Well, apparently I was not supposed to type "bean" because that didn't work. Let's try again.

gwen said...

A book that describes "normal infant behavior" and then tells you not to worry... is that a real book? If so, do you know/remember the title? I think I really really need that book right now.

Maggie said...

I not only want, but feel I need Get Out of My Life and will get it from the library if I don't win it here. Man I've been in need of some reassurance in this area for months now.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I mostly lurk but I really want that Ellen DeGeneres book, so I'm coming out of hiding. Also, I wanted to say that I love your book reviews and I think we have very similar taste in books. And having said that, you might like Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. It's about a black man in Atlanta in the 80s who has 2 wives, told from the perspective of his daughters. It's haunting and infuriating at times, but mostly fascinating and really beautifully written.

Anyway, thanks for giving me the chance to win a book!

Ayana

nicolien said...

Can inhabitants from places other than the US also enter? If so, I'd love to read 'A Far Cry from Kensington'. 'Get out of my life' sounds like a great book, but I'm a High School teacher so I'd like to stay away from teenage-related stuff on my summer break :)

Swistle said...

Gwen- Sadly no, what I remember about infant books was finding SOME reassurance---and then finding MORE stuff that alarmed me ("Of course by now your baby will be [something my baby was not doing]" or "Of course, this could also be a sign of [HORRIBLE SCARY THING], so contact your pediatrician with any concerns!" Ack.

Swistle said...

Ayana- Adding to my library list!

Swistle said...

nicolien- Shoot, I forgot to add that part! I'll go edit...

Jennifer B said...

I would love the Get Out of My Life book. My 3-year-old acts enough like a teenager that I need some tips NOW.

Erin said...

"Get Out of My Life" sounds really interesting, I'd like to win a copy of that one! (It'll prepare me for my future with this precocious kid of mine!)

Jess said...

I think I really need to read "Get out of my Life" if I were to win it, that would be even better.

Teenagers are going to be the death of me. THE DEATH OF ME.

help.

Kathy said...

I'd love to read Concierge Confidential, thanks!

And add me to the list of those who love your book reviews!

Gwen said...

I love tell alls! Please enter me for Conceigere Confidential!

Lauren said...

This is slightly off-topic but I used to work with a Parent-Teen Mediation Program. If there's one in your area it can be a fantastic place to deal with ongoing conflicts. Teens often find it much easier to talk through stuff with a neutral third party directing the conversation. Good luck!

And I'm curious to read the concierge book now.

KP said...

Ooh, concierge confidential sounds really intriguing. Thanks for the warning about the tips - I would normally have been disappointed by this, but now when I read it, I'll know! Win win. :)

KP said...

(Not sure if I need to leave some kind of contact information with my comment? Anyway, email is indubitably DOT kate AT gmail etc.).

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Oooh - Concierge Confidential would be awesome!

I'm so glad that "Get Out of My Life" was helpful, but I am alarmed that he did the foreshadowing of "some deeper problem" and didn't address it! What a cliffhanger!

Melissa said...

I want to read them all, but the concierge one seems interesting! Are you on Goodreads?

Suzanne said...

I would very much like to read the Concierge Confidential book! It sounds like the perfect thing to read as I'm falling asleep at night - easy, fun, dishy and not likely to give me nightmares.

Miss L said...

Ohhhh, I'd love the "Get Out of My Life!" I have four girls, and my oldest is just getting into "that stage."

Swistle said...

Melissa- Not yet. I'm sure it's going to be like Twitter, where first I'm all "I don't see any reason to join," and then I'll join, and then I'll be all "EVERYONE SHOULD JOIN!!!"

Enniferjay said...

Ooh, I think I'll need Get Out of My Life! but not for another 5 years. So, let's go with the Concierge Confidential:)

Bailey said...

I'm waving my hand in the air like a lunatic, hoping you'll notice me and my plea for you to join goodreads. It's saved my library card...if I can't renew a book, I'll put it on my To-Read list and THERE IT IS: I made a list and can come back to it. (I seriously used to spend nearly forty dollars a month in fines. Apparently I like to rent books, not borrow them?) I just put all four of these books on a list.

But if I win, I'd like the concierge book. Shneaky behind-the-scenes books make me happy.

Also, I thought that Get Out of My Life book looked familiar. He's the same guy that wrote "It's Not Fair, Jeremy Spencer's Parents Let Him Stay up All Night!" That was basically my mom's bible when we were little.

vanessa said...

omg, I really want to read the tell all now! I dont even totally understand what a concierge does, but I LOVE behind the scenes books. Swistle, have you read Service Included? It's by this woman who worked at Per Se in NYC, which I gather is basically the most exclusive resturant ever. It's GREAT. Fascinating and juicy and I actually liked ALL the food descriptions, even the meat--and I've been a vegetarian since the age of eight.

ccr in MA said...

"A Far Cry From Kensington" sounds very interesting! If I don't win, I'll have to get it from the library. Thanks for the reviews!

Jen in MI said...

"Seriously I'm Kidding" I love Ellen!

Becky said...

I'd love to read the Ellen Degeneres book! The one about pr-teens sounds good too, but I don't have one of those yet. ;)

Swistle said...

vanessa- Oh, I haven't! That one sounds good too! Michael Fazio mentions Per Se---I wonder if they know each other!

CCarter said...

Oooh I'd have to go with the Concierge Confidential!

Just Vegas said...

Loving these book reviews/giveaways :)

I think I have to get the Dr. Wolf "Get Out of my Life" book. My oldest daughter is about to turn nine and she's already started acting WEIRD. I'm a little bit skeered.

Sam said...

The concierge boom is appealing. The teenager book seems like a poor fit because my current teen is A FREAKING DISASTER. I don't want to read "moody is normal." Our moody is "if this goes on for a few weeks he's going to need a 5150 and you might have trouble with that because he's smart and..." from the freaking therapist. And I'm feeling ridiculously melodramatic but !!! my unit is BROKEN and I want a new one
.

Sam said...

*book

Lex - @laprimera said...

I need "Get Out of My LIfe." We are on the brink of tween hell. I can only imagine the challenges ahead!

Swistle said...

Sam- It's less "moody is normal" and more "freaking disaster is normal."

JodieG said...

I think I need the teen book, so if I don't win I'll see if the library owns it.

Farrell said...

I would like to win the "Get out of my life" because my child is 7 going on 27 and I am scared, very scared.

Anne said...

A couple of these sound good, but I'm going to have to go for Ellen's book if my comment is picked. I've loved her comedy for a long time, she always cracks me up.

Deanna said...

Love your book reviews! I'd love to read A Far Cry from Kensington.

Nowheymama said...

A Far Cry from Kensington sounds perfect. Adding it to my wishlist in case I don't win.

And now going back to read what everyone else recommends in the comments!

Elsha said...

I'd love to read Ellen's book! Probably someday I'll want to read "Get Out of My Life" but for now I'm pretending that 4 is as old as my children will ever be.

velocibadgergirl said...

I continue to be amazed at how many books you read each month! I think I'd love that concierge book...juicy gossip sounds perfect right now.

Kate said...

I would love to read Concierge Confidential!

bobthedog said...

Hi Swistle,

I would love to read the Sparks book. It looked really fun.

Thanks!
bobthedog

fatj said...

Ooh, I'd love a new read. Either the first or second book. If I win, I'd let you choose:)
Anne