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A book with a blue cover:

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me?

Why not me is Mindy Kaling’s second book. It is a memoir made up of some comedic and very entertaining essays. If I’m being completely honest, I slightly preferred her first book ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without me?’, but only slightly. The first book was written before her career really blew up, whereas this book was written in the height of her ‘The Mindy Project’ and after her ‘The Office’ (US) fame.

Mindy exudes a kind of well deserved confidence, which she explains in this book, along with some other real life topics such as body image, dating and her career. She is intelligent, hard-working, and if this book is anything to go by, refreshingly honest.

Although appearing to have the same insecurities as most women in today’s society, she doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously. I particularly enjoyed the last section of the book where she talks about body image and how she doesn’t fit into the stereotypical Hollywood image. This alone shows how she should be inspirational to “normal women” and I mean that in the best way.

Although I have yet to watch ‘The Mindy Project’, I would mostly recommend it to fans of Mindy Kaling. That being said, it’s a good read for any determined young woman or girl. You will find yourself nodding in ,a and laughing out loud. In a world where the women that young girls are most likely to look up to are reality stars or Instagram famous, it’s a breath of fresh air to read the success story of someone who got there by working hard.

Rating: 7.5/10

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A book that was made into a movie:

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

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The third book I read as part of The Big Book Challenge was Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín. I thought this would be a good one to read as ‘a book that was made into movie’ because I had just recently been to see it in the cinema. I really loved the movie so I’d hoped I’d enjoy the book as much.

Brooklyn is a romantic drama about a young Irish immigrant moving from a small town in Ireland to Brooklyn, New York. The story follows Eilis as she falls in love, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a romantic novel, it’s much much more than that. 

For many reasons, this book didn’t disappoint. The first thing I loved was that it included my two favourite places in the world, my lovely country Ireland and New York. The second thing I loved was that although it was based in the 1950’s, there was still so much to recognise about Irish culture today. Apparently busy bodies are timeless.

My favourite characters in the book were Eilis, the main character (which is unusual for me because I normally don’t like main characters), Tony, the Italian-American who captures Eilis’ heart and Mrs. Keogh. Although I think I loved this character even more because of the brilliant portrayal of her in the movie by Julie Walters.

The only thing that let the book down for me was a piece of dialogue that really stuck with me from the movie. In it, Eilis has a conversation with Father Flood that goes like this:

Father Flood: We need Irish girls in Brooklyn.
Eilis Lacey: I wish that I could stop feeling that I want to be an Irish girl in Ireland.

I loved Eilis’ line and I looked for it in the book. I suppose if that’s the only fault I can find, it’s not bad going. 

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is from Ireland, wants to read about Irish culture in the 1950s and the reality of immigration, likes romantic drama novels or indeed just enjoys good writing.

Rating: 9.5/10.

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A book “everyone” but you has read:

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love is a memoir written by an American women on a year long journey to Italy, India and Indonesia in an effort to find what is missing from her life. It seems to me that everyone has read Eat, Pray, Love or has at least seen the movie so it seemed like an obvious choice for me for this topic.

I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a book and been frustrated by it at the same time, the way I was with Eat, Pray, Love. The memoir is broken down into 3 sections – Italy, India and Indonesia. Each section has 36 stories, most of which are really well written. I loved everything about her time living in Rome. It transported me to a time and a place and I lapped up her stories of learning Italian, meeting Italian people and most of all, eating delicious Italian food. For a real home-bird, there was a moment or two were I really imagined myself packing my bags and heading for Rome. My favourite character from Elizabeth’s time in Rome was Luca Spaghetti.

India was where my frustrations kicked in. I’ve taken a real interest in meditation lately and I was looking forward to learning all about the author’s spiritual journey. I found this section of the book extremely difficult to read and I think Elizabeth came across really narcissistic. There was a LOT of wallowing and feeling sorry for herself and if I’m honest the term ‘first world problems’ came to mind a couple of times. What salvaged this section of the book for me was Richard from Texas, who was a ‘say it as you find it’ character who often brought Elizabeth back down to earth.

The final part of the book took part in Bali, Indonesia. I learned a lot about Balinese people and how quirky the traditions of the island are. The purpose of Elizabeth’s trip to Bali was to find balance and it seems to me like the perfect place to do it. I hadn’t really considered it before but it is definitely on my list of places to go now. My favourite character from Indonesia, and probably entire book, was the medicine man Ketut. I loved his take on things, his unusual method of measuring age and his broken English. 

Overall, the writing was very good and the author has a great method of capturing the essence of a character. I would give this book a 7 out of 10 and would recommend it. I would just suggest you take the India stage with a pinch of salt.